It's a good day. Days of refreshment in the mountains followed by more peaceful time in my studio. I wish all my time could be spent like this...time in nature has helped clarify a project I've been working on. Just what I needed.
I find that so much of what I do begins as a small idea, sometimes even just a fleeting thought, which grows slowly until it becomes something that I can see in my mind's eye. And then something I create with my hands. It's never really the first thing I've envisioned but becomes so much more as time goes by...I just need to give it time to let it bloom.
And as I dream and plan and begin the work in stages I sit and stare at the work as it progresses in order to begin to envision what could be. I'm getting really excited about this and can't wait to see where it goes from here.
I know it might seem funny but I am so very thankful for my jeans...my wardrobe of preference all year round. In the 'old days' I used to dress up all the time, even wearing heels and pencil skirts to art classes in college and at that time I used to sew all my own clothes. In fact, I was accepted into fashion design in Toronto but, you know the old story, met my husband on the way across the country and never quite made it.
Anyway, I used to work in professional offices so dressing in suits was required, but once I had children I realized that slacks just didn't cut it. But jeans were fabulous, lasting longer and surviving more hours on the floor with babies, plus they were perfect for the studio...who knew?!? So now I have jeans for all seasons (including shorts) and all occasions...dark and long for heels and blazers, cute and cropped for summer. Since I began simplifying my life fifteen years ago, limiting my wardrobe was a big part of that and so jeans have now become my all around clothing of choice.
By the way, these cute, distressed boyfriend jeans were purchased in Montana last summer and right now they top the list of favorites. Great with a tank top and sandals and just as great with a blouse, blazer and kitten heels. I really do love my jeans :)
During ARTember in Airdrie on September 13 I will be teaching a charcoal drawing technique where you only need a piece of paper, a tissue, an eraser and a charcoal pencil (just because it's a little tidier than a piece of charcoal). After artist/author Maureen Enns' free presentation (everyone is welcome) about wild horses and wild wolves we will invite those who are interested in drawing into our program room...both children and adults alike. I'm very excited about meeting Maureen face-to-face (I've only had the privilege of speaking with her on the phone) as I enjoyed a documentary about her experience with bears on CBC Television several years ago. I thought I'd share this simple technique here:
STEP 1: When I draw with charcoal (or pencil) I typically begin with a shape, in this case I lightly sketch in a circle (approximately 6 inches across - you can use a small plate or container lid to draw a light sketch of a circle or use your pencil as a 'ruler') and then draw a horizontal line across the middle.
STEP 2: Split the top of your circle into thirds to form the base of the ears of the wolf then draw a kind of loose triangle shape. Move down to the horizontal line and begin drawing each eye directly under the center line of each ear (at the center thirds marks), using the horizontal line as the guide for the top of the eye and then circling straight down to a vertical. The eyes are each a half circle off the shape of the eye with a pupil marked in, leaving a small circle of white paper for the highlight on each eye. At the bottom of the circle I drawn a slightly rounded triangle shaped nose between the center of the eyes and then the mouth as two small half circles off the center of the nose and a small half circle underneath that to create 'lips'. I add marks around the head to represent hair and add a little shading around the outskirts of the wolf's face and inside the ears. Then I take my tissue and rub the entire drawing.
STEP 3: After the entire image has been shaded with the tissue, I use my erasor to begin rubbing out highlights...the highlights in the pupils, around the eyes, in the ears, along the sides of the nose and a highlight on the top of the nose. I go back in with the charcoal pencil and darken the darker areas and use the tissue to rub the entire drawing again.
STEP 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 to darken the shading to create a more three dimensional shape.
STEP 5: Now, we are almost finished...at this point I go back into the drawing and remove highlights with my eraser and darken the darkest areas such as the pupils, around the eyes, the nostrils, and darkening up some of my outlines but very loosely. To finish, I erase much of the previous rubbing marks around the outside of the wolf's head to highlight his face. And there you have a simple charcoal wolf drawing.
After last week I am ever so grateful for sunny days. I'm preparing a few sample piece for different workshops I'll be teaching next month so this weather is perfect for taking the work outside. I have to say I really love the Martha Stewart stencils I purchased last year and am finding more ways to use them in my work.
