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Showing posts with label stories. Show all posts

 Do you have regular Go Tos when your work is ALMOST finished but still needs that 'sumthin sumthin'?

I do.

In no particular order...and you'll probably notice more than one in each of these!

1. Letraset (or Geoset) lettering. I often burnish across an entire line rather than an individual letter or number. They give a graphic quality that handmade marks cannot.

2. Handwriting ... usually in graphite. Sometimes I actually write real words (maker of things has the t's to cross, i's to dot and upper and lower case letters), sometimes I use asemic writing (lines that appear to form words but that are without specific meaning).

3. Ink or paint spray ... often but not limited to black. This gives a linear work a taste of randomness. I have to be careful with this one as I very often go overboard. 

4. Using gloss medium or gesso as a 'bring up/knock back' effect. This has become really useful when using gel prints as backgrounds (gesso) . For a long time, I've used a coat of gloss medium where I want to add transferred text or an image as it takes the transfers so much better than a matte finish ( added bonus: if you don't like it? easily wipes off!) I noticed that the layer of gloss, when added to just part of the piece (the bird in this one for example), really makes it stand out without altering colour or intensity.

5.  Text. Usually found, in that the piece did not start with a text prompt. I like using backwards text a lot. But also upside down text or random sentences. Often as stripes.

6. Circles, swoops, dotted lines, stripes. There aren't very many of my mixed media collages that don't have some form of these. They are my visual language but also serve to unify disparate elements into a more cohesive whole. 

That's just a half dozen of some of my final touches. If you have any that are your tried'n'true, I'd love to hear about them!


Greetings My Friends! Welcome to my newly revamped website. As an ex-webdesigner this used to happen bi-annually, sometimes MONTHLY, but I actually really, really liked my previous site. Until I started getting sporadic, then almost daily, notices from Google saying this thing was wrong or that thing was throwing up an error and I realized it was time to bring my site up to date. So whilst it isn't nearly as "design-y" as the other template, this one is made for today's internet which apparently is very VERY important to marketing-types and the google. So. Change.

It also happens to be the time of year when I get that itch to SELL ALL THE THINGS! (likely from all the ads blasted my way to BUY ALL THE THINGS) and though I'm currently preparing for a local show (more on that later!) I will have a few things for purchase this holiday season. No secret that I am the world's worst at marketing my own work...still waiting on that Benevolent Art Agent to swoop down into my studio and take all my work out to the world...but decided to use my long neglected newsletter, Travelogue of an Artistic Mind, as a means of  showing and purchasing these pieces.

If you've been following along on Instagram  (and if not? you really should!) you'll know that I've been obsessed with Grid Journaling (thank you Kellee Wynn & Color Crush). You can read about that in my previous post. I did some mini landscapes and had A LOT to say about them over on Insta. In the end, I've come to really like them and after finding some mini 4.5"x4.5" birch panels, at the Dollar Store of all places, thought they'd be lovely little works, quick and easy to ship. They'll be ready to frame (a floating frame would be perfect!) or prop up on a shelf. So if you haven't yet signed up for my newsletter? Now's the time! 

And a quick note: if you're reading this from my #FridayMusings  email update, I've added you to the newsletter already. (super easy to unsubscribe if you're not interested!)

 I've been thinking a lot lately about how being an artist requires constant bravery and courage. Not the 'ATTACK!!!' kind but  the 'reinvention of self' kind. We are constantly forging new paths, acquiring new skills, honing a critical eye to new-to-us genres, mediums, subject matter. It's a GRIND!

Case in point. I am gearing up to create a dozen new works for a show in late Fall. Pretty sure I'm done with 'the ladies' in encaustic and I haven't enough skills for abstract paintings. (yet? maybe ever? jury is still out on that one!) Collage is where my head and heart have been this summer. I think my skills are good enough to move down that path. (are they though??) I know assemblage shrines sell well but I haven't made any for almost a year. And frankly? Not really into it. (that should be enough to nix the idea but selling IS always a mitigating factor. *sigh*) 

As an aside, this image came across Google Photo memories and I became smitten all over again. It was SUCH a challenge and felt very satisfied with the end result.  

And yet? I'm pretty sure I'm done with assemblage. I know. I've said this before albeit 12ish years ago. The other day, I was looking... REALLY looking... at my studio shelves and there are (neatly labelled!) boxes I haven't opened since they were placed there after I moved in... FOUR YEARS AGO!

