SUMMER NEWS

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LET US PULL DOWN THE STARS, acrylic on canvas 12″ x 12″

If you’re in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada this month, stop by to see Small Treasures at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, on from June 30th to July 29th, 2018. It’s a show featuring small works in a variety of mediums – from painting to sculpture and even video installation – from an international roster of artists, and I’m proud and excited that my painting, Let Us Pull Down The Stars was chosen to be part of the exhibition!

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Ray Cronin, former Art Gallery of Nova Scotia curator, at the vernissage for Small Treasures.

The show was juried by former Art Gallery of Nova Scotia curator Ray Cronin, who stated that he was impressed with the quality of entries and with the curation of the Small Treasures show at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts.

Centre for the Arts curator Page Simon says, “It is a prestigious show, not because that many people worldwide know about the Inverness County arts centre, but because we have a very well-known juror. So being picked for the show by Ray Cronin is a big feather in one’s cap.”

Let Us Pull Down The Stars is one of the first pieces I made in my Mare Incognitum series, which is inspired by the myriad properties of water – its rhythmic fluidity, its changeability, and the infinite variables of its colours and forms. The properties of water act as visual cues to the sensory experience of nature, and also to the idea of navigating uncharted waters. My idea throughout this series is to explore the way that order and balance can emerge from chaos and cacophony, and how calm is often present under turbulent surfaces. I tap into my own memories and emotions to harness both the deep joys of remembered experience and the tension of things that may not be comfortable.

And with that, I’m off to dive into the cool, dark waters of the lake!

 

 

 

 

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May Madness… free shipping on everything in my Etsy Shop, all month-long

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I’ve just done a big Etsy shop update, adding most of my newest small paintings.

Etsy is having a great promotion right now, but I’m going to go one better: free shipping on everything in my shop, all month long. It’s a perfect time to get yourself something fresh and new to celebrate May Day!

If there’s something you’ve seen on my website that isn’t in the shop, let me know and I’ll set something up for you.

SPRING!

After weeks and weeks of ice and snow, it’s so good to feel the warmth of the sun. I’ve been holed up in my little studio working on a new subset of my Mare Incognitum project. My latest paintings are all small pieces in acrylic, 10″ x 10″. I’m exploring a colour palette and mark-making inspired by memories and impressions of the ocean, specifically, it’s raw power and ever-present movement.

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The Well of Colour  •  10″ x 10″  •  Acrylic on canvas

In addition to hours in the studio, I’ve been diving into the work of Irish writer and poet John O’Donogue. He died some time ago, but his work is timeless. His brother Pat writes of his work:

His themes of echo as the response of continuity, imagination as the ability to still see the mountain behind the mist, and absence as the transformed presence of the vanished, awaken our thinking and provide food for our spiritual journey in an increasingly hungry world.” – John O’Donogue

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A Stain of Ocean  •  10″ x 10″  •  Acrylic on canvas

 

I came upon O’Donogue’s writing on Brain Pickings, while researching the role of memory in creativity. Everything I’ve been painting in the last year is based on exploring how being and experiencing in a deeply present way affects your sense of the moment and place, and thus your memory of it.

“Memoria is always quietly at work, gathering and interweaving experience. Memoria is the place where our vanished lives secretly gather. For nothing that happens to us is ever finally lost or forgotten. In a strange way, everything that happens to us remains somehow still alive within us… It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured. Experience is not about the consumption of life, rather it is about the interflow of creation into the self and of the self into creation. This brings about subtle and consistently new configurations in both. That is the activity of growth and creativity.” – John O’Donogue

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Work in-progress

Beyond the powerful influence of memory, my work focuses on reaching beyond the boundaries of the known, or pushing myself beyond what I’m comfortable with. The forms and motifs inspired by water and ocean give me a perfect metaphor to work with… Mare Incognitum. O’Donogue wrote extensively and beautifully of the ocean and on how water expresses elements of the sublime:

“One of the most amazing shapes that water takes is that of the ocean. The presence of an ocean is so huge that it resembles the divine; its constant movement and soundings signal a powerful inner life. Surprising in such a huge force is its perfect sense of rhythm. The ebb and flow of the tide resembles in a strange way the ebb and flow of the human breath.” – John O’Donogue

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The Habit of Twilight  •  10″ x 10″  •  Acrylic on canvas

You can find Krista Tippett’s wonderful On Being interview with O’Donogue on the home page of the website dedicated to his work: https://www.johnodonohue.com/

