Joane Cardinal-Schubert: The Writing on the Wall

I came into the house, after visiting the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary, yesterday, and looked deeply at the painting by Joane Cardinal-Schubert that my then-partner and I bought on December 7, 1995 from the Master’s Art Gallery. It wasn’t as though we could ever afford to collect art, but, we were determined to collect art…we were always buying something and we did it in a disciplined way because each month we made an allocation of a specific amount of money toward our art budget.  A lot of people at the time, and still today, don’t realize that they can invest in art over time.  Ordinary people don’t have access to a budget that covers the entire value of many of the pieces that they grow to love.  This is how I was able to be a collector.

But…about yesterday…

After seeing the amazing retrospective, The Writing on the Wall,  I couldn’t help but see Joane’s work differently.  Appropriate that on December 1st of 2017, I should enjoy all of this and more.

I’ve written about Joane over the years…

Here and

Here and 

Here

I just went upstairs and snapped a couple of photographs…the first, the painting that greets me each day as I enter my home, Protectors of Dreams.

And next, the book that I purchased as it relates to Joane’s narratives about the various works…and her practice.  I’m so looking forward to reading this.

The exhibit was so powerful that it hit me in the gut.  I sat down at every opportunity to process the messages of the work and to take it into my spirit.  I read every wall plaque and words, as best as I could, on every painting.  I’m just going to post the images and spare a great commentary.

Joane fought tirelessly against the building of the Old Man Dam and we reconnected once again in Maycroft, as well as at the Masters Art Gallery, for another exhibit.  At that show, she took the time to chat and to sign my poster, collected back in the fundraising days of the Friends of the Old Man meetings.

Joane came to visit with my students in 1980, right before I took them down for their tour of the Glenbow Museum.  During those years, I worked very hard developing curriculum for urban Metis and Indigenous students in my care. Our School District was aware that there were huge gaps in content for these students and that generally, many were struggling with attendance and performance on standardized tests.  Visits from Elders and people like Joane created a sense of role modeling that my students could not get from me. She showed them slides on a slide projector of her sweat lodge images.  All these years later, I will never forget her generous heart and her painful remembrances.  Yesterday, I felt my hand in hers. I am forever-grateful for our connection.

Tomorrow, I attend a friend’s funeral service.  One piece that really touched my heart was this one, Remembering My Dreambed…I stood before it and thought of my friend’s battle with cancer.

Remembering My Dreambed Joane Cardinal-Schubert 1985 recollections of invasive medical procedures related to cancer treatment.

Below…Homage to Small Boy: Where Were You In July, Hercules? 1985, Joane Cardinal-Schubert.  The colour is not near true…the blue is the most amazing ultramarine blue, in this piece.

Letters to Emily Carr…birch bark letters.  I loved reading the words…

The Lesson Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Detail


Where the Truth is Written – Usually first installed 1991 Joane Cardinal-Schubert

I have not yet included all of my references, but again, Max needs his walk.  I need to pull the decorations from out of the basement.  The roast needs to get into the slow cooker.  I want to end with a bit of music.  Last night, a friend and I attended A Tribe Called Red.  I want to insert the images here.

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

It was such a powerful experience.  The visuals, the dance and the music combined to speak deeply to the heart.  I feel changed.

Often during the evening, I thought about Thomas King’s book, An Inconvenient Indian.  I think that the stereotypes and misunderstandings about our Indigenous peoples were captured in the form of these artistic creations performed by A Tribe Called Red.

Powerfully executed…authentically created…thank you.

Reflecting

I’m sorting things out, in order to spend time with my father in the east.  The Christmas cards for 2015 are in the mail.  Doctors appointments, Max’s grooming, the vehicle checks and household chores are now being tackled.  The past week has meant a lot of beautiful indoor time with booming thunder storms every afternoon.  I feel like I’m on a retreat because the house is so quiet…just Max and me.  I can eat popcorn whenever I want.  In the evening, a glass of red wine.  Last night, I baked salmon in parchment paper…fresh lemon squeezed over the beautiful pink meat.  Every ritual seems lovely and intentional.

For the most part, it’s been productive and satisfying.

