Monday, July 30, 2012

handwritten letters bring them back to life

Letters are among the most significant memorial
a person can leave behind them.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I love old letters.

Actual, real, handwritten letters on paper.
This box is one of many that i've kept over the years.
Once in a blue moon,
i sit with a glass of wine
and re-read some of them.

I read letters from the people i knew and loved
and although many are no longer here
there is nothing like handwriting
to make me feel like they were never gone.

I thought i'd try something a little different last night.

A collage combining paper, paint
and a few pieces of memorabilia i kept hidden in a box.

I thought these things would make a good piece of art,
and bring to life the memories
rather than keep them hidden in a box.

This man (not Jesus, but the one in the middle, Father Yvon)... ;-)
was a childhood friend of my father's.

He spent his life doing missionary work in Cuba.
He died there last year.

I've always loved writing,
and when i was a young teenager, Father Yvon and i
began corresponding.

We did so for years,
and whenever he came home,
he would come and visit us.

We all went ice skating together one winter... 

I created some of the texture with paper towel and paint...

added some paint splatter, charcoal and color...

and i gave him a little halo...
yes i did.

You don't have to be religious
to appreciate those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

Father Yvon was one of those people.

Look at his beautiful handwriting...
There's just something to me
about the actual writing of a person
that makes it far more intimate
than digitally written letters.

I really loved doing this collage...
i can see myself using more of the memorabilia in that box
to do more (very soon). 

I'm already thinking of what i'll use next... ;-)

The Jesus image is one he had sent me
in a letter...

a few of his letters (or envelopes) to me...

Isn't this cool?
i love the look of that opened envelope
with those red and blue lines like pillars...

I did this collage on canvas, but next time,
i'm going to try actual wood.

A smooth surface would work much better than canvas.
You can see (in a few places) where the paper bubbled...
The paper would probably stick much better to a smooth surface
than to canvas.

Have any of you done collages on wood?
I've never painted on wood
and since some of you out there are geniuses at collage,
so i'm sure you could teach me a few things.

I really had fun doing this one
and if some of you out there
are letter geeks like me...
you may want to try one of your own.

Happy Monday everyone! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

does having a pretty yard make you good?

Good morning folks!
Happy Sunday.

I live in the country.
i am awakened in the morning
by birds and barking dogs,
crows and fighting seagulls…

I love the fact that i live near the ocean
but i wonder sometimes why so many people
 seem so obsessed with landscaping
and with having pretty things.

When i go for my morning walks,
i am amazed at how manicured some of the properties are.
Sometimes i think there must be a competition going on
that i'm not aware of. 

As i write this (it is 9am on Sunday)
i hear the sound of a chain saw cutting through my ears…
the neighbour across the street is "trimming" his trees again.

I love a nice garden
(this is the first year of many we decided not to put one in)
and i certainly love flowers,
but i see all these people spend most of their weekends working in the yard
and i never see them relaxing in the yard
or sitting in their beautiful matching white wicker Costco furniture in the yard
or just enjoying the scenery...

and i sometimes wonder, why they do it.

I realize it's important to have pride in your property
but i wonder how many are playing the
"my property is prettier than yours" game?

Is it me or have we become ridiculously obsessed
with appearances?

The houses we own
the cars we drive
the clothes we wear
all seem to be screaming "look at me! I'm successful!!"

Yeah, you're also an alcoholic,
hooked on anti-depressants,
and you've disowned your own child because he's gay.
Let's not try to hide that behind the pretty flowers, 'kay?

I'll never be impressed with such shallow beauty.
What impresses me is what's inside the person
as cheesy as that may sound.

If you look past the pretty flowers,
past the beautifully manicured lawns
past the BMW and the Mercedes…
you'll find a normal human being
with the same fears and doubts and regrets as you or I
who often feels less worthy without his "things".

I know because there are some in my family
who surround themselves with things
and try to make themselves feel better about who they are.
It never works.

I am never diminished by what my neighbour has
that i don't have,
including the perfectly manicured lawn
and the pretty flowers.

These things don't matter to me.

What matters is who you are as a person
and if you're a good person,
i'll like you,
and if you're an asshole, i won't.

Pretty things doesn't mean pretty people.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Illustration Friday - LONELY

 Here's my entry for this week's topic on IF... lonely.

Watercolor and micron pens.

Since we're on the topic of loneliness,
I'm also sharing something i wrote about a neighbor
who wasn't the most generous man.

There he sits
among the branches
and leaves
that rustle in the wind.

He sits, and waits.

Waits for someone
or something.
His grown children
no longer visit
and he is left with
birds and bees
and the occasional car
passing by.

He waits for birds.

And even when he has
so little to love,
when the birds settle on his land
as they search for food,
he claps his hands together
making a loud noise
and the birds 
hurriedly scatter and fly away
like children running from an angry fist.

It must be
a lonely existence
to think even of the birds
as creatures that want something
from you.

He is undeniably alone.

