Ice continues to be a focus for my photography. Over the Christmas break I was able to get into the river valley and saw the most beautiful ice. It was like fabric, floating on the surface of the water, able to fold and bend in ways that I had never seen before. Unfortunately my phone battery died after only a couple of shots. The next day the temperatures dropped and the ice changed again. One of the things I love about this subject is that very thing – it is always changing.
Winter light is something else that I love. The light is softer and shadows are longer. What time of day you are taking your photos matters a little less. That works for me as I am never out and about at the same time of day. There is still much for me to learn, but I enjoy the experimentation and I am always excited to see what I can make of the photos I take.
As I look outside I see it is snowing. Time to get on the hiking boots, hit the trail and enjoy.
I will be participating again this year in Harcourt House Artist Run Centre’s Art-o-Rama. Come and purchase art for you or for someone you love December 7th to December 9th at Jake’s Framing + Art Gallery 10441-123 Street, Edmonton, AB.
The show offers original, small format works in a variety of media, including: painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, glass, ceramics, jewellery, metal design works, and mixed media compositions by leading and emerging artists and designers from Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto. Excellent as Christmas gifts for big and small budgets!
I will have 3 pieces available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds supports Harcourt House’s art exhibitions and education programs.
Friday, December 7th : Preview (with sales) from 12 pm – 6 pm
Friday, December 7th : Opening Reception (sales continue) from 7 pm – 10 pm with food, cash bar, and music by Bill Damur and the White Cats
Saturday, December 8th : Art Sale continues from 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday, December 9th : Final Day of Art Sale from 10 am – 4 pm
It’s fall, the leaves are now on the ground and although it feels like I haven’t done much in the past months, I do have some new work to show you. Fall is an exhausting time for me, so I find it hard to get motivated to create when I am just so darn tired all the time. We did have some early snow (in September!) where I live and while I hoped we would get more typical fall weather for a while, I am ready for the white stuff again. Once the mould is buried life gets a lot better for me. One of my symptoms of overactive mast cells is an unexplained uptick in anxiety. I hate those moments when I feel it rising up through my body and I have no reasonable explanation for why its happening. There is no discernible trigger, just a sudden feeling of things not being right, followed by a wave that colours the world with dark shadows, sounds that no longer seem familiar and somehow tinged with a sinister edge. Thankfully those moments do not linger for more than a day and I know how to get back on track. They are a reminder to me that I always need to be diligent in managing my chronic illness. You can’t take a break, as much as you’d like to sometimes. I think it’s the same with creating. It’s important to keep at it, even if it feels like whatever you’re doing is no good, because in the next moment it could transform into something amazing.
Making time for art was challenging over the past month. Wrapping up summer activities, getting started with fall ones, it seemed there was not enough time. However, we all know that’s not true. Time was taken up fretting about various things and getting stuck back in old ruts. To bust out of my ruts I picked up Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk. And Other Truths About Being Creative. by Danielle Krysa at my local library (Danielle Krysa is also the author of The Jealous Curator, a blog I like to follow). A few chapters in and I was feeling inspired to get off my bum and make time to be creative.
It was a beautiful sunny day in my part of the world today (a rarity this month, which has seen more snow than I remember for September in a very long while). On the trail I could actually hear the leaves falling off the trees. So my entreaty to you is to go find somewhere where you can hear the leaves falling, let yourself settle in to the sounds of the woods and just enjoy.
There are many kinds of endings in our daily lives, with some more significant than others. Of the different milestones in life, dating, career, marriage, kids, divorces, and deaths, death is starting to rear its ugly head more often. Another friend of mine recently lost his father, which puts life in the forefront of my mind. Walking in the river valley today, I looked at this tree with different eyes. It immediately struck me as an embrace. The last living limb wrapping around the dying trunk.
Hug your people. Life is short, even when it isn’t.
It being summer, work is a bit more sporadic, but I thought I would share some photos. Now that the bulk of the pollen that bothers me is done for the season, and before the forest fire smoke starts to drift our way, I am out and about more regularly these days. I’m in the process of researching a better camera, which would allow for more details when I crop and abstract my photos. Interested in the newer mirrorless cameras? Check out this review.
There is a pond I visit and I am in love with the plants that are growing in it. I love the whole space really, sitting and watching for frogs, snails and leeches. Sometimes birds will flit in and out of the reeds. Just a great, quiet place to slow down, be still and watch nature.
