One: Another Level

another level, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
“Resting Place” neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas 30x40in

“Sad to say, but glorious nature stomps on creativity. The artist becomes not a master, but a slave. On the other hand, reflecting in tranquility, uncluttered by overabundance and the need to get reality right, one is free to pass to another level.” Robert Genn, The Painters’ Keys, 20 November 2019

Freedom

semiabstract landscape, mixed media
“Keeper of Heart” mixed media on gallery wrap canvas 56x40in

The freedom to move to another level slowly emerges as one carefully picks and chooses from the clutter. We live in a very cluttered world. The clutter surrounding an artist takes the form of new materials accumulated from new workshops and the constant search for that special something.

Another level is within

another level, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
“Whispers” beginnings of neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas 36x30in

One thing my dad taught me was the only place we may find that special something is in the depths of oneself. It is never on the outside. No one has the answer for me except me. So as I approached a new way of seeing and the freedom to pass to another level, I chose only the techniques of interest to me. Having tried them on for a while I either kept them, discarded them or modified them. Modification seemed to be the most worthwhile.

Getting permission

semiabstract landscape, mixed media, ink
“I am listening” mixed media on paper 16x12in

First of all, I needed permission. Jean Peterson gave me that permission. Mixing up the media, writing into the painting, abstracting the background, abstracting everything, anything goes. While there are a few rules one must consider such as acrylics can be a foundation for oils but not the other way around, it comes down to whether this work is meant for long term or just for the moment. Considerations for longevity are not necessary in the moment. I had entered another level.

Problems with ink

another level, semiabstract landscape, mixed media, ink
“Gaia-The Weeds are Growing” mixed media on cradled panel 30x24in

Ink tended to lift from the acrylic surface so I added fluid medium. Due to a lack of imagination I kept using it in spite of the occasional less than desirable results. Finally, complementary colours gave a new meaning to black and again another level lay before me. Beautiful grays enhanced each pure colour as I applied them to the juicy spaces between the drips and drops.

Another level with neomosaic

another level, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
“Impasse” neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas 30x40in

Probably the most important aspect of the process has been my abandonment of the need to get reality right. Another level I am still exploring is what I call neomosaic painting. All my favorite elements reside here. Negative space abounds. Texture and random marks keep complete control out of my reach. Complementary colours are still unplumbed. How long will I remain here? Who knows? In the meantime, life is good.

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One: Shifting Gears

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
First in the series

Re-evaluating my recent adventure onto paper, I realized how far I have left the path. Shifting gears and refocusing requires a seriously adventurous approach. Hence, more fun required…

Control vs chaos

Succumbing to temptation, I had returned to a more controlled method of painting. As I re-entered the world of paper support I froze. I love the happy accidents watercolour produces yet I rarely allow them except inside of designated areas. Because shifting gears means creating chaos, I must let go at first. Then rediscovering the order within the random marks later provides endless intrigue.

Shifting gears inspires challenges

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
No barbed wire

The incubation period has begun. Self-imposed parameters limit the amount of flexibility available to me. A vertical full-sheet watercolour paper is a must. The masking tape strips remain. Copper sheeting is a constant. It also provides a link to the barbed wire idea although the wire may be used in a different way. How I will incorporate the dandelion motif in the future remains a mystery. Consequently, shifting gears inspires a few challenges.

Paper demands changes in technique

shifting gears, abstract, mixed media
Now what?

Admittedly, the stark lines left by the masking tape strips precludes my usual chaotic beginnings. Paper demands a different approach. Shifting gears into chaos probably means later whites will be re-established with gouache or gesso. Truly a mixed media piece, anything goes.

Shifting gears requires risk

The reason behind the shifting gears? I feel tight. I lost something important in the transition. Instead of a labour of love it has become meaningless labour. A killer for any artist. My muse requires chaos. The fun is in the reordering. The satisfaction is in the neomosaic look. So, as I stand and gaze for a little longer, at one point I must take the risk and allow it to take me where it will.

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One: Barbed Wire

barbed wire, installation, exhibitions, works on paper
The tools I need for barbed wire production

A visitor to my studio asked where I bought my copper barbed wire. I laughed and said, “I made it.” Copper barbed wire would be most impractical out in the field. Why copper? I like the colour. First of all, it looks magnificent set against its complementary colour, blue. Deep blue.

