Sunday, April 27, 2014

Europe... long ago and yesterday

Bear with me...
i'm all over the place today, looking at old journals,
so this post may not be the most coherent.
Years ago, i took a solo trip to Europe.
It was one of the most memorable times of my life,
partly because i was in Europe,
and partly because i was alone.
I was only there 3 weeks,
but in those few weeks,
my life changed.
Being alone forces one to be courageous,
consciously or unconsciously.
There were a few awakenings on that trip,
but there were also a few times
where i was frightened,
and wondered whether i had made the right decision
to go alone.
But i had always wanted to go to Europe
and none of my friends (at the time) wanted to join me.
So i went.
Now that i look back,
i think this is where my *illustrated journaling* was born.
i had been drawing and keeping journals for years separately,
but in Europe, 
being surrounded by such beautiful architecture,
i began combining both -
the sketching and the writing.
I bought myself a little sketchbook while i was there,
and began to sketch people
and markets
and cathedrals.
My senses were all at their peak -
the visual beauty & despair,
the taste of different foods,
the sounds,
the different scents in the air,
On my first night in Vienna,
from the open window
in my tiny hotel room on the 3rd floor,
i was soothed to sleep
by the sounds of someone playing the cello
in the building across the cobble stone street.

Whenever i look at my sketches,
i am transported back in time
as though i were still there.
some of it is good,
some of it is not.
Some is heaven, some is hell.

I don’t live in the past,
but once in a while,
i like going back there,
just to gain a new perspective
on where i am today.
Some may wonder what the point is,
but here’s the point for me:
it is my life
in little snippets
on paper.
It is a way for me to remember.
A way for me to be reminded
of where i’ve been
and why i’m going where i’m going.
When i returned back to Canada,
exhausted, sweltering in the summer heat,
and about 10lbs lighter from all the walking,
I sat on one of the chairs & waited for my ride home.
As i sat there,
i thought of what i had seen during the past weeks,
some of the people i had met,
some of the museums and art galleries i had visited,
the trains i had missed
the sanctuaries i had found,
and the experiences i could have done without.
…and i wondered,
had it all been worth it?
Out of nowhere,
an older woman with white hair sat next to me,
and asked me if i was arriving or leaving.
“i’m arriving - from Europe”, i said.
She smiled at me, and with a tinge of sadness in her eyes, she replied:
“oh, that’s wonderful. i’ve always wanted to go to Europe,
but i’ve never been, and at this age,
i doubt that i will ever make it there”.

And in an instant, 
i knew that it had been worth it.
All of it.

So if any of you out there
are doubting the value of keeping a sketchbook,
stop doubting
and start keeping one today.
It doesn't need to be a fancy one.
It just needs to belong to YOU.

Friday, April 25, 2014

winter to spring

Power trucks.
Is there a more welcome sight
when you've been without power for 4 days?
It all seems a distant memory now
but it was only a few weeks ago... in March.
everything was crystallized the next morning...
 ...and the poor trees.
They took a beating from the freezing rain & snow.
We had to cut a few branches,
but they've bounced back since then.
now this feels better, doesn't it?
footprints in the sand...
sand that isn't completely frozen anymore!
 and the iced ocean slowly turning to water again...
This was taken at the Shediac wharf nearby...
a hotspot here during the summer months.
water - not ice.
Another welcome sight here come spring...
soon, this pier will be lined with fishermen & women...
and on those benches - hard core coffee drinkers. ;-)
And of course, there's always art.
a rough water-colour of a pinecone,
found in the back yard (after all the snow melted)
see the view outside?
very little snow left on the ground.
It's been a long fucking winter...
a few outlines with a brush marker 
and at first i thought i'd use the tiny dot technique to add shadow...
but then i added darker water-colour over the dots instead.
i seem to have less patience than i used to have
when i was younger. ;-)
a bit of writing, and a closeup
of this beautiful pinecone.
I'll be posting again later this weekend, probably Sunday.
There are things & ideas i wanna share with you
i am having so much fun so far,
although i knew i would before it even began.
It's basically all about making time to sketch, isn't it?
About recording a life.
Keeping little snippets of your life on paper...
about keeping an art journal
so that you remember this life later on.
At least for me, that's what it's about.
So i'll be back to this space
sometime during the weekend.

In the meantime,
be kind to one another.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

when something feels so right

Don't play what's there; play what's not there.
- Miles Davis
ok, so here's the story...
In early January, I accepted a temporary office job outside the home,
and in a few weeks (early May), my contract ends.
In all honestly, I suffocate in such a structured, left brained,
grey cubicle environment -
and as much as I was grateful for the opportunity last January,
I will be as grateful (or more) to be done in May.
Some of you may be wondering why i applied for an office job.
two reasons:
1) I wanted out of the house and needed to a bit of socializing.
After working 10+ years alone at home, it was time for change; and
2) money.

