New Work In Progress

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my studio lately, working on a new series. I’m not ready to show any completed paintings yet, but I thought I’d share a few little sneak peeks!

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The Artist Project

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If you’re in Toronto this weekend, you have to drop by The Artist Project: over 250 of the world’s top contemporary artists are showing all in one place. I am totally disappointed that work is keeping me close to home right now, because I would love to hit tonight’s opening party! And on top of all that art, there are seminars, art walks and a bunch of other fun art-related stuff going on. My favourite thing is the Art Battle, in which 16 artists have 20 minutes in which to create a masterpiece and the public decides who comes out on top. One of my favourite artists, Claire Desjardins, will competing tomorrow night, so best of luck to her.

One of the main attractions is this incredible 100-foot-long watercolour mural by L.A.-based artist Tracy Hiner:

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I can only imagine what it would be like to see it up close!

There will be a bit of everything, from collage to sculpture, printmaking, installation, glass, textile, photography and regular old painting, so if you’re in the market for something new to spice up your decor or you just want to hang out somewhere super cool and see some amazing art, it’s the place to be this weekend. Gaaaaah I want to go, but there’s just no way I can make it!!!

Okay, no more whining… I’ll leave you with some previews of the booths I wish I could check out. And full disclosure: I’ve set a goal to exhibit there next year, so wish me luck that I may be part of the fun in 2018!

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Carrie Chisholm: Phantom Blanch (mixed media) Installation Zone, Booth I-12
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Darlene Monroe: And Then She Sang! (Textiles and acrylic) Booth 341
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Ed Colberg: Cellular Memory (Blown Glass) Booth 719
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Nicole Moss: Road Trip (Handmade collage on wooden panel) Booth 313
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Holly Friesen: Infinite Possibilities (Acrylic on canvas) Booth 922
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Heather Cook, Predator (Acrylic on wood panel) Booth U-17

Colour Therapy

EEEP… how can it already be mid-February!

Despite being a big fan of winter’s delights, when the white stuff starts to pile up above the height of the window ledge in my kitchen,my eyes start craving green and my thoughts begin to turn towards the joys of gardening. Yesterday I caught myself driving way out of my usual route to lurk in front of our local plant nursery, looking in vain for signs of life in the greenhouse. I’ve been catching myself lingering in front of grocery store displays of bright tulips and hyacinths, and haunting the sparse selection of yellowing plants left over from last year and the holidays in the big box stores. My seed packet collection has gotten dusted off, fondled and drooled over as though it were a chest filled with gold.

So you can understand that it’s no stretch for me to be super excited about Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017: Pantone Greenery, PMS 15-0343. Like really excited, people. Like me squeeing in front of my tablet when I first saw it, which is beyond being out of character for me.

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Pantone describes Greenery perfectly: “a refreshing and revitalizing shade, symbolic of new beginnings”. Just the thing I’ve been craving, and exactly what we all need right now to help us get through yet another cold and grey wintry day, right?

Leatrice Eisemen, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute has this to say about their choice:

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It’s not a colour that I’ve used all that much in my work up until now, but I’m finding myself reaching for my tubes and sticks of green more and more often. I don’t know if it’s the result of the plant addiction that’s come over me in the last few years, or the fact that it’s everywhere right now… it certainly doesn’t hurt that anything fresh and green is right on trend!

Here are a few of my paintings that feature green, available right now in my Etsy shop.

