Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I fell asleep on the couch last night before I could could actually type up a Merry Christmas post! Ooooh, the tryptophan! We had a wonderful and magical Christmas, feeling especially lucky to be safe and together. I am so thankful for my wonderful family and I feel so lucky to be Canadian and to live in beautiful Saskatoon.

Happy holidays to all and best wishes for the upcoming year. Sincere thanks to those who have taken the time to read my blog, leave comments and even email. I am so happy to be part of this art blogging world. Take care and be safe as you enjoy the festive season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So Much Gratitude

I just had to make a quick post about how grateful I am to everyone who came to my show at St. Thomas More Gallery and who has taken the time to look at my blog. I am so pumped about the response and it feels good to be excited again after such a dark month and a half (see this post to find out why). The show came down on Friday, November 18 and yesterday I got a call from two young ladies about a painting they saw in the show (Storm Clouds Lifting) and wanted to purchase for their father for Christmas. What a lucky man... could there be any better gift than original art? Anyway, as it turned out, one of them really loved a painting (Fury) she saw on my blog and decided to purchase it for her home. So that makes the total paintings sold... 19! I am full of gratitude and I am finally feeling like I can't wait to get painting again. It feels so good to have the desire back and to know people are responding to my work. It is so very encouraging! Thank you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grass Cave and a Five Year Old

Grass Cave
acrylic on 200 lb paper

This painting was in my first ever art show that was in a local coffee shop in the spring of 2004. I had ten paintings in the show, two were not for sale and of the eight that were for sale, I sold 6. It was an incredibly exciting opening day and it really fueled the fire to get back painting again (my painting had been very sporadic since spring 2002 when I had Sammy)... except that I was pregnant with Tommy and due sometime within the six weeks the show was running. With a 22 month old in tow and a baby on the way I knew the fire within me would have to wait a bit longer... little did I know just how long that would be.... like three years!

You see my precious little Smiley Tom was not, I repeat, not a sleeper until he turned, well, 5! (This past spring). And I don't mean he woke up once a night, I mean he woke up repeatedly through the night. If I got more than two hours in a row it was a good night. When Tommy was about 2 1/2 and talking really well for his age, I finally figured out that he was having very vivid dreams. Possibly at times night terrors. He sometimes talked in his sleep and I believe he has sleepwalked. I remember one morning after a particularly rough night I asked Tommy if he knew why he woke up at night and he said he had a bad dream. I asked if he remembered what it was about and he said "Yes, mommy, there were bad guys in my room". I told him that must have been very scary and did he know who the bad guys were? He replied, "Yes mommy, you know, like Cookie Monster and Grover"! I'm not sure why the blue monsters from Sesame Street seemed to haunt his dreams, but it was a recurring theme.

Anyway, that kind of lack of sleep really messes with you and I was in a pretty bad state for quite awhile. I certainly wasn't in a good head space to be creative and I was way too exhausted to even take a night art class or go to the studio to paint. Finally in the summer of 2007, when Tommy was three, my husband practically insisted I go to the Emma Lake campus to paint and get a break. It was a turning point for me. I met my wonderful painting friend Debbie which has been such a gift and I also cried a lot... a lot with her as I worked through all kinds of emotions. But I got some painting done and that part of me as an individual started to appear again. Slowly it has been building up again and I feel like there is a new chapter opening up for me and I am fired up!

I dismantled my art show with the Curator on Friday evening and I am so pumped about the way it all went. My personal goal was to have half the paintings sell and that was achieved and the other goal was that a stranger would purchase a painting... and that happened! Yay! I now have the guest book and here is a sampling of the incredibly wonderful words people wrote:

"Splendid and strangely comforting!" -Al

"I absolutely love your work... the vivid colours and connections to nature. What a wonderful job!" -Bonnie

"I feel like I have discovered a great new artist." -Doug

"Very captivating & great use of colour." -Rita

"I have been looking for art like this for 3 or more years. Wow! I love the colour, use of nature...beautiful." -Karen

"This work is amazing and has inspired me to do some experimenting with my art using similar colours. Thanks for the inspiration!" -Caitie

"Beautiful vibrant colours... A cheery and pleasant show. Thank you, and keep on painting!" -Bessie

"Amazing job! These beautiful paintings really made my day. A nice ray of sunshine when one is in the middle of exams. Keep up the great work, you are really talented" - (no name left)

Clearly these comments make me very happy! I am also going to go through my previous posts and edit to show the pieces that sold.

Before I sign off for the night I just have to say a few more things about my little Tommy. He is larger than life. I always say that Sammy is an old soul and Tommy is a brand new soul! He was born with a big personality squeezed into a little body and he has tried to run the show since day one. However you will not find a more adorable 5 year old character as hard as you may try. He really, really cares about people. I just recently told him some exciting news about his best little friend and it was news that could have potentially made Tom sad. Instead he was genuinely happy for his friend and he just said "Awesome!" and then when he saw his friend at school he ran up to him and said "Hey Buddy, I'm really proud of you!" My heart burst with pride. And a little while ago I mentioned that the kids have said some precious things since the traumatic accident we had been through. Here are a couple of things Tommy has said that show his compassion at such a young age:

"Mommy, I'm glad your glasses didn't break because then glass might have gone in your eyes" and, with tears, "Mommy, why did they take me and Sammy out of the car first? Ladies should go first."

He is a little dream come true.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Sunshine

Quiet Prairie
acrylic on canvas
I painted this landscape from a photo in the summer of 2008 at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus and it was inspired by a man in the class named Harry. I had some wonderful chats with him over the week we were there painting and he was such a gentle man; a farmer all his life and he really loved the land. He had always wanted to go to art school and as a young married man he had been accepted into a visual arts program in a different province, but his equally young (first) wife was too nervous to leave the prairies and as a result he didn't go. He settled into a life on the farm and never pursued his love for art. Finally, though, here he was at the Kenderdine campus at the age of about 60, with a bad hip and a second wife chasing his dream after all those years. He was an inspiration. I hear he returned to the campus this past summer for the class in August... I am hopeful that I will see him again someday, that our paths will cross at Kenderdine.

Onto the topic of sunshine...

You should have seen me last night... I haven't been that giddy since, well, the afternoon of November 8th which was my gallery reception. Why was I giddy you ask???? Well, I met my friend Nancy at Indigo to get some Christmas shopping done and when I walked in the doors who is packing up from his book signing but..... drum-roll....   

I could not believe my eyes! If you aren't familiar with this blog you need to know that this is one of my all-time favorite books and you can read the post I made about this book if you click here (Impacts and A-ha Moments). I walked in and stopped in my tracks. He was getting his coat on and I looked at him, and then the table of books, and then him, and then the poster, and then I said something extremely clever like "Are you Him???" to which he replied "yes". I proceeded to gush that this was one of my all-time favorite books and then he asked "Did you write about it on your blog?" That freaked me out and I panicked slightly thinking I might be in trouble. He clarified that my friend was in the store somewhere and had told him about me (good ol' Nance) and had given him my name to Google! Ack! I was shaking I was so excited to meet him... and I had questions... which he answered! It was fantastic! Fantastic, I tell you! I ended up buying three more books which he signed for me and I had chattered/raved about it so much at his table that I think he sold at least three more copies to other customers before he left for the night. It is such a good book. Such a good book! Put it on your Christmas wish list today! Check out the above link to the website which is really well done and I think it will get you intrigued enough to buy the book. If anyone knows Oprah, please tell her to read it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Black Cloud

 Water Striders series:
Quick Step  sold
Hip Hop  sold
Jive  sold
each 10x10"
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault, 2009

My show at STM Gallery will be over in seven days which is hard to believe. It has gone extremely fast, but then again it has been a month of unusual and surreal circumstances that have shifted my mind's attention. These three paintings are in the show and two of them have sold to separate buyers. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of painting them. I actually worked on all three at the same time. I had never done that before and haven't tried it again since, but would like to if I can find suitable inspiration. I had the canvases lined up and I would move from one to the other making marks and laying down the paint to create the mood of each piece. In the show they are exhibited by one of the largest Water Strider paintings I have done to date.It was posted early on when I started this blog, but here it is again:

Water Striders: Big Broadway Number
acrylic on canvas
© Nicki Ault,2009

I really enjoy the layering process in these paintings... on this largest one I prepped the canvas with really runny washes and let the paint naturally drip and streak. As I worked up the paint and layered with more opaque strokes I would consciously leave some of that underpainting showing through. I love the effect of finding these little surprises of dripping paint as your eye moves around the canvas.

This black cloud is getting to be a bit of a joke... seriously... not a very funny joke... but if I don't laugh at it I might cry! I was feeling like my posts had been a bit gloomy so I didn't want to share the fact that we had more illness in our house last week. John had a funny bug at the start of the week, then on Tuesday after supper Tommy started saying his tummy was not feeling good and by bedtime he was throwing up, etc. He had a rough 12 hours and then it was gone, leaving him exhausted, but otherwise okay. On Thursday at about 4:30 I was about to have a shower and get ready for the Jann Arden concert (one of my favorite Canadian singers that I have always wanted to see live), but I started getting this feeling in my tummy. I remember thinking, "Humph, that's funny" and then by 5:00 I was phoning my best pal Nancy to take my ticket for the concert because I was pretty sure I would be barfing, etc. within the hour. Yup, I called that one! I had a rough 10 hours and then it was over leaving me exhausted the next day. Now today John had to go out of town for work and what happens??? Tommy is cranky after school and has a fever by suppertime with a sore throat!!! Luckily my sister was visiting so she stayed with Sammy and I headed to the doctor with Tommy. Diagnosis: Strep Throat. I do believe that I need to start a new blog which I will call "Nicki Ault: My Life As Schleprock".

However, a ray of sunshine broke through the black my newest treasure, "Tattooed Bridge" by Pierre Raby arrived. It is spectacular! When I got home after my ultrasound (to check my innards post-accident), I was so excited to find the box in the front porch that I tracked through the house in my snowy winter boots to get the scissors so I could open it immediatement! (a little French in honour of Pierre) It is even more stunning and mind blowing in person. I really can hardly stop looking at it. Honestly... do yourself a favour and win one of his auctions on Ebay. You will not be sorry. His painting recently posted on Dec.9 called "Winter Solstice" is crazy good and is calling to me, tempting me....

Take care everyone and buckle those little ones up!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Whoops, I Did It Again!

I am feeling so excited and so guilty all at once. I don't know how I talked myself into this because I am such a frugal person and sooooo not an impulsive shopper....(ask my sisters and my mom), but it has happened again!!! I have won a painting on Ebay!!! There were 4 hours left when I got looking at this auction and I tossed a bid in, but my bid was quickly topped, so then I tossed a higher bid in which wasn't topped.... however the reserve price was not met. I had to get Tommy to a birthday party and Sammy to his soccer game, so I let it sit for a bit while I got those things done. When I got back to my house before picking up Tommy from the party, there were 44 minutes remaining on the auction and I realized that this was the Pierre Raby painting I wanted... and I rationalized that I sold some of my paintings so it made sense to pay it forward, right? And I deserve a little splurge, right? Especially after the last two crapola months, right? So I made my next move which hit the reserve price and nobody else entered the bidding, so... it is mine!!! Oh the guilt... oh the excitement... oh the guilt... I am incredibly thrilled that this went my way, but I am feeling quite guilty because we have a van to buy and Christmas is around the corner.... oh dear... and yet I am very happy!!!

