Friday, November 14, 2008

Being Grateful For Me - A Mixed Media Self-Portrait

My Naturopath gave me an assignment - to keep a gratitude journal about myself.  Not what I'm grateful for that is outside of me (other people, places, things, etc.), but what I am grateful for each day about myself.  Wow, that's an entirely different thing...and infinitely more challenging.  But, I set out to give it a whirl and from this initial little gratitude note I wrote grew a self-portrait, and with it I observed again some initial resistance.
A self-portrait seems like the most daunting of creative endeavors. Why is that? Do we feel we can only attempt a portrait if we have the skills to get the likeness just right? Or is it because we really have to look closely at ourselves; if not at our actual features, then at ourselves, our lives, our values, etc. Sometimes this navel gazing seems like a huge task that we don't have the time to do "properly" - with genuine reflection and effort. Does "properly" mean that we need to get it RIGHT? Goodness, there seems to be so many things that can stop us dead in our tracks because we have this perception that we must get it right.
I think of that quote...."boldness has genius in it...", you know it:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe

So with that abandon to action, I attempted a self portrait that became a wonderful exercise in letting go and surrendering to the process. Surrounded in a variety of papers I found appealing, magazines I love reading, pages from old journals, and a current writing on Gratitude, pictures of family and a selection of my own artwork that had some meaning for me, I let loose with scissors and gel medium. The process of collage was completely absorbing and enlightening as I watched myself be moved and inspired by certain images, colors, and words.
The whole process was inspired by the book Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts, so I can't take credit for the idea. I can however own the courage it took to jump in and allow myself the gift of engaging in the process. It's hard to give ourselves permission to take the time for these things most of the for this I am grateful - to myself.
In the end, it was very moving, enlightening, and fascinating as the painting spoke to me on it's own as I worked. Only one brief moment felt frustrating...when my critical brain (left brain) piped up to observe that my facial features were out of proportion. I was both amused and grateful that my Wise Woman (right brain) very quickly quipped back..."that's OK, it's SUPPOSED to be like that!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Cut Above

So, finally a tiny peek at one of the projects I was a part of at the Emma International Collaborative help this past summer in Big River, SK.  I can't begin to explain what an overload of creative energy the event is.  100 artists and craftspeople from all over the globe, brought together for a week of nothing but what can only be called creative genius.  The energy is frenzied at times.  And, I am always amazed to see the end results.  Given that I am usually absorbed in the projects I am trying to complete, I often don't get to see what has happened until the very last day when I bring my head up for air.  At this particular event there were well over 300 art pieces completed - so this gives you an idea of how productive the week can be. The Emma Website is here - for more information on the event and its history:

Of course every item has a story and this one is no exception.  Dad often makes his knives in this pattern – called Damascus Steel.  This process has several layers of steel forged together a number of times to get these beautiful patterns and quite often the layers number in the hundreds by the time he is done.  This one is made from a timing chain of all things!  Once he had completed the blade and I saw what I had to work with, I began the process of creating the handle in glass.  I attempted to mimic (randomly) the pattern in the blade using Borosilicate glass – a very hard and durable glass capable of withstanding repeated use.

This little endeavor wasn’t without it’s hang-ups either.  In the midst of making the handle I had my oxygen tank run out and had to desperately finish it up long before I would have liked to.  Luckily the shape worked out quite nicely – it fits in the hand comfortably.  (Of course you can’t test this out when making it given the glass is HOT) you kind of have to wing it and hope for the best.  (Kind of how I operate most of the time!)  When all is said and done, overall I’d have to say I’m happy with the final result.  For me, the biggest treat is to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dad....not something we get to do very often.

We called it if course...."A Cut Above"  and it is currently being auctioned at the Emma site with a deadline for bidding of October 29th.  Have a look!
For a look at some of the other great pieces created you can check out this link:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Oh Where has that Little Girl Gone?

OK, I know the tune is about a little dog.....but in this case the little lost one has been me!  Just busy with one project after another - so lots to write about, and no time to blog.  We've had Annie Rouseau here with the Painting Experience a couple weekends ago.  Great experience!!  And then last weekend the group I paint with on Mondays had an art show.  This is me posing with one of my paintings. 

Now, I'm busy with a presentation that will be delivered in Istanbul next week - so exciting!
However, in this stolen moment I thought I'd share how one of my summer sketches was transformed into a card for the show last weekend. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back from Holidays.....Where do I start??!?

