Recently it feels as though I have spent much more time working on smalls than the larger paintings I typically focus on. And it has been therapeutic. What I love about the smalls is that I can work on them anywhere but I especially like seeing them on my work table in my studio. This painters' drop cloth has been a necessary part of my studio equipment for many years and I'm loving how it looks with all the layers of colour that it has received through time and use. There is something special about new tools, but I think the older, worn items are even better, full of character and a history. And these four little cabins look so pretty on this backdrop.
It is always such a wonderful privilege when people respond to my work and I really love seeing my work on tea tins at The Naked Leaf in Kensington. So far there have been mountains, three different canoes and now this cabin which makes me happy as I included moons in this piece - I am a moon child after all. This time I selected a carrot-orange tea with ginger which smells divine and tastes even better. Like Christmas has come early.
This year's 52 WEEKS project is almost complete and six pieces have already found new homes. What has surprised me the most is that after all the previous years I haven't been any more comfortable than I was previously. I'm at the end of my fifth year on this project and I think this one has been the most challenging for me, but I am finally loving it! I cannot believe it took me so long, but it may have to do with the fact that I have pushed myself even further out of my comfort zone this time around. Illustrative work is something I haven't really worked on since studying Art & Design in college but it is something that fascinates me. As several pieces have already been claimed, and because this was really new to me, I am offering these pieces for an introductory price of $100. They each measure 8x10 inches on gallery deep (1.5 inch) canvases and can be viewed here...just click on the image to see a larger view and to read the quotes. Please feel free to get in touch and I would be happy to make arrangements to have them out before Christmas.
The Kite Runner is a shattering story of betrayal and redemption set in war-torn Afghanistan. Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan’s decent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan’s father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.
Lately I have been working on several different projects, most of which I have planned for the past year and am now getting to and that has been very nice. This means that my shoulder has been healing very well and that my other obligations have slowed down a bit. One of my favorites these days has been creating these little travel sketch/notebooks inspired by Traveler's Company. The one on the right I had created for my husband out of leather and then decided to create an artistic one with canvas I had gessoed and painted for myself.
Inside the covers I have placed three 5.5x3.5 blank and lined kraft moleskine journals and I am hoping to add squared (graph paper) and dotted grid (used for bullet journalling and technical or 3D drawing) ones as well. My husband uses his for travel notes, mileage, books he's read or wants to read and other notes while I use mine for sketching and journalling. The great thing about these is that booklets can be added and removed as required and I can have several booklets with me at a time. The cover also protects the edges and corners of my papers as I carry it in my purse or backpack. I'm also drawn to these kraft moleskines because they're based on the notebooks Hemingway and Picasso used, they feel very traditional and are small enough to carry in my back pocket.
Instead of going into detail about how I created mine, here is a link to a youtube video. Instead of creating the holes like she does in the video, I punched three holes along the top and bottom so that I could use a longer elastic loop to create four strands down the inside center for holding the booklets. The center hole I used to add a separate elastic which was used to keep the travellers' sketchbook cover closed. I also rounded the corners of my cover by using a pen lid as a stencil to draw around and then cut them out with scissors. In order to add more than 4 notebooks, use an elastic which would be wrapped around the center of both of the notebooks then slide them underneath the other notebooks (also shown in video). I'm thinking that I will also include watercolour papers that I will cut, fold and add in this way.
I might have a bit of a tool addiction as I absolutely love them! These are the typical pieces I use in my studio, though I did forget to add my bone folder which is used a lot and paint rollers of different sizes, and didn't include the power tools from the garage - drill/screwdriver, hand sander, mitre saw and jigsaw. I think for the most part the tools are self explanatory, but I should explain a couple. The frame point driver is for framing finished artwork and the brayer, barren and bench hook are for printmaking. The driver secures artwork into the back of a picture frame. The brayer is used to ink a carved stamp or print, the barren is used to press paper onto an inked carving, and the bench hook is used to hold the printmaking linoleum or other carving material while carving an image and then used to roll out ink for application.
I know I have way too many hobbies though I am grateful that I am able to utilize much of these tools in my paintings and altered books in some way. There used to be so much more, which I have donated to other artists and art programs, but these are the tools which I haven't been able to let go. I don't use the pipe cutter much but am sure I will again. The same goes for the glass cutting tools. The rasps I used many years ago when I studied stone carving with a Cree sculptor and they have come in handy many times since. I have given jewellery making a try on several occasions but don't like working so small and detailed though the tools still come in handy, especially with altered books.
Mostly I wanted to share these tools to show how many different courses I have take throughout the years, from carving and glass to ceramics and stamping. Even though I don't practice most of these art forms, I found that the workshops benefited my creative practice in some way. And, really, in the end they were so much fun.
It's interesting to think of how inspiration works. As I was preparing to paint my piece for last week's 52WEEKS::Storytellers project, I began thinking not only about the rainbows mentioned in the quote, but about the sea as it was the title of the autobiography, which got me thinking about fabric my daughter selected for an upcoming project (view her website here). The fabric was inspired by a Butterick pattern by Gertie based on a cheongsam which Kate initially saw in her favorite movie titled In the Mood for Love by Director Kar-wai Wong.
The pattern on the fabric, in turn, reminded me of the woodblock print titled The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Japanese artist Hokusai in the early 1800's and captured, for me, the title of the story, The Big Sea. The background colours of the base of my painting reflect the rainbows mentioned in the quote and, so this became the inspiration for the entire painting.
There are times when I know exactly the route my brain takes in order to make these connections, but there are others when I don't know where it came from, but it was simmering all along. Dreams help me make connections, as do books, movies, music and the world around me. I'm guessing this is the way for everyone, but if not, I would love to hear your thoughts on inspiration.
John Keats (1795 - 1821) was an English Romantic poet. The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analyzed in English literature. Divided into five stanzas of ten lines each, the ode contains a narrator's discourse on a series of designs on a Grecian urn. The poem focuses on two scenes: one in which a lover eternally pursues a beloved without fulfillment, and another of villagers about to perform a sacrifice.
The next edition of the Family Arts Workshop will take place on
November 26 at Bert Church Theatre.
Registration is available online here.