Bitterly Cold Winter, Wrapped Up In Wool

Monday morning saw the accumulation of a whole lot of snow overnight.  The sun was shining and I was grateful for that, as I picked up the shovel and cleared the sidewalk, yet again.  I was excited to be heading for sister-friend time, a hearty soup and warm-biscuit lunch prepared by my Ya-Ya, Wendy Lees, and the experience of felting with a woman who knows wool, so well.  In fact, like me, wool is her history…her story.  Ruth Purves-Smith, oh, how I grow to love you!  Now, you have been my teacher and I treasure that!

Gathering together means the sharing of stories, the week’s events, creative projects, vision, frustration, hard work and yes, edits on cover letters, even dog tales/tails!

Meeting  Booster for the first time was more than fun!  This sweetie really wasn’t ever supposed to have a chance at life, but because of her willingness to negotiate around Booster’s many special needs, Ruth gave her that!  Apart from very unique dietary concerns and the fact that she has to consistently wear a little diaper, Booster seems to lead a very happy and contented life.  As Max’s best friend, I can tell you that this gives me great respect for Ruth.

Settling in, I loved the colours and textures that began to spill out into Wendy’s living room!

I’ve had opportunity before to watch a remarkable lesson on felting delivered by Leah C. Donald  to my grade three students.  However, I didn’t have the opportunity to share in the experience because it was necessary to supervise the students’ use of the felting needles and to be a part of their process.  So, I was excited to actually manipulate the media and to enjoy the hands-on practice.

Ruth brought some of her creations and I was at once, in awe.  Hmmm…no pictures of lunch, likely because I was enthusiastically ‘putting it down’.

 

I decided that I would like to create a hot pad for the table and to focus on technique.  I was definitely the slowest person in the room!  It took quite some time before I sorted out the use of the felting needle.  Thanks for your patience, ladies!

 

Yesterday afternoon was just one of those magical times that created memories, both in my heart and head, but also in my body.  The warm smell of wool, the texture and the concentration…all so wonderful!  The next time you feel really cold, I highly recommend wrapping yourselves up in wool, good food and friendship.

Support the Custom Woolen Mills, when you can.  Buy your gifts from artists and artisans.  Buy music from local artists.  Support the creation of treasures that come out of your local community.

 

Orange!

I met Loretta down at the East Village, once asked to do some painting at the Golden Age Club in a madly creative environment called create!  Loretta Young has some kind of story!  What’s most amazing is how she lights up a room!  Last Sunday saw the launch of a collection of her paintings, collage and mosaics at the Hear’s My Soul Cafe.  It was a brilliant blue day and Loretta was wearing orange.

DSC_0618The surroundings were exquisite.  I was able to connect with beautiful and dear friends, sharing in the music of Trio Velocity while munching on Janice Beaton Fine Cheeses and sipping complimentary wine.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Wandering slowly from one space to another, I really engaged Loretta’s work, seeing a vibrant statement about life and freedom.  Having also been a very active participant in Calgary’s MOMO Dance Theatre, Loretta’s visual work also appears to dance, no matter the medium.  A spattering of orange seems to be a consistent underpinning and a delightful complement to the cerulean and ultramarine dominance.

I enjoyed embracing new friends and Loretta’s family, all present and excited about sharing this really important moment in time, a celebration of Loretta, her spirit and her art. Thanks again to visionary, Wendy Lees, who works tirelessly to create experiences around art and life in the East Village!  Thanks also to Mike who contributed his time to some beautiful framing and display.  A magic touch!

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Art and Connection

The day was a chilly and wet one, but filled to the brim with connecting, whether that was with people or art.

I got Max out in the early morning.  He was in his typically joyful place, leaping through the air in order to retrieve his Chuckit! Paraflight Fetch Toy Frisbee Disc.  He loves it!  It’s durable and I concur with all of the points made in the following review.  I try to alternate his types of work outs each day, taking him out onto trails on his own or doing work outs such as this toy provides.  I call this toy a whizzo…and I pick them up, two at a time, when they are on sale and keep them in stock in my front hall closet.  Max seems to go through about two a year.

While you play this sort of game with your energetic dog, you need to remember to temper the height of your throw in order that your dog does not experience long term wear on his hips and joints.  Border collies are so active, agile and obsessed that they have no limits on what they choose to endure, so you, as an owner, must set the limits.  It is a difficult thing to watch your very active dog succumb to arthritis at some point because you chose to be an ‘over achiever’ with him.  A side note here is that I have developed very beefy arms in my years of training and owning this breed. Certain dogs require hard work every day.  My boy would be one of those.  This work needs to be varied so to remain interesting and so sometimes making your dog sit and stay for 45 minutes is another alternative, particularly on bad weather days.

