As an artist, one of the greatest privileges has been to see my artwork in public spaces and I am especially grateful to galleries for allowing me to share my work in this way. The Daffodil Gallery in Edmonton was fantastic for creating the most beautiful partnerships such as art inspired tea blends with The Tea Girl, art + music with Carrie Day and art inspired floral arrangements with Studio Bloom. Every gallery and public venue that includes the visual and performing arts feels wonderful to be in and I believe it makes a difference to everyone walking into that space. And I love partnerships as I feel that everyone benefits by working together. Definitely a win-win situation for everyone and always an honour to be included.
Last year I was involved in 'Convergence', a Beakerhead supported event that involved over 250 students from the Rocky View Schools district and focused on the "A" in STEAM (Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Math) which is based on creative learning in innovation to ensure a prosperous future (and an interesting one, I think). I absolutely love the fact that all of the arts are finally being included in the development of well-rounded people in our society. Without creative thinking, I actually don't think innovation can occur. While I was growing up, my dad always had a pen in his pocket to doodle on anything he could find (often his cigarette package) where he created solutions to any problems he was having. He drew floor plans, wiring diagrams, and 3-dimensional maps to work through problems for anything from home, garage, and workshop to radio, television, and electrical items in and around the house (and to help others). I used to love his drawings and tried to emulate them as much as possible. I draw floor plans when I'm considering re-arranging our home (or my studio), the clothing I will pack for a trip, and still doodle when I'm on the phone, which is why I carry a small moleskine sketchbook wherever I go.
I really enjoy sharing demonstrations and that is possibly due to the fact that I especially enjoy watching them. There's nothing more exciting to me than watching the creative act. Of course when I am leading it, I worry that the viewers may really dislike what I do and how I do it but in the end, once I'm in the zone I often forget about what's happening around me...which can be a problem when I'm supposed to be describing my process and inspiration. I find that no matter the media or subject, there is always something to learn when I watch and when I lead, even after doing this for many years. There are steps that I take that are often intuitive so it's good to put words to the process...and there are times that I just learn to let go and allow the good, juicy stuff to happen. I was extremely impressed with the demo for the Calgary Community Painters Society as they meet in a lovely venue, and are fully equipped with video and sound so that the entire group gets to see and hear what is happening. It really was a terrific experience.
On Sunday evening I was asked to paint at a fundraiser for the Airdrie & District Victims Assistance Society. It was a lovely event with live music, dance, theatre, pottery, and painting (me) and I was really honoured to be invited. The decor was beautiful, the snacks were delicious, the speakers were inspiring, and I was glad to win the bid on a massage which I think I will wait to use after ARTember is over (beginning on Thursday). Being able to contribute to such incredible causes in a small way is a great privilege.
In the early 1980's I tried to emulate Coco Chanel with my wardrobe and through designing and sewing my own clothing. I had full intentions of eventually studying fashion in Toronto and though I was accepted life drew me in a different direction. So many memories of my mother wearing Chanel No. 5 brought to mind Coco (Gabrielle) as a positive influence due to overcoming her circumstances to become a highly respected and successful designer and business woman. She began life as the daughter of a single woman who died of bronchitis, then was sent to live in an orphanage in a convent with her sisters. She became a seamstress and cabaret singer, followed by milliner designing popular hats (through the support of a cavalry officer) and finally, through dedication, perseverance and hard work, a clothing and jewellery designer. Much of her early inspiration came from men's clothing and toiletries, using jersey for her deluxe casual wear which had only been used for men's under garments at the time. Though I have never agreed with her stance during the second world war, I admired the courage and independence of her youth...and, of course, very glad that she introduced the little black dress as a wardrobe staple.
I have always had a fascination for tarot cards, especially once I learned that they date back to the 14th century, possibly from a card game similar to bridge that originated in Egypt or Turkey, followed by Italy, France and finally a Snakes & Ladders type of game in Germany. It reminds me of the origami paper fortune tellers we made in elementary school.
