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Creative paralysis of an Artist

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Creative paralysis is a reality.

The darkness that I awaken to everyday makes me want to go back to sleep. The darkness of our reality. The movie is not ending and I have realized that this is going to be a marathon.

Even though I want to sleep to escape, I don’t.  I get up, I go to the studio and I look at the next step. When our world has changed so drastically artists freeze. We cope by waiting for the light. The light of hope, of energy around us, of working like the rest of the world. When that has stopped, we seem to have stopped. At least that is the impression I am getting from many colleagues and other artists. Of course, paralysis is also from the fear of no income. The fear that the jungle floor is all of sudden in our living room. Not able to hustle, to show, to be part of a community of artists and promote our work makes for a time of retreat.

So how to push back at the darkness? How to bring in the light and create. So many are saying, now is the time to make. To make something that we don’t usually have time for as we are getting ready for the next show. Without the show,  there is no pressure.

So it is important, as artists, to make a conscious decision to create. To start, little by little, and bring in the light. Because that is our job. To remind those who love our work that our vision of light, of beauty, gives hope in the face of despair. As many people are working at home, trying to connect, to serve their jobs, connect with their co-workers from a distance, there is sense of doom. A sense that the enemy at the door can touch those who we love and cherish.

So yes, this is a pause. However, it is a pause of forced consent. It is a pause to regroup and look to those whom we love and register the importance. It also is a time to be in the moment and look for the lightness.

So like soldiers who step into battle, artists need to speak to this.  To get over the creative paralysis is to start working and stop thinking. To initiate a bit of creativity.  To let the subconscious be expressed. Our role, as I see it, is to bring relief to those who love our work. To find a way to escape and remind ourselves that there is life. There is lightness after the dark.

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Postcards of Paradise

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Special Messages of Love

What is in a postcard? Really the question should be asked; when is the last time you received a postcard? A short message, with a great picture and a sensation that someone, somewhere took the time to think of you. They took the time to write a note, put your address and stamp on it and put it in a mailbox.

Usually these postcards have photos of wonderful places. Places we can escape to in the moment of receiving this message. Our mind travels, every so briefly, and is there with the person enjoying the view. Of course, you soon think that the message is not irrelevant as the person has moved onto another place. The mail could never follow as quickly as social media.

Now we have an instant experience- we can look at social media and see the place, the moment of personal reaction to the place they are visiting. The consumption of the imagery is monumental. The reception of this image does not celebrate the personal sharing of a memory. In fact, there just is no connection. There is observation.

Postcards makes us feel special

When collecting postcards from the past, there is a real sense of humanity. A consistent messaging of celebrating events in life and travel. Always a message of “wishing you were here”. The sense of absence is pervasive. Even though the postcards come from 60 years ago, the messaging is often the same.

When receiving a postcard, there is a quietness, a sense of being in a space and sharing the moment that the sender is trying to convey. You think of the person being in that space. You are there in that moment- with them.

It is this sensation that the latest body of work looks at. The moment we imagine what the image says about the sender. Is it just another pretty place? Or is there a real emotional space that the sender was in when sending this postcard? When creating a painting, such as Phenomenal Woman, there is a deeper message than the image. The layering of a feminist story, played into the image, makes for a piece that  is a deeper space. A political space.

A postcard can be more than a postcard.

In reality, no image is just an image. Every image relates to a story that can be interpreted in a way of intent. Taking the image of the postcard of being by a pool is a perfect platform for another meaning. Layering the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou does such a thing. It puts a deeper meaning than escape or holiday. It puts the meaning of celebrating women and celebrating beauty a prime message. Two messages which makes this work, and this series, a fun and relevant body of work.

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Power of Original Art

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The power of original art is everywhere.

We are surrounded by an enormous amount of imagery everyday. Images through social media, tv, streaming, news  all seem to blend into our minds. So what stands out? What makes an impression upon us? The power of original art is to make you stop, look and think.

When you look towards original art you should stop.  Think that these are One of a kind pieces of art that had time and thought put into it to create it. Remember that the image you are looking out was made out of NOTHING.  A person took a tool, and used a surface and made something from nothing. And what they made was about something. It had a statement about your life. It’s purpose was to register a moment that you take for granted. In many ways, artists are visual philosophers. They stop time and translate it into a visual moment. So stop the scrolling and register.

This moment is put in front of you and you are made to register.

As a viewer, and consumer of this imagery, you look at it. You think “what is this image and how does it relate to you”. On a broader scale what does this art say about the trends in our culture.  If it’s a piece about nature, the use of color, the brushwork, the technique capture the light and image. If it’s a figure, there is sense of  person, the story and the identity.

This is where my work exists. It sits in the realm of creating a story about the people in our life and world. They may have come from the past, but their influence is still existent in the present. Whether it is an image from an old family photo, or an image from an iconic figure that is well known, then the story evolves to relate to who we are today. The beauty and elegance of Audrey Hepburn inspires us. The iconic power of Marilyn Monroe is transformed into our own persception of female empowerment.

Slow down and stop. Be Mindful of what you look at.

The highlighting of this creative moment makes you stop and register. That is what I am trying to make you do. To slow down and absorb.

In our daily life of the saturation of images we just dismiss. We don’t stop. We just consume. We scroll past and not think about the time, the idea and what the image says about you at this time.

 

 

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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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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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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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