As a creative person, I am my father in girl form. I’m not sure if I’ve become more like him, or if I’ve only now noticed. Growing up, I spent a lot of time playing with the gadgets and ornaments I found around my dad’s study. When I had outgrown playing with his glass figurines, I would do my homework at his writing desk while he worked on his computer. His study was the perfect retreat because I was the only one who dared to disturb the peace of his sanctuary. His study was the most productive place to be because he had every article of stationary or tool one could ever need. Many of his tools are even self made for specific purposes.
When I was a little girl, my dad made various creative versions of christmas trees. I loved that. He made one out of chicken wire and toilet paper for a couple of years. It was way prettier than it sounds. It was my favourite tree. I attempted to make an origami something this year as a stand in for a christmas tree. It turned out being quite pretty though not very christmasy.
The process of making it and deciding on the materials to use reminded me so much of my dad. It really made me miss being home this year for Christmas. When I started making it, I realised that I already had all of the materials that I needed to make it. It appears that I’ve begun to create my own ‘study’ that is well stocked with art and craft tools of every variety I can think of.
I don’t know when I started trying to recreate his study, but its a place in my heart that I attempt to recreate wherever I live. It’s my base.
After making the hanging thing and cleaning out an art box, I came across some off-cut squares of watercolour paper I’ve had hanging around in my art storage for over 5 years now. I kept them thinking that they’d make lovely little ‘moments’ one day.
This holiday vacation, I used them all. I got out my stained watercolour brushes from my dad’s old orange tackle-box and got to work with the gouache paints he sent to me for christmas last year.
Today I sat reloading ink into my fountain pens (just like my dad taught me) and I realised that I owe him the biggest thank you. Thank you Da for making me who I am. I see you everyday in many of the things that I do, think and say. I’m older now I guess, so I can see it all much more clearly. You made me who I am and I’m not sure how to say thanks for that. But I’ll try anyway. I love you. Thank You.
Absence. For the latter part of last year and the first half of this year, I have felt the absense of something inside of me. It is as if there was now room in my mind where there was none before. Over time I have come to recognise that absence of drive as the absolute lack of desire to create something ineffable, wordless and beautiful. At first I fought it and tried to jump start my creativity into making something worthwhile. Then, slowly and regretfully, in lieu of that innate artfulness, I turned to working on developing different skills. It turns out that I really can’t just sit still. I love making things, even if they aren’t deeply emotive. I’ve been sewing and working on a realistic painting, based on a photo I took long ago. Will post more on that later.
For the past few months I’ve also thought about this blog and wrote nothing because I thought that I had nothing to share. After a friend prodded me to share the things I was talking to her about, it made me reconsider what I think of as blog-worthy. I mean we all go through creative dips and swells. The truth is though that in the midst of this latest dip, I had half convinced myself that I was done – that that part of me had run out like a fully tapped fount. It seems like an overly dramatic conclusion now. At the time though I was responding to how different I felt inside my own head. All ambition and purpose, was replaced by indifference and boredom.
I quit my job in Kitchener in March and moved to Toronto. I’m working in Architecture still, in a quite different job. I’ve been living with some friends from school. During this time in Toronto, I’ve felt the beginnings of inspiration again. Slowly those feelings have increased and with the encouragement of my roommate, who is also an artist, I’ve started making art again. Last week I made my first painting after a long stretch of absence.
I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I sat down to paint. All I knew was that my hiatus was over and that it was time to pick up a brush and make something new. I have ideas again – all kinds of lovely things that I can’t wait to try out. I’m also less scared of making mistakes. With this has also come a kind of faith that I can trust even the dips in my cretivity because I am not a vessel that can be emptied.
I’m now four classes in to my oil painting class at OCAD. For starters, my teacher is amazing. I’m more than a little star struck. Not only is his work stellar, but he’s also a really great instructor. His name is Bogdan Luca. His work reminds me of waking from a really intense dream and not being sure of whether I am awake or asleep.
This year, in my own artistic journey, I’ve endeavoured to learn more about color. I feel as if I’ve finally made some real headway in that direction. Learning about colour feels like seeing the world as I’ve never seen it before – in higher resolution. At my painting class we’ve often been challenged to create grey tones that are in a sense colourless. The word grey is really a catch-all for the myriad of tones that cannot be described by any other colour reference. The world of grey can simultaneously be tinted to be brownish or reddish or bluish or yellowish – all depending on how you get to that colour mix. I finally understand why my art teacher forbade the use of black to mix colour all those years ago – because when you learn how to arrive at certain tones without black, there is a depth of colour that becomes discernable. It seems as if your eye can somehow detect the many tones within the single pigment. This world of grey constitutes a great deal of what we actually see.
The mind autofills so much of our interpretation of what we see. A wooden table appears at first to be brown – but when you pay attention to what your eyes actually see, without letting your mind interpret it for you, the truth is that the reflection of light off that table is what describes its form. Therefore what one paints is the reflection of light, married with its shadows. This is the world of grey.
Shades of Grey – no black used
Im not sure as yet how this relates to abstract painting. All of our classes have focused on still life painting.
In terms of oil painting, I’m really enjoying the medium. Unique to oils is a depth of colour rendition that is quite lovely.
I have two more classes in this course. It’s been thoroughly worth the investment of time, money and travel. Working in a studio environment this way is so satisfying. At the end of each class I feel thoroughly spent in an altogether pleasant way.
Natural Symmetry, 10 x 14″, ink & goache on paper
I’ve been thinking about incorporating colour into my mandalas for months. This is my first attempt at combining mandala and painting. The mediums used here are ink and goache on watercolour paper. Next time I’d like to try using coloured pencils with a mandala to see what’s possible with textures.
This piece considers symmetry found in nature alongside the symmetry of geometry and mathematics. I used the air plants here because of their unfurling nature and the markings on the geometric centre were inspired by the markings of butterfly wings.
A sneaky puppy
The Messenger, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″
This turtle has been wanting to be painted for a while. I started this piece a little over a month ago. As some of you may know, I had an accident around that time. I was walking my dog on a pedestrian trail near my house when I slipped on a patch of ice and broke my ankle. This is why I haven’t posted in a while.
Source images of red sea turtles have been taped up on my art room wall well before my accident. I’ve had a long time to think about him. When I first filled in his outline on the canvas I felt like I was in over my head, but I got into a great painting zone and after half the night, I was happy with how he turned out. I’m really enjoying a totemic approach to animals these days.
In terms of process, as an experiment while making this piece, I took progress photos every time I took a break. This turned out to be a great technique for me, since I changed my mind a few times about the way I painted the sky as well as the peak. It was by looking back at previous images that I was able to determine what I really wanted.
It’s kind of amazing how many hours went into this piece. In the past I might have been more frustrated at the time it took to create. Now however, with more experience, I am no longer as impatient with my work. That’s something great that’s come to me through this accident – patience. I hope I don’t lose sight of it when I’m walking again.
Hope you enjoy.
Black, white, ochre, red and yellow. Those are the only colours that I used to make this piece. A long time ago an art teacher told me that I should avoid using the colour black straight from the tube. In this piece I’ve played with it in different ways – including using it straight out of the tube. A final rebellion against one of the last lingering painting ‘rules’ in my head.
The beginning of this piece was heavily influenced by 90’s alternative rock. That sounds like a disclaimer. It’s true though. There’s a lot of nostalgia in this piece. My 17 year old self would approve.