One: Connection

internet, connection, playing cards, relationships

In our world supersaturated with electronic messaging, one would think connection would be easier. After all, we have come a long way from the days of the telegraph.

Connection through emoji

The electronic alternative to a hug, of course, has become the norm these days. Personally, I am delighted to be able to make the connection with our son in Montreal every Sunday. Playing cards through the internet is almost as much fun as it is in person. I do miss the hugs though.

Temptation to withdraw

While we isolate in our protective bubbles, however, the possibility to withdraw presents a temptation to some. I choose to rearrange my schedule to be present to those who wish connection. And I choose to leave love notes for those who do not. Why?

Connection is crucial

At the end of the day, what I have done will not matter as much as the relationships I have built over a lifetime. Connection is crucial. I am not necessarily good at it either. Isolating myself in my studio comes very naturally to me. Coronavirus has not changed my routine in any significant way. I still paint. Remembering people’s birthdays is still a problem for me. I continue to fall short in what I wish to accomplish on any given day.

Personal and professional connection

So, I choose to come out of my shell and make the phone calls to long lost friends and family. This connection allows me to know they are still safe and well. I care. On a professional level, the weekly conference calls keep me motivated and informed. Sharing some time and ideas lays the foundation for future projects and keeps us sane.

Lots of ways to connect

Connection may make the difference between hope and despair. A little love note, telling someone I am thinking of him or wishing her well, is not too much to ask. Listening to long stories from another who has no one else to hear makes for joy. A thousand possibilities present themselves should we choose to engage.

Closer connections

Should you wish to have a closer connection with me and my comings and goings, do follow me on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. It seems to the best way to connect these days.

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One: Vigil

vigil, death, resurrection, renewal, easter

Keeping vigil forms part of many religious expressions. In the Western Christian tradition, the one with which I am most familiar, Holy Saturday is one long day of anticipation for the resurrection of Jesus. That was yesterday. Today we are into alleluias and celebration.

Vigil for the dying or dead

Globally, at this moment, many keep vigil for the dying or the dead. Thanks to technology, our family draws closer together as we accompany those living in other countries, on other continents in their time of need. Covid-19 is taking its toll.

Our vigil

The shape of vigil varies from tradition to tradition. For me, yesterday was a day of cleansing. I cleaned the house. A task long overdue. Tonight, we place a lighted candle in the centre of the kitchen table as our way of being many miles away at a funeral taking place around two in the morning. The same small act of solidarity repeated from a week ago.

Natural cycle

Prayer is another form of vigil. Many pray for the renewal of the Earth during this time of crisis. There is hope. Although our particular society spends billions on methods to look younger and avoid death, the natural cycle in all of life is death and resurrection. Death is a doorway into something new and often better. We stand on a threshold at this very moment. Do we change, or do we go back to business as usual?

Many forms of vigil

Other forms of vigil use flags and ribbons, prayer packages hung in trees. All forms have one thing in common: reverence. A calm hope prevails in the sadness. Actions move slowly and in unison. Hearts and souls come together for a common goal. We all long for a resurrection.

Blessings

As we keep the vigil during Covid-19, I wish each of you a blessed time of reflection and hope. This too will pass. May we all have the courage to step into something new and better as we move past the sadness and into the light. All is welland all will be well.

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One: Signs

Signs of spring, hope, new directions

Signs of spring are peeking out from under the heavy mantle of snow bordering the path to my creative haven. Mostly they show up in the warmer sunshine and the dripping icicles. Soon, we will be able to see the bags of leaves around the firepit once more. There is hope.

Signs are clear

signs of spring, hope, light in the darkness
Frozen drips. Ice forming.

Even in the darkness of the hour in which so many have chosen to panic, hope resides. We can learn from this trial as we can learn from any challenge. Indeed, a revision of our priorities as the most powerful population on Earth, is long overdue. Signs are clear: humanity is not in control. At best we can choose to be better stewards of the planet’s treasures.

A common enemy unites

signs of the times, bags of leaves, hope,
Sacks of leaves peeking out.

Another shard of light in the gloom is our shared awareness of commonality. As is often the case, a common enemy shows signs of uniting us. We are all vulnerable. Some more than others. A common caring inspires hope from Italian balconies and the internet has become an ally. While some try to exploit the uncertainty, most focus on caring for each other.

