I received a fantastic white mantle from a neighbor who has been renovating their home. I have wanted one for my studio for quite some time, so it was a lovely surprise. It turns out that it has been a wonderful place to take photos of my work because of its height and depth...another fantastic surprise. On another note, I am enjoying the 'Extraordinary Women' project so very much! I didn't expect this. I think it's because every single time I begin a new project, I question my skillset and my choice of subject matter. It's not that I don't love and admire these women, that is definitely not my issue, but rather it is the fact that after all of the portraits I have painted, they still excite me so much. That's what I didn't expect. I'm so thankful for this project, for the extraordinary women who I have painted and who have been in touch with me because of this project. I feel this way every single time and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
All you can do is stand in your truth.
Eden Robinson, Haisla writer (born 19 January 1968 in Kitimaat, BC). A well-known Indigenous writer, Eden Robinson has won national and international acclaim for her dark, gothic fiction. Robinson counts Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe among her literary influences.
Early Life and EducationEden Robinson was born in Kitimat General Hospital and raised in Kitamaat Village, home to members of the Haisla Nation. Her mother, who is Heiltsuk, met her father, a Haisla man, at a fishing stop in Bella Bella, the traditional home of the Heiltsuk First Nation. The two raised their family, including Robinson and her older brother and younger sister (who went on to become a television news anchor at the CBC), in Haisla.
Robinson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. Her first published story, “Traplines” (1991), was published in the literary magazine Prism International while she was in her last year of university. After graduating in 1992, Robinson moved to Vancouver with ambitions to become a writer. She worked a number of odds jobs — janitor, napkin ironer, dry cleaner, mailroom clerk — that allowed her to dedicate time to her literary craft. Encouraged by the early success of “Traplines,” she enrolled — and eventually graduated from — the prestigious master’s program in creative writing at the University of British Columbia.
Writing CareerEden Robinson’s first book, Traplines (1996), is a collection of three short stories and a novella (a short novel). Robinson’s young narrators recount haunting tales of their disturbing relationships with sociopaths and psychopaths. The collection won Britain’s Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for the best regional work by a Commonwealth writer.
Monkey Beach (2000), Robinson’s first novel, is set in Kitamaat. The novel follows a teenage girl’s search for answers to and understanding of her younger brother’s disappearance at sea. The book is both a mystery and a spiritual journey, combining contemporary realism with Haisla mysticism (see Indigenous Peoples: Religion and Spirituality). Monkey Beach was praised nationally and internationally as the work of a powerful and original new literary voice; it was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.
Eden Robinson returned to the characters and urban terrain of her novella “Contact Sports,” from Traplines, in her 2006 novel Blood Sports. Set five years after the original story, the protagonist Tom is still struggling to make a life for himself and his young family. In addition to the socio-economic challenges of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Tom once again faces peril from his sociopathic cousin Jeremy, who takes sadistic pleasure in ruining his life. Reviewers praised Robinson’s unflinching and compelling exploration of the darkest impulses of humanity.
In 2011, Robinson released The Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling (see Sasquatch). Part of the Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture Series, The Sasquatch at Home provides insight into Robinson’s culture, early life and family. The University of Alberta Press described the stories in the book as “delightful, poignant” and “sometimes quirky.”
Robinson’s latest novel, Son of A Trickster (2017), the first instalment of a planned trilogy, is a darkly comic coming of age story that follows the life of 16-year-old Jared Martin as he navigates his way through the violent, dysfunctional world of small-town British Columbia. The book was praised in the Globe and Mail for the “inordinate amount of glee” it takes “in cramming together traditional narratives with contemporary tales of violence and survival.” It was shortlisted for the 2017 Giller Prize.
~ Jules Lewis
My husband and I spent a week at the most beautiful lake near the Rocky Mountains. There was no wifi, text or phone so it was quite wonderful. There is something so refreshing about being off grid, even though I had to get my husband to help me wash my hair in a tub as there was no running water or electricity either. I am so grateful for our little Boler trailer as it is cozy and very low maintenance which meant I could sketch and swim and read and knit (my first beanie!) and go for many walks and enjoy the silence and the stars. It is definitely what my soul needed. I'm excited to work again and also can't wait for our next little adventure.
I have been thinking of offering a free portrait for awhile now and thought that, since I have received so many lovely gifts over the past year, I'd like to pay it forward and offer the opportunity to win a free portrait to my newsletter subscribers. Since autumn is on its way, which happens to be my favourite season, I thought this might be the perfect time. So, if you are interested in joining the draw, please respond to this newsletter and let me know if you would love a self-portrait or one of a member of your family or a friend. Then, once the winner is selected, I will request a couple of photos to be emailed to me along some favourite colours and/or a list of hobbies/interests that I could incorporate into the background. You will be able to select either a 7x14 inch canvas or a deep 8x10 inch canvas. You are welcome to share this with friends and family, sign up to the newsletter here. This is my way to say 'Thank you!' for all of your support and encouragement.