I dropped Max home and headed to meet with my retired teacher-friends for a coffee.  I treasure these friends so much and felt absolutely blessed as I left yesterday morning.  Our conversation was varied and enthusiastic.  We had opportunity to share both joy and pain and were there for one another to celebrate and support, both.  I continue to be surprised with the human resistance to retirement.  There is so much that happens in the world beyond ‘the job’.  Thanks to my friends for sharing your interesting lives with me.  I am truly blessed by your smarts and your wit.

From there, I jumped on the C Train and got off at the City Hall stop.  After a warm chicken salad sandwich, enjoyed in our central public library, I headed over to the John Clark exhibit at C2.  I found Jeffrey Spalding in an intense conversation with a couple of people and so enjoyed my encounter with the images on my own. I love the synchronicity of the entire event….CTrain City Hall Chicken Salad, Clark, C2…it was a C sort of a morning.

The exhibit is a beautiful collection of works by John Clark.  The collection, available until August 31, is another amazing tribute to a person with a unique statement about his surroundings and experience. I was most emotional in front of a huge canvas painted in 1989, the piece that appears at the complete right of the following photograph.

??????????The following image was acquired via the University of Lethbridge Lasting Images linkArtist-Photographer, Arnaud Maggs, passed in 2012.   May 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

I continue to long for a greater connection with the University of Lethbridge since attending during the years 1973 to 1977, and so I really enjoyed this piece, I believe to be titled Bird and Bridge.

DSC_0256An excellent tribute to John Clark’s life and exploration…beautifully displayed and worth our admiration.  Gratitude to C2 and also the various contributors of the pieces featured in this exhibit.

DSC_0254 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????From C2, I headed over to the Glenbow Museum to enjoy the Bee Kingdom’s:The Iconoclasts in Glass.  AWESOME!  Get out to see this one.  I have written several times about the Bees over these last several years, but, please DO enjoy this elegant display of a very comprehensive collection of works.  Such a clear vision was evidenced in this body.  A pleasure!  Congratulations and shout out to Phillip, Tim and Ryan!

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Phillip Murray Bandura

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Timothy Belliveau

Timothy Belliveau

Ryan Fairweather

Ryan Fairweather

I hung out in the museum for a little while…thinking especially about Marion Nicholl’s work for some reason.  I thought she was such a phenomenal visionary.  I don’t wish to get into the generational and gender ‘thing’ here…but…come on!

DSC_0266It just wouldn’t be right to be so close to create! at the Golden Age Club, to not walk over and see what was cooking.  I enjoyed a coffee and rice crispy square with visionary and facilitator, Wendy Lees; artists Margaret, Lorna, Jo-Anne and Les and got filled in about all of the recent goings-on including the creation of a Little Library and another zine.

I met up with my daughter after jumping on the train and rockin’ my way to the ‘burbs’ from the core.  After yet another Max-event, Cayley and I met up with a beautiful friend of ours at the Blue’s Can and I spun some circles in the dance floor to the all-so-familiar tunes of Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow.  The day could not have been more full, rich and beautiful.

After all of this, I remembered to take the garbage out for a Friday morning pick-up.  And, after reading a few fantastic pages of Carol Shield’s Small Ceremonies (Karen, get this book!), I was off to sleep.

Plein Air With Great Peeps Sooths The Pain of Loss

Recently, the world lost a great painter and a great person, Robert Genn. He is featured in the small clip above. For some reason recently, I’ve been blasted with loss over and over again and have almost been knocked out of my socks with sad news. My son-in-law aptly announces, “Let not the reality of today deter you. But the image of tomorrow spur you.” Sometimes a person has no choice but to be grateful for another day of love and life and go forward with tremendous courage, being light to and with the people that give connection…always being patient…always forgiving…always being light.

I receive connection while gathering with the participants of create! down in the East Village. Along with their fearless leader, Wendy Lees, the folk of the neighbouring buildings, gather to write, sculpt, paint and create! and it is a fascinating experience…fascinating, because no matter the burdens that a person carries, once together and creating, somehow the load gets lighter. The gifts that I receive as facilitator, I’m certain, must surpass what I might ever influence in such genuine and caring, such courageous participants!

I offer up the joy of today to Robert Genn, Lawrence Morin, Glenn Gangier, Maxine Morin and to my beautiful Mom…may you, through the divine Creator, be a part of our celebration of creation always.

Today, we painted joy, pain, breeze, seeds, leaves, sky, clouds, grass, air, light, dancing, rolling, bubbling, trees, light, life.