If you want to see my new purchase click here to check out "Tattooed Bridge"... it is awesome!!! Pierre Raby is a Canadian painter based in Montreal and his work blows my mind! I remember the first time I came across his blog I thought it was strange that he was posting so many photos, but just chalked it up to him maybe having a dry spell with his painting (kind of like me right now). Then I noticed the small print under one black and white work that said "oil on canvas". I remember saying, "What???!!!" out loud and then madly scrolling through his blog to look at all the fine print. Sure enough nothing I had been looking at was a photo! Unbelievable. Impressive. And Canadian! 

The above pencil drawing was done several years ago in a Life Drawing evening class I took with Degen Lindner. And really shouldn't be viewed after you have possibly looked at Pierre's work, but oh well, I am what I am!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slow Road

Rained Out
acrylic on canvas
This is the other painting I have in my gallery show right now that is not for sale. It is one I am keeping. I don't think the photo does it justice, so I may have to take a new shot of it when the painting comes home. I was on my way to talk to the manager of the store where I work part-time when I decided to stop in at the gallery. I was feeling teary and I hoped that being there might brighten my spirits. It worked! I discovered red dots on two paintings that I didn't know had sold! So the count is at 17! I am beyond grateful. Speechless. My private goal was to sell half the available work and that has been accomplished!  I really need the joy right now that this brings. I browsed through the comment book where I found some wonderful notes from kind friends and gallery goers. When I receive the book at show's end I will post some excerpts.

This painting was started on site at Spruce River on the last day of the Emma Lake course in 2007, suddenly the sky opened up and the rain came down. I had to scramble to get everything packed up and back in the truck... some areas of the painting actually did start to bleed! I took it back to the studio and finished it a few hours later using memory, emotion and intuition. Then I really packed up everything and headed back to Saskatoon. 

I really have not felt like blogging these days. Well, actually that is not quite true. I have been thinking about it a lot, but just haven't been able to motivate myself to sit down and type. My kids and I have the Grey Cup on, go Riders! At the moment they are winning 27-19 against Montreal. So I decided to start typing with the game going on in the background and while the kids play/ watch. John is out with his buddies probably biting his nails with 7 minutes remaining. I love blogging and it has already opened up my world so much, but at the same time everything seems just a bit harder right now. I haven't been back to the studio and I am a bit concerned that I will be facing a painter's block when I return. I really don't know what I want to paint or focus on next. I guess the first little bit will be spent setting my workspace up. I am having difficulty standing for more than 45 minutes before my lower back starts aching, so I am not sure when I will physically be able to get back at it. In the meantime rest is the order of the day.

P.S. The Saskatchewan Rough Riders lost the Grey Cup due to a penalty right at the end of the game. Bummer. Poor Sammy cried. He doesn't think it's fair and they should change the rules.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Reality Of It All

I found out earlier this week that another painting has sold! So that makes fifteen and I couldn't be more thrilled or appreciative. I don't think I will ever get used to the incredible feeling I get when I discover that not only does someone enjoy viewing my work, but actually loves a piece so much that they would want to spend their hard earned money to own it and live with it on a daily basis. It fills me with gratitude. When the Curator and I hung the show we both agreed that the space needed a few more pieces just to make it look full enough, so I zipped home to get a couple of abstract reflections that we had not included at our final cut meeting and I also brought two paintings that I was keeping for myself. This was one of them. Well the day of the reception came and a lovely couple that bought a painting at my last show wanted another painting to put with it. This is the one they wanted and with a bit of gentle persuasion (she was good at it), I agreed to let them have it. I'm a bit sad it isn't mine anymore, but I know it will look good with the one they have which is of the same dimension and called "Low Storm". Here is "Portal" shown at the gallery above the table with the guest book and you can also see on the wall the three paintings from my last post.

So the accident has affected me much more than I initially realized and that is why I haven't posted anything for over a week. I spent so much of the first week hyper-aware of the kids and how they were doing; making sure they felt safe and not too disrupted by the events that I forgot about myself a bit. Also, I think I have been feeling that because we survived such a horrible crash with very few injuries, I really shouldn't complain or feel anything but thankful when there are people that have been so much more worse off in accidents. In the end, however, the emotional side of my brain has won out and the rational side of my brain has been put on the back burner. I have had difficulty stopping the tears for the last few days and more aches and pains have appeared this week. The air bag and the impact have done a bit of a number on me and there have been moments where I just feel desperately sad. My boys are doing well, but they are nervous at intersections and ask often, "Mommy, is this where we had the crash?" and Tommy has been so teary at bedtime. They have both had bad dreams, but don't want to talk about them. I cannot believe that they had this frightening experience and it has been sobering to realize that John and I can't necessarily protect them from horrible things. I feel utterly panicky when I allow my head to go awful places, like what if something happened to them? What if they weren't here with me anymore? It is too much to even imagine and yet I know that there are parents who have been in this tragic position.

So after an emotional week I couldn't get through a four hour shift at my part-time job on Thursday night. I ended up leaving after two hours... in tears and in pain. I saw the Chiropractor on Friday (yesterday) morning and she put it into words... as she watched me cry through the entire session. She said I had a near death experience with my family and I needed to take care of myself. She said my body would not heal until I got rest and some sleep. So a new game plan was made. I went home that very day and slept all afternoon when the kids were at school. I took today off work without guilt (I usually work Thursday nights and all day Saturday). I went for a massage this morning and slept again this afternoon. Tonight some of my most wonderful girlfriends are gathering at one of their homes to eat yummy food with me and let me cry... and I am pretty sure they will also get me laughing. I made the painful decision to not be part of the studio's Open House tomorrow. I have always wanted to be part of it, and this year I thought it could work out, but this turn of events has got me too low on energy and I was unable to paint in a productive way the last two weeks.... and the majority of my work is at the gallery right now. It just isn't in the cards. I am trying to put a positive spin on it by saying to myself that next year I will have my own space in the studio to showcase my work the right way. And now this means that tomorrow I will be free to take the kids to the Santa Claus Parade! For the remainder of November I will not go to the studio. I am going to take my afternoons to rest, nap and do any treatments that seem necessary for my recovery. December will bring better things and a studio space of my own in which to create. I hope I will feel better and be able to approach my art with freshness at that time.

