Love Notes

P1150418 P1150419 P1150420My cousin, Margy, received Love Note #11.

I sent off the last two Love Notes two days ago, apart from the one that I have kept for myself.

P1150403 P1150406 P1150408 P1150409 P1150411 P1150413 P1150414I painted the series in 2004.  It’s difficult to believe that already ten years have passed.  Their story follows.

Love Notes

A Series of 12 Paintings



In 2004, I took up running along the ridge and down on to the lower trail along the Bow River.  I had stopped to take a break at a random point.  It was shady.  I was completely alone, and to the right of me, the river flowed a blue green.  I bent to tighten my laces, when at my toe, I saw a single rose.  Bewildered, I picked it up and held it in my hand, looking.  I spoke out loud at that time and said, “If this is some sort of a sign, Lord, thank you.”

I had lost at love again.  It had become a ritual with me in my life.  This time I was stumped and struggling to get back on track.  The rose was a gift for me, a gift of healing.

Just next to the path and under some trees, I found a bench.  I decided to sit and rest there for a time.  I didn’t notice them at first, but there, hung by ribbon from the trees, were eleven roses.  I gasped.  All of a sudden, I felt that the space, the landscape and the river were more sacred.  Something had happened at this location or someone special/an event had been remembered.  I sat quietly for the longest time.  Instead of continuing on a run, I turned for home, the rose still in my cupped hand.

I decided to paint a dozen roses…nostalgia, memory, love, symbols…

Eleven people have now received a Love Note…I have kept the one.  The process: I flipped the paintings over in a grid of twelve and I wrote out my own love note, left to right, from top to bottom.  Writing had, over the years, become an essential practice for me...this, along with exploring the visual world…objects…landscape…faces.

four by three

One to TwelveThe painting at the top left was titled Love Note #1, all the way to Love Note #12 in the bottom right.  If you received a Love Note, it was because something in you lit a spark in me.  This was a very random, but time-impacted process.  It would take an amazing moment in the gyre of life to bring the owners all together so that they might read the complete note on the back, something that connects all of you!

The original rose that I found at my toe remains in my studio, a reminder of the lessons taught in my favourite book, Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  If you received a Love Note, I would love to hear from you…and hear about the moment when you received a painting gift from me.  I would enjoy reading your love note to me.

P1150422 P1150423 As time passes, I lose friends.  I hold onto their memory in words and images.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: August 21, 2013

I’ve been stripping and sanding layers and layers of paint off of some second-hand finds, recently.  These were projects that I began some time ago and now, in order to make space to paint in my studio, I need to deal with this and these.  Given the beautiful sunshine and nice weather this week, I’ve been getting at this although some evenings it feels as though my hand and arm are still vibrating.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to have a bit of a snooze on the red couch to renew my spirit before heading to ‘the House’ to paint. I’ve been low about the loss of my Mom…the experience of grief comes and goes…deeply…more deeply…and sometimes just under the surface.  The last few days it’s been ‘more deeply’.  It didn’t surprise me that once asleep, I received the image of a bowl…I didn’t remember much else…just a bowl…darkness…and I knew that while I painted in the evening, I would have to paint a grey scale.  I also knew that something about this container had to do with my mother.

Max had to get out for his walk before I prepped and headed out.  Once at the mailbox, I discovered a package from my father…a stack of glossy photographs from his tour of the Ameilasburgh Historical Museum with his apartment-mates.  In July, Dad and I had attended the A-Frame event for the refurbishing of the Al Purdy residence and so Dad knew how much all of this poetry and ‘stuff’ mattered to me.  The glossies were appreciated and I knew that one of these would have to be included in the evening’s painting.

My painting these last few weeks has been directly connected to my mother; her life, her times and the lessons she gave me.  It’s also had a lot to do with the absence of her and the feeling that everything around me seems different because she isn’t here.  I feel as though poets and artists and musicians fill up a huge space in this life…emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Conceptually, I’m thinking about the space for their unwritten works…the paintings not painted and the music, not ever composed. Something to do with loss.

Listening to Myself

Al Purdy
From:   Beyond Remembering – The collected poems of Al Purdy. 2000.

see myself staggering through deep snow
lugging blocks of wood yesterday
an old man
almost falling from bodily weakness
— look down on myself from above
then front and both sides
white hair — wrinkled face and hands
it’s really not very surprising
that love spoken by my voice
should be when I am listening
yet there it is
a foolish old man with brain on fire
stumbling through the snow

— the loss of love
that comes to mean more
than the love itself
and how explain that?
— a still pool in the forest
that has ceased to reflect anything
except the past
— remains a sort of half-love
that is akin to kindness
and I am angry remembering
remembering the song of flesh
to flesh and bone to bone
the loss is better

A wee bit of collage in the bottom right has to do with a horse (or at closer inspection, a moose), surrounded by wolves…as it must be in nature…the way things work.  At some point…a space in the snow where the amazing animal once stands…the photograph captures the moment that waits on an edge.


Of the three concepts shared with the artists at seven o’clock…the one that most connects with this painting is…dealing with the fear.

P1120331 P1120332 P1120333The figurative piece posted above is one I began at home, on my father’s balcony…it hasn’t been finished yet.  The non-objective piece…last night’s painting, generously purchased at auction by Brent for his friend, Trevor.  In speaking with Trevor after the battle, he shared his attraction to the painting…the simplicity, the interest in poetry (he has been connected with writing…poetry…lyrics) and the sense of the huge disc perhaps representing vinyl…It was fun to speak with him.  I share images of both pieces because I find the palette for both paintings to be similar in tone and feeling.


Brent on the right and Trevor on the left. Painting: The Place For Unwritten Poetry

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It’s Lent and I’m Still Making Christmas Cards

A process, well documented.  Every so often, we have to blog something on the ‘lighter’ side.  When I considered writing my Christmas cards in January two years ago, it was because of the hour-long line up at the post to buy my stamps that year.  New Years Christmas wishes went well for the following year.  This year, not so much.  Those of you on my list might have noticed that I have always enjoyed a home made touch…and this year, that went snaky.  I have documented the process.  Now, I have only to fold the letters and address the envelopes.  I have 92 pieces remaining so that I may continue to make cards to complete this conceptual piece…these will be shared with friends and family who have not been on my annual list.  In my imagination, I see you all getting together one day, to reconstruct the painting that you see here.

Christmas Card 2

It all began with a landscape…

I really treasure the memory of my grandfather…drives west to Cardston, from Magrath.  The mission: to pick up a hard ice cream cone.  I treasure the Oldman River…I fought against the dam.  I used to flow milkweed pods on the water…watch them drift, ever so slowly away from me.  I love reading…and writing…magpies.  I am nostalgic, sometimes painfully so.  I believe that we are all connected…that nothing we do is for us alone, but that it all relates…our words, our actions…our treatment of our environment.  I have an artist soul…painting is not optional, but essential to who I am.  I am utterly convinced of the Divine nature of everything…and treasure the Divine in myself.  I hold fast to my faith, especially when I am challenged.  I journey like a lost pup in a very huge world and love it all.  Family; my three children…my sister…my three brothers…my mother and father and all my ancestors are in me as I move through this big world and I am grateful for them, as I breath.

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