Instagram #BestNine2018 :)
On New Year's Eve I love to look back at the year that has just passed in order to share all of the good things I've experienced. It's only one of the reasons that I choose to create a journal to remind myself of all of the things that have happened and to be grateful for them. Happy New Year!
And here's this year's gratitude list:
Besides Liquitex heavy body acrylics and Sugar spraypaints and stencils...and, of course, stretched canvases...my absolute favorite painting tools are this acrylic handled flat paintbrush, my flexible metal palette knife that I've been using since college, and this brayer which has been with me forever. None of these is expensive and all of them are typically used in every painting I create. They're all great for adding quite a bit of paint at one time and make great marks. The palette knife is also great for mixing colour and for scraping paint back - both of my palette and off my canvas. These are also the tools that I pack in my small pochade boxes when I paint en plein air.
My parents immigrated to Canada the year before I was born and, though my father grew up very poor, he was thrilled with the knowledge that with hard work in this country you could really do anything. Everyone has access to education, which wasn't the case for him in South America, and with careful financial management, there were opportunities for him to fulfill some of his dreams. One was investing in a really good camera to take photos. My first opportunity to take a photo was of him in the Rocky Mountains when I was just 4 years old. Years later, once I married, I saved up for a really good camera myself as I still love taking photos, mostly of my work-in-progress and my studio space, but also of my daughter and all of her sewing projects. I'm really glad she's studying fashion design and that I have this chance to do something creative with her. To see more of her work, visit her website The Modiste.
As I have shared previously, I have always had a fascination for tarot cards, especially once I learned that they date back to the 14th century, possibly from a card game similar to bridge that originated in Egypt or Turkey, followed by Italy, France and finally a Snakes & Ladders type of game in Germany. It reminds me of the origami paper fortune tellers we made in elementary school.
For quite some time I have been thinking of how wonderful it would be to create my own set of cards using the portraits, animals, wildflowers, feathers, tipis and canoes that I have been painting and they arrived this week. I decided to use the meanings of the animals and flowers along with the symbols included in the other paintings to create this deck instead of incorporating the traditional cups, wands, pentacles and swords.
I knew without a doubt that I had to use some of my 52 WEEKS::Heroes portraits as my queens. The 52 WEEKS::Totem Animals ended up being the Minor Arcana as well as the Court Cards (Pages, Knights and Kings) and the wildflowers, tipis, animal silhouettes and canoes became the Major Arcana. I also included the word(s) on each card that, to me, represent that particular card. I find that every card can seem positive or negative but I tend to focus on the positive.
Using the cards is very meditative for me as I typically separate them into three piles, one-by-one with my left (non-dominant) hand and then pile them together before pulling them. There are several ways that I like to use the cards:
1. Pull one card as a type of guide for the day. That can be either the top card or, if I fan them out onto a surface, I select a card that I am drawn to.
2, Pull three cards and place them left to right, with the left representing my past, the center representing my present, and the right representing my future.
3. Pull five cards and place them in a cross formation. The first card is set on the left and represents work; the second on the right to represent home; the third at the top to represent something unexpected; the fourth on the bottom to represent my role; and the fifth in the center to represent an outcome.
I trust my intuition when I look at the cards and try to read how they work as a whole. If there is more than one card in a particular suit I pay attention to what that might mean for me and where I should possibly focus my attention (ie. Cups=Emotions/Relationships; Pentacles=Finance; Wands=Creativity; Swords=Intellect). If there are more Major Arcana cards then I consider there may be an upcoming change in my life or that things may move swiftly. Often it is just a change in my attitude which brings this about.
To me, this is a kind of prayer or meditation and it helps to calm any anxieties I feel by forcing me to slow down and breath deeply. If you are interested in creating your own cards, you can do so through a variety of online sources, but the one I used was Make Playing Cards and I'm very happy with the outcome. You can also personalize playing cards on this site which I think would be a lovely wedding or birthday gift.
My 'True North' tarot deck is now available online here. If you are interested in a small guide book, it can be viewed here.
Provider (Bison) / 24x24 / acrylic on canvas
When we brought our first daughter away to university in southern Alberta a number of years ago we were fortunate to watch a tipi raising which was so inspiring. And then a year later as we travelled through Montana, we witnessed another and I wasn't able to get the beautiful images from my mind. Growing up in northern Manitoba, I had the great privilege of spending time in tipis in the summertime and I knew I had to honour those who lived in this land before us. The bison represents abundance and that's how I feel...I really feel so lucky to live here, too.
As the year comes to a close I've been working on organizing my studio and making some plans for what may lie ahead in the new year. It's always fun to pull out work that has been completed, especially if I haven't exhibited it previously, or only briefly. I sometimes forget what I've accomplished and how wonderful the work looks together and it seems that I appreciate it more when some time has lapsed between its creation and viewing. Plus it is nice to simplify and tidy and perhaps donate supplies that are not being used to schools or other art programs. It's always a good thing.
These 'True North' 4x4 paintings on gallery canvas are finally complete! I love working on these pieces because it brings back such great memories of living up north...and also makes me think of the Rocky Mountains just west of us (I have a lovely view of them in the distance from my living room window. I've been a little late with all these small pieces this year but it has been busy with teaching, though that's about to change slightly in the new year. I've decided to return to teaching occasional workshops and artist residencies instead of steady teaching...I have realized that plan prep takes so much time and I prefer to teach on the things I do well instead of just okay as I feel like I short change the students. Anyway, these pieces are now available online through Etsy here. And thank you to everyone who has been purchasing my work this year...I feel honoured beyond measure.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +