Monday mornings

The thing about deciding to empower your creative self, is that once you do, your non-creative exploits start to grind you down. The thing about being a working mom, is that you wake up on Monday mornings, see your sleeping child and quietly grieve that you won’t spend all day with them again for another 5 days.

For me, my creative energy is not purely tied up in any one aesthetic pursuit, but rather, a certain dedication of spirit and current of ingenuity that I try to live with. It’s as much in the things that I make, as in the energy, planning and commitment I give to my loved ones, to my job and even to my diet. I began feeling this way about art and creativity when I was a teenager. I would look at the many Mechanics and IT people in my family and see how heavily invested they are in their work. How ingenious and commanding they are in their knowledge and skill; and I would think – Wow! What art! What soulful dedication! What worth!

In a sense it’s the mental action or inclination toward artfulness and really makes the difference to oneself and the world around you. Where, in our daily lives, the artifacts of our labor are so often disappointing, or not our own, it’s good to remember that the expression of our creative minds has value to ourselves and those around us.

So, as I begin my week, I try to remind myself of this. That, even though the work that I do in my professional life is often unremarkable and repetitive, that there are still parts of it that I can fully commit my creative spirit to. Sure, I really have to work at it sometimes, but really – who doesn’t? That’s just the shape of things. Sure, I miss my daughter, but really – she needs to eat and she needs to live somewhere, so I have to suck it up and work. Pretty much, the only thing that I really have control over is the attitude and spirit with which I approach my life.

So here’s to an awesome Monday. We’re going to make it one.
Advertisements

JumbieJewels

It’s Art Market time again! I’ve taken part in a couple of art markets. Before now I’ve mostly shown paintings & drawings. This year however, I will be showing jewellery.

20180520_141516

I started working with air-dry polymer clay a couple of months ago, experimenting with thickness, strength and hand painting techniques. I hadn’t worked with clay before, but I did a lot of research along the way. After a few batches of using the air-dry clay, I started using Sculpey oven bake polymer clay as an alternative. It has been an invigorating learning curve. It’s been a while since I’ve really dug my teeth into learning a new medium. Each batch I make is fresh and exciting to work on. I am sure that this is the beginning of a deeply satisfying, clay-filled journey.

This particular process is great for my immediate lifestyle. Polymer clay is easy to work on in small batches, for short bursts of time. It’s easy to get my creative ‘fix’ by working with colour and texture in such an immediate way. I’m reading about more traditional clay techniques as well, however I really don’t have the time/space/resources to make a traditional clay practice tenable.

When i was a kid I LOVED the NeverEnding Story. There was a scene in the movie that has always stuck with me – a huge, powerful stone giant sits and looks at his hands lamenting that and his big, strong hands were not strong enough to save his friends from the Nothing. He says, “They look like big, good, strong hands. Don’t they? I always thought that’s what they were… “ . That idea of your hands being the real agent of your ability has stuck with me. I put similar stock in my own hands. My eyes and hands do my work, and I’ve rediscovered the great great joy of getting my hands dirty.

As part of this new foray into jewellery, I am launching the JumbieJewels Etsy shop. I have a couple of things on there at the moment but really, I plan on populating it when the market is over. I’ll post here as well as on Instagram with updates.

So, in conclusion, if you’re in Toronto this weekend and you want to spend a sunny day in the park, come see the Christie Pits Art Crawl. Sunday 27th May from 9am-4pm.

Look for JumbieJewels and please stop by and say hello.

20180520_141103

The Toddler Art Critic

Yesterday, on the bus, while I was taking my daughter home from daycare, I had need of my sketchbook. My daughter was fretting and starting a major fuss because our trip was taking a long time due to rain and traffic. I had already read the books that we keep in the stroller for her. I had already given her snacks and water. We had even sang a couple of songs together (to the chagrin of the other passengers, I’m sure). With a few blocks further to go, I was running out of options for entertaining a 1-1/2 year old. I looked into my handbag to see what I could come up with and decided to show her my sketchbook.

 

My current sketchbook is a light grey Baron Fig notebook, given to me by my BFF Stacy. I think it’s about 3/4 full of sketches, lists and recipes. My daughter was fascinated. She flipped through the pages and her eyes lit up in absolute joy when she found a sketch of her dad. She pointed at it and began an enthusiastic chorus of ‘Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!’. This lasted until she came to a sketch of our dog, Kai. She then started a chorus of ‘Kai! Kai! Kai! Dog! Dog! Dog!’. Then she went back to Daddy. All in all the sketches were a hit and they got us to our destination without the infant rage.

 

Funnily, the sketches she loves so much, were sketches that I thought were abject failures. I thought they were wonky and weird and not worth mention, but the Little One saw something in them – picked up on the resemblance that I thought I had totally missed. It felt pretty great. And it made me think more on what art is especially when it comes to portraiture. There’s something to be said about the vibe you can capture, even when you fail at resemblance.

 

In other news, I’m working on some clay things. I’m experimenting with polymer clay since I have not found any options near me for firing raw clay. I’ve looked up some videos on making a wire armature for figures and I hope to get some more clay to try out some of those. Also I’m working on some painted clay jewelry. I’ve been experimenting with techniques and will post when I have something I’m happy with.

 

As always, thanks for tuning in.

Sharing

IMG_1724

On May 28th, my friend Tara Keens-Douglas and I are taking part in the Christie Pits Art Crawl.

In light of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about communication and how best to present my Art. In addition it’s made me think more closely about the dilemma of exhibition and sales.

 

The last time I did an Art Market, I got too focused on the idea of selling my work. I don’t think that’s how Art Markets work. I think the beauty of the art market is in growing connections with fellow artists and introducing your work to a wide range of people as they walk by. Some of my favourite moments from my last art market were being able to discuss my work with strangers and other Makers.

 

Thinking about selling my work is an immediately stress inducing activity. I have to switch mental gears from Maker to Sales and the shift brings to bear a bigger question of the significance of Visual Art in the lives of the common person. That analysis is fairly bleak, so in recent times, I am trying to shift my perspective from ‘sale’ to ‘sharing’.

 

Sharing art, as I see it, is what this blog promotes. I share my art and my thoughts and you choose to engage with it at your convenience. Similarly, perhaps a more comfortable way of thinking of exhibiting my work is simply as sharing my work with a different audience.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Selling work feels great. Like any job, when you work hard, the validation of being paid for it both enables you to continue doing the work as well as incentivizes you to make more work without feeling like it’s pointless. To be frank though, most people don’t buy art. Where art in the home used to be a point of meditation and reflection, now we’re staring at our choice of digital device. People seek the most affordable ways to enliven their living and working spaces, without the price tag of original artwork. Of course this is the case. The value of art is subjective and the value of money is more concrete. I’m not about to whine about something that’s so obvious.

 

The truth is that making art is intrinsic to who I am, and I love the opportunity to share my work with people. Beyond sales, I exhibit work because it’s empowering and inspiring. So this time around, my focus in showing is going to be centred around fostering community engagement and thoughtful discussion.

When to Stop

when to stop blogpost.jpg

Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you experience a rare gush of creativity. It erupts out of the blue and when it does, you drop everything and dive for the brush, pen, or whatever so you can seize the magic. When you’re riding this wave, each tone you pick is the right one, and inspiration flows like an open stream. It is lovely, perfect, sexy magic.

Under the influence of this rare tide, with these pieces, I managed to do something that is usually a hard won victory in my creative process. I put down the brush and walked away at precisely the right moments.

Now gouache and watercolour are particularly tricky in this regard. With acrylic or oil, you always have a second chance should you misstep. With gouache or watercolour however, you can over work it in a heartbeat. One false dot of pigment and you have to watch your mistake bleed through the piece – forever muddying what was once crisp. When you overthink forms your brushstrokes go from bold and pure to wobbly and insipid. In each of these pieces, I felt that moment come – where my urge to blather on was held in check by the voice of experience that said – “no – it’s time to walk away” or “yes – put that brush to paper and trust where it goes”.

I’m going to continue working at this size (5″ x 7″) for a while longer. I feel that there’s a series happening here and I like its vibe. Also, now, after working on 300lb watercolour paper – I am forever spoiled. I can’t go back to 140lb. I am hardcore geeking out about it.

Inner Thirst

It sneaks up on you. Especially when your life is basically in service of another person. It starts with mild irritation at seemingly normal things. Then, that ever present irritation dips and rises throughout the day leading to cycles of negative thought. For me, it also manifests as a hunger for decadent food or shopping- though neither of those things ever fill the void. I think it’s a  sideways desire for richness and energy.

What is this? This is an existential need to center myself as well as a need to create. It’s a recurrent hunger that peaks when my days lack the time and space for grounding myself.

This is perhaps the hardest thing about being a mom so far – the desperate lack of time and means to regenerate my inner reservoir of peace and strength. I’m not unhappy, nor am I unable to care for my little girl. The need for existential grounding though remains a background thirst that grows and grows until I can’t ignore it anymore. I am getting better at acknowledging the signs. I haven’t yet reached a new rhythm that curtails this cycle of want, though I would like to build a better cycle with some built in time for grounding, each day.

The best ways for me to ground myself are through art, writing and yoga. This week I tried something new. I left all my gouache things on the dining table with some pre cut and prepared pieces of watercolour paper. I’m trying to make it as easy as possible to do a small burst of work. That seemed to have worked.

In addition, I have my yoga mat and yoga dvd ready to go as well. That system isn’t working AT ALL. I think I need to memorise the sequence and do it on my own when I have a sliver of time.

Writing has been more elusive. Where painting doesn’t require me to be coherent – writing does. I can paint in a headspace beyond words and be happy. It won’t necessarily be good – but it’ll happen and that’s all I really need sometimes. With writing though, I find that I need to more actively center myself in order to access the stream of words. I can’t satisfactorily sit and write for a 15 minute period unless, like now, I’ve been wanting to do it for a day and a half. So maybe I need to save up my words so that once a week I can commit a solid hour to it and let daddy take the baby.

These are the paintings I did this week. The black and white one I had planned on for a long time and I finally did it. It’s a piece I made for a friend.

20170218_124534