What’s new

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Last weekend, GPI Atlantic had a fundraiser event. I donated a large selection of artwork to this amazing organization. They use the Genuine Progress Index to count what matters: happiness and well-being. The GPI Youth section sets up sustainability projects with young adults. Well worth a donation.

At the reception, I was fascinated by what paintings people were drawn to. Some of the work was several years old, enough so that to me, it looked dated. They are good paintings but I wanted to do something to them, change them, redo, make them what I have been doing recently. To a lot of people, what attracted them are what I wanted to change. One women liked my work because it is calm. That is not how I would describe my more recent work, or what I want in it.

There is some work I have done over the past many years that I feel could be from today or even tomorrow. When I look a them, I feel they still have something to teach me. I did a series of screen prints in 1995 that are not visually old. I could have done them yesterday, not over twenty years ago. I wouldn’t change a thing on them now.

What I am looking for in my newer work is a quality I had when I first started painting: a freshness, openness, willingness to expose, to show excitement, energy, vitality. A searching quality. It is happening more often. When it doesn’t I have to rethink, step out of that seductive comfort zone, where I “know” how to solve a visual problem. Try something I don’t know.

Yesterday, once again I had photos taken of new work and once again I saw what needed to be reworked and also, this time, what direction I need to take. A slight turn in the road. Again.

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The Black & White

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My first house in Nova Scotia was in a small fishing community. I bought an old house and renovated it. I had a big studio and two beautiful golden retrievers. The contrast with New York City was a joy. I remember sitting on my back deck, talking to my daughter in NY and telling her “I can’t hear you. The sea gulls are making too much noise!” I’d sit in front of the large living room window with a bowl of popcorn. Life seemed ideal.

But it was a hard place for me to live in one very important way. I didn’t relate well with my neighbors. On one side were the Blacks who chained their dog to a small dog house all year long. On the other side were the Whites, who yelled at me every time my dogs got loose. (Katie was the ringleader, always finding a way through the fence.) “If your dogs get on my property one more time, I’m going to shoot them.” And maybe they would have. I moved.

The other day I met a man who had been in some classes with me taught by my tai chi teacher. I hadn’t known his name at that time. We started chatting and he told me he’s a White. Luckily he didn’t live there when I did and we can joke about it. It’s his relatives who threatened to shoot my dogs. He now owns a lot of the land around there and has a big fish plant beside my old house. The house, by the way, is up for sale, again.

I’ve said many times before and I’ll say it again: I feel so lucky to live where I do now. I have a decent studio, amazing scenery, wood, lake, brook and most important, the best neighbors anyone could want. I am lucky and I chose wisely.

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Ask Me Anything

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As a New Year gift, CBC had three of their top radio hosts be the ones to be asked questions. These hosts, and most of the  broadcasters at CBC radio and television, have become my “friends”. I look forward to hearing them, know their schedules, can plan my day around our “dates”. Usually I know what time of day it is by what is on the radio. Obviously I’m a big radio fan. Always have been. We didn’t have television until I was in my teens.

When I was about eleven or so, my next door neighbor who was a few years older than me, was doing one of those lotteries where you guessed the name on a card that held the key to a gift which in this case was a white plastic radio. I was very eager to win, so I must admit, I peeked! And won. (Please don’t tell. My excuse is I was young. Ok?) I never felt much guilt because that little white radio, as it sat by my bed, gave me so much pleasure. Especially on Sunday evenings when the series of fifteen minute serials were on. These were programs that in today’s lexicon would be labeled sexist or racist. But we didn’t think then about this, they were just people to me. This was a long time ago. Things have changed in this area, and keep changing. At least I can say  I definitely wouldn’t peek now.

This show, Ask Me Anything, was advertised as “a look behind the curtain of three of CBC radio’s biggest shows to see what 2017 stories had the biggest impact on hosts and what they’re planning to dig into in 2018.” It featured Piya Chattopadhyay, host of Out in the Open, Anna Maria Tremonti, host of The Current and Duncan McCue, host of Cross Country Checkup. Ask Me Anything was led by Ali Hassan, host of CBC Radio’s Laugh Out Loud. It was in front of a live audience who also had a chance to ask questions along with a host of other radio hosts.

So much of what these three hosts said their goal was about presenting and understanding every point of view on difficult topics. Looking more closely than we usually do about our prejudices and preconceptions. Sometimes the people have disagreeable opinions, sometimes compatible to mine. Dispassion is a difficult yet worthwhile mode to accept. At least when listening to opposing opinions. I can, at times, talk back to the radio and cause no harm. I love radio!

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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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