Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Grizzly in the Wheat

Fall is thundering in. Wet orange leaves are stuck to the roads in slippery ridges, the rain is relentlessly whipping at the trees, and I'm running devotedly with Seeker in the pitch dark with a flashlight only minutes after getting home from work. 

We need to buy firewood and cistern water, but we keep putting it off  along with any other new purchases for comfort's sake. We're on the verge of paring down from every angle. Everything is on hold this week as we're hoping strongly that we're about to shift gears in our living arrangements. We want to exist in a smaller space, with only the very essential things we need.  We know it's possible to live even further within our means, in order to manifest our midlife dreams.

It so happened last week that we came across, by the word of a good friend, a smaller and more economical place for rent that, since having been invited in to see, we are distractedly smitten with....I began to visualize the way we would care for this place, being just a one bedroom with a captain's kitchen and an overall carry-cabin character of plywood and windy chilliness...we are feeling so ready to adapt to closer quarters and create a year-round garden that we can really honour, and there is a fenced yard that offers privacy for us and sanctuary for our pets. I know I can upcycle the interior with fresh paint and pure minimal wabi sabi decor. If only we can manage to land this perfect cabin that felt like the right new home as soon as we walked in the door. I'm nervous even to write about it because we have only been communicating with the landlord through emails so far, and I find that the hardest thing to do....making sure you are able to present yourself , your reputation, your financial reliability and your intentions clearly and convince him you are a super good fit for his needs as well as yours. Our habit is never to force anything or push too hard for a desired outcome, but just to allow the universe to let things fall as they will.....not to build up too much attachment and to know that if one thing falls through, something else is waiting. But, eeeeeeek, sod to all that, this time I can't help it and I hope we do get this place. We have friends in the neighbourhood crossing their fingers for us too. 

Well, we will know in a matter of days if the call will come to meet up and make arrangements, we have the deposit ready to go and just have to keep busy and not drum our fingers beside the computer.

So to keep my mind diverted, I have begun to paint a grizzly bear in oils. There are certain enormous and intimidating animals that visit me in my dreams frequently....orcas very often, and grizzly bears reoccur just as much. I think both creatures will wind up laid out on my canvas, because they are so deeply embedded in my subconscious. Several times, I've nocturnally conjured up the image of grizzly bears romping through prairie wheat fields, not exactly their natural habitat, but the image is really gorgeous and so I'm going with it. Here is the beginning of the adventure, from a broad perspective, then in closer detail: 

The canvas is actually square, 24" x 24" ...and the bear is centred....I'm visualizing a harvest moon or a bright sun behind him, and perhaps some magical elements that shall contrast with the mild realism I've already displayed.

Yes, this week is all about visualizing a magical outcome!!

Meanwhile, I have finished The Cat and the Thistle, and have asked my good friend and neighbour  James, who is the talented professional who photographed my Otter in high resolution, to do the same with my most current work. I'll post his photo of it in a few days, after he has finished with it. I know he will make it shine in its very best light. 

OK, I'm sipping ginger tea and listening to the wind die down outside. I'm working the closing shift tomorrow at the local library, so I can sleep in a bit in the morning. Goodnight, world. xo

Friday, 19 September 2014

Groove Salad and The Cat and the Thistle

Here is a link for you. Check out Soma FM. It's an online radio platform. I've selected the station Groove Salad....there are others that might suit you better. I have to tell you, this station helps me paint. I can't say I would play this particular station just for listening pleasure...I'm more an alt folk or dub girl. But the easy confident flow, the river-like beats of this station help me to paint. Once the brush is moving, and your mind is going in deep into the blending of the oils and the colours, the music gently pushes you along.