CURATE THE DAY

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Most winter mornings, my day starts in the dark. I love to sit by the window, coffee in hand, reading, and watching the sun rise. I pretty much always have a novel on the go, but just as often, I’ll spend some time catching up on my favourite artists and writers by reading their blogs or checking out their Instagram accounts. This morning’s reading included author and poet Shawna Lemay’s lovely blog, Transactions With Beauty. Her post today featured three poems about sitting, which is one of my favourite things. This one, by Canadian poet Phyllis Webb, stunned me in its perfection:

Sitting

by Phyllis Webb

The degree of nothingness
is important:
to sit emptily
in the sun
receiving fire
that is the way
to mend
an extraordinary world,
sitting perfectly
still
and only
remotely human.

To sit emptily in the sun receiving fire… so many layers to this! Mindlessly soaking up the sun on the dock by the lake is the most blissful of things, but going deeper… before painting, I’ll often just sit for a bit, allowing myself to become open to receiving the fire of inspiration. I just sit, letting thoughts, judgements and agendas fall away so that there is room for other things, as well as for nothing.

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I just sit, and then I get up and paint.

INSPIRATION: A WALK IN THE WOODS

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I’ve always loved walking in the woods, especially on a crisp wintery day. Recently, I came upon the Japanese concept of Shinrinyoku, or “forest bathing”, which means to go deep into the woods where everything is silent and peaceful. Just being in the forest, seeking relaxation. It’s supposed to have calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits.

Who knew… it’s a thing.

To me, it’s a lifeline, an escape from an annoying and stressful world. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful walking partner, my great dane Jasmine – we get out into nature every chance we get. She loves to sniff around, and I love to just look closely at all the textures and colours, tucking inspiration away in my soul for future reference.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. – Hermann Hesse

Here are a few snaps taken on one of our recent walks…

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You’re never really alone out in the woods. Birds, animals and plants are all around. They’re the best company.

 

 

DRAMATIC, ENIGMATIC AND ICONIC: PANTONE’S COLOUR OF THE YEAR FOR 2018

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Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet, PANTONE 18-3838, a cool purple shade that veers towards the blue end of the violet spectrum.

“People are exploring and experimenting and looking for something that’s original.” – Laurie Pressman, VP Pantone Color Institute

Oddly, as I look at the printed colour chip of 18-3838, the aspirations projected onto this bluish-purple hue don’t quite jive with what I see in front of my eyes: coming from a background in corporate branding and design, it feels like a conservative colour to me, like the type of colour you’d have chosen in the 90s for a corporate logo. On screen, it shows up as a dull mauve shade. I may not be the only one who thinks this: looking around the internet for examples of how it’s being used, I’m seeing lots of products and mood boards in variegations of mauve and purple, but not much of the actual specific colour that was chosen.

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I unexpectedly fell in love with this room from Elle Decor (PHOTO: Mikkel Vang, for Elle Decor)

People seem to be embracing the spirit of the choice, if not the specific hue, hailing it as being unexpected and refreshing. Pinterest is certainly exploding with it.

 

 

 

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Gorgeous mood board from australian blogger The Hello Bureau

The hype from the Pantone website:

Announcing PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, PANTONE® Color of the Year 2018. A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

Pantone has created some great tools for designers and beautiful palettes for using Ultra Violet. I rarely use violets or purples in my work, but I do love how these hues can calmly anchor blues and teals in a painting, or create a rich tapestry when combined with bright jewel tones, such as last year’s Colour of the Year, Greenery. Two of my favourite palettes from their site:

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I especially love the creative tie-in with food:

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“Considered exotic and enticing, purple fruits, vegetables, and starches, such as acai, purple shaded cauliflower, yams, carrots, asparagus and cabbage are also known for their natural health benefits. These new “it” foods are naturally rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and also bring vibrancy and sophistication to the table.” – pantone.com (I found these images on Pinterest and unfortunately was not able to find the original posters – if these are yours, please let me know so that I can credit you or remove them if you prefer)

Saatchi Art has partnered with Pantone to select a fabulous collection of art that embodies the spirit of Ultra Violet. A few of my favourite pieces from the collection:

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Clockwise from top left: Dearly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today To Get Through This Thing Called Life, by Angie Jones; Astro Violet, by Teis Albers; Night Sea 3, by Alexander Jowett; Spray, by Wendy Turchan

What I find most interesting about Pantone’s colour of the year is how this very influential annual trend is chosen.