I still have lots more to share... like how I spoke with Irene this week, the wonderful woman who was there with her husband at the scene to help me and my family before the emergency crews arrived. She confirmed that we rolled one and a quarter times. And some amazing things the kids have said about the accident. And about the outpouring of friendship that many people have shown my family since this happened. And about my grandma's necklace. And so much more... but my husband has BBQ'd a delicious steak dinner for us, so I must go enjoy it and appreciate him.

Thank you for reading my blog and stay safe...please wear your seat belts and make sure the kids in your life are in the right car seats.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something Nicer To Look At

all are 10x10
Shades of Gray Day -sold
Will The Rain Come? -sold
Find What's Not There -sold

It has been an emotional few days and just when I think I am doing okay something happens and I realize I am not. I couldn't find Sammy after school today. The panic and fear had me almost hyperventilating. Turns out he was playing in the skating rink area in the school playground and I couldn't see him over the boards. A good cry and lots of hugs and I was okay. I just want to keep my little fellas with me and never let them out of my sight again. Not very realistic I realize. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post- it means a lot to me that you are thinking of us and I sincerely appreciate your good wishes.

Anyway, I thought I should post something more pleasant to look at and start moving those miserable accident shots down towards the archives! All of these paintings were done en plein air this summer at Emma Lake. They were painted on the most humid day I have ever experienced in this province and the acrylics behaved much like I imagine oil paint would. They were purchased at my reception as a series by a very special couple and I hope these paintings give them many many years of joy. Of all my paintings in the show, I would say that these three seemed to attract the most attention. They received many comments.... people really loved them! I hope we get more humid days on the prairies next year so I can try this again!

Stay safe everyone and love the ones you are with!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Can't Believe We Are All Okay!

Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that I recently hung my first gallery exhibition and the Artist's Reception was two days ago on Sunday, Nov.8. You could be wondering why I haven't posted anything about the event as I promised I would. Well, here is the story...

The reception was an absolute success... a wonderful turn-out, my sister flew in from Guelph for the weekend so she could attend, my high school art teacher (the one who talked me into continuing with art in grade ten instead of taking typing) came with his family to see me and so many friends, family, and artists came. It made me feel so special. The best was that Tommy had been fever free for two full days, so my husband brought both kids for awhile and then my parents took them back to their house while John and I finished visiting at the gallery. More paintings sold... I think at this point 14 of the paintings are spoken for... so really I was over the moon by the time it was over. John and I met at home so I could get out of my heels and take out my contacts.... two things I rarely wear! Then we headed to mom and dad's to pick up the boys and say goodbye to my sister who would soon be catching her flight home. Everyone was in such a great mood and the kids were goofy- you could tell they were feeling better- it was so good to see them so full of life after being so sick. As we drove away there was a small discussion about going for dinner, but I decided that the best would be to go home and start unwinding since that had been the most active Tommy had been in over a week. We could order in food and eat with our jammies on and have a quiet family night.

We were almost home going north on Victoria Avenue and approaching Taylor Street which is an intersection that we pass through many times coming from my parents. For some reason we invariably always have to stop at the light. It is a long red light that always seems to be red no matter when you are there. Well, this time it was as green as green could be and my husband was commenting to me how he couldn't believe that for once we made the green light. With his next breath he said "She's not stopping!!!" and next thing I knew there was an explosion right beside me and we were moving sideways and spinning and then we were rolling!!! It happened so fast and yet it was all in slow motion. The kids were screaming and I remember yelling "Keep your arms in! We're okay!!!" We came to rest on Sammy 's and my side of the car apparently on the boulevard. I will never forget Tommy screaming with blood all over his forehead "Are we going to die???!!!" I could look back and see him- his car seat secured right where it should be with the seat belt holding him in place behind John's. I reached out to him and we held hands, and I told him we were all okay and help was coming, but I couldn't reach Sammy and the impact was right on our doors of the car, so I was terrified of his condition. He started talking- yelling that he was scared. I asked where his arms were, for some reason I was petrified his right arm was out the window and pinned under the car.... but in the end his was the one window that was intact. John's was broken, Tommy's was broken and mine was broken. When I looked down at my  window I just saw grass.... and a Fruit To Go laying there. We could hear people rushing around yelling outside then a face appeared by our windshield, which was smashed and peeling away from the van on John's side. It was an off duty Fire Fighter who was going by. I screamed to please get my kids out! And they did, ASAP. They went in through the back of the van and got Sammy out first, then carried Tommy out in his car seat.... Tommy didn't want to let go of my hand... I'll never forget the look of panic on his face as they pulled him away from me.

