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Surround Yourself with the Good

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Surround yourself with the Good

What does this mean? The “good” is the positive energy we get when we look or experience the positive. How do we introduce the positive into our life? We surround ourselves with good people. Mentors who tell us that we Can Do It. Most importantly we should make our environment enable us to have hope. That’s where  my Art comes in. Surround yourself with the good things of  the lightness of colour, the ideas of generosity, the beauty of the image into your home.  All things that inspire our view. All things that reminds us, on a daily basis, that life is Good.

As life throws us challenges we are often in a place of discouragement. The pushing through to activate and make things happen takes on more effort. The voice in our mind that “it’s just not worth the energy” to keep going is constantly there. How do you battle the negative? How do you push away these thoughts that there is no point to keep pushing? Discouragement is a motivator of inaction. If you just sit on the couch and not engage then nothing will happen. Your life is one of action so it is imperative that you create a life that is full and rewarding.

Build a connection to What Makes you Happy

Certainly activating change takes energy. You must first identify what is lacking in your life. I often go through my days, like a hamster, just producing and making things. At the end of the day, I summarize my list and look at what was finished. This makes me happy. Being a self employed creative person means that self discipline is a cornerstone piece of mental health. When I delay and procrastinate I have guilt. The feeling that I failed. So to avoid this, I have to make certain I look at my list and just check something off.

However, this does not address deep happiness. The stuff when you are hanging out with your partner and having a laugh. The stuff when you drive your teenager to school and have a moment of being let into her life with a funny story about a friend. Little things that I register in a moment. The things we take for granted. That taking the time to share a moment will reward us to be happier.

How Your Home Makes you Happy

My work brings clients that share personal stories. I have had several clients who want my work to remind them to be strong, to be active in their change in their life, and most importantly, to improve their happiness. Consequently, they see that they need change and my Art draws them to this need. This type of visualization is the key. Above all these clients look at my paintings and it brings them a moment of where they want to be. To be positive, to be resilient and to be satisfied.

In the painting highlighted, titled Into The Daybreak, the woman cycling is full of life. She rides into a world full of energy, hope and love. These small details of beauty creates an image that makes the viewer stop and register. That’s what is important. Look at your Art so you can  judge whether it inspires you. If it doesn’t then maybe it’s time for a change.

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Enjoy the Everyday Sounds of Life

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Sounds of everyday life can be taken for granted.

When my daughter was young, she would wake up everyday with a song. Singing in her childlike voice I would listen as I wake up and revel in this moment of happiness. Just to stop and listen. The other day I asked  my 14 year old daughter if she still wakes up with a song in her head. Yes she said. There is always a tune in her head. She dances through her life. The sounds of everyday life permeate her world and she registers this moment.

In fact, when she was younger, she would dance after dinner. Everyday. At home and when we went out for dinner. I called it the Dinner and Show time which was an inspiration for a whole series of pieces that focused on dance.  My daughter doesn’t dance after dinner anymore, because the music is still within her.

I don’t wake up with a song in my head. I wake up with a list of things to do. Not that this is a bad thing, but I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy life a bit more. Like my daughter.

Melody in Language can be Art

Recently I listened to an interview with the musician Meklit Hadero who finds melody in everyday language. The composing of music from language, repetition of sounds to make a song takes the everyday and makes it into art. But then that is the role of the artist- to highlight the taken for granted and elevate it. To walk into the ordinary and create a  piece that makes you stop, listen and look.

Designing Joy into your Home

Most importantly, this concept of registering the beauty of everyday relates to the healing power of beauty. Our homes, our places of refuge,  are the places that we retreat to and recharge. To ignore this place does not help you move forward in your life. In other words, it heals and gives you the strength to keep going. Yet the sounds of everyday life can take us into the pleasure of unnoticed.

Importance of the Circle

In the post by Ingrid Fetell who speaks to how joy can be designed into our surroundings, she speaks about how our homes and workplaces have to have a conscious awareness of healing and comfort. She highlights how the circle plays a major role in this design.

What does the circle do? How is it powerful? Many of my clients question my use of the circle and my repetition of this element in my work. I have always responded that I use circles as a way to elevate the feeling of the piece. However, this use goes much deeper. In fact, as Ingrid states,the circle has a psychological healing piece to it. It creates balance, a sense of wholeness and comfort. Sharp angles, rectangles and squares, have more of a sense of discomfort. Not surprising that this is the case. There really isn’t anything like polka dots.

