One: Pathways

Pathways, blog, choice, forgiveness, gratitude, letting go
Where am I going?

Restlessly we seek that which might satisfy our hunger. Many pathways lead upward yet we cannot see the whole distance. Beyond the top of the hill or around the corner remains a mystery.

Imperfect pathways

Some pathways are safer than others. Occasionally they are blocked. Every path can, however, by dangerous. Earthquakes or falling rocks can destroy perfectly good highways. Despite the disruption we wish to continue.  We may find a plank to place across the gap. Having travelled a little way, we discover our plank is sagging and wobbly. Many turn back. Some move forward. A few have enemies who push the would-be bridge into the chasm. We fall.

Falling

All of us fall at some point, losing our footing and our way. At the bottom, once we have regained our equilibrium and our eyes have adjusted to the dark, we might spy a crooked, narrow path leading up or another leading down. The downward path leads into deeper gloom and some require the intense darkness to see the light. Others begin the climb again. Still others remain where they are waiting for someone else to carry them. A few need carrying for everything is broken. Only gentle kindness can heal the wounds. Healing allows another attempt to climb the crooked path. And the path is narrow, crooked and steep.

Forgiveness

The pathways of love invite us to forgive those who have pushed us into the chasm. Love demands we help those who are too broken to move. She also insists on letting go of hurts, taking responsibility for our own lives and choosing anew. Sometimes Love requires we move away from those we love to give them enough space to find themselves. For indeed, the darkness teaches lessons we need to learn. One such lesson reveals the fruit of blaming others. Only by letting go of blame can we be open enough to receive and embrace what pain has to teach. Then can we be thankful for both the good times and the bad. Certainly, both pathways lead to good eventually.

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One: Opening

opening, exhibitions, cocreation, recovery
Caged off

Opening receptions require a lot of planning and expense. Tensions mount when things beyond our control block our efforts to welcome the public. Things like the city deciding to put in a new roadway leaving a deep pit right in front of the door to the gallery.

The boardwalk

Oblivious

Quite oblivious to the tension I arrived at the gallery just on time to solve the problem of parking in the labyrinth of cement blocks. Apparently the city workers had installed the temporary entrance just an hour before guests were to arrive. Whew! As I bounced toward the door I made a mental note about plywood: half inch is not enough for the shed flooring. I live a varied life!

Excellent wine and wisdom

Opening to talk

As usual, the wine and cheese were excellent, the company divine. Old friends and new wandered through the door. I chitchatted with the other artists and welcomed anyone who was interested in discussing the motivation behind what I do. I gave an opening to Mike Holden to delve into the thought processes behind his interesting work. He had filled in for another artist who had withdrawn from the show. My granddaughter, not quite fifteen months, particularly liked the wolf head Mike had created. Its eyes light up and every time she went by she growled her approval.

The wolf head

Genocide

We shared some thoughts on spirit led creations. One of Mike’s paintings depicted an old prophesy about a black snake gobbling up all that native people held dear. I suggested it had certainly come true. Taking the opportunity I told him upon my return to Canada after thirteen years in Australia, I attended the University of Saskatchewan to study for a teaching certificate. One of the seminars I attended had been on native history where the prof had introduced the idea of genocide. I was horrified then and continue to be.

Chitchatting

Healing

Looking at my own experience in overcoming trauma, I told him it had taken me double the time to find the balance in my life than it had to destroy it. A two-hundred-year-old wound cannot be healed overnight. I expressed my desire to help and my frustration with how little I seemed to be doing. Mike glanced over at my work and told me I was helping already.

Unity

Opening my heart to the Spirit in my life and my work unites me to the world and the universe. Artists enjoy a special capacity to be one. We are on a journey together and hope reigns in the union. Life is good.

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One: Angst

angst, exhibitions, gallery, mixed media

When I looked out the window Friday morning and saw all this fluffy white stuff again, I must admit to some angst. We had just managed to move the mosquito shelter to the centre of the yard to dry and now it lies in a dismal heap waiting for attention.

angst, blog, exhibitions, harvest
Waiting for a melt down.

Delayed

Attention is in short supply these days. My husband assures me it will warm up again when we can hopefully get the garden harvested. I am sure the farmers are as unhappy as I am when it comes to harvest. In the meantime, a few other things are getting done.

Delivery made

Having put the finishing touches on two new paintings, I popped them into their protective sheaths before loading them into the van. Twelve paintings with eight extras were delivered to CAVA on Friday afternoon. The image list, the business cards, the blurb sheets with the poetry, image and bilingual description were ready in a folder. I did not include the blue tack or the image list for the extra paintings as the gallery directors may or may not use them. One thing done.

angst, exhibitions, gallery, blog, harvest
Cake ready to slice

Friday eased angst

A special celebration at church with the Knights of Columbus on Saturday afternoon required a cake. Knowing what Saturday’s schedule included, we ordered it for the day before. Picking it up, we delivered it to church, stopped at the post office and the library before heading to the gallery. Four other things done.

