An Interlude…A Bit About Me

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~I’ll always paint…even when I inevitably become completely blind~

I was born an artist, one of those children fascinated with patterns and colors….the preschooler me admired glittering plastic sea-shell beads strung as a necklace endlessly for their shape and texture. I got in trouble for art, would attempt to make “frescos” out of pillaged plaster powder, crushed watercolors and Styrofoam meat trays. It didn’t stick very well but the colors were soft and pastel.
My first exhibited piece, a pen and ink drawing of roses, was displayed in the Vancouver Art Gallery when I was in grade nine. Aside from that I was a secret artist. In my twenties I left my job to paint for a year and my television companion was Bob Ross from the PBS painting series. I watched and listened absorbing all of his knowledge. For a time I too used his “magic white” oil paint.
I discovered acrylics, so clean and versatile, and my mentorship with Bob ended. I began to enter competitions, selected three years in a row for the North West Coast Regional Art Show, the beginning of many exhibitions. I also became the Art Instructor for the City of Prince Rupert and taught a wide range of programming for all age levels.
I now work freelance from my home studio near Greektown in Toronto Canada. Over the years I didn’t really establish a “set” method of creating visual art. I’m an experimenter. Mostly painting in Acrylic but I also work with Encaustic, Lino, Graphite, Ink, Paper, Fibre, Clay and Resin.
Most people don’t know that I have vision in just one eye. I think it has confused art critics at times…I’ve had them say that my paintings are “astute” and “have a lot of depth despite not being three dimensional”. I am a visually impaired Artist. A hidden disability that I have learned to live with. I think it helps me actually…the world looks two dimensional to me anyways and translating that into a flat image comes easy. I’ve always relied on color theory and spatial contrast to get depth.
I research and watch a lot of documentaries on artists, past and present. One of the things I have noticed is that it is often commented upon how the artist’s style changes over time. It occurred to me recently “maybe it’s just age…their eyesight just isn’t as clear as it once was”.
That is happening to me. Age, medications, and radiation treatment for Cancer are all effecting my “good” eye. I’ve decided to relax my “style” and method of painting. I have awesome color awareness so that will still be a focus of my craft. But the days of extremely detailed and hyper-realistic work is over. People that have known me for a long time are noticing this change…and they like it! I’m leaning towards Abstraction, and Abstract Landscape. It’s always been “fun” but now it is a matter of function and energy level.
However, I’ll always paint…even when I inevitably become completely blind.

What you are getting when you buy locally crafted items?

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What you are getting when you buy locally crafted items?

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Handcrafted items have been around since the beginning of humanity. Used to aid Pharaohs into the afterlife. As talismans hung around the neck or carried in a pocket for protection. Rock walls decorated to keep a representative record of life. Stained glass and sculpture to document spirituality. Useful purposes to keep us warm and our homes cozy. To commemorate a season, a birth, a death.

Why are we drawn to things that are made by hand? Perhaps because it represents Love, caring and connection. Not only between the artisan and the admirer, but the community…the entire Globe. Yet many people take hand crafted for granted. One should consider it a worthy investment compared to a temporary toss-a-way mass-produced item.

Handmade artistry by definition is made by the “hands” of the artisan or creator. There are no industrial machines spewing out duplicated pieces in a computerized rhythmic dance. The creations are limited to one person only capable of making so many with their two hands, or feet, or mouth. This is important! Your handcrafted piece has had attention paid to it. Far more than something manufactured.

Your item is exclusive when it has been handmade. Manufacturer’s can keep going once the designer is gone. Once a maker or artisan is gone–there are no more creations available. It is absolutely impossible to get another made. A very limited edition indeed.

Each maker has an intimate knowledge of what they are creating. Every line, texture, feeling, nuance of color, temperature and so much more. Energy is place into each piece with specific intention. Even if the piece is part of an edition, there will still be something unique to that particular item. You probably won’t see your painting on a bank wall, or the same necklace when you go to a family celebration. It is uniquely yours! Time and care was taken to create something just for you.

Do you really know where your money is going when you buy from a department store? There really is no connection is there? Investing in something handmade means you have made a connection, with the artist and the creator. You may not know them personally but they have a real story. And you get a piece of them and that story that is being told through their creation. Often it will be you that completes that story.

Artisans are thinking of you during the process. You can feel happy knowing that you are supporting another member of your Global family. The money you spend helps them obtain the necessities of life and continue the circle of community support. Most creators use local materials and products in their creations. They participate in keeping the local economy going with care and gratitude.

Creators use the best quality materials that they can from highly reputable suppliers. They research what goes into their creations. If it seems dubious from their personal exploration, it doesn’t make the cut. It is easy for them to regulate what goes into their items. They aren’t going to let something inferior leave their space.

Remember the next time you invest in something handmade, you are supporting someone outside of yourself. You have a special part of the artist forever in your collection. Feel good about being part of that circle of life and being an active member of your community.

How do you treat yourself?

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How do you treat yourself?

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Introducing my special humongous hot beverage (or soup) mug…ta da….