Signs of new life

signs, firewood, melting, hope
Firewood ready for spring.

Long ago I received a mandate to live one day at a time and be good to myself. Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and we plan to go for a ride. A beautiful park awaits us. A walk is in the offing. Hope fills the air as the excited chirping of birds heralds the mating season and signs of new life. All is well and all will be well.

Contact using hand signs

signs, melting, spring, hope
Drips frozen in a tower.

In the meantime, I will keep my distance. My outings to the grocery store may reduce to once every two weeks. Contact for friends and family will remain in the virtual realm or by using hand signs. Consequently, it may become more frequent. Hope remains. This too shall pass.

New beginnings

purging, hope, renewal, signs
Deciding what to do.

While all exhibitions in the near future have been cancelled or postponed, I will focus on reorganizing my studio. Experimenting with new ideas, exploring different possibilities, all is possible for now. The now is ripe with hope and signs of new beginnings.

Sharing signs of hope

In the hope of the now, do take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay home. Pray for those on the front lines. Find ways to brighten another’s day. Inspire hope in the hopeless with a smile and a calm assurance that all will be well. In fact, the signs indicated we may choose to make it better!

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One: Mission

creative, collaboration, dreaming, events, VASA member show,

“If science, like art, is to perform its mission truly and fully…its achievements must enter not only superficially but with their inner meaning into the consciousness of people.” Albert Einstein, opening of 1939 New York World’s Fair. Cited in “World of Tomorrow”, National Geographic p.19, March 2020

Missing my mission

Perhaps that is what is lacking. It seems I cannot express my mission well enough for its inner meaning to enter into the consciousness of those viewing my work.

A new cosmic story

We live in a fractured world. For one thing, we have lost a vision beyond our puny self-importance and the immediate satiation of personal desires. Our outlook has diminished to myopic insecurity. As Thomas Berry suggested, we need a new story. A cosmic story could carry us beyond ourselves into a new world of possibilities and mission.

A selfish mission

Fractures began to show up with the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. They were tiny at the time. Almost impossible to see. However, slavery officially ended as more people saw it for what it was. Yet it shows up today, covertly, in the form of human trafficking. The powerful continue to exploit the poor in their mission for more wealth.

Corporate mission

Fractures grow wider with each passing year, month, day. Climate change, rabid exploitation of natural resources, extinction of numerous species and the plight of migrating populations seeking peace and a livelihood, illustrate a few of the obvious fractures. There are others. For example, the quiet escape of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the melting permafrost. I recall having read an article about how dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste have been safely stored in the cold for decades. Now what? Might be a new mission for corporate producers.

My mission

mission, neomosaic, semiabstract,
“Evolution/Évolution” 36x30in on gallery wrap canvas $1728.00

I record random fractures in my images. My mission is to disturb. Most evident in the skies, the fracturing disturbs the pristine. The warning touches the soul and misses the consciousness. Consequently, few notice the implications. While we disrupt the natural balance of our world, we deny responsibility. As a result, we move closer to a point of no return. Change must happen for us to survive. So too, millions of other life forms depend on a well-functioning planet Earth.

A circular economy

Thankfully, a few with power are responding. No, I don’t mean the politicians. I mean scientific solutions proposed by major companies such as those supporting publications like the National Geographic. At least their ads suggest a new mission promoting a brighter future and the promise of a circular economy. “The End of Trash”, Susan Goldberg, editor. 6 March 2020. 

Science leads the way

Yet hope springs eternal. I hope the meaning behind my art touches the hearts and minds of those who view it. May they be inspired to act, to take on a new mission, a new direction. Furthermore, may science provide a path of healing for our fracturing world. In addition, our leaders may engage in a cooperative effort to create a new sustainable vision for future generations. In any case, the planet will evolve with or without us. And all will be well.

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One: Biodiversity

“The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species.”  Richard Rohr “Daily Meditations” 7 February 2020

Interdependent biodiversity

Current campaign from Development and Peace

We are so in trouble. The rampant individualism of our society is blinding us to the truth of our interdependence. Consequently, what happens to rainforest in South America is irrelevant we say. Climate change is just a hoax. Does every beetle matter? Who cares if another butterfly dies as long as I get my coffee? Biodiversity is not such a big deal anyway. Pick the best and get rid of the rest.

Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon

Since we have no idea what that beetle does to contribute to the balance on our planet, we have trouble picking. Which is the best? We have been trying to figure that out for centuries, justifying ethnic cleansing whenever it suited our agenda. We are at it again. Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon. Fifty percent of all living creatures, plants and animals live in Amazonia, an area about the size of Australia. It also produces twenty percent of the Earth’s fresh water which we are happily polluting with mines and oil fields. Do you know in which country most of those extraction companies are based? Canada.

Invisible guardians

Jeremias Oliviera of the Mura people, Brazil

As we relax in the comfort of our “better” half of the world, we can watch the Amazon burn. In the name of progress and the accumulation of more wealth, we watch. While those who guard and nurture the biodiversity of this unique place are being isolated, demonized or worse, killed, we watch. Thirty million people live in Amazonia, the invisible guardians of the forest. Like our own native peoples, they are standing up and saying “no” to the mass destruction of Mother Nature for profit.

Do our investments support biodiversity?

Yesica with some cocoa pods.

Maybe one thing we could do is to verify which companies our investments support, if we have investments. Money talks. At the end of the day what is more important? The dividend that helps us buy our box of chocolate or the biodiversity necessary for the sustainability of the cocoa tree? Do we want our great-grandchildren to know what chocolate tastes like? Maybe the pharmaceutical companies should get involved. Much of their wealth is based in the plants unique to the Amazon region. 

Other helpful doings

Donating to the cause, signing petitions and holding our government to account for their complicity, praying and supporting organizations which educate and empower the local people to defend not only the biodiversity but their way of life, might be other avenues of assistance. Perhaps together we will be able to repair some of our fractured world.

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One: Control

All it takes is one little germ. One cannot even see this tiny leveler of the mighty. I had it all under control last week. Until Wednesday. Then I disappeared.

Out of Control

Someone on Facebook mentioned she did not think I could afford the time to be sick. Quite right. I had not planned for this. I need four more paintings in less than three weeks. Make that two weeks. Sigh. I am definitely not in control.

Surrendering control

So how does one cope when the unidentified intruder comes in and messes up my metabolism? In the past I fought it tooth and nail. Nothing would be beyond my control. Those nice liquid cold pills work well, don’t they? Perhaps not. I looked at the past year and thanked God for all the wellness I had enjoyed. I decided to go the non-violent route to see how that played out.

Still managing control

control within chaos, neomosaic painting, semiabstract landscape,
Almost finished

Wednesday morning, I managed a conference call and I organized the paperwork for the Condo Board AGM that night. That seemed under control. Then, surrendering to my body, I went to bed. Slept all morning. My husband made lunch, I looked and the computer, surrendered again and went back to bed. We ate leftovers for supper before heading off to the meeting where I took the minutes. I wrote them up before hitting the sack once more and slept all night.

Surrender

Thursday morning, another conference call, feeling much worse and totally out of control. We cancelled all plans. I stayed in bed most of the day, watched a movie on television and reacquainted myself with the reason why we do not watch television. I had forgotten about commercials. Went to bed. I did not have the energy for anything but surrender.

Some improvement

control, ready to varnish, neomosaicpainting, semiabstract landscape,
Four ready to varnish

Friday, I had hoped would be better. It was, marginally. Considering my options, I decided I had enough energy to sneak out to my studio and finish off the varnishing for the first four paintings of the year. In between bed and eating, I did just that. Was it enough to regain control of my schedule? I will let you know by mid-February. One thing for sure, I was feeling much better. Saturday, I felt well enough in fact to put in a full studio morning. Just in the nick of time too. I start getting withdrawal symptoms when I leave my brushes idle for too long.

Back in control?

In summary, my choice to allow myself to heal proved to be wise. I regained control of my health in record time. Would I visit my granddaughter again if I could redo my week? Certainly. She is more important than my schedule even if she shares her germs. Do check out the Glenrose show, or the Edmonton Convention Centre, or the dining room at St. Joe’s College on UofA Campus. Coming soon: DEVENIR at VASA for the month of March

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One: Props

neomosaic painting, exhibition, checklist, finished
“Autumn Doubloons 1” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Our humanity presents us with certain limitations. I find as I am growing older, the tasks I used to do without thinking are getting more complex. As memory fails me or physical ability lacks, I have need to use props.