Back to courage...changing paths as an artist is so hard. Not even just the mental state of change but also in finding new inspiration, learning new skills with no, or few, tried and trues to rely on. We really are reinventing the wheel. And it's EXCITING, exhilarating even, but also scary AF. Also because our audience is interested in what we DID not necessarily what we are doing. I notice this whenever I post old work whether it be assemblage or wirework or jewelry or plaster and wax (so. many. paths.) and the folks who follow me for whichever path, comment 'OMG. I LOVE your [fill in the blank'].  And of course I LOVE to be loved but also know that those are now creative Cul de Sacs for me. Forging NEW paths means doing it alone. And even though I'm solidly comfortable as a singular unit, it still gets a bit lonely not having that positive nurturing feedback. 

 What's all this got to do with the price of bananas?

Collage is a new path. It excites me. I see many roads of exploration. It feels new and interesting. And yet? I'm not sure I'm good enough for it to be the basis of a new body of work. (only. isn't that the whole POINT of a new body of work?!?) Guess it's time to put on the big girl panties, pony up to the bar and just DO IT! 

There's no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
Courage, my word, it didn't come, it doesn't matter

 ...of the Third Kind

These days I'm feeling a bit like 'Roy Neary' (aka Richard Dreyfuss) from the 70s movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Instead of building mountains in my livingroom, however, I've been on a zentangle/doodle/pattern kick. (Aside: it really drives me nuts when folks try to copyright/trademark an activity. I mean, I've been doodling my entire life, well before 2004, pretty sure I'm not gonna stop simply because someone used a ™ . But I digress.) 

For the most part, they have been organic floral thingees, created singularly as the main focal point in various journals, added to existing journal pages, on bits of paper which I've cut out to look sorta like stickers and even started a painting with them.

And I have no idea where any of this is going. I have paintings waiting my attention. And I'm eager to get on with those but every. single. day. I head down into my studio and I end up sitting down and doodling my way through the morning. I've even dedicated a small, recently purchased 4x6" journal to these non-stop meanderings.

I assume that eventually I'll head back to the easel with renewed interest or a different direction or a more clear path. But until that time, I have to remember that the muse wants what it wants and it's all creative fodder. Right??


Recently I've been embarking on a deep dive into abstract expressionism? intuitive painting? slapping paint on the canvas (read: board)? And in every piece I've created so far, I come to point where I suddenly discover I'm using a small brush, less than a #8, on paint mover or palette knife and am faffing about, trying to preserve sections I'm already in love with (or think might work in the whole...see? already conceptualizing the end product). And in every single case, I am, probably, less than halfway finished. It's a problem. 

And that's where a painting becomes Too Precious. 

I start visualizing the end result vs reacting to what's in front of me. My decisions are based on a preconceived, even vague, notion where intuition and emotion and flow go right out the window. The piece becomes stifled, ending up with PIECES I love but the whole isn't cohesive. The eye sticks at those pretty bits OR on the rest of the unresolved, "less than" whole. 

The work above had some lovely things going on but you can see the start of that "preciousness" in the bottom right hand corner. I LOVE those leaves. And I started wanting to preserve them. So I started limiting marks and paint and the whole thing became this rigid framework.

What to do? Well. I'm trying two things. The first is to STOP. Sometimes that means putting the painting aside and ponder it, not head on but from the side, quick glances as I pass by, noticing where my eye goes (usually to the uncomfortable, needing work bits). And...or...I take mark making tools, pencils, pens, oil pastel, or my favourite, Woody Stabilos and write or scribble over the parts I LOVE. I know.  It's hard! I confess, sometimes it feels horrible as I sully those bits that have already attached to my heart. But that's just it. They are BITS. The WHOLE thing has to work. And so I scribble and mark away. This is often the precursor to me setting it aside as I figure out, "Okay. Now what?"

Another that is sitting, waiting for my next move:

Maybe your experience is different (and I'd love to hear about it - TELL ME below!), maybe you're able to create something cohesive but I  haven't been able to resurrect it once I've let a piece become Too Precious.


What is your very first memory?

What if it wasn't true?

What if WHO you are is based on lies-okay so not lies but mistruths and faulty memories?

This is what I'm thinking about right now. 