I’ve decided that my pond study will wrap up the morning of Mom’s birthday, July 27.  I’ve walked the circumference of the pond at Frank’s Flats every day since October 13,2015 with the intention of taking a single Instagram photograph of a single location, a bush that grows at the pond’s edge.  I have seen it through the seasons and watched how light changes everything.  I’ve developed rituals around these observations, recording, writing captions, creating mental sketches and noting the changes in the animals and vegetation as time passes.  I’ve much reference material now and in the autumn, I want to create a response to all of it.  I’ve had some faithful followers as, for most of the experiment up until July, I’ve documented on social media (Facebook) as well.

Bush October 9, 2015Bush February 16, 2016 1056 beauty, warmth, timeBush December 1 2015 1129 the water burps blue skies up above everyone's in loveBush Dec 25, 2015 Merry Christmas Beautiful light the hawk is perchd in the evergreen

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Yesterday, at the pond, I observed the only two Ruddy duck babes, alongside Mom.  The teen-aged Coots and Grebes are now taking diving lessons and doing so very successfully.  Mr. and Mrs. everything are swimming further and further from their youngsters, although the teens still cry out helplessly and give chase, not wanting to be separated from, at the very least, their source of food.  With the horrendous amount of rain recently, I fear that the Ruddy ducks’ nests have been drowned…the two babies that I observed, came to be only days before the first thunderstorms hit, so I’m guessing all of the other mothers were sitting at that time.  I’ll see.

I think that flying lessons are beginning…I notice that the adult Coots, while remaining on the water, are flapping hard and traveling on the surface.

While I stopped putting out seed at my feeders (as a way of settling down the vole and mouse populations), I got emotional when I realized that Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow, in the vent across from my kitchen window, were trying one more time to nest.  The children are crying ravenously with each entrance to the vent from Mr. or Mrs.  I just need to see this family have a successful season, after two former attempts.

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The crows are big raiders in this neighbourhood these days, as those adults also struggle to feed their demanding young.

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As I reflect upon the last while, I continue to feel gratitude…especially for the lessons of nature and of solitude.  I like slowing things down.  I’ve been particularly inspired by a poem by Al Purdy, titled Detail and so I will post it here, along side a few photographs that I snapped yesterday.  In 1981, when doctoral work was typed on typewriters…Elizabeth Jane Douglas wrote a thesis titled the Mechanics of Being Alive: Major Themes in Poetry and Prose of Al Purdy.  This absolutely impacts my past year’s ‘work’ and ‘reflection’.

Al Purdy Abstract

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all winter long
… the apples clung
in spite of hurricane winds
sometimes with caps of snow
little golden bells
·         ·         ·
For some reason I must remember
and think of the leafless tree
and its fermented fruit
one week late in January
when the wind blew down the sun
and earth shook like a cold room
no one could live in
with zero weather
soundless golden bells
alone in the storm

(Beyond Remembering 135-36)
Al Purdy The Season of Man
Al Purdy the season of man 2
And then, there are those of us who believe that beyond this, there is so much more.  But for now, I leave this reflection.  I have a border collie, eager to run in the green wet grass.
Prayers for Billy and his family and for little Taliyah Marsman and her mother and their family.

Painting Spring Lilies With Grade Threes

Goofy how-to videos are out there in abundance.  I actually think the best way to learn how to draw ANYTHING, is to observe it…look at it…analyse it.  But, this morning, I didn’t have a bucket of Easter lilies and after a 40 day journey of Lent, I’d love to leave the children with the anticipation of spring, new life, renewal and Easter.  In this video, I like the idea of drawing the star shape first.  I can’t guarantee that after you do a step-by-step activity of any sort, that you will be an overnight artist!

To begin with, in their visual journals, the students wrote a ‘waiting for spring’ short poem, after brain storming vocabulary words.  On the next page, they drew their lilies.

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We will use this video as a reference, as well as my own photographs of lilies in my garden, for studies in visual journals.  These will be tucked away once we move into compositions.  Initially, I had thought to paint tulips with the students, but, the limited palette of white and a number of greens will make the preparation quick and easy.

Kath's Canon Back Yard Garden 017Lilies 020Lilies August 2Lilies 007P1060370

I provided a limited palette, having mixed up a variety of tints of green plus yellow and white.  The grade threes began by drawing their images in chalk and then outlining their lilies in a single colour.  Each bucket of paint includes two brushes so two friends share the same colour.  I mixed fifteen colours, knowing that I had twenty five students.  The focus of my side coaching and support was to remind them how unique flowers are and that they are like us, in that there is no single flower that looks like another.

Here are their paintings.

