Friday, 7 October 2016

Rising to the Occasion

Many months since I last posted in my darling blog....I've been mostly home in bed this week, battling off an aggravated asthmatic headache and cold that has tried hard to kidnap me.....the timing being nasty and cruel...but I think I've beaten it back. My car seems to be having sympathetic symptons...good old faithful Rosie needs a whole new battery, she's stuck in the driveway sulking.We both need a recharge.
I suppose I'm deeply in blog debt, owing news of almost an entire year. I'm more one for posting solely on the subject of art over the details of my life, but it's all been a stream running through. This year I had the most fabulous summer, thanks to my mother visiting from Italy...so much to write about that ....in another post, to do it justice. On another note, I've contended with disappointments, restlessness and awakenings, as well as the sad fact that precious people have passed away around me this past year....some I've known well, others barely, but all these losses have personally affected me enough to jump start my heart, my life, my promises to myself and to others. I suppose this is the gift we give most when we pass on...for those remaining to cherish the wonder of life, to live well during this brief spin and hold memories dear. We can say we already know this a thousand times but so often, it's only closely-felt mourning that truly and vividly reminds us.

So, staying true to my blog world.... more on the subject of art.....

Almost all my large pieces that were unfinished at this time last year remain unfinished, with two days to go to my participation in my second Thanksgiving Art Tour, and I'm glancing around my little studio cabin, noticing that my offerings this season are undeniably scant. I'm afraid of being embarrassed, of people wondering why I'm even in the tour this year, but I've resolved not to welcome visitors at the door with a flurry of excuses such as:

It's been a busy year, I worked many many hours at the library, I had a long holiday in the summer with my mother, I took weekends aside to visit and host friends, I couldn't get my muse to waken, watched too many movies, don't know where this year went, so often too tired after working and commuting....blah de blah diddy blah blah blah BLAH!

I will say instead:

Welcome to the life of an artist, something anybody can choose to be. Unpredictable, often dormant and unreliable, but always magical. This is what I have to show for now, and more is on the way. Enjoy your stop, have a look and tell me about yourself!

The fact is I did go for long stretches without having the time or energy to paint. But in August all that changed, a fresh perspective opened up for me, and I began to paint a series of small works. I discovered the joy of painting on wood block and panels, and forgot about working on cloth canvas for the time being. I found that doing small pieces was a zen like and calming process, fueled by the confidence of completion, there was the practice in mixing colours, such as learning off by heart that viridian and raw sienna together offer up the most varied shades of muddy browns. I started to study mandalas, and found a way to include them in my small works, something I plan to explore more. The mandala works from the centre out, creating ripples from the middle, and it's about choosing paths and relying on instinct, following your inner guide, and realizing that everything that goes around comes around, every action has a reaction, and beauty is possible in everything.

As the deadline of this weekend draws near I'm doing my best not to give in to stress with less than 24 hours to go....the cellophane I've ordered for my cards should be here by now, without it I won't present so nicely...the pressure to serve food at this event is high, but with three days of people marching through my home, I can manage to offer some simple treats and hope that's enough....I accidentally dabbed a smudge of red paint on already finished work, so need to repaint the edge....and I have to repair a painting that a door jam fell through and ripped. My cat peed in the middle of my leather chair in the living room, and I have to scrub it out with baking soda and dish soap....the bathroom is filthy, the yard needed a mow it's not getting....

Still, while it may look as though I haven't painted much, what you witness right now is the onset of probably my best upcoming year, if it can remain one of health and narrowly avoided misfortunes.

Below are pictured all my current small works, with a little story to go with each one. I am finally steadily in the habit of sitting down now nearly nightly at my work table at the living room window, I have a wood stove this winter to keep me comfy and cozy, and the stage is newly set.
 

 Spring Mandala ~ Oil on Wood Block ~ 10' x 10"
My first mandala of the year, I had visions of blending  soft greens and grays. The effect of leaving some of the original pencil markings close to the surface reminds me of the beginning of the whole process, and so I resisted the initial urge to paint thickly to hide them. I'm reminded here of gentle renewal and appreciation, of blooms early in their opening before they burst into summer colour.


 Hare ~ Oil on Wood Panel ~ 9" x 8"
I wanted to paint a hare and not a bunny but something made me morph the two....Much as I expect to paint more whales after my first whale, I think I will revisit the hare in another of its incarnations. Blues and pale lilacs took over, rendering a need for a burst of colour in the orange. Is it sitting on a hill, or a giant egg? Not sure but it's in a happy place and what else matters? 


Owl ~ Oil on Wood Block ~ 10" x 10" ~ SOLD
I had been subdued by a night long headache when I began painting this owl....unsure of the stance to use, I looked at photos online, and found this pose, but as I began to paint, and my headache went away, I created my own sweet little owl face, not quite a burrowing owl or a saw-whet, but one with it's own wide eyed expression, and it is certainly giving you a good long stare. You may have to answer for yourself if you engage for too long! After posting it online in another venue, I received a request from an old track racing friend who now lives in St. James, New York, to purchase this piece. So this little owl, after hanging in my studio for the Thanksgiving Tour, is flying away to the USA. I have printed it as a greeting card for those who wish to keep this wee wise bird close by.


Sisters ~ Oil on Wood Panel ~ 16" x 16"
Deep down I think I enjoy painting people, portraits and figures a great deal. When I do, it's always straight out of my head, though I'll refer sometimes to old paintings to see how the skin tones may have been achieved, or the fold of cloth, etc.I'm always a bit surprised by who comes to life. These two sisters are from another era, and the skirts just flowed....the elder sister is the protective one, the younger prone to mischief I think, but here they share a serene and bonded moment.  

 Girl in Green Vest ~ Oil on Wood Panel ~ 12" x 12"
I'm not sure where this girl came from...she is a soulful person but also wary...I painted her slightly off centre so she is standing to the side a bit with an inkling more space on her left, in the direction she is glancing. My sis says she reminds me a little of her eldest daughter, my teenage niece, and it's likely I did take my cue from her. I used a stencil for the "window" but when I lifted it, the paint had seeped and run beneath....so I'm obviously needing lessons with that...I ended up repainting the window by hand. 


Morning Coffee Mandala ~ 8" x 8" ~ Oil on Wood Block
This mandala was such a joy to paint...I wanted gleeful colours with impact and the result is very energizing. I can't think of any other title for it. Stained in Vandyke Brown all around the edges, it has a woodsy look.


Woodchick ~ 6" x 6" ~ Oil on Wood Block
Then along came Woodchick....I used a mandala grid to start, and loved painting this little bird on wood. In fact, I've enjoyed painting on wood so much I don't know when I will return to canvas...but I will eventually. 


Shorebird and Flower ~ Oil on Wood Block ~ 5' x 5"
So far this is the smallest size I've painted on...and it was a concentrated effort, I embellished the markings on an otherwise standard Killdeer shore bird. I wanted the feeling of 70s Danish art, and I think I came close!


Fluff Tail ~ Oil on Wood Block ~ 4" x 6"
I think the last painting I have time to finish before the tour, this little piece was nearly named Cat With Tongue Sticking Out but the tail took up enough room to earn the title. 

I'm going to rest now, clean my house, sign and price the art and look forward to an enjoyable weekend.

***

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