My mind is constantly busy and my husband often tells me I over think everything, which I know to be true. Thank goodness for art as it seems to be the only thing that allows me to focus, to be present. No judgement, no negativity, no wanting, just peace.
When I'm not painting I tend to analyze every conversation, every move, questioning myself, my motives, and always whether what I do or say is necessary. I do believe that I'm not the only person out there that feels this way but it is in those times of deep thought that I experience some of my greatest hardships and also some of my greatest creative ideas.
Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to who I am, where I come from, why I do what I do, and why certain things draw my attention, especially in my painting life. My parents are immigrants from Paraguay, South America and though I am deeply connected to those roots with the joys and challenges that came with them, I never really felt a part of that experience. I appreciate things made by hand, as where my family comes from that was a necessity, though they made a point of creating things that were both functional and beautiful. I was taught to crochet, knit, embroider, sew, and create patterns from scratch. In our home we were raised listening to Spanish music and eating Spanish, German and Ukranian foods. I love history and handmade.
My extended family is made up of the most wonderful people from so many different cultures - Italian, Portugese, Guayanese, Spanish, French, Indigenous Guarani, Scottish and German - so we were treated to a huge variety of food, art, celebrations, and religious beliefs. There are a total of 29 people in both families plus spouses and children and grandchildren, plus several families live in other countries, and because I grew up so far away from them, we only saw them once a year or less and very briefly.
In my northern community of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba I was exposed to canoeing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, tenting and cooking over a fire (bannock is still a favorite treat). Learning what was safe and healthy to eat and what wasn't. We were taught to care for the land and animals within it. Most of my friends were first generation Canadians, Newfoundlanders and Metis or Cree. I spent many hours in the dense boreal forest, in and on the clear, frigid waters of the Churchill River, and lying in the snow watching the Aurorea Borealis dance in every colour imaginable. Occasionally wild animals such as bears and wolves would wander through town, which meant it was okay to be late for school once in awhile. I was taught stone carving by First Nations' artist Michael ManyEagles, and beading and weaving from our neighbor Mrs. Merasty. The first artwork I saw in my life was that of the Woodland Artists, which is where I first dreamt of being an artist.
I was born in Winnipeg but was very young when we moved up north and have now lived near the Rocky Mountains for twenty-four years and the awe-inspiring ruggedness of them and the creeks, rivers and lakes that run through them fills my spirit. I am inspired by the animals, plants and trees as well as the vivd colours of the ever-changing skies. And the way the clouds settle into the mountain tops, which is that ghost-like feeling I try to capture in my work.
Last year I had the opportunity to work with a group of young graffiti artists and because I love every single art form, that experience was also finding its way into my work in incorporating spray paint and stencils. I have visited and been inspired by the Group of Seven exhibits many times in my life, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Glenbow Museum in Calgary, feeling especially drawn to Tom Thomson's small vibrant painted sketches on wood panel. I was fortunate to visit the Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo exhibit in Vancouver as those women all inspired my desire for simpler themes and a spiritual glow to the work, much like the Group of Seven's Lawren Harris, whose beautiful work brought me to tears many years ago. Much like the Group of Seven, my husband and I like to hike and have seen the most beautiful patterns on the rocks which also find their way into my paintings. Nature and history are probably the biggest influences for me.
And now, as I put these thoughts to words, I feel like my work really reflects who I am...incorporating my youth in the canoes and the patterns of the Woodland Artists, my family history in many of the stencil patterns, exposure to both folk and graffiti art in slight abstraction and vibrant colour and even the northern lights and sun dappled clear water in incorporating the shine of mixed media such as copper or silver leaf. I feel like what I do embodies how I feel about the Canadian Spirit and how grateful I am to be Canadian.
"I get out my work and have a show for myself before I have it publicly. I make up my own mind about it - how good or bad or indifferent it is. After that the critics can write what they please. I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free."
- Georgia O'Keeffe
I can leave a copy of
Sacred Vessel: A Painter's Handbook
at the library's Circulation desk for you to pick up. :)
We are so excited to finally have found our new home away from home. This vintage Boler is something I've dreamed of for most of my adult life so it has been such a treat to find one that works for us. There is much work yet to do, things to repair and replace, but I'm so very happy. It will be perfect for our adventures and for painting trips into the mountains. :)
The harebell grows in a wide variety of environments from moist forests to rocky ground. They tend to bloom in profusion, casting a purplish hue where they grow. It is believed that Cree people would chop and dry the roots to use in a compress to stop bleeding and reduce swelling. The roots have been chewed to treat heart and lungs and used in an infusion ear drops or an eye wash.
I know that beginning a career as a visual artist can be difficult as it isn't a typical career choice. An artist's life is a vulnerable one, filled with so many variables. I believe that there is success in collaboration and hope that in sharing some of the wisdom that has been shared by many others along with the experience I have gained on my creative journey I can help someone else on theirs.
So, after a few more edits I had ordered a second copy and now want to give this one to someone who would like a copy, too. You can take a peek into the book online here. And to enter the draw, just leave your name here, on facebook, twitter or send me an email (links upper right). I'll select a winner on July 15. Good luck!
1. Don't compare your work to others. Compare your new work to the old.
2. You don't have to go to art school, but doing so can get you further, faster.
3. Someone, somewhere will love what you do (and pay for it). Find them.
4. Really good work takes a really long time to make. Be patient with yourself.
5. Create every single day. Even if it's all garbage, you can't improve on a blank canvas.
I've been asked on numerous occasions to share my process so here it is. The tools I tend to gravitate to over and over again are a couple of water spray bottles, a few different sized flat brushes and a size 8 round, a foam brush, container lids in several sizes (ie. dish soap, ketchup, milk jug), different sized brayers, rags, stencils, palette knife, my palette, professional quality acrylics, spray paint, paint pens and my hands. My colour palette is a rainbow of colours, though I prefer Liquitex heavy body acrylics.
There are several things I tend to keep in mind as I work:
1. Keep warm (red, yellow, orange & pink) and cool (blue, green & purple) colours separate (allow each to dry in between) so that the colours don't become muddy or grey; think of contrast (this is one reason I like to work on several canvases at once...currently there are 5 large pieces and 11 smalls in progress in my studio);
2. Focus on lights versus darks for contrast;
3. Repeat patterns and colours;
4. Pay attention to complimentary colours - red & green; yellow & purple; blue & orange - so the colours will really pop;
5. Carry the patterns and colours around the edges of the canvas;
6. Because I like working large, filling up the canvas quickly with colour is a great way to stop myself from becoming stuck on details and for overcoming the fear of a blank canvas.
7. Finally, the titles tend to come to me through the things I read or the conversations I have...I find that because I paint what I love, the words come naturally/organically since these things permeate my life.
If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Several years ago I had the great privilege of being included in a collaborative altered book project titled Inner Works with five other artists across North America - Supria Karmakar, Rita Vindedzis, Jill Zaheer, Seth Apter and Roxanne Evans Stout. This was my first foray into altered art and I am so grateful for the opportunity and for the friendships made along the way. http://innerworkscollaborative.blogsp...
Queen's Cup, which is also known as Bride's Bonnet, is actually a perennial lily that grows in shady forests of the mountains of northwestern North America. The young leaves are apparently edible with a mild sweet taste, while older leaves are best cooked. Traditionally the berries were used by some First Nations' peoples to create a blue dye.