I love this story and so, I’m sharing it again, but with a short addendum.
Two years after I received this lovely illustrated book of gratitude from Eli, I have finally written my thank you for the gift. Yes, I know, a thank you for a thank you…but, I just felt I needed to wrap up the circle of love with a wee painting. The subject: Eli’s grandmother’s hands, offering an unpainted ornament to me. Thanks to both grand mother and grand son for including me in this annual creative project for twelve years!
For love of her grandson, a friend of mine orchestrated and pulled off a twelve year project. The other evening, before ordering a post-movie Humpty’s breakfast, she passed me the gift of a photo archive of the project, in the form of a book, made by her grandson (photographs by her son), a response to his experience of receiving my hand made ornaments from the time he was a little boy up until he became a young man. I am in awe of her persistence.
Each year, well before Christmas, this amazing lady organized the posting of the ornaments to connections in distant countries, beginning with Okotoks, Alberta. :0) These people would use her funds, included in the double-wrapped packages, to post the gift back to her grandson, living in Vancouver. Imagine receiving an anonymous package from a different part of the world each year for twelve years!! I am so grateful that I was the artist chosen to participate in this Christmas magic. Needless to say, I shed a few happy tears while leafing through these pages while sharing an evening breakfast with my daughter and three of my dearest friends.
Usually in a bit of a rush, even to the point of waiting for the ornaments to dry, I only archived by photograph, one set of these ornaments, but got them out the door and delivered to my friend, just in the nick of time for mailing. So for me to receive this carefully constructed archive is heaven!
The speech that was written and shared with his class was written prior to his receipt of “On the twelfth day of Christmas…”
Our shop teacher generously cuts our large boards so that each of 20 children now has their own board. Time to create our own painting/collage about the river.
“Let’s create a river story of our own. Maybe each of you can have your very own page! What is the beginning of the story? What happens in the middle? What happens in the end?”
WE COME UP WITH THESE CHAPTERS.
1. Peaceful River
2. Busy River
3. Springtime River
4. Flood River
5. Busy River
6. Peaceful River
We speak with one another at length! What do we need to put into each chapter? MOUNTAINS! We talk about Canmore and the snow melting. We talk about ice getting piled up. We talk about how fat the river gets. Here in the suburbs, the golf course comes up, the bike paths and the walking/biking bridges. Here in the suburbs, there is talk about people getting stuck.
The Grade ones begin to build their river story with sentences and paint their river. The river in the Flood River chapter is brown. We remember the river when it was brown.
The students create their coloured sketches of the Flood River.
To most, he is an artist, but to me, he is a friend. Bill Webb and I were connected by painting during the Alberta Centennial Exhibit hosted by the West End Gallery in Edmonton. We shared the exhibit with Walter Drohan, Glen Semple and Don Toney. I wrote in October of 2005, the following…
“Bill Webb. Well…what can I say about him? He is an absolutely marvellous person! He is so interested in hearing from others and he REALLY listens. He included everyone in conversation and listened with intention. I knew that Bill was listening to me by the next question he would ask. Only certain people can do that; keep their focus on others, rather than themselves. Bill has that gift. We had great discussion about his grand-daughter Emily-Ann who walked up to one of my paintings and asked, “Why are the leaves turning?” We spoke of gator board and shipping art and framing art and stretching canvas. We spoke about transparency and gesso and all things artistic and otherwise. It was completely remarkable! It was so very special. He turned off the road toward Camrose…but had led us to the edge of the city after the event. It was a warm gesture to share a hug through the open van window and to wish us safe travel. W.H.Webb to Canada and the world……Bill to me.”
Since 2005, we have shared many wonderful conversations about art (good and bad), books (good and bad) and life (good and bad). We’ve also climbed Chapel Rock, a beautiful hike that opens up to the Livingston Range, a place close to W.H. for the people who live nearby and the sprawling landscape.
View From Chapel Rock Lunch Stop
Oh! And we’ve shared lots of GOOD food; let us not forget that! This weekend Bill is enjoying another exhibit after a couple of months of very concentrated work in the studio. This is why I’m taking the time to recognize his efforts. I am very proud of him and want to share some of Bill’s process, archived on a trip up to Forestburg to the W.H. Webb Studio, a place we informally refer to as the northern studio.
W.H. Webb Studio
The thing about going north, was that I learned about the wide open spaces that surround the northern studio.