A few days ago I began painting this cat. I've had Balthus on my mind a lot, had my books of his art slung open all over the place on the sofa....and somehow got inspired to do the cat. I'm adhering to a Balthus-like palette (my take on it anyway)....pale greys and mauves and beige and lemon yellow....oh I love the muddy blending of his work, the lack of lines between figure and background. My friend plucked me a round-headed thistle this summer and I left it to dry in a little earthen vase. The shades of green on the leaves fascinated me...silvery blues and olive greens all on one stem...and the delicate pale mauve of the round thistle head charming. It only so happens that at the time of this painting unfolding, Scotland was going through a huge shift with the possibility of establishing independence from the UK. Having an English mother and a Scottish dad, my blood did churn in anticipation but I hadn't been so close to the core of the struggle to have a real attachment to either outcome. I found my instinct leaning toward the NO vote, not because of a liking for the status quo but because I felt the impending change would create more of a fissure and division...anyway, it's been voted on and means far more to those living their lives directly in the region. Well, it will be hard of me to look at this painting without feeling my Scottish roots tugging at me, a reminder of the time in history I chose to paint the cat and the thistle. I'm keen to finish it, but here it is so far...

It's been a long drawn out summer. No rain whatsoever...and our well suddenly dried up in August. I had been frugal with water before that, but once we dried up of course I couldn't water my beloved garden anymore. The little lush green world I had nurtured so carefully fell to drought.The grass turned brown. My plants withered. We were without running water in the house for a week until our darling landlord came through for us and installed a huge cistern. Out here friends and neighbours always come to the rescue and I was able to shower down the road at H & J's house. Meanwhile I had almost killed my a bad mother abandoning her child, I turned my back on it  and refused to look anymore. I stopped mowing my magical maze. I figured autumn would slowly creep in and sweep the yard with leaves and hasten in the cold winds of the turning seasons, sweeping my guilt away with it. But no, it has been hot and dry for two weeks into September. Now  I open my front doors onto my panorama of neglect every morning and rush off to work.

K has grown restless and wants to move off the island. I could be open to the idea but I have always been content in this little house, burrowing in like a  nestling, making the best of it. As renters, it's very hard to beat the situation we have in this spot. Affordable rent, a wonderful landlord who allows us to have pets, a beautiful serene forest setting.....we have a little cabin out back that had been trashed and treated poorly...and I decided to renovate one fulfilling house project. I painted the walls a soothing pale green and my artwork seems to suit the back drop. I call it my zen's a place friends can drop in for tea and respite, or to vent. It was so satisfying to build this gorgeous space, I'm moving along to the little back bedroom next, which I plan to paint pale yellow, then put in a twin bed and dresser and curtain dowel with lovely curtains. Pics of that to come when I'm done, but for now, here is the zen room:

Life is what you make it (what a novel concept!!) ....I'm content to create a beautiful world wherever I am, and not spend every waking minute wishing I was somewhere else. But of course I love my partner, and can very much respect his urge to move on....island life has other ways of taking a slow toll on you. People come here seeking a certain privacy, but the community that is so close and supportive on one hand can also be smothering and oppressive on the other. Anonymity is an illusion and more easily attained in the busy urban world.
More art to come. I hope you too are making art wherever you are, because....

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”
Neil Gaiman,
Make Good Art

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Otter on Wood

I've failed at being a blog writer. Hmmm...not a good opening line. I've neglected my blog. More true. And bloody obvious. How can you fail at something you don't do? You can't. So, here I am again, with a painting. It's a start. But I don't really know where to start after not recording things for so long. My garden is beautiful this year. Here is our front porch on a rainy weekend, doused in greenery:

We've come through a lot and are doing better. I love my island life. My partner is stronger and fitter and healthier than he has been in a year. I'm jogging every day and at the library a lot. Anyway, an otter. One of my favourite spirit animals. Oil on wood!

Otter ~ Oil on Wood ~ 23" x 12"

There is more to come. I promise.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Otter on Wood, Beginning...

