I cannot believe 7 months have passed, especially considering that the past 5 have basically been in a type of quarantine. I am beyond thankful that I have this project to look forward to every single week...just the fact that my studio is at home has been comforting and has added such a sense of serenity and calm to my life. Seeing these portraits gives me hope for a better world. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I just need to head to this sacred space. Just taking the time to sit and bask in the beauty of these women, reading about some of their antics in a time when they may have been considered unacceptable for a woman fills me with joy. Their strength buoys me, especially on difficult days, and reminds me of the possibility of a better future. I'm reminded daily that even though times can be tough, these women made a difference in some way in someone's life.
I wanted to send you this image of my Grandma Rose Muzyka. She will forever be this age in my mind.
My Grandmother died long before I was born. My dad was only 18 when she passed away. I have seen many photos of her and have heard many stories but she will forever look in my mind as she does in this photo.
When we were cleaning out my Grandfathers home (the home my grandparents raised my dad and his sister) after he died. I found an old purse of my grandmas... in the purse was lots of Knick knacks and a tube of her lipstick, I opened it and realized that her and I created the same shape from applying our lipstick.( a very weird shape) like a shape I had never seen anyone else do. Lol.
I realize that sounds so silly, but it meant something to me. It made me feel closer to her. ♥️
Every time I see this photo, I think of her applying her lipstick before this photo was taken. I can see her looking in the mirror and smacking her lips after the application.
I love this photo very much.
~ Libertee Muzyka
I've finished two more male portraits...this time two characters from favourite shows. On the left is Tommy Shelby from 'Peaky Blinders' (the actual history of this group is fascinating) and Endeavour Morse from 'Endeavour' (BBC television). My daughter is looking forward to moving back to her own place soon so she asked if I would paint some of her favourite actors...of course I couldn't refuse as I love both programs/actors, too. These were fun, though I found Shaun Evans (right) a little more challenging to paint than Cillian Murphy (left). I find that the backgrounds look a bit like angels' halos :) I can see myself doing more of these in future as they were challenging and fun.
Here's to strong women.
I ran into an old friend at the fabric shop in town the other day and as we discussed 'The Grandmothers' project we both became weepy. It really is an honour and a privilege to be creating this project, which I knew it would be, but especially in these difficult times. I often think someone else could have done this project better, but I know that I was meant to carry this out. My entire life has been spent in learning about the past and, hopefully, doing better in my future because of it. Our family has visited so many museums and forts in our quest for knowledge and understanding. I know I will be forever grateful for this opportunity and hope that, much like the 'Nasty Women' project, I can continue to honour these strong women of our past.
Dorothy "Dee" Davis and her identical twin sister, Winnie, were born on July 22, 1914. They were the oldest of 5 children. She was born in Gladys Ridge (south of Calgary, north of Blackie and east of Aldersyde, near Okotoks). Her house is still standing. They lived in Birsay, Saskatchewan but moved to Regina soon after as my great-grandfather joined the army. He stayed in the army until 1917 and then moved the family to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
~ Colleen Mckenzie
Winnifred Mabel Chevallier; Born: July 22, 1914 at Birsay, Saskatchewan
My Grandma Winnie and her identical twin sister were born on July 22, 1914. They were the oldest of 5 children. My mom’s mom was born in Gladys Ridge (south of Calgary, north of Blackie and east of Aldersyde, near Okotoks). Her house is still standing. They lived in Birsay, Saskatchewan but moved to Regina soon after as my great-grandfather joined the army. He stayed in the army until 1917 and then moved the family to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. My grandma lived through the depression and I remember her telling me that she would pick dandelions after school and sell them for money to people who made dandelion wine. She was always thrifty, and this started at a young age due to the depression and the need to help the family. She lived on a farm north of Rocky and I am sure she had many chores to do. Eventually, they moved into Rocky where she attended school until grade 10. At that time, she moved to Calgary to complete her last two years of high school. She boarded with a family during this time. After she graduated, she stayed with the family and worked for them. She made her way back to Rocky where she met my grandfather Frank. They were married in 1937 when she was 23. They moved to a small farm, east of Rocky near Alhambra. They had 3 children. My Grandma worked very hard on the farm. Finally, they moved into Rocky where she lived for many years. She worked at the seniors home for many years and did other odd jobs. This grandmother only lived a block away from me. I remember going to her place for Saturday morning baking. I often stopped in at her house on my way home from school for a quick visit. She always had a baked treat waiting for her grandchildren. She was a determined lady who worked hard. I remember celebrating her 90th birthday as we had a big party for her. She died on May 18, 2011 at 96 years of age. She is fondly remembered.
~ Colleen Mckenzie
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
Last week I was thrilled for two reasons...the first that I got to visit a bookstore (yay!) which meant masks and hand sanitizer but I'm totally okay with that and the second is that the latest edition of Art Journaling was available and I'm in it! It is always an honour to have my work published and so nice to see the title was taken from a inspirational quote that I had shared. I love working with Stampington Publications as they are always open to a variety of creative ideas and are always so kind and encouraging. The article was inspired by an art talk that I had given to a group of four high school students. I wanted to share the struggles I had experienced growing up and how the art teachers in my life inspired me to continue. I also got to share a few art tips in the magazine as well. If you get a chance to read it, I would love to hear what you think.
Sometimes when I am working I suddenly notice that I look like a Liquitex rep. Currently I have been using their heavy body acrylics, acrylic inks, gesso in both black and white, gel media in gloss and matte and now the acrylic gouache along with a paddle paintbrush. It's not that I'm married to the brand, although I do love it, but more because it is the only brand that doesn't seem to affect my husband who really struggles with environmental allergies. I feel fortunate that there is a brand that works well for me and for my family. And the paintbrush is fabulous as, though it has very short bristles, it holds a tonne of water which helps to spread paint around on my canvases very quickly.
Grandma passed away 20 years ago, when I was home to Barrhead a few months ago for a community party people still made a point to talk about her and laugh with me about her determination, compassion, and humour. Everywhere she went she was never the center of attention, but she ALWAYS left an impression. My grandma was just over 5’ tall, she had bright blue eyes, and she treated everyone with the same level of respect and kindness. Always. She was determined and feisty, would never say she couldn’t do something, instead she would say...” well I haven’t tried that yet!” She raised 7 children with my grandpa (the very man that stole her away from her babysitting job) on a farm through tough years. She honed the skill to make more than enough with very little, something she continued on for the rest of her life. My Dad and his siblings would describe her as strict; she was the task master, she instilled the work ethic and the expectation no matter what, you take care of your family and your community. She instilled in all of us that no matter how much or little we had, it was more than enough and to be grateful. Well into her 80’s she volunteered tirelessly. After church on Sundays she would load up “the old ladies” and take them on road tours out into the Sandhills and down forestry roads...in her giant Oldsmobile car. I always hoped there would be an empty seat in the car so I could tag along, with the understanding that I was not to tell my uncles what their 80-year-old mother and her cronies were up to. They were like a silver haired gang; she was the mischievous leader. And the memories I hold dearest are quietly sitting on the porch shucking pea’s, sewing on the treadle machine, or on a long country drive when she would say to me “penny for your thoughts my dear girl...”
~ Sheri McAllister
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +