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.

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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 the Glenrose show, or the Edmonton Convention Centre, or the dining room at St. Joe’s College on UofA Campus. Coming soon: DEVENIR at VASA for the month of March

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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.

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One: Unexpected

DEVENIR, VASA, neomosaic, unexpected
Work in progress

Just when we think we have things under control the unexpected happens. A readjustment of priorities must take place and some choices made. This year the idea of choice really took root in me as I adjusted to the demands. I have found waiting for paint to dry invaluable as time spent on meeting expectations.

Obligers meet the unexpected

Obliger Tendency, unexpected obligations, outside accountability

As an Obliger, meeting other’s expectations is something I do naturally. Meeting my own is a different matter and not so easily accomplished. With the help of the book “The Four Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin, I understand how to circumvent my own tendency by asking for help from an outside source. Unfortunately, asking for help is another action listed among the forbidden from my childhood. Fortunately, I am an adult on occasion. While the unexpected happens often, if the source is outside of me, it is usually easily accommodated.

Unexpected hanging space

unexpected, lack of storage space, opportunities,
“Broken/brisé” neomosaic/mixedmedia on 30x30in gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Since my painting pace has accelerated during the last year, my inventory has grown. Recently I noticed two calls for submissions, one for Deep Freeze and the other for Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Putting in the submissions had an ulterior motive: lack of storage space. Thankfully, the unexpected came through as both venues agreed to show my paintings over the next few weeks and months.

International opportunity

unexpected, international show, works on paper, abstract, mixed media
“Life is Complicated/La vie est complexe” mixed media on A4 Arches $326.00

Another surprise came in the form of a world-wide call for any creative effort on an A4 sheet of paper. Loving the challenge and the possibility of showing in Paris, France, I cut a piece of Arches hot press to size and submitted “Life is Complicated” complete with poem. Following this adventure, a second call for submissions came through in December for an artist residency in Scotland. I have been looking at this one for some time. Should the unexpected happen and my submission succeed, I will rearrange my routine to be there for three months.

DEVENIR in VASA

unexpected, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Almost finished “Autumn Doubloons/pièces d’or” neomosaic/mixedmedia on 30x30in gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

While keeping pace with my self-imposed deadline for the DEVENIR March show at VASA, one could ask why both with a submission for which I have little hope. Three reasons spring to mind. The first is putting a submission together for something unusual is great practice. Second, the requirements force me to clarify my thinking. Third, hope reigns supreme and the unexpected does occur.

Best wishes

All in all, it has been a great start to the new year. Wishing you a wonderful 2020. May you enjoy abundant blessings of peace, good health, joy and prosperity.

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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.

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One: Opportunities

opportunities, greeting cards, Merry Christmas
Christmas Card 2019

Just when I think it will be a quiet year, opportunities abound. My work will be showing at various locations throughout the first three months of the New Year. All is conceived if not complete. I still have the ten paintings to do before March 1st. Two are well on their way.

Opportunities teach

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 1 making progress

Recently, other opportunities have given me insight into my process and what makes me happy or unhappy. Every artist is unique. Flow happens more easily when we discover our personally preferred method. Testing out various systems sheds light on the mystery within. Being a reformed night owl, I find myself working later and later on the computer these days. This does not bode well for early morning rising. I have yet to find an efficient way to deal with paperwork.

Limiting opportunities

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 2 also making progress

In my studio, however, the muse is amused. While not allowing myself to panic with regard to impossible deadlines, I have chosen a very inspiring and pleasant path of creativity. From the many opportunities, my choice is restricted to about three or four different centers of interest. Among my pressing obligations, I find taking a break instead of pursuing one subject relentlessly helps me focus longer and with more clarity. At the moment I divide my attention between the ten paintings for March, the Christmas cards for Christmas, and the “Urban” painting for Tuesday.

Abundant choice

DDK, throwing paint, abstract landscape
Throwing paint for Urban

Once the cards are complete (out of my studio yet not necessarily sent) I will add another project. Perhaps some more 8x8in daily paintings or the design for next year’s Christmas card, or some all occasion cards.  All linocuts for the cards. Perhaps it is the shift within the opportunities that renews my spirit. Linocuts require quite a different thought process than neomosaic. Throwing paint and contrasting geometric with organic phenomenon pulls me in a different direction as well. I get excited just thinking about it.

Coming events

Do check out my events page so you might choose from the various opportunities to take a look at my work. With all the local venues, one may be more convenient than another. Don’t forget the shows finishing soon in December as well.

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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.

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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. 

Last minute challenge 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 challenges 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.

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One: Dialogue

The Veil, Dialogue, separation, beauty,
One half of the diptych.

Dialogue serves to bring disparate groups together. Yesterday my husband and I attended one where the participants were Muslim and Christian. We have also attended others aiming to reconcile different expressions within the Christian faith. Yesterday was delightful.

Dialogue between family members

In other contexts, we are using dialogue to reconcile members of our family who express different opinions, often diametrically opposed. Discussion is essential. The components of discussion, however, must include listening. By listening, we create the safe space where another might dare to share or question.

Rules and a peace pipe

On occasion, dialogue requires a mediator. So, yesterday we enjoyed the leadership of a wonderful woman who gave a lovely decorated stick to the person wishing to speak. She clearly delineated the rules: whoever holds the stick has the right to speak without interruption. As we became more familiar with one another, we began to share personal stories and ask questions. The peace pipe’s importance diminished as we created a safe space.

Dialogue between religions

Between religions, dialogue is opening a space where we may recognise our similarities more easily. The process allows us to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Apparently, the renewal or reformation of religion occurs naturally about every five hundred years. We are living such a period of necessary disruption today. People are no longer comfortable with the too confining status quo. They are seeking freer expression and a safe place.

Sharing my vision

Dialogue opens space. During our discussions yesterday I had the chance to share the foundation of my latest series and the intent behind my solo exhibition “The Veil”. I was pleasantly surprised when the senior member of the Muslim group at our table expressed a rather excited support of my idea. The crux of the matter is we live in an illusion of separation, the veil, which we must remove in order to see the ever present beauty beneath. It is time to stop creating barriers.

Finding something new together

dialogue, separation, isolation, neomosaic
The invitation

So, less than two weeks away, “The Veil”  offers a premise for dialogue. How do we remove our preconceived ideas and our narrow points of view? Can we open a safe place to be for ourselves as well as others? How can we love better? Together we may discover something new, a new way of being. May peace be part of your blessed week.

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One: Uninspired

solo exhibition, invitation, neomosaic
An invitation

Perhaps I am just tired. It has been a busy week. Nonetheless I remain uninspired as I turn my hand to writing on this lovely long weekend we have dubbed Thanksgiving.

Uninspired in Calgary

Thanksgiving is probably the reason why so few people showed up for the interesting talk given by Areum Kim. “Earth”, the Alberta Society of Artists traveling exhibit, opened Saturday at the Calgary Central Library. It will grace the second floor for another two weeks. With their spouses,Jack Blair, a talented photographer and Robyn MacKay, an experimental printmaker greeted the public. They actively invited those interested to join us downstairs with Areum. Most proved uninspired to do so. Yet, one young couple and their children did participate.

DEVENIR 30 Day Challenge

Having arrived home earlier than expected I turned on my computer to find only two of us had managed a painting. DEVENIR is in the midst of a thirty day challenge: one painting per day for thirty days. By early November we will have accumulated one hundred and fifty paintings between us. Always fascinating to watch as we develop our skills in this intense exercise. Saturday was an uninspired day apparently. While the photos may be lacking in the immediate time frame, they will be forthcoming shortly. In any case, five paintings will eventually show up on our Facebook page each day.

Inspired in my studio

Back in my studio, my muse is anything but uninspired. I seem to work best under pressure and with multiple projects on the go. DDK (Doris, Danièle and Karen) are in the midst of finishing a thirty by thirty inch painting. Created together, for our show at Lotus Gallery in November, it approaches the end. Trusting our creation to one another is a great exercise in letting go of control. Exciting results are in the offing. As well, DDK has a group exhibition in the works involving abstract creations on paper and sculpture, a next year’s project.

DEVENIR again

DDK is organising a sneak peek at DEVENIR’S latest adventure in the WAM. Located on the second floor of Cité francophone, the museum will host “Stitched Time” through November to mid-December. VASA approved DEVENIR’s application so we show in in March next year. My contribution: eight new paintings. At the moment, I remain uninspired.

Upcoming solo and uninspired details

uninspired, solo exhibition, VASA, mixed media, neomosaic
Last of the veils

Although uninspired I have managed to write yet another blog! The small details for my solo show in VASA next month are coming together. The advertising has begun. In addition, I have finished the veils, the poetry and the book is at the publishers. Check out the latest events here. In the meantime I wish everyone a very peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

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