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Artists in Flux

The last month or so has been a contradiction of sorts. A whirlwind of action paired with periods of stillness.

A good example of this is the last 2 days. We explored our new town by checking out a variety of services and then plein air painted on the Harbour Quay docks. We stalked our new little home, watching it from afar and being still in the neighbourhood to feel it out. (Something we should have done before purchasing but the real estate market isn’t great for a slow walk right now.) The streets are wide, quiet and lazy on these hot summer days (5 degrees hotter generally than Victoria).

We learned that pretty much everything you need to do can be found within a few minutes drive and a cross town trip takes less than 10 minutes, peak travel times. Coming back into Victoria was quite the contrast with long waits at each main intersection.

That was a whirlwind moment.

And now a waiting moment. I’ve done as many online changes I can before the move, or at least for now. And packing duties are thinning out. It feels too early to do a final clean yet.

I completed a painting commission (whirlwind) and am pondering/researching how to monetize our art activities. I will dig into that more once we are settled (waiting).

Come to think of it, this dynamic plays out when plein air painting as well; a rush to set up and identify my subject, a quick structural sketch for a good foundation, initial blocking in to set the tone and then… slow, thoughtful colour mixing and laying the strokes down. Pondering from a distance. Checking focal points and light. Enjoying the moment.

This recent plein air session included some wonderful chatting and joking with locals. Being new to the area let’s us introduce ourselves as not just painters, but new neighbours. We get to ask the naive questions and provide a listening ear for those who are out for social interaction. We met Wyatt, who has been in the town since the seventies. He grinned knowingly when he asked us if we had ever experienced winter there. And assured us of the safety of our new home, despite the rough edges.

We are already falling for Port Alberni. Our painting adventures have new ground to cover!

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Be The Energy

Painting of a woman in recline

Trust the energy that courses
through you. Trust – then take
surrender even deeper.
Be the energy.

Don’t push anything away.
Follow each sensation back to
its source and focus your awareness
there. Be the ecstasy…

Be unafraid of consummate wonder.
Emerge so new, so vulnerable,
that you don’t know
who you are.

Be the energy,
and paradoxically,
be at peace.
Dare to be your own illumination,

And blaze a trail across
the clear night sky…

by Danna Faulds

It’s like a switch has been turned from one life to another. My mind-driven life has been turned off after leaving UVic and the energy for a new body-driven life is powering up. This brings me pure pleasure and wonder.

You probably have no clue what I am talking about and I don’t blame you. There are so many words in my mind and yet it’s my body that is beginning to speak. I am discovering a new natural rhythm to the day, especially when Andrew is working. I rise with him and see him out the door (now with homemade, healthy lunches – so domestic of me!) and then I take myself out onto the sunny deck to eat my breakfast. I bask in the sun while listening to podcasts and play scrabble. When the feeling comes over me to move, I take myself upstairs and lay prone on the floor with my wonderful supports to move through a meditation class and/or guided meditation, most often by Tara Brach (I want to add the word “wonderful” to everything, including Tara!).

It is these mornings that have switched everything for me (well, not having to work contributed). I have lots to worry about (real estate, packing, relocating, financial organization, etc.) and yet awakening to the day in this mindful way, I am no longer driven by the work of worry which my mind was so used to. My life was driven by worry, and as Tara would say, my mind was my master.

I used to go to work early so as to end the day early, to rush home and be exhausted. I was “getting through” life. Oh, I am SO grateful for that work, that career, which allowed us to live a wonderful life and for me to retire early… and yet, I would and should be embarrassed if I were not embracing this retirement life fully.

The meditation sessions are helping me to feel my life rather than to think my life. I hope to bring this into my artwork as well but I’m not there yet. And that’s okay! For now.

More to come… I may start using this as a diary of sorts… we’ll see.

Enjoy!

I’d love to know your feelings AND thoughts about this! (Comments opened)

Faye

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About Inspiration

A few months back I signed up for a weekly portrait drawing group which had changed their practice from in-person to online due to the COVID situation. A weekly inspirational photo is sent to members and the portraiture begins. Participants send images of their pieces to the coordinator a few days later and they are shared by email and social media. I thought this was a fantastic way to maintain group practice and cohesion while we are all safely distanced. I was inspired to join!

A few months later and I had received all the emails and photos and yet I hadn’t participated. I wasn’t inspired.

Why? What is it that inspires me and what leaves me lacking? I wish I could say it was one thing or another but it’s… complicated. It’s about the subject and a spark of interest or recognition of familiarity they present to me. It’s also about what I’ve got already going in the studio that I want to maintain or complete. It’s about the stresses of work and life in general. It’s about my health and the way it wanes and waxes. And sometimes I think I will never be inspired again and will always have to push myself (or trick myself with a novel medium or challenge) to get work done. I did stop making art for 8 years at one point while I was back in Uni and building a career in IT.

And then it happens. It’s like my creative spirit needs to hibernate and gain strength but then jumps out of the cave like “Rrrrooooaaaarrrrr!” I’m back! That feeling of excitement and anticipation and hunger lit me up and I was already planning a strategy to get it done. Clear out my calendar, I’m gonna paint!

The photo of the week of Tommy Douglas and his face was begging to be expressed in a more animated way than a black and white staid photo (beautiful photo, just very traditional). I also liked that I knew my little brother could tell me more about Tommy Douglas than I already knew, what with his encyclopedic knowledge of everything Canadian.

Initially a monochromatic portrait came to mind because the photo is black and white. But when I sat down and painted, the palette expanded.

I’ve been working hard at landscape painting for the past year. That diligent work needed focus and dedication so I had not done a portrait for over a year. But I’d developed a process for practice which was working for me so I used it for this portrait; I find a subject of interest and prepare my tools to begin. Then I imagine what I’m looking for in this piece; how I want it to feel, look and say. With that in mind, I browse through the work of the artist who MOST inspires me, Richard Schmid.

And it keeps me on track. I know how I want to paint, what I want to express and Richard Schmid’s work reminds me of the level of professionalism that I am striving for. His work reminds me that I am working towards something, not just painting another painting. Because honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m just creating more work to put into the basement storage area. Even if some of my work is selling well, a lot of it goes into the bowels of mediocrity. C’est la vie.

With the Schmid inspiration process, I am striving to get to his level of quality work. It’s a DREAM and a very presumptive one. I’d rather aim high and eventually hit higher than I could have without that inspiration.

Blah blah blah. Enough words. More paint!

Later.