Something Greater Inside

IMG_3281I did the dramatic smudge your brush all over the canvas in frustration act this morning! Yep, I did. (My daughter watched me, I looked very grown-up indeed.)

It was just not working out… <Growl>

At some point every artist experiences frustration and yet there remains a choice, either we give up and believe that we are terrible at what we do or we take these moments as evidence that there is something greater inside of us!

Art = Relationship

UnionI’ve been slowly reading through Robert Genn’s book ‘The Twice Weekly Letters’ and it’s chalk full of inspiration for artists of all kinds – I highly recommend it! At the end of every letter is usually a quote – the letter I read today ended with this one;

“When you know the artist you think less about the art.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Art has always been about relationship for me. I have never and will never want it to be exclusively about me – my hope is that it will connect with you, with my collectors and with the world. And I want others to connect with me in return through it. This relational connection is one of reasons that I create.

Robert Genn wrote it like this;

“A kind of karma takes place when a work of art goes out the door. Even as a gift to a friend or for charitable purposes, finding a home outside the workshop or studio completes the circle. The artist can rationalize that while the work is still his or her very own, it has a more illustrious future on someone else’s wall. It marches out to create good will, win friends, influence people.”

Attached here are paintings that I created years ago – a couple in University over 20 years ago!!! I painted a lot of abstract pieces back then and this week I’ve been revisiting that old abstract interest (with a new twist) – will share my new little experiments with you soon! Eucalyptus 2 Fairy Tale 1 Figure 1

Never Let Your Child Grow-up to be an Artist

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – especially while I paint… Our society has an unwritten rule, “Never let your child grow-up to be an artist”.  And I have seen the effects of this “rule” in daily life FIRST HAND.  I’d say that the general consensus is that if you choose to be an artist in our society you are crazy, rebellious and will probably end up homeless.

I’ve taught art in community classes, in college settings and currently I teach private lessons. My teenage daughter teaches music to little ones weekly and what strikes me most is how proud each parent is of their child’s artistic accomplishments. They swell with pride when they watch their little one at a recital or see their completed artwork and they praise the child profusely. What this tells me is that in our deepest self – we LOVE art!

However, you are not allowed to be an artist when you grow-up.10012779_1843804032510883_4756052951223160808_oNow don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the parents here! We only want the best for our children. We want them to be able make a living, we want them to succeed and we want them to be happy. Our hearts are in the right place. What is in the wrong place is the fact that society does not value art – and for some reason we choose to follow along with that…

I could say all the obvious things here; art brings beauty, change, life and joy to the world (all 100% true) but this does not negate the fact that most of the time art doesn’t pay the bills. Why? Well, because like I said above, it is valueless to us.

It’s almost like we came out of the industrial revolution completely encased in the factory worker mentality. Art lost its central professional role in historical society and now sits on the sidelines.  It is considered more of a hobby than a real profession.

What do we admire most when we study history? What helps us understand and envision the past? What connects us to who we were? Who are some of the most famous people in history?

Art and artists.
10409778_1620505754840713_4095691839944688678_nArt is the reflection of who we are now. Our music, our literature, our paintings will be how future generations identify with us. It is how we will be remembered. No one will remember the factories… And yet, we value those roles more? Weird.

Does that mean we give up on factories or better put nowadays, technology? Obviously not! What it does mean though is that art shouldn’t remain a side show. It should play a professional and valuable role in our world. We should honour it. We should be able to encourage our children to become artists. And they should be able to make a living at it.

That’s a lot of “should s”…
A modern day Renaissance would be nice though – I guess I can dream…

If you are interested in this topic you should check out this Ted Talk – it is such a great example of how art affects change and brings goodness –> Theaster Gates: How to revive a neighborhood: with imagination, beauty and art.

(Pssst… pictured here are some of my students – and yes I am SOOOO proud of them – LOVE teaching them!)

The Problem With Being A Snob

Every culture and sub-culture in the world is invaded by some form of snobbery or elitism. From fine arts to crafts & handmade goods, from sports to home decorating, from religion to politics, from shopping to farming, from YouTube to Hollywood…  The list could go on and on…

I confess there are many times in my life that I have been a snob – I have fallen prey to numerous different elitist mentalities. The problem with snobbery is that once you are mixed up in it you start to make unwise purchases, hurt people’s feelings and even set yourself up on all sorts of pedestals.  However, over time these pedestals can become hard to balance on, your knees begin to wobble and yet… It can be hard to get down…

I’d like to tell you that it was intelligence, growth and maturity that helped me to climb down from some of my pedestals but it wasn’t… it was actually my 16 year old daughter.

