One: Focus

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Almost finished….

Multitasking is my middle name. I am not as good at it as I used to be. Something to do with age and memory. Focus could be another reason. Lately my focus has scattered in all directions as I reset my priorities.

New Priorities

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
November waits…

First of all, I still require time to complete my major task of providing about thirty paintings for a solo show in November. And, fortunately, I have been invited to present four workshops in May. As well, some new customers wish me to provide some preliminary sketches for a large commission. We have not settled on a deadline for this so it will slip into the background for now.

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The hills are alive

Focus on Workshops

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More prep…

The last time I presented these workshops was about five or more years ago. I gave most of my materials away because I decided I would no longer entertain school residencies. Well, the workshops are not for children. My clientele is at the other end of the spectrum. Thankfully the class is limited to ten.  Much less to prepare, yet quite enough to fill many hours. The real positive in all this is I will be well equipped again. I do intend to continue. I have missed teaching.

Revamping Website

In the midst of all this activity I decided to revamp my website. It has long waited for some overdue attention. In spite of a huge lack of technological expertise I have found the exercise less demanding than expected. Nevertheless, there is much yet to do. My intention is to again attempt the round of applications to commercial galleries. We will see how that manifests. 

DEVENIR

Devenir, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Repetitive exercise

DEVENIR is beginning a new project. We have the elements but not the final product. While a new venture is always exciting, the discussions, finding materials and deciding on a format all takes time. I am delighted I am not doing this alone! So fun.

Babysitting gives me time

Another focus for me is babysitting my granddaughter once per week. Delightfully helpful this toddler is quite willing to help me with yard work, shopping, laundry or any other household task. She will provide me with the time to complete any necessary indoor/outdoor tasks as we wait for planting season.

New life

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Making progress nonetheless

All in all, life is good. Spring energizes the atmosphere and everything breathes in the new life.

Focusing on thankfulness will steady my keel as I set my sails for new horizons. Wishing everyone an excellent week.

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One: Showing is essential

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
One end of my gallery space

Showing is essential in our profession as artists. Some venues concentrate on the show rather than the selling. Professional salespeople are found in commercial galleries rather than artist run collectives. Often the artist must take on the role of salesperson as well. The advantage is less commission paid. The disadvantage is reduced studio time.

Choice of venues

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Other end

Up to this point in my career (that’s right! It is not a hobby…) my show place of choice has been artist collectives and various open walls attached to local businesses. I do sell some. My profession, however, is not sales. Lately I have felt a desire to reach beyond my comfort zone and join the ranks of paid artists, that is the realm of a steady sales income.

Approaching galleries

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Latest work

First on the list is revamping my website. The current mode of thought when approaching galleries is to send a brief introductory email with an attached example of work directing the powers that be toward a fuller experience in the form of a website. I have not reworked my website in quite a while. I have trouble keeping it up to date.

Other income

 neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Four more coming

Living in the land of reality I realize a connection to a gallery may not be the answer even if it does manifest. Hence my energies are directed towards other income generating endeavours such as commission work or teaching. Lately, I have been quizzing other artists about how they run their classes with the view to keeping it simple. I have been classically trained and it is a lot of work for which I have no time.

Showing is essential

Time is of the essence. Showing my work consumes more of this precious commodity these days as I am accepted more frequently into all kinds of different locations, sometimes from one end of the province to the other–just a matter of say fifteen hundred kilometers or more. As a result, my productivity needs maintaining to meet the demand. Just showing, however, fills my storage and not my coffers.

Continuous adventure

I have perhaps found a way to reduce the storage by loaning some work for an extended period to institutions such as long-term care. Showing is essential still and my work is always on display in my own gallery though it accommodates fewer pieces and occupies more space. All in all, this adventure will keep me occupied for some time to come. Life is good.

Events

Don’t miss out on all the happenings and current shows. Find out more here.

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One: Bridges

bridges, neomosaic, blog, cocreation, forgiveness
Some chasms are deep

Bridges come in all sizes. Some span chasms carved by rivers. Others are temporary over puddles. The most important ones are built with love.

From embankments to puddles

bridges, neomosaic, blog, cocreation, forgiveness,
Snowy path

Two weeks can make an enormous difference. Just two weeks ago the path to my studio curved its way through embankments of snow. On Friday water blocked my path. As I gazed into the depth of liquid, I estimated the distance. Definitely too deep for my shoes. I chose the bank of snow to my left and proceeded to the studio door. Unbeknown to me, someone was watching through the kitchen window.

Building bridges

bridges, neomosaic, blog, cocreation, forgiveness
More water than snow

My oldest daughter is often over at our place. She is a talented young woman with bright ideas and very good with her hands. Watching me struggle through the snow in my less than adequate attire, she donned her boots and looked for a solution to the problem while I worked in the comfort of my haven. Taking some slats from old oak barrels destined for the firepit she formed two temporary bridges. Apparently, my path needs rebuilding this summer.

Relationships require bridges

bridges, neomosaic, blog, cocreation, forgiveness
Two bridges

Relationships often require bridges as well. My daughter excels in this arena too. She has found ways to repair several relationships in our family. Generously donating her time and her skills she forges new possibilities in what seem like impossible situations. Everything she builds is built with love.

Forgiveness is key

One of the key elements to building heart bridges is forgiveness. Once we make the decision to forgive, the way is clear to proceed with patience, kindness and perseverance. Holding onto grudges or demanding punitive justice only blocks any attempt at restoration. We all make mistakes. And we may take offense when none is intended, depending on our mood of the day.

Space and time

Another key element is space. Not everyone is open to repair work. Allowing the other space to mature or mellow offers a gift of time. In some cases, it takes a lifetime. Patience is required. Occasional olive branches test the waters. Love makes bridges possible. 

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One: Free to Be

Free, DEVENIR, retreat, mentor, neomosaic, mixed media
Reference Photo

Tucked away behind magnificent evergreens laces with witches’ brew, Terratima awaits new visitors and old friends. The main lodge easily housed our small group of ten people last weekend. Without internet we immersed ourselves in the work before us: where we were as artists, where we wanted to be, how to get there and be free to be.

A mentored retreat

All five members of DEVENIR, our group of Albertan visual artists, had successfully applied for this generously funded RAFA weekend retreat. Over the course of two full days each artist delved into a few fundamental questions about our work and our purpose. Serge Murphy guided our inner thoughts with insightful probes such as, “Why do you choose this colour over another?”, or, “How did you come to choose the medium you use?” 

A free to be space

Consequently, we discovered ourselves in the fundamental elements of our work. We are whom we have become through the influences, both positive and negative, of those around us, especially as children. Unconsciously, we choose our direction from those influences and with a little help, we build a space where we are free to be.

The exercise

New colour scheme: gel pen, coloured pencils, watercolour on hot pressed

Terratima provided a wealth of possibility for the visual exercise we undertook on this adventure. Serge asked us to take intimate photographs of details within the environment, close-ups of things we found intriguing. Using different papers and surfaces with the materials we had brought, we experimented and discovered different ways to manipulate the reference photos. Although I did not end up using the photos I had taken outside, I certainly harboured no regrets for having taken the two long walks around this expansive property. Winter has been long, the sunshine and the fresh air most welcome.

Our word

Watercolour pencil, crayons, ink on terraskin.

A second exercise ended up being linked to the first. We were to name in one word our state of being. As I worked the crack lines of the broken window, they easily penetrated the surrounding casement. Indeed, breaking free of the pigeon holing so carefully constructed during my younger years, the word “Liberté” (liberty) came to mind. I am free to be. My work reflects my freedom and my growing confidence that all is well and all will be well.

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One: Intimate

wonder, cocreation, neomosaic, contemplation, whole,
View from my kitchen window

Our world is filled with wonder. Perhaps the vocation of artist allows me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Gazing out my kitchen window, the beauty of the spaces between things and the occasional spectacular sunset leave me awestruck.

A quote

“When we contemplate the wonders of evolutionary history in both its smallest and greatest dimensions, through a microscope or a telescope, what we grasp is a concrete experience of awesomeness … Suddenly to see some aspect of creation naked, as it were, in its elemental beauty, its thereness and suchness, stripped of all conventional names and categories and uses, is an experience of transcendence … This possibility is before us in each and every piece and part of creation: it is the wonder at the world that young children have and that poets and artists retain. It is to experience the ordinary as extraordinary. This is experiencing the world as God’s body, the ordinariness of all bodies contained within and empowered by the divine” Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Fortress Press: 1993), 194.

Experience of transcendence

If only all people could see with eyes of wonder. Sunsets or sunrises tend to get most people’s attention. They are reminders about the extraordinary world in which we live. This blue planet in a sea of darkness. Unfortunately, we tend to shake off the experience of transcendence too quickly. We dismiss it as unimportant in the busyness of our imagined life.

More than a copy

Precious are the hours spent in contemplation as I nurture an image into existence. More than a copy of a place or a moment in time, they attempt to convey the integral nature of the Creator. Intimately entwined in all she has formed, she beckons us to the wonderment before us. She calls us to stop the frenetic pace and just stand or sit for a moment in silence before the ordinary. If only we could see her in everyone and everything.

If we could see

Should our eyes be opened to her presence in all things, we would be less likely to wage war. God suffers terribly when we do. We would be less likely to clear cut a forest for the wealth it contains or gouge the earth for gold. It would be akin to rape.

Stop for the wonder

I long for the day when all eyes will see the wonder before them, when love reigns and peace abides. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the sparkle on new snow or the green of a blade of grass. A full life demands simplicity, contemplation and the desire to serve others. Let us begin today.

Events

Do drop in at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Tuesday between 4:30pm and 8pm. I will be in attendance along with all the artists who submitted their work for this event. Featured artists (who stay for the year) will be announced at 5pm. Would love to see you!

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One: Moment

moment, exhibitions, DEVENIR, neomosaic, collaboration
Discussing the principles of art

When it comes to openings, being in the moment is crucial. Every visitor is important. The ambiance is the property of the artist or artists involved. We set the stage, create the space in which to share ideas, listen and pick up on new opportunities to form relationships.

DEVENIR in Stony Plain

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
Contemplating

Saturday afternoon DEVENIR opened their installation “Devenir” in the Multicultural Heritage Museum in Stony Plain. Bitterly cold, the day turned on the sun and lit up the beautiful room in which we had hung our mobiles and paintings. Those who braved the weather thoroughly enjoyed discovering the idea behind our presentation and stayed to chat at length. One person whipped out his phone and shared our invitation on his links, encouraging people to drop in.

In the moment

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
Exciting!

Being in the moment means forgetting about everything else on the schedule and focusing on the person or persons before me. Focus is the key. Fortunately, I do not find this part difficult. I love talking to strangers and entering forbidden conversations. To do this my aim is to create a safe space. Time is short so this has to be done quickly. Not everyone is open. Fear of offending or fear of judgement shuts down many fascinating conversations. Pity.

Follow-up

Relationships also require follow-up. Not so easy. As I step away from the moment, everything else on my schedule floods back with a vengeance, something like the incoming tide in a narrow inlet and I find myself submerged.

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
A lovely space

The next five minutes

Again, I turn to the moment. In these five minutes I can place a reminder on my computer for later if I cannot do the task immediately. Priority is given to the immediate. Although relax time is also an essential ingredient in the elixir of well-being, it may be wise to plan it more precisely rather than relying on feelings or lack of inspiration. Movies take a lot of time for example. I love watching movies. Perhaps limiting this fun thing to once or twice per week would be more profitable than every evening…

Take a little time to breathe

This present moment contains all the opportunity of a lifetime. Used wisely it can profit anyone willing to put in the effort. Effort is required to choose priorities, to organize, to let go of what may be less useful. Take a little time to breathe. Be thankful for the blue sky and sunshine, they may not be there tomorrow.

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One: Obligations

obligations, blog, balancing, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media
Installation in Stony Plain

Obligations occupy the majority of my time. Lately things have shifted as the people around me require more attention. In the struggle to find a balance one needs an inventory of sorts, a discernment about where to put one’s priorities. And, unfortunately, I do not always manage the best path.

Three exhibitions

obligations, balancing, blog, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media
Opening at CAVA

At the moment I have three exhibitions on the go with another coming up shortly. Without the support of family and friends all of these obligations could not be fulfilled. However, it is not the present mayhem worrying me. It is the autumn chaos. It all starts at the end of August.

About thirty paintings

obligations, balancing, blog collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media, neomosaic
Beginnings

An approximate estimation of the number of paintings required for a solo show is about thirty. Usually an artist can pull the number from inventory as well as adding a few new works for regular consumers. In this case, the venue in November insists on new work. Having already showed most of my inventory in this space means painting about three paintings a month to meet my obligation. I decided to begin with some of the largest.

Three paintings per month

The end of February approaches hastily. Presently, I have no new, completed work. The four panels strewn about my studio at the moment, fill my creative hours as we make steady progress toward completion. Sometime in March I will finish them. To make myself feel better, I may whip off a few small canvases to make up the magic number of nine.

Then there is spring.

Letting go

obligations, blog, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media, neomosaic
More progress

Evidently, something has to give. People are more important than housework. I never was very good at housekeeping anyway… Painting is more important than bookwork, although maintaining my website becomes more urgent the longer I neglect it. Planting a garden may not happen. Obligations attached to rental properties may take a back seat during the summer. Regular hours in my studio might take a different form as I squeeze a few minutes here and there between being present to those around me.

Fulfilling obligations

Sometimes analysis does not help. Instead I must step out in faith and live one day at a time. Being kind to myself and everyone else is also a priority. As I let go of my preconceived ideas about how it should look, my obligations will be met, and all will be well in spite of taking unforeseen forms. We can do this.

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One: Ready

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, retreat, mixed media
Piled everywhere

Ready is relative. Many things are supposed to be ready at the moment. Priorizing the next coming event is the best way to keep a modicum of control. So, yes, things stood at the door and around the room in organized piles just before we left for Trochu.

DEVENIR in history

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
View from the front window

Ste. Ann Ranch boasts several historical buildings, delightful décor, delicious cuisine and very comfortable beds. Our hosts accommodated our every need with graciousness, marvellous stories and great senses of humour. DEVENIR so enjoyed the space and the ambiance.

Another retreat

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, retreat
Workspace

And what was DEVENIR doing in Trochu? Well, we were having a retreat. Google Drive helps us to collaborate. I put the initial agenda together. Patricia complained about not scheduling any fun and took one heavy item off the agenda suggesting something refreshing instead. I had revealed my tendency toward the serious and most appreciated the help with the fun part. La crème de la crème was a pyjama party on Friday night, Sabine’s brain child.

Planning for the future

Apart from fun, we spent some time conceiving new possibilities and directions for our group. We discussed what we might do with the one hundred and fifty paintings we had completed in October last year. Amidst the laughter and the banter, we birthed several good ideas, in fact, too many to do in one life time. Still, from among the abundant inspirations we chose the best for development giving life and direction for our practice together as well as individually. We also took the opportunity to exchange paintings for our upcoming exhibitions in Canmore and Stony Plain.

New directions

ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, exhibitions, retreat
Brainstorming

Our discussions continued on the way home, albeit just the three from Edmonton took part. Why not add another brand to the fire? The lovely landscape along highway 21 fueled the flames and we now have the seeds of something exciting we wish to do together. Some very positive fallout around our plans may bear much needed fruit as well. Generosity and mutual support yield such good results.

Ready is relative

Ready, DEVENIR, collaboration, mixed media, retreat
One of the many for CAVA

Now that I am home again, I wonder if I am ready. The next coming event is CAVA. Twenty paintings require frames with the delivery date on Tuesday. Tuesday is the day I meet with Amber from the Shaw Conference Centre to discuss the future location for three of my forty-eight-inch square paintings. They will be on display for a year. Then the collaborative effort for DEVENIR statements, CV, new releases and descriptive blurbs looms in the background, not too far in the background as the time line is pressing. Ready is relative. I suspect only the last minute will tell.

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One: Diversity

diversity, mixed media, semi-abstract, drips and drops, co-creation
Working with diversity

Diversity in abundance is the hallmark of this planet, this universe. Yet, as a human race, we tend to want uniformity. We want to reduce the wanton abandon around us to something we can control and understand. We have no faith in anything but ourselves and our human capacities.

Diversity is key

As an artist I struggle with this tendency, placing trees all the same size and equidistant from each other. Without the wanton abandon of drips and drops moving among the traces of texture, my work would look very ordered and way less interesting. Diversity in shape and colour is much easier to manage when I allow myself to co-create.