Angst, celebration, exhibitions, harvest, blog
Installation

Too many events

Consequently, my angst about Saturday eased. The 22ndday of September was everyone’s favorite day. We curtailed an all-day workshop with Development and Peace. Grabbing a sandwich as we went by, we left for a funeral on the other side of town. Coming back across town we witnessed the installation of the District Deputy at church and celebrated with the KCs Joining a younger set for an impromptu sharing session on our Colombian experience, we finally fell into bed after midnight. There is only so much one can do in one day. We had turned down another funeral (four hours away) and at least two more invitations to different events we would have enjoyed attending.

Angst does not help

Angst does not ease the situation. The pace will slow. The snow will go. All I need do is breathe. Tomorrow is another day and the latest painting is coming along fine, the start of a new series. All is well and all will be well as Julian of Norwich concluded.

P.S. Sorry for the delay in this week’s blog. The system supporting my website crashed. Glad to have it up and running again.

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One: Juggling

juggling, exhibitions, creativity, art, abundance

Juggling is my main activity these days. My focus is on how to accommodate three concurrent shows over the months of August/September/October. Suddenly, I will have lots of storage space!

Juggling differences

First of all, the possibility of not having enough work to fill the walls of three galleries, may have occurred to me when I accented to the dates proposed. Actually, I endeavoured to space things a little. And what has saved me are the different locations, different requirements and different spaces.

Decisions made a year ago

Many factors converge in accepting an opportunity to show. Usually there are options provided, such as several dates. When the application is made the organization often requires an artist to specify unavailable times in the coming year. Submissions are regularly posted a year in advance.

Things get difficult

Throw in a personal life and things get complicated. Families do not ordinarily plan so far ahead. The last minute is a common timeslot. Schedules are changing, however, as my calendar fills more quickly these days. For example, finding dates for our annual family campout and a get-together with my Mastermind have proved difficult for 2019. I know I will not be booking anything more over August/September.

juggling, blog, abundance, creativity, exhibitions
Red Deer is organized

Painting on the loose

So, in the midst of pulling inventory to fill the walls, I discovered I have a painting on the loose. I suspect I know where it is. Not sure. I need a secretary! I will check it out this week. Wanting to finish at least one exhibition, the smallest one, in Red Deer, I switched paintings. Done. The list of work is due within the next two weeks. Having corrected my entries, I feel more or less under control. Juggling can be fun.

juggling, blog, abundance, exhibitions, creativity
Making progress

Still on the table

Now, for the other two. Both are substantial shows required enough canvas to cover fifty-three (Glenrose) and thirty feet (CAVA) respectively. The first one allows work no more than five years old and new to the gallery. It will be a mix of “Wildwood” and “Sacred” with some new work thrown in. The second also requires new work from the last year. Much more difficult. The main item is still on my table awaiting some attention.

All will be well

There is a kink in the madness of this moment. I will be out of the country when the Glenrose show is due to be hung. Two good friends of mine will fill in for me. In the meantime, I will stack the paintings in different piles, labelling them well, with all required documentation before I leave. Juggling is fun. In the end, all will be well. Good friends, good organizational skills and a penchant for working under pressure will ensure a good result. Life is good.

Upcoming

Check out my event page for the latest details.

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One: Retreat

retreat, semi-abstract, NGO, co-creation

This weekend our retreat with the NGO Development and Peace-Caritas Canada included prayerful moments among the trees and along the water’s edge. The Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre peacefully hugs the Glory Hills just north of Stony Plain providing the perfect venue for reflection and rest. Judging from the state of my mind and body I could have done with a little more of the latter.

Visual limitations

Since the early morning sparkled with lively sounds of nesting birds and bursting buds in new sunshine, I took a few reference photos for later musings. A little while later, in the balm of red wine, we considered the challenge of visual limitations. How does one create an image to convey long-term, often invisible gains in the world of the underprivileged? Photos of starving children drinking milk from a cup have an immediate impact. The shot of a banner on the wall announcing the formation of a new civil action group does not carry the same emotional link.

Effective communication

Similarly, I entertain an ongoing ambition to make visible the loving presence of God in all things everywhere. Often, I feel my landscapes require something else to be effective. Perhaps poetry would carry the message more efficiently. Yet words have their limitations too. Within the limitations of both images and words lies an undiscovered solution, a third way.

Retreat 

Rather than forcing the new, I allow time for it to surface. Holding the tension in quiet waiting and openness is not always easy. In the meantime, as the incubation matures, I turn my attention to tasks at hand. There are commissions to finish and paintings to complete. Linocuts await the printing. And rest. Yes, tomorrow will be a day of rest.