Then a lady came back in- I think that Fire Fighter's wife- and she held my head/neck/spine in alignment. He had done an assessment of the vehicle and reported to us that there was no fuel leaking and that help would be here soon to get John and I out. And she was the kindest woman, Eileen? Irene?, and I would love to hug her. She talked me through it all. She kept answering my repeated questions about whether my kids were okay and she kept me posted on where they were and what they were doing. She kept my messages going back to them that mommy and daddy were fine. Then the sirens...finally... a rush of relief when I heard orders going on all around and then the windshield getting pulled off and a Fire Fighter coming in to support my head so Irene(?) could get out. All the while I thought John was dripping blood down on me so I kept asking him if he was okay and we held hands... now I realize it was actually bits of glass falling on me. They didn't know what our injuries were... I honestly felt like I could unbuckle and walk out, so did John, but they wouldn't let us. They ended up using the "jaws of life" to cut open the roof to get access to us. They got me out first with a neck brace and on the board. These people are so skilled and they were all so kind and took me to an ambulance... the kids were inside and they were standing and talking and okay!!! They did everything right... all of these people... these rescuers... they were complete perfection. And I am so upset that don't think I would recognize one of them if I passed them on the street... it doesn't seem right. Once John was out and in the other ambulance they sent Sammy over to ride with him and Tommy stayed with me. As the EMT buckled Tommy up my sweet little guy asked him if they ever crashed in ambulances. My heart ached for him. At the hospital we all arrived one after the other- even the lady who hit us, but we didn't see her. They got a hold of my parents who came so quickly. Dad went to the kids in the pediatric unit and mom found me and John in the other wings of the ER. As soon as they were there I relaxed- the kids had gram and gramps and wouldn't be so scared. They sent John and me for a bunch of x-rays and we did a lot of waiting. Mom called my other sister who came with her husband. Finally they were discharging the boys, they were fine, except for the cut on Tommy's forehead/eyebrow which they had taped closed (no stitches). I wanted to see them so badly but the doctor warned me that there were some very sick people at our end of the ER, so I just told my parents to take them home- I didn't want them exposed to anything. Time passed and eventually the doctor let me know that the x-rays looked good and I was cleared with warnings of what to be paying attention to over the next few days. I waited for John with my sister and her husband and finally he was released. We were all okay! It is an absolute miracle! I can not believe we all came out of it virtually uninjured. We each have our scrapes, aches and bruises, but it is impossible to complain when I know the result could have been so much more horrific. We are all okay!

So my dear bloggy friends, that is the story of my big day... and I am sorry I have rambled on about the experience, but it has felt good to release it all. The next post I make will be cheerier and more about my reception with more pictures of paintings. I can't promise you that I won't talk about this accident again because there is more on my mind, but this has been a marathon post so I should stop now and please know we are truly okay. I know one thing for sure: I will never drive any other vehicle than a Honda Odyssey as long as I am driving my children around.

I can't believe these articles, here and here are about us. 

Thank you to Saskatoon Emergency Services. Thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Quick Glimpse

Oh my, it has been a very long week (two really with Sammy being sick before). As I mentioned last Sunday, Nov.1 John went out of town, Tommy came down with something and I was supposed to meet Linda, the Curator of STM Gallery to hang my show. "When it rains" as they say. Well, mom and dad took Sammy for the day and because I didn't know what Tommy was sick with and I was hesitant to leave him with anyone, but my dear sweet sister volunteered to sit with him so I could get out for a bit to work on the show. She had report cards to do and she said she would do them at my house while Tommy rested. She teaches Grade One and she said he couldn't possibly have anything different than the germs she is exposed to everyday! Probably true. And she said she wasn't planning on licking him! Ha... I love her sense of humour! Since then however, I have been hunkered down with my little sickie and, for the most part, quite house bound with my parents chauffeuring Sammy to and from school for me. After four days of unrelenting fever and other symptoms I took Tommy to the doctor yesterday morning. We had to sit in a cordoned off section of the waiting room with face masks on the entire time. If we took them off we would have been asked to leave. We were there for 2 hours and when we got into the examination room we had to keep our masks on. Thank goodness the doctor didn't take too long to come in.... I really was tired on smelling my own breath and never wanted a mint so badly in my life! Oh yeah, and I felt bad for Tommy, too! The doctor's body language was quite interesting... he stayed against the wall from the time he came in and had his face mask pulled right up to his lower eyelashes. He broke free from his grip on the wall long enough to check Tommy's lungs, which thankfully, were clear and that is what I needed to know to ease my mind- at least a little. I can't blame the doctor for being cautious... in fact I admire those in his profession a great deal... they really put themselves in the line of fire, so to speak, to take care of all of us. Although he didn't send anything off to the lab to confirm his diagnosis, we are pretty sure it is the dreaded H1N1. That is simply the only flu they are seeing right now. Nobody else in our family has come down with any symptoms and although I have tried to be vigilant with hand washing and cleaning, really it is hard to live in a house with 3 other people and not share germs at all. And seriously.... the recommendation to stay away from those with flu symptoms is just not realistic or doable for a mother with an ill child. Ridiculous. But maybe Sammy did have the flu for those fevery three days before he got strep and Scarlet Fever and maybe I had it back in September when I was sick for that stretch of time.

John got home from Toronto just after midnight on Tuesday, so when he got home from the office on Wednesday I went out to meet Linda and pick up the wine for the reception on Sunday. Then I went to see the show myself for the first time. So here are some pictures. It is a public gallery on the second floor of St.Thomas More College on the U of S campus. It is in a hallway and therefore was difficult to get decent pictures, but hopefully you get the idea. I am really happy with the flow of the work through the space and I think Linda did a fantastic job making sense of the variety of sizes and subjects. It is all related to the boreal forest, but there are skies, forest scenes, abstract reflections, and rivers. I think she really tied it all together well.

I am so looking forward to November 8 and hope to see lots of friends, family and artists... and maybe meet some new art lovers! Come say "hi" if you find yourself in Saskatoon on Sunday afternoon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

So Excited!

 Water Striders- Mambo #5
acrylic on canvas

I haven't been to see the show yet... I was quite house bound with my little guy tonight, but I did hear from the curator! Five paintings have already sold!!! When I told Tommy my news he asked if that meant he could get some new toys. Ha! Nope, it just means mommy can pay for some of the framing! Anyway, it is all very exciting and I can hardly wait for the opening reception coming up on Sunday. Here is one of the little abstract reflections that is in the show. I like the colours and energy of it, but I do think the layers show better in person.

So with all the illness my little guys have had in the last two weeks today I adopted a new best friend... Lysol spray cleaner...  but it may be a love/ hate relationship... the apple fresh scent soon gave way to a more clinical aroma. I'm not a germ-a-phobe, but I do think I will be a bit more cautious over the next little while. Oh, and hand sanitizer is my second best friend!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Just a super quick post to say that my show went up today... and it was looking good, but I didn't see the finished result. My husband left for a meeting in Toronto this morning and wouldn't you know it, my littlest fella was hit with some sort of bug last night while trick or treating so family had to help me juggle things so I could meet the curator for a bit this afternoon to help her lay things out. Little guy had a crazy fever through the night and "hot eyes", lots of aches too. The neighbors had a Halloween party last night and when Tommy woke at 4 a.m. with a fever I could still hear their music pumping! After getting him settled I listened to "Beat it" through the wall while laying in bed. Not a good sleep for mamma! Upon the advice from one of my very best friends who is a physician I actually took Tommy in for a throat swab on Friday night (even though at that time he was showing zero signs of illness) on the off chance he was harboring the bug Sammy had which turned out to be .... are you ready?..... Scarlet Fever!!! Antibiotics worked for Sam right away and I will know if that is what Tommy has tomorrow morning. C-R-A-Z-Y!!! He just woke up at 9:30 and had thrown up in his bed, so he is now in my bed and tonight I will sleep on the inflatable air mattress which I have figured out how to blow up. I was trying desperately to get a fitted sheet on it but it just wouldn't work, try as I might. I finally realized I was trying to get a twin sheet to fit the queen size air mattress. Yes, I am tired and stressed!

Thank you so much for your emails and comments of well wishes, both for my show starting and the kids... I will answer those properly tomorrow. And as soon as I get to see the finished show all hung and professional looking I will post pictures! For now I am posting my awesome business card that my brother-in-law designed for me and that I will pick up this week sometime.

Take care everyone and stay healthy. 

P.S. Oh yeah, and just before I carried sick little Tommy to bed last night Sammy whispered to me, "Bless that poor little fella". Those two boys are everything to me and as important as my art show seemed about  one and a half weeks ago, it sure pales in comparison to them and their health.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shout Out To Degen

I have loved art my entire life. I remember winning a newsprint pad with Grover on it for some art I did in grade one. Then in grade three I remember winning another contest at school and my picture was made into Christmas cards. In grade eight one of my drawings won an honourable mention and I was given a plaque with my art scanned onto it. In high school I took art in grade nine and then signed up for typing in grade ten. The art teacher asked me to join him for a meeting with the principal and they talked me into continuing with art--- hence it takes me a long time to type up these posts! I won the art award at grade twelve graduation. I began University with the plan of taking Fine Arts and really enjoyed my first studio class with Bob Christie, painting in oils (the only time I ever have). In second year I was so intimidated by the Professor, Otto Rogers, and the class that I didn't go back after the first day. I switched to Sociology and didn't take another studio class again, but I kept up with art history. What can I say, I was young and silly. Now I know I could have gained some valuable experience in that class and maybe not lost so much time. Who knows?

In my early twenties I actually got into making porcelain dolls. I won a few local contests and had them in a northern Saskatchewan gallery for a few seasons. Then I got busy with my career and life and didn't do much for years. Turning thirty was hard for me, but from it I decided I didn't want to turn forty or sixty or eighty and regret not pursuing things I loved. So that fall I registered for a Life Drawing class with Degen Lindner. I was so curious to meet her because my grandmother had a large watercolour painting done by her father, Ernest Lindner, and I stared at it in her living room every time I visited her. Degen was wonderful and encouraging from the very first class. I remember the feeling of excitement when I left that first night and vowed to myself that I would never allow myself to let art go again. I have taken many Life Drawing night classes with Degen over the years and also taken 4 painting workshops with her at Emma Lake. She has been positive and encouraging all the way. She is so talented and has such an eye for art of all kinds. I swear every time I have made the changes she has suggested the work is always better. And she has a way of finding something positive no matter what. She is amazing to see in a class teaching and guiding her students...and a wonderful sense of humour to go with all her knowledge... and listening to her talk about the history of her father and other artists is like a precious gift. I have learned so much from her.

After I had my baby in 2002 I slowly let art begin to slip away. Then after my second baby I was so sleep deprived I was just trying to survive each day. She saw I was struggling and asked if I would take care of her plants at the studio while she was at the lake for the summer (2006) and said I could use her space if I liked. How generous is that? And then when she got home in the fall she offered to let me continue sharing the space. Now I am about to get my own space in December and when I told her my plan she was once again extremely supportive. She said it was the right thing for me to do and that I needed my own space because she could see I was getting more serious. You know how they say that there are something like seven people in everyone's life that make such a difference (good or bad) that your life is forever changed by knowing them? Well, she is one of my seven.... and my life has definitely changed for the better by knowing her.

Today I have posted two sketches I did in Degen's Life Drawing classes. Each drawing took about 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Countdown To Show Time

They'll Never Meet
acrylic on canvas

The countdown is on. Just some odd jobs left to do now in preparation; sending a few more invitations out, picking up two more pieces from the framer, finalizing prices, a bit of varnishing and then hanging the work. One more week and then I will be able to take a deep breath, step back and let the show unfold on it's own. Whatever will be, will be.

I am going to keep tonight's post brief. I was wanting to write about the woman who had shared her studio space with  me, but I am too tired to do her justice. I'll wait until I am thinking more clearly. My oldest has been sick since early Friday morning... high fever, sore tummy, headache, sore throat, very thirsty... and as a result I have not slept well. I don't know how long to wait it out before taking him to the doctor. My youngest seemed to be getting sick last night, and earlier today, but by bedtime seemed good as new. This whole H1N1 is freaking me out a little (I'm not saying that is what my son has because I am not capable of making that diagnosis). In a few weeks the schools will be immunizing the kids. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible in the meantime, but it is hard weeding through all of the information. I'm probably the most concerned that this vaccination contains squalene which has been shown to cause severe autoimmune disorders. I strongly suggest everyone get googling reputable sources so you can make the most informed choice for you and your family. There seems to be sensational reporting on both ends of the spectrum, so getting through the hype is not easy.  

