APL Author Series::Leanne Shirtliffe
Last weekend we had the final visit in this year's Airdrie Public Library's author series and it was terrific. I enjoy these events immensely and was grateful to meet humerous author Leanne Shirtliffe and to listen to the evening's performing artist. The musician, Steve Jevne, treated us to music created using his loop machine, keyboard and guitar which was amazing. Such a lovely evening.
Anxiety & Breakthrough
Over the past couple of weeks I have been feeling rather anxious and frustrated which, for me, tends to preclude creative breakthrough. On Sunday morning I dressed and left the house early, walking along the creek, ending up (as usual) at Starbucks to treat myself to a free venti green tea latte (those always taste the best) along with a great book (The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz). This story has come to me at a great time as I'm currently studying Indigenous Storytelling through Thompson Rivers University and it encapsulates everything I'm learning (and re-learning) these days. Anyway...as I read and kept putting my book on my lap to envision the images in my mind (something I do often), creative ideas kept coming to me in regard to the work I'm doing, and the work I'm planning on doing. On my return home, as I walked along the creek once again, I had a sudden epiphany in regards to the 52 WEEKS project I am planning for the new year. I laughed and almost began skipping because I was so happy. I wish that the struggle and anxiety didn't always have to take place, but have learned to accept this as part of my creative process. Though I have to admit that this is not necessarily easy on my family, I am thankful that this, too, does come to an end...a lovely one.
P.S. My university course on Indigenous Literature is coming to an end...I will miss this when it's done.
52 WEEKS::Harriet Tubman - SOLD
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery but escaped and then helped approximately seventy other families do the same through the Underground Railroad in an effort to help slaves escape to free States and to Canada during the Civil War. Because of her heroism and dedication, she became known 'Moses'. Later she became active in the suffragette movement and, though she lived her life in abject poverty, she never gave up the fight to help others.
Fun at APL.
Last weekend was a busy but fun one at the Airdrie Public Library. We celebrated National Child Week, had a great time at the final Jr & Adult Artists' Workshops and met new authors at the first Meet the Authors event. And tonight is the final visit in this season's APL Author Series with Leanne Shirtliffe and a musical performance by Steve Jevne. Everyone is welcome. I know I repeat myself over and over again, but I really do have a great job.
I have been preparing for another artist residency but this time the focus is on Canada's landscape rather than animals. For this mini series, I decided to reflect the three places that I have lived and that have meant so much to me and this time I wanted to create larger pieces for the students to see well so they each measure 24x24 inches.
The first painting is titled Northern Lakes...a place that really resonates because I grew near Turnbull Lake, a tributary of the Churchill River. The community spent all the seasons here - dog sled racing & snow shoeing in winter, canoeing & swimming in summer. This is the image in my mind whenever I think of it...distant moss covered rocky outcrops, an abundance of boreal forest and ever changing skies reflected in the pristine water.
The second painting reflects the beauty of the Canadian Prairies...we had the wonderful opportunity to live near the Qu'apelle Valley one year when our girls were young. I was so happy to see fluffy cumulous clouds dancing over the golden prairies once again. The sunrises and sunsets were incredible and the people...I just can't say enough about them. They were so gracious and welcoming.
Finally, the Rocky Mountains that we have the privilege of seeing out our living room window...though not so close or so grand. But only a short drive away. It's been twenty years since we've moved here and yet I never tire of this sacred view. When my husband and I were married in the my hometown in the north, we drove 32 hours to spend our honeymoon in these mountains. Travelling to the Rockies is still my absolute favorite thing and I'm so lucky that I can go anytime I want...I really don't need to travel anywhere else.
These three landscapes really do represent the soul of Canada for me and, though I found the prospect of painting these pieces a little daunting, they have been an absolute pleasure to create.
Several years ago I opened an online shop through Etsy and yesterday I decided to list some of the Totem Animals for sale. First of all, I always tend to create work projects when I'm actually supposed to be doing something entirely different, which in this case was my university course (Oh, how I love homework). Second...I've been wanting to share the last of these pieces for some time. I'm not much for keeping my work, though I used to have a difficult time letting it go. Over the past ten years, all I want to do is share what I have created because I can't possibly hang all the work in my home. I do keep certain pieces for myself, but I have also been fortunate to see hundreds of paintings travel to beautiful spaces and to hear lovely stories about how others connect to the work. And so, these pieces, along with a few others, are now available online - to view please click here.
