Inspiration
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Resisting Delay of Creativity

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Resist the voice that says No.

What does it take to create? To make something- a piece of art, a piece of music, a new business? The making something out of nothing takes an enormous amount of initiative, motivation and perserverance. Most of the effort is the resisting of creating that seems to envelop us.  Making a piece of art is no different. Having the ideas is one thing. It is thinking through the process that takes a n amount of time to understand and go through. As an artist I make plans. I think of an image, then initiate the process. However when doing it I have to let the painting, the piece of art take its own magic. The first step is the most important- initiating the work.

Life and Making of art are similar

Many of us live our lives this way. As we get older, we have our work, our families and we are busy. Focused on the creating of things around us. Then suddenly there is time. Time to think and time to share. Time to be. What to do with your time? There can be a tendency to resisting the risks. To take initiative and be adventurous . Take life into our hands and make it a piece of art. Travel, volunteer, play golf, play bridge- all things that use our minds and expresses what we love to do. Yet there are many of us who stop ourselves and say that we just can’t do this or that. That we do not follow through and grasp onto the piece that makes us happy.

Art and Stories about reality.

The choices we make as we live our lives can go through so many levels. The first is always- what do I want to do? What do I want to create? For me, it is what do I want to say about my vision of life. Many times I am confronted with the “resisting”. The action of not taking the time and effort to create.

Stories are my favourite focus. To put together images that relate to our own place of authentic experience is the core to my work. The connections to my family and partner, the experience of adventure and release are at the core of my narrative. As I create these pieces, I try to find the Universal message. That my experience is your experience. That my exploring the dimensions of living life, and creating an image of it, is something that you will look at and be inspired to do as well.

As in the painting highlighted, Weekend Glory, a piece of art that embodies the release. The celebration of the moment and inspiration of life. Two things we should think of on a daily basis. Two things that we can move with into our world and move through without registering that word No.

To see a collection of inspirational prints see www.memoryartgirl.com

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Is Art Dead?

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Is the power of art dead?

Does art still have power that it used to have? Is art dead? Do we care about the handmade or the one of a kind? Does it have the same power that art had in the 17th and 18th centuries? Although it does not have the same power as these times, art is very much alive. In fact I would make the argument that art is even more important because it is it is so pervasive and accessible.

Although the handmade item seems to be disappearing, there is still the focus upon the uniqueness of the idea. We are now in a time where we look towards how the digital transforms our ideas and puts them in a new context.

Digital creates a new concept.

In fact, in this digital age, the translation of the image into different types of materials actually puts another layer of meaning on it. For many years, I was all about just the Original. Anything that was printed or created on another substrate, was not, in my opinion, as valuable as the original. I’ve now changed my mind. I have reproduced my work on acrylic glass and it takes on an entire whole other layer of meaning. Respecting new materials, understanding how a print can be valuable in its uniqueness are now part of the landscape. It is using the same idea, but translating it creates another way of understanding the image.

Power of the Original

That still leaves me with the concept of the Original. This piece of creativity will never lose its power. The way the piece is made, the magic of the moment of creativity by the hand of the artist. The signature of this creativity are critical pieces to the power of anything reproduced by the artist. It is at this moment of the “original story” that makes the depth and power of the piece. It is never to be underestimated.

In the piece highlighted, Let the Sun Shine, the magic of the moment of sun and escape is apparent. What makes this pieces so unique is the way the viewer can contemplate the moment of peace. The moment of escape and the beauty of the light. The same idea works on the original and the print level. Of course, knowing that this piece was touched and created by the artist makes this one of kind. However, it still has the power of the idea. The idea of escape, the idea of the past and the idea of seeing a unique idea.

 

 

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Is your Children’s Art enough?

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Children’s art in your home does not help your children.

Can your home just have your children’s art? Is it enough to hang the naive, lovely, personal pieces of art that your kids make in your home?

A few weeks ago I was invited to a beautiful home in Seattle. The people who lived here had two middle school aged children and I was a guest for dinner. Their home was on Lake Washington with a spectacular view. Modern lines, big open walls and tastefully furnished. They had a fireplace with a big empty wall. There was a couch with a big empty wall. No art. I asked the reason as to why they didn’t have art in their home. The woman said she hangs her childrens art upstairs. She only decorates her main floor with seasonal decor. She was very proud of her children’s art which I thought was wonderful. However, since this conversation I have been thinking as to why she does not see the negative effect of not having art made by professional artists in her home.

Teach your children the value of creativity.

This maybe controversial, but just using your children’s art may in fact do damage to your children. I know what you are thinking- that this is a ridiculous statement. But it stands to reason. We learn by imitating. Being exposed to new ideas, new creativity and then incorporating it into our homes teaches us big ideas. Children look. They may be dismissive and walk by the art you have with a lack of engagement and understanding, but in reality your kids see.

They see the art on the walls as a validation of creativity. They see the stories, the thoughtfulness of your selection. They see the different uses of materials. They understand the sophistication of thought which is far developed from their own. As a parent, you can speak to the reasons why you like it, what it says to you. How it reminds you of a part of your life and outlook. Small pieces of information that go into the bucket of reasoning when your child makes their artwork, or writes their stories and essays. It therefore makes them think of bigger ideas than their own.

Make their world bigger

So with this perspective, it stands to reason that hanging your child’s art is great self esteem builder, it may actually make their world a little bit smaller. It gives them a narrower view.

So take a risk- buy a piece of art that speaks to a deeper, mature voice. It will enhance your world, and it will make your children’s art better in the long run. 

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Know your history to know yourself.

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Know your History

Learning about ourselves, to know your history,  gives us deeper understanding of who we are. Knowing ourselves with the knowledge of our past, with the understanding of where we come from, can enable our lives to grow. Looking back at our ancestors, the people in our lives who made us, give us a clearer assessment of where we are today.

This should go without saying. However, too many times we often forget where we came from. At least, in my life, I always seem to push forward. To keep setting goals. To keep moving forward. Yet sometimes, it is just good to stop and look back. To look at where it all started.

When I was a Child

My father was an artist. I grew up with the creating, selling and constant marketing of art. It was a a childhood of setting up shows, and watching my family survive from the art made by my father. Today, I am not far from this childhood. Although I create my own art now, my goal is to market and send out information about my creativity everyday. Social media has come a long way from distributing thousands of postcards door to door which my father did.

The value of Stories

Some say holding onto the past means not looking towards the future. I don’t believe this. In fact, I truly believe learning the stories of our families gives us a starting point for the present and future;

“The goal of yesterday will be our starting point to-morrow” Thomas Carlyle

As we look at images of our past, like old photos of your parents walking or weddings or family gatherings,  or little pieces of paper of birth announcements, or postcards written and saved, the life lived becomes apparent. The lives before you, from where you came from inform your present. It should’t be underestimated the value of these stories.

What would we be without knowing about the challenges and courage of our ancestors? We would be floating through life without an anchor. Without an understanding of who we are today.

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How Art increases Creativity.

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Creativity comes from looking at art.

This is a simple fact. Living with empty walls is boring and uninspiring. It makes sense that when walking into your home, art is there to remind you of vibrancy and life.

But what about your workplace? Do you work in a cubicle or office that has empty walls? Are you having meetings in a conference room that is stifling?

It has been found that art reduces stress in the workplace and increases creativity and encourages expressions of opinions. It gives us the courage to look at things a bit differently. It reminds you that there is life beyond those four walls that you sit in for 8 or more hours a day.

Studies have shown that Art enhances Innovation

In an article in Forbes titled “The Impact of Art in the Workplace”, statistics showed that there was a 32% increased in productivity by people who worked within an enriched environment. Therefore, it should be considered how the environment encourages inspiration. As a manager, are you thinking about the workplace and how it encourages your people to stay a bit longer? How it makes everyone think bigger and with more thought?

Art can do this. Such an simple idea to hang something on the walls that reminds you to think bigger. To think creatively. To think outside the box. To speak your mind and express your opinions.

According to a recent study it was stated that “aesthetic in the truest sense means energy giving which is what a workplace needs, rather than a bland industrial environment”. It makes sense!

Art does not distract, although many think this may be the case. In fact, looking at art engages us in an intellectual way that reminds us about innovation. Most importantly,  it reminds us of an escape.