I've started an otter in oils, on wood. Just the under-drawing. This will be my first try at oil on wood. I think I should have put down a base before starting, to keep the oil from simply absorbing into the grain. I just whipped out my pencil and began to draw on the raw wood. The creature has come easily to me. Maybe because I'm intuitively reaching for joy, embracing curiousity, allowing sponteneity to take over at last, and asserting my femininity....and the otter represents all of this.

My under-drawing for Pink Moon was so pretty on it's own...until the final painting entirely obscured it. This time I hope the under-drawing shines through the finished work...we'll see. I hope it doesn't sit around collecting dust for months. I've already let it sit there for two days.

I've gone almost two entire weeks with no calls in to work at the library, and my only psychological anchor is to make art, yet I waste so much of my free time...K encouraged me to move my studio into the living room, to keep my art front and centre so I can't escape the easel beckoning...and it has worked. A true artist does not know what procrastination is. Nevertheless, my sister sent me a link to this new book titled Creative Block. I'm keen to read it because it deals with my own biggest enemy. I've fought the creative block for almost two years and I'm suddenly bursting out again, recognizing that inspiration and discipline are partners that can't do without each other.

There is one place that I feel at home, truly at home, and if nothing else is going my way, at least I always have my art. So, here sits the otter, and here I go to finish it....

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Sacred Orca

I've lived on G island for almost 5 years now, and in that time I have experienced one spectacular orca sighting, which I wrote about in this blog, I think around February 2012. Prior to that visitation, the only time I had seen wild orcas was during a ferry crossing to Tsswwassen, when a pod of nine were spotted during the sailing, and the captain turned off the engines of the ferry so we passengers could see them glide past us majestically in the Strait of Georgia, their natural domain. They were like confident glistening black needles threading through the sea, stitching together the ocean where they belonged, gently reminding us we were only a passing ripple in the fabric of their serene and almost perfect world.
Almost every day I try to go down to the oceanside with my dog Seeker, and we trot along the rocks and catch glimpses of sea lions, otters and seals....and I often stare for ages at the sea in all its possible metamorphoses, hoping to have another orca siting. There is nothing like it.

Tonight I watched the movie "Blackfish", having taken it out from the library of course, and in spite of the trailer describing it as a "Mesmerizing Psychological Thriller"....(I forgive them for doing what they can to lure people to watch)....I was moved to optimism, I was filled with hope. I want to believe that we will evolve as humans and that, as one of the ex-Sea World trainers said, "I think in 50 years we'll look back and go My God, what a barbaric time ".

The documentary recounts the history of the bull orca Tillicum, who is still performing at Seaworld in Orlando.Trainers who had once worked at Sea World have come through their experience as enlightened human beings, having started out in their chosen career with pure starry-eyed intentions, and because of such pure hearts they were able to see what was ultimately wrong about keeping whales in captivity. This movie revealed the power of experience, compassion and intuition to change one's mind about exploitation and imprisonment.

I'm returning this move to the library tomorrow. I hope you'll sign it out after me if you have not seen it. Perhaps you'll find it difficult to watch, and weep for Tillicum who to this day deserves to be returned to an open ocean pen.Whale captivity for the sake of entertainment is an industry that must be put to rest.

There was a huge outcry over the idea of orcas being captured to show at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and the plan was dismantled. Encouraging, and hopefully the beginning of the end. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Pink Moon

I finished this painting tonight, that is, I am feeling it is done, except for maybe a few fine details. The barn owl might be a little too blue. This painting began with the image of the young girl, and her face was best left the way it was early on...I overpainted her in my opinion...but that was OK, as it all began to flow in a sort of vivid style after that. The owls, the salmon, the moon, the trees, the young girl in the deerskin hat....she is bright and optimistic and at peace, her spirit animals are the owls and the salmon....deep down I think this painting is to honour the wild salmon, the owls are the guardians of their brother fish, and so is the young woman. I suppose even the moon is pink because it is here to stay. It just seems right to title it Pink Moon, and many people of a certain age will find themselves singing the song by Nick Drake, which is fine by me. 

                                     Pink Moon ~ Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"