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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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.

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One: Managing

Managing shipping, protecting paintings, collaboration
Bringing down the show at the Three Sisters Gallery with lovely Nicky.

Many do not like to be managed. Managing deliveries and pickups in different locations requires managing people. To avoid conflict, I house this process in different language like offers of help and opportunity. 

Managing the end of shows

Managing shipping, protecting paintings, collaboration
Loaded and ready to return to Calgary.

DEVENIR approached the end of our weekly Skype call when the subject of collecting paintings came up. Our show in Salmon Arm had just ended and two of our group of five were at the closing reception. Following a pleasant afternoon, they packed everything up to bring it back to Calgary. Of course, any artist worth her salt has little or no storage room for other artists’ work. Managing storage space becomes a significant challenge as one’s practice matures.

An opportunity

Managing shipping, protecting paintings, collaboration
Unpacking

All sorts of ideas floated around until I mentioned I would be in Canmore the following week to pick up my own solo at the Three Sisters Gallery. Not sure any of them believed I could bring back my own work (over twenty paintings) as well as the work of two other artists in the same load. After all, mobiles take up a lot of room. Not to mention another two paintings I intended to deliver to the Alberta Society of Artists for their upcoming traveling exhibition beginning in Calgary. Managing it all in one trip is ideal.

Managing changes

Plans were set for Wednesday until the email came . The organizers schedule take downs for Thursday instead. Arriving in Canmore at nine thirty in the morning requires an overnighter somewhere. Since one of our members lives half way to Canmore (a little exaggeration) I asked if she could accommodate me. Managing my other appointments proved to be simple although I have yet to reschedule two of them.

Reloading

Managing shipping, protecting paintings, collaboration
Forgotten in the living room.

Upon returning to Calgary to pick up the second set of paintings and mobiles, I decided to unload. It proved essential. While I had loaded the first show horizontally, a vertical format better suited managing the number of paintings available. Except for my four foot square. Setting it up in the middle of the van, I was surprised it actually could sit vertically. Not at a perpendicular angle, certainly. Nonetheless, vertical enough to accommodate the other artwork.

Forgotten items

Managing shipping, protecting paintings, collaboration
Ready to deliver to ASA.

Patricia loaded the last piece when we remembered the other two in the living room. The ones with special packaging to protect the pieces while traveling. And to make life easier for those receiving the work, easy in and easy out. Thankfully a little rearranging allowed us to put them in the back, just managing to close the door.

Other shows

Besides “Earth” opening in Calgary on October 12th between 1pm and 3pm, three other shows open closer to home in November. Do check it out.

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One: Caring

caring, Amazon, Development and Peace,
Starts in my backyard

Development and Peace, the NGO organized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1967, has just launched its fall campaign, caring “For our Common Home”. In the fall workshop this last weekend we learned about why the Amazon is so important. We also learned why turning it into an eventual desert in the name of profit may not be the best idea.

Caring for the Amazon

caring, Amazon, Development and Peace, ecology
Soon to be stored.

The Amazon is the largest equatorial forest in the world due to its position along the equator. The prevailing easterly winds bring in the moisture off the oceans. The Andes capture and redirect it. Consequently most of the South American continent benefits from this arrangement. What I did not know was how much of the rain is actually created by the forest itself. I also learned this function diminishes as each tree is felled so that rainforest becomes savanna, an irreversible process. Caring for and maintaining the present irreplaceable forests is essential for global health.

Canadian funded destruction

caring, Amazon, Development and Peace,
Time for a rest

We learned how we might contribute to caring for our planet. Own backyard or community garden is a place to start. Even a small plot of land yields a wealth of knowledge about the balance of nature and how to maintain or enhance it. Holding our mining companies and our government to account is another. Through them we have a hand in the destruction and the demise of indigenous peoples who get in the way of “progress” . One Canadian funded mining company is part of the intimidation forcing local inhabitants, the Mura, to vacate their land. Furthermore, the Canadian government has signed all kinds of international agreements for the safeguarding of peoples and places, except those which are legally binding.

Caring is our responsibility

Caring for the abundance and the diversity of our world essentially means survival. The smallest contribution towards a healthier planet becomes significant when multiplied by many hands. As we store the few tomatoes and the last of the zucchini away, we can be thankful for the plastic packaging we avoided. When we go shopping for Hallowe’en, we can refuse to buy certain treats. One company in particular does much to harm the Earth and its peoples. 

