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: 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: 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: Bits

bits, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Almost done

Bits and pieces make up my working day. I steal minutes, hours , morning, noon and night. Consequently, I am finishing a few things. In the midst of all the bustle I remember my life is not mine. When all is said and done, the doing comes in a distant second to the way we treat those around us.

My biggest fan

Admittedly, my remembering comes after I have chewed out my husband for coming home too soon. Poor fellow. Especially since his only fault is his excitement about sharing his latest encounter or achievement and there are many. So, I apologise; he forgives me and we move on. Breathe.

Putting things together

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have noticed my progress with the preparations for my workshops which begin in just over a week. While I was preparing examples for the students to see how the results of their efforts might look, I discovered I had forgotten how easy it is to use certain techniques. One really cannot make a mistake. And if one does, just add some more bits. On occasion, when I read my instructions, I redo the example. For sure, the cards do not need to look a certain way. However, I am trying to use up some leftover paper from other projects. I dislike waste.

Painting progress

neomosaic, bits, semiabstract, mixed media
Making progress

Progress reigns in the painting department as well. I think I have finished one. Sitting on the floor, it waits for approval. The second sitting. I changed a few things from the first sit. Looking at the available canvases in my studio I decided to prepare another two with molding paste as the four I am working with are coming along nicely. My anxiety to finish has something to do with April. Probably since I did not get any done in April.

More examples

Not everything I do has to do with art. Well, not directly. Bookkeeping for example. Stealing bits and pieces of time is the best way to keep up. Combined with a deadline (the statement date), the work is ready with much less stress when tax season arrives. Another bit among the bits, was a webinar. I listened attentively to the changes Facebook and Instagram are making to their programs. Important stuff. It looks like I will need to spend money. Sigh. Put up my new sign and filled in as receptionist for the VASA show on Thursday too.

Doing things in bits

Doing things in bits seems to work for me. Following an intense session with my paintbrush I need a break. Hanging new paintings in my gallery, preparing new canvases, counting materials for a workshop, stealing time all contributes to a job well done. Life is good.

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One: Focus

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Almost finished….

Multitasking is my middle name. I am not as good at it as I used to be. Something to do with age and memory. Focus could be another reason. Lately my focus has scattered in all directions as I reset my priorities.

New Priorities

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
November waits…

First of all, I still require time to complete my major task of providing about thirty paintings for a solo show in November. And, fortunately, I have been invited to present four workshops in May. As well, some new customers wish me to provide some preliminary sketches for a large commission. We have not settled on a deadline for this so it will slip into the background for now.

commissions, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
The hills are alive

Focus on Workshops

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
More prep…

The last time I presented these workshops was about five or more years ago. I gave most of my materials away because I decided I would no longer entertain school residencies. Well, the workshops are not for children. My clientele is at the other end of the spectrum. Thankfully the class is limited to ten.  Much less to prepare, yet quite enough to fill many hours. The real positive in all this is I will be well equipped again. I do intend to continue. I have missed teaching.

Revamping Website

In the midst of all this activity I decided to revamp my website. It has long waited for some overdue attention. In spite of a huge lack of technological expertise I have found the exercise less demanding than expected. Nevertheless, there is much yet to do. My intention is to again attempt the round of applications to commercial galleries. We will see how that manifests. 

DEVENIR

Devenir, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Repetitive exercise

DEVENIR is beginning a new project. We have the elements but not the final product. While a new venture is always exciting, the discussions, finding materials and deciding on a format all takes time. I am delighted I am not doing this alone! So fun.

Babysitting gives me time

Another focus for me is babysitting my granddaughter once per week. Delightfully helpful this toddler is quite willing to help me with yard work, shopping, laundry or any other household task. She will provide me with the time to complete any necessary indoor/outdoor tasks as we wait for planting season.

New life

focus, multitasking, workshops, neomosaic, mixed media,
Making progress nonetheless

All in all, life is good. Spring energizes the atmosphere and everything breathes in the new life.

Focusing on thankfulness will steady my keel as I set my sails for new horizons. Wishing everyone an excellent week.