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Art in the Digital Age

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Art and the digital question.

Is there an “aura” to art that that doesn’t appear in a digital form?

Or is it the idea that is the main value of the piece? In the age of digital reproductions, there seems to be a dissolving break between the “original” and the “print”.  Is it important that the piece is “handmade”? Does it give it more of a “soul”? Or do you react to the image, on its own merit, consider the idea behind and enjoy it for what it says to you as the viewer. At the basis of this difference is the idea. The idea of what makes this piece so unique.

In a famous essay by communication theorist Walter Benjamin,  in the ground breaking book “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” he describes that “authentic artworks have a certain indefinable “aura” about them” and makes them great. His opinion was that mechanically reproduced images miss the “soul of the work”. This theory, first written about in 1936, still carries a great deal of weight. Many artists don’t want to feel that they are being replaced by the machine.

Images are more important than the materials.

We are now in a different time. Images flicker in front of our eyes to the point that we  can just create our own with a click of  a button. So what makes an artists work different? It’s all in the idea. The idea of intention and result. Although the materials used play a role, ultimately it is the image that attracts the viewer.

In my work, the layers of vintage wallpapers, and paint carry an element of uniqueness. There is a scarcity to this material. So yes this makes a difference. However, the use of the materials is just part of the piece. I also use digital prints as part of my process. Capturing images from Classic films, old magazines, vinyl album covers, and old photos are manipulated digitally and then transferred onto the canvas.

Does digital mean no “soul”?

So where is the “soul” of the piece? Recently I had a series of pieces printed on acrylic glass on a large scale. The depth and quality of the print is as good as the original. The piece takes on a contemporary feel with a clear reflective quality to it. Although the materials changed the image it still has its power. It has the message, the colour and the feel. It does not have my hand as part of the actual piece, however, the message was clear. The “soul” is in the message.

However, the making and creating the piece has its own energy. This added piece of “aura” gives depth that cannot be found in a print.

Ultimately it is about how you want the piece to exist in your home. The feel of the handmade can be a priority. Or it can be the message. Either way the story of the art is the important piece.  In conclusion,  the ideas make the impression. This is the most important piece of seeing the art.

 

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Memory and Forgetting

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We are all a String of Memories.

We create our identity by experiencing moments.  Every moment is a memory as soon as it passes. I often think of a moment in the past and put myself back at that time.  Like trying to remember my daughter at the age of two walking for the first time.  We remind ourselves of who we are when we remember. At least that’s what I thought. In fact,  this is not true. Several studies have shown that the act of remembering a particular moment can be interpreted differently. Most importantly, the more you remember a particular event the less accurate the actual event becomes.

Every moment is a Memory Sensation

As soon as reality happens, the memory changes. The truest memories are those that are not recalled often. This fact is difficult for me to accept.

How can I not remember the first kiss I had with my husband? I seem to remember the place, the time and the sensation. So I did a bit of an experiment. I asked my husband if he remembered our first kiss. He didn’t. Sure he remembered the general time and place but his memory was more about the “feel”. That brings me to the most important piece. It was the sensation that was remembered. Not the detail of the time and place, rather, the connection.

My Work is Created from the Past

It is this fragment of a moment frozen in time that I try to find in my work. Many ask me if I create images that are my personal memories. No. I don’t use personal references. I use items that have a “look” of memory or are sourced from things from the past. Old photos, classic films, vintage magazine images all are references that reminds us of another time. With these little pieces of ephemera, I try to create a sensation of a memory. Not an actual event- rather a familiar image that reminds the viewer of a piece of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period. The yearning is the important piece. However, I am not looking to put a piece of an event. Rather I am trying to create a sensation of a person, or an event and this creates a “yearning” for the viewer.

Like seeing an image of a woman riding a bike from the 1940s. Many look at this image and it reminds them of their mother riding a bike. The freedom and release reminds them of a special person who taught them to enjoy life and be free.

So even though this piece can reference a particular person, it is the sensation of the memory that is important. It is this sensation that makes us who we are. Not the little pieces of the actual events of time or place, rather the entire feel. Every moment is a memory and a sensation. It is this sensation that is the meaning behind my work.

