I can't believe I have made it to the final third of this year's 52 WEEKS project. After completing three previous year-long projects, have I found this process easier? Well...yes and no. Beginning this year was just like any other year. I questioned my choice of subject matter, the size and shape of the canvases, whether I should actually share my progress. But, as the year progressed, it did get easier.
Am I fully satisfied with each piece? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I never expected to capture an identical likeness as I am not a portraitist and it takes years of practice to become really good at it, but I am happy with the fact that I kept the pieces loose and interesting looking. I really like the street-art feel of these pieces and that I have been able to incorporate the style of painting that I enjoy, which includes layering and dripping paint, utilizing spray paint and stencils as well as hand-carved stamps, the use of my hands, and working intuitively with lots and lots of colour.
I have also greatly enjoyed having the pieces on the wall to see the progress...I haven't done so in the past, placing the pieces into my studio closet as I go instead and I like this much better. There's a sense of accomplishment in seeing the work as it grows. And it's wonderful to see it on the studio wall every single day. I think it's helping me to be a little less critical of my work.
One of the greatest privileges as an artist is to create a piece that is extremely meaningful to someone. Recently I was given the opportunity to paint St. Mary's Cathedral as it was the site of a wedding that took place this summer. As I love including imagery that is rich with symbols, this was such a pleasure.
Throughout the years I have read and watched many stories about Grace Kelly. So often, the fact that she was a glamorous movie star who became a princes overrides everything else she did, which is unfortunate, as she contributed so much in her time. Not only was she a Golden Globe and Academy Award winner by 26 years of age, but most notably founded a non-profit organization to protect the moral, physical and spiritual well-being of children around the world. It was eventually recognized by the United Nations and is now headed by her daughter. She also assisted emerging dance, theater and film artists, though she did it anonymously. Finally, she supported the La Leche League, a group whose knowledge was invaluable to me when I had my babies.
One of the highlights of my year is to paint a bowl for the Airdrie Food Bank's Empty Bowls festival. The past four years I have had the privilege of painting a large bowl which is an absolutely fantastic surface (prior to that I painted small bowls, but still a privilege). Gosh, I sure do love painting on a lot of different surfaces - chairs, picnic tables, utility boxes, murals, bowls, and always canvas. It is such a pleasure to be able to contribute to the food bank's fundraiser in this way as the work they do is invaluable in our community.
A few of my previous contributions:
I am thrilled to share that my work is now available through the Vernon Public Art Gallery in the Okanagan. After a lovely trip through the mountains, painting in the Kootenays, and a visit with old friends, the final part of my trip included a meeting with the gallery and it is lovely. Vernon is a wonderful community, with great cafes, fabulous bookstores, and great lakes. I definitely recommend a visit.
Last weekend I had the wonderful privilege of painting at Effusion Gallery in Invermere, British Columbia for the second time and it was lovely. On our travels through the Rocky Mountains, I had sketched Mount Rundle in my moleskine and as I worked throughout the two days I decided to translate that image on canvas with acrylic and, though the process was rather challenging, I ended up loving it in the end. I can't wait to capture more of the mountains that I enjoy so very much.
Recently I read somewhere that a website should inspire, educate, entertain, be relevant and also be comfortable for the reader. I agree with that to a certain extent as I love blogs that inspire me to get back into my studio, that teach me something new about art, artists and myself, that are beautiful to look at, of course those that are relevant to me and also that don't make me uncomfortable when I read them. But I also think that whatever a person chooses to share online should be, most of all, true to them. There is something that I connect with when I can see what touches another person and can hear them speaking in their own authentic voice. I always feel that I am drawn to websites or any other social media when the language that they use sounds like they would sound on a day-to-day basis, and the subjects they speak about really resonate with them. I guess it's because everything in my life has to fit together organically. I can't act, dress, speak, or do anything that doesn't feel right to me and I tend to make a concerted effort to spend time (both online and in person) with others who feel the same. It's exhilarating for me to see someone passionate about whatever it is that they do and how they live. And my hope is that I can do that for others, too.
