Saturday, November 11, 2017

I've been gone too long.


Brace yourselves for what could be a long post.
I have lots to share.

I caught myself a cold,
so I'm sitting here sipping on
a hot mint tea.

First things first...
November 11th.
Remembrance Day

Several years ago, I worked on an art calendar
as a fundraising project
with the local school and it was such a joy.
Each class (from 1st grade to 8th grade)
had a monthly theme.

I painted backgrounds for each month
on large bristol boards (12 backgrounds!)
and they painted things relating to the monthly theme.
We then cut & placed each little drawing on each month
and then I scanned them & reduced to an 8" x 10" calendar.

November was done by the 3rd grade.
Some kids did more than one drawing.
I was so impressed by their sensitivity.
This little drawing of 4 soldiers 
carrying a casket, and the tombstones
really touched me...

Let us never forget the sacrifices.
And so, it is fall here in eastern Canada
although this morning feels more like winter. :)

I took this lovely photo a few weeks ago
when my dad and I went for a drive
to a nearby park.

A lot of the colorful leaves
are now on the ground as
we've had a few good windy days.
Dad recently moved to a new "assisted living" place
in his hometown and he loves it.

I'm so happy for him.
It's a little further away from me (20 min)
but he still gets his visits with Fluffy. :)
October was a bit of a whirlwind.
We were moving dad to a new place
and preparing our son
Alex to move away at the same time.

This happened.

Our son was going to move to Western Canada
to work at a ski resort
and we were torn apart
and excited for him all at the same time.

But once he got there,
he had a change of heart
and decided to come back home.

Shit happens.

We're not all cut out
to live adventures 6000 kms away from home. :)
Some of us will find our own adventures
right in our backyards
and that's perfectly ok.
I moved to Alberta, in Western Canada
for my own little adventure when I was 18
and although I loved the time I spent there,
I missed the ocean so much.

Such beauty can really take hold of one's heart...
At least it did my heart.
I painted this in my little journal
while Alex was gone.
An abstract version of mountains, I suppose. :)
I haven't painted much on canvas lately,
but I have a few Christmas commissions,
so I'll be doing that soon enough.

In the meantime, I'm doing some journal painting.
Painting, sketching, writing on paper.

It's something that takes near zero preparation -
I fill a cup with water, have my markers & paints nearby
and I'm ready to roll!

I worry a lot less about 'what it will look like'
than I used to.

I'm more concerned with the feeling I get
while I'm painting or sketching or writing.

And it usually feels pretty damn good.

With all the crap going on around the world these days,
if I can do something that makes me feel good
or peaceful or happy - even for just a few minutes a day,
it is so worth it.

And sometimes, I just have something on my mind,
like this little journal painting below.

When I visited dad one day,
one of the old men there had this look on his face.
I couldn't get him out of my mind,
until i painted this on paper.

Someone once told Ralph Steadman
that things must be very dark & scary in his mind,
and he replied that things are quite peaceful in there,
because he gets it all out on paper.

That makes a lot of sense to me.

And so, on particularly dark & heavy days,
when I start to feel overwhelmed with everything,
or when I just want to keep a record
of how I spent my day, 
I do this:
 ...and almost immediately, my head clears.

I haven't solved anything
simply by drawing or writing about it,
it doesn't matter that the drawings aren't perfect -
what matters is, I've expressed how i feel about things
and that always brings me a calm inside.
And when I feel more calm,
paintings like this (below) emerge.

She looked like an alien to me,
but someone I love & respect told me
she looked like a "beautiful Madonna of the cosmos"
and said she was very grounding. 

So I chose to believe that instead. :)

You just never know what 'clearing your mind'
can pull up sometimes.

I love this quote.
Painted acrylic on sheet music.
And on October 17th, 
Canada lost this great man,
Gord Downie
to terminal brain cancer.

He was 53.

He was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip,
a Canadian rock band.
He was a wonderful songwriter 
and a poet at heart.

For any Gord Downie fans out there,
you can buy a print of this painting
in my ETSY shop for $20.
This picture was taken
on the morning Alex was leaving for the airport.

Fluffy wouldn't even look at him. 
Alex was smiling, but Fluffy wasn't fooled.
She could sense the sadness in the room.

She was pretty excited to see him again. :)
For those of you wondering about my e-course,
it's still happening - just taking a bit longer
than i anticipated.