For years my daughter, my Mom and I have run a small business called, A+jewelry & Crafts. We make handmade jewelry, knitting and crocheted items to sell. We started off by just attending local craft sales and fairs but eventually we began an Etsy shop and have been selling our wares online for a couple of years. There is this fun promotional thing on Etsy called ‘Treasuries‘ – it’s a collection of 16 items that you hand pick out of different shops (not your own shop) all over Etsy to help promote and encourage sales. Typically the goal is to choose beautiful, well photographed items that match and look pretty together. If your treasury is really good it might even get picked by Etsy and displayed on the front page for part of a day.

My daughter has great fun making these promotional collections but the unique thing about her treasuries is that she scours Etsy looking for the LEAST favoured items and shops. She purposely fills her treasuries with creations that are overlooked or undervalued and she does an incredible job of featuring them in an appealing way.  She does similar things on other online sites as well including; deviantART where she seeks out and finds the folks who never get much attention, she encourages them and favourites their work.

Why does she do this?

Well, obviously because she is the sweetest thing on two legs (I can say that because I’m her Mother 😉 ) and because she understands that it’s not about excellence, standards or perfection – its about your heart… She knows that if you love what you do, if it’s fun and if you find joy in doing/creating it (and you’re not hurting anything or anyone), then that is the “excellence”, that is the “standard”!  And you should never let any snob tell you otherwise, including myself.

The things we learn from our children… 🙂

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My girl and I ❤ – We kinda look alike don’t ya think?

Life is Precious

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There is no greater wake up call than poor health.

It’s amazing how quickly life is refocused… Who would have thought that showering, sitting up at the table for dinner or having a regular conversation would become so precious! Sadly, these simple things in life are not appreciated until you can’t do them anymore…

I started having health problems a little over two months ago. It wasn’t until June that it hit a peak. After numerous tests and a couple of hospital stays it has been narrowed down to a few possibilities. I am still waiting to get into a specialist who can -hopefully – make the final call. We are optimistic that it will all be very treatable in the end. In the meantime, I am happy to say I’ve been out of hospital for almost two weeks and I am managing to get by at home. (With a lot of love, patience and help from my family members.) And while some days are still a struggle I am soaking up every moment at home with immense gratitude.

The funny thing is that even while bedridden an artist never stops creating. In my better moments I had a bit of energy to sketch (attached above) and I’ve also compiled a mental list of paintings I’d like to complete when I am well again. Of course, all of these will come after I have drowned my family in affection and they can’t wait for me to leave them alone and paint. 😉

I know you’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again anyway… DON’T lose sight of what’s important, treasure your loved ones, and be grateful for every healthy moment!

See you all on the flip side. 🙂

Micheline

 

 

 

Art Myth

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I don’t often rant publicly, mainly because I’m worried that I’ll regret it in the morning. However, I think I’ll be relatively safe with this one… (famous last words… <snort>).

I REALLY want to bust a myth – I NEED to bust this myth actually!

The myth is this: “Art just comes naturally to some people.” or rephrased; “Art doesn’t require thought – it just happens without effort and simply flows off the artist’s fingertips.”

HUH!? WAH?!

I’ve encountered this myth – in person – a fair amount lately and I’ll admit that it burns me a little. It is ignorant, uninformed and disrespectful. And if this myth in anyway conveys your own personal preconceptions of what an artist is and does, then I beg you to reconsider.

I understand that from the outside looking in some things can look effortless, kinda like all those figure skaters at the Olympics. 😉 However, it has taken me more than twenty years of practice, schooling, effort and hard work to reach a moderately acceptable aesthetic level as a visual artist. And I must also assert that art, by far, takes more original thought, concentration, and energy than any other job I have ever done… believe it or not!

Either that or I’m not nearly as “natural” as others…<shrug>.

Rant done. 🙂

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Quote for Today

“When you buy from an independent artist, you are buying more than just a painting or a novel or a song. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures. You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of worry about paying the rent, having enough money to eat, having enough money to feed the children, the birds, the dog. You aren’t just buying a thing, you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone’s life. Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all of the above worth the fear and the doubt; something that puts the life into the living.”
~Rebekah Joy Plett

True Art Lovers

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Had to share this photo because it makes me laugh every time I see it. During one of our family holidays I forced <achem…> I mean… I encouraged my family to visit an art museum with me. It was about mid-tour that they struck this pose for me. Do you think maybe they were mocking me a teeny little bit? 😉 Ah well, all in good humour – I love my family!