The woman behind it all is Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. in addition to her position at the helm of Pantone, Eiseman holds graduate degrees in psychology and counseling and is the author of numerous books on the subject of colour in the context of consumerism and psychology. Recognized worldwide as a guru of colour trends, she’s described as one of the world’s top style makers and ranks higher than Steve Jobs amongst the world’s most important “Outsider Influencers” in the world of interior design. Definitely a woman to watch.

So how is this holy grail of hue selected?

{ Dream Job Alert }

A committee of colour experts is sent to travel the world every year, to search out trending colours in every industry and major event in which colour may be a prominent factor. The actual selection process and criteria are secret, but it boils down to looking at the “aspirations, moods and attitudes of consumers”, examining how colour is used throughout the world in art, design, fashion, decor, beauty, sports, film, and every other cultural expression of humanity that you can think of.

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Ultra Violet in Taiwan and Bali (PHOTO CREDIT ??? from Pinterest)

“What we do is try to read the pulse of the public, so to speak,” Eiseman says. “What are people asking for? What are they saying their needs are? What are they hoping for? What are their aspirations? We try to then pick out a color that speaks to that cultural reaction to color, the collective consciousness’s reaction to color, and the psychological and emotional impact.”

They’re looking for something that goes beyond reporting what’s currently popular or forecasting what’s going to be big next year: their mission is to try to identify the one specific hue that expresses the current ideological zeitgeist common to the entire world. The challenge is to select a specific shade that will not only express what’s currently coming into vogue, but also has the kind of staying power to hold the public’s affections over the lifespan of the various products that might adopt a colour of the year.

I’m particularly fascinated with Eiseman’s  philosophy regarding colour:

“When 80% of human experience is filtered through the eyes, we understand that the choice of color is critical.”

This is certainly a powerful factor in influencing consumers’ buying habits, but more interesting to me is how Eiseman describes the psychological aspect of colour as being “very symbolic and represents many emotions”.

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This is exactly what gives art the power to move people. In the hands of an artist, colour is a language that touches people in a deep, visceral place, unique to everyone but also universal. This to me is where the true value in Pantone’s colour of the year: much more than a consumer-oriented trend indicator for packaging or makeup, it’s a bold statement that captures the ephemeral spirit of our time.

Alright Ultra Violet, let’s see what you can do.

NEW YEAR, NEW WORK

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WHAT THE SEA WANTS, THE SEA WILL HAVE  •  24″ x 30″  •  Acrylic on canvas  •  $650

My website has just been updated with several pieces from my new series, MARE INCOGNITUM. I’ve been exploring my experience of painting in the context of a journey, an adventure and as a way to delve into the unknown.

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YOUNG AS THE MORNING, OLD AS THE SEA  •  12″ x 12″  •  Acrylic on canvas  •  $250

Last spring, I set out to build on the visual language from my previous body of work, FLOW, with the idea of pushing certain types of marks and combinations of colours, especially related to water and to the sea. My goal was to approach the painting process with a very open mind, allowing the paint itself to take me where it wanted to go.

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PERFECT FIFTHS, LOW SKIDS AND ARCTIC HOWLS I  •  12″ x 24″  •  Acrylic on canvas  •  $360

At first, I found it very difficult to relinquish control, in the sense of not starting out with a specific idea in mind of what I wanted the final painting to look like. I wanted to approach each day in the studio with a mindset of not-knowing, and of being open to responding freely to what was unfolding in front of me. It’s easy to talk about it simply now, but very hard to do for someone with strong opinions about what I like! But I wanted to get away from the idea of painting as a means of producing an object for sale, and instead learn to approach painting in a different way. I was looking to surrender to the sensuality and depth of the experience of a pure creative impulse.

Through the process of learning how to surrender, I learned some interesting things… chiefly that painting mirrors life in the way that it can feel chaotic and confusing while you’re in the thick of it. And then with a bit of time and distance, things make more sense. Patterns emerge both in painting and in life. It can feel arduous and heavy at times, while at other times it feels easy, light and fun.

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LET US PULL DOWN THE STARS  •  12″ x 12″  •  Acrylic on canvas  •  $250

So here’s to a New Year filled with discovery and creativity to all of you!

I haven’t put these up in my shop yet, so if there’s anything you find yourself interested in, please drop me a note. I’ll be happy to share the story behind each piece with you. And please visit my website to see some more of this series.

*Some of you may recognize that I’ve named each painting with a song title or fragment of a song lyric. Music is a huge influence as I pain… each painting becomes in part a tribute to the poet who wrote the words of the songs that help shape my marks.

Canada’s Heart Is Broken

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We are well into autumn here and I find myself reflecting on how the past four months have been a grand period of exploring for me. I’ve been working as a patroller on Le P’tit Train du Nord Linear Park, and it has been an incredible experience: over the summer and into fall, I rode my bike five days a week along this magnificent 232 kilometre long trail. I met fascinating people from all over the world, saw birds and wildlife every day and got to see the land change with the seasons in a very intimate way. Spending my days outdoors, immersed in the spectacular beauty of the landscape has been sublime. Sometimes the human element was, well… let’s call it interesting, but all in all, it was a fantastic experience.
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Last ride of the season, logged over 3600 kilometres this year.

I rode my bike over 3600 kilometres over the summer, which gave me lot of time to think (or as happened more often that not, to not think and just bliss out to the views in the sunshine). Which I came to realize, was exactly what I needed, but it left me very little time to make art. I find it really hard to do the work in the little spaces left in between all of life’s obligations. Well, for now that’s my reality, so the work gets done regardless, just more slowly than I’d like.

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Credit: Rogers Media
           Most recently, I’ve been reflecting on the work and life of Gord Downie who died last week, a victim of glioblastoma. He was a person who I admired tremendously… an extraordinary creative soul… singer, songwriter, poet, activist, showman. A master storyteller who has been dubbed Canada’s unofficial poet laureate. He was weird, brilliant, riveting, enigmatic. Mystifying. Inspiring. A lot has been said very well in the media about his life, his music and his work on behalf of our indigenous people, so I have little to add, but what I’ve been drawing inspiration from is how he was so filled with the creative spirit throughout his life, even after the diagnosis and surgery that left him with some major impairments. When most of us would have been focused on simply trying to survive, he doubled down and put out some of the most important work of his life.
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During the long ovations he received during the last tour, he stood alone on stage, visibly trying to meet the eye and connect with each and every person in the crowd. Photo: David Bastedo
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On his stage persona: “I surrender. I throw myself on the altar of song and I see my own personal musical life in fast flashes… I do what the music urges.” Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

           Along with all the Hip stuff, the media has been playing old interviews with Gord speaking on art and on his creative process: “I write every day. I walk around in silent conversation with my latest unfinished songs. I love it, I love all aspects of it.” He spoke of how his favourite moment of the day would come fireside at day’s end with all his writing materials around him. He had a notebook that was a thick as a phone book, filled with ideas and poetry – I can only imagine the brilliance in those pages, and I hope that someday we get to see it in some form.

I’m having some trouble wrapping my mind around it all and putting into words what an incredible artist he was, but the main point is that I’m in awe of how he kept the fire of his creativity burning so consistently throughout his life. As Stars singer Torquil Campbell said, he was the “gold standard of how to be an artist and how to be a person.

The Secret Path was one of Gord’s last projects, about which he said, “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m happy”. It is brilliant, and heartbreaking. Last December, First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde presented him with an eagle feather – a gift from the creator above — and he was given a Lakota spirit name, Wicapi Omani, which can be roughly translated as “Man who walks among the stars.”

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On our country’s painful and necessary reconciliation with our Indigenous people: “To become a country, and truly call ourselves Canada, it means we must become one. We must walk down a path of reconciliation from now on. Together and forever.” Photo: Stephen McGill
           And so, Canada mourns our beloved poet, who is now at rest. For many of us, he sang the stories of our lives in a way that made us feel connected to each other. He never tried to tell us who we are, but we saw ourselves reflected in his words. He challenged us to face our dark secrets, and he exhorted us to live in the moment. He humbly gave us everything he had, and as Justin Trudeau stated last week, we are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. No dress rehearsal, this is our life.
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FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

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I’m happy to announce that my art has a new home on Instagram!

After a year of waffling over whether or not to split it off from my personal account, I finally made the (tiny) leap. I like to keep things simple, so I held off because it felt counter-intuitive to me to start a second account. But then again, it seemed very logical that people who are interested in my art might not want to see my dog every day. Typical overthinking.

Soooo… for a daily glimpse into my creative world, a dose of inspiration and some discount codes for my shop when I release new stuff, please follow me on Insta @kimduhaimefineart and tell me a bit about yourself when you follow. Check out my first two posts to read #20factsaboutme – you should try that one yourself!