Monday, January 9, 2017

I became mired in gloom after Trump was elected. We had a dark and dreary fall with a seemingly endless amount of rain and by the time hell broke loose in America I was already fighting off depression from the serious lack of sun. 
Election night found me sobbing into my comforter aghast at the thought of a man with such dastardly ideals making his way to the presidency. I was stunned when it actually happened.

My apolitical, largely equanimous boyfriend refused to discuss the matter with me, even chuckling at my emotional ranting and tsk-tsking me for allowing American politics to disrupt my sense of peace. "Nothing you are doing or saying right now is going to help this situation," he announced with finality.
"Well that's easy for you to say," I sputtered, "you're a straight white male living in Canada, you don't have to worry about your safety or losing your home or being deported." Silence ensued. Nickolai had no interest in discussing the ramifications of a climate change denier in the position of president. He didn't want to discuss the role  the media played in swaying the election, or the flawed electoral system, or what would happen to immigrants or minorities in the coming months. Nickolai wanted to meditate and then go to bed. He was tired.
It became obvious that while I was ruminating over the global impacts of Trump as president and gauging the response of the international community, Nickolai was tinkering with bikes and planning a surf trip to Nicaragua.
Something about that bothered me. I found his utter disinterest to be unsettling and I felt alienated, alone and afraid of the future. Shortly thereafter Nickolai declared he was leaving for Los Cardones and promptly sped away where he remains languishing in the tropics while I write this.
Crusty and decidedly alone, my strategy of incessantly watching Democracy Now and voicing my growing concerns to whoever would listen didn't seem to be working. It was not working because I had not managed to change a single thing except personally become increasingly anxious and at times, angry.
I wrote those paragraphs a few weeks ago. I had to stop writing because I was overwhelmed and genuinely at a loss. What to do? I doubled up on my meditation practice; observing the breath and sensations in the body, sitting quietly and resting in presence. I started painting, because I'm a painter and that's what soothes my soul and lifts my spirits. I stopped watching the news every day. I stopped following American politics. I began a new series of paintings that celebrate water. I wanted to do my part to support the people at Standing Rock and creating pieces that show the power, beauty and sacredness of water seemed like an authentic endeavour based on my skill set.
I spoke with my beloved friend and mentor, Lori MacDonald, who told me that after the election she quit her job and started reworking an educational game she had previously created on climate change. She felt that she needed to put her energies toward something more meaningful and relevant. I was inspired.
I began to understand that it is always a good time to focus on what you love and believe in and changing that program might never be a good idea. I got derailed, it's okay. Derailed happens. And it's not that I have become apathetic and shut down regarding the current state of democracy in North America. Noooooo, instead I am more motivated than ever to support the projects and the people I believe in, vote with my dollar, pursue my passions and 'give my gifts' -- Nickolai thinks steadfastly 'giving your gifts' as a life philosophy, with the belief that everything is going to work out in the end, is hokey.
I think things may not work out the way you originally surmise because having expectations often ends in disappointment. And experience has shown there are no guarantees in this life, but as a general pursuit, focusing on what you love and believe in and are naturally good at, can bring peace and very likely some measure of success. Besides, what are the options?
"Do less," my friend Kiki advises with a compassionate smile. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean do nothing. It means don't try so damn hard, don't make everything so darn difficult with all your thinking, worrying, plotting and planning. We all have natural talents, things that come easy to us, do those things. Smile, literally smile at life, it puts you in a good mood. A good mood is contagious. What might Donald Trump do if he was in a good mood? He might just step out of Trump Tower and flip twenty bucks to some homeless guy who can't afford to pay his exorbitant mortgage. That twenty bucks might enable him to buy a phone card and reconnect with his family. He might move in with a relative and end up using their electric bike to commute to a new job.
He might begin to love riding the electric bike and eventually work on an ad campaign that inspires millions of people to abandon their cars and use electric bikes, thus lessening our reliance on fossil fuels and ultimately assisting to reverse climate change.
The point is you can never know the far-reaching implications of a well-timed charitable act. And charitable acts generally result from a good mood. So give yourself permission to spend more time doing what you enjoy, what you've got a propensity for, what you believe in and spread your good fortune and your good mood to others.
Last night I dreamt Trump and I were friends. I was trying to get him to use a black ballpoint pen to fill out a fine print form and he was convinced he should use one of those flat, wide carpenter's pencils. So maybe somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind, I'll always believe he is unaware and unqualified, but at least I'm no longer actively hating on the guy and simultaneously making myself miserable.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

All who wander are not lost.

I want to rock your gypsy soul, just like in the days of old.