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 041 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 040 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 039 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 038 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 037 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 036 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 035 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 034 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 033 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 032 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 031 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 030 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 029 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 028 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 027 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 026 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 025 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 024 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 023 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 022 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 021

After music class and their agenda writing, wee Isaiah came up to me and gave me this little gift…proof of the extended learning and  that made me super happy!

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 043

Display…ready for proper caption.  Thanks for your class, Jenn!

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 044

 

Pieter Bruegel’s Children’s Games

Yesterday I had the opportunity to teach a beautiful grade six class.  I bit off more than I could chew, however, because we did not completely move through to the end result that I had in mind in this exploration of Pieter Bruegel and the study of two pieces, Children’s Games and The Hunters in the Snow.

Before the lesson began, I had the children sketch in their visual journals (every kid should have one…just love these!) a scene where children are playing winter games outdoors…recess, skiing and snowboarding, skating, building forts or any other activity.  This student added the smaller figures into her original plan, after we began to practice doing mini figure plans in our journals…I loved that the cross over had happened in learning, just naturally.

Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 037

Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 022

The reflection section of the lesson was more engaging than I thought it would be and the students needed to become familiar with the handling of a paintbrush.  It’s all good and we need to be flexible with our expectations.  Lessons are more exciting when they are left open-ended.

Here are the two pieces and a very good analysis of Hunters in the Snow.  I did not use this in my class, but thought it might be of interest to teachers who want a quick background on how to talk about art.  The resource I used with the students is a short power point and I’ve provided the link below.

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Atmospheric perspective for 3-6 (St. Mary’s Lake at Glacier National Park): http://sdrv.ms/KlUH9W

As we spoke about winter landscapes, we talked about how to achieve atmospheric perspective.  We talked about the mountains and what they look like on the west horizon.  I talked about my walks around the pond and what I see daily.  I talked about the different colours on the pond.  We looked at Bruegel’s piece and discovered that ice on a river/canal/pond is not necessarily white and sometimes is a very dark colour.  We talked about the figures and their gestures and activities and how indistinct they become as they get further back in the picture plane.

I realized as I was teaching that there were some terms that the students were not aware of and so I had to back step a little, so very quickly, they learned the terms background, middleground and foreground.  It is easier to speak of art when the vocabulary is there and you are just not always pointing.

At some point there was a conversation about emoticons…a term that I didn’t know. :0)  Here they are.  If this hadn’t been grade six, this conversation wouldn’t have come up and it was fun for me. I always use the example of ‘Pictionary’ when I talk about symbols, but because we became interested in the facial expressions of Bruegel’s figures, this was so appropriate.  Go KIDS!

We discussed the fact that none of the figures in Bruegel’s piece have emoticon faces, nor do the snowmen.  I suggested the idea of just indicating the face with small marks, instead of distinct smiley faces and that whenever insecure, as I would be, turn the figure so that its back is to the viewer.

emoticon

I talked about the fact that we were going to create our own landscapes in the spirit of Bruegel so that we would all choose, for this piece, a horizontal profile.

This is what my board space looked like by the time we had finished our chat…Glory be for projectors.  In my day, I used to hold up little prints.

Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 002Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 001

With chalk, the students blocked in three or four horizon lines, depicting their foreground, middle ground and background, depending on what activity they chose.  I told them about being stuck on a black diamond ski run, as a beginner skiier at one time.  I told them what it looked like in my foreground…but, as I skied toward the edge, what I saw before me.  The boarders in the crowd laughed.

Here are some examples of the chalk drawings.

When we began to paint, I had buckets of white and sky colour prepared so that students could begin with some fill in.  In progress…

Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 015

From there, the children told me what colours they wanted as middle tints and I was able to just add to the buckets of white and we avoided waste.  Here are their paintings with colour.

 

Don’t forget that the day was flowing like all days will…the students began with math.  At some point in the morning, they exchanged their books at the library and they enjoyed the wonderful stories of Jeff Stockton, an artist in residence.  We completed our landscape paintings and cleaned up before our science lesson about rotation and revolution.

I realized that the second part of the lesson and the insertion of the figures into our Bruegel landscapes would have to wait as a follow up to the lesson with their art teacher.  I gave them all of the prep work, however and they created fanciful plans in their visual journals.

Here are some of their mini-mes.  We made distinctions about stick figures and these mini action figures by studying some of Bruegel’s.