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Tiny Art Books – Tiny Art Galleries

Last evening I attended a workshop facilitated by Emma Bresola and Melissa Centofanti.  It was a wide open creative experience after a brief viewing of the artist-facilitators’ exemplars and hearing about the possibilities.  The give-back to the community was a response to the recent exhibit of Emma and Melissa’s own art books in the Tiny Galleries situated throughout Bridgeland.  It was a fantastic night of creating!

I went with the specific intent of finding continued healing.  With the anniversary of Mom’s passing, I find I am needing to create objects as a way of both journeying my grief and celebrating Mom’s life.  Something so tactile and open-ended as the small books, allowed for that possibility.  The session flew by.  I am grateful for the expertise and guidance of both Melissa and Emma.

From the Bridgeland Community Center, I zipped out to look at one of the Tiny Galleries before the wind started howling and the weather changed.  A beautiful evening!

Melissa and EmmaIn connection with this, I strongly recommend that my readers take opportunity to view the PBS film, Objects and Memory.  This film really spoke to me and as various experiences of loss or destruction confront members of our society, it makes sense that we naturally memorialize through our objects.  I felt this happening as I created my small book.

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Angels in the East Village

Time spent in the East Village, working with the folk from create!, was treasured time and so good for my soul.  We tried to bring into our midst the energy of mothers and the feminine…welcoming memories of our mothers, the earth and, for me, Mary.  It was such a beautiful two afternoons.  I feel blessed to be with such creative people with so many powerful stories.  I thank Wendy Lees for opening up this opportunity in my life.

The lesson involved a conversation about how artists use references in order to create, some more than others.  We talked about using historical references and real life references.  The act of painting landscapes on location is called plein air.  I described the importance of asking for permission from photographers when using contemporary images as references.

All of this reminds me of a conversation that I once shared with Father Carroll.  We always had such wonderful chats.  He shared this Latin quote with me.  So, while most art has roots in other art or reference points, it is important that the artist explore a personal interpretation or reaction to that reference point.

ars est celare artem
True art is to conceal art

This is evident in the following example, looking at a Frida Kahlo Self Portrait and compared to Bronwyn Schuster’s fabric sculpture.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Some people prefer to refer to angels as guiding spirits…for me, it doesn’t matter how you look at the theme.  We have much to be grateful for, in considering the ‘maternal’ in our communities.  Painting angels at the East Village was a joy.

P1160727 P1160728 P1160729 P1160731 P1160732 P1160733 P1160734 P1160735 P1160737 P1160738 P1160739 P1160740 P1160741 P1160742 P1160743 P1160745 P1160746 P1160747 P1160748 P1160749 P1160750 P1160751 P1160752 P1160753 P1160754 P1160755 P1160756 P1160757Alanna shared that she added wings to the woman sitting before the table and that the angel was her mother.  She remembered sharing a table with her own mother.  It was a very powerful moment for me.

Thanks to the group, for sharing flowers and a birthday gift bag with me.  Thanks to Mark who gave me a rosary.  Thanks for the genuine hearts.

create May 16 Alanna create may 16f Leslie create may 16e Leslie create may 16d Loretta create may 16b create May 16a

 

Face-to-Face

I love these people!  Thank you, Loretta, for dancing Latino with me as we waited for start time.  Not certain why I was so surprised by your moves…you felt the beat at your core.  Good to speak with you about my daughter…about MoMo.  I treasure you.

On Friday afternoon, I had opportunity to facilitate again for create! in the East Village.  Today, it was all about frontal noses…about the expression of lips.  The group is so willing to explore.  They achieved great things although I had not even demonstrated tinting and shading…or even painting the face…I just drew on my brand new newsprint pad. (something I am very excited to have!)

Marion contributed a pad of card stock paper to our program.  We love donations such as this!  Wonderful!

Irving, D Rae and Marion all completed their landscapes this week.  Gertrude committed to completing her eyes from last week!  I feel so overcome by the commitment and the warm hearts of the painters at the Golden Age Club.  I am blessed by the experience!

Good to meet you, Alex…to learn that you analyze and that you are working on conceptual works almost all of the time.  It was fun to watch you leave your current work, to play and to add the texture of acrylic paint to your playful coloured ink marks.  A release and a letting go…and no, your mark making did not remind me of A. A. Milne, but of David Milne.  And yes, I also feel awed by Albrecht Durer’s work, especially the Young Hare.  In fact, I once completed a drawing when I couldn’t sleep…worked from his rabbit as a reference.

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Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer

Middle-of-the-night sketching.

Middle-of-the-night sketching.

Facing the blank page, Margaret, is terrifying.  Good for you…for making the first mark.