I wonder if he wonders
how he will die.
Whether or not he will be
alone then too.
He walks on his grass,
in large circles,
around his land,
and spends his days
keeping his land free of birds.

His land is empty of birds
and his heart must be
empty of love.

*note: he died last year - alone.

On a lighter note, here's what i did with the flowers.
I like it a little more now,
although i may still add words somewhere.
Words and dots. 
It's all good.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend
and as always
thank you so much for visiting here.
It makes my heart happy
and inspires me more than you know.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

sailboat progress and Keith Richards

hi everyone!

Remember the sailboats?

I started them back in June...
you can see the earlier stages here.

I had a wonderful painting session last night
as opposed to the uncertain, doubtful, frustrating session
the previous night. 

I put on some good music,
lit a nice scented candle,
and played till the wee hours.

Well, not really "wee"...
it was only about 11pm when i stopped
although i probably could have painted till 3am,
but being a designer by day
means i need to get up for work
so 3am is out of the question.

It's times like these i miss not having 
a bajillion bucks in the bank.

These photos are more blue than the actual painting
but i didn't bother adjusting any colors.

I just wanted you all to see the progress...
one more sitting and i suspect it'll be done.
I'll post when it is.

I always know when to stop 
whenever i'm doing a commission.
Painting from a photo is never as daunting to me
as painting from an idea in my head.

My lovely palette of messy colors.

I heard something on the radio this morning
about Keith Richards, of the Rolling Stones
and it made me laugh.

I basically just have to look at him
and he makes me laugh.

Kinda like a cartoon character.

He was quoted as saying something like this:

"Sometimes, i forget how to play certain Rolling Stones songs,
but even when i forget,
my fingers always remember."

Considering everything this man has lived through,
i'm surprised he even remembers to breathe. 

Actually, sometimes - i'm not quite sure he IS breathing...

So right after i heard that quote,
i was inspired to draw Keith...
A quick sketch,
but a drawing nonetheless.

I actually think he's great,
and i love the Rolling Stones too.

We saw them in an outdoor concert here a few years ago
and it was one of the best concerts i've seen.

Anyone who can move the way they do
at their age,
after all they've "experienced"... (wink wink)
leaves me impressed.

Maybe they're just pickled?
but still,
i'm just saying... i love their music.

So here's to you, Keith!

A mini marker drawing,
done with Crayola Pip Squeaks. 

You just can't draw Keith with a smooth pencil...
It just don't seem right... ;-)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

turquoise abstract and choices

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me
from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.
Vincent Van Gogh

All hell broke loose in the studio last night... ;-)

I wanted to use just these four colors,
and it all started here.

I have never felt so unsure
during the painting process
as i did last night.

Maybe it's the mugginess.
Yeah, let's blame that. 

I wanted an abstract,
one that didn't look like anything,
and when I immediately saw a bird here,
i changed it...

To this...
then i saw a flower...
so i changed it.

To this. 
Then i not only still saw the flower and leaves,
but i saw a turquoise lobster claw.

Yup. Definitely muggy in here.

So I turned it over on its side
and I don't know what the hell i saw
but i knew i didn't like it.

So i turned it over again
and decided i'd paint a close up of hair
or wiggly worms...
(not really, but that's what it looked like to me)

I added beige to this little guy on the left,
poking his head out to see what all the commotion was about...

As if beige would transform this whole painting
into a masterpiece.

And then I wet my brush
and painted over the whole mess
and while the paint was wet,
I used paper towel to dab the extra paint off
and leave a nice texture on the canvas.

I used the plastic knife to create lines...
(i still wasn't sure where this was going)

and then - flowers.

Boring to me
at least when i do them.

So i guess my planned abstract painting
didn't want to be abstract after all.

For the record, i don't like this.

Maybe i'm not done with it.
I'll look at it again tonight,
when i feel a little less scattered.

I added little pink and white dots
cause dots just always make things better.

Still not good
even with my trusty little dots.

I took this pic this morning.
Much better lighting than last night
so you can see the colors more accurately.

I wanted to post this to show
that the creative process is not always easy
and smooth
and sometimes, in the end,
we just don't like what we've created
and that's ok.

Someone else may like it (or not)
but I don't have to like everything i paint.

Sometimes you just know you made a mistake
to paint over or change a certain step during the process.
But that step is gone
and you just have to let it go.

You can try and repaint it
but you know it'll never be the same.

Regardless of how accomplished you are as an artist,
during the process itself, 
there are almost always moments
of frustration and doubt.

And yet, having a crappy painting
is still better than no painting at all.

Having the courage to begin and end something creative
is far better than leaving this creativity unexpressed.

Creating something -
is better than not creating.

So there you have it.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes
and to not like everything you do.

But have the courage to make those mistakes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

sharing me...

Some things about me that you may not know...

I am afraid sometimes -
of failure
of success
of not being good enough
of not being enough
of not wanting enough
of settling
of not living fully.

I sometimes lack faith in myself
in others
in the universe
in the natural flow of things.

