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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One: Evolution

evolution, neomosaic, edges, drips and drops, semiabstract
First edge done

Evolution is part of living. If one is alive one is evolving. In my work as an artist, discovery of new techniques is part of the whole. Unifying the whole becomes easier as one discovers the foundational steps in a system. Hence, my system is evolving.

Too fast, too soon.

evolution, neomosaic, edges, drips and drops, semiabstract
Too soon on the easel

Since I am pressed for time these days, I tend to push the process too quickly. Not good. Slow down, you move too fast… as the song goes. Having completed the drips and drops on the surface of my thirty-by-thirty-inch canvas, I hung it on the easel in hopes of developing the image. Another one rested against the table and the twelve-by-twelves lay drying on the spray table. I had put the jars and brushes away.

Edges needed dripping

Picking up my poppy red Inktense watercolour pencil, I stood back to contemplate the composition. As much as I would have loved to continue, I stopped my contemplation, sighed and took the canvas off the easel. I had not dripped the edges.

Evolution of process

Dripping the edges may not seem important. While I have finished edges without dripping in the past, the evolution of the process to include dripping for the edges has made my life so much easier. Because the dripping comes close on the heels of the preparation of the main canvas, I have no trouble identifying which colour mixtures I threw in the first place. The difficulty is in the amount. Edges are so much smaller and do not require much paint.

Evolution means improvements

Another advantage in this evolution of process is as I am spraying the paint to make it run it overflows the edge onto the main surface creating new trails of colour. All good. The more trails the better. Previously, when I came to finish the edges, the new trails of colour ran over the finished image. Not so good.

While waiting for paint to dry

evolution, linocut, time filler, waiting for paint to dry
Always something to do

In addition, evolution has afforded me the opportunity to leave well enough alone. Occasionally the drips and drops are all that is needed to finish the edge. In fact, the only disadvantage is I am waiting for paint to dry. This is probably not a disadvantage at all in that I can do other things like work on a linocut for my new memoires chapter. All is well.

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One: Muse

With the muse on vacation I do preparation work.
New work everywhere.

Lately my muse has taken a holiday. Circumstances have interfered with my sense of balance. In order for circumstances to interfere, I must be less than grounded. When I ground myself well in who I am and what I do, little can disrupt my equilibrium. It is a choice. I choose to focus on the positive therefore the holiday will be short.

Discovering my muse is absent

Wiring does not require a muse.
Wiring is one museless task

To begin with, I fail to recognize the imbalance. I just know my muse is absent. Giving it time to readjust I plunge into the myriad of less challenging tasks filling my studio. I put aside the painting causing me to ponder and take up painting edges on those finished pieces. 

When is finished finished?

Separating items for workshops.
Sorting things for workshops

In my world, finished has several stages of completion. When the main image satisfies my muse, I declare it finished. Most people assume that means it is ready to hang for sale. Not so.

Tasks not needing my muse

I need my muse for this one.
Relegated to the corner

Sometimes for the small ones, the wire at the back is in place. I need it to hang on the easel as I work. Most of the time I need to install the wire. Once I complete the edges, I again pronounce the piece “finished”. However, I add the metallic circles, the poetry and the Bible quote at this point.

More tasks

Meditative work.
DEVENIR’s project

Then there is the photography, the varnishing, the labeling, the protective cover and its label, the inventory number and bookkeeping none of which requires my muse. Finally it is done.

DEVENIR

A hanger for our project.
Straightening a pole.

Another project in the wings is the preparation of canvases for upcoming projects. Texturing, gessoing and glow layers are all necessary chores not needing my muse. I could sweep or vacuum, prepare workshops, water the plants. For the past few days I have been working on the development of a DEVENIR exhibition, one stitch at a time. Still in the early stages, we will probably reject the pilot as we search for an easier way to present our idea.

My muse is back on Monday.

My muse will be back on Monday. She does not like to be away too long. And the circumstances? Well, we will resolve them, one at a time.