Props are essential

Props, neomosaic painting
“Autumn Doubloons 2” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Props have become quite essential especially when I am under the pressure of a time limit. The finishing stage of my process requires a multitude of little doings I do not always remember. To combat this lack of efficiency, I embarked on the creation of a checklist. And at this point, I must admit there are times when I love computers.

Props are easy with computers

props, checklist, complete, neomosaic painting, mixed media, DEVENIR
“Thistles” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

My first attempt at the checklist contained about eight items or less. The reason I love computers is their capacity for changing lists. I do come from an age when ribbons needed changing on typewriters and one had to be one hundred percent accurate the first time. Never happened. Props, to be useful, must be accurate.

The checklist

Still room for more

With only eight items I could place three checklists on a page. Three paintings done. With the first round I printed a couple of pages. As I worked towards finishing a painting, I noticed I had forgotten a few things. I grabbed a pencil an inserted the missing items. Now my list numbered about twelve. My props were getting closer to perfection. As I continued, I added a few more.

Adjustments are necessary

As a result, things were getting complicated. In order to keep three on a page I needed to adjust the spacing and I may as well put them in order of task. Since then I have discovered my order of task varies with the situation. For instance, I may put a wire on the smaller canvases early in order to hang them on the easel. I have also discovered my props are very useful.

Props help the work get done

props, neomosaic painting, mixed media, deadlines, exhibitions
“Harvest” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

Just yesterday, as I was photographing the four paintings I had “finished”, I noticed one edge had not been completed. Laughing I picked up my props to find out what else had been left out. Sure enough four other items. All is well as I turn my attention to the other four paintings I need for the show in March.

Check out the latest

Do check out my events page to see the latest happenings and read all the details.

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One: Doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Declared done.

People have long valued gold as a means of trade. Doubloons were common until the mid-nineteenth century. Paper and metals of lesser value replaced them. Now we have plastic bills. We may render them redundant with virtual money. Disturbing in some respects.

Doubloons were made of gold

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
The first doubloons in paint.

Governments still use gold as a guarantee although we may question how true that is. Hidden away in vaults protected by the latest security devices, we humble folk see little of it. Thankfully, the kind of gold I value is available to everyone. Especially in fall. Doubloons tumble in abundance from aspen and poplar, lining pathways and collecting in backwaters.

Doubloons cover the ground in fall

Fall is my favorite season. Mostly I love the colour as the yellow hues tone the air with a golden majesty. Also the contrast against the ever deep green of pine or spruce takes my breath away. Stumbling along a creek bed I discovered some doubloons tucked among the rocks, treasure to be sure. The patterns warmed my heart and made my soul sing.

No doubloons, gold yes!

Gold is part of my repertoire. Lately, I have been using copper as well. Mostly on another project, I decided to vary the leaf colour with copper and save the gold for the trinity of circles at the end. Some of the leaf doubloons were painted gold as well. I have three different varieties of gold paint. Paint is easy. Metal leaf requires a bit of patience.

Applying gold requires patience

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Fixing some doubloons.

As a result of many attempts using gold leaf, I have found I must wait while the glue dries overnight before I attempt any refining. Fortunately, copper is not as thin as gold and therefore more easily applied. I can actually hold it between my fingers. Once I removed the excess, I discovered a few doubloons needed additional coverage so I reapplied some metal. Scraps are excellent for this application.

Done is not quite done

I declared the paintings done on my Instagram account. Not quite. I have a sheet of about twelve items listed, so I do not forget anything, waiting to be completed. Because I need eight paintings done by March 1st (another show at VASA) I am pressing ahead with other canvases while I finish up my doubloons.

Worth more than doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Not quite satisfied.

Do check out my events page for the upcoming shows over the first three months of the coming year. Since time is of the essence these days, I will be taking a break over Christmas. Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas. May 2020 be kind, fruitful and filled with gifts worth more than doubloons: health, peace and joy.

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One: Opportunities

opportunities, greeting cards, Merry Christmas
Christmas Card 2019

Just when I think it will be a quiet year, opportunities abound. My work will be showing at various locations throughout the first three months of the New Year. All is conceived if not complete. I still have the ten paintings to do before March 1st. Two are well on their way.

