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.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"I would NEVER buy that..."

I feel very fortunate to have worked in a small gift shop in Nelson, BC called The Mermaid Gallery. Before I became an employee I brought a few small paintings in for the owner to inspect hoping that I would get a chance to hang my work in her eclectic, colorful space. She was very encouraging and generous as well as she kindly offered to take in some of my work and shortly thereafter gave me a job. I loved working there since much of the gallery contained work made by Nelson locals. It was inspiring and uplifting to meet and interact with them and of course see their beautiful wares. 
When I look back on that time I see that I learned some very valuable lessons from Susan, the owner, and also from the gallery's clientele.  Perhaps the most valuable lesson came from watching people view and comment on my work.  Of course many people did not even notice my work, but some did and they commented freely, not knowing it was mine.  There were some very unflattering comments and then there were some sort of encouraging comments and also a few complimentary comments.  They ranged from, "I would NEVER buy that," to "My kid could paint that," and on to "It's not my favorite thing in here," (I put that in the sort-of-encouraging category) and also included other personal triumphs like "It's too simple. It's boring," and so on.  Some people liked my work, some could care less and others found it somewhat insulting to the senses.  But the good bit is that it made me realize that selling art is like that and it always will be and it's nothing personal.  While some will think your work is great, others will think it is greatly overpriced and still more will think nothing at all because it hasn't managed to inspire a glance.  Ouch, but not really.  Art is something you make, but it is not who you are.  Just like your dog may be sweet and adorable but that does not mean that YOU are sweet and adorable.  Or conversely, your dog may be a an obnoxious, yappy mutt, but that does not mean that YOU are an obnoxious, yappy mutt.  Or, you may be a shitty skier, but that doesn't mean you are a shitty person.  Or you could be the best skier in the world, but that does not make you the best person in the world.    

The whole point of this meandering tirade is to say this: you are not bad if your work is bad, and you are not good if your work is good.  In Buddhist philosophy this notion is called non attachment -- worth investigating if you want to create full time. 
 I chose these three images because while I always liked them, no one else did. C'est la vie. So I gave them to three deserving surfers, Lars Andrews, Dean Thompson and the beloved David Moldofsky, aka Moldy.