Grandma (I.M. Carpenter) - my best friend!
Your wit, sass, and love helped make me confident and strong.
Your humour and laughter were contagious. Thankfully you shared enough of it, you taught me how to be confident, when to speak up, and not to take life too seriously.
The sass you dealt at what seemed to be a perfect time, every time, helped guide me too. When someone was out of line, or something was just not right, you’d make it known in a stern, yet playful way.
Your unconditional love brought family and friends together. Your love for your children, your husband, your friends, a nice garden, a good laugh, a delicious meal, a clean house, a house full of people, a warm cup of tea, a long road trip, and your grandchildren, showed me what love truly is.
I love you, and the woman you helped shape me into today. Thanks to your being, I am comfortable being my own “best friend”- you were enough, and I am enough. Thank you, Babe!
~ Chelsie Dowler
I shared a look into my process on Instagram and thought I should share it here, too:
I'm often asked about my process and there really is a method to my madness. Whenever I work in a series (which tends to happen most of the time), I like to work on 2-3 pieces at a time. This gives the work drying/curing time between the layers and gives me time to process what I'm working on and consider the direction I want it to go (ie. the bottom 2 paintings in progress on the wall behind me).
Everything begins by adding colour & pattern to a white canvas...I've always been a bit intimidated by blank space. This is where I get to have a lot of fun with brayers, brushes an a airbrush.
Next, I add an image, whether that is by drawing using white or blue paint or a paint pen directly onto the colourful canvas. This is followed by adding shadows...my favourite colours to use at this stage are prussian or pthalo blue, pthalo green, dioxazine purple, alizarin crimson or a combination of those (occasionally I add burnt umber to the mix).
This is followed by layers of highlights, midtones & shadows. Throughout this process I hang the work to live with & look at for awhile. This is the stage where it often looks quite flat until more opaque & transparent layers are added. Then, when I've finally decided that I've done enough, I build up my courage & share it.
It really helps me to work in series so that I can compare & contrast pieces and take time to consider what else might make a difference in the finished work.
I have had a very minimalist wardrobe for many years, which means I only have one pair of heels...but I do love shoes! When I was in high school I wore high heels and dresses almost daily, so in my little art 'studio' (my teacher created a nice space for me in the storage room) I would create a still life with whatever was around me, and that often included my shoes.
I've been wanting to paint shoes again for quite some time, so I decided to set up my Calvin Kleins and paint them different colours (they are navy). I've been having fun with this, plus it goes well with all of the portrait and fashion paintings I've been creating these past few years. While I've been painting, the 1980s controversial advertisement with a very young Brooke Shields keeps coming to mind..."Nothing gets between me and my Calvins."
She was born in 1939 - on the day that Canada joined Britain in the Second World War. Growing up in small farming communities in southern Alberta she got her teaching certification at the University of Alberta in the early 60's and then began teaching high school. Once she had children, she continued to teach as a substitute teacher at elementary schools in Lethbridge. Teaching is in the blood of the family, her mother, Beth Benson, was a lifelong elementary teacher, her daughter, Pam, became a special education teacher, and her granddaughter, Ashlyn, is now teaching elementary school in Minnesota. Her tenacity and strength is a source of wonder for her family and friends -- she has survived inoperable brain cancer, and following that, a brain aneurysm. She's slowed down since then but continues to be a marvel of recovery and life.
~ Kevin Konynenbelt
The way I've always preferred to work, even when I take a photo of a place or thing, is from sketches. There is something about simplifying an image down to lines and shadows that helps me to create something that feels a bit more 'painterly' to me. I can get bogged down in details, so removing those details really helps. The final image isn't usually a replica of a place but rather a painting of the feeling of that place. It helps me to loosen up. Whenever I have worked directly from a photograph I find that I become so critical of my painting that I can't get past making constant adjustments. I will occasionally refer back to a photograph, but more often with the purpose of viewing colours rather than replicating an exact image. It's that part of the creative process that I enjoy so much.
Currently I have six CityScapes in progress plus one that is complete and two are on the cusp of being finished. I'm really enjoying this switch in subject matter, though it certainly is more challenging for me. I am extremely organized in my daily life so my artwork is typically a bit more chaotic, which doesn't exactly work with architectural imagery, but I think it's good for me creatively.
It really is a shift from focusing on people to working on something man-made and I am finding that this 'shift' is working well for me as I'm using a bit of a different colour palette and layering the colours a little differently. This is beginning to show up in my portraiture, which is a good thing. I find that whenever I try something new, it inspires something new.
It has been a bit of a challenge, too, as I sprained my pinky finger so it's been taped to my ring finger, though I am fortunate it's on my left hand (non-dominant). It's interesting to learn how much I use every finger I use. Funny, actually. I think slowing down is helping me to make conscious decisions instead of just reacting while I paint, and I don't think that's a bad thing.
Attached is the photo of my grandmother Brigid Padden Farrell. Let me tell you her story. She was one of 9 children who grew up in Leitrim, Ireland. She came first to the US in 1901 and worked as a domestic in New York City. From 1901-1910 she wrote letters to her fiance James Farrell. In this picture she would have been Brigid Padden. James always called her Bee. She traveled back and forth several times, spending some years in Dublin but mostly at different places in New York. James was always in England working, so the never saw each other in all that time. Even when he traveled back to Ireland it was never when she was there. They still married, immigrated to the Detroit area of Michigan, and had a family together. 5 children, 3 who died young from tuberculosis. I have over 200 of their letters. As you can imagine they are quite a treasure to have. They stopped writing when they married which is a shame. I would have loved to know their thoughts throughout their lives. This is the only picture I have of her. She did have red hair and I think blue eyes. I will check to make sure the eye color is correct and get back to you. She died when I was 5 so I have little memory of her but on the other hand feel very connected to her as well. Five years ago I went on a pilgrimage to Ireland and went to the places they wrote from. I also connected with long lost relatives and saw the family farm. It was a great experience.