Once you make the art, you explain the art. As I am working on my anxiety series, I find there is another series developing in tandem. As I said in another post, to me it feels like it is referencing the body in some way. In my other career I worked in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, and spent my days trying to figure out how what was happening on the inside of the person resulted in what I was seeing on the outside. In my every day life today I am still exposed to the medical world, and I feel these things somehow have coalesced into what I am now calling my Fragment series. When my work happens more organically, I find it a bit of a challenge to put into words what I have drawn. I want to give the viewer some cues about what they are seeing, but I do not want to overload them with a bunch of artistic jibber jabber. (Those who know me know I am not a fan of art-speak in general, as I find it alienating and excluding.)
I was driving and listening to Q with Tom Power this morning, and he interviewed director and actor Sarah Polley. Towards the end he mentioned that she had commented in previous interviews that Polley did not like to talk too much about her art, as she feels it starts to lose its meaning. She prefers to have people experience it. This resonated with me as I recently submitted some work to an art competition. After I completed the submission I started worrying that my explanations of my work were too brief, too to the point. Should I have used the convoluted language that the art world seems to love? Does that somehow impart more professionalism?
To my mind, no, it does not. For this series, for now, I think I have given all the direction I can give, and I will let the viewer experience it. Above is another piece in the Fragment series.
I recently joined a group on Facebook called The WELL (Women Empowering Learning + Leading) and each day is organized by a theme. Sunday’s theme is resilience. This reminded me of a drawing I made titled “Resilience”. Prior to five years ago, I would not have considered the word resilient as a descriptor. When I was at some of my lowest points during my getting sick and being sick phases* I did what I had to do to get through my day. This often meant nothing (i.e. rest), to reduce my reactions, and make me somewhat functional later in the day when those I love returned home. In talking with my psychologist at the time, she used the words resilient and strong to describe me. I didn’t think I was either of those things. I felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails and not being terribly successful at that. After some thought I decided I was resilient and strong, and those words helped me when I had bad days, because I knew that I could mentally pull myself through. (Invisible) Chronic illness is many things, and one of those is a teacher. You learn things about yourself that you never realized (sometimes with some help), you learn what is important to you, and you learn that there are silver linings to be found in upending life as you knew it.
My abstract art comes from a very personal place, which means I expose my vulnerability to the viewer. For me this is not an easy thing to do. I did not set out with the idea that I would create based on personal experiences, but it became the most natural way for me to make art. Some artists look to the outside world and others look within.
My new series is about anxiety. Something that is, and has always been, a part of my life to varying degrees of severity. When I am having a day consumed by anxiety, you would think that would be the perfect time to work. In fact, I find it hard to work on those days because my brain is taken over by the trigger of the moment. What I am starting to do instead on those days is to write. I find it helps and later I can go back and use pieces of what I have written to direct a particular piece of work. Below is something I wrote last fall, when my anxiety really ramped up before my graduating solo show:
“I’ve been avoiding myself lately. For a while I was dedicated to meditation but then I just stopped. The thought of being alone in my head was too much. It was too hard to turn off my brain, to get it to BE QUIET. I didn’t want to listen to it any more, I didn’t want to think any more. Avoidance. A temporary reprieve that does nothing to really quell the strong undercurrents of the mind. And yet I do it all the time.”*
In writing I find I take away some of the power of the anxiety. I hope that in talking about it and in drawing about it, that these things will also lessen its power. And so I put it all out there again, and not without some anxiety (it’s a vicious cycle). One of the most helpful things to me when I was first dealing with chronic illness was finding a blogger that was living a similar experience. You can feel very alone when you are caught up in whatever is impacting your life. In polite society we do not talk about these things, which makes you think when you hear people talking about their weekends, vacations, work, etc. that you are the only person having a difficult time. My hope is always that my art will connect with someone and that they will feel less alone.
I recently posted a couple of works in this new series and as time goes on I will show more. The two works today are still in progress. Not sure yet how I will finish them but I will be sure to show you when I do.
In the meantime, find that thing that gives your mind peace and keep doing it. Even when your brain fights you, just keep doing it.
This is a quick post with a few photos from a recent trip to the mountains. It was a nice break and the weather was wonderful while I was there. Not sure if I will try to abstract some of my photos or not… or rather not sure if I will show you my abstractions or not! For now I will I will leave them be.