Shortly after I closed up shop at the end of June, ready to head out into the garden for the summer, I received an email from a gallery curator asking me to participate in a show next April. 

You may recall (or not - here's the link) my answer to question 9 ("Describe THE thing that would make you think 'I've made it'") in 10 Questions for Artists was "A gallery owner that comes to ME and asks for a solo show. Yep. That'd pretty much be nirvana for me."

If you ever doubted for one minute that The Universe is always listening, trying to help you out? Let this be a gentle nudge to say, "Yes. Yes it is!" Thoughts become things, my friend. And lest you get all hot under the collar saying, "Yah. Well, Jen. I've wanted to earn a million dollars (big house, fancy job etc etc) and it hasn't happened!" a couple of hints/tips:

  1. Write that shit down! A cloudy, ill fleshed-out, fleeting, passing thought isn't the easiest thing to manifest. Writing it down helps YOU articulate exactly what you want. 
  2. Sometimes what you receive doesn't end up looking exactly how you thought it might. Likely you weren't completely clear in your own head OR The Universe has something else planned for you. Patience Grasshopper. Go back to #1. Refine. Hone. Get more specific. It will happen. This I know.

Anyway. So of course I said YES. And then put it on the back burner as I went outside for the summer. Fast forward a few months and I'm starting to think about the show and its loose theme of "the past" or memory.

Recently, I was reading "Sweetland" by Michael Crummey and came across this passage:

"He hated confronting those lost moments, being presented with some deail from his past and having to look on it like a stranger. It made his life feel like a made-up thing. A net full of holes."

It landed. Hard.

I've always had a very, VERY good memory. Conversations decades old, word for word, childhood situations, people, faces, names. I was the family historian. "Just ask Jen" was the go to around our house. Then I read a study suggesting our memories are not as good as we think they are and that some psychologists believe we may even make things up as time goes on. THAT gave me pause. If what I remember isn't accurate - or worse, completely fabricated - it truly does make "life feel like a made-up thing". A net full of holes, indeed.

I find the whole idea fascinating. What defines us? Which memories make us who we are? Where is the line? What would you have to find out that wasn't real (or was!) to sit you on your butt, to readjust your sense of self? Some memories are sweet but never made themselves building blocks of your persona. Others are integral to creating who we are. Matthew McConaughey relates a story where he thought he'd won a contest as a child only to find out years later he was only runner-up. Pretty sure he didn't retire to his bed moaning "What IS true?!?" even though the mistruth of winning likely had a huge impact on who he became. And does it even matter? Say I found out that I wasn't actually perceived as "the family historian"; would that change my feelings about myself? My position in our family? (Note: VERY possibly!) Which of course leads down that brambly path of what IS real, anyway?!? 

I sure would love to hear what you think. How you would answer the two questions: 

What are your defining childhood memories?

What if they weren't true? 

Comment here, on Instagram or shoot me a DM or email. I sure would appreciate it!

Wednesday's 10 Questions for Artists was the tenth and final installment for this series. I may revisit it in the fall, so if you'd like to join in, let me know.

This also marks the beginning of my hiatus on posts and published artmaking. I'll be focussed on my garden, swimming in the lake (well, sitting in my floatie) and taking a media break until September.

I'm sure there will be a photo or two posted on Instagram so be sure to follow me there, if you aren't already.

A big thank you to all the artists who took time out of their busy schedules to answer my 10 Questions.

See all y'all in the Fall!

When you realize you are not a WORKING ARTIST.

And maybe not even an Artist at all.

    Maker of Things
aka Lesser Than.

Does it matter?

   I don't know.

What I DO know is posing as a "working artist" when I'm not... feels like I am sullying all those who truly are working artists.

How do I define that... "Working Artist"??

Someone who strives to make their livelihood from the sale of their artwork.

Someone who strives to create a Body of Work. As Legacy.

Someone who seeks out representation and galleries and collectors.

I. Am. None. Of. These.

At once it feels devastating and also? A tiny bit freeing. The weight of expectation, moving off my shoulders. And the need to apologize to those who've bought my work thinking I was in fact all of those things. Or who felt, maybe, I was destined for bigger things. Who wanted my work to have meaning and longevity. Substance.

I am also a bit concerned I'm stopping or quitting or dropping my responsibility. Because I've definitely done THAT in the past.

But. I don't think so.

I think, maybe, I just realized I'm not as great as I thought I was.

