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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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Plein Air Feelings

With the wonderful weather and extra free time, Andrew and I are trying to get out and paint en plein air at least once a week. While I keep saying I’m going to go out with the Al Frescoes group, my schedule and motivations seem to be roadblocks.

We recently went to one of our favourite places out in Sooke; the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration area. It is a stunning west coast jungle with rich dark browns and greens dappled with warm sunshine light through giant trees. And a lovely stream. We see only a few people when we are there and when we do, they usually have a pup with them to say hello to. It’s a bit of a drive from Oak Bay to there but that’s also a way to get that “out there” feeling.

In this plein air session I created what I thought was a completed painting but upon reflection back home, decided it needed some highlights. One aspect of plein air painting is that the light is ever changing. Also, what one sees with their eyes and mind while out there, differs from a photo taken at the same time. Taking time to ponder the work in normal lighting and then making alterations to improve the piece is quite common for me. Here’s a view of the piece direct from the field and then the altered version. I made the light pop and added compositional form and colour.

Painting of west coast forest landscape
Plein air version

The learning process includes a goal of being able to finish the work on site but I also like the process of contemplation and alteration – understanding the piece more deeply. And getting excited about capturing the next scene, moment, feeling on the spot. Let’s go!

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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