For quite some time I have been thinking of how wonderful it would be to create my own set of cards using the portraits, animals, wildflowers, feathers, tipis and canoes that I have been painting and they arrived this week. I decided to use the meanings of the animals and flowers along with the symbols included in the other paintings to create this deck instead of incorporating the traditional cups, wands, pentacles and swords.
I knew without a doubt that I had to use some of my 52 WEEKS::Heroes portraits as my queens. The 52 WEEKS::Totem Animals ended up being the Minor Arcana as well as the Court Cards (Pages, Knights and Kings) and the wildflowers, tipis, animal silhouettes and canoes became the Major Arcana. I also included the word(s) on each card that, to me, represent that particular card. I find that every card can seem positive or negative but I tend to focus on the positive.
Using the cards is very meditative for me as I typically separate them into three piles, one-by-one with my left (non-dominant) hand and then pile them together before pulling them. There are several ways that I like to use the cards:
1. Pull one card as a type of guide for the day. That can be either the top card or, if I fan them out onto a surface, I select a card that I am drawn to.
2, Pull three cards and place them left to right, with the left representing my past, the center representing my present, and the right representing my future.
3. Pull five cards and place them in a cross formation. The first card is set on the left and represents work; the second on the right to represent home; the third at the top to represent something unexpected; the fourth on the bottom to represent my role; and the fifth in the center to represent an outcome.
I trust my intuition when I look at the cards and try to read how they work as a whole. If there is more than one card in a particular suit I pay attention to what that might mean for me and where I should possibly focus my attention (ie. Cups=Emotions/Relationships; Pentacles=Finance; Wands=Creativity; Swords=Intellect). If there are more Major Arcana cards then I consider there may be an upcoming change in my life or that things may move swiftly. Often it is just a change in my attitude which brings this about.
To me, this is a kind of prayer or meditation and it helps to calm any anxieties I feel by forcing me to slow down and breath deeply. If you are interested in creating your own cards, you can do so through a variety of online sources, but the one I used was Make Playing Cards and I'm very happy with the outcome. You can also personalize playing cards on this site which I think would be a lovely wedding or birthday gift.
There are now wooden graffiti ornaments available at Inglewood Fine Arts. These have been such a pleasure to create, though they are a bit awkward to gesso and varnish. Fortunately, since I work in layers and blocks of colour, the actual painting of them is really enjoyable. With the weather being so cooperative (beautiful), I have been hanging them in our trees to dry after varnishing and I think they look so lovely. Not just Christmas decorations, I think.
Last Wednesday evening I had the great privilege of sharing a demonstration with the Calgary Community Painters' Society. Because what I do is often a very solitary and quiet task, it is so nice to be able to discuss the process and the reasons behind it with others, especially others that practice art themselves. I always find the most interesting comments and conversations take place and I am so grateful to be part of it.
It's a busy month, with Junior, Teen & Adult Artists workshops beginning again at the library and live painting at Reign of Power, a theatrical event in support of Airdrie & District Victims Society on September 25. Then during ARTember at the end of the month the library is hosting Metis drummer Denise Miller, Adult Colouring with my good friend Brenda Campbell along with her new colouring book, the Voice & Vision open mic collaboration between the Writers' Group and local artists and finally Culture at the Creek. September is always a busy month which I look forward to with both excitement and trepidation. Over the next few months I will be involved in several events but at least they're not back-to-back which makes me very happy.
Because I grew up in northern Manitoba, my first exposure to the visual arts was that of the Woodlands Artists, and Daphne Odjig's was the first female artist to whom I was exposed. She was born on Manitoulin Island in Ontario and has received both the Governor General's Award and the Order of Canada among many other accolades and was known for fusing pictographs and First Nations' arts with European techniques as she had received formal art education in Sweden. In 1974 she opened the first gallery which featured Indigenous art exclusively in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I received very sad news this week, that a kind woman who I've known for many years suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Grief is a difficult thing and the only way I know how to handle it is through painting. These chairs were created on September 11, 2001, when we didn't know what was going to happen in our world, and ended up travelling in an exhibit with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for three years. This week I have been extremely tired, and yet it is still the studio that calls to me. As I paint, I think of all the conversations and laughter we had through these years and I can smile with the memories.