Whew!  We've arrived back home safe and sound.  Glad to be home and at the same time sad to have the adventure end.  Lots to share, especially on my experience at the Emma International Collaboration - more on that later.  But first, we spent 2 weeks at my folks cabin in Shell Lake, Saskatchewan.  Blissfully relaxing this time.  Which means I didn't really get much accomplished - which is what a holiday is supposed to be about anyway, but this is tricky for me.  Our family seems to be all about projects and getting them done.  I did manage to get my sketchbook out a few times which was nice.  We enjoyed the Hey Days Parade in town where I seated myself across the street from this little wishing well flower planter and later that day I was sitting at the beach enjoying the huge old tree that shelters us there:

One of our usual daily routines which is notorious for sending me home with a few extra pounds around my middle is happy hour before dinner.  I'm not sure why we think this should be a daily ritual, but it does stop us from our frenzied activity and gives us a chance so sit together and gab.  I've discovered that I like ciders over coolers because they are not so sweet, however this particular one wasn't a favorite....suitable only for drawing because of its pretty color.

Unfortunately when staying that long we can't avoid doing laundry, so on this particular day while waiting at the little laundromat I sat on the deck and drew my sandals.  I LOVE these Birkenstocks!  Well, I love any Birkenstock really.
While the community here is very tiny, they always have something wonderful going on - lots of cultural activities of every variety.  Wood turners, blacksmiths, sculptors, musicians all come to the gazebo in town to spend a day or a weekend enjoying each other and their craft and sharing that with the lucky folks who happen to be visiting the area at the time.  Accompanying these activities inevitably are cinnamon buns and coffee.  They have built a wood-fired bread oven that sits outdoors next to the tiny museum and all the town ladies make cinnamon buns the evening before, ready for baking in the morning.  Early in the day someone gets up and builds the wood fire which burns until the oven is sufficiently hot.  Then the buns arrive from various homes, and are cooked right on site.  You can't even imagine how wonderful they are - a true culinary delight!  This particular time we were entertained by a group playing bluegrass music - preparing for a festival to be held in a few weeks further north at Ness Creek.   I managed to capture two individuals who performed - a tricky endeavor to try and sketch a subject that doesn't stay still and within the limited time of their performance.  So, it's a little rough, but it was a good experience.  I really must practice drawing people more....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Moleskin "Muddle"

I bought a new watercolor Moleskin a couple weekends ago while visiting a dear friend on Vancouver island.  My intent is to have a sketchbook for all my "quick and dirty" sketches - you know, something to drag around always to record just any ol' thing and keep me sketching regularly to hone my skills, and just for the joy of it.  And yet as I sat staring at the first blank page of this beautiful new little book, I hesitated, not wanting to "ruin it" with some crappy drawing.  Ah....there it is again - focus on outcome.  Even when I don't want to do that and I know how paralyzing that focus can be.  "Process, not outcome", I tell myself!  We artistic types do seem to be our own worst critics.  Take for instance my friend whom I was visiting....she is an extraordinary painter!! I have a few of her pieces gracing my walls and I LOVE them.  Here are a couple: (my photos don't do the colors justice at all)

 Sadly she hasn't painted in ages.  Mostly because she is legitimately very busy with other things, but even when she took time off to paint she had real difficulty allowing herself to do so.  All kinds of reasons surfaced: other pressing tasks, no passion for a subject, room not set up, no supportive community of artistic friends, etc, etc.  And, an overactive critical voice that did not support her to mess up a canvas - that's my opinion of course....we really haven't discussed it at length because I don't want to pester her.  But, I do know she can be a perfectionist.  I know this because I can be paralyzed by the same affliction - it's familiar to me.  I'm sure she will die should she see this posted here, but I love to show off her work - I know she won't.  And I do want to shout to her - PAINT, PAINT!!....just for the joy of it - without evaluation and judgment.  Instead I hold her in my heart silently praying for the day she will allow herself to be lost in process without care of outcome.
Hmmmm....what we hope for others is indeed what we most need to heed ourselves - at least it is for me in this case as I stare at the blank pages of a fresh little moleskin.  Can we/I listen to the same encouraging voice we/I offer to our/my friends?
And so....I have to credit the inspiration of Margaret Storer-Roche with her post "A Line".  She introduced me to the concept of "Zentangles".  It reminds me of the Doodleart posters I colored as a kid.  So..."doodling on steroids", or perhaps in this case more accurately "doodling on Valium."  I do enjoy anything that puts me in a meditative "flow" state.  And this definitely does it.  I can't get too hung up on outcome since the outcome creates itself spontaneously.  So, this seemed like just the thing to help me christen the new Moleskin without interference from my critical ego.  My first couple pages:
So now that my lovely Moleskin is broken in, I can get on with the business of actual sketching, and just in time....I'm off to my folks cabin in Northern Saskatchewan for a vacation with my family and lots of time to relax and indulge in creative things.  Happy July!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rainbow Dots