Opportunities teach

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 1 making progress

Recently, other opportunities have given me insight into my process and what makes me happy or unhappy. Every artist is unique. Flow happens more easily when we discover our personally preferred method. Testing out various systems sheds light on the mystery within. Being a reformed night owl, I find myself working later and later on the computer these days. This does not bode well for early morning rising. I have yet to find an efficient way to deal with paperwork.

Limiting opportunities

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 2 also making progress

In my studio, however, the muse is amused. While not allowing myself to panic with regard to impossible deadlines, I have chosen a very inspiring and pleasant path of creativity. From the many opportunities, my choice is restricted to about three or four different centers of interest. Among my pressing obligations, I find taking a break instead of pursuing one subject relentlessly helps me focus longer and with more clarity. At the moment I divide my attention between the ten paintings for March, the Christmas cards for Christmas, and the “Urban” painting for Tuesday.

Abundant choice

DDK, throwing paint, abstract landscape
Throwing paint for Urban

Once the cards are complete (out of my studio yet not necessarily sent) I will add another project. Perhaps some more 8x8in daily paintings or the design for next year’s Christmas card, or some all occasion cards.  All linocuts for the cards. Perhaps it is the shift within the opportunities that renews my spirit. Linocuts require quite a different thought process than neomosaic. Throwing paint and contrasting geometric with organic phenomenon pulls me in a different direction as well. I get excited just thinking about it.

Coming events

Do check out my events page so you might choose from the various opportunities to take a look at my work. With all the local venues, one may be more convenient than another. Don’t forget the shows finishing soon in December as well.

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One: Last Minute Challenge

Part of my solo show "The Veil", #neomosaicpainting, #semiabstractlandscape, mixed media, last minute challenge
“Wading Waters” 12x12in mixed media on gallery wrap

I am quite familiar with the last minute challenge. Usually it saves the day. There is something about a looming deadline, suddenly upon me, that quickens my pace and helps me focus. This time the last minute may be too short to accomplish all I need to do. 

Last minute challenge history

From the series "Eve", Results from a last minute challenge,
“Secrets” 40x56in mixed media on gallery wrap canvas

First of all, a little history. Just ten years ago I was in the midst of a challenge: paint seven paintings in seven weeks. Previously I had managed, perhaps, one or two paintings per year. Although I thought the task impossible, I loved the idea and decided to engage. The fact I had undertaken a new series “Eve” and the paintings were averaging four feet by five, was of little consequence. No last minute challenge for me, I plunged right in. In the end I stood amazed at what I had done in just six weeks. It marked the beginning of my professional career.

A short last minute challenge

This year I had anticipated painting thirty paintings for my solo show in November. Constantly plagued by unexpected events I managed twenty-two. I had set a personal deadline, the end of September, knowing the devil is in the details. The last minute challenge would not have sufficed for the poetry, printing a poetry book, varnishing, photographing, archiving and wiring. Not necessarily in that order…

Unforeseen challenges

Furthermore, at the time, I had no idea my September shows would be moved to November. Nor did I anticipate my involvement in the miniature show for CAVA, nor teaching during October, nor the thirty day, one painting per day challenge for DEVENIR. Putting ten paintings together for the miniature show in a couple of weeks proved to be exhilarating. Mind you, they are small. Varnished, wired and archived, I delivered them on time during the last minute challenge.

Too short last minute challenge

As the month unfolds, other surprises surfaced. Apparently, we have another opening reception this week. Someone else likes the last minute. Unfortunately, this last minute challenge is really short. I already have several major commitments including finalizing the details for a special mass at our church celebrating all artists. As coordinator I oversee the different groups: music, liturgical dance, visual presentation, etc. I am delighted with our team. We have our final meeting on Tuesday, the same day as the reception and there is no time to advertise.

All challenges met

last minute challenge, St. Cecile, special mass
Classic St. Cecile-my source photo

While I appreciate my last minute, I have trouble accommodating another’s last minute challenge. I will send out some invites once the time is announced. Tomorrow is definitely the very last minute. In the meantime, DEVENIR has an opening at WAM on Thursday evening and DDK is part of the All is Bright celebration on 124th Street on Saturday. Should you wish to practice your French do drop in at Paroisse St. Thomas d’Aquin on Sunday, November 17th at 11am for a very special celebration. For more details on my expositions, click here.

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