All About Art
By Robyn Cooper & Adila Saeed
November + December 2014
Local artist Robyn Cooper has been living in Airdrie for over 25 years and is an active member of the arts community. Among many of the beautification projects in the city, her work has raised funds for several AIRdirondack Art Projects, a poppy painting graces a banner on Artists’ Alley, she contributed a mural panel to the Main Street Project and she exhibits regularly with the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society. Much of her work is inspired by the many hours she spends in her garden.
She is also employed with Alberta Waste and Recycling but her work for the environment began many years ago when she joined a group called Grassroots. Before Airdrie’s recycling program was in place, its members would collect recyclable materials from local residents and have it recycled. “I’m not an eco-warrior,” she says, “but I want to make sure when I leave this earth I leave it in the same condition I entered it, or better.”
Along with Robyn’s artwork the library is happy to share the handmade jewellery of Adila Saeed who also utilizes her creativity as the owner of Drizzles Candy Shop in Airdrie. She’s been creati86956ng jewellery for the past seven years and feels that the work is an extension of her. She loves the process of designing and connecting beads and infusing them with positive intentions. For Adila, all forms of art have the power to create moods and provoke opinions which in turn provokes very personal reactions. She will be teaching the art of jewellery making for children aged 9-12 and adults at the library on November 15.
The letter 'U' was a little more difficult in this Thankful Thursday journey but once I took time to consider it, university was a fairly simple choice. I love learning and am a huge advocate for lifelong education...through many different means. Whether that education takes place through formal education, workshops, reading or conversations with others. I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue my studies and grateful to live in this country where I have the opportunity to learn.
It's already been a busy week at the library, but I'm hoping to complete packing work to ship to AyrSpace Gallery in Ontario...something I had hoped to do a couple of weeks ago. It seems that often I begin many paintings all at the same time and then, after several layers of colour and hours of drying time, they tend to come together in bunches. Sometimes as I work it feels rather daunting, with so much work looming ahead of me, and yet when it all comes together it's quite thrilling.
Last weekend I was able to deliver the work I had promised to Bluerock Gallery and so it's a treat to be able to be at the documenting and shipping portion of these pieces as well. I still have two paintings to complete and ship to Chicago and then one more for commission. My challenge is to keep it all fresh and fun and not feel laboured because I know that the energy I put into the work also emanates from it.
While I've been moving back and forth between several canvases, I've also begun preparing canvases for my next 52 WEEKS PROJECT which will begin in January and I can't wait! There is much research and photos to review from our cache, but I know that a lot of the finalizing will happen during the process. This is just a fun way to get my brain into the project. I am so excited. A little nervous, too, but mostly excited.
I had such a great weekend that began with a lovely afternoon of painting at Bluerock Gallery followed by enjoying artist Rich Rawlyk's opening. I love painting live, especially in an environment like this where I got to hear great comments about all the artwork from visiting patrons. It makes me so happy to hear that there is an admirer for every style and genre of artwork, and I even heard someone audibly gasp as he was looking closely at one of Rich's drawings. I have to thank Bluerock Gallery for finding homes for more of my Totem Animals and also a number of the books on the animals (52 WEEKS: An Artist's Labour of Love).
What has your journey as an artist been like?
This was the question that Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio asked 33 artists who taught
21 SECRETS spring and fall this year. She will be posting an interview each day of the work week
for seven weeks with the hope of sharing nuggets of inspiration. Connie is such a warm-hearted, incredibly talented woman and I am so honoured to be included. I can't wait to hear all of the conversations!
There are times when I really, really love commissions...especially when I'm given certain parameters (ie. size and approximate colour) but am then left to my own devices. I think the biggest thing when working on a commission, which can be intimidating, is making sure we're on the same page. It's amazing what different people perceive when they both (or some cases, several people) believe they are thinking the same thing, but are not. For example, certain shades of orange or green to my husband are all yellow (he's an accountant/hockey player).
I find that it helps to look at images on my website, or if possible, to show actual work but with the understanding that the piece will not be replicated. I think the beauty of that is that each person who owns a painting has an original, something that no one else has or will ever have. Plus, as many years as I have painted and with the intuitive/spontaneous way that I paint and in many layers, there is no possible way I can duplicate what I've created before. In the end, I believe that is a good thing.
Last night's author visit at the library was fantastic! Thank you Janice MacDonald! A great writer and reader and so full of information about pursuing writing as a career. And today I'm excited for a meeting at Calgary Police Services regarding Up the Wall, a restorative justice, arts based, intervention and educational program focused on helping youth to develop new and legal ways of expressing themselves creatively. And with more sunshine on the way, I believe it's going to be a good day.
These days focusing on gratitude seems especially important, and so I am grateful for the simplest things. This Wedgewood teacup was a gift from my husband when my now twenty year old daughter was but a toddler. He meant to present me with two, but little fingers have trouble staying away from pretty things (as do mine) and so I've always only had the one. But that's okay as I have enjoyed many delicious cups of tea from it, while reading a good book, sitting in the sunshine or watching the birds outside my window. When I treat myself to tea in this cup, I am thankful for the gift, the giver and the little fingers (not so little any longer) that presented me with it.
As I paint these little pieces, the term 'friendship feathers' comes to mind...in this day of strife I am grateful for time in my creative space and pray for peaceful resolution.
A few ways I like to use stencils in my art:
1. With a palette knife and modeling paste, gel media or spackling for texture;
2. A paintbrush or sponge and paint;
3. Paint pens to draw through;
4. Coating it with paint and using it as a stamp;
5. In mono printing with my Gelli Plate.
So...I think it took me about thirty days to finish thirty pages complete with 40 quotes and I'm so pleased with the finished project. All of my favorite quotes in one place, that I can pick up and read over and over again when I need a boost of inspiration. Each of the smaller images can be enlarged by clicking on them and you can view the rest of the pages here and here.
There is something special about working on a large creative project like this...it helps me work through struggles I have with my studio work and also allows my imagination to soar, playing with different media and colour. Over half the pages were removed with some being used in other pages which helps the book lie fairly flat and I find it interesting this way. Most of the pages have been adhered to at least one other page and in some cases many other pages.
I love it when my daughters are inspired to create something of their own when they watch me create, too, and am always interested to see how different their work is from mine. It's quite fantastic actually. Can't wait to see their end results. And if you are working on your own altered book and would like to share, I would love to see photos...via email or tag me on facebook (see links at the top of this page).
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +