I cannot believe I have done this four years in a row and, yet, now I cannot imagine not doing it again. Every year I think I feel like it has been the best, most educational, most inspiring, and most challenging for me, but I have to admit that this year has topped them all. Not only has it been interesting to select the women that have inspired me most each week, but also to see their words that have touched me and why, definitely brought this project to another level for me.
I have finally decided on the project for the new year (Thank goodness! Nothing like leaving things to the last minute!) but, as usual, am feeling rather trepidatious about the year ahead. Will it be interesting? Will I do it justice? Am I going to fall extremely short of my expectations? I guess we'll see.
As this year comes to a close and a new and hopefully more pleasant one dawns, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year and to ask you to join me in the year ahead. I would love to see what others create...and please remember that it doesn't have to be a weekly project, but just something that you work towards in the next year. If you do, please let me know as I'd love to follow your process, too.
Many years ago I read a wonderful book titled The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and then, a few years later, was privileged to see the play with Shirley Douglas in the role of Hagar, one of my favorite fictional characters. Hagar was crotchety and difficult and fascinating to me. I also had the opportunity to visit Margaret's beautiful brick home in Neepawa, Manitoba, which has been named Manitoba's Most Beautiful Town more than any other and which was the setting for many of her novels. Though I haven't read all of her writing, everything that I have has resonated with me and I have always loved the fact that she was a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada in support of the writing community.
I've often been asked what I use to varnish my paintings. These days, though I do feel a little guilty environment-wise, I have been using this spray varnish because it works well and doesn't disturb the painting underneath. I used to mix two Liquitex liquid varnishes, a gloss and matt to create semi-gloss, and apply it with a roller brush but it can also be a problem as it requires so much water to clean the roller thoroughly. As I mentioned, I do struggle with the fact that spray paints aren't great for us and I wish they created something better that worked as well, but I also really like how quickly I can complete work and I also like the effect. So, in the new year I plan to research and find a better solution. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
While I was painting this piece during my workshop on Saturday, I knew that I wanted to incorporate the symbols that have been found in caves internationally. I also knew I wanted to add crows as they carry so much meaning and symbolism for me. Not only are they connected with mystery and magic, but also destiny and personal transformation...which seems to be a continual rite of passage of sorts in my life. I always thought that being in my forties would be a time of great understanding and knowledge but I have learned otherwise. Now that I am in my 50's I have come to realize that at every age and stage of my life there is a steady period of growth and learning and I think that's a good thing. And, of course, crows are important to me because my family calls me the Crow Talker...and thus, this is a piece of communication and learning.
I enjoyed myself immensly on Saturday with a fantastic group of ladies. No matter how often I share my process with others, I am always amazed at how each painter takes it and makes it their own. And so much talent! Very inspiring. A huge 'thank you' to the Calgary chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists and Kensington Art Supplies for hosting.
I was always fascinated by Indira Gandhi because she was India's only female Prime Minister. I know she was ruthless in her position but both times she was Prime Minister, she took a struggling economy and strengthened it. She was highly educated both in India and also in England, studying history, political science and economics at the University of Oxford. Though she didn't believe herself to be a feminist, she did believe that women should be able to do everything. As a young woman she told her aunt that she would someday lead her people to freedom just like Joan of Arc.
This diptych has been a bit slow in coming as I've been trying to record the process of a painting from the beginning to the end. It's interesting to see how I work, as I typically have a different image in my mind of my practice and also interesting to see how much of what I learned in art school still applies to my methods. It kind of feels like watching a sports replay in order to learn from your mistakes. One of the main lessons I remember from school is to work around the entire piece all at once rather than focusing on one particular area, which I have come to realize that I actually do without thinking. Another is to step back from the work regularly in order to see the entire piece as a whole, particularly from one this large. And thankfully I still do that, too. In fact, I often take the work-in-progress to another room for a different perspective and to view it under different lighting. I also like to look at pieces I'm working on for an extended period of time prior to having a nap and then waking to it. There is something that often clicks in my mind when I give myself time to do this. In this case, even though I used quite a bit of purple (which is often considered a cool colour), when combined with all the orange, yellow, pink and red it made the painting feel too warm, so I added blue in my final layers. I especially love the combination of the Rocky Mountains by Lake Louse, buffalo that used to roam in abundance in the area, ravens that I like to talk to, and wild tiger lilies that grow in profusion in the mountains. I remember one Mother's Day a father and very young son were gathering them along the road side...a wonderful gesture even though it is not permitted in the national parks, but a good memory none-the-less.
It's an exciting day as I'm off to the Jubilee to deliver my exhibit today which will be displayed in the lower lobby until February 15. Professional hangers will be installing it so I won't see the completed exhibit until I lead art tours to schools in the new year, something I'm really looking forward to. I love talking to kids about art and really, really enjoy listening to their questions and responses to the work as it is always so honest and refreshing. They just respond viscerally, not being concerned about whether or not their response is considered correct or how anyone else will percieve it. Can't wait!
For the final two pieces to be exhibited at the Jubilee in Calgary I decided to create two more log cabins because they epitomize life in Canada to me. My exhibit included these cabins along with landscapes, wildflowers, animals, tipis and canoes (of course) in order to capture my experience of this beautiful place I am privileged to call home. My dream has always been to live in a log cabin, and I'm still holding on to hope for it. Thedream of a simpler life.