Sunday, 28 June 2015

Exotic & Erotic

I began this painting before we's based on two entwined erotic figures of the Khajuraho Hindu Temple in India. It's done in oils and I still feel it requires a lot more detail. K loves it just the way it is and other friends say it looks complete. That's pleasing to hear, but I keep hovering over the idea of fine tuning it. I admit, there is some peace and beauty in it's vague, relaxed style and simple palette.

Khajuraho Kama Sutra ~ Oil on Canvas ~ 24" x 36"

Right now it sits on a long wooden table in my bedroom, casting a serene and sensual effect next to my bed. 

 When the new store called THE HIVE Emporium opened up in the village here, I was excited to see they were carrying a line of linens imported from India called Maiwa Handprints (via the Granville Island Store Maiwa in Vancouver) as well as Alchemy patterned cotton dresses, also imported from India. As soon as I saw some of the Maiwa patterns, I was keen to add them to my room as a compliment to this painting. I purchased a red and black patterned bedspread and brought it my delight it really contrasted beautifully with the golden browns. A few days later I returned to discover an even more well suited bedspread with a similar palette of muddy grey and beige tones. Well, one must alternate....

I'm strongly drawn to Indian patterns and design, in textiles especially. Obviously one of the dresses was soon to follow, and I justified buying it because the price was very reasonable and I really should have a nice summery dress for the farmer's markets coming up! Below, the dress and the red bedspread, enhanced by a pair of perfect cotton arm gloves made by Scott of Tied Up and Dyed.

 Incidentally, Scott lives just down the road from me and is a seasoned Thanksgiving Tour attraction. He will be #7 on the Tour and I'm's nice having him so close by.

We should each be reasonably easy to find, since our neighbourhood lies just off South road, close to the Village, and less than a ten minute drive straight up the hill from the ferry. I decided I needed to create a better house sign than the one that exists already, and sat down the other night with a small wooden board to paint out my house number. This is the result:

Friday, 26 June 2015

Our Parting

 Hellebores in the early spring window at Wildwood:

So........We moved from the blue house, and were accepted as tenants at the new little cottage last December. During the course of the move, K sat me down in the empty living room to tell me that he felt our paths were diverging, that he loved me still but he needed to live by himself. I wasn't surprised by his decision....ever since the discovery of his degenerative spinal condition, which threatened to severely restrict his mobility and his speech, and his partial laminoplasty surgery in July 2013, our life together slowly began to change. I was now partner to a man who was living in constant daily pain, who couldn't sleep through a single night without sitting up and rocking in agony, who couldn't work, and who went through a huge psychological tranformation....K was evolving into a stronger man in many ways, resolved to take better care of his health, practicing a strict protein diet and daily exercise, and, eventually, when he began to enjoy a brief period of improved physical health, was jogging up to 8K, and even decided to go sky diving twice! This intense experience opened up his soul and spirit and his vision of where he wanted to go next in life. But by December 2014, it became clear again that he would need yet another spinal operation to alleviate his compressed spinal cord. The initial operation was not complete, and it needed to be finished....his motor coordination was deteriorating. K wasn't ready to carry on with the unbalanced dynamic of our lives together, and wished to concentrate on his recovery and rehabilitation as a solitary man. At the same time, his dreams and plans were changing too, and he couldn't envision us remaining a unit without far too much sacrifice on one side or the other. And much as I didn't want to agree, I knew that I actually did. Loyalty, denial, deep passionate love...none of these could stop the momentum of our parting.

Simply put, the last two years have contained a lot of heartbreak and growth. K now lives a short drive away, and both of his daughters have begun their own lives in Nanaimo. We are still seeing each other, and tentatively navigating the next course of our lives. Both of us now agree the separation was necessary, in fact it may be what we needed to preserve the best of our partnership, and if not that, it's what we needed to give us each the chance to concentrate on our individual goals and self sufficiency.

In May 2015, I travelled to Victoria with K for the completion of his final laminoplasty, and was there with him when he woke up from the operation. Because, in spite of it all, we still are who each other has. He now begins another long haul of recovery, and I'm dealing with my own challenges....

I haven't been writing in my blog, which anyway has always portrayed the beautiful aspects of our life and never the adverse details...and I prefer it that way, since my blog is really about art, and not a confessional or an open book about the raw moments of our private lives. Still, what I'm going through obviously greatly affects my creative output, my artistic outlook and my ability to thrive in my own element. Settling into my new space, breathing life again into the aesthetic of my home and designing my own daily agendas....this took some time. 
Flowers From My Garden Early Summer Evening

After working three years for the library and slowly moving up into a permanent position of 28 hours per week, it was all snatched away in a moment on June 1, when a wave of layoffs were rolled out across the Vancouver Island branches. Now, my hard won handle on stability suddenly appears as a mirage again. Not only that, some of the enforced changes to scheduling will dramatically limit the earnings of many workers.....4 hour work days and uneven bi-weekly shifts designed to cap employee's earning potential are evidence of a system bent on following a corporate business model rather than honouring the ideal of a community oriented public service. Myself and other coworkers are left disillusioned, feeling devalued and financially strapped, but of course we will hang on and ride the wave and hope for a fair outcome in the fall when the main branch opens after extensive renovations. I've been lucky, having been deployed to the small branch on my little home island for the time being.

All through my life, I've always landed on my feet. So here I am in the cottage at Wildwood, with two cats and my sometimes dog, 24 goldfish, and four frogs who make regular appearances.

Smudge Under the Dogwood Tree at Wildwood

My living room is yet again my art studio....that is, I have two easels set up and I use the dining room table as my painting table. I barely found the time or motivation to paint during this first winter in my new home, and knew I needed a goal of some kind. So in January on a whim, and because I happened to have the money to pay the fee, I signed up to take part in the Thanksgiving Studio Tour. This meant I would have to finally join the Arts Council after all these years of being an outsider. It was a way to force myself into a commitment to produce regular finished works. I can't keep waiting months for that spark of inspiration...I need to start living like a serious painter with a day job, and keep my paint tubes out all the time, sit down after dinner or with my morning coffee and dab a bit at my canvas. There is also the porch:

Smudge and Seeker Hang Out While I Paint a Whale

Until this coming October, I plan to finish 1-2 paintings a month  (I know, I'm a snail) , I need to renovate the tiny wee outside cabin (strong deja vu with this one... I ache just a little when I think of the pretty cabin out back of the blue house that I remodelled from scratch), I need to do a print run of new card designs. It's a LOT to get done in less than  4 short months. I shall keep reminding myself it's my first tour, and I have to start somewhere.

And no, the Grizzly in the wheat is not finished. Nor is Miroslava, but I here are a couple of completed pieces....the Cat and Thistle I wrote of months ago...

Cat and Thistle ~ Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"
....and this one titled "Swan Tree", inspired by Botero, whose smooth colours and balloon like forms have influenced me lately.

Swan Tree ~ Oil on Canvas 18" x 24"

I have a few unfinished pieces on the go, small and large works. More shall be posted soon. 
So I am back, this blog is awake again!