Our consumption is the problem

We, the peoples of the northern hemisphere, are responsible for the overconsumption driving the pursuit of bigger profits. Carefully choosing what we buy and how much would go a long way in caring for our common home. Informing ourselves about the business practices behind the labels on our clothing or examining our food sources may lead us to look at locally produced goods and a simpler way to live.

For more information

New additions

Do drop in on the Development and Peace website for more information.  You may wish to explore previous campaigns. They all have the same motive at heart: caring for creation. Check out my events page for the latest news on my upcoming attempt to announce the same message.

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One: Marketing

Marketing, finishing touches, ceiling mirror,
Writing in the poetry

Putting together the last details of a solo exhibition always takes more time than planned. For my upcoming solo in November I decided to create my own deadline: I will finish all paintings by the end of September. October provides the time to complete the finishing touches on the work (edges, poetry, varnishing), sending the necessary information to VASA, the host gallery, archiving, advertising and marketing.

Marketing on Facebook and Instagram

marketing, Bible verses, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape
Writing in the Bible quotes

Part of my work is learning how to promote it and sell it. Lately I took the opportunity to listen to several different presentations on how to use Facebook and Instagram as the primary vehicles for marketing. One of the webinars suggested better results come with multiple images not only of work available but some of the artist as well. The trick is to have enough engaging photos so the viewer must click to see more. Videos are by far the most popular.

Videos and multiple photo presentations

Marketing, video, technical challenges,
No longer a moving video…

This week I discovered how difficult it is to produce a video with my iPad. Taking a selfie with this device is also challenging as the button for the camera is nowhere near my available thumb. They designed cellphones for this purpose. Why choose an iPad? Well, if I wish to put up more than one photo at a time on Instagram the iPad is the unit that provides the marketing opportunity. Perhaps I am just technically challenged. Taking the photos directly from Google Photos (where the pictures from my phone and my camera are stored) only allows one at a time posting to Instagram. My husband suggested I ask him to take the videos. Next time.

A book clients can hold

neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
One of the last few

Another marketing tool I am working on for this show is a poetry book. Often the poems created for each piece do not appear beside the paintings. On this occasion I am testing out a little poetry book that people can take to the paintings and read the poem with the artist notes. Cost is prohibitive. Nonetheless I took the time to design something on Word. Shortly I will be taking it to some publishers to see about binding possibilities.

Hiring for marketing

Marketing is all in a day’s work for any artist who wishes to a viable enterprise. Learning curves are expected. Time spent hopefully converts into a growing bank account. Instead of doing the work myself I could hire. That depends on sales or cutting down on materials. Every decision entails a price and a benefit. Keeping a balance is essential. Deciding to have fun helps. 

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One: Fire

fire, relaxing, burning unwanted deadwood
Relaxing next to the fire.

Having pyromaniac tendencies, I welcome the opportunities to enjoy an evening around our fire pit. Camping, beach parties as well as an occasional backyard bash, all contribute to relaxing moments amid busy schedules.

Fire in the Amazon

fire, destruction, burning our planet's lungs
Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

While watching flames devour unwanted deadwood sooths my soul, flames in the Amazon inspire quite a different reaction. Rather than calming me, passion fans my protective instincts. The “lungs of the earth” require protection. Hence, smoking is bad for them. Instead of solace, feelings of powerlessness feed another fire.

Beyond greed

Perhaps the fire burns so deeply because of my association with the organization of Development and Peace. Background information gives me a heads-up as to why someone set these fires. So little action to prevent them or douse them has the same source. Yet, the foundation for the current situation finds its roots beyond immediate greed.

Changing our worldview

“Our theological tradition has been shaped within the worldview of a static universe… It was assumed that human beings were the center of the universe, that Europe was the center of the world, and that the Earth and its resources were immense and without any obvious limits. By contrast, we are told today that the universe began with a cosmic explosion called the Big Bang, … and that we are intimately linked with the health of the delicately balanced life systems on our planet.” Denis Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos (Paulist Press: 1991), 3-5. (Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations)

Preventing fire

Shifting our worldview from limitless exploitation to responsible management requires a major effort. We live in a limited world. Presently, on our planet the demand for more palm oil and feed lots increase every day. The lure of economic profit tightens the stranglehold on leaders wishing to remain in power. Small farmers respect the land and its rhythms. They stand against the rich and the powerful. So setting fire to the Amazon is not part of their repertoire.

Hope

fire in the soul, hope for the future
Possibilities for the future

As a result, Development and Peace offers a webinar to discuss and formulate a better future for the Amazon and for our world. Together, we the small people, can make a difference. Maybe we will not only douse the flames but prevent fire in the first place.

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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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