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One: Showing is essential

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
One end of my gallery space

Showing is essential in our profession as artists. Some venues concentrate on the show rather than the selling. Professional salespeople are found in commercial galleries rather than artist run collectives. Often the artist must take on the role of salesperson as well. The advantage is less commission paid. The disadvantage is reduced studio time.

Choice of venues

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Other end

Up to this point in my career (that’s right! It is not a hobby…) my show place of choice has been artist collectives and various open walls attached to local businesses. I do sell some. My profession, however, is not sales. Lately I have felt a desire to reach beyond my comfort zone and join the ranks of paid artists, that is the realm of a steady sales income.

Approaching galleries

showing is essential, gallery, neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Latest work

First on the list is revamping my website. The current mode of thought when approaching galleries is to send a brief introductory email with an attached example of work directing the powers that be toward a fuller experience in the form of a website. I have not reworked my website in quite a while. I have trouble keeping it up to date.

Other income

 neomosaic, semiabstract, mixed media
Four more coming

Living in the land of reality I realize a connection to a gallery may not be the answer even if it does manifest. Hence my energies are directed towards other income generating endeavours such as commission work or teaching. Lately, I have been quizzing other artists about how they run their classes with the view to keeping it simple. I have been classically trained and it is a lot of work for which I have no time.

Showing is essential

Time is of the essence. Showing my work consumes more of this precious commodity these days as I am accepted more frequently into all kinds of different locations, sometimes from one end of the province to the other–just a matter of say fifteen hundred kilometers or more. As a result, my productivity needs maintaining to meet the demand. Just showing, however, fills my storage and not my coffers.

Continuous adventure

I have perhaps found a way to reduce the storage by loaning some work for an extended period to institutions such as long-term care. Showing is essential still and my work is always on display in my own gallery though it accommodates fewer pieces and occupies more space. All in all, this adventure will keep me occupied for some time to come. Life is good.

Events

Don’t miss out on all the happenings and current shows. Find out more here.

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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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One: Free to Be

Free, DEVENIR, retreat, mentor, neomosaic, mixed media
Reference Photo

Tucked away behind magnificent evergreens laces with witches’ brew, Terratima awaits new visitors and old friends. The main lodge easily housed our small group of ten people last weekend. Without internet we immersed ourselves in the work before us: where we were as artists, where we wanted to be, how to get there and be free to be.

A mentored retreat

All five members of DEVENIR, our group of Albertan visual artists, had successfully applied for this generously funded RAFA weekend retreat. Over the course of two full days each artist delved into a few fundamental questions about our work and our purpose. Serge Murphy guided our inner thoughts with insightful probes such as, “Why do you choose this colour over another?”, or, “How did you come to choose the medium you use?” 

A free to be space

Consequently, we discovered ourselves in the fundamental elements of our work. We are whom we have become through the influences, both positive and negative, of those around us, especially as children. Unconsciously, we choose our direction from those influences and with a little help, we build a space where we are free to be.

The exercise

New colour scheme: gel pen, coloured pencils, watercolour on hot pressed

Terratima provided a wealth of possibility for the visual exercise we undertook on this adventure. Serge asked us to take intimate photographs of details within the environment, close-ups of things we found intriguing. Using different papers and surfaces with the materials we had brought, we experimented and discovered different ways to manipulate the reference photos. Although I did not end up using the photos I had taken outside, I certainly harboured no regrets for having taken the two long walks around this expansive property. Winter has been long, the sunshine and the fresh air most welcome.

Our word

Watercolour pencil, crayons, ink on terraskin.

A second exercise ended up being linked to the first. We were to name in one word our state of being. As I worked the crack lines of the broken window, they easily penetrated the surrounding casement. Indeed, breaking free of the pigeon holing so carefully constructed during my younger years, the word “Liberté” (liberty) came to mind. I am free to be. My work reflects my freedom and my growing confidence that all is well and all will be well.

