This morning, I lit a candle.

The day has been filled with Christmas light.

DSC_1791I got up early this morning…Max and I did a before-the-sun-came-up walk.  On the circle, Christmas lights on houses and in trees still dazzled the snow-sprinkled morning.  A cold bite to the air, I pulled my hood up and we made our way into day, leaving our footprints behind, the first in fresh snow.

The magic continued.  As is usual, it was possible to hear one good classical tune on CKUA on my drive to the church, where upon my entrance, I was greeted by the familiar voices and smiles of old friends.  After a short morning prayer, I decided to light a candle.  It is the feast day of the Holy Family and I couldn’t stop thinking about my family…Dad, Mom…my brothers and sister and my children.  Mom would have me light that candle and say a prayer and acknowledge, with gratitude, the blessings of this season and my life, and so I did.

Social media enjoys its fair share of cynicism about God, Jesus and ‘religion’.  While somewhat accepting of ‘spirituality’ and spewing a constant blast of Rumi quotes, many people generally dismiss the power of belief and embrace the power of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘now’, ‘manifestation’, ‘selfie’, and ‘self-gratification’ instead.  I’m not here to knock all of that and all of them, but I’m here to proclaim just how powerful faith is for me.  I felt as though when I lit that candle, a tidal wave of love spilled over me.  I experienced ‘God-be-with-you’ in the truest sense.  I am grateful for the grace and power of the divine within me.

I’m a big one for family history, studying my maternal and paternal lineages intensely for the past five years. The Liturgy of the Word was filled with family history today…stories of hope and amazement.

The Mass was filled with blessings of every kind. Deacon Greg shared a heartfelt homily that touched me deeply.  Sometimes personal narratives just have a way of reaching into the soul and healing something.  Greg’s stories of faith, family, struggle and joy were so meaningful and so relevant.  I cherish my family deeply and I’m so grateful for their love and support always.  Each member of my family, whether they be in Lethbridge, Raymond, Magrath, Ottawa, Halifax, Comox or Calgary, is light to me.

During Offertory, we sang the Little Drummer Boy.  Today’s version, with some percussion, sent chills up my spine because I felt as though Mom was sitting right beside me.  This carol was always her favourite and my spirit lit up at the first tap of the drum.

Three baptisms…Isaac, Ethan and Noelle.  What’s not to absolutely love about baptisms?  The children from the congregation gathered, wearing their new Christmas outfits, excited to celebrate in the welcoming of three new infants into our community.  Ethan and Noelle appeared to be twins, looking so fragile and sleeping so soundly.  Father Cristino gently blessed their small round heads with water and there was barely a peep from either of the wee angels.  Isaac was fully immersed and his back stiffened at contact with the water, when all at the same time, he let out a cry.  Wrapped up in a cozy blanket, Daddy held him close and he was quickly consoled.  The congregation was invited to applaud our welcome and our excitement for this beautiful event.  That small candle continued to light up my heart.

The Consecration at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist left me gobsmacked.  My readers might have to look up the term in their urban dictionaries.  I just could not find a term that would suit this moment better.  Gobsmacked, it is!

This day has been a very special day for me because of its beginning.  The snow continues to flutter gently to the ground.  My daughter came by and shared a meal of beef barley soup.  We snuggled.  Max played whizzo outside and flew through the snow…again.  The light has long since left the sky.  The Christmas tree lights are once again plugged in.  While the sky is very dark, it feels as though I am lit up.  I am grateful.  I am happy.

 

Text and Image: How My Art Comes Together

I think that art that includes text these days is being talked about a little bit…I mean…some people judge text to be a bit of a ‘device’.  It’s important that script be used like salt and pepper and that it engages the compositional elements appropriately…connecting with the images contained within the picture plane…but also leading the viewer to an engaging experience of a broader concept/issue/exploration.  Hmmm…and as I type this, I’m thinking, “Really, this is balogne!  There are NO RULES…so why are you writing this?”  What I’m saying, I think, is that this is how I use text with images.  It certainly is not how all artists use text.

When I met William MacDonnell, I first engaged (REALLY noticed) work including text.  Prior to that, I had seen text used by a variety of local artists and of course, several pop masters including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.   I was most moved by Frida Kahlo’s journal pages as illustrated in the book, The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self Portrait.  I first noticed in her sketches that words and images created links for one another and I thought that it was a very powerful thing to include both.  When I went to ACAD, I first included text in my Library Club series and knew then that the gilded script transcribed from my high school year books enriched and activated the surface.

Tragedy on a Country Road – 1994 by William MacDonnell Photo Credit: Legion Magazine

Patricia Kirton…one of three panels from the Library Club Series. Painted by Kathleen Moors

An entire wall in my main bathroom…people are confronted with affirmations whenever they sit down. :0)

I remember the day when I began to write on walls.  My artist-friend, Bobby, shared an on-line project posted by a conceptual/false-conceptual artist regarding writing/attaching a set of affirmations on bathroom walls. I had only, days before, lost my fourteen year old Laurie-dog and so was in need of some powerful self-talk in order to transcend the huge loss and so I dug out the affirmations that I had printed off months prior and began to write on my wall, making additional affirmations as I worked.

Similar Affirmations: Another Artist’s Efforts With the Project

And another blogger’s efforts…

My studio space includes the written words of many friends and family members.  I am surrounded by their wisdom, food for thought, song lyrics and I’m continually supported by these.

Today, when I incorporate text, I do so with Covenant in mind.  I seek out discarded bibles from garage sales and second hand shops, feeling as though the words have need of harvesting.  I also find it interesting that because scripture arrives in an unexpected place (in art) sometimes the viewers can be found engaged in the words.  If I do not apply the pages directly to the piece, I write them out and they always inform the subject in the work.

I am also fond of embedding poetry, information and reactions, depending on what I’m thinking about at the time.  Recently, I’ve parted with words from three beautiful leather bound partner journals, I’ve cut up all of these into two inch squares that are being embedded into various pieces in progress.  Ultimately, I will be using them for a Bride-Groom collage that has been in the planning phase for some time!  You can see two squares in a recent LIVE ART battles composition.

As an example…this piece is titled Psalms and contains the entire book of Psalms as its underpinning.  The pelican, historically, represented Eucharist (the Body of Christ).  J. Lee Jagers writes about it eloquently here.

“The symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby pelicans is rooted in an ancient legend which preceded Christianity. The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. Another version of the legend was that the mother fed her dying young with her blood to revive them from death, but in turn lost her own life. — Fr. William P. Saunders in a column from the Arlington Catholic Herald (2003).”

This meaning, interestingly enough, emerged after exploring the concept of my own father, saving a single pelican that had lost its wing and was likely going to lose its life once winter hit.  I felt at the time, and still do, that my father exemplified the concept of ‘covenant’.

Sometimes the text that I incorporate into my pieces is more or less obvious to the viewer.  Presently, I am embedding journal pages and other sources, as well as biblical texts.  Every day I learn more about my enthusiasm for collage and there are always experiments at work.  Thanks for asking about the text, John…a good question!

Wood Fillin’

I’m excited to have a couple of cribbed panels parked up in the church balcony and this afternoon I got busy filling nail holes and getting their surfaces prepared.  I am repainting two pieces for our church, St. Albert the Great Parish.  They will become some sort of legacy for my friend and priest, Father Kevin Tumback.  This is one way that I can demonstrate appreciation for the support he has given me artistically through the last many years as we’ve built our community.  I painted these pieces first as banners, but with the up and down of them, the surface became damaged and I decided to create something more permanent.

Thanks to another parishioner, Yves, for having built these two panels, 10′ x 6′ in size.  There is no way that I had the financial resources to have these constructed, so in this, I am also truly blessed!  I hope to capture these images in process as they reveal themselves to me and I give gratitude and honour to our Lord who inspires all art within me.  It is for his glory that I paint.

Luke 22:19

19  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

Matthew 4

The Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

During that time the devil[a] came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’[c]

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’[d]

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’[e]

11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Vineyards

My daughter joined me in the Chapel this morning.  She worked on the vineyards as I continued with the crowds outside of the two windows.  Father came to visit with us for a short time and a mother stopped by to tell us that just before our arrival, there were no fewer than thirty grade two youngsters in the space…looking at the wall…as they were taught about the symbols of the wine and the bread in preparation for their first Holy Eucharist.
 
From there, they were seated in the church itself, rehearsing and learning about this huge opportunity. The two of us were happy to be listening to the teaching voices and the voices and laughs of children while we worked.  We quietly spoke to one another and wondered about The Last Supper as we painted.  It was a treasured time for me…it meant so much for her to be sharing this space with me…and for her to be painting.

Chapel Time: Day Twenty-Six

I didn’t take photos in the Chapel today after teaching…but it was a pretty special pre-supper hour event.  My stories seem to be just stacking up inside me…I’m not really telling any of them.
 
A former student of mine agreed to come and paint with me in the Chapel, so I picked her up after teaching. I’ve invited her to work on the vineyard, while I continue on with my flying from one portion of the wall to another. She is a very special lady and I have many memories of working with her in art classes grades seven to nine.  It was a pleasure to have her work alongside me.  I have not had anyone else share this sort of time with me.
 
Three of us went on a short walk and looked at the other banners I have painted in the church.  It was good to share this work in such a quiet atmosphere, with no other people around.  I realized again, how special it is to have the privilege of painting for God.
 
Back in the Chapel,  I needed to deal with the direction of the light on the vessels on the right hand side.  I remembered making a note somewhere along the way that I wanted to have the light moving from the center of the interior (the Tabernacle) onto the objects left and right.  I had painted a consistent light source from the left on Saturday…and so this needed to be changed.
 
I wrote onto the bottom right of the wall from the Old Testament reading in Samuel that describes that a horn carried the oil for anointing.  I wrote in gilt script again, just prior to painting the translucent alabaster jar to the very right. 
 
This small alabaster vessel may not have been captured by my dear photographer-friend because he left prior to that time.  I hope to load some of those photographs onto my blog when they are transferred over to me.  It was special to be included as a part of the subject of the wall project, along with my friend and a very nice thing to be hearing a shutter going off again and again. I am a huge fan of this man’s work!  I have to admit also that, given a chocolate smoothy, I slurped on my very first beverage since deciding to refrain from drinking or eating at all while painting.  It was such a treat.  Delicious!

The Chapel: Day 27