I've tried out a couple of cans of Liquitex Spray Paint and am currently on the fence about them...when they work they are fantastic, but unfortunately I have experienced clogging issues. But since our vacation has been cancelled due to hail damage, I am glad for an opportunity to try them out again.
The Super Moon last night was so beautiful, and now I can't wait to see the Harvest Moon next month. In spite of the concerns of the past few days, I am feeling rather blessed to experience this...and feel a huge boost to my creativity. It's a great time of experimentation.
I can't wait to share what I've been playing with as this has all been brewing for many months and I'm excited to see the direction I'm heading...though I recently read that it is important at times to keep things close in order to work through them so I'm hanging on for a bit just to see where this takes me. Wish me luck!
The last 24 hours have been rather stressful...the worst hail storms we've experienced in the 18 years we've lived in this community, which damaged our home, garage and trailer. It's been rather disappointing as we were prepared to leave this weekend for our vacation in the mountains - once the insurance has been sorted, which may take awhile as our windows weren't damaged as so many were, we still hope to spend a few days in the mountains, though we won't be camping again this year. At the same time, I'm grateful it was just terrible hail storms (one after the other) and not a tornado, and that my family is all safe and sound.
In order to combat disappointment I always head to my studio. Now that all of the calls have been made it's just a matter of waiting...and the best way I find to wait to paint. It is so meditative, and there is really nothing else I can do since we've cleaned up the branches, taped up the window on the camper, removed the sodden mattress, placed fans around to help dry everything out, built up soil around the house to help keep the gallons of water we've been hit with away from the foundation, and helped the neighbors. Shingles and siding are missing and battered but so far we have no leaks into the house. My bones are aching but after a hot shower spending this afternoon in my studio has been a balm for my soul. Thank goodness for the healing power of art.
Today I am thankful for indigo...any shade of blue really. I've always loved it, since I can remember, and it's often the first colour I grab out of my paint box. These days have been extremely hot for me as I experienced heat stroke as a young girl so I've been enjoying the inky night skies and cool weather that comes with it. I know my basic palette should consist of ultramarine blue, but I tend to gravitate to Prussian or Pthalo blue because of their indigo tones. And I've always been grateful for my vision so that I get to enjoy every beautiful colour.
My main companion in the studio is CBC Radio. I love hearing a mix of music and the stories behind the lyrics and musicians. I grew up listening to CBC (and watching it) up north as that was all we had and I loved it. My favorite programs (and hosts) are Radio 2 Morning with Tom Power, Shift with Tom Allen, Radio 2 Drive with Rich Terfry, Tonic with my friend Tim Tamashiro, and Vinyl Café with Stuart McLean.
Not only do I love the music, which ranges from folk to jazz to classical but I also love, love, love the quirky stories they all share...about the songs, the song writers, really about anything. Tim told me they are 'water cooler' stories, those things you might remember and share at work. A while ago, an unusual story stuck with me of how studies have shown women to look the most haggard on Wednesdays at 3pm. It made me laugh and I definitely shared it with the ladies at the library.
And Stuart McLean's stories about Dave and Morely and their family are so funny and heart warming. I was so grateful to see him live last Christmas. The way he delivers his stories and the musicians he features on his program are all fantastic. Everyone in my family has changing favorites, stories that make us laugh until we cry...mine currently is of their son Sam and his soccer try-out. I can't help but smile just to think of it.
I also prefer the news broadcasts as they still feel like factual stories, unlike so much news broadcasting which tends to lean too heavily on the entertainment industry which is unfortunate. If I want celebrity 'news' I would rather read an Enquirer (do they still publish those?). And I especially enjoy hearing the good stories that happen in the world, too.
I have always been a fan of CBC listening to it while growing up in a northern community not only because that is all we had in both radio and television, but because I really enjoyed what they offered and I have to say it's getting better and better all the time. I have to be careful about what I listen to while I paint as anything too fast makes me move faster and I'd rather move a little slower. I began to wonder if the music does that to me as I work, how does it affect me as I do anything in my day. Because I want to live more mindfully, less stressed (yes, I am definitely affected by everything in my environment), and not feel rushed, I choose what I watch, listen to and do carefully...and CBC Radio is definitely in that mix.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +