It's been quite a week...so many great things happening and so I've been glad to spend a little time adding texture and colour to a canvas today:
The Professor and the Madman
by Simon Winchester
This book is actually non-fiction but is so fascinating, it actually reads more like a fiction novel. The story revolves around the making of the Oxford English Dictionary which began in 1857 and took seventy years to complete. The two characters, Professor James Murray and Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon, became unlikely friends.
The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Rejection is never easy. I know that my work won't appeal to everyone and even after all of these years of exhibitions and sales I don't expect every submission to be accepted, but some rejections are certainly more harsh than others. I really don't want my work represented by anyone who doesn't have the passion for it that I do, but not long ago I experienced a rejection that stated that my work wasn't the calibre of the artists represented which was interesting as I have exhibited with several of the artists they represent. The unnecessarily unkind response kind of gutted me, but then I received an even better offer in a much better space.
The same thing happened with an article that was rejected by one magazine and then picked up by another, one with a larger readership. I remember early on in my career, I had submitted packages to six of the largest galleries in my region and I received calls from five of them. I couldn't believe it. But it's not always that way. In fact, more often than not, it's similar to the previous experience.
I have learned to allow myself a little grief, and then force myself move on...that better opportunities often, usually present themselves. And there's this beautiful collaboration that happens with those that are on the same wave length as me...those with similar visions and goals. I am so lucky to be represented by the people I am. I feel absolutely blessed.
And we have all heard the stories of the great ones that were rejected numerous times...Katherine Hepburn apparently had a 'horse face' and Lucille Ball was too shy, they were told they wouldn't make it in the movies....J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter, Marcel Proust, among many other authors were rejected several times before publication (Potter & Proust actually self-published)...Elvis was told to stick to his day job driving trucks...and Monopoly was initially rejected. So many fabulous stories of overcoming odds.
So...the old adage to 'never give up' certainly applies. I think the biggest thing I've learned is to trust my instincts when I open my heart. I don't panic anymore when I'm running out of time on a submission deadline as perhaps it wasn't meant for me...and even procrastination is sometimes my soul's way of telling me to step aside. There is a place for everyone and everything in this world. Thank goodness for that.
When we lived in Nose Creek Park we used to watch the Great Blue Herons as they waded along the creek with their long legs and knobby knees. They often looked clumsy as they walked but as they flew, with their legs streaming along behind, they soared with grace. A bird of land, water and sky.
Herons are determined and self-reliant, a bird of the marsh. They symbolize balance, using the agility of their fragile-looking legs to carry them from water to land with great stability. They tend to stand alone, not requiring many others around them. Herons remind us to trust our personal wisdom and follow our own path, being sure to pay attention when opportunity presents itself.
I'm currently working on a couple of commissions...sanding, priming, staining...my fingers and back are becoming a little sore but I'm having fun. Commissions can be tricky, but I still enjoy them, especially when I'm working for someone who loves everything I paint...that certainly makes it easier. And I really enjoy collaboration. My fingers have been sticky and dark as I attempt to replicate the effects of our fluctuating mountain weather on wood. Spending hours in my studio, my playlist consists of Royal Wood, Whitehorse, Sara Slean, Rose Cousins, Coeur de Pirate, and Armistice. So good.
And another great read, I have been on a roll lately...
The Figures of Beauty
by David McFarlane
David McFarlane was shortlisted for the Giller Prize for his previous novel Summer Gone which I have yet to read though it is definitely on my list. This novel begins in Europe in the late 1960's when unplanned circumstances change young Oliver's plans and he ends up in Carrara, Italy surrounded by marble and sculptors. Three separate stories weave together to form a whole and are beautifully told through a letter he wrote to his daughter. The story asks us to consider how our choices shape and define us.
I'm very happy to be working with Word+Art which combines images with Bible verses and is another initiative of Julie Chandler, the brainchild behind Canadian Artists for the Poor. Julie's vision has always been to support art and artists while contributing to those in need...in her own words:
We are a group of Canadian artists who love to create and love to give. There are many different types of artists represented among us: painters, photographers, potters, sculpturers, graphic artists etc. We create and then take part in various art shows in order to grow our businesses while helping out those living in extreme poverty at the same time.
How it all got started: In the spring of 2008, Julie Chandler (not an artist) was at an event where author Vaden Earle was a guest speaker. He spoke of his work at Absolute Leadership Development and read from his book, ONE: A Face Behind The Numbers. In the book's eleven chapters, the injustices of the humanitarian crisis are illuminated. Including statistics, real-life stories and striking photography, ONE brings the numbers to life and sets out the challenge - that you are one person, but you CAN do something to help.
After delving into more research and reading, including Jeffrey Sachs's book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Julie was encouraged to gather others and form the non-profit Canadian artists for the poor. The main purpose of canadian artists for the poor is to raise money for charities helping those in the poorest areas of the world. We also help raise the profiles of Canadian artists and help artists in their businesses.
"Quite often there is an emotional detach from those living in Canada and those living in extreme poverty. I think it's because we don't know how to help - other than possibly sponsoring a child through a relief organization. canadian artists for the poor is an innovative way to help those living in extreme poverty. canadian artists - painters, sculptures and photographers participate in an art event, locals come and buy art and the money raised goes to various charities."
It's a win-win-win situation. Canadian artists get more exposure; patrons enjoy beautiful art; canadian artists for the poor is able to raise money for individuals living in hopeless conditions - partnering with charities working at the ground level.
International Justice Mission
Open Hand Nepal
Mully Children's Family Charitable Foundation
A Place of Rescue
The Mustard Seed
Christian Children's Fund of Canada
School Project in Ghana
Heart to Heart Haiti
Thank you for considering canadian artists for the poor as one of the non-profits that you support!
Create beauty not to excite the senses but to give sustenance to the soul.
I'm absolutely thrilled to be included in AyrSpace Gallery's Christmas show in Ontario (you can view my paintings on the back wall, left side) and excited that some of my work has already found a new home. Not only is this the most beautiful space, but the Director, Jill Yuzwa is an inspiring woman.
There have been so many incredible people who have supported my journey as an artist, but it really has been the incredible positive force of a number of women, those whom I greatly admire, who have been a kind of catalyst for me, encouraging me to continue even through those times I feel I cannot. Beautiful women. Soul-full women. They create beauty just by being who they are...my sustenance.
On Saturday we had the great pleasure of a clay mask workshop at the library taught by local potter Rylee Petkau. In spite of horrid blizzard conditions we still had a terrific turnout and the kids had a blast. Rylee teaches clay classes in schools and she was wonderful with the kids. I especially loved how each of their masks turned out so individually.
The masks were based on the Iroquois tradition of mask-making, the wearers were known the 'False Face Society', which were used to invoke spirits to combat illness and misfortune. The Midwinter Dream Festival was one of the most sacred festivals, in which the False Faces led the communal dream interpretation in the belief that our souls have inborn desires which are apparent in dreams. In order to heal, they believed that the dreamer needed to follow those dreams. Sometimes we need reminding.
My husband isn't very fond of magpies but I think they're beautiful. Yes, I realize that they are scavengers, but isn't that a good thing? Cleaning up constantly. They are a corvid, in the same family as crows which is probably a huge reason why I love them. And their distinct colours are so lovely when they spread their wings to fly.
As a totem animal magpie represents intelligence and asks us to trust our intuition. They are also known as a jack of all trades which also means that they may be a master of none warning us to focus. Remembering that patience, time and experience are the stepping stones to success. In the words of Charles de Lint, "Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories you have to tell."
Some of my favorite mark-making tools come from the hardware store...rollers, scrapers, spatulas, trowels...and also from grocery stores...especially lids from different sized containers. I've been using my brayer from my printmaking kit which is interesting as it tends to allow for more random, uncontrolled marks. I also like to use my hands - fingertips, thumbs, entire hands - and even actual paint supplies such as pencils, palette knives and brushes.
I've been cutting my own stamps with printmaking tools, utilizing pre-cut stencils and creating my own, incorporating inks and paint markers, and, one tool that's always in my kit is my spray bottle. My palette has increased to incorporate a variety of colours and I've begun playing with house paint on raw canvas...going back to my roots almost 20 years ago.
It's interesting as it seems I've become a bit nervous about what's in store creatively for me in 2014. The past two years have been filled with leaps and bounds in this creative journey and I want to continue to grow as an artist. Does that mean I should be experimenting with new media, new subject matter, continue what I've begun and grow it? I don't know. Oddly enough I was nervous to begin this year's journey of creating a piece for 52 weeks and now I'm beginning to dread it's completion. I like having a goal in mind, something to strive for, a schedule of sorts. It's been nice working towards gallery openings, credits for courses, even just a personal challenge so I'm feeling a little lost. Maybe the goal for the new year is not to have one.
I am happy that I have a few commissions ahead of me along with a couple of new articles in the works (though I tend to be nervous about publication until I actually see it in print). And I know it's only November, still a month and a half before the year is up. Do I want to work on wood? On rolls of canvas? On paper? Explore recycled art further? Continue with canoes, tipis, and/or animals? Explore the landscape that surrounds me? All of it or something else? Thank goodness the options are endless. Last year I didn't know what my annual project was going to be until I actually began it, so that's an encouraging thought. And I do know one thing, that whatever it is, it will involve paint. Colour is my greatest love.