Red Tractor…where else? Suspended before a blue screen of Alberta sky.
A view, yummy enough to want to paint.
The neighbour’s work place.
I also learned that Bill enjoys ballroom dancing and that he has adopted several cats and a beautiful dog over time. His cats have a good home with him.
Now an angel…sleeping on the property.
Bill uses the written word to be creative, both in journalling and in writing letters. He creates photo albums with a twist and belongs to a special Film Society that meets regularly with friends near and on :0) Lumbreck Falls. As well, Bill enjoys many ‘magical’ friendships to the north of Alberta and always has time for an intelligent conversation on history, religion, teaching and all else.
It’s hard to tell, I know, but these two listen to Opera in the evenings, while sharing a sip or two.
It takes some sort of artist to share in these sorts of experiences…calving time, harvest, keeping the driveway clear of snow and keeping the lawns mowed!
Springtime…and new life!
So, it is plain to see that this is a multi-faceted artist, Mr. W.H. Webb. Sometimes he just amazes, particularly when he took on the challenge to read Moby Dick, cover-to-cover! Now, on to his process!
Air-brushed sky for that pristine Alberta-sensibility.
The reader will notice right away that this studio is pristine, also…very light on decoration OR clutter, quite a contrast to the southern studio.
Underpainting vegetation…the small strokes of paint begin with almost an umber underpainting…some cool tones, some warm. The darkest values first and a very gradual build up to the lightest tints.
The colour is applied…rich variety of greens…acrylic paint.
There are many trips back and forth from this palette to the wall-mounted easel. There is an exact science to this!
The image is projected…not so easy as you might think.
I know…this might come as a shock to some of you, but honestly, this technique and incorporation of technology has been used for a zillion years (not quite) to master proportions and such…more recently, an approach used by Ted Godwin and others.
The apparent building up of layers.
Max is sleeping, at this very moment on the red chair, just under a W.H.Webb piece.
My boy, Max, 1:00 a.m.
Thursday night the West End will be hosting a lovely wine and cheese event to celebrate Bill’s new work and then an opening on Saturday. I am sending Bill much success for the weekend. He is a true friend and I am grateful to know him. Best wishes, Bill.
I’m competing in team kata at a karate tournament this weekend, but I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to see Joane Cardinal-Schubert again tonight. She is celebrating 30 years as an artist and there is a beautiful exhibit at the Master’s Art Gallery downtown, featuring some amazing pieces. So, I organized my time so that I could enjoy the work and nibble on beautiful appetizers before scooting to the south again for my practice.
I first met Joane when my first-born was only a small child in 1982. I was a teacher at a school in the southeast and I was responsible for developing a program that would meet the needs of a whole number of children from various backgrounds…we had Cree, Blackfoot, Metis and Blood…kids who had integrated into a school system that sometimes didn’t work for them fully…and kids who generally had difficulties with english language arts/reading, writing and articulating.
I invited Joane to come out to our school as I noticed very quickly that my students had a general sense of the visual world and while very quiet, they seemed to relish time spent working with their hands no matter what the project. Writing experiences seemed to follow as a natural progression to real-life experiences OR visits to the Glenbow or walks at the bird sanctuary. I still have a beautiful drawing of Chief Crowfoot that Jordan Bearshirt drew for me in pencil. It is one of my treasures from that time.
Joane shared slides with us in a darkened classroom and I remember how excited the students were during her presentation, but also after. It was an amazing thing to see her large charcoal sketches of sweat lodges and strong dynamic lines of lodge poles. It was a true landmark in my experience as an arts educator to have her come that day.
Years later, I became an activist in opposition of the building of the Oldman River Dam, having received my degree from the University of Lethbridge. As a “Friend of the Oldman”, I worked volunteer hours raising funds for the legal battle that ensued. Somewhere in there, I learned that Joane had done the design for the adopted poster for the huge gathering of people at the Maycroft Crossing. Many years later, I brought my poster to one of her art openings and she gladly chatted and signed my poster. She has woven her life in and out of mine and I have followed her art, life and achievements with great regard and happiness.
I truly enjoyed visiting with her again tonight and seeing another woman who has influenced me and my figure drawing, Bev Tosh who is busy working on her work…The War Brides for an exhibit at our National War Museum. I love that my life has been so touched by strong and talented women!