Dancing is the way I can express the things that cannot be said.
Veronica Tennant, CC, FRSC, ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, television producer, director (born 15 January 1946 in London, England). Veronica Tennant is one of the most prominent figures in Canada’s performing arts community. As a leading ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, she became an international celebrity for her dramatic intensity and superb technique. Since retiring in 1989, she has worked as a teacher and choreographer, and has also forged a successful career as an award-winning TV producer and director specializing in dance programming. Tennant was the first dancer to be appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (1975) and was promoted to Companion in 2003. A member of Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Encore! Dance Hall of Fame, she has received many awards and honorary degrees, including the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Veronica Tennant started dancing in England at age four and immigrated to Toronto with her family in 1955. As she recalled in a CBC TV interview, “Within one week of our arrival — we didn’t have furniture, we didn't have anything, I don't think I was even in school… but I was in ballet classes.” Tennant studied under famed ballet teacher Betty Oliphant, whose gruelling regimen included nine classes a week.
Tennant trained at the National Ballet School and upon graduation at age 18 was hired into the National Ballet of Canada at the principal dancer level — the youngest in the company’s history. She made her debut as Juliet in John Cranko’s version of the full-length Prokofiev ballet, Romeo and Juliet. The production was later produced for CBC TV by Norman Campbell.
In rapid succession, Tennant added many other leading roles to her repertoire, including parts in Swan Lake, Giselle, and The Nutcracker. With the retirement of Lois Smith, Tennant was quickly adopted by critics and her adoring public as the company’s de facto prima ballerina. Tennant danced the title role in Campbell’s Emmy Award-winning 1968 CBC TV production of Cinderella and continued to excel in the great 19th century classics. She gained even wider renown when she became the National Ballet’s first Princess Aurora in its 1972 staging by Rudolf Nureyev of The Sleeping Beauty, another Emmy-winning program in Campbell’s production for CBC TV.
Tennant’s repertoire also expanded to embrace an enormous variety of roles, including many works created for her superb talent as a dance-actress. Although her career suffered a potentially ruinous knee injury, she took the opportunity of almost a year away from the stage to write a children’s book and have a daughter before making a triumphant return. Two of her most celebrated later roles were as Titania in Frederick Ashton’s The Dream and as Tatiana in Cranko’s Onegin.
During her long dancing career, Tennant was partnered by many of the greatest male dancers of the day, including Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anthony Dowell, Fernando Bujones, Richard Cragun and Peter Schaufuss. In what many considered a premature retirement in 1989, Tennant bowed out by giving several dazzling farewell performances of Juliet, the role that had established her reputation 25 years earlier, followed by a special tribute gala with visiting guest artists.
After the National BalletAfter retiring from the National Ballet, Tennant remained active in the dance world and performing arts in general, choreographing, hosting, narrating, writing, teaching and directing. She expanded into the theatre as associate director and choreographer at Toronto’s Canadian Stage Company and Tarragon Theatre, and was an actor and dancer at the Shaw Festival during its 1992 season. In 1994, she choreographed Cyrano de Bergerac at the Stratford Festival and Rough Crossing at The Canadian Stage. Tennant also devised and performed a dramatic dance piece, Maud, drawn from the journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, and co-wrote and performed Choice and Chance Encounters with clarinetist James Campbell and jazz pianist Gene DiNovi at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, Ontario.
In 1995, Tennant shared the title role with Nicholas Pennell in the Rhombus Media film Satie and Suzanne. She also directed productions of Carmen La Gitana at Niagara on the Lake (2005) and Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad with The Royal Shakespeare Company at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (2007).
Following her retirement from dance, Tennant also became increasingly active as a film and television producer. She was host, creative consultant and writer of CBC TV’s Sunday Arts Entertainment for three seasons. Her first projecty as a television producer was a 1995 CBC/Radio-Canada co-venture, Salute to Dancers for Life/Danser Pour La Vie, followed by a 1996 special about modern dancer Margie Gillis and another featuring Karen Kain in 1997, which went on to win an International Emmy Award.
