Things I Count On

pexels-photo-371285.jpegThings I Count On

  1. Fingers – From time to time, even now and probably always.
  2. Death – Despite the news about longevity and gene editing, it’s inevitable. I’m here for a period of time. I try to live accordingly.
  3. Firsts – I love noticing a new ‘something’. I look for it in my everyday. Often I’ll call it a first out loud and it lights me up. For example, today, I’m in the bath and I notice a black spot on the enclosure behind me. It’s a spider. One of those compact jumping kind. They’re quick and it’s heading down the wall toward my head. I have a thing about spiders. It’s better than it used to be thanks to the people around me carrying them outside in their hands to rescue the leggy arachnids from me. So I didn’t scream when I saw this one. I talked to it and it stopped moving, for a second, and then came a little further down the walk. I tapped the shampoo bottle on the wall under it to try to get it to turn around. It did, until I stopped tapping. What I really wanted to do was finish bathing before the water got cold. I tapped a little again. Well, the darn thing jumped! Not onto me or anything but closer. Needless to say I also jumped out of the bath over to the tissue and flushed the spider. It’s not raining now. It’s snowing. That’s a first!
  4. Kindness – Even when I’m feeling worn down, if I take a breath and choose to act out of  kindness, more often than not, it comes back to me.
  5. Taxes – They seem to always give back to me, now. I like that.
  6.  The Roof – Speaking of snow, a few years back we had a huge, deep snowfall, followed the next morning by very warm weather and torrential rain. We have a  flat roof and it couldn’t handle the water that was up there. I remember waking up and saying to my husband…I hear a tap running. Rain and snow melt were running down the inside of walls everywhere! It was traumatizing to have the safety of my house suddenly taken away. I imagine this would be the same feeling of vulnerability people might feel after a fire or a home invasion. It was a pure pandimonium.
  7.  Birds – They are the messengers of a higher power. I’ve had western tanagers and ravens guide me in the right direction, and chickadees cheer me on. Their songs and mannerisms make me smile, and quiet the inner chatter that I don’t want to hear anyhow.
  8. Change – It’s been a pretty intense not nearly finished lifetime. I remember thinking a half hour of Gilligan’s Island reruns in black and white was just awesome and a sixth channel, when it happened, was over the top. I remember life when I was little feeling black and white. I’m living in a technicolour world now and it’s absolutely amazing! The topics we are discussing and opening up about  aren’t quiet or easy. They are loud, important worldwide issues and because of  change is happening fast. Change is inevitable. How you view it is a choice.
  9. Enough – I have never really experienced anything less than enough. Even that time in Europe when we were down to our last dollar and had to go a week on water, a little salt, a loaf of bread and a little olive oil, even then I knew more was coming at the end of the week. I feel so very lucky.
  10. Mistakes – I used to hate them. Now, I don’t. Now they are just side-steps on the journey. The meaning I’d always given the word mistake: wrong, bad, or loss,  stirred up old feelings of unworthiness in me and that helped no one, ever, but calling them sidesteps and noticing what they were in themselves has brought joy from new firsts, led me in new directions, and has helped me to love myself. Really, it’s all about the lessons isn’t it? 2013 463

Paris And A Champagne Chateau

france-landmark-lights-night.jpgIt’s getting closer!!!! My art residency in France has me planning despite the disruption of my father’s heart attack and bypasses. I just can’t believe that I’ve been invited to witness France in the spring! I feel so blessed! And the rainbows lately, has anyone else been noticing them?

So, I’ve booked a teeny tiny sixth floor walk up in Paris for my pre residency week. My plan is to spend every morning (after a steamy hot chocolate and french pastry) in the Louvre. Those paintings have been waiting for me to come see them my whole life…. The Mona Lisa….

Funny story, not really mine to tell and you can guess what decade it happened in…the wonderful teacher next door to me was introducing her young students to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. She held up the Mona Lisa and asked her wide-eyed students if anyone knew who the lovely lady in the painting was. A little hand went up with I know! I know! and then it’s The Monica Lewinsky.

Ironic, isn’t it? The Mona Lisa, so famous for her little secret smile.

And seriously people, do we not all need to provide a huge apology to Monica and beg her forgiveness? She was so young, subservient, and publicly shamed and damned for something women now are seeking retribution for. I am so, so sorry for her pain. The

Mona Lisa’s smile, what did it really hide.

Da Vinci’s masterpiece is not all I’m looking forward to at the Louvre. My plan is to be surprised by what I love most once I’m there. I’ll weigh in on every wall and ask myself these questions:

Which painting catches my eye and draws me closer?

What is it about the painting that captured my attention?

Who painted it and when?

What does the painting make me feel?

I’ve always believed that the job of any artist is to communicate feeling effectively.

Last night I went and watched The Post. At first, I was a little bit bored, but the story drew me in. Meryl Steep and Tom Hanks; their angst, they drew me in. Tom Hanks, wife, the artist…the touchstone…the most honest character in the movie, her wisdom, her definition of courage will stick with me; and so will the faces of the young girls who turned to look at Meryl as she walked down those steps. Oscars for those three please. And if you haven’t seen the film, go. It’s an important movie.

When I left the theater I felt full. Full of thanks to Russia and Trump (keep reading) for waking up the voices of women who are saying ‘times up!’ It’s THE courage revolution that needed to happen in North America. And if you haven’t seen a news program on how Russia rigged the American election, it’s out there.

wedding-dress-bride-paris-602224.jpeg

When I’m finished in the Louvre each morning, I’m planning to walk the city. I have an old school map and I just want to take pictures and discover and love every moment of  my adventure in wonder and awe and gratitude. Before dark, I’ll  find my way to some food and then head up to the sixth floor to rest my feet and sketch and journal. vintage-kitchen-window-berlin.jpgI feel confident that this is how I want the days before the residency to be. It will be like fuelling up on French culture. I want my body and mind and soul filled with the place. I want my cells oozing before I get to the Chateau.

And then I’ll be ready for the stillness I find when I paint, and paint and paint.

Truly, A Dream Come True.

Château Orquevaux France

 

 

Heart Failure

Well, hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? My apologies and a very Happy New You to my readers and subscribers. My absence is not without reason; I am, just as each of you are I’m sure, multi-roled.

No, I’m not talking about holiday excess and double chins, Tim Hortons soup accompaniments, or workplace chairs or overload. I’m talking about the distinct roles we play for others and ourselves. If you read my blog, you know that in addition to artist, I am a recently retired teacher. You might have also picked up that I am a mother and a wife. I could list myriad roles that make up the ‘I’ that I am. I won’t list them but I will add one: daughter. img_7565

I’m not a believer in ‘daughter’ duties. It’s an old misogynistic idea that I can get pretty riled up about. I do however, believe in taking the steps to feel the way I want to feel, in kindness and in love, and in service to others, especially to those I love and who love me.Hearts on Rings

I chose to accompany my father (he’s 80 and had a pacemaker put into his body on his last trip alone) on his most recent, planned ‘not so solitary anymore’ trip out of the country. He was pretty happy to have me tagging along. On the second day of the trip, he thought he was experiencing acid reflux, for his first time ever. It wasn’t that.

When I heard the words ‘heart failure’ in the context of someone close to me, it was as if I was in some cheesy movie. I said, What? twice and still could not comprehend what I was hearing.

Now, more than a month later (was there even a holiday season this year?) I’m still hanging out with my father. (My studio beckons as does my husband.) We have been in four hospitals, three ambulances, a medi-vac, a leer jet, and now, we are ensconced in his fairly remote home (no wireless or cell service…what!!!) while he recoops.

He’s doing well at getting better thanks to the wonderful people in those four hospitals, in the ambulances and in the leer jet. He’s feeling loved thanks to his family and friends.

For me, it’s another little adventure on life’s journey that, of course, had ‘news’ for me to experience and learn from.

I’ve never been so whole ‘heart’edly aware. Here’s some great heart links for your exploration! Add some of your own in the comment section!

For figuring out how you want to feel (heartwork)

The Desire Map http://www.daniellelaporte.com/thedesiremap/

Hiro Boga https://www.amazon.ca/Be-Soul-Do-Adventures-Consciousness/dp/1775083705/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515541223&sr=8-1&keywords=hiro+boga

For Looking After Your Heart

http://www.heartandstroke.ca/

https://goiheart.com/

 

 

Beach Birds

I was so pleased to see where these three ended up!

The Shop is Open!

Hurray! My first product, Artist Heart, is now available through the store on my website. You will see these beautiful hearts, along with my signature on many of my originals and giclees, they were intended to show the owner where I live.

And then I thought, after seeing this 3-D design by Ryan Norbury at Craftech Labs, that perhaps everybody might want to show where they are from!

Kindness and love are absolutely everything, people. Everything.

Wear this simple, recognizable symbol with pride, knowing that they too have been designed and created with love. They come in twos so that you can also gift them to others who come from love. Join the ‘I’m From Love’ club and be kind.

I’m Going to be an Artist in Residence!

