I'm often asked what creative tools I take with me when I travel. When we are away for a longer period of time I take my pochade but if we're just heading out for a day or two I take this little kit with me...a 3.5x5 inch moleskin, a mechanical pencil (so no sharpener is required, it also has a small eraser on the end which can be replaced), an ultra fine sharpie pen (which doesn't bleed through the back of the page, I've tried Micron pens but they don't seem to last too long with me), a watercolour travel set (Cotman Sketchers' Pocket Box which for years I have re-filled with Winsor & Newton watercolours), elephant sponge (for texture and also to wipe of the brush) and Holbein water brush (so that I don't require a separate water dish). And it all fits neatly into this little bag from Indigo/Chapters (I used to just set everything in my purse or carry bag but this is so much simpler).
I love the fact that this watercolour set has been with me for twenty-five years so every time I open it I am filled with great memories. The best thing I learned over time was to place a few drops of water into each dried colour so that the paint is moist and ready to use once I've completed my sketch. I also like the fact that I can bring it into restaurants where salt and napkins are plentiful for pattern and texture, on hikes since it is so lightweight, and even to draw and paint while we drive since it is so compact. Just bringing it along encourages creativity.
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ART JOURNALING IS FOR EVERYONE!
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21 SECRETS is celebrating it's fifth anniversary in 2014 by offering new workshops and a new format as well! And I am thrilled to be teaching this year...21 SECRETS FALL comes out on October 1st. For more information or to register go HERE.
Night...an ode to Van Gogh and to my life as a child of the moon...time of rest...of the birth of my daughters...of dreams and visions. Night is the time I work through challenges and envision new work. It is the time of silence and glowing starlight and inky blue skies. I was labelled a day dreamer, but I am a night dreamer, too. Even on a restless night, I arise refreshed after having sorted through the puzzles of my mind.
The blessing of the Harvest Moon in September was also known as the Full Corn Moon as attributed to the Algonquin and is often believed to be linked to insomnia and insanity. I believe it is linked to magic. And so, for the letter 'n' I am grateful for night.
Thrilled that my tipi painting titled "The Blessing" (second row, center) has been selected for inclusion in this year's Art-in-Motion transit passes. I am so glad that there are so many opportunities to share my art with my community.
I also feel lucky to work at the library where I get to hear all sorts of wonderful comments from both long-term and new residents who find beauty in Airdrie's public art. It has been a long time in coming but it certainly is a wonderful mix of two and three dimensional original and printed art.
Recently I spent an enjoyable 'Adults Only' evening with friends at the Telus Spark Science Center. It was so great as we got to play with everything...and we even learned a thing or two. And laughed...a lot.
There is something special about play. Even though I feel like much of my life as an artist is about play and experimentation, I do spend so much of my time alone so this was extra special. And I find that the more I expose myself to, the more creative thoughts fill my mind.
At one point we created a stop motion movie and at first it seemed like it needed to be done a certain way, but as we went along we just kept adding characters and expanding our little story line and in the end as we watched we laughed and had thoroughly enjoyed the process. I think that's the best way to learn.
When I arrived home I couldn't wait to get to my studio...I guess the synapsis were firing. Or maybe it was the adult only beverages ;)
P.S. Yes, I am in the photos - the short haired blond in the background.
I'm often asked how I manage to create so much work annually but I have to be honest...there are definite lulls and times that the work feels like absolute drudgery and times that I feel that everything I do is garbage and I wish I was like somebody else, anybody else. But art also saves me.
I struggle with setting boundaries on my time and on how I expect to be treated by others plus, with a family history of clinical depression and addictions I know that I can self-sabotage and end up feeling awful, I often experience that gut-wrenching feeling of inadequacy and non-belonging...and when I feel that way I know that all I need to do is hit my studio.
I bring a cup of delicious tea (these days if it isn't Starbucks matcha tea latte it's Cream of Earl Grey at home), light a beeswax candle, turn on CBC Radio and pull out canvas and paint. And it doesn't matter the time of day or night, if I can't sleep I head to my studio, if I'm away from home I always carry a Moleskin and pen or pencil or watercolour pan with me. I write and doodle and paint and feel much, much better. It's the cure for everything that ails me.
One of my greatest pleasures is living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There is something sacred and awe-inspiring about these monoliths...so rugged and raw and untouched. Though we were unable to camp in the mountains for our summer vacation as planned, we did still manage to spend a few days which was lovely. This particular mountain was the view we enjoyed outside our window, and from the rooftop hot tub which was so refreshing, even in the rain.