~ Kate Robertson
“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier
Last week I joined a couple of friends for a visit to view the Vivian Maier photography exhibit at the Glenbow Museum. It was fascinating as she was a nanny living in New York and her work wasn't found until recently. She used a Leica camera to take photos of the people in the streets around her, and used reflections in mirrors and windows to create a number of interesting self-portraits. Some of her photographs were difficult for me to look at as she captured personal moments in people's lives, something that I wasn't comfortable with, though she did document what was happening around her. There were four photographs in particular that felt voyeuristic or intruding...a woman in her bra and girdle in a changing room (she captured all her skin folds which is really a testament to how we change and hide our real bodies), a disfigured man on a public telephone (on the side of his face all you could see was a hole where his ear had been), a man sleeping on a park bench (he was in a suit and coat but looked as though he wasn't in control of his situation) and finally, a woman lying on the ground being tended to by police (I think?) and surrounded by onlookers. These were really personal moments and I felt torn because it is important to document life as it is, but I don't think it should be done without a person's consent.
In any case, I also came across this large painting by Canadian artist Eleanor Bond. I've seen it in the past and it captured my attention then, but I think it captivated me even more so now that I've been working on cityscapes. I also viewed her work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery many years ago, but just made the connection again. I love the idea of creating worlds that combine cities and nature and the massive size of her substrates has always fascinated me. I remember visiting the WAG and being mesmerized by the interesting perspectives and subject matter. I have always dreamed of painting something that large, something that draws the viewer in like her work does. Maybe someday...
Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to art as a business, which I guess makes sense as that is what I do. Fortunately for me, my focus lies on painting and sharing what I'm doing, but that can come at a detriment to my career when I don't give the same attention to the business side of things. For me many things have certainly changed over the past year, but it's not necessarily bad, just different. A few years ago I wrote a small book titled Sacred Vessel: An Artist's Handbook to share some of the challenges I have experience and some of the ways I found success that didn't cost me anything and also fulfilled something in me. The challenges were the things that I found draining while the successes weren't necessarily financial. I wrote the book because it also shares information that I wish I would have had in the beginning of my career.
When I began painting and exhibiting my work, there was no personal computer and internet. When that began there were heavy fees involved in starting a website and a lot of training required to use it. I took coding (which I don't like...this drag and drop system certainly suits me better) and I had to invest in proper lighting and slides to submit proposals to galleries and other venues. It was great experience but I made a lot of costly mistakes along the way. I hope others don't fall into the same trap. There is no one way of becoming successful, and honestly, I have found that this creative life is filled with ups and downs, just like anything else in life.
When thinking of social media, I have found that the imagery that I posted which had the most interaction wasn't necessarily the work that sold. And, often the images that don't seem to engage, often lead to wonderful opportunities in any case. That was a huge realization for me as it made me realize that I need to pay attention to the work that I do and not the public involvement. Not that I don't appreciate the input and support I receive, but I learned that in the whole scheme of things, ,y online presence matters so little. In the many years that I have been painting my has seen its share of public attention followed by silence, and that's okay. It is in those times of silence that I often work through creative problems and blocks.
I believe the best way to be successful is to keep working hard, be polite, and authentically connect with other people. Just like any job and like life in general. But unlike any other job, of which I've had several, it is the most rewarding career I could ever think of and I am so grateful to be able to do this.
My grandmother's name: Claudia Lumina Emma Bergeron (Née DuBois), Born May 19, 1904, Died February 5, 2000. Claudia was born on the family homesteaded farm in the Tarsus community east of Bottineau, North Dakota. She was one of 16 children. She married Leo Francis Bergeron on December 29, 1925. 4 children were born to this union. Her 3rd child a boy died at birth. Claudia taught school in the Toupin School District (Cordelia Township), North Dakota. She drove a team of horses pulling her buggy. When the harsh winters hit, a covered rig was equipped with sled runners and a small stove. She would arrive at school, light the furnace in the school, then sit in the toasty rig correcting papers until the school was warm. Claudia wrote that “the teacher was really a tutor, mother, nurse, coach for the playground games, counselor, and janitor.” Claudia taught school in North Dakota on and off for about 10 years. Education: Rural School in Toupin District( Cordelia Township), ND, Norte Dame academy, Willow City, North Dakota, Normal School, State School of Forestry, Bottineau, North Dakota. Claudia was a leader in her community and her church. She and her husband won the Soil conservation award in 1954.
My grandmother taught in a one room school, was a farm wife and Mother. She raised her family in the homesteaded home built by her father. Although she has been gone many years now, I still remember her with fondness. The more modern picture was taken about 1984. The vintage one about 1924. I have lots of information about my grandmother. She even left a letter to her grandchildren, that she wrote and was given to us at her funeral. She wrote her story in a book “Remember Me by the Words You See” She was loved by many and she returned this love to all.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +