Saturday, December 2, 2017

I procrastinate, but I get shit done anyway

hello everyone!
I am in such a better place
than I was when I last posted here.
As much as I try not to let it bother me,
November is a rough month (mom's death date)
and October was rather rough this year too,
so I'm more than happy to
Sorted out some of dad's old Christmas records & cassettes
(yes, cassettes!)
so he can do Christmas in style. ;)
Dad loves music and has quite the record collection.
We bought him a 'retro' turntable a few years ago for Christmas
and he uses it all the time.
He loves his new place,
so that's a load off my mind.
I've been busy with so many things lately,
but always make at least some time for art.
Otherwise, well, you already know.
I go insane.
I've been working on my website
(thanks to the wonderful Kerstin Martin & Squarespace!)
getting all my ducks in a row
to teach e-courses on-line.

Hit a few snags along the way.

#1  I am the worst procrastinator.
Actually, I should say 'I am the BEST',
since I'm so damn good at it. ;) So it took 
extra effort on my part to sit my ass down 
and DO the actual work.

#2  I was afraid.
Afraid of starting, afraid of getting stuck,
afraid of not being able to follow along,
afraid of not finishing.
You know the feeling.
Finally, one day, i just said:
"fuck it, I'm more afraid of NOT doing it than doing it!"
and I've been coasting ever since. 
Go figure.
#3  I have a few other projects on the go
so I've had to find a balance between
working on those
and doing the groceries
and visiting dad
and watching movies
and taking my car in for winter tires
and designing my website
and doing all the other fun things
that make my life good.
#4  I hate Trump. 
Doesn't have anything to do with anything.
I just wanted to make that clear. ;)

I got so sick of hearing about
the sexual assault allegations
and young black men being shot by police
and 14 year old girls being raped
by rich, white men,
and shootings in churches
and greed
and abuse of power
and corrupt everything
that I just decided I needed a break from it all.
So I rarely check social media
in the mornings anymore
and I almost never listen to the news.
I go for walks with this little Fluffy face (above) instead.
(She's holding on to her teddy bear, just in case I decide to steal it!)

At night, I go outside
and look at the stars in the sky
and life makes sense again.
Even when shit continues to happen
on the surface, on a daily basis...
the world keeps turning.
Mornings are kept for creative work,
reading, writing, walking
and good coffee.
And i feel so much better inside.
I go on Instagram,
because I am always inspired there
rather than depressed.
And whenever I do check Twitter,
I almost always think:

"Did this enrich my day in any way?"
"Did this make my life more meaningful"?
"Did I learn something valuable?"

and the answer, clearly, is always NO.

I usually just feel more angry, more frustrated,
more disgusted with too many people,
so i kinda went on a social media/gossip diet. ;)

I sketched this (below) right after spending
some time on Twitter.
It feels angry and confused and
like a bombarding of too many things at once,
doesn't it?
That's what it feels like to me.
So I've been breathing better
and finding some great 2nd hand books
at the local bookstore...
 ...and I found this one (new) last week.
Hard cover, the illustrated story of Jane Austen, for $6.99!
Yes and thank you.
Oh, and I've also started bullet journaling!
My pages are nowhere near as beautiful
as some of the serious bullet journalers out there,
but I seem to be getting more done, somehow.

I just needed a tool to help me keep focused.

I found a few videos that explained bullet journaling
in a very BASIC way, and I went from there.
Found a notebook I had lying around the house
and used that one for the first month,
just to get in the groove.

I've never been big on goal setting
but I do love lists.
I have post-it notes all over the place.
The problem is, my 'list' is scattered all over the house. :)
So this way, it's all kept in ONE place.
So I treated myself to these lovely journals
(bought via Amazon for like $8 each!)
and these great ultra thin drawing pens.
Christmas came early!! YAY!!

I was going to spend today putting up the Christmas tree,
but I ended up cleaning closets and doing paperwork instead.
I hate doing that stuff,
but it feels SO good once it's done, doesn't it?
Besides, I usually like to wait
until the first snowfall to decorate the tree.

I'm kinda looking forward to the snow. 
Course, I could feel differently come mid-March,
in the middle of fucking blizzard 
that keeps us without power for 3

So many people in the world
seem to be having a hard time these days.
So many sad and lonely people out there.

Sometimes, there seems to be
so much ugliness in the world,
that we tend to forget
that beauty still exists,
right alongside the darkness.

When I listen to this song
by Tom Waits, 
I hear beauty.
I hear hope.

Thanks for being here!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I've been gone too long.


Brace yourselves for what could be a long post.
I have lots to share.

I caught myself a cold,
so I'm sitting here sipping on
a hot mint tea.

First things first...
November 11th.
Remembrance Day

Several years ago, I worked on an art calendar
as a fundraising project
with the local school and it was such a joy.
Each class (from 1st grade to 8th grade)
had a monthly theme.

I painted backgrounds for each month
on large bristol boards (12 backgrounds!)
and they painted things relating to the monthly theme.
We then cut & placed each little drawing on each month
and then I scanned them & reduced to an 8" x 10" calendar.

