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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Inspirations

neomosaic, mixed media, inspirations, landscape, semiabstract
Inspirations is ready to inspire!

Sometimes inspirations seem to flee the country. So it is with this week’s blog. Perhaps it has to do with my low energy level or the lack of studio time. After today’s stint at the easel things have improved somewhat, still rather tired.

Lack of routine

neomosaic, mixed media, inspirations, landscape, semiabstract
Coffee is on!

Routine is lack of routine. Between conflicting schedules, we managed to spend time with all three grandchildren this week and attend the Easter Triduum. For those who do not follow the Catholic rite, the Triduum is a single celebration spread out over three days beginning with Thursday evening and the last supper. Friday afternoon remembers the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Saturday vigil takes place usually around nine at night with candlelight. My favorite. Easter Sunday is a separate celebration the next day.

A tour of my gallery

neomosaic, mixed media, inspirations, landscape, semiabstract
The other end.

Yesterday was kept simple although we had some guests for supper along with one of our daughters. She helped cap and label the wine we had just finished making before the guests arrived. It was a lovely evening topped off with a tour of my gallery “Inspirations”.

Options

With my upcoming solo in November my production rate has filled the gallery with new work. Unfortunately, the pace will not meet the deadline if I wish thirty new paintings by the end of October. It is looking particularly dismal this week as we have an appointment with the accountant tomorrow and we leave for Calgary on Friday. An option is working in the evening or the afternoon instead of the morning. At least there is an option!

Getting things done

neomosaic, mixed media, inspirations, landscape, semiabstract
Making progress

Even with a doctor’s appointment this afternoon I managed to get the paperwork done for my upcoming workshops on greeting cards. Now all that is left to do is purchase the remainder of the supplies and pack the goods for transportation. Tomorrow I will take the afternoon to paint. I do not seem to have any problem with painting inspirations. Tis a good thing…

Expositions

“Inspirations” is looking fine these days. Besides my gallery you can see my work at the Edmonton Convention Centre. Keep up to date by checking my website for the latest.

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One: Bridges

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

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

From embankments to puddles

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

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

Building bridges

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

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

Relationships require bridges

bridges, neomosaic, blog, cocreation, forgiveness
Two bridges

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

Forgiveness is key

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

Space and time

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

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