“Mama’s Monkey Juice”

To pamper myself I package up a variety of hot drinks to enjoy in the evening.  I binge shop at Bulk Barn for all of the ingredients:

~Ruddy Red Cocoa powder~marshmellows~apple-cider mix~white chocolate mix~a vanilla bean~assorted spices~caramel and mint chips~Skor bits~colorful sprinkles~

Because I love making things pretty I package them all up in seasonal paper (this happens to be Christmas themed) tied up with a bow.  

So when I feel like a bit of nostalgic pampering (that doesn’t involve a tub of bubbly water or a Champaign glass) these are ready to be indulged at a moment’s notice. 

Edibles always accompany this delightful past-time!

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How do you relax and treat yourself?

 

Of Ghosts and Garnets: Halloween

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Of Ghosts and Garnets: Halloween

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Baby Ugly lay mashed among the other toys in the closet. Otherwise Deirdre’s room was spotless for a ten year old. Even the splintered dried out hardwood floor was waxed with paste wax she found in the dank basement.  In a corner  caked in cobwebs and past wax and upswept grime of unknown floors was a dual head electric floor polisher. Deirdre  imagined loosing her grasp and it flying untamed around her small room so she let it be.

A couple of times a year she applied the wax with a rag paying special attention to the center spot of splinters that would never grease over, never mind shine. They would continue to work their way into her unsuspecting knees. The tall smooth cores of Granite mixed with blood red Garnet, trophies of her fathers misplaced occupation, towered on her vanity.  Mocking the floor’s roughness.

But all of that was far far away from Deirdre’s mind. It was Halloween Night and excitement running around collecting free candy in a pillowcase took every other thought’s place. She smeared ashes from the barbeque remnants of summer on her face. With a shoved pillow under one of her father’s faintly striped collared button-up shirts tied with a rope to gain a big belly. The Aunt Jemima costume she wore to school (and every year) that afternoon. Her brother Brendan was a bum with the same smeared ash make-up only he got to carry a stick with a hobo bag tied to it. Though there was four years difference in age they were exactly the same height.

Darkness softly spread it’s tentative fingers signaling twilight and the beginning of trick or treat. Their father and his eldest brother, Jack, who’s blackened nails would flip up and down forever unsecured from his nailbeds,  instructed the rules of the rampage to begin door to door. They each carried a white though greying spare pillowcase to dump the candy goods in.

A big haul was expected. Deirdre’s candy would last until Christmas, far surpassing Brendan’s two week gobble fest. Giving it away to her brother while they played “let’s Make a Deal”. One of the many games she invented to occupy the long Winter boredom.

In every neighbourhood there is always “that family”. In this neck of the city it was the Satao’s. The father was there but never seen, some sort of businessman. The eldest son only briefly caught tearing around in his orange fibreglass Corvette…a cool dude and quite handsome that later Deirdre would have a summer long crush on. The younger son Shawn terrified everyone. It was rumoured that he stuck firecrackers up cats asses…well…you can just imagine the other things angrily proclaimed about him.

The mother got the most attention and speculation. She would often wait at the bus stop in front of Deirdre’s house, bright lipstick and bald head, fashionably dressed and accessorized. Sometimes with a soft hat but most often not. Always colorfully attired teetering on high heels while swinging her purse waiting for the bus. It was murmured “menopause…” and “female troubles”.

Their house was parked alongside the now shattered in a ferocious accident pumpkin colored Corvette.  Across from the elementary school down the dead end street where Johnny Cash once played. A wealthy part of town with Deirdre’s family the only welfares around. The Satao’s house over imposing like all of the others, with a section of the old colonial orchards composing their line dance in the yard.

Deirdre’s best friend Claudette had become friends with the lady and often they would visit her, bringing ripped off branches of mustard yellow flowered trees as gifts. They listened to her stories of the war, of her being a model, and art.

Mrs. Satao’s paintings were large with free sweeping streaks. Aerial views of green, yellow and blue rectangular lines representing war planes in flight. At times she would show a much younger version of herself in black and white 1930’s photos story-telling when she was a model. Turning the pages of the photo album with long painted black nails that gleamed in the light. She had Black hair and the same big lipsticked mouth, but without the decaying and brown teeth of today. Deirdre was both compelled and a little jealous of Claudette’s relationship with the woman. Deirdre decided she definitely was a Witch. She had put a spell on her friend while putting a curse on her.

The Halloween take out was coming to a close, all four pillowcases now sagged down with weight. “Deirdre…come to the party!”

Claudette out of breath ran up to her. Deirdre cautiously looked at her father for permission for she didn’t really want to go but off the two girls went to the Satao’s brightly lit and lively home. Adorned for the season with friendly pumpkins and large white pillar candles. Their schoolmates were all there and a bunch of other kids that Deirdre did not know.

It was loud and raucous as any children’s party, with no real flow of events. Deirdre sat perched on a corner of a couch watching. There was sparkling quarters in a bowl for the taking with the rest of the activity a rapid fire blur to the senses.

