52 WEEKS::Black Henbane
I find this to be one of the most interesting flowers to look at with all its tiny purple 'veins' and the contrast between dark and light. They are considered a noxious weed, originally imported from Europe, and is poisonous as it contains many of the same alkaloids as Belladona. In the Middle Ages the plant was brewed to make a beer though, thankfully, that was stopped once it was realized how often its unfortunate patrons died of poisoning. It is now grown commercially for use in painkillers and other drugs.
Yesterday my husband and I spent our day in the mountains delivering artwork, visiting galleries and walking along the river. There is something so rejuvenating about breathing that fresh autumn air. I love that the streets in Banff are named after the wild animals that frequent the area as the town I grew up in did the same, though the names were Cree. I lived on Nisku Bay, Cree for goose,
A visit to the mountains is always a balm for my soul. A time to absorb nature, colours, and in turn inspire new ideas. I like to sketch and take photos whenever we are in there and my mind whirls with so much creativity. It was great to see several canoes and kayaks still out and about in this beautiful weather and I can't wait to get back into the studio to paint once again.
Though I still have a dozen pieces to finish in this year's 52 WEEKS series and have another 52 ready to go next year, my studio still feels empty. I'm currently working on a 28x48 along with 12-8x10's but I still feel rather anxious or nervous when I see an end to the work ahead of me. So, off to the art supply store I headed and am now happy to have a number of blank canvases in varying sizes, from 4 feet to 4 inches, to look forward to.
I remember a time when a blank canvas intimidated me and now they give me such great pleasure. Oh the possibilities that avail themselves and how my mind can wander and roam. I remember reading stories of those who saw certain things as stressful but when given an alternate perspective found them to be exciting. I think that's how I've come to feel about a blank canvas.
I have always loved learning. When I attended Red Deer College I was fortunate to study design, painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture (wood, clay, plaster, bronze), art history and English. Since then I have continued to study with a variety of artists through schools and galleries as well as online including....
- pyrography (wood burning)
- leather stamping
- metal stamping
- jewellery making
- stone carving
- short story writing
- figurative painting
- web design
- glass etching
- printmaking (linocut & woodcut)
- tailoring (sewing)
- handbuilding, throwing, glazing & firing (clay)
- silk painting
I believe everything I do contributes to the work that I am committed to in teaching me a new way to look at things and provide a different perspective. Plus, I feel that switching between media allows me to expand my creative muscles which helps to form new ideas. Oh...and it's really fun, too.
52 WEEKS::Blue Flax
I have always loved fields of flax situated beside fields of canola., purple against yellow on rolling hills. The flowers bloom only one day though the plant has always had many uses, as edible seeds or oil and woven into linen fibres since ancient times. It is also used in many wood-finishing products, as ornamental plants in local gardens, and used in nutritional supplements.
The oil produced from the seeds have been used medicinally to treat gastrointestinal problems as well as high cholesterol and hypertension. It has also been used to guard against osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acid and is thought to improve kidney function.
"The artist is a receptacle for emotions
that come from all over the place,
from the sky,
from the earth,
from a scrap of paper,
from a passing shape,
from a spider's web."
~ Pablo Picasso
When I was growing up in northern Manitoba I was surrounded by Indigenous art but as a young adult was introduced to the work of the Group of Seven. Tom Thomson's small sketches on wood panel particularly caught my eye as they were quite loose and colourful and incorporated the orange of the wood as part of the image. I have always especially liked the shape of his trees as they reflected the trees of the boreal forest that surrounded my home and felt as though this painting would be the perfect opportunity to honour his influence in my creative life.
I have never been comfortable with painting the landscape, typically preferring to focus on a single tree or plant, though I have been pushing myself in that regard over the last two years. Who knows? Perhaps a series of landscapes will be a focus for another 52 WEEKS project.
I've really enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's novel, Big Magic. Not only does she speak in an extremely authentic and straight forward voice, but the wisdom she imparts is phenomenal. She writes of the Tormented Artist and how destructive it is to live that way, rather than accepting creativity as play. My experience has been that creativity saves me from destructive behaviour, it brings me so much joy and keeps me balanced.
She also discusses the courage required to be creative. Not only in the act of creating something, but in the realization that our creations may be rejected and asks if we're prepared to accept that as part of the process.
Another point brought up in the book is the idea that ideas visit several people at the same time...I'm definitely a believer in that adage. There have been times in my life when I've been visited by a muse only to let it go, when in a year or two I've seen that same idea created by someone else. And it always interests me to see how someone else completes the same vision.
One of my favorite lines is, 'I can even make it into an act of prayer.' I've always felt that the process of painting or drawing was like a meditation, a direct connection to God. It is the only time I feel purely present...not worrying about the future or the past, not wondering if I've said or done the right things. It's a good feeling.
Lately I've been watching interviews and videos of performance artist Marina Abrabovic who absolutely fascinates me. She pushes her art to the limits by inviting people to contribute to her performance, at times leaving her life at risk. But, what I find even more interesting is her wisdom. She refers to the fact that art requires sacrifice, focus, and concentration and how each artist is born to create in the method that they do....like how a painter is born a painter and cannot live without colour, brushes, a studio. She is able to put into words the way I feel as an artist, that failing is a part of the process and that the only way to speak clearly in your field is by becoming secure in your own language...which really means to do the work, over and over and over again. Not only is she creative and wise, her voice is pure heaven.