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One: Poetry

An example of neomosaic, Oneing, 36x60in on gallery wrap canvas
Oneing, dancing in the light

Poetry is an integral part of my visual expression. Limits and boundaries within the composition allow me to choose my words more carefully. Precision, however, does not help with the mystery poetry naturally embodies. Rather, we are forced to sit with the words and ponder the possibilities.

Poetry is an integral part of my visual expression.
The poetry to go with the image “Oneing”.

Haiku is the poetry form

Neomosaic on gallery wrap canvas "One Only" is the second half of the diptych.
The second half of the diptych.

Haiku is my vehicle of choice. While I obey the rhythm and the structure, five syllables in the first and last lines with seven in the middle, the other rules are basically ignored. The title for my paintings, usually one or two words, become the title of the poem. Or rather, the poem names the painting. In addition, the bilingual aspect of my offering permits me to explore the subject more deeply rather than fussing over a perfect translation.

Poetry is an integral part of my visual expression.
And the poetry to go with the image

Display can be a problem

Poetry with the image and a short description about the inspiration for the painting is a good start to a book of poetry.
One of two on a page

Although I would like my poetry to be displayed with the painting, this often does not happen. Nonetheless my regular followers know where to find it. Placing their noses as close to the surface of the image as possible, they look for the familiar scrawl the liner pen leaves among the branches and along the cracks. This presentation is illegible largely due to the heavy texture. Hence my frustration with the lack of display. Perhaps a book of poetry would be a solution. Another consideration might be to have several “books” on display so that patrons can bring them along on their explore of the exhibition.

Books may be the solution

Another example

Having tried several methods of featuring the poetry, I have come to the conclusion a book is the best solution. One, or several, will find their place at my next solo. If the possibility exists. I am not familiar with the Canmore location and there may be no table or counter space upon which to leave it. The following solo in November in St. Albert offers several horizontal surfaces.

Poetry for a landing page

Finally, as I approach marketing in a more organized manner, I may include a selection of my poetry for a promotion on a landing page. Making poetry an integral part of my visual expression is my goal. I have so much to learn.

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One: Gifts

Morning work, making progress, studio time, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Studio time, making progresss

Yesterday my daughter spoiled me with an early Mothers’ Day present. Now, on the list of love languages, gifts are really at the bottom for me. At my stage, of life accumulating things is not a high priority. Her gift, however, rates as spectacular.

Changes in metabolism

As I watched her clean one car after another, I considered the changes in my metabolism. Cleaning one car in one day is manageable, not two. After lunch she mowed the lawn, did the trimming and finished off with cleaning the house. My age is definitely showing.

Changes in priorities

gardening, gifts, neomosaic, landscape,
Featuring potato tower and compost pile

On the other hand, maybe my priorities have changed as well as my metabolism. My family has encouraged me to plunge full-time into the art world for years. So I am taking them at their word. I spent the morning in the studio, the afternoon planting the garden. And I was ready to sit down, thankful for leftovers for supper.

Changes in life style

gifts, relaxing in shade, gardening, neomosaic, landscape, mixed media
Our relaxing spot

Today I receive gifts from my husband as well. He really has a hard time to accept certain changes. In another lifetime gathering the kids around to celebrate was easy. Mothers’ Day has become increasingly more difficult with children becoming parents and wanting to celebrate their own mothers. Grandmothers on both sides and sometimes more than one or two becomes  a juggling act. In the end, I appreciate his efforts. He will be cooking supper today, not something he enjoys. In conclusion, I am loved.

More gifts

gifts, gardening, herbs, neomosaic, landscape, semiabstract, mixed media

Another Mothers’ Day gift follows on my birthday present. We will be putting up the mosquito shelter today. While last night was spectacular sitting out under the trees and watching the crow unplant the garden, the bugs will soon be around in abundance as usual. I think constructing the shelter is the last of the gifts from my husband and daughter.

Gifts to treasure

Finally, my son in Montreal phoned this morning bright and early to wish me a happy Mothers’ Day. I expect I will receive a couple more calls. These are the kinds of gifts I appreciate. They go straight into my heart where I can keep them forever. Happy Mothers’ Day to everyone.

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