I'm currently working on designing my website,
with the help of the talented Kerstin Martin -
where I'll be offering e-courses and paintings 
and all sorts of fun stuff. :)

This has all been very eye opening for me.

I'm not sure I really knew
how much work was involved,
although Kerstin has a way
of making it all feel less overwhelming somehow. 

I have no regrets at all 
and still feel like this is the beginning
of something good.

I hope you're able to pull yourselves away
from the craziness now and then
and find your own way
back to the quiet spaces.

Here's to the season of cocooning
and creating! :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

it's a little dark in here

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
- Anne Frank
hello Munchkins.

The world is a heavy place lately, isn't it?

I've been less consistent with blogging lately,
mainly because I've been too fucking heartbroken.

What do you say when all hell breaks loose?

Yes, I've been doing my best to stay on the light side of things
but holy shit, some days are hard.

The mass shootings,
the hurricanes,
the suffering...

I distance myself from it all now and then,
and then it all somehow comes back to me,
like gravitational pull.

Maybe that's what's meant to happen.
Maybe some things in life
are meant to anger us,
and move us 
towards the truth?

Towards our truth.

So the past months have been
give and take for me.

I've spent some days working hard,
and other days reading on the patio
with a good coffee.

And i'm ok with this.

Some days are meant to be
more productive than others.
I've felt so consumed by everything
that I barely knew how to process it.

Whenever I'd sit in my blue room to paint,
I'd often just sit there - for like 10 or 15 minutes...
before I'd decide to even pick up a brush,
or a pen, and just do something.

More often than not, it ended up being something like this:
But hey, I try to honor how I feel at the time.

It's been painful for me to learn 
that there are so many racists in the world.

It's been painful to learn
that some of them are my relatives.

It's been painful to learn
that there are homophobes
and chauvinists
and those who care very little
about the suffering of others.

So many of us fail to show compassion
when so many people in the world
are in desperate need
of love and understanding right now.
So yeah, maybe this is my 'blue period' in painting.

If Picasso had one, I can have one too. :)

Everything I've done lately 
seems to be just one or two toned.
Color doesn't feel right to me at this time.

When I feel like using more color again, I will.

And speaking of color - check out the beautiful tomatoes
from our little garden in the back yard.
We've been eating fresh veggies for months now.  
I'm also still in the throws of preparing my e-course.

At this point, I'm not setting a date.
Initially, it was going to be 6 weeks,
but I've now decided on 4 weeks.

It's been more work than I anticipated
but then, maybe that's because I am putting myself
under too much pressure for it to be perfect.

And I, of all people, know damn well that





Why do we do this to ourselves?

So I'm trying to get past my fears
and reassuring myself
that someone will get something out of it,
and that if ONE person finds the courage
to make art and express herself
and find her own voice,
it will have been worth it.

I joined Tara Leaver's 7 day series art challenge.
I thought I'd try to process some of my anger
by painting abstracts
because, well, it's healthier than keeping it
bottled up inside.

Here's a song I love by Amelia Curran,
from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

I love her because she dares to be vulnerable,
she's an advocate for those with mental illness,
and she writes her own songs. 

Thanks for letting me
into your weekend space.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fried clams, funerals and Brian Wilson

Is summer really over?
It's been such a whirlwind this season.
Some summers are slow & lazy,
but this summer felt like the opposite for some reason.
Of course we made time for fried clams & scallops
and the wharf
and walks on the beach,
and family gatherings
and the occasional bonfire,
but it feels like it was gone
in the blink of an eye.
We had company this summer,
which is always nice,
but I won't lie.
I always look forward to my time alone again.
As a serious introvert,
solitude is the only way for me
to find my footing again
and after weeks of being
in the company of others,
I was longing for alone time
about as much as i long for chocolate.
(yes, that's a lot of longing)
We also had a death in the family...
my dad's brother,
whom he loved dearly.

Harvey loved antique cars
and had a few of his own.

This is dad, on the day of the funeral,
standing next to Harvey's beloved Thunderbird. :(
Funerals are always so heavy, aren't they?
They should be, naturally, 
since they're about the loss of a loved one.

But I sometimes wish
we were better at
celebrating a life
rather than mourning a death.
I guess it's hard to celebrate
when some hearts are broken
in a million little pieces.

 And then, there was art.
After finishing this book,
I got thinking about mental illness
and how horrible it must be
to be living with voices in your head
the way Brian Wilson does all the time
(from the Beach Boys).
I started cutting out these images
from a magazine one night,
thinking I'd use them in a collage.

