Travel theme: Love

 

It was a chilly September day and I was wandering through the streets and museums of Zurich when I saw this couple by the river. Looking at them warmed the day. The tenderness and emotional interchange felt contagious. I took that warmth back to enjoy dinner and wine with the gallery owners. I had brought a bottle of Nova 7 with me. It was recommended by the woman at the liquor commission when I said I was looking for some wine that would be about Nova Scotia. At first I thought ice wine. But now Nova 7 has become my favorite. I’m not much of a wine drinker, actually prefer beer, but this is special. We sat around before dinner sipping the wine and exclaiming its beauty. Nice.

The night before I had an exhibit opening at the Halde Galerie. The trip getting across the pond was not easy. I had planned on arriving on Thursday as the opening reception was on Friday. But when I was sitting in the Montreal airport, already ticketed, waiting to get on the plane going to Zurich, I was called up to the desk and told I couldn’t board. My passport had two months  until expiry and apparently I needed three months leeway. I spent the night in Montreal, compliments of Air Canada, renewed my passport the next morning (for ten years!) and continued on to Zurich, finally.

I arrived on the morning of the vernisage, went for an afternoon drive up a mountain with my generous host, enjoyed the view and a delicious Swiss ice cream, and then there was the opening reception that evening.

On Sunday I took a train to Paris for a week’s stay. That is a very different story, one for another day.

What does all this have to do with love? Just that I learned a lot about patience and pleasure on this trip. Despite various hardships, it was a warm and loving experience. Love asks you to deepen your methods of learning and communication. Learn not to take anything or any one at face value. Take the time and make the effort to look beyond façade, get to know the real person beneath those layers, get to know the real person you are.

This post was inspired by a photo/travel blog I follow. At the end of her post on Travel theme: Love, Ailsa posted these two quotes:

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. — Dalai Lama

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. – Mahatma Gandhi

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Color for what

 

A couple of days ago a friend asked, via text, what my favorite  color scheme is. She is poling people and wouldn’t tell me why. So I’m left wondering.

Color scheme? For what? My response would be too lengthy to go in a text, although I think it will anyway (exercise my thumbs). Currently, for my house, I am preferring whites. But I do have intense color accents on the stairwells. All the places I lived in New York were like this, mostly white with a bright red, blue, green wall. When I first moved to Nova Scotia, I used soft colors on the walls in all the rooms. That changed a year ago.

Then for clothes, to be honest, I really like red and black. But wouldn’t want to wear that every day. And purple is becoming a strong second.

For painting, that’s more complicated. I’ll take any color and play with it. Recently I’ve been more interested in earth colors than in the past. It feels good to be more grounded, obviously, but I still need to spice it up with those cadmiums and other bright colors.

I am interested to know why this question was posed. Color is such a personal and relative commodity. Depends where and for what, and how much, especially in painting.

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Devotion

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Romeo, my pup, likes to invent games for himself. This afternoon, after we had been playing fetch for a while, he took his ball and started dropping it between some branches of a bush. Then he would maneuver it out and drop it again, and again, and again. In the summer he would do the same thing: drop the ball between the slats of a chair on the dock, watch it fall, pick it up and drop it again, over and over and over. With never ending fascination.

I could easily liken this to my painting process, the fascination of repetition, or going further, liken it to human nature. Thinking around the possibility of getting stuck in repetition. I just finished reading Howard Norman’s Devotion. The main character is stuck in a pattern of inertia, letting other people lead him, leading to the threat of dissolution of his hasty marriage, a marriage begun with passion and apparent devotion. But his steadfastness in his pattern becomes devotion to whatever task is before him, even though it arises from a less than admirable trait.

It is so common to see someone repeat mistakes, hard to break that pattern. Romeo could teach them.

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Infinite

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“Comparing Mythologies, no.8″; oil & collage on canvas; 8″ x 8”

Imagination is the door to infinity. Open it up and anything can happen. Last week, when putting collage elements on the eleven canvases I am beginning, I felt daring and tried new arrangements, leaving spaces between the pieces, putting them in different configurations. Something I don’t usually do. Strange how such a simple change could feel so brave. My main hope is that it will shake up my usual visual methodology, help me find new pathways into that ever elusive unknown.

It is always exciting to have blank canvases within my reach. Even more exciting to start work on them, make wild marks, play, even pretend I know what I will do. Or not know. Either way. But I do usually come to a point where I have to make major decisions or nothing will happen; the painting will go nowhere. The joy of creativity is not a straight line, does not come in a box. That’s why I like to call it work. But really, I feel so privileged to have such work within my reach.

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Is It Luck?

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I certainly feel lucky when I look around me, look at my life as it unfolds its daily trek to the unknown. I have a beautiful house on a beautiful piece of land, amazing neighbors, wonderful children, friends, a great dog and have made a career doing exactly what I want to do, painting. And very important: it’s not what I have, but how I feel. I feel lucky.

I was talking to a friend the other who said he didn’t believe in luck. It is just hard work that pays off. That you are what you are, that’s a given. What about being in the right place at the right time, or auspicious coincidence?

Let me tell you a little story about what I call luck: I think it was luck that found this piece of land over twenty-five years ago. I had made an offer on a different property on a different lake. But someone had a right of first refusal on it and took it. After that, I looked at the map of the area, picked this piece and walked through the woods by the brook to find it. It hadn’t been surveyed yet, had no road or facilities coming in. I was offered a chance to purchase a different property and exchange it for this one after it was surveyed. Four years later, this was mine. And still is. Maybe that wasn’t luck but I was taking a chance. Maybe it was or wasn’t luck that someone had the right of first refusal to the other property. But I know now that was not the right place for me. This is.

One thing I do feel strongly about is the power of the mind. Unfortunately, the mind is not always working in a straight line. I wish it did! But if I hadn’t believed in finding a good place to live, I might never have pursued this piece of land under such unusual circumstances. Before here, I moved every three years on average. If I didn’t believe I could make good artwork, I would never have kept going all those years when I produced only a few worthy pieces. Probably yes, it is mostly hard work that makes luck happen, but probably that luck could be as much as 25%, the rest effort and preparation.

More than feeling lucky, I feel grateful. Grateful to be where I am and to have the will to keep going.

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October is done

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October was a busy month. Long days and short nights. It was exhilarating and exhausting. I have finally caught up on lost sleep, am settled into my regular life and back to an intense work schedule.

In the early part of the month I was immersed in a week long family visit. Then, shortly after, I went to Truro, NS, for two days and the opening reception at the Visual Voice Gallery. After returning home, I turned around and went to Annapolis Royal to teach a four-day workshop.

This was a group of twelve students. Some had little experience with painting but were proficient in other art forms, so the level of concentration was excellent. I did work them intensively which, of course, is more fun for me! The focus was composition, the backbone of abstract paintings. It is a hard concept to present. Most people return to their usual habitual way of working as soon as possible. I try to break through that pattern. I think everyone came away tired from four days of concentrated study.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the aftermath. And the autumn colors which are rapidly being blown away by the hesitantly approaching winter.

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Surprise!

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Some days seem to have a surprise built in somehow. A friend recently mentioned how there are days when he wakes up in the morning but just wants to pull the covers up and stay there all day. Then after a cup of coffee, his energy shifts and he feels eager for whatever the day brings. It feels like a mystery, how the energy can shift so quickly.

For me, getting up in the morning has always been easy. And coffee is not a good friend. If I feel slow, movement helps.

But what does surprise me, what shifts my energy, is when I go into my studio with either no desire to paint, maybe little interest or an intention of doing one thing and find I am doing something completely different, usually something very intense and involved. I become totally absorbed.

Often it is the same with interactions with people. I might think I am really not going to enjoy someone’s company but then, to my surprise, do so. Have a deep communication with the person, or a wonderful time at a party I dreaded going to. Prejudging can be a handicap, no doubt. But sometimes I think I do it to avoid disappointment. If I don’t expect much, then good things will feel wonderful. The tricks we play with our minds!

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