Tag Archives: painting

Keys to Creativity Series: Part One Don’t Worry About the Outcome

Create Like Nobody’s Watching

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A year ago if you’d told me I would have been sitting out in public scribbling away in a notebook DRAWING (!!) I would have laughed… long and hard. And if you’d told me I would have posted my crude efforts, I would have told you to stop drinking so much.

After a somewhat chaotic year full of interruptions, distractions, and challenges, I am reapplying myself to my yoga studies with gusto. And while it may seem that yoga has nothing to do with creativity, I’m finding the opposite to be true. Part of the course I’m taking includes quite a lot of yoga philosophy (in case you are wondering, it’s the Kaivalya Yoga Method, 500 Hour Teacher Training through Yogadownload). To be honest, I thought that part (the philosophy bit) would make me a bit squirmy, something to endure, you know? But the reading and thinking about the philosophical aspects of yoga has actually been both inspiring and useful and I’m enjoying it more than I would have thought possible.

Yoga, Writing, Drawing, Acting, Art Journals, Collage, Creating: It’s all Related

 

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Collage in my art journal… yes, I’ve got one of those now. This was sort of an art meditation done while listening to a recording of a rolling om…

 

At the same time that I’ve been doing my down-dogs and studying anatomy and thinking about how ancient wisdom can still be very relevant in terms of dealing with the complexities of the modern age, I have also been madly productive on the writing front. I’m putting the finishing touches on the non-fiction book for teens about medical assistance in dying and working on fiddly details relating to the picture book that’s coming along beautifully with Holiday House (LOVE the preliminary sketches by the talented Katie Kath). Research has started for two more non-fiction titles for youth (one about civil disobedience, the other about global deforestation) and, of course, I continue to slowly work on the book about the three-generations Camino trip we did last fall.

Walk the Camino, Think About Creativity

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Though it has been slowest to progress, that project is the one that has a strong hold on my heart, in part because it had me examining my relationship with the creative process. Walking with Dad and Dani, the conversations Dad and I had about art and the creation of art before, during, and ever since our oh-so-slow stroll across Spain really got me thinking about what it means to be creative. What the word means as an adjective. And, as a noun. I’ve been referred to as ‘a creative,’ and that implies that creativity is some sort of integral component of my makeup.

We Are All Creative Children, Trapped in Over-critical Adult Bodies

 

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First attempt at a freehand mandala – on the cover of one of several yoga notebooks I’ve got happening at the moment (of course! where else would I attempt a freehand mandala?)

 

Aren’t we all creative? I think we all have some kernel of creativity within us. Just look at a kindergarten classroom and what happens when you set children loose with paint and blank sheets of paper. You can’t get the paint smocks on fast enough before the brushes are flying!

What happens to us to make us so afraid of exploring our natural desire to create? To explore? To play?

Let Go of the Outcome

My theory is that at some point we attach output with being good enough. If our drawing or painting or story or poem doesn’t measure up, then we have no right to be drawing or painting or writing. We become embarrassed to show our work to anyone else. We second guess our efforts and, before long, most of us give up. When asked, we say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I couldn’t draw to save my life.”

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You may be wondering what on earth all that messy art stuff has to do with yoga, but the connection is this. One of the things yoga philosophy has to say is that we spend way too much time attached to the outcome of an action, rather than just allowing ourselves to be fully engaged in whatever it is we are doing. All those poses and paying attention to our breath are about finding a way to tune out all the busy, negative, distracting, endless thoughts that plague us and having us fully enter and engage in the present moment. Does it matter if my triangle pose is a bit wonky and my drawings will never hang on a gallery wall? No. 

What my yoga studies (and recent explorations in visual art) have shown me is that creative output happens a lot more easily when you let go of worrying about how it will all turn out. It’s the process of creation that matters, exactly as it matters only that I embrace my yoga practice both on and off the mat. 

 

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Come – explore your creative side! Bust loose and send those doubts scurrying!

 

Come to Our Creativity Retreat in France!

If you are interested in exploring your creative side, why not join us next May at a really cool retreat we are organizing in Provence. We’ll be holing up in a pretty swanky villa with a small group of people who want to try their hand at painting, journaling, writing, collage, sketching… But more than that, we’ll be exploring what it means to embrace life creatively, no matter what form of expression you choose to pursue. And, yes, – there will be yoga to help fuel that process- every morning out by the pool. I can’t wait!