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Jaunt (top) and Charlestown (bottom), 16″ x 12″, mixed media on canvas

Jaunt and Charlestown (above) are a couple of fun little sketchy studies that I did quite awhile back mixing acrylic washes with ink and pastel drawings over top. Swim Out Past The Breakers (below) is a more recent piece featuring a moodier shade of green:

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Swim Out Past The Breakers, 16″ x 16″, acrylic on 1.5″ gallery wrap canvas

Greenery is such a vibrant hit of vitality, perfect for brightening up your home or wardrobe. A quick Google search yields tons of inspiration, like this yummy looking moodboard from ItalianBark (if you love all things deco, you have to check out their site!!):

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Now tell me that this does not make you want to run off to Italy and gorge on pesto, or at least fill your grocery cart with fresh herbs and bury your nose in them (italianbark.com)

Heather from Setting For Four has some great ideas on how to decorate using Greenery:

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Repainting the whole room might be too much for you, but adding a few light touches with plants and textiles can easily revitalize your space (settingforfour.com)

I just love colour. It has so much power to lift your mood and enrich your everyday life. Last year I built my body of work around my enchantment with the blues of flowing water, and this year, I’m feeling drawn to the fresh hues of new sprouts and the rich, lush tones of thriving plant life. So I’m off to the flower shop to pick up some inspiration, and then I’ll be heading into the studio for a little exploration of my new fetish for Greenery!

Sooo… 2016 Happened.

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2016… Ugh.

It seems like 2016 was a difficult year for a lot of people this year. Too many of our cultural icons have died, the whole Trump thing has been awful, wars, terrorism, general strife, thievery and violence, and it goes on and on. In my own little world, it was a difficult year that brought me some devastating personal losses, and quite a few problems. I see exhaustion on just about everyone’s face as I look around me this week. It’s going to feel good to turn the page on 2016, and let it all go.

Not much went on in my studio in the past month. I’m a ski patroller, so December means back to work for me. Besides that, I like to spend some time reflecting on the year I’ve had, and looking at how my goals and intentions panned out (or didn’t, as the case may be). Listing everything I’ve accomplished over the past twelve months always reminds me that despite the rough times, I also have much to be grateful for. The highlight for me this year was being able to make time for myself to do the things that are important to me, like painting and adventuring with my great dane Jasmine. There were periods throughout the year during which other obligations kept me away from the important stuff, but in general, I was able to keep a good balance between things I had to do and things I love to do. And there were some incredibly wonderful things that happened too: I have a new little cousin who came into the world, I met some incredibly inspiring people, and I sold several paintings (a BIG, BIG THANK YOU to all who supported my work this year).

There were a lot of things I’d intended to do this year that just didn’t work out for me. Uncomfortable though it may be, examining the reasons why things did or did not happen is always interesting, if not illuminating. The value of the exercise is that I often discover how I’ve changed over time, especially concerning goals that I’ve been putting off for years. I can see that at least a third of the things I’d planned to do this year were not really that important after all (things like meditating daily, learning brush calligraphy, buying some new furniture…). Other things that didn’t get done are still relevant, but I can see that they fell by the wayside because I just wasn’t being mindful or disciplined enough (visiting Dog Mountain in Vermont with my dogs, working diligently to make online art sales…). And some things, like my pipe dream of spending a month in the south of France, are just a bit too ambitious for now. So regardless of how much or how little was accomplished, mulling it all over creates the fodder for making big plans for 2017.

While I was looking back and trying to see the positive in a difficult year, I started to realize how many fabulous artists inspired me this year to dig deeper into my creative work, to try new things and to get my work out into the world. So for my last blog post of the year, I’d love to introduce you to the people who were my creative heroes in 2016:

Lisa Congdon:

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Holly Friesen:

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Monicka Clio Sakki:

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Katherine Dunn:

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Danny Gregory:

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Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!

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I feel a greater connection to the Solstice than to Christmas itself, but there are some things about Christmas that I really love: the music, the tinsel, the baubles, the lights. I’m a total sucker for claymation animation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Sound of Music.

Here are a few more of my favourite things…

One of my very favourite things is to look at vintage Christmas cards. Confession time: I’m a total image hoarder. I’ve got ginormous inspiration files on all my devices and my secret Pinterest boards are a little bit out of control. So here are a few from my collection:

You’ve gotta love Santa on a magic carpet, right? And then, there are the weird ones. The approvals at the card companies must have been happening right after the Christmas parties…

Next time unexpected guests drop in, remember that it could be worse:

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Christmas Sausage anyone?

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Ouch, but I really would love to get my hands on some of those. The cards, not the sausage! AnyWho, Cindy Lou, before this gets any crazier, I’d like to wish you Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

What’s Been Going On In the Enchanted Forest

Winter is here. It’s freezing rain today here in the enchanted forest, and the golden days of autumn already seem like a long time ago. Okay, the forest isn’t really enchanted, but there were days this fall when everything did look beautiful and enchanted. It’s been a busy season for me. It always seems like there’s so much I want to get done that just doesn’t happen. I did get into the studio, though not as often as I’d planned. I hate to admit it but I let the balmy weather and spectacular foliage lure me outside more often than not. There were lots of inspiring walks with this girl:
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After the bugs died off in September, I spent an insane amount of time and effort cutting, splitting and stacking firewood. It’s crazy expensive to buy, so I got myself a little chainsaw and borrowed a splitter, and off into the woods I went. It was exhausting, brutal but ultimately satisfying and I am able to say proudly that I have a stockpile that should see me through the winter.
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I started lots of new paintings including some large ones, but I’m having trouble finishing them. I guess that’s my process: unlike so many artists, I love the blank canvas. Then comes the slog through many many many layers, until eventually things start to make sense visually. This is where I often bog down, out of fear of wrecking things. So there’s a huge pile of unfinished work on the shelf.
I’ve been exploring some new ideas that incorporate collage and illustration elements into my usual abstract work. I’m not showing these yet because they’re still all experimental (read uuuuggggglyyyy) but I’m pretty excited about this new turn because I can see some interesting things emerging.
In the meantime, here are a couple of recent things that are on my worktable now. When you compare them to the work I produced when all I could think about was jumping into the lake this summer, you can tell that the spectacular autumn foliage and recent winter landscape have been influencing my choice of colours. (Sorry for the awful photo quality: my camera is kaput and my phone does not do indoor shots very well.)
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I’m calling these two works-in-progress for now. They’re close to done but not quite there yet. They’re in the fear-of-fucking-shit-up phase. At some point this winter I’ll have a couple of glasses of wine and put on the finishing touches that will resolve the little things that are bugging me about them.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading lately. There’s just something about a crackling fire in the wood stove on a blustery night that makes me want to cuddle up on the sofa a mug of chocolate almond tea and dive into a great story. I was blown away by Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I don’t want to give away the story, so all I’ll say is that it starts off rather innocuously with the four main characters going about their lives in NYC, and then the emotional stakes ratchet up until you find yourself heavily invested in their lives. It’s a stunning book, brilliant. Best novel I’ve read in a long time.
When I’m not reading in the evening, I sometimes give in to my guilty pleasure of watching old shows on TV, like M*A*S*H and The Andy Griffith Show, while doodling in a journal. I picked up this little craft paper gem last week at the local garden centre and embellished the covers last night. It’s perfect for working out some of my new ideas before bringing them up in scale canvas.
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Well, that’s all for now, so take care until we meet again. I’m off to put away all my Black Friday week indulgences!

Shop Launch and Website Update

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LITTLE LIGHTS SHINE III • 6″ x 6″ • Acrylic on Gallery Wrapped Canvas • $60

A couple of announcements – I’ve been busy busy busy getting things organized…

My website has been updated with all my recent work, and my Etsy shop is finally open! There are only a few small paintings listed in the shop, but I’ll be adding lots more soon. If there’s anything you see on my website that’s not in the shop, contact me and I’ll make the necessary arrangements.

Thanks for looking!

Recent Work on Display

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EASTERN GLOW  •  16″ x 16″  •  Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

Friends, I’m so happy to announce that several of my smaller paintings from this past summer are on display right now in a group show at the Galerie d’art Montfort (160 route Principale, Wentworth-Nord). I’ll be at the gallery today from noon to 4 p.m. if you’d like to drop by for a visit. I’ll be there next Sunday too, same hours. The show continues until October 9th, every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

The show showcases twenty local artists that are really worth checking out. A wide variety of styles and subject matter are on display, so whether you love landscape, still life or abstract work, you’ll find something to please you. There are also a few sculptures, works on paper, painted barn wood pieces… it’s an impressive cornucopia of local talent.

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Montfort, fall foliage as seen from the pavillion

In addition to all the fabulous art on display, the location is spectacular. The art gallery is located in a little pavillion on the shores of Lac Saint-François-Xavier that also serves as a church and a hub for outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking/canoeing, snowshoeing, cycling). It’s an incredibly beautiful location that’s probably one of the Laurentians best-kept secrets.

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INTO THE MYSTIC  •  10″ x 10″  •  Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

I’ve spent a lot of time in and around this little spot over the past twenty years. It’s one of my favourite places to go to get outside, so it feels especially rewarding for me to be showing my work there. A lot of my inspiration has come from time spent here snowshoeing with my dogs, long paddles across the lake, cycling on the bike path, just hanging out in a quiet spot on the shores of the lake to ponder the incredible beauty of the landscape. I’ve spent an embarrassingly large number of hours doing nothing sitting by this lake, just staring, fascinated by the movement of the water, by the herons and loons, and by all the little things you never notice unless you sit still and pay attention to what’s around you.

I really hope to see you there!

Art Fair!

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I’m recovering from exhibiting at the Symposium des Arts de Prévost: 5 gorgeous (sweltering) days of showing my work en plein air, under a tent! It was my first time participating at an outdoor art fair. Overall, I consider it to have been a positive experience, but it’s perhaps ultimately not the ideal way for me to get my work out there. I did decide that this year I’d try as many different avenues as possible in order to figure out where I can situate my work, so I’m very happy to have participated.

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Stormy Blue, 10″ x 10″ – sold

On the plus side, I sold 5 small paintings and one framed work on paper, I met several interesting artists and saw some impressive work, I got to chat about art with a few interested passersby and I reconnected with some people I haven’t seen in a while. It was a bit of a thrill to see a good number of my paintings hanging together, especially considering what a challenge it was to hang the work in a tent. If I ever do another art fair, I’ll invest in a sturdy hanging system – I hung my paintings on string from the top bars of the tent’s structure, so every time the wind blew, I was in a tent filled with merrily dancing art. Lots of fun, but not practical!

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Say Good Morning To The Night, 10″ x 10″ – sold

I also learned that it’s important to ask for an advantageous tent position: I was located in an isolated area behind the main area, so all the artist in our row got less than half the traffic that the other area received.

Another important lesson: less is more. Hanging too many canvases together looks cluttered and doesn’t draw people in. Instead, they tend to look at a crowded tent as a whole and move on quickly. Hanging fewer pieces with lots of white space encourages viewers to focus in on single pieces or groupings, which allows them to become interested and engaged with the work.

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I’d been told beforehand that I probably wouldn’t sell much, if at all at this particular venue, and that there mightn’t be many people there who’d be interested in abstract art. Having now experienced it for myself, I’m a little bit doubtful of the whole symposium concept as a place to sell my work. It’s clear that people attend art fairs to browse around on a sunny day as they walk the dog and the kids in their strollers, and not to invest in $1000 paintings. Not many actually go into the tents and speak to the artists about the work being shown. With few to no serious buyers, it’s a bit of a waste of time to sit there for 5 whole days because the truth is, as much as any artist makes the work for herself because she’s compelled to, there comes a time when the work needs to be seen, and ideally, sold. It feels sad to make all these beautiful pieces only to have them sit wrapped up in a dark cupboard. I think it will be more useful for me to find venues that are frequented by people who are truly interested in the type of work that I do and who have money to spend on art. I’m thinking I might do better at a larger urban art fair if I choose to try another one.

In any case, a big thank you to everyone who came out to see the show!