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Different Strokes: Priorities

priorities, blog, semi-abstract, mixed media

Priorities may change at any given moment. Lately they reconfigure with what seems like complete abandon. I am still managing to meet deadlines and flow through the chaos. In the end I am left wondering if chaos shows up in my paintings for a reason.

The unexpected

I do love the unexpected. It adds that bit of spice to routine. Occasionally the spice is somewhat stronger than I can tolerate and panic besieges my peace. The disturbance usually emerges around the expectation of others: submission calls, advertising, website upkeep, in a word: bookkeeping.

Benefits and prices

At the moment my regular routine suffers from severe neglect in the area of computer work. I have chosen to focus on other priorities. People are more important than routines and schedules. Yet, every choice entails a benefit and a price. Last weekend had a benefit: I chose to support my family in a time of sorrow. The price: I lost an opportunity to promote my business in the art world.

Changing priorities

Sometimes the decision requires vigilant consideration. Priorities determine the outcome. My loyalties lie with the people around me rather than the pursuit of fame and fortune. It may be my downfall as an artist, or so the promoters tell me. In my deliberations over every choice I come back to the importance of relationship. Life throws curves requiring attention and care. The curves tend to change priorities.

Resistless flow

Over the next few weeks and months I can foresee several occasions requiring my time and energy. The unusual continues. Rather than resist I choose to flow. In the meantime, I seek out the five-minute time slots in which I can paint and keep attending to the immediate. Much to my amazement canvases continue to fill with lovely images and opportunities abound. I am also grateful for the help of many friends who are willing to be my hands and feet on occasion. It leads me to believe I have my priorities in the correct order.

Art Point

If you happen to be in Calgary during May do drop in at Art Point where I am showing with four other artists “Devenir+”. More info here. Until next time, life is good.

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One: Divine

divine, blog, cocreation, semi-abstract, mixed media

“To live nonviolently—both toward humans and nature—requires that we recognize God’s image in each living thing. We cannot be violent toward someone or something when we see the divine in them.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 9 March 2018.

My raison d’être

We have separated the Divine from every other aspect of life. In fact, it has been relegated to superstition or wishful thinking. We have not discovered the connection between peace and respect for all things living. La raison d’être of my work is to create an awareness of the presence of God (however one defines him/her) everywhere and in everything.

Process and message

Much as with most artists, my work has evolved from hesitant beginnings. While my skill grew I explored different possibilities. Having chanced upon a method akin to the Creator (I begin with chaos), I find the process endlessly challenging. Where to start? When to stop? How do I capture the essence imbued in what I see? Is there a way to invite everyone into wholeness?

Healing separation

Presently I am tinkering with the idea of setting my poetry in a more prominent position. As a result, I may have a new twist for a new series. Although I have not worked out the technical foibles, the idea is to convey a divine presence in whatever the image might be on the canvas. This presence may be visible or invisible, as the viewer chooses. The invitation is to heal the illusory idea of separation. Everything and everyone is included.

Divine presence

If we could believe in one God without defining him/her for someone else, perhaps we could begin to love ourselves and each other. If we could see the divine in the plants, the animals, the rocks we mine, perhaps we might treat our world with greater respect. If we knew the Creator as a suffering servant, loving and forgiving, we might move into imitation. From there we may begin to build heaven on earth, together, in divine union and peace.

Exhibitions

Don’t forget to check out my two exhibitions showing at the moment. Have a great week.

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Different Strokes: New Work

New Work, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape, commission

Just after Christmas is the best time for me to produce an abundance of new work. This year has been exceptionally busy with commissions and unexpected projects, the spice of my life.

Celebration

Last night culminated the recent request for a special gift for a special person, Claudette Tardif. Commissions always offer a particular challenge in communication. This same challenge shows up when we talk to our doctors, lawyers or mechanics. The expertise of one may not be translated into language both participants can understand. While I endeavour to interpret what my client may be communicating, sometimes I get it all wrong. Hence a preliminary sketch is in order.

Clarifying commissions

Thankfully what I presented via internet made the proposition very clear and lead me to produce something satisfactory to most. Part of this project, however, involved pleasing myself. Having tried to incorporate several elements into the image, I came to a point where the spirit of the piece showed signs of dying. Either I continued to develop the painting in hopes of resolving the problem or I took out the gesso to begin again.

Beginning again

As much as I wished to continue I decided to take the surest route. After all, I had a week left to complete. Bringing everything back to the second coat (gesso), I relished the fresh start as I applied the five or six preliminary layers before the real work begins.

Deadline met

Finally, having resolved most of the issues on the front of the painting, I turned my attention to the back. Since I do not usually finish the back of my paintings, I took more time to apply the quotes of the various declarations chosen as a keepsake. The edge of the cradled board sported many coloured stains as happens with layering and splashing paint. I decided spruce it up with black gesso and give it a little protection with some varnish at the end.