I haven't put together any jewelry pieces for awhile, but I was playing around with a variety of colors and made a bunch of sample beads to see how they looked over black. They were sitting on my work bench crying out for a new life and so I strung them into this fun bracelet. I'm finding it actually goes with lots of my clothes. I just like that it has a happy feel with all these wonderful bright dots!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Le Cadeau Du Chaval - Final Painting

I finished my panel in the mural mosaic currently being assembled.  Can't say that I'm completely happy with it.  There are parts I really like and other parts I would absolutely do over if I had more time.  But, that's not the case so this will be the final version.  My "before" image is located a few posts ago.  Can't wait to see the final mural.  As always it is an amazing thing and I'm honored to be a part of this collaborative project.  See the assembly in real time here.

Sketchcrawl Airdrie - June 21/08

Well, we did it! And, it was a WE....not just me. A couple friends and I and our kids converged on Benjamin's Coffee House right on schedule and painted and drew our little hearts out! So, we've now joined the rest of the world in this regular event. And, by all accounts we will do this again. Everyone said how much they enjoyed the relaxing time we had.

Veronica with her itty-bitty paint box continued her "painting-a-day" process. You can see the paintings she did on our crawl here. (and her next two posts as well.)

Veronica and her daughter busy painting and drawing in Nose Creek Park, our second and final stop on the crawl.

Examining the pochade. The little thing really is an attention getter - so cute and compact.

Me...hard at work...if you can call it that! Just busy playing really.

My final sketch at the park.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


My sister has a new football team they are naming The Valkyries. For those not familiar with Norse lore:
In Norse mythology the valkyries (Old Norse Valkyrja "Choosers of the Slain") are female deities, who served Odin. The valkyries' purpose was to choose the most heroic of those who had died in battle and to carry them off to Valhalla
I envisioned a warrior, goddess-type typically seen in comics complete with bustier armor. This is what I came up with:

Sketchcrawl Anyone?

I've been inspired by a number of things lately - Danny Gregory's blog and books, several books on art journals, working on doing regular mandalas with the help of a mentor, and blogs that have led me to discover something called a Sketchcrawl. Seems there is a worldwide "movement" if you will, bringing folks together across the globe on specific dates to sketch and share and discuss and inspire one another over coffee for the day. The idea was inspired by what most have experienced in some format - the pubcrawl. Except, this results in lovely artwork, perhaps new friends, and no hangover! What fun - community, art, coffee, friends - I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon. The global group is now "officially" on event #19. So, with the growing community of artists here in Airdrie starting to gather and share through various events, I decided it might be fun to start a Sketchcrawl right here in our city. The good folks at Benjamin's Coffee House, who are always helping to promote the arts in our community, have accepted my request for the group to meet there on June 21st at 10am. So, those of you who see this who are in Airdrie or in the Calgary area and would like to join in a day of fun and creative sketching and general kibitzing, please just show up at Benjamin's on Saturday morning. 207, 304 Main Street Square, Airdrie, Alberta. No artistic experience of any kind is required!! Bring whatever material you like to play with: pencils, pens, watercolors, colored pencils, felt markers, a journal or other suitable paper, etc. For more information on how to participate and for clarity on what the whole thing is about see the Sketchcrawl website, blog and forums to see what the fuss is all about. Hope you will come!

"Le Cadeau Du Cheval - The Horse Gift"

I've recieved my mural panel in the mail....a couple of weeks ago actually. I just have not managed to get this up here. This is the "before" shot. So, add to my growing list of projects I have currently on the go. Certainly no lack of inspiration in my house at the moment. For those of you not familiar with the marvelous Mural Mosaic projects being organized by "Northern Alberta Boys", Phil Alain and Lewis Lavoie - you must check out the projects underway and those completed at:
I have had the pleasure and honor of participating in 3 previous murals of theirs: the Alberta / Saskatchewan Centennial, "Buffalo Twins", a CPAWS fundraiser, "Earth's Treasure Chest", a mural for the town of Cochrane, "Trust", and now this one - A celebration of the horse, "Le Cadeau Du Cheval - The Horse Gift"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

That Darn Dog

We are very fortunate to have the most extraordinary little dog in our lives right now. Her name is Mollie. She is a border collie cross (we think crossed with spaniel perhaps), and she has the most wonderful disposition. She's one of those rare creatures you wish you could clone over and over just to enjoy her company forever. I guess the next best thing to that would be to paint her. And, for some time now I have wanted to have a friend of mine do a watercolor portrait of her. And, eventually do the same myself - maybe in acrylic and also a few sketches in pen as well. So, for the past year or more I have been trying to get some reference photos of her.....and she's having none of it. It seems she is absolutely petrified of the camera and the moment she hears the sound of it turning on or even of the Velcro closure on the case opening, she's off and running, tail between her legs.
This is the best I'm managed so far. Grrr......