There’s more to this train of thought, but that’s why this is just Part 1. Stay tuned!

Full disclosure: If you happen to get all inspired and decide you’d like to sign up for the YTT course I mentioned above and you use the link in this post, I’ll get a small referral fee. If you have any questions about the program, shoot me a message and I’ll happily answer. I love the program and have learned a lot.

 

 

Come! Let’s Get Creative in France!

Give Yourself the Gift of Time to Create

Writing, Painting, Creating Retreat in Provence, France

Think you might be interested? Have a look at the listing here.

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Amazing location (check out that pool!!) – nifty field trips (can you say wine? truffles? ancient markets?) – a chance to try your hand at watercolor painting, journal-writing, pen & ink, or drawing… Work on your novel… or, finally try your hand at writing a magazine article… outline a book of family stories for your grandchildren… Wherever your creative heart leads you, that’s where you’ll go… What about a scavenger hunt with your iPhone, honing your photographer’s eye? What would you do with a week (or two, space permitting, you can score a great deal if you book two weeks back to back) in Provence where we’ll feed you delicious local meals, provide you with space, time, and as much peace and quiet or inspiring workshops as you choose?

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We’ve structured this retreat so people can come and experiment, play, and create with as much or as little involvement from the facilitators as you like. We’re organizing some pretty nifty local field trips, which you can choose to participate in, or not. Everything is included – we’ve made it easy for you to change your mind on the fly, opting in or out of activities as the mood strikes you.tim-arterbury-126157-unsplash

Don’t let that blank page intimidate you! Join us in France and let your creative side come out and play!

Book Your Spot – Don’t Miss Out!

For more information or to book (spaces are limited and there is a discount if you register early), follow this link:

Book Now

And, watch the blog for more details…

Treadmill, Sutures, and IKEA (41/365)

Oh, my – what a day! Started out very early without any breakfast (you’ll see why in a minute), some writing, then a trip to Calgary where I had a cardio stress test. No panic, but over the past few months I’ve been getting a little light-headed when I exert myself. Unfortunately, that usually happens either when I’m biking or tackling a harder climb (or, on a long hike in to a crag somewhere with a pack full of climbing stuff strapped to my back). I doubt it’s anything too serious, but we are getting it all checked out to make sure my ticker isn’t likely to explode  when I’m hanging from a cliff somewhere.

 

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Study for “The Wardrobe” by Walter Sickert, 1922 (you’ll see where I’m going with this in a minute…)

 

 

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The Wardrobe, by Walkter Sickert, 1924

 

The cardio thing was long and drawn out – first an IV (for the dye – hence no food after midnight last night), then hooking me up to a zillion leads to give an accurate idea of what my heart was doing when I was loaded onto a treadmill and told ‘keep going.’ Fearing I might come flying off, I gripped the safety bar until my knuckles turned white. As you can imagine, my heart rate was soon way up there and the kind woman who was charged with making sure I didn’t keel over before we were done took my blood pressure every 60 seconds and kept asking, “Are you dizzy yet?”

After all that, I was put into some sort of scanner and the dye injected into my vein, and they took 6 minutes worth of pictures of my thudding heart. There followed a CAT scan and after that, a 3.5 hour break during which time I was STILL NOT ALLOWED TO EAT!!

I was, however, allowed to go to IKEA. Which we did, right after I swung by the endodontist who tortured me so thoroughly last week. They yanked out my stitches and sent me on my way.

This virtual mosaic is titled, “Postmodern Study for The Wardrobe.”

At IKEA, we procured a couple of big wardrobe things in an attempt to deal with TOO MUCH STUFF in our bedroom/office space back in Canmore. Then it was back to the cardio torture place for another scan after which I was released and told to go have breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

After a stop in Cochrane for groceries, we eventually got home and immediately began to assemble the basic frames of the wardrobes.