New work and new accolades

New work always brings new challenges. Happily all is well when deadlines are met and the customer is satisfied.

Other shows

Do not forget to check out my new work showing at Lotus Art Gallery and at VASA this month.

Have a great week.

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Different Strokes: Happy Easter

Happy Easter, blog, cocreation, landscape, mixed media, negative space, semi-abstract

As I gaze outside my window, I find it hard to believe Easter Sunday has arrived. Yet I know it to be true. Winter clings tenaciously as the temperature dips to unusual depths. Snow continues to accumulate or melt, the crocuses are keeping their heads low and the frost on the windows blocks the view.

Happy Easter, blog, cocreation, landscape, mixed media, negative space, semi-abstract
Lucious negative spaces

Winter simplifies

Recently one of my clients asked me why I like winter. A lot of my paintings depict this season. I do like winter. I like all four seasons. Winter holds a special attraction for me because the snow does a lot of the work for me. Snow simplifies the landscape into various sized shapes peeking out behind trees and rocks. The patterns are exciting.

Happy Easter, blog, cocreation, landscape, mixed media, negative space, semi-abstract
Lovely spaces and shapes

Excitement in the contrast

Much as in winter, the melting spring snow leaves behind lovely designs of contrasting lights and dark, sidewalks against mud puddles for example. After a rain, darkened tree trunks framing distant hills excite my muse. The excitement shows up in fall as well with the intensity of backlit glowing gold pierced by runs of iron bent. So breathtaking.

Happy Easter, blog, cocreation, landscape, mixed media, negative space, semi-abstract
Rainy seasons

Summer melts into fall

Then summer offers warmth and green with dabs of every colour. Simplify, simplify; the beauty overwhelms in its abundance of verdure. The most important is…? What can be left out? How can I improve it? Shapes of shadows, meadows and clutches of wood assemble to form a chorus extolling the Creator if I do not get in the way.

Happy Easter, blog, cocreation, landscape, mixed media, negative space, semi-abstract
Contrast is the key

Easter set in spring

Soon the sun will melt the snow with the promise of spring realized. Planting vegetables and flowers come with warm earth and more promises. Perhaps this is why spring was chosen for Easter celebrations. Celebration is not limited to the Christian church however. Many other faiths tap into the newly moving sap to raise up their voices in thanksgiving. Life is good.

VASA show

Somehow my submission got lost in the shuffle so my invitations will not go out on time. VASA (25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave, St. Albert) is hosting their annual Spring Member Show of which I will be a part. Beautiful paintings will adorn the walls from April 3rd to April 28th with the opening reception taking place on April 5th. See you on Thursday!

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Different Strokes: Seeking Space

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog

Snow provides beautiful shapes between branches and trunks. Seeking these shapes consumes much of the time used to create my work. The decision to eliminate or enhance always presents an exciting challenge.

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Where to begin?

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Begininning in the corner.

Chickadee Lake

Chickadee Lake lies north of Stony Plain, Alberta. This snowy location inspired “Breath”. Rolling hills and secret corners always take my breath away. While the chickadees had long flown south, they would soon be back. Warmer weather made this a very pleasant walk.

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Seeking spaces continues.

Seeking solace

Not far up the road the Mount Carmel Spirituality Centre nestles into bush and hills. Quiet, peaceful, nourishing, the sanctuary provides rest for weary souls. So. at the beginning of May, the NGO, Development and Peace-Caritas Canada (D&P), will hold its annual regional retreat in this lovely location. 

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Onward and downward.

Development and Peace

Due to the renewal brought to the Roman Catholic Church through Vatican II, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops initiated D&P just over fifty years ago . The organisation works with the marginalized in the Global South. Seeking partners in locally initiated programs, it offers support for long term solutions to ingrained social problems. Some of our successes include the dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa. Also, more recently, the Canadian government established an ombudsman for extractive industries based in Canada. As a result our partners can present their complaints about abuse more directly. 

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Almost done.

Roots in Indonesia

My interest in D&P has its roots in a twenty-minute film depicting the work done in Indonesia after the tsunami in 2004. In only two years, twenty-seven different communities came together with a functioning cooperative, comfortable housing and a solid infrastructure. Because the first year focused mostly on counselling people through their loss, things took shape quickly in the second. Local (Malaysian and Indian) organizations already working in the area were partners guiding the restoration. The respect honouring the dignity of each person excited my soul and engaged my heart. An article written by one of our partners followed up on the results ten years later.

seeking, D&P, space, NGO, mixed media, blog
Finishing touches

An invitation or two

Should you be seeking a respite from our hectic world do consider a walk along the trails at Chickadee Lake or a week away with the Carmelites. If you are interested in finding out more about D&P, registration is open. And do drop in at Lotus Art Gallery until the end of April where another depiction of Chickadee Lake resides. Until next time, life is good.

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