I love working in series. When I'm challenged one on, I will work on another, or as I research and look through sketches and photos and realize that one mark, symbol or image would work better on another piece, I can just add as I go. I also find working small to be a special treat as it is always pleasing to see the pile of work grow.
I'm currently finishing up some pieces to head to AyrSpace Gallery in Ontario for a group exhibit which opens on November 15 and I can't wait to see the pieces up together. I've run into a few hiccups with shipping as my usual suspects (from some time ago) no longer work in the same manner. Either I have to ship smaller works or an entire exhibit, neither of which I want. I know that in the end things will work out the way they're meant.
The gallery Owner/Director Jill Yuzwa is phenomenal. Her dedication and vision for the future of her gallery and her absolute love of the arts are contagious (click this link to read a wonderful article about her). I am honoured to be represented by her gallery.
"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all
And sweetest in the Gale—is heard--
And sore must be the storm--
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm--
I've heard it in the chilliest land--
And on the strangest sea--
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
~ Emily Dickinson
I've hung a trio of my tiny tipis over an antique dresser that my husband inherited from his father many, many years ago and I love the juxtaposition of a piece of pottery my youngest daughter created and a photo taken in the mountains last Christmas of my family along with a hand-carved box from Africa.
There is something magical about pieces that are made by hand. There is an positive energy and uplifting sense that there is nothing else in the world exactly like this one special piece, nor will there ever be anything else quite like it. I love surrounding myself and my family with these special mementos.
This week's otter is especially meaningful for me at this time of year when we are reminded to be thankful for everything especially friends and family and we were fortunate enough to have a special guest this weekend...one of my oldest and dearest friends. She knew me before I dated and married and had my children. This weekend was full of great conversation, delicious food and lots of laughter.
Otters live in community, are enthusiastic, energetic and inquisitive. As a totem animal they appreciate the healing qualities of water. They live with wild abandon, joy and a natural sense of intrigue, reminding us to renew our spirits in order to appreciate life...to play, explore and have fun. It's all about having the right attitude.
Boy, autumn gives me so much energy and I find it to be such a pleasure to work outdoors which means that my second adirondack chair is coming along nicely. All the base layers of pattern and colour have been applied and now it's time for the next stage of the design process. I haven't totally decided on the images this time, though I know it will include tipis and feathers and animals, beyond that I'm uncertain.
As I've been looking at a lot of photos taken at Writing on Stone Provincial Park and learning more about petroglyphs and pictographs, I've begun to see a greater connection between the people that were here so long ago and me. Whenever I scratch into paint it feels like the original petroglyphs, scratching or engraving symbols and images into stone, and when I use colour to add pattern, it's reminiscent of the pictographs, drawings applied with stains made from minerals and fruit.
I remember the first time I saw pictographs when I was a girl up north. I couldn't get those beautiful images out of my mind and felt as though I knew what they were trying to say. I like that sense of connection to those that lived on this land for hundreds of years. I love the story-telling in their images and want to continue that form of communication however I can, to honour it in a new way.
My family have all gathered and one of my oldest and dearest friends will be arriving this evening...it feels like Christmas! I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend.
There are times I begin to feel anxiety over all the things I 'should' do. Now, should is a relative term, as I have learned the hard way in the past that I only need to do what I want, with a few exceptions. The 'shoulds' in my life include taking care of myself and my family, being thoughtful and considerate, and doing what I love.
But I sometimes get caught up in those things that grow my to do list and shorten my days which I tend to believe a professional artist should do...plan for my next exhibit (even though I am already working on one), write another article, take another workshop, join another group, try a new medium, basically do whatever else it is I see someone else doing...when all I need to do is simple really.
I should get up and enjoy every morning without a long list of the things I should do for that day. I should talk and laugh with my daughter when she awakes. I should care for my home and prepare a healthy and delicious dinner for my family. I should enjoy those moments at work when I can contribute to my community in a way that fits for me. I should enjoy the process of each and every moment I spend honing my craft. These are the things that give me joy. Oddly enough, opportunities tend to present themselves when I find myself doing just these things.
And finally, I should slow down and heed the words of Henry David Thoreau:
“Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air,
drink the drink,
taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the
nfluences of each.”
Last weekend I had the great pleasure of working with my youngest student, an adorable 4-year-old who wanted to add a 'rainbow' flower to our mural at the library. The beauty of children is that they trust themselves, never questioning what they should do but rather allowing themselves to be influenced by what attracts their attention.
