Monthly Archives: May 2018

Elk at Day’s End (29/365)

Went for a bike ride as the sun was going down the other day and right near the Banff National Park gates I pedalled past an elk. He was a lot closer to me when I stopped but got a bit nervous when I stopped and wandered off a bit while I dug out my phone.

It’s pretty cool to live somewhere where wildlife encounters are so common.

Memory Lane… (28/365)

Sometimes it seems that my life is a series of different digressions, fascinating side roads that are way more interesting than the whatever the main road was supposed to have been.

Those side roads are braided, looping back and around themselves like Celtic knots, leading to familiar corners rounded and re-encountered when least expected.

At the moment I’m exploring a theatre cul de sac where the familiar and the new are sending me back to the very beginning of my acting career. 

 

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Wow! Look what I found online in the archives of the Banff Centre! That’s Dad (holy smokes he looks so young!) in about 1970 teaching a student… (reference #A 05 01 09, no photographer listed). 

 

Back in 1969 when we first came to Canada from Australia we moved to Banff in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Dad was the first Artist in Residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now known as the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity).  I was all of 8 and determined to perform my way onto the stage. I took ballet classes and enrolled in an acting class for kids. I landed a small part in a play. The director of that play and my teacher was a dynamo called Shirley Tooke.

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The Banff School of Fine Arts (c 1970)

I’ve thought about Shirley many times over the years. She was the first person I had ever met who took theatre seriously. And, more to the point, she took me seriously, even though I had pigtails and could barely see over a table I was so short.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I ran into Shirley at the 40th Anniversary gala event hosted by Pine Tree Players the other night. Turns out Shirley has been working her magic, directing plays, mentoring actors, and making theatre happen here in the Bow Valley for decades! Everyone in the room had a connection to Shirley, a story about how instrumental she has been in terms of nurturing and developing all things theatrical around here!

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I remember going to this production of the opera, Hansel and Gretel back in 1970. We were so lucky to be able to attend performances – ballet, modern dance, opera, music (I saw Oscar Peterson live), authors (Farley Mowat comes to mind), and theatre… And, of course, art shows. I never thought much about it at the time, but how lucky were we as kids to have access to so much art in our back yard? 

It was pretty cool to see my first acting mentor from so many years ago. Though she remembered my parents (she and my dad would have crossed paths at the Banff Centre), of course Shirley didn’t remember the earnest little kid with the big dreams. But that little kid never forgot her! I’m so happy we ran into each other again and I was able to say a long overdue thank-you for the kindness, support, and enthusiasm she offered so generously.

I wish I’d had my wits about me and had someone snap a photo of us together, but I confess I was so flabbergasted it never crossed my mind to do so!

All My World’s a Stage (27/365)

A looooong day today of rehearsals, set design meeting, mask design meeting, choreography, and then pulling together the first section of Romeo and Juliet.

 

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Masks, masks, and more masks… Who is dancing with whom at the Capulets’ party?

I’m doing a few things – assistant director (mostly soaking up information and working with super-talented people with waaaaay more experience than I have… Yes, Amanda Cutting, I do mean you…), understudy for Nurse (oh, what a juicy, juicy role!) and possibly playing Lady Montague – final decision on that front will be made in the next few days). I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and not get too confused at this point!

 

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Romeo and Juliet by Konstantin Makovsky, 1890

 

Because part of our cast comes out from Calgary, rehearsals have mostly been consolidated into two very long days each week, which is why my Sundays and Mondays have pretty much been swallowed up until after the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival is over July 8.

We are setting our version of the classic in the early 1970s… very colourful and most excellent music!

 

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Here’s where Salvador Dali went with his idea for set design for Romeo and Juliet in 1942

 

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Here is Christoper Wood’s set design for Diaghilev’s ballet of Romeo and Juliet in 1925

I don’t have a drawing to share with you to show you what we will be doing (maybe I’ll try to do something in the next few days…), but what I can say is that there will be a treehouse!! For anyone who knows me at all, you will know how happy treehouses make me! (and for those who don’t, just let me say that I lived in a treehouse for a while… when I was a teenager… fond memories, indeed!)

 

 

 

 

 

Lilacs… (26/365)

IMG_4294.JPGScents and memories… so strongly linked at times one could believe therein lies the secret of the time machine. The scent of lilacs evokes memories of my mother, who loved lilac bushes, perhaps because when she was born, a celebratory lilac bush was planted outside her grandmother’s house.