P1150663 P1150664P1150677P1150696 A little blending of your flesh tones, Linda, and there will be some unity created and don’t forget the iris!

P1150669P1150689 P1150674One year, my grade nine students used to hang about the art room over the lunch hour.  They would take turns sitting in the window’s light and I would paint  portraits.  It was fun to share these with my class of portrait artists.

Irving carries through with a number of horizon lines, to develop his landscape piece.P1150679 D Rae adds the foreground tree to the right, to give his landscape piece, compositional balance.P1150680 Gertrude completes a second eye after announcing last week that she wouldn’t be able to do this.  It was just too complicated. P1150682Marion adds a touch of ultramarine in the central sky in order to create unity and a colour story.  She adds some warmth into the area behind the trees and thinks about the light at sunset, bathing the ground in warmth.

P1150683 Gary paints blue. P1150685 P1150686 P1150690 P1150691 P1150692 P1150693 Loretta…utter joy.  While suffering multiple strokes might bring some people down, this lady is a tower of strength and is all about positivity, gratitude and fortitude. Her landscape was also completed this week…such a dancing dappled sense of light.

P1150697Thank you for joining us this week, Jennifer. Your questions about ‘likeness’ and rules to portraiture were challenging to me.  What fun!

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It Takes ‘A Village’

The East Village here in Calgary, is serving me up opportunities that I never imagined possible.  This past week, I’ve had another two sessions with creatives at the Golden Age Club, people who come from all directions, to this location in order to paint.  My inspiration this week was taken from a request on one of the pre-painting forms that I handed out last month…painting a simple landscape.

P1150402When we encounter art, beginning with representational art, there is a mystery.  The mystery is usually related to the illusion of depth that the artist creates, the casting of light and shadow, the techniques involved with creating textures and detail.  It causes within us, a sense of wonder.  There is a very long tradition of landscape painting worldwide, but of course, with the work of our Group of Seven and the vastness of our Canadian landscape, what’s not to wonder about?

Thanks to Wendy Lees of create! who set out fresh baking, hot coffee and tea and brought in an assortment of books that supported our ongoing exploration of colour mixing.  The space is gradually evolving into a wonderful studio space.

Several new painters arrived yesterday at one o’clock…Mr. Green and Professor Plum (lol) and four lovely and effervescent artists, bearing colourful scarves.  Not only was this an encounter of magical people and more-magical conversation, but I saw huge leaps of understanding as we moved from last month’s spheres in space, to foreground, middle ground and background trees.

After our introductory landscape lesson, Tuesday, yesterday’s focus was on contrast…light against dark.  It is easy to see the progression in the works based on this new concept.

Leslie’s work transformed with pops of white and detail.  I brought, to her attention, works by German Abstract Expressionist, Oskar Kokoschka.

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Oskar KokoschkaAn earlier piece by Leslie…

January's Painting

January’s Painting

create 20d-rae added contrast and has begun with his deepest value to create a layering for shrubbery….light comes foreward…dark sets back.

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A light blue background creates contrast and allows the evergreens on the ridge to visually pop.

A light blue background creates contrast and allows the evergreens on the ridge to visually pop.

Fran is very tactile…incorporates collage, texture and colour experimentation.  She is the first one in the group to move beyond the boundaries or expectations of the classes and explore the concepts in her own way!  Bravo!  She has been thinking about sunflowers…drawn to them.  In the end, she flips her canvas board over and creates all of the sensibility of sunflowers in a non-objective piece.  Beautiful!

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Fran wears jewelery fashioned out of Milkweed pods...when I look at her, I am thinking of monarch butterflies.

Fran wears jewelery fashioned out of Milkweed pods…when I look at her, I am thinking of monarch butterflies.

P1150334 P1150356 - CopyIrving puts down his wee brush…picks up something larger…begins to add water to his palette…lets the colour move…and voila!  He moves away, gradually, from tubal colour to mixing.  Awesome!

P1150315 P1150342 - CopyTexture abounds, and Margaret considers selling me her beautiful mosaic, created while taking Michelena Bamford’s class.

P1150316 P1150338 - Copy Loretta’s work is full of wondrous mixing and has an impressionistic feel…all about the textures of landscape…the sky.

P1150318We missed Shirley yesterday…but she has strong design qualities in her style and approach.

P1150319Your first painting, Professor Plum?  Are you kidding?

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Absolutely open to engagement...hunger to learn...wonderful conversation!

Absolutely open to engagement…hunger to learn…wonderful conversation!

Mr. Green adds the figure…not an easy thing for any of us.  I decided not to comment, but to let things happen.  We have a discussion about the central tree and I try to hit on issues around composition and center of interest.

