I don't know why trying something new is so scary, especially when I'm using the same paints, canvas, and tools as I have for many years. But to venture into the unknown always feels like balancing on the edge of a cliff (I experience vertigo...so even the second floor of a mall with glass railings is terrifying). It feels like I'm setting myself up for failure. Yesterday I was reading an article that discussed the fact that we are raised to fear failure rather than embracing it as a huge part of the learning process. I think that may be why I began posting the 52 WEEKS projects I have created for the past four years - partially to keep me accountable, even though no one may see the posts every Monday...and partially to push myself past the fear of creating something I haven't created before (or in awhile in any case) - because at the beginning of each year I commit publicly to sharing. I read that the most successful people in their field learned to accept failure at a very young age. I guess it's just like riding a bike...you try and try again until you get it. Now to keep that in mind as I continue to paint.
Over the past few years I have been very privileged to share my creative journey with its highs and lows with a number of terrific creative people so I thought I'd share a few of them here today:
I am not a plein air painter but I do like painting outside on a beautiful day. Because I am a home-body I especially enjoying painting in my own garden on a beautiful, sunny day. These are the times that, even though I am not using my surroundings as direct inspiration, I am indirectly inspired...through the colours of the sky and the sun-dappled light filtering through the tree branches. As I paint I see the contrast between light and dark, complimentary colours, and interesting textures and compositions in this environment which all seems to find its way onto my canvas. Here's to more beautiful days during the summer days that lay ahead.
When I was very young, I saw photographs and videos of Jacqueline Kennedy and thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I don't think it was her actual physical appearance but rather her clothing and demeanor that attracted me. As an adult, what always caught my attention was the fact that she was not only an editor but also contributed to the arts and to the preservation of historic architecture. When I began working full-time I looked for classic clothing like hers and was accepted into fashion design utilizing similar shapes and styles. though I decided to focus on the visual arts instead. I still look to her as an icon for formal occasions.
For some time I have been wanting to utilize gel media to thicken my paint as I love highly textured canvases...but it also makes me a bit nervous. This week I decided to bite the bullet and lay a heavy layer of textured colour to these three pieces. My focus for this work is on immigration, especially since several generations of my family have had to flee persecution for the perseverance of their personal rights and beliefs. It's always difficult to try something new, and exciting as well...both in media and subject matter. Generations of my family, as so many others, have survived through what they were able to grow by living off the land. The structures they lived in, from huts built into the earth and and made of sod to log houses, houses built of stone to house-barn combinations, are all a testament of the places they lived and how they survived. Whenever we can, my family travels to Steinbach, Manitioba, where a number of our relatives have settles, in order to visit the Mennonite Heritage Village museum. There we see the transition from one structure to another and learn about the struggles and challenges of our past. There we also learn about the food we eat and why it is so important to the culture...and about the clothing and religious traditions...which all come back to the blessings we have received on this earth. I hope I can capture some of this story in these pieces.
The collection of artwork is such a personal and sometimes intimidating experience. I have learned through the years that it's best to wait until I feel a strong heart connection to the work and that, if I love it, it won't matter if it matches anything at all in my home because I will love it forever and it will naturally fit in to our home. Sometimes purchasing an original piece of art might only happen once in a lifetime, so I am extremely grateful when my work is selected and invested in to be a part of someone's life. Fortunately my work is represented by galleries who make the process pleasant, offering payment plans along with delivery and installation services and will even create a Certificate of Authenticity for personal records. They also make it possible for anyone to collect work as they ship anywhere. Currently my work along with many other wonderful artists is available at Inglewood Fine Arts, Bluerock Gallery, Effusion Gallery and Evanescence Gallery...all beautiful spaces filled with beautiful pieces.
One of my favorite projects as an artist is to work in collaboration with a person or family to create a piece that is really special for them. Whenever we choose to work together on a creative project, the first step is deciding on the shape and size of the finished painting followed by viewing my portfolio together. This is where certain colours and imagery are selected for their stories and personal connection to their meaning. After our initial meeting I often prepare a sketch or two which I email for approval and then begin preparing the canvas. At each step along the way I like to send a photo of the work in progress, just reminding them that these are early stages and things change dramatically throughout the process. When the piece is completed we meet again. This is the most intimidating part of the process for me but also the most exciting. Nothing pleases me more than when someone becomes enthralled with a painting that has been created especially for them. And the hugs are always nice, too.
Annie Oakley has been a role model for my youngest daughter, and I often felt that she embodied Annie's determined spirit. Annie's father died with a large young family who were left in poverty. She began hunting and trapping at age seven, then was hired out for slave wages to a family who mentally and physically abused her and whom she called 'the wolves'. She became known in her region for her skill with a rifle and so competed at the age of 15 against a travelling marksman. After 25 shots, she beat the marksman to win $100 and then married him a year later. At only 5 feet tall, she became known as 'Little Sure Shot' in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and became the highest paid performer. After a terrible train accident, she later became an actress and was known to have taught over 15,000 women how to use a gun both for physical exercise and for self defense.