To see a full Selection of  available Original Pieces click Here

 

 

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It All started With the Word No

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There are No Women Artists

As the 2019 International Women’s day approaches in March, I am once again reminded of where my creative voice started.

It started with the word NO-

No you can’t do this because you are a woman. The message was that because I was a woman I would be paid less, be a target for violence, and be expected to expect less. These ideas made me angry. After finishing my first University degree I realized that my goal was to make art that could help cultural social change. In other words, make art that would change people’s minds.

It was to change the vision of women and make a living from it. This may sound like a naive idea. How do I make social change through Art? My answer? Just make the work and put it out there.

However the word No was loud in my head as I looked to using Art as a way to make people aware of the woman’s voice and experience. My theory was that by doing this I could make the viewer realize that women should be honored and respected.  I soon realized that “No” I can’t make a living in art because there aren’t any other women out there to look at.  In the late 1980’s there were very few women represented in the private galleries and public museums. Looking around I saw little representation or role models.

Lessons my Father Taught Me

When I was a child, my father told me I could do anything I wanted. However this was not the message I got when I was completing my first degree in Carleton University in media theory. I soon realized that, through typical “consciousness raising” feminist education , that it is a uphill battle for women. The lack of representation in museums, galleries was being highlighted by women art collectives. For example, the Guerilla Girls was drawing attention to the fact that very few women were being exhibited in major musuems.  In addition,  there was also the push for the National Women’s Museum of Art in Washington DC.  The voice was slowly finding its way to the surface. Yet there was, and still is, a systematic lack of representation of women in Art distribution channels. Art was being made- it was not being shown.

Yet I could not accept that the public- people like myself- did not want to have women’s art hanging in their home. Artists that peppered history such as Mary Cassatt, Emily Carr, or Georgia O’Keefe were out there. The issue was not that there were no women artists. The issue was the distribution. The male voice permeated through the levels of jurying and  the acceptance into the galleries. Selection did not highlight the woman’s voice. So how do I bypass this gatekeeping structure? How do I get my work shown?

Find the Collector, Find the Voice

My solution? To bypass the selection process. To go directly to the client and find my collector. Above all,  let the public decide for themselves. Over the past three decades I have worked with over 20 different galleries. Every gallery was managed or owned by women. I was able to get into these galleries by first proving I had a buying public. I had found my own client and I convinced the dealers that they could capitilize on my work. It was a sharing with the gallery. The way I did this was through competitive art fairs.  These marketing outdoor events gave me access to the public.  I could sell directly to the collector who came to these events and I could convey my message and voice one on one.

Message has to be Subtle to have an Effect

This process also gave me a clearer vision of my message. I soon realized that to be political and feminist was not a selling point. In the early 90’s the public was not ready for the feminist voice.   I became aware that I did not have to describe the woman’s situation. I had to be authentic and convey what IS the woman’s voice. Who am I? What do I do? I am a partner, a mother and a strong woman. Three elements that have developed in themes in my work. Themes of Cityscapes (which is the setting for romance and partnerships with my husband), Women images (strong vibrant dynamic images) and finally Home Sweet Home (images from the domestic space) My belief is by portraying these stories, the woman’s voice is empathized with by the viewer. The collector sees themselves in this art and renews/reaffirms their own belief systems.

So Where are We Now?

Now we are in the age of social media. As a result, more women can use the tools of media to amplify their voice. The museums still do not show women’s art except through a token few. I am often amused when colleagues mention to me to see a particular woman’s show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, as though this is the representation of many. Imagine if you walk into the National Gallery and the entire museum has women’s art hanging and only one or two male artists. Imagine what that would look like. In October the Tate Gallery in London said they were doing this courageous act. If only for a brief period of time. It does give us the thought that eliminating 50% of the voice does not represent our culture. It does not reflect who we are.

Art cannot change beliefs. Media cannot change beliefs. However, art and media can affirm, it can give confirmation and it can inspire. In conclusion,  all things that can change culture start with the voice. Therefore the voice has to be allowed to speak in order for change to happen.

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Memory; Reality or Lie?