One of my favorite ways to add colour and pattern to my paintings is by using printmaking materials to create rubber stamps. I also love to share my tools when Iead workshops so they tend to break down after awhile...which isn't necessarily a bad thing as it means I get to create new designs. I've often been asked what I use to create my stamps so I thought I'd share some of my favorite tools. First of all, the brayers (rollers) are fabulous not only for adding colour to the stamps when I'm using them, but also to push paint around quickly on large canvases. Other tools I use are:
52 WEEKS::Pauline Johnson
I remember being introduced to Pauline Johnson in middle school with a reading of her poem 'The Song My Paddle Sings'. Her work was relevant where I grew up, in the boreal forest at the edge of the Churchill River, and her words really touched me deeply. Pauline was a Mohawk-Dutch poet and performer who began writing in her teens and who was raised to learn of the heritage of both sides of her family. Through her writing, she strove to connect Indigenous and Caucasian people while honouring the land and her Canadian heritage. I am glad that my upbringing in the north focused on First Nations' people and the culture that is often neglected in education and am also glad that this is changing.
Yesterday I found out that the upcoming workshop I will be leading with the Federation of Canadian Artists in December sold out in under 30 minutes which meant I had to get a move on with my preparation. Thank goodness my shoulder is feeling better every day. I am also grateful for SpeedyCut printmaking blocks by Speedball. They really are easy and quick to carve. I used to be a traditionalist, carving prints out of woodblocks but over time have found that I don't even really enjoy the difficulty of carving that or linoleum these days but absolutely love SpeedyCut. Just a few more left to go, but they will have to wait until next week as I have a busy weekend with author visits and art workshops at the library. Have a lovely weekend!
Artist of the Month - Westwood Unitarian
A summer spent traveling through big sky country in Montana, USA, seeing clusters of beautiful tipis inspired these images, each like a sanctuary in its simplicity, symbolic of a cathedral as a sacred space and place. As my family spent the summer driving through reserve land, I was taken with the vibrant patterns on the tipis and canoes scattered throughout the state. I love the idea of an abode being able to travel with me, of being able to carry with me this sanctuary of sorts. It is similar to how our family spends our summers camping but feels so much more reverent. Being raised in a northern Cree community, I have always been enamored by the romanticism of a simpler life of fewer belongings and the possibility of packing up a tipi or a canoe and moving when called to do so. And of that connection to the land, living life cradled by the landscape and dictated by the seasons. The necessity of not only creating a place to reside but a beautiful home. Much like we do in our society today, our spaces created and decorated to bless and protect us.”
– Veronica Funk
Veronica Funk exhibited two series at The Daffodil Gallery: Sacred Space and Sacred Vessel.
Sacred Space features renditions of tipis, inspired by the trip to Montana. Her Sacred Vessel Series features paintings of canoes and is inspired by the multiple definitions of Vessel found in Websters’ Dictionary: (1) a utensil for holding something, as a vase, bowl, pot, kettle, etc. (2 ) The Bible: a person thought of as being the receiver or repository of some spirit or influence; (3) a boat or ship; (4a) a tube or duct containing or circulating body fluid, (4b) a continuous, water-conducting tube.
Veronica is greatly influenced by Northern Manitoba and Cree culture. She is often inspired by pictographs and her experiences in Northern Manitoba. Her work is “filled with the images, colours and symbols of [her] memory”
Veronica Funk has taken numerous workshops, has studied Art & Design at Red Deer College and is currently working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Thompson Rivers University. In 2013, Veronica was nominated for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award. Veronica is currently the Art Program Coordinator at the Airdrie Public Library, and the co-chair, for the AIRdirondack Art Project in Airdrie, Alberta. She has been featured in numerous books and exhibitions throughout Canada, including the summer 2015 edition of the Arabella magazine of Canadian Art, Architecture & Design.