Painting with Circles

In the highlighted painting titled Floating Fragrance, the use of circles is repeated in the structure of the piece. The end result is the sensation of these women walking on air. The repetition of the ladies, in a pop art style, gives a contemporary vision of a cityscape. Layers and the ephemeral light makes this piece full of life.

In conclusion, the goal is to look and listen at your world. Stop and look at a painting in your home. Listen to laughter and music and be aware of how it feels. Above all, register the joy that surrounds you daily!

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Buying a Gift of Art

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Buying a Gift of Art

Actually I find that buying gifts is challenging. So this time of year can bring on the grumps.

In the last couple of years I have asked my teenage daughter to just send me the link of what she wants for Christmas. This is the time of year that this process begins. My text messages start to fill up with the Black Friday sales. I proceed, as a well trained dog, to buy the gifts online. As a result, this leaves me with a degree of emptiness. There was no hunt. I didn’t debate what I thought of this gift.

I just bought the stuff to make her happy.

This is where the issue begins. Buying a gift, and giving this gift, says something about you. It says something about the giver and the receiver. In other words, buying a gift of art gives the biggest message.

Art can remind us of others

With holidays around the corner, I have been cleaning out my house. Throwing out stuff that I just don’t need. I came across a small painting of a landscape that my father painted the beginning of his career. (Yes, my father was an artist).  It stopped me in my tracks and it reminded me of him before he died.  This painting brought him back to me for a few minutes.

Like an old photo found in a box, this painting brought back memories. But it is better than an old photo. It tells a story that can be shared with others. Art does this. It is a piece of memorabilia that has a universal message.

My husband looked at this small piece of art that represented by father and it gave him a different message. A pretty little landscape that was painted in 1969. It is an innocent lovely moment and it was a  message that my husband saw loud and clear.

Buying a gift of art shows who you are!

Isn’t this the point of having art in your home? Imagine what it would be like to buy a piece of art for your family, your friends or even for yourself? This piece of art reminds you of who you are because it reminds you of your friendship, or of your father, mother or siblings. So look at art as the gift that keeps on giving because it reminds you of life, the stories and the memories that make your relationships important.

Most importantly, it gives the message of yourself which is the most important piece of the gift.

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?

 

 

 

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How to preserve memories?

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How to preserve memories? Memories that happen in a glimpse of time that we experience and take for granted at that moment? There are many moments that we try to recreate through a photograph, a short film, but the actual sensation can never be recaptured.

As the holidays descend upon us, many are recreating traditions in the hope of experiencing a moment from the past. Food, gifts, gatherings are become a way to recreate the bonds that families have. These moments of the past can never be recaptured. They can never be re experienced because of age, loss of family name and just time. As my family gets older and my children become young adults, I find I grieve the loss of their childhood. This time of year has reminded me that those moments when they were young were precious and brief. There is no way to go back except to share stories with them about the “remember when”. This is the closest I can get to reliving the memory.

All of these moments of trying to understand these feelings of loss are entwined within my work in the studio. As an artist who works in the realm of nostalgia I try to understand the layers of meaning behind an old photo. Who were these people who stand so straight for the camera? What kind of lives did they have? The object of this image has a different meaning to me than to the owner of this image. This is the tension. This is where I try to find a way to communicate the sensation of this time through my own artistic interpretation . This body of work looks at the nostalgic in an very personal way. It looks at the peons moment of experience.

In an article looking at the role that art has in memory, there is a discussion in the challenges that artists face in trying to find a way to capture a memory that honours the sensation of the moment.

In the featured painting I show, titled Flying Like a Butterfly, this piece brings to mind the vintage postcards of the waterskiing shows from the 1950s. The looking at the moment of time. One that was glamorous and fun and full.

 

 

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The Handmade is the perfect Gift

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As you know, the handmade, one of a kind gift is the perfect choice!  The question is why?

Your Creative Voice in Giving

As the search for the perfect gift comes upon us for the holiday season, we are struggling to find the present that speaks to our own creative voice. This creative voice, which can also be know as the “original voice” speaks to our own creativity. This may seem a bit abstract, but I have often wondered why we are so attracted to finding the maker of the piece of craft or art. With a culture flooded with products, the search for uniqueness is a premium.