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A wondrous blast of conversation and painting shared by all!  Karen and I talk with one another about marketing work…her fascination with large paintings…her willingness to let go in the process and her avoidance of precious attachment in the creative process.

Karen's freedom with washes.

Karen’s freedom with washes.

Needs something in the bottom right?  OK!

Needs something in the bottom right? OK!

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A water colourist takes up the challenge of acrylic paint.

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Gary, a confident artist who practices abstract painting on large format, produces a landscape.

P1150335 P1150336 - Copy P1150322Georgie needs contrast?  Add red!

P1150343 - CopyFour new friends…

P1150352 - CopyMark sculpting on the side lines…

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Bruce becomes engaged with the science of colour and Jenn, GH buddy joins us on her afternoon off.

Edward becomes engaged with the science of colour and Jenn, GH buddy joins us on her afternoon off.

Wonder.  Gratitude.  Fun!

create! on Friday

We gathered at the Golden Age Club in the East Village this afternoon for a second painting activity.  It was a glorious thing to see Harold and the T-girl and to be able to get big hugs from them.  Needless to say, we all miss Gorilla House and I ache for the friends who I met there.  After setting out the basics on the tables, I relished sitting back and relaxing as a number of folk came in…we conversed and shared in treats donated generously by Brulee Patisserie.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

The participants in create! were enthusiastic and patiently explored the notions of foreground, middle ground and background as well as how to create the illusion of form out of a flat shape.  Building upon the skills explored earlier this week, we began to speak about issues of composition; static versus dynamic and added shades into the mix.  The break out moment was the exploration once each artist had created three spheres, dynamically placed, into their compositions.

I was blessed by the sense of calm that filled the room…bathed in afternoon sunshine, create! was the place to be.  Thanks to Dan’l for the Mona Lisa joke…to Larry for his stories of Vimy…to Fran, for reading the Bricklayer’s Lunch Hour by Allen Ginsberg and for memories of her sister, Louise Marie Rose…to Jennifer, for painting in violet…to Noelle who wore pink and painted pink…for Georgia for asking about contrast…to d-rae for focusing so intently on the details and to two new painters, a daughter and her mother because they painted after years of watching Bob Ross on television (“We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”), without ever having painted…for Wendy Lees who shared her dream with all of us when she opened up programs in EV.

It was an afternoon of light and joy and peace.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

create! in the East Village

Wendy Lees invited me to explore painting as one of the offerings at the Golden Age Club this week, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Director of a recent initiative to use ‘creation’ as a way to connect a community, create!, Wendy has designed community drop-in art and craft workshops in the East Village.  For an excellent overview on the physical re-invigoration of the area, please see the Take A Tour section at the bottom of the link here.  Click on the wee orange icons.

Present location and with gratitude, a sunny art space on the 2nd floor of the Golden Age Club in East Village awaits you with coffee and cookies too! — at East Village Calgary.

Photo Credit: Michelena Bamford

Photo Credit: Michelena Bamford

I have written a few times about Wendy’s Love Art in Calgary tours and am a huge fan of her passion and her projects, both.  We have become well-bonded through her designs and this is one of those friendships and experiences that I am truly enjoying as one aspect of the gift of retirement.  From one of Wendy’s communications, this…

“My main focus right now (well one of them) is to secure funding for the ongoing work which I am doing with create! I am doing this through soliciting for private donations (large donors) and with a couple of grants through the Canadian Red Cross and the Calgary Foundation. I have a lot of support for this project from Druh Farrell’s office, from the East Village Neighbourhood Association, from the Golden Age Club and from many other organizations and people.”  I also know that Wendy has enjoyed huge support from Nina’s Hear’s My Soul Cafe, #107 535 – 8th Ave SE.

While I need to tighten up the facilitation of materials and the clarity as I speak about the technical aspects of colour, I think that the experience of working with such a diverse and interested group was wonderful.  Parts of the activity were specific and controlled and others may have been too open-ended.  I’m reflecting on all of it.  The truth is, it’s important  that each person pick up something new to mull over…and it’s also so important for me to learn something so that I might grow.  What Wendy is doing is such a blessing for all of us.

P1140705 P1140706 P1140707 P1140708 P1140709 P1140710 P1140712 P1140713 P1140714Thanks to friend,Michelena of Wolf Willow Studio (workshop leader and inventor of wonderful things) for bringing a youthful gaggle along with her and buying us a ‘mother load’ of fries to celebrate afterwards at Gina’s in the Golden Age Club.

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“When you start getting people’s creative juices going, then they start making creative solutions to other problems.”