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Still Painting

Despite all the other things going on right now, and thanks to my Monday afternoon painting group, I do still manage to have a paint brush in my hands for at least a few hours each week. Without this lovely group of women (and Keith) in my life, I wouldn't have the discipline to keep at it. Too many other things seems to be "more important". Not sure why the priorities get so skewed like that. But regardless, I am grateful for the fire under my butt afforded me by my painting buddies. I've got a couple paintings on the go here, this one is a 36" square large mandala-to-be honoring the earth. This is just the background so far. Not sure that much of it will still be visible after I add all the elements....perhaps a shame, as the colors are so vibrant and rich. Dan (my husband) thinks we should hang it in our bedroom as it is. Hmmm.....maybe another like it is in order. Anyway a WIP it is at the moment

The Real Distraction

So, what really kept me out of the studio as the entire month of April blew by? Hard wood flooring. Yes, yet another do-it-yourself project. Slightly large one though - 2000 sq.ft.: 3 bedrooms with closets, one bathroom, living room, dining room, entrance, hallway, kitchen, sun room, and yes, stairs! Whew! Can you say "CRAZY?" So, why would we attempt this on our own you might ask? (any sane person would ask this) Well.....because we can, I guess. Can't come up with a better answer than that. I'll blame this one on my dad again - that old "jump in and dig your way out" attitude I inherited. So, even though we don't have the foggiest idea how to lay hardwood, we figured - "how hard can it be", and in we plunged. What have we learned? It's relatively easy, like putting together a puzzle....when all the walls are square. We, however have angles galore and one room connects with another and the living room is sunken one step, etc. So, it can get a little overwhelming. We also didn't realize when we set out that just doing the flooring would lead to painting all the walls and replacing the baseboards (which also require painting) and then setting up all the rooms again. This means getting rid of lots of stuff we've accumulated over the years. And, I can't throw anything away (too much wastefulness in the world), so looking for places to recycle or reuse things is required. And on the project grows!
I think the bottom line is this - don't have any expectations on how long it will take. Accept that the daily accomplishment might just be completing one stair - we' aren't finishing carpenters after all. Here's a few shots of some of the rooms so far:

The boys helping to rip the carpet out of the living room.

"Yay! My room is done!" Kienan and his new room complete with his choice of wall color - "Kermit The Frog " green.

Our newly "Zen-like" bedroom.
So....while I'm out of the studio more than I like, I know it will all be wonderful in the end. It just would be nice if this project end would come sonner than later.

Catching up

Whew - the pressure to keep up with the blog! Not that I've obviously posted anything since setting this up, but the nagging I do in my own head is ridiculous at times. I don't know how people manage to keep it up. So.....what have I been up to? Well, for starters I did actually attempt my first self- portrait in white and black charcoal pencils. Never done a portrait of any kind before. The result?

Lovely portrait ....of someone - just doesn't look like me. Great lesson in how the most minuscule of changes to the features can result in a drastic change in likeness. So after goofing around changing facial features several times, I decided it was a sufficient first attempt and left it at that. The next one - using the same reference photo I think, will be in color...I think pastels again. Should be another good exercise. We'll see....I've got other things on the go for now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So, why would I say "ADD Artist?"

I LOVE creative pursuits! And, I guess I came by it honestly - I grew up in a family that is always making something. I apparently made my first pair of earrings at age three according to my Dad. Now, it really doesn't seem to matter to me what medium I have in my hand at the moment - just that I'm working with my hands to make something and I'm lost in the creative and intuitive process. It has become therapy for me. I know it keeps me sane because if creativity is missing from my regular schedule I'm not much fun to live with. So, one day I might be melting glass, another day I'm hammering metal, the next I'm painting with acrylic, then journaling with colored pencils.
Some might say "jack of all trades, master of none"....but I'm OK with that. I can find bliss in almost any medium and the exploration of something new is exhilarating for me. The joy is in the process. NOT focusing on the outcome removes the tension. Here's a sampling of my creative explorations:

Heaven's Window - Watercolor Mandala

Empowerment Goddess - Acrylic on canvas

Dreaming of Phi - Wall Sculpture - wood, copper, steel, glass

Blue Butterfly - Acrylic on Watercolor paper

I Love You Warts and All - Lampworked glass bead necklace

Earth Mandala - Colored pencil on black paper get the picture - ADD Artist.
Today I'm reading about pastels and thinking about attempting a self-portrait. That's something I haven't done yet....hmmmm, sounds fun!
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