It's been a while since I posted work in A Path With Art. Five and a half years to be exact. During which time I moved from Golden to Nelson, from Nelson to Squamish and then from Squamish to Whistler. My friend Elise unwittingly acknowledged this seemingly endless meander by commissioning me to create a painting based on the Van Morrison song lyric, "I want to rock your gypsy soul, just
like in the days of old." It was a delightful assignment. After parting ways with my beloved studio in Golden, painting this piece on Chantal Gainer's dining room table reminded me that we always have what we need. Chantal Gainer and Elise Pare, I'll not be forgetting your generosity and kindness any time soon.
Black Tusk
While I was wending my way to Whistler, my friend Dean Thompson was contemplating an exodus to the island with his young family. He had been living in Whistler for years and wanted a painting of Black Tusk, a stunning volcanic rock spire that juts out of a glacier in the Coast Range. At the time Black Tusk was a vague
memory from previous visits to the coast and I ended up working from a photograph I found on the internet. Now that I live in Whistler I often find myself staring over at Black Tusk and thinking of Dean. Thank you for the introduction Dean, what a beautiful peak, especially in winter caked in snow.
Atwell is another iconic peak, but she presides over Squamish. My old friend, Trevor Hunt, has skied a number of descents, some of which are firsts, off the backside of Atwell. You could almost call it a love affair between man and mountain. And it's not hard to love her; when Atwell lights up with alpenglow she takes on a magical quality, dominating Squamish and Howe Sound like a queen.
I painted this piece for Trevor as a keepsake for his ski pilgrimages and also as a thank you for his enduring friendship and unending goodness. This is the view of Atwell driving up Skyline on the way to trevor's old place in the Highlands, a home to many over the years, myself included.

Garibaldi and Atwell

Thursday, June 16, 2011

apathwithart: Backyard Goodness

apathwithart: Backyard Goodness: "When is the last time you felt truly deflated, no, gutted and sickened by the events unfolding before you? For me twas a few short days ago..."

Backyard Goodness

When is the last time you felt truly deflated, no, gutted and sickened by the events unfolding before you?  For me twas a few short days ago when I irreversibly marred four paintings during the final stages of a resining procedure.  I knew it was all going very wrong when the sides of the container that was holding the resin began to melt.  Oh dear God, no...I looked askance at my paintings which immediately began to sport congealing blobs of a Jabba-the-Hutt-like substance, where mere seconds earlier there had been smooth, glass-like pools of epoxy resin.  I tried to smooth them out, but in the process I could see small bits of paint lifting off the hardboard as I tried to manoeuvre the ever thickening gloop.  Maybe I could somehow make it seem like I meant to do this?????  I poked the gloop in varying directions and tried to create some sort of visual balance, imagining that I could turn the thickening epoxy lava into  a new kind of appealing, textured finish.  I could not.  There would be no faking it.  Sigh.  I stood there in mute disbelief then turned off the light and walked away, leaving my paintings lying askew like abandoned carcasses.  As I plodded up the stairs I began tallying the cost of the supplies I needed to create the paintings.  Then I replayed in my mind all the hours I had spent perfecting each one in my studio.  In a final moment of defeated agony I sat down at the kitchen table and contemplated all the tasty, albeit unhealthy food I could eat that would undoubtedly make me feel worse.

The next morning I got up, hauled my paintings outside and leaned them against the back shed.  I decided that I would hang them on the side of the shed that faces the alley so the dog walkers and back yard snoopers could view my work in all its imperfect splendour.  Once I hung them up I was reminded of all the decorated barns and sheds that I had seen over the years and realized that maybe our back shed had been in need of a little funkifying.  My mangled paintings seemed to take on new purpose. 

I brought my boyfriend out to view my handiwork and he declared that our new fence would block the art from view and that we should relocate it to the front of the shed so we could all enjoy it.  Enjoy it?  I felt so good about it being out of view, yet still receiving an audience of anonymous alley strollers.  I wasn't sure I was ready to commit to a lifetime of examining the paintings so soon after their unseemly demise.  

Armed with a drill, measuring tape, ladder and a level, Rich began to hang each piece on the front of the shed.  He determined that the sides of each painting would need sealing and made individual drip caps for each piece.  I suddenly felt touched that he was taking so much care in hanging my work on the shed.  I could feel myself letting go of the idea that the paintings should have or could have been hanging in a gallery, that I could have sold them for money or at least given them to people I loved.  In an uncommon moment of awareness I decided to let go of my expectations and ideas and enjoy the backyard art project that was so sweetly and spontaneously unfolding before me.
I think it is important to take the time to discover what our gifts are and then work hard to perfect those gifts; to put our hearts into our endeavours, our whole hearts and be brave about trying new things.  As long as we follow those principals and do not get too attached to the outcomes, maybe everything really does work out in the end.

Monday, March 21, 2011

apathwithart: Animal Totems

apathwithart: Animal Totems: " &..."

Animal Totems

I once bumped noses with a deer.  It was an extremely domesticated deer ambling about the town of Banff.  And it was more interested in the contents of my grocery bag than having an ungulate to human soul connection, but I still prefer to think of it as a spiritual encounter.  I am particularly fond of the deer.
I have begun a series of paintings called Animal Totems to celebrate some of the animals we feel inexplicably drawn to.  
Much of this inspiration comes from the work of Josh Keyes (www.joshkeyes.net) and Anne Siems (www.annesiems.com); two contemporary painters who paint wildlife from a perspective that is fresh, engaging and visionary in a way that rekindles our connection with the animal kingdom. 
As artists, I wonder how we can create more of a kinship between ourselves and the animal world.  What can we do to instil the idea that all creatures, human and otherwise, have intrinsic value?  
In the spirit of the deer, I gently nudge you to consider the animals you feel a personal connection to and also encourage you to find a way to express and share your appreciation in such a way that someone in your family or community will benefit from your insight and sensitivity.