Once I saw them all there,
I only decided to use a few of them.

Painted over some of the red,
added words,
played a bit with lines.
At first, I was thinking guitar strings
but the lines got carried away
into something else.
Then the hurricanes happened
and the floods all over the world
and things got heavy again
and the only way I can deal with *heavy*
is through art.

We all need to find our own ways
to deal with tragedy,
with injustice,
with suffering.
I know that too much social media 
is not good for me
so I've made a conscious effort
to slow down and not to carry
the world's weight on my shoulders.

It's been difficult at times
because I just can't believe some of the things
I see or hear,
but I am of no use to anyone
if I am overwhelmed by the suffering
or the stupidity of others.
That doesn't mean I don't care about others,
or about what happens on this beautiful planet,
but it is not necessary for me
to know about 









It's just too overwhelming for me.

I read something the other day
(ironically, on Twitter!)
about a woman's therapist
telling her that it was
ok to let social media go now and then,
because as human beings,
we aren't meant to process
so much suffering at once.

And I thought YES.


I so agree.

I don't care to know everything about everyone.

I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything
if I don't get the news on a daily basis,
or if I don't know about what's happening
in every corner of the world,
or if I don't know about who had what for dinner last night.

I DO, however, feel like I'm missing out on REAL life
if I spend too much time on social media.

Can you imagine missing out on walks at the beach
with this cute little face?
Or wonderful Friday evenings making art?
Or watching a movie with my son?
Or sharing a glass of wine with a friend?

No thank you.

Life is precious.

But you gotta pull your face
away from the phone (or the laptop) now and then
to remember just how precious it is.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In the summertime...

I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.
- Frida Kahlo
It's been over a month since I've posted anything
and I've painted very little in this time too.
I almost wrote "I've had little time to paint"
but that's not true.
I have all the time in the world.
Or at least more time than many people have.

Other things (or people) just take priority sometimes.
This is my brother Ricky, my dad, and my nephew, Cody.
They were here on vacation from the US for a week,
so they were my reason for not painting for a while.
And it was Canada Day, so yeah.
This (above) is City Hall, in Moncton, NB.
Even the brick walls get balloons. :)
Yes indeed. :)
A statue of Northrup Frye sits in front of the library.
Drinks on Main Street Moncton!
The woman standing on the far left is my sister-in-law, Nicole,
my nephew (in the white shirt), my brother (with the hat)
and the cute one with the beard is my son Alex. :)
A beautiful day at the beach, so yeah,
still no painting.
My son Alex and nephew Cody,
enjoying a cold one on l'Aboiteau beach,
about 20 minutes from my home.
Another beach (Parlee beach) with the sun slowly setting...
I thought it would rain (and thunder!) for a while
but it never did.
This is a not-so-perfect beach near my home,
but one I prefer because it's much quieter.
When the company was all gone,
I came here with pen & paper, as I often do,
and wrote, read for a while, and watched the seagulls.
Our little backyard garden.
I took this over a week ago, so it's grown a lot since then.
The carrots aren't growing - for whatever reason.
We're never too serious about the garden.
We get what we get, and usually, it's more than enough.
We've had so little rain lately...
the grass everywhere is yellow and dry.
We could use a few good days of downpour.
The best part of having a garden
in the backyard. :)
And speaking of gardens,
a quick little illustration of Thomas,
a serious gardener who lives where my dad lives.
He's always so happy to see
his tomatoes growing. :)
A Harry Potter painting, acrylic on paper.
I think I'll scan this one and put it in my ETSY shop soon.
A quick pen sketch from an image i found on Pinterest.
There are lots of things (and people) I'll never understand.
Slavery, in all its forms, is one of them.
I can't remember if I posted these or not...
quick little Sharpie sketches on post-it notes & added acrylic.
When my time is limited, or
when I'm not in the mood.
A few little notes from the one of the sections
of the e-course I'm working on.
(I may have posted these already too!?)
It feels like I've neglected so many things
over the past few months,
but I'm slowly getting my groove back.
Once in a while, I need to sit myself down
and remind myself why I wanted to do this e-course
in the first place.

To inspire you to follow your own heart
towards a more meaningful life
by using art and writing and nature
as your guide. 
Art and writing and nature have helped me through
some of the darkest days.
And I know they can help others (like you!) too.
Happy Wednesday to all!
Thanks for being here.