And I'm sort of mortified. And kind of relieved.

I wrote this more than 2 weeks ago and I've been sitting with it ever since.

It still feels correct.
It still feels a bit raw, unprotected, vulnerable.
And I'm still not quite sure what it actually MEANS.

Making Things will always be in my life.

For sale? For show? For anyone else? THAT'S what I'm not entirely sure about.

What I do know is that I will be taking the summer OFF. Maybe from Instagram. Certainly from FB and this website. 

I have commitments to artists who have answered 10 Questions for Artists and I will still be publishing those until the end of June. Sign up HERE be notified when they're LIVE. 

After that? Well? All bets are off.

Taking time off, I hope, will allow my true interests and passions to rise to the surface. And I'll take it from there. 

Until we meet again! 

     ciao for now ... Jen

There's been a lot going on around here so thought I'd take a few minutes to just let you all know What's Up.

Homage to Bri. Encaustic
Homage to Bri. Encaustic mixed media. 

1. I now have TWO ways of getting my latest information into your inboxes:

Newsletter: Travelogue of an Artistic Mind. A low-volume, not too chatty not too sales-y, once a month email direct from me to you. Exclusive sneak peeks. Discounts. And more. You can subscribe here.

Friday Musings: A weekly email with a short synopsis of any posts that have been made on the blog. You can subscribe here.

2. A new feature 10 Questions for Artists which will be posted on a random basis as artists answer my questions. So far it has just been myself and Bridgette but there are a slew of amazing artists in the queue so you might want to bookmark the page. You can find it here.

Also. If you'd like to be featured, I'd love for you to join in. Simply email me and I'll send you the details.

September Sunflowers. Encaustic.

3. I haven't updated my Shop in quite awhile but I'll be adding new things soon. Just an FYI...if you ever see something that tickles your fancy here or on Instagram or Facebook, let me know! Chances are it's available.

4. Another ongoing monthly feature is Between Artists where currently Bridgette (Guerzon Mills) and I ask each other questions pertaining to this artistic life - how and why we create, what motivates us and the nitty gritty business side of the art world. You can always find them in one place here. And read my questions answered on her blog, here.

I think that's about it for now. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I love interacting with you all!

I love lists. 

I love lists of questions.

I love making them. I love reading them.

I find we learn a lot about ourselves and others when asked rapid fire, off-the cuff questions to ponder briefly, then answer.

I came up with these 10 questions after watching Stephen Colbert's segment "The Colbert Questionert". Mine, obviously, are directly geared for artists and this'll become an ongoing feature. Because I can!

But it's only fair that I answer "10 Questions for Artists" before subjecting others.

Here are mine:

1. Favourite Artist. Living or dead.

Hands down, Canadian Ojibwa artist, Carl Beam. I first saw his work at the McMichael Collection in Ontario and had an epiphany. Art was more than just pretty pictures in one medium. Some day I hope to be able to capture his raw passion in my art.

2. What's one thing n your studio you REALLY should throw out?

ONE thing? All the itty bitty scraps of wood I saved from our house build. Boxes full. I mean not in a thousand lifetimes would I be able to use every. single. saved. bit!

3. Best studio snack. (creative nutrition is important!)

I am not a snacker. And I don't snack in my studio. So. Water?

4. Favourite studio smell.

No brainer! Warmed wax!

5. Least favourite studio smell.

Oh! That funky paint mixed with medium mixed with soap smell from my paint jars. After a week they are RANK!

 6. Most used art related app on your phone.

Besides Instagram? Definitely Snapseed!

7. Top song in the studio.

I love The Trews "In the Morning" (with Serena Ryder). Bittersweet. It's my jam!

8. Favourite art-related author, podcast(er), YouTuber.

A perfect tie between Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) and Steven Pressfield (The War of Art). I re-read them annually.

9. Least favourite part of art-making.

SELLING!! I wish somebody would swoop into my studio and take #allthethings and send me a cheque. For all you patrons out there? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

10. Describe THE thing that would make you think: "I've Made It."

A gallery owner that comes to ME and asks for a solo show. Yep. That'd pretty much be nirvana for me.

Okay. So there you have it. The 10 Questions for Artists. And my answers.

If YOU would like to answer these and be featured ...your choice of photos plus a paragraph pumping whatever you'd like to pump... please let me know!

Have a good week, folks!