I have been an admirer of Beatrix Potter for as long as I can remember. Of course I loved her stories and the fact that not only did she write them but illustrated them as well. She never gave up on her dreams of publishing her work and though it was initially considered frivolous, her books are still published today. But over the years it was her commitment to care for the land that inspired me even more. As a child her British family vacationed in the Lake District of Scotland and as an adult she purchased the farms over time in order to preserve the land for future generations, and the area is now known as Lake District National Park. In a time when women of her status were meant to manage the home, she instead chose to live a creative life, focusing on the things that were most important to her, and finding success in it.
I'm often asked where I get inspiration for my paintings so I began giving it some thought. Sometimes it feels as though they are these fantastic 'a-ha!' moments. which they are to a certain extent. One thing leads to another and then another until an idea is born. But, I do realize that there needs to be that one thing that leads to another to begin with...that is to say, there is always something that seems to connect things in my brain. There are certain things that I do and am drawn to, and these things seem to be a great catalyst. These are typically the impetus for inspiration for me:
1. Nature - I love walking along the creek in my community, going for hikes in the Rocky Mountains which are just up the highway, and sitting in my back garden. I will often take photos or carry a small moleskine sketchbook and pen or pencil to jot down notes, ideas and sketches.
2. Magazines - I have always loved magazines with well photographed images. And the magazines can be about absolutely anything, but I tend to be drawn towards interior design magazines...even something like Victoria or Cottage magazines give me ideas for colour combinations. Sometimes it is something in a photo that catches my eye...a leaf shape on the ground or a bird in the sky triggers inspiration for overlapping patterns and colours. Even fashion magazines bring up ideas through their use of repeating patterns and colours and the trends that they focus on. Oddly enough I don't look at many art magazines.
3. Television/Movies - I tend to watch a lot of documentaries, BBC programs and the occasional decorating show. When the characters are in an environment that piques my interest, like Muskoka country in Ontario or a walk in the woods or even graffiti in an urban scene, my mind begins making connections. Sometimes I bring a canvas I'm working on into our livingroom to place on our fireplace hearth so that I can look at it during breaks and commercials. It's funny how things begin to connect in my mind.
4. Books - Because I read voraciously, the images that come to my mind when I read are huge fodder for my paintings. Colours, images, memories...it's all very exciting for me.
5. Music - The stories in music does the same thing for me...it actually affects the physical way I paint as well. I slow down when the music slows and speed up as it becomes faster so I am very aware of what I listen to in my studio.
6. Travel - Every time I go to different places, and even though I may not be aware of it, everything I see becomes locked into my memory as fodder for new work. Especially when I experience something for the first time. I also tend to visit galleries when we travel so even though I may not consciously note a method or style of artwork, when I am drawn to something I take the time to fully experience it. I am a huge believer that all of this becomes stored in my mind for those moments that I need it...those 'a-ha!' moments.
Often I am asked about creating a consistent body of work...which doesn't necessarily mean working in series. There are variety of ways to create work that reads as a collection...
1. Subject Matter - this current series incorporates pioneers and settlers with a focus on their dwellings and though I have been using the same media, style and colour palette on each, I think it would be beautiful to include sculptures and/or charcoal drawings utilizing the same subject matter to create a body of work.
2. Style - in the majority of the work I have completed over the past few years, I begin with a heavily coloured and patterned background that incorporates stencils which is reminiscent of street art.
3. Theme - again, in this particular series I have been focusing on dwellings, but have also created a series of chairs, canoes, tipis, wildflowers, animals and portraits...as an artist I find that having a focus is very important in my artistic development.
4. Palette - though I do fluctuate a bit on my colour palette, the basic palette consists of 2 blues, 2 greens, 2 yellow/oranges, and 2 reds...I may change out one red or green, etc. for another but the work can be recognized as being created with the same basic palette (I love vibrant colour!).
5. Medium - you can create a series using different media that reads as a series but if you prefer to work on a variety of subject matter, it's best to utilize one media (ie. acrylic, or even mixed media if you use the same or similar approach on the body of work).
6. Presentation - I have seen the most beautiful exhibits created in a variety of media - from drawings to sculpture to mixed media - all presented to read as one through the use of frames or as a progression...presentation is definitely important regardless of the subject or media as it adds to the feeling of the work.
I tend to work on several different bodies of work at the same time as, not only does it help me to resolve problems as I work through each piece, but it also gives me a fresh perspective and keeps the work fun.