Part of daily routine

Part of my daily routine is scripture reading. I use a form of Lectio Divina which is a method of meditation. Reading the passages, I seek the message for me today and I try to apply it to my world. Recently, I reread  the Nunc Dimittis for the millionth time, and I burst into tears.

Now , Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised, for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations: a light of revelation to the gentiles and glory for your people Israel. Luke 2:29-32 New Jerusalem Bible

Christianity has twisted Christ’s teachings into a meritology club promising salvation for those who belong. The blinding light of revelation has been reduced to an ember, darkened by our misunderstanding and unwillingness to welcome the other. And the glory of Israel is lost in genocide, reducing diversity to something we can control and understand. How utterly sad.

A benevolent universe

 If we could embrace the teaching of incarnation, God becoming man and thus declaring all creation good, we would begin to see the connectedness, the interdependence of everyone and everything in all of the universe. In fact, the more we reduce diversity, the less likely we will survive. Co-creation is so much healthier. It does demand our trust and willingness to be open.

Science unblocking the way

diversity, drips and drops, chaos, mixed media, semi-abstract
Looking good

We live in exciting times. Change is threatening to many yet there is nothing to fear. Science delving into the mysteries of the universe has come to the same conclusion: diversity is essential. In the meantime, I will keep painting in what looks like chaos. I will endeavour to love well and treat the diversity of creation with respect and patience. All is well and life is good.

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One: Balancing

balancing, framing, new work, blog, mixed media
Balancing precariously

More than usual this year requires attentive balancing between projects and exhibitions. As you can see my work space has run out of room as I balance cutting boards on top of other projects and gel containers.

All at the same time

Commitments come in groups like customers entering through a shop door. Have you noticed that? We all arrive at the same time wanting undivided attention from the store clerk. Somehow, we are attached to the same clock, at least subconsciously. For the artist, submissions are sent out regularly. Exhibition spaces, however, have a habit of choosing the same month to show one’s work.

Overflowing

balancing, framing, mixed media, blog
Covering my inspiration space

At the moment framing has taken over one table and overflowed onto my 6x6in inspiration space. Once I have the paintings framed, they are equipped with a 6mm plastic sleeve which is stiff enough for ease of handling and strong enough to protect the painting. Twenty of these will be showing at the CAVA exhibition in Edmonton, delivery date on the 12thFebruary. See my events calendar here.

Exchanging work

balancing, framing, new work, DEVENIR, mixed media
One of the Canmore paintings

Although framing is a priority, another exhibition, this time in Canmore, is first in line. DEVENIR has decided to enjoy a working retreat in Trochu this week where we will exchange paintings going to different places. We three from Edmonton will transport nine 40x40in and nine 24x24in canvases for the Three Sisters Gallery. The Calgary crew will hang the show beginning on the 28thFebruary. They will bring their paintings and mobiles to Trochu so we can mount the exhibition in the Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre on the 21st. The opening reception will be on the 2ndof March for that one.

Balancing act

balancing, blog, mixed media, framing, exhibitions
Paint covering my framing area

So where does the balancing come in? It is all in the overlap. Paintings, of which there is a limited supply, must be available for the different venues for the entire time period. I must admit this fall presents more of a problem than this spring. So, when one of our members suggested we could fill the Salmon Arm exhibition with another forty-five paintings, no problem, I quickly looked at my schedule for August/September.

Two solos and an installation

I have two solos coming up this fall, one in Canmore again at the Three Sisters Gallery and one in St. Albert at VASA. I can get away with older paintings in Canmore, perhaps, although the ones showing this spring will not be available to show in the fall. St. Albert requires all new paintings. I guess the older ones can go to Salmon Arm. All is well both Canmore and Salmon Arm end around the same time in late September. New paintings in Canmore can be shown in St. Albert in November. Phew!!

New work

balancing, framing, mixed media, cocreation, blog
Picking out the spaces

In the meantime, I will be working on the twenty to thirty new paintings I need for VASA in St. Albert. Balancing my time between drying paint, framing, planning new exhibitions during the rest of the year, and all the other activities I do in my life will keep me busy and out of trouble. Nothing to worry about. Life is good.

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