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As far as we got with the wardrobe project before our teenager demanded we turn down our music and stop with all the banging already… 

Tomorrow, I have to write in the morning, but after that we’ll get onto the finesse items like shelves and drawers, at which point we can tidy up!! Which will be lovely. More photos to follow… Meanwhile, though, here are a couple of paintings of bedrooms…

 

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Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles, 1888

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Bedroom in Aintmillerstrasse, by Wassily Kandinsky, 1909

Perhaps, once the wardrobes are finished and installed I’ll have a go at drawing our newly decluttered bedroom…

 

 

Monsoon June (31/365)

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After a few glorious days of sun and heat, it’s cooled right down again here as we head into Monsoon June. Rain, dipping temperatures, and really cool skies (check out those clouds!) are typical of this time of year. After a few weeks of this unpredictable weather, we head into forest fire season.

Last summer the fires were awful… thick smoke day after day and everyone on edge wondering if the flames were going to sweep through and engulf inhabited areas. Fort McMurray. Kelowna. The memories are still fresh.

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Forest Fire, by Mark Tobey, 1956

This year’s fire season is still in the future. For now, I’m going to enjoy the beauty of clouds…

Clouds and the Baths

Puffy clouds over the Baths, BVI

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Clouds over Canmore

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Clouds over Ha Ling

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Reflected Clouds – Policeman’s Creek, Canmore

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Caribbean Clouds

Spanish Clouds over the Camino

Spanish Clouds over the Camino

 

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More Spanish Clouds (Dawn)

 

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More Clouds over Ha Ling

Apparently, I have a thing for clouds… I found dozens and dozens of photos of clouds from pretty much everywhere I’ve been over the past dozen years.

Artists, too, find clouds irresistible.

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Cloud Study, E. Colin Williams (watercolour)

Dad has done his share of cloud-centric paintings.

 

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Sky Above Clouds III by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1963

As have many, many other painters…

 

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Birds in the Clouds by Georges Braque, 1960

 

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Seascape Study with Rain Clouds by John Constable, 1827

 

Which makes me think I need to join this cloudy party and start experimenting with some cloud-themed drawings/paintings/collages… Something. Heaven knows I have plenty of raw material to work with around here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

 

 

 

 

 

R is for Red (AtoZChallenge2018)

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Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Jumper and a Blue Scarf, by Moise Kisling, 1925

It’s one of the first colours we learn to identify as children. Our eye is drawn to the red smear in a visual composition. It’s the symbol of blood and of love, anger and the universal color of stop signs around the world. Associated with the Red Cross, the red sun on the Japanese flag (it’s actually the most popular colour used in flags with 77% of all flags including it somewhere…), red is also the least common hair colour in the human population (only 1-2% of the world’s population can lay claim to red hair).

 

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Moise Kisling obviously liked both Kiki and the colour red… (this portrait is called Kiki de Montparnasse in a Red Dress)

 

Red is one of the primary colours – the others being yellow and blue. In theory, if one mixes two primary colours you get secondary colours (green, orange and purple) and then, if you mix primary and secondary colours you wind up with tertiary colours. If you know what you are doing and have a bit of black and white you should be able to mix any colour you can imagine.

 

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As a kid, I was totally intrigued by the magical paint-mixing that went on while Dad was working. Even now when I visit his studio this process seems like a strange kind of alchemy, capturing light and form, shape and shadow by smearing colour on a flat surface… 

 

 

 

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By contrast, Piet Mondrian seems to have gone to great lengths to keep his colours clean and separate. This is Composition C (No. III) With Red Yellow and Blue, 1935

 

Also keeping it simple (colour-wise) is Roy Lichtenstein and this pop art portrait.

 

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Head – red and yellow (1962)

 

 

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This pensive child caught the eye of Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Red Beret dates from 1898. 

 

Would you call the child’s smock pink? Salmon? When you think about it, there are many, many words describing ‘red.’ Ruby. Carmine. Fire engine. Crimson. Rusty. And, plenty more… What’s your favourite shade of red? In case you are wondering, today’s artwork effort on my part was completely the wrong palette (greens and blues) so I won’t post here and spoil the word of the day…

 

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I went for a long walk this evening and took a ton of photographs. Scrolling through them there was a shocking dearth of red anywhere to be found. Except, in this photo which I snapped of a hula hoop hanging from a tree at the side of the trail. Who knows why a hoop should dangle just there… is it possible to drop your hula hoop and not notice? I thought the diminutive splashes of red were a lovely contrast to the more muted palette of the mountains before spring has fully sprung… 

See you tomorrow…