Images on the internet for barbed wire

barbed wire, installation, exhibitions, works on paper
My handy-dandy vise

Before I began the project, I looked up barbed wire on the internet. With all my frustrations in the digital field, auto-correct being one of them, I must admit Google is great. Having studied the various forms of how the manufacturers produce it, I selected one I thought I could replicate.

Two sets of wire gauges

barbed wire, installation, exhibitions, works on paper
A little hard on the fingers

I am using a fine gage copper for the preliminary twist. The barbs come from stripped electrical wire. My first attempt showed me how difficult it was to get a tight enough twist to keep the barb in place on the wire. My barbed wire had slipping problems.

More consistent barbed wire design

During the second production line, I decided I needed some more consistency with what I was doing. Consequently, I took the leftover wire covering and measured two lengths. One represented the distance between barbs and the other was the length of the barb itself. Much quicker than using a ruler. This time I wanted a length of barbed wire to accommodate a curl, such as one sees on the top of some fences or around a prison yard.

Guessing leads to imperfection

In place

Rather than calculating a correct length I took the fine wire and proceeded to double and twist it into the base wire needed. While I ended up with a nice coil, it ended up way too short. Taking the twisted wire. I measured out a length, doubled it and doubled it again. Finally, I had something I could use and I turned my attention to the barbs for my barb wire.

Choosing a different barbed wire design

Another consideration came to mind. I did not like the way the barbs could move on my length of twisted wire so I decided to open a turn to receive the barb and then twist it around. I inserted the barb into the opening and using two sets of plyers, turned the wire about three times. This was not as easy as I anticipated as my left hand is not a strong as my right. Nonetheless, my barbed wire took shape rather quickly.

Nothing is wasted

Caught

The short length also received its barbs and I used it in conjunction with the small figure I had formed out of a different wire. So, what am I up to besides forming blisters on my fingers as I twist my barb wire into shape? Well, that is for the future to know. Doris Charest and Danièle Petit are part of the project and we hope to have an exhibition completed by September next year. In the meantime, other exhibitions are afoot, check them out here.

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One: Titles

titles, blog, cocreation, mixed media, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape,
“Cracks/brisures”, a particularly appropriate title

Selecting titles for my paintings is not a precise science. Poetry has more to do with it. Because I wish to create some mystery, dropping clues here and there about what the work is saying, I spend a lot of time with titles.

Titles often come from poetry

titles, blog, cocreation, mixed media, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape,
“Backwaters/dans les coulisses”, my husband helped with this one

First of all, the selection remains one of the last tasks in the production line. Occasionally I am inspired to write and find myself whipping off several poems in a row all on the same theme. Usually, titles hide inside poetry. While this may be a fun exercise, I find the paintings do not always fit what I have written.

Usually titles come at the end

“Errant/divergence”, is going to show in Salmon Arm

Consequently, I leave the poem until I have finished the work. At the moment I have a painting awaiting a title. For the most part, titles come easily. Inspired by the image, the poetry flows and amidst the words of the poem the gem resides. Not so this time. In fact, I have a backlog of poetry to do.

Sometimes the muse delays

titles, blog, cocreation, mixed media, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape,
“Higher Ground/exemple”, definitely inspired

Forcing the muse is not a good idea. Rather than insisting on a completed painting immediately, I turn my attention to other things, like a new coat of molding paste, or beginning another image. I trust, in time, what I have sought will show itself when the moment is right. Perhaps all I need do is sit down and allow myself to connect for a while. Titles inspired by the Holy Spirit are the best. I could try getting out of the way….

Help comes in more than one form

“Illusion”, now showing at St. Joseph’s College

In addition to my muse, I must admit to some rather important help from my husband. When I do finish a poem, it is written on a scrap piece of paper and placed on his keyboard where he will be sure to find it. Often, he has excellent suggestions to improve the wording and thereby better titles.

Not all titles are necessarily good

titles, blog, cocreation, mixed media, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape,
“Spirit Dance/l’âme”, one of my favorites

Nevertheless, not all my titles are good ones. Some are too mysterious or cryptic. As much as I would love the Spirit to move me all the time, this is not always the case. Practical is good too, just not inspired.

Upcoming exhibitions

Besides titles, my world approaches another time of exhibitions and therefore some publicity preparation. DEVENIR has a show in August in Salmon Arm and I have a solo in Canmore at the end of August. As well, St. Joseph’s College in Edmonton has offered me some walls to display my work for an extended period of time, very useful for freeing up space in my storage unit. And one never knows.  Check out all my upcoming events here. Have a great week.

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One: Building Shipping Boxes

building shipping boxes, protection, shipping, artwork, cutting board, utility knife, steel straight edge, calculations
Using the floor… my biggest table.

Building shipping boxes is an inevitable part of being artist if one wishes to expand one’s universe. Different circumstances require different materials. For example, I shipped two paintings to Vancouver a few years ago. They both sold. Since I had made the box from plastic corrugated board and dense Styrofoam, I would have liked it returned to me. Empty. The cost was prohibitive, so I left it in Vancouver. I use paper cardboard for that venue these days.

Building shipping boxes

Since the Alberta Society’s selected one of my paintings for their traveling “Earth” show, I decided to again engage in building shipping boxes for the event. Sturdy, lightweight and difficult to penetrate, plastic corrugated sheets coupled with dense two-inch Styrofoam, although expensive, provide exactly what I need . First of all, I set about calculating the measurements. My painting is a thirty-by-thirty-inch canvas on gallery wrap stretchers meaning it is two inches thick. So with two-inch foam on each side, leaving enough leeway to accommodate the thickness of the corrugated board and the bubble wrapped artwork I would need a shell width of six and a half inches. The sides would need to be thirty-four inches square.

Lowering cost of building shipping boxes

Part of building shipping boxes is finding ways to cut cost. Years ago, when plastic corrugated sheets cost around ten dollars, I bought about ten for displaying my students’ work at the end of the year. I had scored the four-foot by eight-foot sheets down the middle so they would bend in half and create a solid triangle on an eight-foot table. Since then, I have been slowly using them for other things. As a result I reinforced the scored side with duct tape allowing them back into the useful category. As I put the box together the taped sides I carefully faced the repairs into the interior.

Exterior shell and interior lining

In addition to the exterior shell, building shipping boxes for artwork requires protective insulation against rough handling as they are transported from place to place. Cutting Styrofoam is easy with a sharp utility knife, a straight edge and the edge of a table to break away the unwanted remnant. I cut both sides of the foam in order to have a straight edge. This time the measurements formed around two side panels, thirty inches square. The ends, bottom and top each measured six inches wide with two end lengths of thirty inches and another two lengths of thirty-four inches for the top and bottom.

Putting it all together

building shipping boxes, protection, shipping, artwork, cutting board, utility knife, steel straight edge, calculations
Almost ready to ship

Once everything is cut, I proceed to put the outer shell together with duct tape. I hinged and labeled the top panel so the workers can easily remove and replace the artwork as required. The Styrofoam stands loosely in the interior ready to receive the carefully wrapped artwork. Sealed and labeled appropriately, the work is ready to ship. Actually, building shipping boxes is fun. It is a break in my regular routine and gives time for the paint to dry.

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One: Back on Track

Back on Track, neomosaic, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media, deadlines
Almost done

With the onset of summer, such as it is, my studio time is back on track. In fact, I am making up for lost time by starting earlier and stealing hours in the evening when the opportunity knocks.

Way behind

Back on Track, neomosaic, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media, deadlines
The beginning

Deadlines have always been beneficial to my production rate. I had anticipated producing about three paintings per month to meet the November requirement. Both May and June were unusually otherwise occupied. As a result, I managed only one painting, having decided to redo another. Two in two months resulting in one total…. I could panic. Probably a waste of time.

Back on track

Being back on track means I am putting in a minimum of twenty hours per week in my studio. While the hours are not always filled with painting per se, I am attending to other necessary items as I wait for paint to dry. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my attention span to actual production is limited. Focusing on the various elements of the creative process takes its toll. So, after about an hour or two I need to regroup with less stringent activity.

Other projects

Back on Track, neomosaic, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media, deadlines
Demanding attention

In addition to the paintings for the solo, another project is due on the twenty-third of this month. Back on track does not mean I will be able to meet all obligations. I may or may not get that one done. Should I happen on an idea for the blank piece of paper it would help. In the meantime, its pristine whiteness nags at me from a distance.

Back on track helps with the backlog

Furthermore, a recent acceptance into the Alberta Society of Artists’ show “Earth” entails the construction of a solid shipping box so the painting can move from venue to venue with ease. Another side project is well on its way; the veils for the solo are almost caught up with the finished paintings. The stack of work awaiting the photo shoot and the final coats of varnish is growing as well. Being back on track may mean I will manage to get it all done.

Stepping up my game

Back on Track, neomosaic, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media, deadlines
Growing stack

I may have to step up my game further due to the fact that August is pretty much a write-off as well. Several sojourns outside the province and a family camping trip will eat up at least three weeks. My internal deadline for November is the end of September. The plan leaves enough time for completing the details. The devil is in the details as the saying goes. I may be able to chase him away with my back on track schedule. After all, I only have ten more canvases without images…. Twenty-five paintings may just have to do.

For a sneak peek at what is coming in November, take a look at my new page “One: Neomosaic” on my website. If you wish to see my work in person there are two venues open at the moment. Check for the details here.

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One: Abundance

abundance, mindset, learning, neomosaic,
Potato Tower

Abundance is a mindset. One I tend to dismiss. I mean it is so much easier to believe in the misery of the world and dwell on all the mishappenings thwarting my progress and interrupting my peace. After all, the bear cold facts tend to be negative, don’t they?

Easier to wallow

abundance, mindset, learning, neomosaic,
Abundance everywhere

Given that it is easier to wallow in the worry, work to change may be involved. One of the best ways to move into a better frame of mind is gratitude. For example, when I look at my garden. I remember what it looked like last year and marvel at the abundance of this years planting. July has not even arrived yet and everything is bursting with life.

Studying possible alternatives

Family get-togethers

Almost all of the changes in my garden came from a determination to discover a better way to plant. I studied a few new ideas on Pinterest. In addition to placing the seeds in a grid rather than a row, I avoided the plot where the ant nest used to be. I had chased them out with an abundance of borax and sugar and I don’t remember what. As a result, that particular section struggles to support any life. Even the weeds have a hard time. So instead of planting seeds there, I constructed a potato tower. So exciting to see it grow. We will see what harvest brings.

Interruptions in abundance

Finger painting

Another area in which abundance has a hard time to flourish is my attitude toward time management. Like most human beings I tend not to like change. Due to some unexpected drains on my time this year, my working schedule has taken a beating. While I may not be following my usual timetable, things are getting done in spite of my tendency to panic. Maybe all I need do is trust the five-minute slots add up to an hour. However, the key to continued excellence requires more than five minutes.

Abundance planning

Solving design challenges

Consequently, I have renewed my commitment to my studio hours for July. In addition, I have added a repeatable phrase to counter my bad habit of calling myself down. I am a competent, committed, powerful woman. Indeed, there is nothing I cannot do with a little help from the One who made me. As a result, abundance comes in five-minute slots as I walk through the rest of my day setting priorities as I choose. Life is good.

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One: Demise

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
Good beginnings

The demise of one of my paintings is a rare occurrence. Usually I have put in enough planning to avoid most problems and those that remain are often fixable. I wish to avoid making errors because the underlayers demand untouchable status.

Untouchable first layers

Not sure

By untouchable I mean the luminosity of the first six or so layers of paint cannot be disturbed without killing the light. As I work around the rivulets of colour and the texture shapes I am careful to leave the under coats showing at least to some extent. The dance and the flow of colours create the spirit of each piece. Any changes in composition or value patterns must remain minimal.

Delight in the play

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
Liking some parts

As the painting developed, I rejoiced in the visual loveliness of the sky and the background trees. Not too fussy about the shore line I delighted in the colours depicting the sand upon which the driftwood lay. Demise was far from my thoughts at this point.

First hesitations

Fixes don’t work

Laying in the logs I encountered my first real hesitations. I experimented with different colour schemes. Since the logs were already covering the underlayers, I could play with various options without trying to preserve something already lost (the luminosity). Dissatisfied with the second attempt I reinstated the first. Still not happy. Demise tickled my conscience. 

Demise is inevitable

demise, blog, cocreation, mixed media, semiabstract, neomosaic,
End of the line

Perhaps developing the middle ground would improve things. Not so much. I turned my attention to the logs once more. They just did not read well. I created an imaginary cutoff on the largest of the trunks. It helped. Sigh. Finally, I consulted some friends of mine, other artists, who confirmed my worst suspicions. The changes needed required a major revamp of the composition. Demise became inevitable.

Choosing a gesso mix

So, taking my brush, I considered which of my gesso mixes I would choose, the darker one or the lighter one. Picking up the first container I noticed its weight was lighter than expected. The second one weighed in much heavier. More is better in this case, the lighter one it was. Choice is not always about colour intensity. Unfortunately, demise is costly. The most costly part of the exercise is the time spent trying to work with an image that refuses to work. 

Demise is a new start

Demise also offers me another chance to improve on what went before. I will leave it for a while although I have chosen a different schematic and the notan study is done. There are other fish to fry for now.

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One: Blank

Distractions for blank pages and blank minds
Alternative therapy

Blank pages do not inspire. Blank minds do not help. I suspect the emptiness is a direct consequence of fatigue. Driving is tiring. Funerals also take their toll.

Avoiding blank canvases

Sometimes blank canvases occasion the same effect. In order to avoid this situation, I have begun to prepare at least six surfaces at once so that the degree of preparation is scattered and varied. At the moment four bear the imprints of texture within their coat of molding paste. Four others already carry the first six layers of paint including the drips and drops. Two more are in development, the images beginning to form.

Gazing at blank paper

Waiting for the artist to take the plunge and paint the blank.
Not quite blank anymore

Blank paper has entranced me of late as well. Another project due on Thursday this week. Rather than hurry the process I have taken the time to gaze. Amidst my gazing I find solutions and possible directions. Glancing at the clock, I decided to postpone the exercise as watercolours demand more uninterrupted attention than acrylics.

Distractions

Probably the same strategy could apply to blank pages. Instead of insisting on a preconceived timetable, I began to prepare some salad for this evening and went to church. Having had lunch, I watered the newly planted Saskatoon bushes, the Japanese maple tree and the rhubarb, the stolen one from my neighbour. In addition, I cut a five-gallon pail of rhubarb stalks, again from another neighbour for the juice I need for punch next weekend. My neighbours are quite happy to see the plants used.

Awakening

With all this enjoyable activity, I realized my mind may have awakened so I came back to my blank page. While my rhubarb bubbles quietly on the stove, I will finish this blog and tackle my very much behind bookwork. Life is so good.

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One: Something

something, blog,
Life is an amusement park

“Pentecost in not an abstract mystery. We are asked to accept the spirit of our actual lives. When we do this, then we no longer belittle our own lives but know that even with all our inferiorities and frustrations, we are something.” Ron Rolheiser “Reflections” 7 June 2019

Spirit of my life

Embracing the spirit of my actual life is sometimes difficult. Hence believing I am something can be beyond my capacity. Yet the truth remains true. Identifying the spirit of my life, naming it and yielding to it is the work of a lifetime.

Flagging energies

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
Sharing ideas

Part of my life as an artist includes meetings and AGMs. Having just finished three grueling days back to back I find my energy low and my enthusiasm diminished. I just want to be in my studio. My spirit is flagging. As a result, I need a fix. 

Believing I am something

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
Making decisions

Because my life spirit is so wrapped up in the creative world of visual art, the only way I can function well is with regular injections of isolation within my sacred space, my studio. While I do maintain regular hours and can usually manage a minimum of ten to twenty hours per week, life does get in the way occasionally. So it has been lately. Although I may not attain my goal of even ten hours per week this time, I will steal the hours later. My soul will renew and I will take flight again.

Something beyond my control

Something, blog, collaboration, Devenir, mastermind, mixed media
A beginning

Something beyond my control is the aging process. Bouncing back is not as fast as it used to be. However, I have found if I allow the time necessary to recuperate, my body responds with gratitude. Rather than insisting on the preconceived timeframe of twenty or forty years ago, letting go allows me the space to rest. Also it is part of believing I am something worth the time to care and nurture.

Stopping for tea

Life is like any amusement park. We cannot remain on the roller coaster forever. Occasionally we need to stop for tea and something nourishing. At the moment I receive my spirit and coddle it in my arms knowing a little love will cure much. Tomorrow we set out on another adventure, creating something splendid. Life is good.

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