Take care everyone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Exciting News!

Okay, I just had to share the extremely exciting news that happened in my little world yesterday....

Storm Clouds Lifting  
acrylic on canvas 

For the last few years I have been using a little corner of another artist's space which is part of a larger studio  space shared by 8 artists. She is the instructor I had for the first class I took 10 years ago through the U of S Extension Division when I decided to rediscover my artistic side, and she has been a true blessing in my life. I will write a full posting about her because she deserves more time than I can give right now. Anyway, about three years ago she saw I was a mess and very wisely decided I was desperately needing some "me time". She was about to go teach at the Emma Lake campus for the summer so she asked if I wanted to take care of her plants at the studio and use the space a bit while she was away. I did. When she got back we continued on... I was rarely using the space because the kids were so little and she and I wouldn't have been there at the same time, so the arrangement worked and it helped her out a little bit with the cost. Zoom a few years later and my little people are just a tinge older and these small pockets of time are opening up for me. This fall I have been at the studio almost every afternoon whereas even just last year I might get there one afternoon a week for just barely 2 hours. Well, yesterday when I was there working on my large reflection ( the one I posted on Oct. 11- yes, I'm tweaking it- I don't think it was done) one of the artists came in and announced that she was giving up her space. I said impulsively "I'll take it!!" and next thing I knew it was mine! I take it over on December 1st!!!! YAY!!! There is really no place in my house to set up a studio unless we converted the attic, but it is so wonderful to be in an environment with other working artists. And it is in the neighborhood.... down the street and around the corner from the school. These studio spaces rarely come up and I just felt I had to grab it because who knows when the opportunity would come around again. It will be so fun to set it up the way I want and really put down roots. I am unsure whether or not I will look for someone to share the costs with, but I can worry about that later, right?

This painting will be in the show with the "Looking Up" tree on my last post. I got word back from the curator yesterday and she thought they were "lovely" and we could work them in. So that is it. I am set! And the framer will be able to get them done in time. Woo hoo! Yesterday was a very good day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking Up

acrylic on canvas
I wasn't sure what to post next... something else that is going to be in the show? A drawing? An older painting? Well, I decided I would show you the painting I just finished on Friday... mostly because I am excited about it. It is the follow-up to the painting I posted on October 7 called "Against The Sky". It is much larger and was lots of fun to paint. Unfortunately I think it shows a little dark in this image. I really wanted it to have the feeling of looking up at a tall Birch with shorter trees in the distance. I thought about calling it "Die Another Day" because it has all of these dead branches as you move up the trunk and then lots of lush green leaves reaching for life and sun. Hmmm, now I am thinking I should use that title. I don't know if this will be in the show, mainly because the pieces have already been established with the curator. If I don't use it I have decided that it may be the beginning of a new series and maybe could be the start of my next show... wherever and whenever that may be. I have already decided the title of this show could be "Tree Tops". Oh so many ideas, so little time! I am also busting to try portraits and figures... I have really never tried painting them (other than in first year painting class at university about 20 years ago). I am also busting to try pastels again, and toy with collage, and attempt oil painting, and tackle about a million other ideas swirling around in my head. I can really sympathize with Deborah Ross when she says she can get sidetracked with new ideas so easily!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yo Bro!

Just a quick shout out to my brother-in-law who helped me with the image of my invitation tonight. He was able to change it from a pdf to a jpeg (I don't actually even understand what I just said) so I could post a better result to my blog. Scroll down to the previous post for the upgraded version!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Getting Closer!

I can't believe it is October 14 already... the school year is well under way and that means my show is fast approaching. I just received a package containing my invitations so I have to get the delivery/mailing/emailing process started. I have not been able to properly download the pdf file the curator sent to me, so I ended up scanning an invitation in order to include it in today's post. I apologize for the poor quality. The background green is more solid in reality and the words are not so cut off. The St. Thomas More website now has my show posted with the invitation and a couple of other images of paintings that will be in the show. Click here to check it out... please view it in full screen mode and thanks for looking! (Edited on Jan. 2, 2010- the link no longer shows my invitation, just info. on the gallery).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is It Done?

acrylic on canvas
(reworked- no longer looks like this)

So this is the big abstract reflection I have been working on. I think it is done, but before I varnish it I thought I would see if anyone has any comments. It went through a lot of changes and it is now at a point where I feel pretty good about it and I worry that if I put the brush to it again I might just ruin it. I love, love, love doing reflections, abstract or otherwise. As it turns out I do have several of the abstract variety that will be in my show and they are all based on the images in my mind and the photo references I had from Spruce River, P.A.N.P. Every time I have gone there to paint, the river looks different. This particular time there were hundreds of water striders on the surface. The water was spinning and swirling like I had never seen before. The reflection was agitated and almost seemed alive. To me, it was spectacular. I kept thinking that the little bugs looked like they were dancing as they skimmed the surface. This impression influenced the naming of all these abstract reflections. For example the first one I posted on August 24 which is 40x30 is named "Water Striders- Big Broadway Number" and the little 7x7 I posted on Sept. 7 is called "Water Striders- Foxtrot". Today's painting is called "Water Striders- Street Performance" and I have more I will post in the coming days. It's fun and a little silly... and I feel a bit like I'm giving some props to one of my favorite shows... So You Think You Can Dance. These names make me smile, however, not only is it scary to share my paintings, but I also feel nervous about what people will think of the titles I give them. I am quite determined to never call any of my work "Untitled 1", "Untitled 2", etc. And why not stick a little humour in? Smiling can't hurt and it might even boost the enjoyment of the piece.