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One: Moment

moment, exhibitions, DEVENIR, neomosaic, collaboration
Discussing the principles of art

When it comes to openings, being in the moment is crucial. Every visitor is important. The ambiance is the property of the artist or artists involved. We set the stage, create the space in which to share ideas, listen and pick up on new opportunities to form relationships.

DEVENIR in Stony Plain

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
Contemplating

Saturday afternoon DEVENIR opened their installation “Devenir” in the Multicultural Heritage Museum in Stony Plain. Bitterly cold, the day turned on the sun and lit up the beautiful room in which we had hung our mobiles and paintings. Those who braved the weather thoroughly enjoyed discovering the idea behind our presentation and stayed to chat at length. One person whipped out his phone and shared our invitation on his links, encouraging people to drop in.

In the moment

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
Exciting!

Being in the moment means forgetting about everything else on the schedule and focusing on the person or persons before me. Focus is the key. Fortunately, I do not find this part difficult. I love talking to strangers and entering forbidden conversations. To do this my aim is to create a safe space. Time is short so this has to be done quickly. Not everyone is open. Fear of offending or fear of judgement shuts down many fascinating conversations. Pity.

Follow-up

Relationships also require follow-up. Not so easy. As I step away from the moment, everything else on my schedule floods back with a vengeance, something like the incoming tide in a narrow inlet and I find myself submerged.

moment, DEVENIR, collaboration, exhibitions, mixed media, neomosaic
A lovely space

The next five minutes

Again, I turn to the moment. In these five minutes I can place a reminder on my computer for later if I cannot do the task immediately. Priority is given to the immediate. Although relax time is also an essential ingredient in the elixir of well-being, it may be wise to plan it more precisely rather than relying on feelings or lack of inspiration. Movies take a lot of time for example. I love watching movies. Perhaps limiting this fun thing to once or twice per week would be more profitable than every evening…

Take a little time to breathe

This present moment contains all the opportunity of a lifetime. Used wisely it can profit anyone willing to put in the effort. Effort is required to choose priorities, to organize, to let go of what may be less useful. Take a little time to breathe. Be thankful for the blue sky and sunshine, they may not be there tomorrow.

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One: Obligations

obligations, blog, balancing, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media
Installation in Stony Plain

Obligations occupy the majority of my time. Lately things have shifted as the people around me require more attention. In the struggle to find a balance one needs an inventory of sorts, a discernment about where to put one’s priorities. And, unfortunately, I do not always manage the best path.

Three exhibitions

obligations, balancing, blog, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media
Opening at CAVA

At the moment I have three exhibitions on the go with another coming up shortly. Without the support of family and friends all of these obligations could not be fulfilled. However, it is not the present mayhem worrying me. It is the autumn chaos. It all starts at the end of August.

About thirty paintings

obligations, balancing, blog collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media, neomosaic
Beginnings

An approximate estimation of the number of paintings required for a solo show is about thirty. Usually an artist can pull the number from inventory as well as adding a few new works for regular consumers. In this case, the venue in November insists on new work. Having already showed most of my inventory in this space means painting about three paintings a month to meet my obligation. I decided to begin with some of the largest.

Three paintings per month

The end of February approaches hastily. Presently, I have no new, completed work. The four panels strewn about my studio at the moment, fill my creative hours as we make steady progress toward completion. Sometime in March I will finish them. To make myself feel better, I may whip off a few small canvases to make up the magic number of nine.

Then there is spring.

Letting go

obligations, blog, collaboration, exhibitions, letting go, mixed media, neomosaic
More progress

Evidently, something has to give. People are more important than housework. I never was very good at housekeeping anyway… Painting is more important than bookwork, although maintaining my website becomes more urgent the longer I neglect it. Planting a garden may not happen. Obligations attached to rental properties may take a back seat during the summer. Regular hours in my studio might take a different form as I squeeze a few minutes here and there between being present to those around me.

Fulfilling obligations

Sometimes analysis does not help. Instead I must step out in faith and live one day at a time. Being kind to myself and everyone else is also a priority. As I let go of my preconceived ideas about how it should look, my obligations will be met, and all will be well in spite of taking unforeseen forms. We can do this.

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