Months ago I mentioned to my family that I was thinking about applying for some of the artist residencies that happen annually around the world. I ended up applying for only one; the residency at Chateau Orquevaux, in France. Only one, because life got busy and one was what I had the energy for. Only one that was in the north east of France, because I often dream of seeing Paris and the Louvre and I’d never been to this region of France and the pictures of the Chateau looked positively dreamy. It wasn’t that I was sure my art was good enough, it wasn’t that I was sure I would be selected, it was only this one because this one was enough for my heart.

And last week, I found out that I was selected to be in residence at Chateau Orquevaux, in France, in the spring of 2018. Yes, me! For all of April, I will be immersed in the beautiful life and culture of France and surrounded by artists from all over the world exploring this same dream in our own medium, in our own voice, in our own colours.

I AM OVER THE MOON EXCITED! Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!!!

Which reminds me of years ago, when as a teacher I was at the CSA, I got to ask a question of an astronaut on the space shuttle. (My voice has been heard in outer space.) The reporter who interviewed me afterward refered to me as giddy with excitement. I wasn’t giddy then, but the excitement I’m feeling now is closer to it.

I have high expectations for a beautiful life full of beautiful experiences that I know I will love. I look for what is right and good and beautiful and I dream my dreams. There has been interference along my journey; things that took me down, slowed me down,  and took me out, but it is the sum of those experiences that also lit me up, so I’m not complaining. My high expectations for life create endless opportunities for gratitude…and as I’ve said before, gratitude paves the road to joy!

In my teaching past, I was twice told by a superior to keep my expectations low so that I could be happily surprised. That was terrible advice, and me being me, I completely ignored it.

I am so extremely grateful to have been chosen to create in Orquevaux, France and I’m already curious to see what will intuitively come up for me there.

 

I love to take photos with my Iphone 6 wherever I go to document my travels and to feed my creative habits.

In addition to painting on this trip watch my instagram account to see what I post after I manipulate my photos with my favourite creative apps. France will be amazing!

 

Oh, please remember to sign up to receive my newsletter while you’re here. I’m going to begin offering artful adult classes soon, in person and online, so stay tuned! Yes, I just retired from a 33 year teaching career. No, retirement doesn’t mean I am ‘done’. At 57, I find I am now who I was always meant to be.

 

 

Wild Autumnal Sunset

Colour gave awe to the wonder of a summer evening in late October.

A Visit To Alert Bay

I hadn’t been back for 35 years; since that first time when the shy young man offered me a gift of a silver, shimmering salmon. I remember how grateful I was to receive the small piece of art.

At that time I knew nothing of residential schools or discrimination. Now, I know so much more.

I have always loved the art. The shapes and form are unique in the world. The colours used are distinct. The craftsmanship, evident.

The accompanying magic, mysticism, and stories are captivating; place-based versions of something vaguely familiar.

This art; the art of The First Nations People, touches me so deeply that my soul sings along.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Alert Bay and it’s people’s art once more and I can’t wait to return!

How I Paint

  1. I like Golden paints. Their rich colours and variety are ready to go. I always start with heavy bodied paint and keep the colour wheel in mind. No mud. Drying time between layers.
  2. I begin by just making marks to get what is inside of me out. Sometimes I begin with collage. Sometimes I begin with huge charcoal toned sticks. I don’t usually need music in the background if I’m expressing what’s in my body. ‘It’ wants out. My hands want to dance the canvas. I can do this for as many layers as I have angst or joy.
  3. Music, the kind I find soul soothing, comes in handy for this next step of intentional paint play. Still using heavy body paint. Still just mark making fun.
  4. Dry now, the canvas has some life to it. Texture, colour, shapes. Usually, a lot of life! Sometimes too much life. At this point, I sit with it for a bit and see what comes up. I might see/feel something right away but I’m not disappointed to have to put it aside for weeks or months. I trust that something will eventually emerge.
  5. I set the content free. This is the exciting part. Sometimes it’s related to the layers before but sometimes it’s not. I just never really know what will show up or what will withdraw from the work.
  6. I add high viscosity colours, glazes, and drips. More play!
  7.  Finishing touches…edges, sides, details, etc… are my least favourite part. I usually feel ‘done’ before the canvas is finished. For me, this finishing is the drudgery that must happen for the viewer’s sake and I don’t paint for the viewer. I paint because I have to; it’s a birthing process that creates space and well being. It’s beautiful, cyclical, and creative, and very much like how a bulb or tuber, tree or flower sends forth it’s seed.cropped-img_31021.jpg

Autumnal Daze

Without breeze or wind to blow them, leaves of red and gold tumbled to the base of tall maples in our yard today. Walking in them was a joy. They crunched and flew with an upward, playful toe flick. In the sun, it was 21 degrees. A delightful respite, a reminder of our dry, warm summer before the temperature will inevitably drop to bone chilling; before this evening’s dazzling sunset of reds and golds.