More recently, Tennant has moved from producing into directing dance films and videos. In 2005, she attended the Toronto International Film Festival’s prestigious Talent Lab workshop for emerging directors. Her extensive filmography includes several notable dance films, such as The Dancers' Story: The National Ballet of Canada(2002); a pairing of SwanS (2003) with Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington; the award-winning dance-drama Shadow Pleasures (2004), written and narrated by Michael Ondaatje; Vida y Danza Cuba (2008), narrated by Colm Feore; and Something’s Coming (2012), starring Guillaume Côté.
~ Andrew McIntosh & Michael Crabb
I'm thrilled to be sending the painting titled 'Quiet' to the SHAPE AND FORM group exhibit with the Federation Gallery in Vancouver, BC. On the reverse is the painting titled 'Lilium' which is something I began doing this spring...two paintings in one. I think it's such a nice surprise for the patron, an opportunity to flip the image when redecorating. The exhibit will run August 30 until September 12 and at that time will also be available online here.
In May I began work on a collaborative community mural at Luxstone Senior Living in Airdrie. They have a beautiful courtyard garden that houses a dilapidated old trailer that measures about 10x40 feet so I came up with a design painted by local volunteers after I added the initilal 'drawing'. I wanted to create a large colouring book page with a map of sorts in order to make it easier for everyone. I'll make final adjustments once it's complete.
The design came from the idea that all of the residents come from across the country so I incorporated a simplified version of my idea of Canada, from the Rockies in the west to the ocean in the east. I also included the official flowers of the provinces and territories along the bottom so that even children can be involved and also to better represent every province and territory. Of course I had to include Canada geese since I've been running into them everywhere. I can't wait to see the completed project.
In between bouts of rain I was able to add the initial sketch of the mural to the 10x45 foot trailer. The wind was so strong I was afraid the ladder I was using would be toppled but, fortunately, things held steady. My hands were quite sore from hanging on to the ladder and jar of paint so tightly.
I had to make a few adjustments to my initial drawing in order to accomodate a plane that was longer than I initially realized (should have brought my measuring tape, but I am happy with it. I was even able to make the provincial & territorial flowers much larger than I had planned, which I think is a great thing. If the weather would have cooperated better I would have made a few adjustments, but I keow that I would be going back to adjust things after it was completed so I wasn't too concerned.
All-in-all I am really pleased with the outcome and grateful I was able to be involved in another community project, especially after this year. We could never complete these kind of projects without the support of our generous businesses like Home Hardware and local residents. I am extremely happy for the residents and visitors of Luxstone Senior Living.
If you'd like to learn more about my process for creating murals, please visit my YouTube channel here. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9edAXxYMidA
We are all more capable than we think we are.
Anne Murray, the pop, country, and adult contemporary singer from Canada was also among the famous artists who fell victim to the weary path of balancing her career with her personal struggles. The first female Canadian solo singer to make it to the No.1 rank on the U.S. charts, Murray was also the first female artist to be awarded Gold record for one of her signature songs, Snowbird. Her successfully released albums that sold over 55 million copies across the globe, made her the pioneer singer to open the doors of opportunity for fellow Canadian singers like Shania Twain, Celine Dion, and k.d. lang.
Like many fellow artists who savored the sweet taste of victory and widespread fame, Murray had once found herself slipping to rock bottom. It was a dark and painful time for America’s then-Canadian sweetheart. In her tell-all memoir titled All of Me, Murray shares her struggles after she parted ways with the man she had a long-standing affair with—television producer Bill Langstroth. The singer adds that when her ex-husband was already married when their affair was only blossoming.
Apart from the bitter separation, country singer Anne had to go through a series of more personal adversities for over 20 years. “It was just very painful for me and I had no idea. I had no idea how I would be affected. And so, you know, to be truthful, there was a point where I didn’t know whether I could get through the book, because it hurt so much.” She admits.
Her affair with Langstroth set in motion while they collaborated for Singalong Jubilee, a show that aired in CBC-TV. While the two were on a trip to Charlottetown, they smoked weed together then shared a kiss. Murray knew that the affair shouldn’t have grown into something more. Langstroth was about 15 years her senior and her boss, and he already had a commitment as both a husband and a father prior to their intimate involvement. “But I was falling in love, fast, and powerless to do anything about it,” the singer confesses in defeat. Before Langstroth divorced his first wife in 1975, he and Murray had to keep their relationship a closed secret even to the singer’s fans. The discreet nature of their affair led some supporters to speculate about Murray’s sexual orientation.
Aside from her divorce, among the tragic life encounters that Anne Murray had to endure include the plummeting of her career during the mid-80’s, her daughter’s battle with anorexia, the demise of three of the people closest to her—her mother, close friend, Cynthia McReynolds, and longtime manager Leonard Rambeau—along with the overwhelming guilt that Murray had to grapple with after spending so much time away from her family.