I love the silence in the mountains with just the sound of the ravens and the wind rustling in the trees. Because we live in one of the fastest growing communities on one of the busiest highways, I treasure the time spent surrounded by nature.
As most of you know, in between bouts of painting, I read voraciously. It's been awhile since I've shared some of my favorite reading material, so here goes:
Sleep, Pale Sister
by Joanne Harris
I have always been a huge fan of Joanne Harris' magical writing and was thrilled when Chocolat was made into a beautiful movie (watching Johnny Depp didn't hurt, either) so I was a little nervous to read this novel as it was written previous to her others but re-published. It was a haunting story of love and betrayal and loss...and, of course, magic. A perfect combination. This story is set in nineteenth-century London and follows the life of artist Henry Chester and his delicate model Effie who becomes his child-bride. Henry lives a tortured and tortuous life, which ends in tragic circumstances for all involved. I thought it was an intriguing story which was beautifully written.
by Mary Lawson
Another author whose books I absolutely adore. Because they are set in northern Ontario, which is somewhat reminiscent of my life growing up in northern Manitoba, I find that I can envision the landscape she describes perfectly. This story revolves around the Cartwright family who seem quite normal but are rather dysfunctional. Though there are several adults in the household, they are each so enmeshed in their own lives and challenges that they cannot see beyond themselves to care for the youngest members of the family. As they all begin to spiral downward, facing their own disappointments, they learn to see the possibility of hope in their own way. Though sad, like her other novels, it was a pleasure to read.
by Eleanor Catton
Oh my goodness...I received this book as a gift from my family and had planned on saving it for my vacation but ended up reading it in a week long before holidays began. Although this is the author's first novel, it was so well written and such an intriguing story. It takes place in a mining town in New Zealand in 1866 with a missing man, a prostitute who attempts suicide, and an enormous fortune found in a drunk's cabin. Twelve men who are connected indirectly to these circumstances meet in secret to solve the mysteries. There is astrology involved (I will be re-reading this with a good astrology book at my side) with the phases of the moon playing a large part in the character and story development and a great mystery to solve. I'm looking forward to reading the author's previously published novel, The Rehearsal.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood
by Diana Gabaldon
I have waited for this eighth novel in The Outlander series for years and was so excited when it arrived at the library. Jamie Fraser has been resurrected from the dead (thank goodness) has found out that his best friend has married his wife and he is then pulled into the fight for Philadelphia with George Washington as the British army withdraws. I always enjoy the adventure and the inclusion of historical events, and of course the romance. It was so good to read more about Jamie and Claire once again and now I'm looking forward to the television series...hopefully it does the novels justice.
by David McFarlane
This book felt a little slower for me, which was fine since I read most of it during hot summer's days at the beach. It focuses on Bay Newling and his experience in the wilderness as a child and his need to share that experience with his son who he has rarely seen since his divorce. It is a poignant story of memories, desire, dreams, and loss.
The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
Another author whose writing I absolutely love...and this was no exception. The story travels over 35 years and moves between Sarah Grimke and her slave Hetty 'Handful' Grimke. Sarah believes that because she is a woman in early nineteenth century Charleston that her life is a challenging as that of a slave. My favorite part of the novel was written at the end, though I loved it all, where I learned that Sarah Grimke was in fact a historical character. I always love learning about truth in fiction.
I'm always very nervous when the time comes to attend my exhibit receptions and yet they are always lovely. So many interesting people to meet and always such an honour when my work travels to new homes (a HUGE thank you to Inglewood Fine Arts & the newest patrons of my work!). On many occasions I have been asked what I do the day of my shows and it's quite funny actually. I used to work myself into a frenzy with busy-ness because I was so anxious but that is absolutely detrimental to my state of mind and terribly exhausting so over the years I have developed a bit of a routine.
Typically, as I normally do, I get up early and spend a couple of hours in my studio. There I read, write and paint...I'll do anything creative really. Then, when I hear my family beginning to stir (because the openings are often held on a weekend) I start a load of laundry or do some housekeeping (maybe because it keeps me grounded?) and then join them for breakfast and then head to a cozy spot to read for awhile. This is followed by a nice long shower or soak to pamper myself before heading out. And that's it.
I find that the more relaxed I am, the better host I can be as I've learned that being at an opening is a wonderful opportunity to share my work with others rather than thinking of it as being some kind of sales gimmick (I'm really not comfortable with salesmanship). I feel blessed to be able to share what I do and to be able to encourage others in some way, whether that is through speaking about my inspiration, sharing process and techniques, or sharing the work itself. I'm grateful for those who believe in what I do enough to hang it on their walls in galleries and public spaces, and those who connect with it enough to live with it in their private spaces.