This bush caught my attention this afternoon when I was scurrying back to rehearsals after a quick break where I enjoyed this…

IMG_4290.JPG…a cuppa decaf latte love…

 

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Not surprisingly, lilacs (and the colour, lilac) have featured in the work of many artists over the years… Here’s Sill Life with Lilacs by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky

 

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Lilacs in a Window by Mary Cassatt, 1880

 

 

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The Glass of Lilac by Georges Braque, 1946

You know what I’m going to say… all these images of lilacs in vessels makes me want to a) go find a lilac bush and, in the dark of night, snip a few sprigs and b) do a still life painting featuring lilacs!

 

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Lilacs by Henri Fantin-Latour, 1872

Hmmm…. if only there were a way to impregnate the images with scent…

 

 

 

 

 

From On High… An Idea (25/365)

So I was pretty high up on a climb on Kid Goat (Blue Bubble) when it occurred to me it’s really hard to capture a real sense of how it feels to be up that high above the valley floor in a photograph.

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A vista like this sort of conveys scale (those are tall trees down there, and they don’t look very big). But what is harder to capture is the sense of vertigo when you are actually directly above stuff, like when you are at a hanging belay on the side of a cliff…

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So, I took a bunch of reference photos and what I think I’ll try to do is a drawing or painting that exaggerates certain elements of the composition to try to better reflect the feeling of being up there…

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Here’s a view of the climb from below, from the approach trail.

Dad has been very helpful, sending me examples of work by people like Sonja Delaunay and Andre Derain, who both used exaggerated colour and perspective to get their point across.

 

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Baker’s Hotel by Andre Derain, 1904

 

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Three Women Dressed Simultaneously by Sonia Delaunay

And then I found this one, also by Sonia…

 

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Color Rhythm by Sonia Delaunay, 1967

Which was a bit odd, because I’d been playing with colour blocks in my notebook just moments before I found her work after following a link sent by Dad…

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My blocks are a lot less solid than hers (pastels on textured paper rather than oil paints in Delaunay’s…). And my palette is totally different, of course… but on that front I was inspired by Josef Albers, about whom you will hear more in the days to come as Dad and I have had several Albers conversations and, weirdly enough, he is also featured in a current issue of an art magazine (which I stumbled across online and have now lost again… I’ll retrace my steps and try to post a link when I get back to Albers properly…)

It has been another busy day and I need to go find some grub, have a shower, and take another look at the scenes we’ll be rehearsing tomorrow for the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet. My creative cup runneth over!!

 

 

 

 

 

Oooops… Got Very Distracted (24/365)

… so this will be short.

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We headed up Cougar Creek this afternoon for a bit of cragging. 

It was good to get back outside on real rocks again (my quick session on the auto-belays at the climbing gym last night just wasn’t the same!). In the ten days or so since I left for the coast, summer has arrived here in the mountains!

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The view from partway up one of the routes on Cat’s Eye Wall… it never ceases to amaze me how quite large trees manage to grow right out of the rock face.

IMG_4165.JPGI did snap a few reference shots of climbers as well as natural forms (rocks, stumps) for future sketching sessions, but mostly, I just enjoyed being back outside, the low murmur and mumble of Cougar Creek in the background.

Hmmm… not quite sure why my video isn’t looping after I upload it… And, too tired to figure it out right at the moment.

While I was hanging around on the end of a rope, Dad was busy sending me all kinds of interesting art-y reference material. I’ll have to digest that when I have a few minutes and I’m not falling asleep sitting up! I would say tomorrow, but we have plans to climb again, so maybe not…

It’s a good kind of tired, this… after an afternoon of fresh air and sunshine!

 

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Sleeping Woman by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1913

 

 

All I Had Was Five Minutes and a Green Pen (23/365)

After yesterday’s outpouring about being paranoid about sketching in public (and how I would try to do it more often/ever) I found myself riding my bike home along the creek.

 

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I stopped several times and snapped photos with my phone…

I was about to hop back on my bike and continue home when I remembered how I had this grand plan to a) draw something every day and b) sketch out there in the real world, no matter how intimidating that thought might be.

All kinds of excuses came to mind – I was in a rush to get home, I didn’t have a sketchbook with me, I had no pencil… But then I thought, EXCUSES! and rummaged through what I did have in my bag.

Turns out, it is possible to turn one’s daytimer on its side and use a green pen to do a scribbly sketch.

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There you go. My very first ever en plein air attempt at sketching!

And below, one by the Russian landscape painter, Ivan Shiskin.

 

 

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Sketch for the painting, “Rye” by Ivan Shishkin, 1878

For the moment, that’s all – I have to rush off and get ready for something else I’ve never really done before – my singing lesson! Seems like I’m having some kind of midlife creative crisis over here!