As for Murray’s drug use, she clarifies that the only “drug” she had ever touched was dope. She smoked marijuana “like everybody else the odd time”. She more or less strayed away from putting anything else into her system.
Murray may have permanently retired from the music industry, but her decision does not keep her legacy from being fondly remembered by fans worldwide.
In recent years, drug abuse, decline in mental and emotional wellness have been among the most rampant issues tormenting our present-day artist. There are many other artists who, like Anne, are trying to face and fight off their own inner demons. While not everybody may have been as strong and resilient as Anne Murray, this should still serve as a reminder to all of us of just how significant and influential all the love, support, and understanding we give to our idols can be.
~ Country Daily
If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village,
I painted 22-6x6 houses in this 'Little Village' series that was inspired by Jane Austen's novels, the fabulous movies I've been re-watching and the Austen puzzles I've been working on these months. They were such a fun project to work on while I was completing my Art & Cultural Theory course and preparing for my final. This past year has been one to focus on the smallest things that bring me joy...and anything Jane Austen related is definitely in that category. I have not been to the UK but it is on my bucket list. Fingers crossed for a better year ahead!
They are now available at the Leighton Centre and can also be ordered online. Visit their website at leightoncentre.org/
We never know how the decisions we make will impact our lives until years down the road when we look back.
Heartland's Amber Marshall was named the Parade Marshal of the Calgary Stampede for 2019, following in the footsteps of other famous women who have previously held the honour, such as Patsy Rogers, Jann Arden, and Catriona Le May Doan. The Calgary Stampede website has a full list of Parade Marshals from the past.
This year's theme is A Salute To Women in Western Culture. Amber Marshall, who plays Amy Fleming on CBC's popular series Heartland, has a passion for horses and ranch living, and is certainly representative of western culture in Canada in this respect.
We got a chance to connect with Amber and she shared her thoughts about the Calgary Stampede, growing up with horses, and Heartland...
BW: Have you been involved with the Calgary Stampede in the past? What was your first Stampede parade like? What is one of your favourite things about it?
AM: My first experience with the Calgary Stampede Parade was in 2007 when I first moved out to Alberta to film Heartland. I’ve been able to partake in the parade several times since then and have always enjoyed the excitement and western spirit. Riding my horses to interview the parade participants for the CBC Parade Broadcast has always been my favorite. I am right in the middle of all the action and get a close-up view of all of the entries. The costumes, the floats, the horses, it’s all amazing.
BW: How would you explain the significance of the Calgary Stampede to people outside of Calgary/Alberta?
AM: The Calgary stampede parade is legendary. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the west or not, Canadians from coast to coast tune in to watch. I remember as a child growing up in Ontario tuning into the broadcast. With close to 4000 participants and over 700 horses Calgary really sets the bar for a true western experience.
BW: Being from Ontario, do you see any differences in the culture of Ontario and Alberta? Similarities? Is there anything that stands out?
AM: It’s funny how Ontario has more horses in the province that Alberta does, but the horse culture is so much more accessible out west. Growing up I lived in the city of London Ontario, but I couldn’t get enough of horses. I boarded my horse north of the city and spent all of my free time there. After moving out west for Heartland, I’ve completely adopted the western way of life. I now live on 100 acres with my husband and our many animals, including six horses. All the things we love to do are so accessible. Riding our horses in the mountains, team roping at local jackpots, or just helping friends move cattle from grazing areas.
BW: Is there someone who represents western culture that you are particularly inspired by?
AM: I have made so many great friends since moving to Alberta over a decade ago. Most, are heavily involved in ranching and western living. My friend Kerilee runs 600 head of cattle and continues to inspire me with her hard work and dedication. I get out there as much as I can to help her with whatever I can. It is always a rewarding experience.
BW: You have been playing Amy Fleming on Heartland for more than 10 years. What parts of your personality have made it into Amy's or vice versa?
AM: I believe that over the years my character Amy has become more like myself and vice versa. The writers seem to gravitate to stories that of happened in my real life, and by living on a ranch in Alberta myself, I have intern adopted similar traits to my character. It makes what I do come easily and I love being able to bring a realism to the character.
BW: Recently, we asked Heartland fans what their favourite story is on the series. Do you have a favourite Heartland story or episode?
AM: We have told so many great stories over the years. I think the stories I enjoy the most are the stories between Amy and her horse spartan. I love the connection between girl and horse and how much it has grown over the many seasons. The horse who plays Spartan is named Stormy and he has been playing the role since the first season. Rightfully so, him and I have formed quite the bond. I am very happy to say I will be riding Stormy in the Parade!