November was done by the 3rd grade.
Some kids did more than one drawing.
I was so impressed by their sensitivity.
This little drawing of 4 soldiers 
carrying a casket, and the tombstones
really touched me...

Let us never forget the sacrifices.
And so, it is fall here in eastern Canada
although this morning feels more like winter. :)

I took this lovely photo a few weeks ago
when my dad and I went for a drive
to a nearby park.

A lot of the colorful leaves
are now on the ground as
we've had a few good windy days.
Dad recently moved to a new "assisted living" place
in his hometown and he loves it.

I'm so happy for him.
It's a little further away from me (20 min)
but he still gets his visits with Fluffy. :)
October was a bit of a whirlwind.
We were moving dad to a new place
and preparing our son
Alex to move away at the same time.

This happened.

Our son was going to move to Western Canada
to work at a ski resort
and we were torn apart
and excited for him all at the same time.

But once he got there,
he had a change of heart
and decided to come back home.

Shit happens.

We're not all cut out
to live adventures 6000 kms away from home. :)
Some of us will find our own adventures
right in our backyards
and that's perfectly ok.
I moved to Alberta, in Western Canada
for my own little adventure when I was 18
and although I loved the time I spent there,
I missed the ocean so much.

Such beauty can really take hold of one's heart...
At least it did my heart.
I painted this in my little journal
while Alex was gone.
An abstract version of mountains, I suppose. :)
I haven't painted much on canvas lately,
but I have a few Christmas commissions,
so I'll be doing that soon enough.

In the meantime, I'm doing some journal painting.
Painting, sketching, writing on paper.

It's something that takes near zero preparation -
I fill a cup with water, have my markers & paints nearby
and I'm ready to roll!

I worry a lot less about 'what it will look like'
than I used to.

I'm more concerned with the feeling I get
while I'm painting or sketching or writing.

And it usually feels pretty damn good.

With all the crap going on around the world these days,
if I can do something that makes me feel good
or peaceful or happy - even for just a few minutes a day,
it is so worth it.

And sometimes, I just have something on my mind,
like this little journal painting below.

When I visited dad one day,
one of the old men there had this look on his face.
I couldn't get him out of my mind,
until i painted this on paper.

Someone once told Ralph Steadman
that things must be very dark & scary in his mind,
and he replied that things are quite peaceful in there,
because he gets it all out on paper.

That makes a lot of sense to me.

And so, on particularly dark & heavy days,
when I start to feel overwhelmed with everything,
or when I just want to keep a record
of how I spent my day, 
I do this:
 ...and almost immediately, my head clears.

I haven't solved anything
simply by drawing or writing about it,
it doesn't matter that the drawings aren't perfect -
what matters is, I've expressed how i feel about things
and that always brings me a calm inside.
And when I feel more calm,
paintings like this (below) emerge.

She looked like an alien to me,
but someone I love & respect told me
she looked like a "beautiful Madonna of the cosmos"
and said she was very grounding. 

So I chose to believe that instead. :)

You just never know what 'clearing your mind'
can pull up sometimes.

I love this quote.
Painted acrylic on sheet music.
And on October 17th, 
Canada lost this great man,
Gord Downie
to terminal brain cancer.

He was 53.

He was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip,
a Canadian rock band.
He was a wonderful songwriter 
and a poet at heart.

For any Gord Downie fans out there,
you can buy a print of this painting
in my ETSY shop for $20.
This picture was taken
on the morning Alex was leaving for the airport.

Fluffy wouldn't even look at him. 
Alex was smiling, but Fluffy wasn't fooled.
She could sense the sadness in the room.

She was pretty excited to see him again. :)
For those of you wondering about my e-course,
it's still happening - just taking a bit longer
than i anticipated.

I'm currently working on designing my website,
with the help of the talented Kerstin Martin -
where I'll be offering e-courses and paintings 
and all sorts of fun stuff. :)

This has all been very eye opening for me.

I'm not sure I really knew
how much work was involved,
although Kerstin has a way
of making it all feel less overwhelming somehow. 

I have no regrets at all 
and still feel like this is the beginning
of something good.

I hope you're able to pull yourselves away
from the craziness now and then
and find your own way
back to the quiet spaces.

Here's to the season of cocooning
and creating! :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

it's a little dark in here

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
- Anne Frank
hello Munchkins.

The world is a heavy place lately, isn't it?

I've been less consistent with blogging lately,
mainly because I've been too fucking heartbroken.

What do you say when all hell breaks loose?

Yes, I've been doing my best to stay on the light side of things
but holy shit, some days are hard.

The mass shootings,
the hurricanes,
the suffering...

I distance myself from it all now and then,
and then it all somehow comes back to me,
like gravitational pull.

Maybe that's what's meant to happen.
Maybe some things in life
are meant to anger us,
and move us 
towards the truth?

Towards our truth.

So the past months have been
give and take for me.

I've spent some days working hard,
and other days reading on the patio
with a good coffee.

And i'm ok with this.

Some days are meant to be
more productive than others.
I've felt so consumed by everything
that I barely knew how to process it.

Whenever I'd sit in my blue room to paint,
I'd often just sit there - for like 10 or 15 minutes...
before I'd decide to even pick up a brush,
or a pen, and just do something.

More often than not, it ended up being something like this:
But hey, I try to honor how I feel at the time.

It's been painful for me to learn 
that there are so many racists in the world.

It's been painful to learn
that some of them are my relatives.

It's been painful to learn
that there are homophobes
and chauvinists
and those who care very little
about the suffering of others.

So many of us fail to show compassion
when so many people in the world
are in desperate need
of love and understanding right now.
So yeah, maybe this is my 'blue period' in painting.

If Picasso had one, I can have one too. :)

Everything I've done lately 
seems to be just one or two toned.
Color doesn't feel right to me at this time.

When I feel like using more color again, I will.

And speaking of color - check out the beautiful tomatoes
from our little garden in the back yard.
We've been eating fresh veggies for months now.  
I'm also still in the throws of preparing my e-course.

At this point, I'm not setting a date.
Initially, it was going to be 6 weeks,
but I've now decided on 4 weeks.

It's been more work than I anticipated
but then, maybe that's because I am putting myself
under too much pressure for it to be perfect.

And I, of all people, know damn well that





Why do we do this to ourselves?

So I'm trying to get past my fears
and reassuring myself
that someone will get something out of it,
and that if ONE person finds the courage
to make art and express herself
and find her own voice,
it will have been worth it.

I joined Tara Leaver's 7 day series art challenge.
I thought I'd try to process some of my anger
by painting abstracts
because, well, it's healthier than keeping it
bottled up inside.

Here's a song I love by Amelia Curran,
from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

I love her because she dares to be vulnerable,
she's an advocate for those with mental illness,
and she writes her own songs. 

Thanks for letting me
into your weekend space.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fried clams, funerals and Brian Wilson

Is summer really over?
It's been such a whirlwind this season.
Some summers are slow & lazy,
but this summer felt like the opposite for some reason.
Of course we made time for fried clams & scallops
and the wharf
and walks on the beach,
and family gatherings
and the occasional bonfire,
but it feels like it was gone
in the blink of an eye.
We had company this summer,
which is always nice,
but I won't lie.
I always look forward to my time alone again.
As a serious introvert,
solitude is the only way for me
to find my footing again
and after weeks of being
in the company of others,
I was longing for alone time
about as much as i long for chocolate.
(yes, that's a lot of longing)
We also had a death in the family...
my dad's brother,
whom he loved dearly.

Harvey loved antique cars
and had a few of his own.

This is dad, on the day of the funeral,
standing next to Harvey's beloved Thunderbird. :(
Funerals are always so heavy, aren't they?
They should be, naturally, 
since they're about the loss of a loved one.

But I sometimes wish
we were better at
celebrating a life
rather than mourning a death.
I guess it's hard to celebrate
when some hearts are broken
in a million little pieces.

 And then, there was art.
After finishing this book,
I got thinking about mental illness
and how horrible it must be
to be living with voices in your head
the way Brian Wilson does all the time
(from the Beach Boys).
I started cutting out these images
from a magazine one night,
thinking I'd use them in a collage.

Once I saw them all there,
I only decided to use a few of them.

Painted over some of the red,
added words,
played a bit with lines.
At first, I was thinking guitar strings
but the lines got carried away
into something else.
Then the hurricanes happened
and the floods all over the world
and things got heavy again
and the only way I can deal with *heavy*
is through art.

We all need to find our own ways
to deal with tragedy,
with injustice,
with suffering.
I know that too much social media 
is not good for me
so I've made a conscious effort
to slow down and not to carry
the world's weight on my shoulders.

It's been difficult at times
because I just can't believe some of the things
I see or hear,
but I am of no use to anyone
if I am overwhelmed by the suffering
or the stupidity of others.
That doesn't mean I don't care about others,
or about what happens on this beautiful planet,
but it is not necessary for me
to know about 









It's just too overwhelming for me.

I read something the other day
(ironically, on Twitter!)
about a woman's therapist
telling her that it was
ok to let social media go now and then,
because as human beings,
we aren't meant to process
so much suffering at once.

And I thought YES.


I so agree.

I don't care to know everything about everyone.

I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything
if I don't get the news on a daily basis,
or if I don't know about what's happening
in every corner of the world,
or if I don't know about who had what for dinner last night.

I DO, however, feel like I'm missing out on REAL life
if I spend too much time on social media.

Can you imagine missing out on walks at the beach
with this cute little face?
Or wonderful Friday evenings making art?
Or watching a movie with my son?
Or sharing a glass of wine with a friend?

No thank you.

Life is precious.

But you gotta pull your face
away from the phone (or the laptop) now and then
to remember just how precious it is.