I don't tend to use very much yellow in my work, unless it's a creamy yellow or ventures more towards orange so last night I decided I wanted to create a mini with a pop of bright yellow to try to capture how these beautiful, sunny days have felt. The lavender chair represents the leafless silvery branches to me. I've been watching ONE - the body, mind, spirit network and have stumbled upon a few interesting programs including "The Art of Living" which focuses on the healing power of art in all its forms. Last night I watched a young blind gentleman who creates stunning paintings utilizing a thick, t-shirt paint to create the drawing so that he can 'feel' the drawing in order to paint the image. It's absolutely inspiring. I've also updated my etsy shop as many of my previous minis have found new homes and I've been enjoying these new pieces. Life is really, really good.
I've been having the most wonderful holidays with my family...lots of good eating, reading and painting. Who could ask for anything more? One of my many favorite gifts is the 'wood stove' heater that my husband gave me for my studio. I love it! And I've also been enjoying so many books in between bon-bons and Christmas movies, here are the latest:
By Miriam Toews
I am a huge fan of Miriam Toews writing - she grew up in the same town as my husband and his family so it's always interesting to see some of the local and cultural history of the area come through in her writing. Irma Voth is a young Mennonite woman who lives with her family in Mexico with an extremely controlling father under the weight of a dark family secret. Though her story is difficult and at times very sad she views life with a wry sense of humour and chooses to create a new life of freedom for herself and her sisters. She discovers herself and begins to understand forgiveness.
The Memory Keepers Daughter
By Kim Edwards
Though I found this one to be a bit of a slow start, I thought the story was quite intriguing. A surgeon delivers his fraternal twins on a stormy evening in 1964. He realizes that his daughter is born with down syndrome, and because of his past experience and understanding of the heartache involved in loving and losing someone with down syndrome, and while his wife is under aesthetic,
he makes a snap decision to institutionalize his daughter and to tell his wife that their daughter died at childbirth. His nurse, Caroline chooses instead to move elsewhere and raise Phoebe as her own daughter. Though his family is unaware of the events of this one night, they grapple with the consequences of his guilt over the following 25 years.
I know not all that which I contain
I'm small; I'm young; I fear the pain.
All is surprise: I am to be a mother.
That Holy Thing within me and no other
is Heaven's King whose lovely Love will reign.
My pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body hold's Creation's Light;
its smallness shelters God's unbounded might.
The angel came and gave, did not explain.
I know not all of that which I contain.
~ Madeleine L'Engle
I've been wanting to post a photo of the art quilt I created which was based on this painting of the Bow River at the base of Banff Springs Hotel. It was a three year labour of love - by labour I mean that I'd work on it and then put it away for months - and now I am happy to be able to use it. Unfortunately its original destination was to be my foyer but I ended up creating a piece that measure almost 90 inches square, so it didn't fit...but it does fit on my bed, which I'm thrilled about. I battled with the idea of having it professionally quilted but then felt that it was a cop-out as I really felt that I should do this entire piece with my own two hands (and a sewing machine). I'm really happy with how it turned out, though, as my history includes the study of tayloring, I sometimes feel like I should apologize for not being a perfectionist in this work - though in the end my creative, artistic side won (thank goodness).
Last night I watched the finale of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist on Bravo and was thrilled with the selection for the winner as I felt that her drawing skills were impeccable. Almost every drawing and painting of hers has moved me. The critiques often made sense, but at times I felt that they judges weren't accepting the artist for who they were and were instead attempting to direct them elsewhere which I personally found challenging in art school. I'm glad she stayed true to her original vision and her roots while still growing and adapting as an artist.
Also, today's local paper has published my latest statement about the next exhibit to be hung at the library - "Between Heaven & Earth" by Michelle Pickering. The article can be viewed online. Plus, we have updated the Airdrie Artists website. If anyone has anything to add, I'd love to hear from you.
This past year I've been interested in more abstract work - not that I prefer it or want to change my entire manner of working, but I am interested in incorporating some abstract form into my current representational work so I have registered for Flora Bowley's 'Brave, Intuitive Abstracts' workshop in February and am absolutely thrilled. I've been wanting to challenge myself more and more - and eventually I would love to complete my Bachelor of Fine Arts but for now, this is great. My children are growing and I really want to be present in their young lives, so once they've flown, so I will I once again.
This past few years has been a time of stepping out of my own box - more public speaking, more public demonstrations, and also more curating and co-ordinating of public art projects. When I first began exhibiting over 10 years ago, I was so afraid - of not being accepted as professional or talented or creative or educated enough. I followed almost every gallery director or professional artist's advice and found myself terribly unhappy and almost ready to give up this creative life that I've dreamed of since I was a very young child. But then, when I began to realize that success as an artist comes in so many different packages and that all I needed was to heed that whisper in my soul and to be true to myself, many positive opportunities presented themselves and wonderful people filled my life - both those who supported and encouraged my work either physically or spiritually and those who wanted to be a part of my journey in so many different ways. I still flounder at times, wondering if I should be doing 'this' or 'that' but then I just stop and paint and journal and all is well with my little world. I know never to grasp because it is almost impossible to hang on - but to trust that still, small voice that speaks to me if I allow it.
As much as I enjoy painting the canoes, they are also a great challenge. This one has a LOOOONG way to go and, in fact, there have been times when I was ready to paint over it. As you will notice, there is currently no canoe in the piece. The image is inspired by a photo that my 12 year old daughter took for me while her and her dad (my husband of 23 years ;) went camping southeast of Calgary near Vulcan, Alberta last summer. There were two kayakers in the water in lovely red kayaks but originally I painted them in too centered, too close, though now I wonder if I will add them in the distance or whether I should place a canoe along the shore. Always so many problems to solve when painting. For awhile I couldn't bear to look at it so it was leaned facing my studio wall but in working with other abstracted pieces I began to see a solution to my problem - well an intermediate solution...still have to work out the direction this will take but I'm happy I painted out the kayakers for now. The big thing for me is to remember to let go of the details until the end, and to keep working around the entire piece. This in-between time is sometimes difficult to share publicly because it always looks terrible, but it's the fun part for me. I find it difficult to look at a blank canvas so I stain it to remove the intimidation factor, and I also find the final details a bit scary for me...I'm afraid of the possibility that it will ruin all the hard work that came before it. This middle stuff is fun, it doesn't look great so doing anything is better than doing nothing.
While I've been pondering this piece in between working on it, I've also been reading 'Sanctuary Line' by Jane Urquhart who happens to be one of my favorite authors (along with Sue Monk Kidd, Elizabeth Berg, Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, Miriam Toews, Elizabeth Hay, Carol Shields, Ann-Marie MacDonald...and the list goes on though I tend to lean a bit more to Canadian authors). It's a lovely, haunting story of a woman who returns to the family orchard in Ontario in her research of the monarch butterfly. Of course there is a tragedy that alters the family's history but it is a beautiful rendering of how our past shapes us and about the path to understanding. I'm also reading 'Imagine That' by Manuel Luz about faith and art - one quote that touches me is Thomas Merton's definition of art: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." I love that.
"Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity; be intensely yourself.
Don't try to be outstanding; don't try to be a success; don't try to do pictures for others to look at -
just please yourself."
~ Ralph Steiner
Today I decided to share this photo from my opening at the Evanescence Gallery this summer. I love demonstrations - love to interact with people visiting the gallery, love to discuss my process as I work, just love painting live. It was such a pleasant evening, on the cusp of my 45th birthday (a beautiful milestone for me). The title of the piece was offered by a patron and I loved the fact that the arms of this chair are opening, that this was my gallery opening and that the evening felt like my heart was opening. I have to thank the gallery owner, Arlene, who is so wonderful, so kind and open-hearted herself. In January I will be exhibiting some newer pieces which I haven't exhibited in a gallery before from a series I call 'Branching Out' along with Lisa Brawn's stunning woodcuts.
Also, I just had wonderful news - an article I wrote for a talk I gave to inspire young artists will be published online as a guest post at your heART makes a difference on January 31! Very exciting for me to take part in something so positive.
It's no secret that I definitely lean more strongly to the right side of my brain, but apparently I am also fairly heavily left-brained. This seems like a recipe for success as I am quite organized, but I often wish that I could be fully right-brained so that I wouldn't constantly be thinking and re-thinking everything. The pieces I've begun working on are extremely intuitive, quite a departure for me, which gives the left side of my brain a little panic attacks. I'm relying on my intuition in full as I add texture and colour to my canvas and then as well when I complete the final piece. No pre-sketching, no drawing on the canvas. Which means that each piece needs to percolate before I can bring myself to move forward. So, the crow I spoke of the other day is not at all in existence and instead there are a new set of branches appearing. I have to say that I'm loving this process. To me it speaks even more to baring my soul than my previous work, allowing the gentle 'whispers' of God be my guide. These days I've begun watching 'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist' and it brings back memories of college - especially all the emotion and drama :) There is to be a marathon of shows this Saturday so I've got them ready to record. I can't to see the creativity as it unfolds - just glad that I don't have those tight parameters when I'm working.
The new mural created by 100 artists for the Centennial of Mount Royal University has been unveiled - my contribution is above...can you find it in the mural? I'm so pleased to be involved in another Mural Mosaic project especially in this one as my daughter is hoping to attend the University next year. When I thought back to my post-secondary education, it was the friendships I made that helped me make it through - and twenty-five years later I still connect with many of the people I connected with then. What I love most about these projects is that the artists are given a guideline (mine was early residence life) and a panel with the colour palette and then we're on our own. We don't know what the end result will be until the unveiling. I love how all the pieces come together to create a beautiful new picture. I'm also looking forward to receiving the book on the project...always a pleasure to look at each panel and read the stories of the artists who contributed.