We are reaching that seasonal change over. From inside vs outside. When I feel less drawn to the studio and long to be outside in the garden. Can you hear it calling? It is wooing me!
While I call myself an artist, I maybe identify more with being "a gardener". Certainly over the years I have gardened more continuously than artmaking. And it is where I feel most at home. Without all the headgames - jealousy and inadequacy and self-worth - that are tied up in my art practice.

There is something soul-filling and peaceful when growing things.
A connection to Earth.
Maybe. Even.
A calling.
If there is such a thing.

I love that there are no expectations or numbers or results other that helping things grow. I revel in the sun's warmth, the smell of fresh soil, the feeling of well being, walking into a filled greenhouse with tray upon tray of baby seedlings, that I have nurtured, throwing their everything into Just Being.

Such potential.
Such hope.

Imagine if I could translate that into my artwork.

Both are true for me. I have three very distinct phases to my work: 
  1.  The thinking, mulling over, what do I want to say, how is this going to work phase. Music. But no voices. So no radio. (I know! So old school!) Usually my ancient ITouch on shuffle. 
  2.  The intricate construction, photo manipulation, base layers, getting images "just. right" phase. NO MUSIC! NO NOISE! P L E A S E ! ! I need full concentration and any extraneous sound makes my brain explode. (Shut. Up. Dogs!!)
  3. Final ministrations, production line, known tasks phase. Music on LOUD. Or radio. This would be a good time to listen to podcasts if my wifi in the studio was reliable. It is not. Yes. It can be an issue. #ruralnovascotia #firstworldissues 
 Often, I discover, always after the fact which I find SO interesting, that what I was listening to during the Dreaming/Thinking phase will creep into the finished piece. The subconscious is a powerful player in the creative's world. 

I love that things - people, thoughts, MUSIC, imagery - influence my creative process. And I am continually fascinated that until something is completely finished I don't see those influences. 

Brains are astounding!

  1. It's still a thrill when things come together in the studio.
  2. Currently reading "The Snow Child". May be a 5 ⭐.
  3. I equally LOVE and CURSE studio experiments.
  4. I just might HATE March-too much Winter-not enough Spring.
  5. On the plus side, seed starting has begun!
  6. Also. I may have gone overboard on seed buying.
  7. I LOVE old barns. Particularly Nova Scotia barns and outbuildings. I should do a Series.
  8. I eat, breathe, and sleep a crush,then dump it unceremoniously.
  9. I might be the teensiest bit sad to see The Lockdown go away.
  10. Sitting in the greenhouse, soaking up early Spring sunshine is a new Life Pleasure.
Why are some lessons so hard to learn?
Because I have been down this path before, maybe a thousand times, between personal online projects back in the day (Hello, olio!) and numerous groups and forums and blog posts. When I focus on The People, my work has no soul. It is driven from without. Instead of within. And The Universe knows. 

This is the deeper, gut felt, corollary to "Live in Passion" or "Do what you Love" or "If it feels simple, you're on the right track". Pick your platitude. 

Try this on for size.
Designate a "DGAF" week, fortnight, month, and let your freak flag fly. Make All The Things. Let your heart rule. Share if you want, though often it helps not to, initially, lest you get dragged down the 'Oh! They Like it' hole (or worse 'Crickets!!'). Just make what you want. How you want. Until that thing SINGS to your soul. Do it once. Twice. Three Times. And only then, when you are feeling SO proud of yourself, offer it out to The Universe without explanation. Certainly no apologies. And I just bet, you will be rewarded a million times over.

How do I know? Because I've experienced it first hand. Over. And over. And over. And if I could remember to NOT get sucked down that "They Love it! They Hate it!" hole, I would be surrounded with work I am thrilled to have produced, share and sell. Mark my words, start creating what "they" love? and your work will become less interesting, less meaningful and certainly less soulful very, very quickly.


This morning I realized, after reading Bridgette's latest blog post, that what I've been grappling with is What Kind of Artist Do I Want To Be?

One of the things I've long admired about Bri's art journey, her work notwithstanding...which, let's be honest, is ahMAZEballs! how "serious" she is. What I mean by that is she takes her journey seriously. She thinks about what she's making, how she wants her work to be interpreted. Maybe even what her art legacy will be. (Do ya, Bri? Another question for you!)

I've long admired artists who are searching for the path they want their art to move along so it can describe the story they want to tell.

