My daughter and I were thrilled that we had the opportunity to visit Heritage Park in Calgary as we thought we may have to postpone our annual visit. Though it looked much different than usual, with masks and hand sanitizer and much smaller numbers of visitors and venues to view, we were ecstatic. The staff were informative and kind, as usual and it felt like a real vacation in spite of everything. My daughter also got to wear the new skirt she fashioned from an old quilt (her fashions can be viewed online here). I really do feel privileged to be safe and keep others safe while at home but also to be able to support a local museum that I believe is important as a documentation of our history in this region.
Some days/weeks have been much more of a challenge during these uncertain times. There are periods of time that I am happy in my little bubble, painting, reading, learning, And others that my anxiety levels are quite high and I become overwhelmed with thoughts of the pain people are experiencing now and the inequities that we face on our planet. Wondering what the future holds. Still...after all these years. I know I am fortunate that none of my family and friends are unwell, that we have good food and a nice home and garden to spend time in, and that I still get to paint every day. But the uncertainy can certainly become overwhelming at times and it becomes difficult to focus on anything and difficult to sleep. Lately I've begun writing down 3 things I'm grateful for at the end of each day...which can be anything like a bit of sunshine, a good conversation, or a painting started or completed. I'm finding that it helps to go to sleep with these thoughts at the forefront of my mind.
Besides the fact that finding a clear older photograph can be difficult, I struggle with the amount of contrast that I want in the final portrait painting. The top photo shares the earlier stages of this painting, which I really liked but then questioned that amount of contrast so I continued to add more layers of colour. After spending a few days looking at the portrait, I wasn't happy with the flatness that I perceived in it so I went back to add a few transparent layers of colour in order to increase the contrast again as well as increasing highlights. I'm happier with it but now wish I had left it as it was in the beginning. I've done this for several of the portraits and think that for now I will just leave everything as is and re-visit in a month or more. Such is the struggle of painting.
My maternal grandmother was an amazing storyteller, and her memories of her early days were very detailed, down to descriptions of her home in England when she was very young, through the war years - WWI. She was born in 1895 and lived to be 95. She was a nurse, mother of 2, self-taught naturalist, and through WWII in Montreal, worked alongside the IODE to give soldiers' families (some very large) some assistance when the father's pay was not making it home and the families were destitute. Because her husband was head of Bacteriology and Microbiology at McGill from 1931, he also did government assigned research through the war years. They met many interesting people because of that, and she held her end of discussions eloquently, with grace and humour. She had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; we still reminisce with stories about her. She was artistic, painted, was a writer of poetry & prose. She is remembered with love. Well, I didn't mean to write so much. I am a new grandmother of a wee one, and wonder if I can ever be what she was.
~ Sarah Robinson