Her eyes lit up when she saw the castle mural (she is a princess after all, sometimes a vegetable firefighter princess or a even an Easter bunny fairy) and she immediately asked if she could add a rainbow flower. She selected a different colour for each petal, with glowing, bright eyes as she viewed the selection, not hesitating at all when she chose. I love that childish enthusiasm, the non-self-judging, pride in her contribution. Oh to be a child again.
When I was preparing this canvas, I decided to use the pigments I had on my palette and as I worked, it seemed to me to resemble a field of flowers, which of course brought to mind bees. Initially I thought I would paint several tiny bees, almost life-sized, but then began to remember Georgia O'Keeffe and her desire to enlarge images so that people really took a close look.
With the plight of bees in our world, I think there is nothing better than to stop and admire them. I've been especially grateful for these fluffy, busy little bees in my garden as I am now reaping the rewards of their work. Simmering on the stove is jam created from the abundance of even my little garden...sand cherries, grapes, strawberries, blueberries and rhubarb. And potato rolls are rising so that I can enjoy this deliciousness for lunch.
Bees symbolize fertility and life...the ability to accomplish the impossible. Their wings are fragile with a large body, so they shouldn't be able to fly, and yet they do. Their honeycombs represent the heart and the sweetness in life we are privy to. Bee reminds us to be busy when the sun shines and to rest when we need it. That if we pursue our dreams, we will inevitably reach them. But we must remember to savour the fruit of our labour. Bees have always been connected to wisdom, royalty and love.
I remember early on in my venture to become a professional artist I believed that once I had an exhibit, especially one in a reputable gallery, that my leap to a full-time career as an artist would be established. Then, I had my first exhibit in a large, beautiful gallery, complete with a visit from Calgary's Mayor, Bernard Callebaut chocolates, champagne, a jazz quartet performance, and an interview on A-Channel. And when the exhibit was over I didn't have one sale. I was surprised. So, on the advice of professionals in the business I kept exhibiting, a lot, and began investing financially as advised by numerous professionals. I definitely wouldn't advise anyone to do this unless you have the extra funds as you do not necessarily reap what you sow.
Then I believed that success arrived once you were recognized by the media. Well, I've been on television, radio, newspapers and magazines, and my life hasn't changed a whole lot. Though I do have to admit I've had the great privilege of meeting many amazing people through these opportunities.
I believed that I had to be a teacher, to have my Bachelor of Fine Arts, to take part in art sales, you know...whatever someone else was doing. And I was exhausted.
And then I began being involved in the arts only how and when I felt compelled...I found that I enjoyed showing work in public spaces not necessarily only galleries; that I loved sharing the work of other artists; that it gave me joy to share my knowledge with others. Hearing regular and positive feed back was balm for my soul. And, the bonus was that I began selling work, to everyday people, not just art collectors. It made me so happy to know that my work was living in people's homes. I sold a lot. And then I didn't.
But I kept at it because I love to paint. And I also began to focus on what was really filling me with joy...exhibiting is great, but openings are always a challenge even though I really enjoy meeting people, I feel drained for weeks afterwards. I prefer to exhibit where I don't necessarily have to show up at an opening, though I am aware of how nice it is for people to meet the artist so I do occasionally exhibit with a formal opening.
I found that I enjoyed writing so much so that I took a few more writing classes and began to submit my work for publication. Though I realize that I don't want to write full-time. I still need to paint.
I love being involved in my community. So far that has included many volunteer hours with art projects and even paid hours completing public art. It really is great to interact with others when I work and to involve them in projects so they get a chance to feel connected to their community through art.
This is a biggie, and I never realized how important it would become...I love working as an Art Program Coordinator for our public library. I love connecting with people, coordinating exhibits for other artists, organizing art classes for kids, writing about art for our local newspapers, and every other odd-art-related job that comes up. Plus it's a definite bonus to be paid for this work.
I love to learn. Since art school I have continued to study and work in a variety of media and am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program...just for fun.
Being able to contribute to several causes that I feel strongly about is very near and dear to my heart. I am always amazed when my contributions exceed expectations for fundraising. I love to be able to give, I love that the organizations are so grateful for my contribution, and I love that the recipient of my work gets so much pleasure from what I have had the pleasure of creating. It touches me deeply whenever a patron of my work connects with me and shares how my work enhances their lives. Such a great honour.
In all of this, I have found where my success lies. I believe it is achieved through finding out what is important to you and in working hard at it. Just like those 'overnight successes', musicians or actors or authors who have worked for years before they were 'found' and then continue to work at their craft.
I found that there is a natural ebb and flow to this creative life...that I had to try things in order to find where I belonged. Yes, it's not always easy, and yes, there are times to change the path a little
or a lot, but boy is it worth it.