My studio is moving (again)...it happens when children grow and need more space, but I'm okay with that as I tend to like working upstairs for the light and the proximity to my kitchen (then I can continue to create while I cook). So, while the adjustments are being made in our home, I've moved my studio into the dining room to continue working. A lot of changes in my life lately which have been challenging but interesting. Life is nothing if not interesting.
And at the same time I feel absolutely blessed to learn that so many of my paintings have found new homes in the last month and I have to say thank you to the galleries and patrons who connect with and support this creative life. I love to share what I do and as a young girl I could never have imagined how fulfilling this life could be, not only do I get to paint and honour the culture that shaped this country but so many other people connect with this work, too. And as a bonus I get to meet so many wonderful people. Plus even those that don't own my work have been so encouraging and kind...I really am a lucky gal.
The letter 'W' was a no brainer for me as our entire family is extremely grateful for the cat we adopted last summer...and his name is Walter, which is totally appropriate for him. We often call him a grumpy old man (he's only 4) and when we speak on his behalf, which we always do for our animals, we give him a croaky old smoker's cough voice. He makes us laugh with his meow that sounds broken (more like 'meh') and his quirky personality. And no matter how bad he can be, we can't help but love him. Thank you, Walter, for bringing so much joy to our lives.
I'm very honoured to be included in an annual exhibit held in Chicago in January curated by Dana Bloede titled 'Where the Flowers Bloom'. What a wonderful idea, exhibiting flowers in one of the most difficult months for many people. Immediately I knew I wanted to include the sunflower I painted in autumn and wanted to add a secondary flower that I began shortly after the first, but finally completed. Working in this manner is certainly in my comfort zone.
Painting over patterns and colours makes the process of painting much less intimidating. I enjoy the fact that I can incorporate the abstraction I worked on for many, many years but didn't share publicly, along with the recognizable images that I love...it's the perfect blend for me. Plus I get to use tons of colour. Perfect.
Today I hope to package everything to ship shortly as I know with Christmas shipping will take time. The exhibit includes a great group of artists and I can't wait to see pictures. Wish I could be in Chicago. Thank you for including my work Dana.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
by Lt Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
I know that I'm not a palette knife painter but, boy, did I have fun this past weekend. Adding heavy body gel was an interesting experiment for me, and making sure the colours remained vibrant instead of mixing together to create grey was a huge challenge. I have to admit, though, that it made me miss my usual way of working. Not only was it a challenge for me to keep the colours pure, but clean up just wasn't the same. Though adding the media certainly does extend the paint so I could use so much less. Plus, I did use a gloss gel, and I typically tend to prefer my work a little less shiny.
But I am pleased with these little gems. There was a lot of painting and waiting as the thick layers dried which gave me time for more reading and relaxing...just what the doctor ordered, I think. I feel like I stretched my creative muscles and learned something new, both about the medium and about my creative process. So definitely a win-win in my books.
I began working with a palette knife more this past year even though I was initially taught that a palette knife is not a painting tool but rather a mixing tool. I love the texture and raw, loose marks made by these tools. Plus I find that it's wonderful to try out something, to keep my creative spirit growing.
These days I've been using some extra heavy gel to thicken my acrylics without removing their vibrancy and I'm loving the results. It has been a challenge as I find I don't have the control over the palette knife that I do with paint brushes, but it's been interesting to see how anyone new to painting must feel. For me using a paintbrush and stretched canvas is like using paper and a pen, very comfortable.
The weather's become a bit cooler, it's been a lovely fall, so this weekend I'm going to hole up in my studio and experiment. I can't wait.
So...I am thankful for the name 'Veronica' for several reasons...the first being, as a new immigrant to Canada my mother learned English by reading the Archie comics, and thus my name. Throughout my life I always heard, 'Where's Archie?' or why aren't you called Betty? And though Betty was my favorite (I loved Archie comics) and Veronica seemed rather grouchy and entitled, I've always liked my name. Until recently I had only met one other Veronica so I felt kind of special having an uncommon name, unfortunately because it was uncommon I was often called any name that began with a 'V' (Victoria, Valerie, Verna) rather than Veronica...and I'm not fond of 'Ronny' (though people occasionally call my husband & I the Two Ronnies - he's Ron).
Secondly, when I was in third grade I learned how to draw by constantly drawing and re-drawing the characters from the Archie comics. I was labelled a dreamer but I was okay with that...I just wanted to learn to draw so badly.
And finally, while I was in college I was introduced to Elvis Costello and his song titled 'Veronica'...I still love that song. It may seem a bit depressing but one line in particular resonates with me...'Veronica sits in her favorite chair, she sits very quiet and still'...I think that's beautiful.
This weekend, as well as finishing up the book ends for the teens, I created a castle for the kids' section of the library. I was asked to design something for the end of an unattractive shelving unit and immediately thought of creating a castle out of coroplast. Originally I was going to add storybook characters but in the end decided to create a bunch of windows that I could change out characters whenever we'd like. So, for now I made sure to add The Paper Bag Princess (a family favorite) along with popular characters like Curious George, Olivia, Peter Rabbit and The Cat in the Hat. And, of course, Anna and Elsa who are so similar to my own daughters. Hmmmm....I may have to add Olaf, too.
I though it might be fun to create different themes depending on the season and what's happening in the library. There is just something special about a castle...dreams and fairy tales and secrets...and fun. Any opportunity to add colour and whimsy makes me so very happy. As soon as I put it up I was surrounded by little people...I love seeing the little ones when they become so excited.
by Richard Wagamese
This is definitely my kind of story, and so beautifully written. It is a story about a young man, the son of Eldon Starlight, and his call by the man who is his father whose dying wish is to be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner. Franklin, a sixteen year old well versed in the way of the land, finally learns of his own history on their journey through the forest. It is a novel about healing, grace and redemption.
The Word Exchange
by Alena Graedon
This story fascinated me as the premise is a not too distant future where computer viruses begin to affect people. It was reminiscent to me of Divergent or The Hunger Games in it's dystopian telling of the dangers of technology. I really enjoyed how it was told, in a journal form by Anana and Bart, two people who work at the North American Dictionary of the English Language who also contract the 'word flu'. It's interesting (and scary) to think about computers doing everything for us, including telling us when we need to eat and medicating us when we're not well. Very interesting story.
by Laird Hunt
Neverhome began beautifully, as a story that focused on one of the over 400 women who fought as men in the Civil War. It is well written, an interesting look at a history I never even considered, but went on a bit of a tangent about a third of the way through and at that point I disconnected from both the main character and the storyline. It has received very good reviews but, unfortunately it felt a bit like unusual things just happened in order to fulfill a word quota. Perhaps it was that the storyline just became too strange for me, though strange things do happen in war.
by Natalie S. Harnett
Now this story I really, really enjoyed. It is set in an area of coal mining communities in the 1960's where underground fires ravage communities. A proud Irish-American family lives with the threat of a curse placed on them by a priest many years earlier and is told in the voice of 12-year-old Brigid. My father managed a coal mine so the environment really resonated with me. This story is full of mystery, sorrow, loss, love and survival.
by Rene Denfeld
This story takes place on death row in a crumbling old prison and revolves around several characters but focuses on a female investigator whose job it is to save the soon to be executed. I find it interesting how two people can experience the same trials and yet take absolute opposite roads in life. I often wonder if it's a genetic predisposition or something deep inside of a person who makes the choice to rise above their circumstances. Loved this story.
Dear Mr Darcy
by Amanda Grange
There are times when I require a lighter read and this was certainly it for me. This is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice but from the perspective on Mr. Darcy, and told in the form of letters. I'm afraid I found Mr. Darcy more arrogant in this version but it was a fun read.
Cuckoo's Calling & The Silkworm
by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
Now these two stories were fun mysteries to read. I love J.K. Rowling's writing style and adore main characters with flaws, and this didn't disappoint. Cormoran Strike is a private detective whose personal and business lives are quite a mess, but who continues to putter along despite his hardships. In each novel he has a different murder to solve and does it through his powers of observation, his grouchy demeanor and with the help of his temporary secretary. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these novels.
The Piano Man's Daughter
by Timothy Findley
Timothy Findley is an amazing writer and this story was incredible. Narrated by Charlie Kilworth, the young son of Lily, a woman who is obsessed with fire and struggles with her sanity. Charlie is looking for answers to his beginnings through two Irish immigrant families in Toronto whose lives revolve around music and madness and tolerance. Beautifully written.
Awhile ago a group of kids in the library painted bookends for the TEEN ZONE which I finished up this weekend. Finally, the last touches and varnish and now they're ready for the library. It's been fabulous adding colour to the library with the kids who love to visit.
It's great to work in collaboration, I especially enjoy working in collaboration with kids. There is something so rewarding, quite magical about working with kids. They don't judge themselves so harshly as adults when they create, just go with the flow. They don't worry about outcome but rather enjoy the process. Their excitement is contagious as they are introduced to new methods and materials and their imagination is boundless.
I like the fact that the images are a variety of contemporary references such as books and television but also include patterns and colours. I absolutely love my job.