Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Moroccan Ceremony That Went to Calgary

I've posted most of my paintings here under the headings at the top of the on Art for the Cabin Walls above for instance, or Art for Fawns and Sprites to see some of them! However, I had not until today posted the painting that is featured as the cover art for my blog, the one titled "Moroccan Ceremony", and here it is (slightly cropped in the photo I'm afraid):

Moroccan Ceremony ~ Oil on Canvas 24" x 20"

I painted this bright fanfare in 2011 during the soggy downtrodden wet dirt road to nowhere dwindling winter, while feeling wistful for more exotic, lively and colourful places in the world. Couldn't I just BE there, in Morocco, or Istanbul or, or....anywhere but here? Spring was coming but not quickly enough!

Surely you would think, being surrounded by glorious Canadian flora and fauna, I'd be tackling landscapes featuring arbutus trees and the brooding grey oceanic beauty that seeps onto the canvas of the seasoned west coast island dwelling painter! When it is all around you the lure is inevitable and it's true that there's nothing like local nature to bring out your most exacting and vivid palettes. The truth is, though I madly love where I live, my mind goes off in the wildest most far fetched other-continental other-planetary places when it sits conjuring up the next painting....and I can't help it, I dream of Africa, the Orient, Old Europe and the Middle East a lot.

Tom Waits once described how his songs come to him, and a famous author also mentioned Tom's process in a fantastic TED Talks lecture on creativity (don't you LOVE TED Talks, and if you haven't heard  of it, click the coming link and discover it, right now!!). The author was Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Anyway, as Elizabeth described Tom's creative process, and also her friend the poet's creative process, I nodded and said "yes, that is basically it", and I'm sure I wasn't the only one to connect. How I start my own works is not always entirely explainable, a vision of an image just suddenly forms or appears or I even dream of it, but the spark is fleeting and I need to be alert to it. I think my tendency is more towards portraiture and creatures than abstracts and landscapes. And I am also an illustrator more than I am a painter...moving an illustrative hand to the painting canvas, I always battle uptight restraint, and measured planning, my two weaknesses. When I sketch, it flies like wildfire and I am left dazzled, but when I paint it's slow and desire to apply discipline and technique sometimes stifles the wild journey and stream of consciousness I long to follow. For me, painting Moroccan Ceremony was to become a meeting of all of those elements face to face, a new beginning, a new dance, a new celebration of colour and splendour waiting to burst forth from order and precision.

Once I have my vague idea, I begin to search through art or photography books and magazines for a colour or a scene that will further ignite my "spark"....I was flipping through a book titled "Moroccan Interiors" and thinking of ornate birds and tapestries, and from the tiniest corner of a photograph of a living room, on page 263, there were two framed prints of birds facing each other in a mirror struck my fancy to attempt a symmetrical painting, and to make it vividly colourful and celebratory.

I began with a sketch, and from there, it went:

 And then from there, it went again...

And even though I thought I was going to paint certain light colours, I was taken more and more into a deep chocolate background and earthy tones mixed with brights. I used a set of quick drying Pebeo oil paints, and felt like experimenting with lots of different tubed colours. When it was completed, I left it without a varnish, as I enjoyed its luscious and rich matte finish enough. I hung the painting in the entrance to our kitchen, and from time to time I would think of working more on it, or adding a varnish to give it sheen. But the birds would sit there pleasantly and say "We're happy this way, absolutely happy as ever". And I'd agree, and smile.

Then one day in November I got an email, a really lovely email, from a woman in Calgary. She had come across my blog while searching for things to remind her of Vancouver Island. She wrote me to ask if the cover art for my blog was actually for sale. I told her yes, it was! She was also interested in my original sketch of Queen Noushin. I felt as if she'd been guided to my art, and it was looking for her too.

After a few emails back and forth, and a trip to the framers to frame my sketch, I was ready to mail the art to my customer in Calgary. Calgary, my home town where I was born and raised! My art was finding it's way to a wonderful Calgary home where it would emanate grace, healing and joy, and be appreciated and loved in return!

December arrived and with it a few setbacks...K's accident was the final blow in a series of family hospital visits, me having hurt my thigh at work and winding up with a painful hematoma, and K's daughter having gall bladder surgery. All of these things delayed the packaging and shipping of my art, and, running out of mental and physical steam, I decided to look for help from a professional. Jeff Molloy came to my aid. I visited his studio with my two pieces and he wrapped them to perfection. This man has sent huge pieces of very valuable art overseas, and so getting my smaller babies safely to Calgary was for him a whiz. He taught me some handy pointers as he carefully worked away. He prefers to use sheet styrofoam rather than bubble wrap, and to keep the work flat and even, he uses hard thick cardboard, and saran tape going both length and width-wise. Brown parcel paper was used for the first inside and final outside wrap. I was able to send them off looking perfect, and soon heard from the new owner that they had arrived in fine condition. Hooray!!

I created both pieces with love, gratitude and happy energy, and my prayers are always with their owner to flourish every single day!! xoxoxo

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