Both of those needs were met,
and now it's time to come back to the core of who i really am.
Time to move on to something else.
Something creative again.
Something closer to my heart.
Grey cubicles and number crunching and data entry
are not near and dear to my heart.
(no offense to those who do it, but it makes me wanna slit my wrists) ;-)
I have never been one to stay at a job out of fear of doing without.
I have never become a slave to money.
I have quit jobs,
I have been fired,
i have made changes in my life that were difficult to make,
I have started anew when I least expected it,
I have gone where no man has gone before... 
(giggle - i just HAD to add that one in there!)
All of this to say that I now take pride in the fact
that I don't fit in an office job in a corporate world.
I want to shout it out from the rooftop...
I used to think something was wrong with me,
now i realize ...
something is RIGHT with me! :-)
I know what i want and what i don't want.
i know what i am willing to sacrifice
and what i am not willing to trade off.
I know which battles are worth fighting,
and which ones just need to be cast away with the wind...
So i am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
and the relief is palpable.
Soon, the job ends, and I will have my freedom again.
Time to write,
time to finish those projects i've had "on the go" for months now.
Time to read.
Time to catch up with blogs.
Time for more art!
Ahhhhhh... just writing this brings me relief.
Sketchbook Skool is fabulous, just as i expected it would be.
It breaks my heart whenever i see comments from people
about how they are "not good" or "not as good as"...
I remember that feeling.
I remember feeling "less good than" when i was younger,
or when i began a new medium or technique.
Comparing ourselves to others is a natural thing to do
but it is SO destructive to our own creative path,
because there will always be someone better than you.
Better than me.
Richer than me.
Taller than me.
Smarter than me...
We must focus on our own paths
and just keep sketching/painting/singing/writing...
Those who are good did not become good overnight.
There are countless hours of work involved.
Your work won't get done
if it is stifled before it even hits the page.
Do this for yourself.
Just keep making art 
with as little comparison to others as possible.
Be kind to yourself and your art.
Eventually, you'll be surprised. You'll see.
I love this, from Austin Kleon's latest book, "Show your work".
So true.
So much of what i've done in the past (and still do!) is crap.
But that little piece that isn't crap...
that one little painting or piece of writing
that feels absolutely perfect -
Aaaaahhhh... now THAT'S why we make art.
The satisfaction in that one little slice of NOT CRAP pie
is so worth the disappointment in all the other stuff.

happy easter everyone!
Here's a little video of the BE GOOD TANYAS
Happy trails! :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

who's going to Tim's?

Hello people!
Anyone who knows Canada
knows this cup.
The perspective is really off,
but the coffee was good. ;-)
Lots of things happening around here lately
that seem to be getting in the way of painting,
but that's life, isn't it?
I'm taking little snippets of time whenever i can to paint,
even if it's only for 15 min sketch.
I finish working in early May
(more time for painting & blogging! Yay!)
and the snow is slowly disappearing,
so spring is in the air!
I cannot tell you what a long winter it's been.
Well, actually, i don't need to tell you,
since i've shared one too many storms with you here!
Not much art these days... 
too much work and too little play.
I just wanted to touch base with you all
and let you know i haven't forgotten you. 
I saw something on tv the other night
about the Atomic bomb
and it reminded me of this sketch i had done
a while ago.
A life is a life is a life.
And on a happier note,
i'm doing the SKETCHBOOK SKOOL class
with Danny Gregory, Koosje and the gang...
only a week in,
and already, it's been worth it.
Just loving it.
So inspiring.
Here's a little glimpse
of Danny painting his breakfast.
(Obviously, he has more willpower than I do
to be able to paint a bagel instead of eating it right away!)
Happy week everyone!
Be good to one another.
We're all we've got. ;-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

tiny birds and big branches

i was writing the post (below) last Sunday evening,
while it snowed and hailed outside
and just as i was gonna click "PUBLISH",
the power went out!
And it stayed out - until today - Wednesday.
Rather than go into a long drawn out story
about how many storms we've been getting lately,
and about freezing rain & hail
and broken trees and downed power lines,
and how much i enjoyed my tea tonight - 
i thought i'd just show you a few photos my son took,
and then go on with the post i was GOING to send on Sunday.
check these out.
Beauty & devastation, all in one...

(and here's my post from last Sunday - PRE storm)

hello everyone! 
i'm gonna be all over the place in this post,
so bear with me, ok?
It's just that kinda day, week, month. :-)
I bought this mini urn for some of mom's ashes...
(it feels strange to even write those words)
mom loved birds
and i just thought this was so appropriate.
I love how tiny and simple it is.
There are some things you just can't do right away
after the loss of a loved one.
Thinking about urns was one of them for me.
When the time is right, you'll know.
ok, big week of books!
Ordered these on Amazon and they came last week.
Wooo hoooo! 
Now if spring can get here, 
i can enjoy coffee on the deck with these lovelies. :-)

something else came this week too...
this beautiful print by the lovely Stephanie Guimond -
I so love it.
Stephanie is one of those people
who is exactly the same in person as she is on-line.

She and i met on-line a few years ago,
and when she came to visit her family
in eastern Canada two summers ago,
we met in person for coffee.
Clicked right away,
as if we had known each other for years.
I love who she is,
and how she does what she does.
On another note,
we got a blizzard this week.
Couldn't see across the street.
i've given up on wishing it was over.
It'll end when it ends.
In the meantime, i'm appreciating the beauty
as much as i can
and staying warm.
The day after the storm.
You gotta admit, this is pretty, right?
a snow drift on our front lawn
(which incidentally, is USUALLY grass by now...)
and this little surprise when we opened the garage doors...
the snow blew in somehow from a tiny crack in the doors,
and created this cute little blob of what looks like
shaving cream, or cool whip!
...or a big nose!
there's beauty all around us.
It's just that sometimes,
it's found in unlikely places
and i'll be honest -
after 4 months of winter, 
snow is the LAST place we wanna look for beauty!
Then a bit of painting...
 (watercolour on paper)
Oh look! Dots & lines! 
How refreshing! ;-)
 And then this one...
watercolour on paper again,
from an image in a book filled
with the most beautiful photography.
 I wanted to keep it just one tone,
or at least close to one tone.
I just love these photos.
Full of deep meaning and mystery.
We may think of ourselves as a rich country,
but sometimes, when i see photos like this one,
i think we have our priorities all wrong.
I think we could learn so much
by letting go of the idea that "having more"
means "being more".
It doesn't.
There are more ways than one
to feel caged in or suffocated,
just like there are more ways than one
to know freedom.
Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!
Thanks for being here. xx