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Memories as a Reality

Memories as a reality? Are our memories truth or a lie? If it is a lie- can we rely on these memories to truly define us? Confusing questions, to be sure. But I am interested in how this relates to Art. My art. Memories are my inspiration, but I interpret the moment. A moment that is a trigger for you. So the ‘memories as a reality’ become more about the sensation of a moment in time. It becomes a doorway through which you can enter and enjoy the memory of a particular time and place.

Everytime we remember an event, it is different. Memory is not a reality, it is an interpretation. Much like a piece of Art. The transformation of reality into an interpretation is the reality. I find this difficult to accept. How can an event change, in your mind, when it actually happened?

I remember one thing. you remember another . We were both at the same event, the same place, but you remember it differently than me.

The memories we have of a certain time period of our life can be wrong. It may actually be a lie. How often have you had a conversation with your partner about a prrticular event and the stories are different? One’s perception of that moment is not the same as the others. Although I don’t know if this is a lie as much as an experience of reality through different eyes.

In the article Why are Memories so Different from Reality;

“A memory isn’t a perfect stored representation of the event. It’s not a photograph, snapshot, or movie of our lives. When we encode something we store salient aspects, things that stand out and things we find important. What those things are also depends on you, your past experiences, and your knowledge. Different aspects stand out or are important to different people.”

Impression becomes the Truth.

Following this, then the impression of the event becomes the most important feature. Much like a piece of art. It is the impression of the idea that comes forth in the painting. The bits and pieces that are put together to create the image are a transformation of an image through my eyes and mind. Much like a memory.

In the painting highlighted, titled Fairytale Escape, this piece goes into the realm of the adventure. I remember piling into my father’s car, as a child, and heading out to the campgrounds. Cooking outside, sleeping in the camper, the sounds of the woods surrounding us. It had such a comforting adventure. The reality, though, was a bit different. The weather, the breaking down of the vehicle, the fighting with my brother- all things that seem to wash away when remembering these excursions.

This painting is part of my Home Sweet Home series. A series that looks at the home as place of idealism. Impressions of the home that tell the story of the “home”. Each place conveys both comfort and isolation. We remember our home in particular ways- a place of love, of connection, but it is also a place where we are lonely and isolated. Two pieces of memory and identity that are critical to our well being.

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Just Show Up

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Show Up

“Just show up”, she said.

What does that mean today? What does it mean to be there, to act, to react, to give, to take and to be? It means that being in the moment and acting like you are producing and contributing is showing up. That being part of life, sharing your vision, honoring your talent, and giving it to those around you is showing up. Finally it means that making what ever you make becomes part of a wider world.

Working in the Rabbit Hole

As I work in the studio in January, I often feel like I am in a Rabbit hole forgotten by everyone. I have very busy days producing with0ut any conversation with anyone other than my husband and daughter over dinner. It’s  a life of isolation and speaking to myself. For many, this would be impossible to live with. I know that my husband and daughter would go a bit crazy if they didn’t have someone to speak to all day. For me, it’s different.

The creative life is just this. It’s about ideas, using materials to bring those ideas out into the world, and having conversations on another level with those ideas. The photographer Robert Frank said ” Look outward to understand inward”.  He produced the phenomenal book The Americans which looks at mid century life. Many images are about looking from the outside and trying to understand the inner truth of an intimate moment. A girl standing in an elevator with figures around her can be just an image. Yet this black and white image, with the dark figures surrounding her has a loneliness surrounded by people. An image that is is at that moment but is still timeless.

Searching for the Truth

So this concept of searching for the “truth” is a my goal everyday. Creating work that has a nostalgic approach brings in the memory component but it goes deeper. Certainly it speaks to a brief second of truth. The application of paint, the use of colour, the simplifying of detail all speak to trying to find what the “truth” is. Where is the story and how can I reveal this in this painting? Above all what is intimate moment am I trying to find and reveal to the viewer?

In the piece highlighted titled “At Last I Found a Dream”, the story is familiar. A romantic encounter watched from a distance. The old photographs embedded into the image bring to mind the black and white memories of other couples. Snapshots that reveal a truth of that moment. The couple hugging was from a vintage advertising for an insurance company. Taken out of context, this image still holds true.   Finally, by bringing pieces together to create a story that was not intended but is therefore the mark of a great piece.

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