All of a sudden a “Tickle Shawn” game began, with all of the children laughing and squealing. Each taking their turn at poking him. Everyone was smiling including Shawn, with the biggest smile of all.

Deirdre stood up, out of character to take part in the fun. Laughing and giggling like the rest of the kids, poking Shawn in the belly. Venomously his hand tightly gripped around her slender wrist “Don’t do that ever again!” he said with a dark look on his face, flat brown eyes looking deep into her dumbfounded blues.

A cold chill went up Deirdre’s back as she vainly tried to get away from his grip, quarters falling and tinkling to the floor. He was the Devil! Wondering as she abruptly left why Shawn had singled her out. She wasn’t doing anything different than the other kids. Looking to see if they noticed as she left but they did not seem to see her, still laughing and playing the game.

Her father was outside waiting while her Uncle, most likely one of the first Aids cases to hit the lower mainland, carried a tired Brendan home. Her father’s eyebrows rose up over his glasses in surprise to see her so soon.

Muttering “I didn’t like the party so didn’t want to stay anymore” Deirdre delicately put her hand into her father’s and they walked home. Another fleeting moment of freedom and independence had been lost…Halloween would never be the same. The last memory of her father ever being gentle with her.

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The new bower nest is finally done!

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The new bower nest is finally done!

Well well, this has been probably been the longest hiatus from my blog since it began…took me longer to recover from moving the bower nest than recovering from cancer I think.

With the move I decided to take about a year off, selling and doing shows that is, though a few commissions have come my way–with me squawking  “it’s actually my year off”.  But couldn’t refuse dear friends and repeat customers.  The new bower being much like the birth of a new baby.  All I did with new babies was worked on scrapbooks (really huge ones mind you) and the odd painting commission.

To make it up to you, my wonderful followers, I will be posting two new posts in the coming weeks. “All about Crystals” which is self-explanatory, and, perhaps on Halloween, the ethereal continuing story until my death of  Baby Ugly, with a new episode of “Ghosts and Garnets”.

On the lighter side of this dark and Octobery day, here’s some sun for you to enjoy…

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Time Sure Flies!

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HAPPY CANADA 150 DAY!

Here we are at the start of Summer already!  Time sure flies by when one is busy!  Hope you haven’t been too busy and get to relax this summer.  Me…I’ll be busy moving my studio so haven’t been able to fit in any writing time it seems.  Been a whirlwind selecting new window coverings, changing decor colors…all that fun stuff when moving.

Definitely will be taking time off to have my Birthday picnic at the end of the month! I will be away for the month of July and hopefully I will get caught up on finishing my blog posts…

Speaking of Dolls…the 3rd in my collection is finished!  “Canadiana” has been created in my unique way for celebrating Canada’s 150.  Perhaps you too have a creative element during your celebrations…would love to hear about it!

 

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Of Ghosts and Garnets: Baby Ugly

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Of Ghosts and Garnets: Baby Ugly

Long ago and far away on the other side of this vast Northern Continent – lived a scrawny, filthy and always wary ginger-haired girl and her doll….Baby Ugly.

Baby Ugly was a constant naked companion. Ever present during the days with wild wide open eyes during the night. While spirits wandered through out the rest of the derelict house they could not or would not pass through the Dutch door into their bedroom. Quite possibly installed for this reason.

The house with it’s spotlight windows and deep dark chimney that sat on a hill. Whose view encompassed all of the Vancouver skyline disappearing into the fade of the distant ski-hill.

Though the split door hindered the ghosts and other entities, the cast iron air vent way high near the ceiling did not. The vent was usually shut but on occasions the wispy bony spirit limbs would rattle it open, usually as the brightest of bright moonlight flooded the small area. As the lumbering Popular tree branches danced and criss-crossed their grey shadows onto the curtain-less window. To the thud of some departed heart slowed with mud and sea grass.

Not only would Baby Ugly lay there unblinking, but so would the waif of the girl. Who’s eyes were the very same shade of Denim Blue as the doll. Eyes that during the day would seal shut tight to pretend what it was like to be blind wandering around the house… and quite adeptly. Considered good practice being that only one eye was good anyways and blindness may become a regular way of life.

Certainly Baby Ugly and the girl were not afraid of ghosts. They were afraid of the living. The constant threat of bloodshed. The confusion of others. The use of implements on parts that were not designed for such implements. The looks of muddled blatant hate swinging with veiled dirty looks. They were both the unwanted, the not needed, the sore bleeding scab that one picks unconsciously. Only to go to a mirror and pick at it again full of vengeance and with renewed vigor.

We must go back further at a later time, before the house, when the scab was new. To the one bedroom slum apartment situated at the race start of the tenement. Baby Ugly and the girl dragging a cereal box on a string and picking up litter with a stick. Neither spoke at that time, with the exception when some kid would kick over the box of trash. Then the girl became so alive and with a tremendously strong pitch, and would fire as many lashings at the neighborhood brat as possible. Nobody messed with her duties…