My work tends to be about process. How does this thing relate to that thing. How do I attach this widget to that gizmo. What does this VGA monitor plug look like. (a robot!) What can I make with this block of wood. Finding solutions to nuts and bolts (read: mechanical) questions. But I want more than that. For example, I love that Michael de Meng's creations start with the world's detritus but he moves far beyond that with his subject matter exploring folklore, demons, Gods and Myths. 

Don't get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with painting/making pretty things. The world needs all the beauty and loveliness it can get. I don't understand but can appreciate artists who paint realistic landscapes their entire careers. But there is something inside me that wants MORE. I want to move beyond just attaching this widget to that gizmo. To create a feeling. To tell a story. 

I came close once. It was one of the hardest pieces I've ever made. It knocked me down taking me to the depths of my soul, then lifted me back into the light. I want more of THAT. I'm ready for that.  


I've known Bridgette since LiveJournal was THE Thing... 2004ish? I know I have one of her very first mixed media pieces from 2005, titled "Hold Me". Faded over time. Words almost obliterated. And it is one of my very favourite pieces. Because Bridgette is one of my very favourite people. We have been through so challenges, changes in direction, moves, births, deaths, failures and successes...virtually. We, finally, got a chance to meet in person a few years back which I think has cemented our friendship for the long haul. Through thick and thin, baybee! ❤

Hold Me 2005 Bridgette Guerzon Mills

When we both committed to a #365writingchallenge (writing every day for a year) I knew we needed to collaborate in some way. After deciding on posing 5 questions based on "Things I Want to Know About You" here are Bridgette's questions for me. You will find my questions to her over on her blog.

Without further ado here are her questions and my answers:

1. I love your studio space and I know it's new and was part of your build - what were the important things you thought about in designing/organizing your studio space?

Our initial intention was to have a completely separate building for my studio space as I wanted a "dirty work" side ...woodworking, metalwork and hopefully, eventually, welding...along with a "clean" side for everything else. And I spent a lot of  time planning it: orientation, size, window placement, water supply etc etc. But when the build went to hell in a hand basket, things changed really quickly, with my studio being moved into the basement of the new house, the build plans I'd worked so hard on, went out the proverbial window. And yet, some of them WERE transferable. In preparation, I'd listed all the things I do (or wanted to do) and came up with two main categories: Standing activities and Sitting activities. And, of course, storage. I wante lots and lots of storage. After the house dimensions came into focus and therefore my studio space, I came up with a step-back cupboard design the full length of one wall (15 feet long) with the upper section having adjustable shelving  to the ceiling at a depth of 12". And the lower section at counter/standing height with an extra depth of two feet so I could stand as well as two big shelves underneath for storage. Then at a right angle forming an "L" under the two east-facing windows is the 8 foot desk portion, lower by 7" so I can sit down. 

My studio

The walls are plywood so I can bang nails in to my heart's content, the floor is concrete and heated, and the shelving is all wood. There is also a walkout to a deck overlooking the lake. I know. Truly blessed.

Organization/systems are my jam. So I already had that pretty much figured out. My "Go To" storage containers are clear plastic (shoe) boxes (think Costco), storage boxes with attached lids, and a local find, domino tins. Our sheltered workshop makes wooden boxes for dominoes games so they always have a surplus of these 5x7x1 1/2" tins that the dominoes come in. I have way. WAY. too many of these tins. But I love them. And of course. A label maker. I divide and sub-divide, every few months. If I need to think, or calm down, I dump out a container of stuff or ten and organize.

2. You encompass "multi media artist" with all that you create. I respond strongly to your assemblage/sculptural pieces. Especially pieces that include your metal work. Please share all the media you work in and what is your favourite.

Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words and your undying support, it means so much to me! xx

Okay. So by time period... before children then into my early 20s, I started with black ink illustration and watercolour. I had (have?!) a tendency to burn things when in a fit of pique so there aren't very many things left from those days. I marvel at those who have artwork right from the beginning of their careers! But I digress.

I had a long, dry, no-tactile, all digital period right into my 40s and then discovered mail art. And then altered books. Which led to mixed media...collage along with some three-dimensional adds to mostly two-dimensional pieces... and for a time, an absolute obsession with figuring out the. perfect. image transfer technique. And I was pretty successful. Until paper formulations changed. But by then I had discovered assemblage.  And it felt like I'd finally found my niche. Until I wanted to learn metal skills. Are you sensing a trend here?!?