After sketching these, the students can then go into their tempera paintings with pencil (a nice tooth is provided by the dried paint) and the figures can later be coloured in with pencil crayon or fine tipped marker.  Earlier, the students and I observed how Bruegel used red on the figures in most of his compositions in order to carry the viewer’s eye throughout the composition, so red should appear throughout the student works, in scarves/hats, coats, ski equipment in order to imitate this compositional device.  We shared a lot of laughter as we pretended a one inch figure would be skiing down a mountain in the background.  One students said, when I likened it to Godzilla skiing, “Either the person is too big or the mountain is way to small!” :0)

Kath's Canon, Grade six Bruegel 043

The following images show the Bruegel figures incorporated, with some thoughtful consideration about scale and gesture, into the winter landscape spaces.

I’m including this lesson for my readers in case they want to do something different with white plus one hue.  Thanks to Jenn, for her class.

Trees in Gradation

 

http://psepta.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/file/view/FebruaryArt+Appreciation+2012.pdf

Meeting Jean Richardson

Jean-short-for-Eugenia, a retired nurse, came to be with the grade three classes yesterday and left me, both fascinated, and in awe of her passion for eggs and her organization as a workshop presenter.  The class was informative, seamless and so much fun!

This is something that Jean has always enjoyed doing with her husband, Al.  Her eyes lit up as she mentioned him and their shared love for Eggs-Quisites.  They’ve been going out into schools and organizations to share their experience with different aged children and adults for almost thirty years.  When they come out to your school, they supply dyes, books, wax and amazing exemplars of this traditional craft.  They even manufacture their own kistky!  After a fascinating history of Pysanky, Jean shared a hands on adventure through the application of beeswax in preparation for six different dye baths.

I enjoyed the stories that Jean shared with us and the children adored her.  Such a gentle and truly lovely person!  Thank you, Jean!

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Meeting J. Bernard Bearshirt: An Exchange of Goodness

I had been looking for Jordan. I just had a drawing he did for me in 1980, reframed and wanted to get it back to him…or find out if he was still making art.

This meeting was inspiring and was so chucked full of wisdom and goodness, that I’m going to let the two photos I post speak for themselves.  I passed Bernard his son’s drawing in the Denny’s parking lot.  He passed me this beautiful feather.  I wept.  He kept saying, “Jordan did that.”  We shared a prayer, a meal and shared a world of ideas.  I am blessed.  This was proof again that a person’s life goes on.  Watch what the Creator God has for you today.  Try to notice instead of rushing past the lesson He has for you.

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Bernard and I shared tears about his son.  I continue to think about Jordan, an exceptional artist and I’m glad that I treasured his drawing for all of those years and that I was able to return it to family.

BEARSHIRT, Jordan Bernard – May 26, 1968 – May 29, 2013 Jordan Bernard Bearshirt of the Siksika Nation passed away May 29, 2013 to be with our creator at the age of 45. Jordan was known for his sense of humour and kindness. He is survived by his father, J. Bernard Bearshirt; Uncle Rodger (Patti), Uncle Victor Starlight, Terry Krueger, Aunt Elizabeth, Alice Spence, Auntie Pauline Little Chief; Grandmothers: Gertrude Turning Robe, Rosellam Manyshots, Irene Favel; Sisters: Sharon, Josie, Marie (Josh), Tammy, Robin, Loretta (Darin), Lori (Max); Brothers: Gordon, Sheldon (Jaylene); Traditional Siblings: Darcie Brertton, Jerry Hill, Jade McHugh, Jocko McHugh and numerous Nephews, Nieces, and Cousins. Relatives: Sunwalks, Manyshots, Breakers, Wolf Legs, Sitting Eagles, Yellow Suns, Crowchiefs, Many Guns, Little Chiefs, Sam Pelletier (Heather), Axes. We apologize if we have missed anyone. Jordan was predeceased by his Mother, Nancy Bearshirt; Stepmother, Linda Bearshirt; Grandparents: James and Helena Bearshirt and Uncle Ronald Bearshirt. The family would like to acknowledge The Grey Eagle Casino for their support. Wake Service will be held at Sister Celine Memorial Parish (Siksika Nation, AB) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Siksika Nation, AB) on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:00 am with the Rev. Gerard LeStrat, Presider. Graveside Service to follow at Old Chief Crowfoot Cemetery (Siksika Nation, AB).