My discovery of the concept of the “original voice” came about from reading Arthur Lessac’s article “The  Quest for the Original Voice” The article is interesting in that it defines that our own inner environments This is a voice the creative voice we are born with. This references  authenticity, uniqueness and is genuine. It advocates feeling, not intellect, to activate the creative visionary within. The article mentions that this inner original voice can disappear due to the demands of the outside world. The inner creativity is stifled by the daily routine of life.

As I create and make work in my studio, I often think that the production of these unique pieces, out of nothing, is ridiculous. It has an element of fun that seems self fulfilling and not part of the world that prioritizes mass production and money. Yet as my clients buy my work, and hang the Art in their homes, I find that the self fulfilling aspect is not so selfish. In effect, I serve a need. The need to find creativity in all of our lives. To remind ourselves of our “original voice” is to help people discover their own inner creativity.

The Importance of the Handmade

So where does this leave you for the perfect gift? It begins with understanding that buying an item that an individual has made, or designed, is actually an extension of your own needs. That of finding a place to share your own creative vision with others. This is actually the gift. Or as the painting that is highlighted titled Moments Shared

 

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Calling all Art Lovers!

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Wonderland Calling for Art Lovers!

This morning I met a woman who’s first words were “I am an art collector”. She hadn’t bought a piece from me, but I was struck at how proud she was that her home was filled with art. She didn’t care whether the art was seen as “good” or “bad”, rather, she loved that she had collected art made by artists who came into her life and expressed how she felt about her world. Now, she is an art collector for her kids and makes Art a special gift that gives them the “colour of their life”.

Being an art collector of others can be challenging. How do you know what to give to someone who is just getting married, or has an anniversary, or is moving into their first home? In my opinion, I don’t think it really matters. The gift is from your own perspective. You see the colour, the life and the story. The person who receives it knows that this gift comes from a place of understanding and relating to your world.

For the past three decades I have been making and selling my work to thousands of people. Yes- this may sound a little over the top, but I have kept records of everyone who has purchased from me. In the last few years, I have realized that in order for this to happen, our world needs people, like you, to love art. To look at it as a necessary part of your world that reflects back to and expands the your vision.

Recently, the founder of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Murray Koffler died. He was 93. Over 50 years ago, he created the best Art Fair in Canada. His vision? To provide a place to enable artists to show their work without the galleries, or independent gatekeeping that happens in the art world. The best part of this art fair is that it enabled the public to SEE artist’s work. It may not be in a white walled gallery, but it provided a fresh way of being exposed to work by bringing the artist directly to the public. A disruptor ahead of his time.

I have been a Director on the Board of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition for the past 5 years. This art fair show cases over 300 artists at a time. It is a direct reflection of a culture that realizes that Art is an integral part and important part of our city. Buying Art, and giving it to either yourself or to those who are important to you, supports and elevates our experience and thought. It’s important to do.

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How Art can make you into a Better Person

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When a piece of art reflects what you feel, it can give you a stronger sense of who you are.” Jean Huble

There are times when I am at an art fair, or at an opening at a gallery that I wonder about the purpose of all of this work and presentation. The business of art can be draining, and the disconnection between the creating of the piece and the final presentation of it can be a far distance. And then there are moments that there is a realization that my purpose, as an artist, is to make the world a “better place”.

What does this mean? In an interesting article by Jean Huble, titled How your Appreciation of the Arts makes You a Better Person, this question is addressed from the perspective of the appreciator. It’s not a far leap for the artist to to understand the benefit of “appreciation”. My purpose is to create Art that makes others recognize their experience. It is a form of creating an outlet for empathy. By looking at my work, the hope is the viewer will redefine and experience their own life in a deeper more resonate way. So when your daily life takes you in a moment of stress, art can be there to show the bigger world. The place that is larger than the immediate demands.

When placing artwork in my client’s homes, I am always struck by how my work becomes separate from me in another context. It takes on the meaning of the owner. My painting is no longer about my own interpretation of the image, rather, it relates and becomes the owner’s world.

In the piece highlighted, titled Floating Love, the couple is part and apart from the environment. They are on top of the world. A sensation I often feel with my husband. At the end of the day, there is a sense that we move through life, day after day, separate but together in our experiences. It is my hope that this story, this sentiment, becomes part of someone else’s life and lets them look towards the future in a positive, rewarding way.

 

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