Living at the end of the world, I often have to resort to teaching myself the skills I want or need so I completed every single project in both Linda/Opie O'Brien's book "Metal Craft Discovery Workshop" and right after, Stephanie Lee's "Semiprecious Salvage". And a whole new world unfurled for me. Until I took a 4 year(ish) sabatical while attempting to be an athlete.

Upon my return to the world of art making, I became somewhat of an online class whore, learning chainmaking and plaster techniques, rudimentary encaustic, along with form and line and mark making. And now I'm trying to figure out how to make them all work together! 

As for which is my favourite, as you can read in my last few posts, I am struggling with exactly that. I love the simplicity of paint. And I love imagery. But show me a second-hand or antique shop filled with vintage treasures? Or heart-shaped stones? Or bones? Or rusty metal? And my brain goes into overdrive. I am a passionate lover of STUFF. I can flipflop between the two ...paint/encaustic images and assemblage pieces. Or I can try to combine them. That, I guess, is my current Capital "G" Goal.

3. When your were a child, what was your favorite past time? (I have a theory about this and ask other creatives all the time 😄)

I was a pretty solitary kid. I had two much older brothers, 15 and 13 years apart and an older sister, though only 4 years older, was in and out of hospital for a good portion of our childhoods. Two things that were pretty darned constant were BOOKS and "playing horse".

By the time I left elementary school, I had read every age appropriate book in our school library and was making a decent dent in the town library. And I had a hard, mad crush on horses. They played a pretty dominant role in my young life, riding from the age of 10 until my 20s. (Fun Fact: we bred Norwegian Fjord horses when we first moved back to Nova Scotia in the early 90s). I still love horses. And while maybe not quite as prolific, I still read anything. (Let me know your theory, Bri. Did I win?!? 😁)

And I'm gonna call it a day here. 

Don't forget to visit Bridgette and read her answers to my questions.

Thanks for hanging out with me. Until next week!

Next Week: Part II answering these next two questions.

4. Through the years I have learned that you have experience in so many things from tech to art making to gardening to living with nature - where does this trait stem from? Is it inherently a Canadian self-reliance thing or something taught to you from a parent or something that is just you?

5. How does the above influence your creative process/ art making?

After last week's whinging sesh ...and while thinking about content for the February(?!) newsletter... it suddenly came to me: "marketing" need not mean selling. Marketing could mean sharing. And why the hell hadn't I thought of that before?! *face palm* I've, since, been thinking about questions. Because I do believe that Capital "A" Art answers the world's big questions. Or at least tries. Because for time immortal, it is the artists that respond to what's going on around them and ask those deep, sometimes dark, questions.

An excerpt from my journal:

"Having an idea is wonderful. There is excitement and engagement in exploring the "NEW"."

Alas. The thrill is temporary. Even if it results in good work. It doesn't result in GREAT work. Why? Well. I think because it is stationary. A point in time. And the very best work is a conversation between the artist and viewer. At the very least, it should be a narrative creating a map for viewers to follow along, ideally reaching the same, or similar, end point as the artist.

Too high falutin?
Maybe. But it sure is something to aspire to.

So. I've been pondering questions. 

There are simple ones like: How did I make this? What is going on around me? What am I thinking about? Hmmm. Though these may be closer to an Artist after the fact... than during or even before sitting down to create. Or how about: What do I want (you) to feel when looking at this? Oooo! Even better: Why Does This Matter To Me? 

If those were top of mind as I create, I think my work can only get stronger. If I can answer them through the resulting art, there should be a reasonable, clear story to follow and while the viewer may refute my conclusion, well then ...maybe...  they'll come up with some really good questions of their own.

Do you ask questions while you create?
Do you have any favourite ones?
Please tell me!


Man oh man! I can't settle down, for the life of me! Every morning, my aim is to clear the decks and do some major series or exploration work, and every day I flit from station to station… a little chainmaking, some quick wax application, oh wait! this needs a flick of paint or no! what it REALLY needs is a copper back and some rivets. Oh. But I need some stronger wire. Let's go online and order some! Geezzzzz!

So far this year...and January is all but over!... I've made some wire and stone fripperies, a Thing with Wings, repurposed some plaster works, played around with a monoprint from the flurry of last Spring, started some encaustic pieces and not much has been finished.

