Loretta

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The elevator repair has gone on a tad longer than expected.  Wendy Lees and her band of creatives from create! at the Golden Age Club, have spent some time relocated to another space while renovations and such were taking place, but…now, back at home in the Golden Age Venue, the elevator is still not fixed.  “Soon”, everyone hopes.

Sometimes when I read what people struggle with or what they take issue with, I have a tricky time feeling empathy.  Sometimes we are each ‘devastated’ by such benign issues and so in order to withhold judgment of ourselves and the other, it is important to consider each issue as it relates to current conditions/variables.  An example: We can celebrate that Target closing down can be a problem for someone because this means…their health is good…they live in a warm home…they have the food and water they require and they likely have family and friends for company and support.  They ALSO have the cash in their pockets to go shopping.  But let’s simply look at the very first…GOOD HEALTH.

Loretta told me that she didn’t mind me telling her story. I explained that she’s just so inspired me this week, that I wanted to try to capture that inspiration in a post!  Loretta is a woman who has such a positive attitude about her life and is willing to do almost anything in order to express her creativity, whatever form that might take. All is done with a sense of humour.  Over time, Loretta has suffered six different strokes, but the fact that this has impeded movement and function on her right hand side, has not stopped her from being a dancer with MoMo Dance Theatre or making paintings, mosaics and recently, papier mache! (That’s Loretta on the left.)

MoMoOn Tuesday, I was witness to Loretta’s climb of the stairs to arrive at our papier mache experience and I have to say that her determination caused something more than awe in me.  I guess that’s why I’m writing.

?????????? ??????????She began her bowl project, with enthusiasm…and with the use of her left hand only. By the time that the class had ended, she had applied three layers of Handel’s Messiah, in strips, to her form and with some assistance from me, applied a pedestal stand as well.  We all gave one another hugs good-bye after our clean-up and one last cookie. :0)

As the story continues, Loretta came into the Golden Age Club yesterday, thinking that it was art day…looked at the stairs…and said to herself, “I just can’t do it.”  She went home, she said, and had a good cry (at this point in the story, we embraced) because she really really wanted to paint her bowl.

Well…if she didn’t run into Michael at some point in the afternoon and she told him that she couldn’t get up to create!  He gave her the news that, in fact, it was scheduled for Friday…TODAY!!   Loretta made it up those stairs again, to her waiting project and created spectacular transparent layers of paint!

I cherish my friends at Create! and every one of us also has a story.  Each participant (I include myself here) in the experience is vulnerable in their own way, but we carry on, especially cherishing good health and creative experiences that find us sharing positivity, good laughs, support and friendship.  Thank you to Georgie, Michael, Brian, Marian, Patruch (can’t say it…can’t spell it…and he knows it!), Tony, Joanne, Patrick, Leslie, Nicole, Margaret and Loretta…and our other Loretta.   Charcoal sketching with Gary next week!

??????????DSC_1931 DSC_1930 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????We missed you, Wendy…but you reveal yourself even when you’re not in the room with us.  See you soon! ?????????? ?????????? DSC_1912 ?????????? ?????????? ??????????

 

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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Helping Hands

It was a big day again for the City of Calgary, with the opening of the Barb Scott Memorial Park, the Inglewood Night Market and the Helping Hands Mural launch, celebrated along with artists, Mark Vazquez-Mackay, Hannah Poon and Ryan Delve and “Just Bill”. I opted to celebrate the Helping Hands mural and so glad that I did!  There was a sense of a beautiful community that hovered under the overpass on a very rainy day!  There were delicious DONUTS, offered up for free by Jelly Modern Donuts!  I was very proud of the creative participants from the create! program in the East Village who contributed to the mural.  I was happy to be witness to this historical moment for our city.

Directly from the Calgary Media Release, this background…

“(CALGARY, AB) – Plans to transform a small wall under the 5th Avenue flyover began when “Just Bill,” a resident of the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (The DI), decided he wanted to add more colour to the neighbourhood by creating a public art installation everyone could enjoy and actually participate in creating.

Bill, a born and raised Albertan, has been homeless for the past 15 years. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Bill resolved to explore his lifelong dream of becoming an artist. At 50, he picked up a paintbrush for the first time, began reading books about famous artists and started running with a very creative and collaborative art crowd in Calgary.

“I credit Angel and Angela, the two young women who founded Market Collective here in Calgary, with giving me the courage to really follow my dream and start making my art a reality,” says Bill. “They encouraged me to showcase my work and make connections in the arts scene. It’s changed my life for the better.”

Inspired by some of the magnificent public artwork within East Village, such as Julian Opie’s LED installation “Promenade” and Ron Moppett’s mosaic tile wall “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER,” Bill and three fellow artists decided they wanted to contribute to the emerging art scene of East Village by adding some colour under the 5th Avenue Flyover. Working with City of Calgary Roads and Centre City Planning & Implementation teams, they have imagined a mural called “This is our City:

Helping Hands,” which celebrates diversity, choice and community building and honours former DI Centre Executive Director Dermot Baldwin for his contributions to Calgary’s homeless.  Dermot Baldwin was present to the celebration yesterday.

This isn’t the first time a group of local artists has teamed up to bring life to an unconventional canvas. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the organization charged with redevelopment of the East Village, began a curated art program on the bridge abutments and storage sheds in 2009. Local photographer Derrick Besant debuted his black and white images on the bridge abutments three years ago, and just last summer a new group of Calgary artists called Light & Soul added “The Field Manual: a compendium of local influence” – a mural that spans 11 surfaces along Riverfront Ave.”

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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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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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The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul

I enjoyed another wonderful opportunity facilitating with Wendy Lee’s create! program.  When I arrived, somewhat flustered because of a whole series of misadventures, Wendy had the coffee burbling and welcomed me with open arms.  So good to see friends down at the East Village!

Eyes…the windows to our soul?

The origin of this profound thought is attributed to different writers and great thinkers…not precisely as it appears in my title, but in one way or another.  Here are just a few, appearing on the Quoteland.com site and shared by the moderator.

The quote originated with Cicero, but in a different form.

The eies. . . are called the windowes of the heart by which love enters into the same.~Stefano Guazzo, Civile Conversation, bk IV (1584)

These lovely lamps, these windowes of the soule~Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weekes and Workes (1591)

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs records the Latin “vultus est index animi (also occulus animi index, the face (also, eye) is the index of the mind” and “The eyes…are the wyndowes of the mynde.” (1545)

Today, inspired by a North Park University community art project, we painted eyes. Participants of the North Park University made images of fellow North Park students (or in a couple cases, faculty). 67 blocks using various media, mounted on a gold-leafed tondo. It is now installed in the vestibule of the chapel at North Park University.

Eye ArtI decided to begin create’s! portrait series at the Golden Age Club in the East Village with a look at the basic structure of frontal view eyes.

To begin with, one of the participants arrived, sporting an AWESOME fashion statement and gave me permission to photograph him.  AWESOME!  Yellow lenses?  Are you kidding?  More AWESOME!

P1150556While everyone was tentative, we began…analyzing the eye…exploring its complexities and having some fun along the way.  Newsprint sketches began as small detailed miniatures and gradually grew to be confident explorations of the subject.  More fun!  More laughs!  Quiet concentration!

At create! we modify our projects and expectations as need be…some artists are still dabbling in landscapes of our last sessions…some require assistance due to special needs.  We can adjust!  We want everyone to be in full participation to the degree that they are able!

I had a wonderful time and as we offered as our intention at the beginning of class…building…building nests…building community…I am pleased to say that the resulting experience was a warm and loving experience.  We really looked into one anothers’ eyes!

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Professor Plum Takes on a New Look!

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Hear’s My Soul in the Orange Lofts

After such a ‘magical’ afternoon, painting…it was over to Nina Saini’s Hear’s My Soul Cafe for wine and celebration.  A gathering space in the Orange Lofts, this little cafe must be enjoyed by all!  This is a spirit-filled and ‘happening’ place.  Problems get resolved at Hear’s My Soul.  Inspiration happens at Hear’s My Soul!  Much connecting happens as a person looks out onto one of the coolest intersections of the city…people are warm and funny.  The wine is good.  The food is exquisite.  I settled in and relaxed with Wendy Lees, grateful for the friendship and conversation.

From the menu, I selected, Smoked meat, garlic aoili, grilled zucchini and red peppers, red onion, arugula and aged white cheddar PANINI!  Yummers…and Woodbridge Cabernet-Sauvignon 2012 as an accompaniment.  Fantastic!

P1150386There are powerful stories written on the walls…visual narratives that sing of heart, spirit, life, children, pain, mothers, resilience…this is such a beautiful space!  GO!

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I really enjoy attending THE FIRSTS of things going on in our city, and just happened to hit this event last evening.  Recently I attended the first of the full moon walks accompanied by cellist, Morag Northey, down in Fish Creek Park.  This particular intimate gathering of folk meant bringing out the paint, pencils and markers!  I recognized Sarah-Joy from Nikki Reimer’s Calgary reading from sic ages ago, so a lovely thing to reconnect.  On Hear’s My Soul Facebook page, the gathering is advertised this way.  Something else for creatives in Calgary to keep in mind.

“Hi all! First time drink and draw session will begin tomorrow, Friday 21st starting at 7pm! Once a month a group of artist…any type are invited to join other creators to do what you do best…kinda like a sketch session but it doesn’t matter what medium of art you practice. You can even just come by….chill with others…have drink of any sort ( as always I recommend booze) network or practice your art. Everyone is welcome. So come down and join!”

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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