One: Ingredients for Heaven

ingredients for heaven on earth,

In our little piece of heaven, my husband and I often share an aperitif under the leafed canopy in our backyard before supper. On such an occasion I leaned back in my lawn chair and looked up beyond the lime-green interruptions at a perfectly blue sky. A sudden inundation of gratitude glowed within my being. I am blessed. As I thought about how heaven had come about, a few important ingredients came to mind.

Important ingredients

Without these ingredients the many blessings so easily slip away. I remember a time when depression dogged my daily life. Fear had me in its deadly grip and heaven was far away. Even today, should I forget to name the good in each moment, I may awake to the old familiar fatigue draining all vitality from every step I take. Hence, being present is important.

Blessing instead of curse

Blessing instead of cursing is another of the ingredients. Rather than joining the throng criticizing government, church and spouse, I choose silence for the most part. Each negative thought and word dismantles the good around and within us, blinds us to the beautiful. Truth is, our world is far from perfect. Instead of criticism, however, a few steps in the direction of kindness and patience make a solid foundation for heaven on Earth. “Thank you” uplifts weary souls. A smile can do wonders for an overburdened spirit.

Gratitude is one of the ingredients

Another ingredient is gratitude. While everyone can decide to be grateful, the choice is far from unanimous. Maybe if we were more grateful, heaven would be closer.

Detachment

Among the ingredients is the knowing that nothing belongs to me. All my comforts, my home, my family, everything belongs to the one who gave it to me. I do not own my spouse or any of the members of my family. My home is a borrowed dwelling where I am responsible for upkeep and beautification. Moving forty times in my life has taught me detachment. Although I must admit if a tornado blew through I would be upset for a while.

Sharing is among the ingredients

Sharing shows up among the ingredients. Although Covid-19 has put a damper on sharing, it is still possible. We look forward to new ways to share the wealth of our blessings. Every time we come together we ripple the goodness creating a larger space in which heaven may grow here and now. Walking in solidarity with those less fortunate moves us toward a better world. We can sign petitions, donate to charities, move beyond our comfort zones to include those outside our circles.

Peace is a blend of ingredients

A certain peace permeates our little piece of heaven because it does not depend on external measurements. Our home is not large, our family is imperfect, our community insular. Imperfections give us something on which to work and keep us humble. Remembering we are not alone and the whole is not our responsibility, gives us room to be the best we can be. I do not need to do it all and it is not about me.

Share

One: Submissions

submissions, AIMAE, drawing, ink,

The form of submissions for various competitions has changed over the years. It is much easier these days. I used to fuss with colour graphs and slides, special lighting, in and outdoor experiments, all to find the best way to archive my images. Digital is so simple by comparison.

Submissions still require a mountain

Formerly, one could not submit anything without using a slide format. Some required prints on photo paper with a colour code. Then we went to CDs accompanied by the paper mountain in the form of cover letter, CVs, statements and other paraphernalia.  Submissions still require the mountain, just not in paper form.

Photography is still crucial

These days everything is digital. Even the exhibitions. Thankfully that will change shortly. The photography segment of submissions is crucial to success. Yet, no matter how excellent the photograph, it does not capture the subtleties of any work done in multiple layers. Only seeing the painting in real life, can one appreciate the depth and breadth of the artist’s capacities. Often my work shifts colour as one walks by. Different light makes a huge difference, almost like having several paintings in one depending on the time of day.

Submissions are specific

Submissions continue to be demanding, however. Every organisation requires a particular way in which the images are labeled and sized. Titles for artist’s statements and project descriptions are also unique to each competition. I suspect it is an easy way to eliminate several artists who do not take the time to read the fine print. After all, when one receives over six hundred entries to a single competition, one needs to look for an easy way to reduce the size of the elephant.

Digital makes things easier

submissions, FCA, Landscapes
“Oneing” 36x60in neomosaic/mixedmedia on gallery wrap canvas $3456.00

Lately, I have taken advantage of the digital display only. My favorite gallery cannot accommodate any painting over four feet in width. With the latest submissions for landscape and others I have included the diptych “Oneing” which measures ten feet wide. So fun. We will see if it is accepted. The competition is closing soon.

Successful submissions

submissions, drawings, prints, opening
Invitation to AIMAE

In the meantime, the doors to galleries are opening with restrictions and artwork is once again on display. All my submissions have been very successful lately. The Federation of Canadian Artists’ gallery in Vancouver is thankful for the timing of the reopening. Their exhibition “AIMAE” opens tomorrow. I have five pieces showing in this exhibition. So exciting. 

Share

One: Attitude

attitude, crisis, choosing,

Our state of mind often determines whether we receive challenges with ease or with trepidation. Fortunately, our attitude lies within our control.

Attitude depends on the wolf I feed

To begin with, it seems as if reactions are uncontrollable. first of all, I must recognize the consequences within me of the thoughts and ideas around me. I get to choose which wolf to feed. My attitude depends on whether or not I feed the wolf of fear. 

Takes time to change

While I recognize the long period of time it has taken to change my attitude from fear to confidence, I celebrate the peace I enjoy today. I welcome this period of isolation as it gives me time to reflect on the most important issues of the day. I get to choose where to put my energy. 

Attitude of adventure

A global pandemic awakens the world to new possibility. We could build a new world instead of rebuilding the old one. Obviously, the old one is not working anymore anyway. Yet in order to rebuild we need an attitude of adventure embracing possibility.

Art world stresses attitude

Certainly, in the art world things are changing rapidly. There is little doubt it will never be the same. It could be better. Amidst the closing museum, galleries and festivals new venues are opening. For an interesting discussion on these topics listen to the Art Angle Podcast.

New possibilities

The attitude of solidarity grows as we reach out to connect in new ways. People have power in solidarity. The solution lies in the ground swell of those demanding a more equitable distribution of wealth. Protecting our planet and its resources also comes to the fore. Creating a circular economy becomes priority.

All is well

We live in exciting times. Let us embrace the new and the miracle of possibility. A positive attitude will lead us to new ideas and new solutions. In the meantime, rest. Reconnect. Open to the possible. Celebrate. All is well.

Share

One: Biodiversity

“The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species.”  Richard Rohr “Daily Meditations” 7 February 2020

Interdependent biodiversity

Current campaign from Development and Peace

We are so in trouble. The rampant individualism of our society is blinding us to the truth of our interdependence. Consequently, what happens to rainforest in South America is irrelevant we say. Climate change is just a hoax. Does every beetle matter? Who cares if another butterfly dies as long as I get my coffee? Biodiversity is not such a big deal anyway. Pick the best and get rid of the rest.

Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon

Since we have no idea what that beetle does to contribute to the balance on our planet, we have trouble picking. Which is the best? We have been trying to figure that out for centuries, justifying ethnic cleansing whenever it suited our agenda. We are at it again. Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon. Fifty percent of all living creatures, plants and animals live in Amazonia, an area about the size of Australia. It also produces twenty percent of the Earth’s fresh water which we are happily polluting with mines and oil fields. Do you know in which country most of those extraction companies are based? Canada.

Invisible guardians

Jeremias Oliviera of the Mura people, Brazil

As we relax in the comfort of our “better” half of the world, we can watch the Amazon burn. In the name of progress and the accumulation of more wealth, we watch. While those who guard and nurture the biodiversity of this unique place are being isolated, demonized or worse, killed, we watch. Thirty million people live in Amazonia, the invisible guardians of the forest. Like our own native peoples, they are standing up and saying “no” to the mass destruction of Mother Nature for profit.

Do our investments support biodiversity?

Yesica with some cocoa pods.

Maybe one thing we could do is to verify which companies our investments support, if we have investments. Money talks. At the end of the day what is more important? The dividend that helps us buy our box of chocolate or the biodiversity necessary for the sustainability of the cocoa tree? Do we want our great-grandchildren to know what chocolate tastes like? Maybe the pharmaceutical companies should get involved. Much of their wealth is based in the plants unique to the Amazon region. 

Other helpful doings

Donating to the cause, signing petitions and holding our government to account for their complicity, praying and supporting organizations which educate and empower the local people to defend not only the biodiversity but their way of life, might be other avenues of assistance. Perhaps together we will be able to repair some of our fractured world.

Share

One: Control

All it takes is one little germ. One cannot even see this tiny leveler of the mighty. I had it all under control last week. Until Wednesday. Then I disappeared.

Out of Control

Someone on Facebook mentioned she did not think I could afford the time to be sick. Quite right. I had not planned for this. I need four more paintings in less than three weeks. Make that two weeks. Sigh. I am definitely not in control.

Surrendering control

So how does one cope when the unidentified intruder comes in and messes up my metabolism? In the past I fought it tooth and nail. Nothing would be beyond my control. Those nice liquid cold pills work well, don’t they? Perhaps not. I looked at the past year and thanked God for all the wellness I had enjoyed. I decided to go the non-violent route to see how that played out.

Still managing control

control within chaos, neomosaic painting, semiabstract landscape,
Almost finished

Wednesday morning, I managed a conference call and I organized the paperwork for the Condo Board AGM that night. That seemed under control. Then, surrendering to my body, I went to bed. Slept all morning. My husband made lunch, I looked and the computer, surrendered again and went back to bed. We ate leftovers for supper before heading off to the meeting where I took the minutes. I wrote them up before hitting the sack once more and slept all night.

Surrender

Thursday morning, another conference call, feeling much worse and totally out of control. We cancelled all plans. I stayed in bed most of the day, watched a movie on television and reacquainted myself with the reason why we do not watch television. I had forgotten about commercials. Went to bed. I did not have the energy for anything but surrender.

Some improvement

control, ready to varnish, neomosaicpainting, semiabstract landscape,
Four ready to varnish

Friday, I had hoped would be better. It was, marginally. Considering my options, I decided I had enough energy to sneak out to my studio and finish off the varnishing for the first four paintings of the year. In between bed and eating, I did just that. Was it enough to regain control of my schedule? I will let you know by mid-February. One thing for sure, I was feeling much better. Saturday, I felt well enough in fact to put in a full studio morning. Just in the nick of time too. I start getting withdrawal symptoms when I leave my brushes idle for too long.

Back in control?

In summary, my choice to allow myself to heal proved to be wise. I regained control of my health in record time. Would I visit my granddaughter again if I could redo my week? Certainly. She is more important than my schedule even if she shares her germs. Do check out my latest happenings.

Share

One: Props

neomosaic painting, exhibition, checklist, finished
“Autumn Doubloons 1” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Our humanity presents us with certain limitations. I find as I am growing older, the tasks I used to do without thinking are getting more complex. As memory fails me or physical ability lacks, I have need to use props.

Props are essential

Props, neomosaic painting
“Autumn Doubloons 2” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Props have become quite essential especially when I am under the pressure of a time limit. The finishing stage of my process requires a multitude of little doings I do not always remember. To combat this lack of efficiency, I embarked on the creation of a checklist. And at this point, I must admit there are times when I love computers.

Props are easy with computers

props, checklist, complete, neomosaic painting, mixed media, DEVENIR
“Thistles” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

My first attempt at the checklist contained about eight items or less. The reason I love computers is their capacity for changing lists. I do come from an age when ribbons needed changing on typewriters and one had to be one hundred percent accurate the first time. Never happened. Props, to be useful, must be accurate.

The checklist

Still room for more

With only eight items I could place three checklists on a page. Three paintings done. With the first round I printed a couple of pages. As I worked towards finishing a painting, I noticed I had forgotten a few things. I grabbed a pencil an inserted the missing items. Now my list numbered about twelve. My props were getting closer to perfection. As I continued, I added a few more.

Adjustments are necessary

As a result, things were getting complicated. In order to keep three on a page I needed to adjust the spacing and I may as well put them in order of task. Since then I have discovered my order of task varies with the situation. For instance, I may put a wire on the smaller canvases early in order to hang them on the easel. I have also discovered my props are very useful.

Props help the work get done

props, neomosaic painting, mixed media, deadlines, exhibitions
“Harvest” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

Just yesterday, as I was photographing the four paintings I had “finished”, I noticed one edge had not been completed. Laughing I picked up my props to find out what else had been left out. Sure enough four other items. All is well as I turn my attention to the other four paintings I need for the show in March.

Check out the latest

Do check out my events page to see the latest happenings and read all the details.

Share

One: Doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Declared done.

People have long valued gold as a means of trade. Doubloons were common until the mid-nineteenth century. Paper and metals of lesser value replaced them. Now we have plastic bills. We may render them redundant with virtual money. Disturbing in some respects.

Doubloons were made of gold

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
The first doubloons in paint.

Governments still use gold as a guarantee although we may question how true that is. Hidden away in vaults protected by the latest security devices, we humble folk see little of it. Thankfully, the kind of gold I value is available to everyone. Especially in fall. Doubloons tumble in abundance from aspen and poplar, lining pathways and collecting in backwaters.

Doubloons cover the ground in fall

Fall is my favorite season. Mostly I love the colour as the yellow hues tone the air with a golden majesty. Also the contrast against the ever deep green of pine or spruce takes my breath away. Stumbling along a creek bed I discovered some doubloons tucked among the rocks, treasure to be sure. The patterns warmed my heart and made my soul sing.

No doubloons, gold yes!

Gold is part of my repertoire. Lately, I have been using copper as well. Mostly on another project, I decided to vary the leaf colour with copper and save the gold for the trinity of circles at the end. Some of the leaf doubloons were painted gold as well. I have three different varieties of gold paint. Paint is easy. Metal leaf requires a bit of patience.

Applying gold requires patience

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Fixing some doubloons.

As a result of many attempts using gold leaf, I have found I must wait while the glue dries overnight before I attempt any refining. Fortunately, copper is not as thin as gold and therefore more easily applied. I can actually hold it between my fingers. Once I removed the excess, I discovered a few doubloons needed additional coverage so I reapplied some metal. Scraps are excellent for this application.

Done is not quite done

I declared the paintings done on my Instagram account. Not quite. I have a sheet of about twelve items listed, so I do not forget anything, waiting to be completed. Because I need eight paintings done by March 1st (another show at VASA) I am pressing ahead with other canvases while I finish up my doubloons.

Worth more than doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Not quite satisfied.

Do check out my events page for the upcoming shows over the first three months of the coming year. Since time is of the essence these days, I will be taking a break over Christmas. Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas. May 2020 be kind, fruitful and filled with gifts worth more than doubloons: health, peace and joy.

Share

One: Scams

Some times it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. Scams are tricky.
Where is the forest?

Occasionally I receive an email stating a desire to do business with me. To date none of them have been legitimate. Scams abound in the art world. Most are easily recognizable.

Scams: language

First of all, the language scams. The name of the sender is usually of British origin. One would think the message would be written in the language of the sender. Indeed, the attempt has been made, however, the turn of phrase, spelling or flow of the paragraph contains certain jarring elements. A good attempt, evidently the first language is not English.

Scams: content

The second tell-tale indication is the content. Usually with these scams there is a long explanation about a surprise birthday or wedding anniversary. The fellow would like to delight his wife with one of my pieces because she discovered me on the internet. How lovely. Then comes the dissertation on how, although they live in Texas at the moment, they will be moving to Guam or some other place requiring shipping costs for which I will be reimbursed. Dream on.

Scams: the cheque

Then the cheque story scams. The potential customers would like to pay by company cheque to cover the costs of not only the paintings but the shipping as well. Unfortunately, the amount on the cheque does exceed the sum required to do the same and they would like the artist to forward the change to such and such address. This is annoying to the banking institutions as well as to the artist as by the time the cheque bounces, for it is always bogus, the change and the paintings may have already been sent. Not a great outcome.

Scammers make errors too

Every once in a while, I receive one that inspires a belly laugh. Again, the fellow was British, William, I think. The content rattled on about a new company investing in art for somewhere in Africa. The English was not perfect but much better than usual. Signed Robert. Scams like these are amusing. I might wear out my delete button one day.

A business proposition

The latest missal has to do with a business deal the sender would very much like to discuss with me. There is no mention as to purchasing any paintings. I suspect he wants to sell me something like website services or advertising in a book or brochure. Scams have one thing in common with this proposal, the artist pays. I must admit some tardiness in answering. When the premise involves purchase of paintings, I refer them to a gallery which would love to handle the details. It ends the discussion forthwith. This time I will answer directly to verify my suspicions. I can always say no.

More pleasant affairs

On a brighter note, do drop in on one of the four venues showing my work at the moment. Check out the details here.

Share

One: Last Minute Challenge

Part of my solo show "The Veil", #neomosaicpainting, #semiabstractlandscape, mixed media, last minute challenge
“Wading Waters” 12x12in mixed media on gallery wrap

I am quite familiar with the last minute challenge. Usually it saves the day. There is something about a looming deadline, suddenly upon me, that quickens my pace and helps me focus. This time the last minute may be too short to accomplish all I need to do. 

A little history

From the series "Eve", Results from a last minute challenge,
“Secrets” 40x56in mixed media on gallery wrap canvas

First of all, a little history. Just ten years ago I was in the midst of a challenge: paint seven paintings in seven weeks. Previously I had managed, perhaps, one or two paintings per year. Although I thought the task impossible, I loved the idea and decided to engage. The fact I had undertaken a new series “Eve” and the paintings were averaging four feet by five, was of little consequence. No last minute challenge for me, I plunged right in. In the end I stood amazed at what I had done in just six weeks. It marked the beginning of my professional career.

A short last minute challenge

This year I had anticipated painting thirty paintings for my solo show in November. Constantly plagued by unexpected events I managed twenty-two. I had set a personal deadline, the end of September, knowing the devil is in the details. The last minute challenge would not have sufficed for the poetry, printing a poetry book, varnishing, photographing, archiving and wiring. Not necessarily in that order…

Unforeseen challenges

Furthermore, at the time, I had no idea my September shows would be moved to November. Nor did I anticipate my involvement in the miniature show for CAVA, nor teaching during October, nor the thirty day, one painting per day challenge for DEVENIR. Putting ten paintings together for the miniature show in a couple of weeks proved to be exhilarating. Mind you, they are small. Varnished, wired and archived, I delivered them on time during the last minute challenge.

Too short last minute challenge

As the month unfolds, other surprises surfaced. Apparently, we have another opening reception this week. Someone else likes the last minute. Unfortunately, this last minute challenge is really short. I already have several major commitments including finalizing the details for a special mass at our church celebrating all artists. As coordinator I oversee the different groups: music, liturgical dance, visual presentation, etc. I am delighted with our team. We have our final meeting on Tuesday, the same day as the reception and there is no time to advertise.

All deadlines met

last minute challenge, St. Cecile, special mass
Classic St. Cecile-my source photo

While I appreciate my last minute, I have trouble accommodating another’s last minute challenge. I will send out some invites once the time is announced. Tomorrow is definitely the very last minute. In the meantime, DEVENIR has an opening at WAM on Thursday evening and DDK is part of the All is Bright celebration on 124th Street on Saturday. Should you wish to practice your French do drop in at Paroisse St. Thomas d’Aquin on Sunday, November 17th at 11am for a very special celebration. For more details on my expositions, click here.

Share

One: Emerging

emerging, abstract painting, urban realities, neomosaic, collaboration, cocreation,
A new project by DDK

The word “emerging” is usually associated with visual artists fresh out of school or newly engaged at any age. Jason Horejs of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale Arizona cautions coupling this word with the artist as it implies the work may be inferior due to lack of experience. I can see his point.

Emerging as in unknown

emerging, abstract painting, urban realities,
Waiting patiently for months.

Emerging has taken on a new significance, however, with the latest category found in the extensive list of exhibition opportunities from the Federation of Canadian Artists. In fact, emerging is quite exciting. The premise centers on the unknown of interactive mark making. Unfortunately, my present work will not be available in time to submit to this competition. Or, at least, I do not think so.

Re-engaging

Having been distracted for some time with other responsibilities, it has taken me a bit of time to readjust to creative studio work. That is not to say I am finished with the other distractions; it just means some time is available. Consequently, I have re-engaged in a collaborative effort with Doris Charest and Danièle Petit (DDK) called “Urban”. Emerging is what it is all about.

Emerging excitement

emerging, abstract painting, urban realities, neomosaic, collaboration, cocreation,
So far so good.

The first bits of masking tape adorned the watercolour paper a while ago. I gazed at the pattern and decided it was appropriate. Now what? The first two in the series proved to be too controlled. Some accident, not a lot. Less than satisfying, the result seemed a long way away from what I usually do. Therein lies the key. What I usually do is throw paint. So as I watched the drips and drops mingle on the surface, an emerging excitement took hold.

Following my muse

emerging, abstract painting, urban realities, neomosaic, collaboration, cocreation,
Graphite on paper

Due to the success of the first layer, I decided to continue in this vein and added some circles. Big ones. Interlocking. Grabbing a pencil, I renewed my acquaintance with graphite on paper and filled in one circle. Love it. The next circle called for something more robust: acrylic pen in blue. Yes. Emerging patterns and exciting happenings abound. What will it look like in the end? Who knows? I may take a wrong turn and end up scrapping it. Such is the danger and the hype of this process.

Busy month or two

DDK will be showing in Lotus Art Gallery during November. DEVENIR presents a wink at their new project “Stitched Time” in WAM at the same time. VASA is hosting my solo show “The Veil”, as well, in November. And “Earth” is in Calgary at the Central Library until October 27th. Learn more here.

Share