What the heck is going on here?!!?

The second I thought I had to be a "profitable" artist is the second I killed my creative juice. Now don't get me wrong. All the above is still "creative". Prolific even. But it is not work that is deeply satisfying. Again. Don't get me wrong. I love being a Maker of Things. And seeing a string of completed little Fripperies makes me smile. But. When work burbles up from deep down, from that connection with Other (read: the Universe, my muse, God, the Creator, whatever works for you) when time stands still and the art seems to create itself? That is the stuff I'm here for. THAT is Creative Juice. Life giving. And, gotta say, it's been awhile.

And I know that playing with stones and wire and metal isn't really the path back to that sort of creating. Even though I do love it. I think maybe it's because so much of three dimensional work is problem solving. I need to stay present in order to fix This to That. And while there is a definite satisfaction upon finding the perfect solution, it has yet to compare with the effervescent fulfillment I get when making images/paintings.

I. Am. Privileged.

I know it and am eternally grateful that I'm in the enviable position of not HAVING to sell my work in order to eat. And there is tremendous guilt. Because even though I need to create in order to survive (or risk eating myself inside out), it still feels superfluous somehow. And I'm having a really hard time finding my way around that. And guilt-ridden for even thinking it. Let alone saying it out loud. Am I the only one?

I suspect the answer is to leave the explanations and platitudes and guilt-ridden self-talk at the door and make the work that makes my heart sing. There has to be worth in that.

From my journal: 

What does being frittered in my art practice do to my Art? If I limited my materials how would that manifest? Would my work become boring? Or would it force me to become more focused and the work would become stronger? 

Questions I've long pondered.
Every day I walk into my studio and see it filled to the brim with assemblage objects...wood and rusty metal, tins and bins filled with collected "treasures". I have a metal/wire station, a painting station, a torch station which shares space with my encaustic hot plate. Two tables, one 8 feet long, one four feet long. Not to mention an entire counter at the ready. Shelves, jammed. Everything neatly labeled (because I'm nothing if not organized) awaiting an inkling of inspiration.

And every January I get back to this question... if I focused on Just. One. Thing. what would that look like? 

Don't get me wrong. I love being a "Jill of all trades". I love that I get to play with so many mediums. My hope, of course, has always been that one skill informs the other. But I wonder. Maybe it's stopping me from really excelling at any one thing.

I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts, you Jill of All Trades (or recovering Jills. Or Jacks)?

Art making is kinda weird, isn't it? The practice of sitting down...or standing up...pouring one's soul onto canvas or paper or "thing", trying to sidestep Self, allowing a direct connection with Muse or Spirit or God. I can't think of any other activity in ordinary life where this might be a Good Thing. (though it may explain social media interactions. or modern politics!)

And when we can't...or won't...get out of our own way?  Ugh! The self-doubt and recriminations and inner critic. So. Loud. So. Obnoxious. And those of us who've been at this awhile KNOW we need to shut that down, IMMEDIATELY. And yet? Each time all that crap surfaces. Yet again. We believe it. Maybe only for a microsecond, if we're lucky. But we believe it. Over and over and over again. It's infuriating!

Case in point. I've had this idea of doing some monochromatic figure studies in encaustic. I've been collecting images. I've been imagining how I'd abstract them. I've been excited to get going on this in the New Year. Then online, a yearly challenge pops up that piques my interest...and you know, I love a good challenge. Lo! And Behold! January's theme is Black and White. Well if that isn't the Universe saying, "Hell to the Yah!" I don't know what is?!? And all of a sudden all that excitement for my New Year project turns to anxiety. Old Lizard Brain starts up, "What if it's not good enough? What if they don't turn out? What if no one likes them?" What if no one LIKES them? Where did THAT come from?!? Geeeeez! I've been procrastinating for a week because of that stupid inner voice getting in the way, stealing my mojo. 

In the past this might have stymied me for weeks and months! Kinda sad really, when the simple act of Doing It, Acting As If, Fake it til you Make it, shuts it up and you can get back to the most important thing, creating! 

So if YOU find yourself dragging your feet because you started believing your inner critic? Tell your Lizard Brain to Piss Off! Do one small thing...pick up a brush or a pencil, make a mark in your sketch book, prime some canvasses or...mix up some plaster and cover your boards! Look you're doing it! Go you! You rock! Shut up, Brain!