I savor the little things in life
like my toes in the sand,
the way coffee tastes first thing in the morning,
the sun on my face,
the way the breeze blows in my window at night,
the birds in the distance,
the smell of grass after rain
the way the clouds glide across the sky,
or paint glides across the canvas.

But there is rarely a day
where I don’t also savor
the disappointments
the doubts
the dashed hopes
and neglected dreams.

I take it all in
because to deny one or the other
would only take me further away
from my truth.

There is a balance
between bliss and sadness
and this is where my heart resides,
never totally in one or the other.

I think about death sometimes
and why so many of us
are more concerned about the afterlife
than this one life we have right here, right now.
I think about suffering
and sacrifice
and why so many hearts
still feel unloved.

Sometimes, I am afraid
of my own voice
and what it wants to say.
What it says about me.
I am afraid of how I may be judged
if I let it speak its truth.

And then I remind myself
of the importance of expression
of shared stories
shared ideas
shared love…

I love old photographs
and quiet walks in the woods
and the ocean
and solitude.

I hate intolerance
and gossip
and abuse of any kind.

I hate that so many on this planet
still lack clean water
and still starve to death.

I hate that our laptops
get more attention
than our loved ones.

It makes me sad
that so many of us
have lost the ability
to believe in ourselves,
in our own strength,
in our own path,
and we look to others
to tell us how to live our own truths,
when all we really need
is within.

I love that I share this space
with kind beings
with giving hearts
and selfless souls
who dedicate their lives to spreading hope,
and creating change
and making this world a better place
one person at a time,
one little thing at a time.

The secret of life
is all in the little things.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

IF - CARRY and blue hair girl

Illustration Friday: CARRY

This is the first image that popped in my mind
when i saw the word of the week on IF.

How we all go through life
carrying different weights on our shoulders.
Some by choice,
others not.

I choose to see the glass half full
but i also realize that for some people,
this choice is far more difficult.

I don't wake up in the morning
to the sound of bombs outside my home,
or sitting in a jail cell,
or lying in a hospital bed,
or depressed,
or with a hangover the size of a house. ;-)

I wake to the sounds of birds chirping
and the breeze blowing,
and a peaceful heart
so it's relatively easy for me to see the glass half full.

I remind myself now and then
that we're not all carrying the same weight in life.

Some of us are carrying huge and heavy burdens.

Here's last night's playtime. 

I didn't take many pics this time.
It basically goes from step one to done. :-)

I started out with collage
and ended up just painting over the whole thing.

Kinda defeats the purpose of collage,
doesn't it...

This is kinda what makeup on a woman looks like to me. 
No offense to those who wear it -
i still love you, honest i do.

It may not be what the world sees,
but it's what i see.

I used to wear mascara when i was a teenager.

Then i went without wearing anything for years
and a few years ago, when mom was here,
i tried on her mascara on my eye lashes...

it looked (to me) like there were spiders on my eyes,
so it immediately came off.

I can handle lip gloss now and then,
that's about it.

Women are still far too conditioned
to look beautiful all the time.

The problem with that is that
we don't all interpret beauty in the same way.

I'm linking this to Illustration Friday.
Check out some of the fabulous illustrations there...
so inspirational.

Wishing you all the kinda day you love.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

red abstract and the missing piece

Good morning world.

Last night, I attempted to paint in warm colors.

I tend to stick with the cooler colors (blue, green, etc)
but last night, i felt like red for some reason.

Of course you just know i'm gonna sneak
some blue in there somewhere...

I wonder sometimes if it's a good idea to take photos
during the process,
since i often end up liking an earlier step
more than the finished piece.
(i like the simplicity of this step)

This is the painting, flipped.

I liked it better this way last night.
This morning, i'm not so sure. 

But hey, it's a painting, not brain surgery
so i try not to question the process much.

Then i added this crap...
and no longer liked it at all.

Again - it's a painting.
No room for regret here.

Isn't this every artist's dilemma?

Not knowing when to stop
and call it done?

Oh well. 
Today is a new day.

My heart was saddened yesterday
by the tragedy in the Aurora Cineplex.
This no doubt affects how or what we paint.

On another note,
i bought myself this book yesterday at the 2nd hand shop.

This is my addiction.
I admit it.

It's a cute little story about a "missing piece"
who goes out searching for where he fits in the world
so that he can roll around like the others.

He then discovers (thanks to the BIG O)
that rather than try to combine his shape with someone else's,
if he tries to roll on his own,
eventually, his corners will soften
and he will also be able to roll!

It was probably written as a lesson
in independence or courage,
but in a way,
it made me sad that he was conforming
or changing who he really was - a triangle -
for the sake of being like the other circles.

I wanted him to remain a little triangle
and be proud of his little corners,
rather than conform
and become a circle, like everyone else.

I know,
i probably need therapy.

I'll be catching up on your blogs this weekend.

So looking forward to seeing what you've all created
during the past week or so.

Thank you all for the thoughtful comments.
It's good to be back.