Some details:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Against The Sky

acrylic on canvas

I really enjoyed painting this piece this summer when I was at Emma Lake. It came from an idea I have been attempting for several years and every time I have tried it, it has never worked out the way I was seeing it in my head. This painting is the closest I have come and so I felt pretty excited about it. I wanted it to have a feel of nearness to the trees and looking up at them. I also wanted to capture how the trees can sometimes look like silhouettes against the sky. The underpainting/ ground is a layer of Raw Umber followed by a layer of Anthraquinone Blue. I then used the "sky blue" colour to cut in all of the negative spaces and therefore reveal the trees, adding more colour along the way. This is the painting that took some heat in the critique that I mentioned in my August 31 post. I'm over the upset of that... it hurt at the time, but in the end I think it turned out to be a cool representation of what I had in my head, it felt good painting it and it was exciting seeing it unfold before me... especially because it was such an experiment. I was using a photo I had taken the first day as a resource, so after painting en plein air all day I would stay late at night and work on this in the studio by looking at the photo on my little digital camera screen (thinking the entire time that a laptop would sure be nice). Anyway, hope you like it... the curator did, so it will be in my show! Yay! And for the last week or so I have been working at the studio on a larger canvas based on this idea... so stay tuned, I'll be posting it soonish. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Sky That Day

acrylic on canvas
This is the second sky that I have for my show that is of a lighter nature and will be paired with the sky I posted on Friday. Here I like the shapes of the clouds coming in from the edges of the canvas and I like how the orange ground peaks through against the blues. Another simple, free, light and easy recording of the sky that day.

This past weekend was a real treat for me and my kids. My sister was in town for a visit and man, do we love Auntie Karen! Time spent with her is guaranteed fun and new toys! Unfortunately it was a quick visit and our time with her was limited because she was actually here on some official business. The University of Saskatchewan invited her, an accomplished alumni, to participate in a symposium that was organized this past weekend as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations for the College of Arts and Science. Yup, my super smart, beautiful, witty sister is considered an expert in her field... which is History (more specifically Latin American History). She did her BA at the U of S and then went on to complete her Masters and PhD at Tulane University in New Orleans. She's not just super smart, she's super-duper smart. However, social gaffs still happen when you are super-duper smart as the following tale will illustrate.

Karen took part in the symposium on Saturday afternoon at the university and all went well. Then that evening she was invited to a fancy-pants reception at Boffins Club on campus and, being the modern day, independent woman that she is, she had no qualms about attending by herself. However, when she arrived at the restaurant she stood in the entrance not sure how to proceed. Should she seat herself? Was there assigned seating? What to do? Luckily she spotted the maitre d' standing nearby so she approached him to find out what the situation was. He kindly told her to go ahead and seat herself at any available table or join one where there was space. A short while later the formalities of the evening began with the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, the Honourable Dr. Gordon Barnhart, being "piped" in to the room in a small procession. It was at this point that a red-faced Karen realized it had been no maitre d' she had spoken to earlier... it was a representative of the Queen... and there he was making a grand entrance behind the bagpipes!!! Ah-hahahaha! I told her it was a good thing she hadn't given him her coat and asked him to park her car! Too, too funny. She was quite amused herself and said it was okay for me to tell this story. So now hopefully all of my bloggy friends are smiling and amused as well.

So props go out to my accomplished sister, Karen Racine. I am very proud of her. Check out the link which will tell you the names of the three books she has written (the most recent was just released on Sept. 28) as well as the many articles and reviews she has to her name. She is a great role model for my kids, not only for all of her scholarly background and fascinating world travels, but for her humour and ability to not take herself too seriously.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cool Blue Sky

acrylic on canvas
I did this painting last year at Emma Lake and I like the freshness of it, the movements of the clouds and the subtle colours in the clouds (yellow, green, brown, mauve) which my not come through on a computer screen. I also like the little skiff of blue along the very bottom indicating the lake.

The last several times I have been at the studio I have been listening to a CD I bought at Starbuck's of Paul Simon's greatest hits. I didn't realize how many songs I really liked of his... the whole CD is good. As I have been painting I've taken the time to listen to the lyrics and man, what stories they tell! As "Slip Slidin' Away" was pumping a few lines caught my attention and, although in reality the words are describing a male/female relationship, it immediately made me think of how I have handled (or maybe not handled) my feelings and commitment to my little boys. Here are the two lines that made me stop in my tracks:

"My love for you is so overpowering
I'm afraid that I will disappear"

Whew, that got me. It sums up in a tidy little package everything I have been feeling since I became a mom... and more specifically a stay-at-home mom. And now I am on this quest to make sure I don't disappear.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waskesiu River

Waskesiu River
I did this painting the other day at the studio thinking it could be a companion piece to the last painting I posted. It is also 7x7 and acrylic on canvas. It is done from a photo of the Waskesiu River that I took this summer. In the end the painting wasn't about the clouds, but about the mood and colours of blue which hopefully relate to "View From A Clearing". Once this was completed and I stepped back I almost had the sense that it could have been an evening scene- dusk at the river under the stars. I enjoyed painting it and have two more 7x7 sky paintings to post in the coming days. They are both of a lighter nature than these last two.

 I was planning to make a post last night when the kids went to bed, but thank goodness I didn't because who knows what I would have ended up writing! Yes, it was one of those nights. Seriously! And it was blueberries that brought me to my knees! Here is the story:

My husband was out for the millionth time in the last month and there I was with my sweet boys once again doing the "routine". I picked them up from school, let them play at the playground, headed home, got them a drink and snack, did some reading with them, let them play, made supper, heard about how they didn't like what I cooked, listened to complaining all through supper, excused them from the table, cleaned up the dishes, (sigh), let them play on the computer while I took the opportunity for some down time. What did I do with my down time? I mopped the floors and cleaned a toilet! Yes, I am lame. And let's just talk about this cleaning the toilet business for a minute. I grew up with two sisters so I was not privy beforehand to the vital information that when you live with 3 boys cleaning the toilet actually involves more than just that. It, in fact, also involves cleaning the walls and floor surrounding the toilet! And when I went to tackle the job I glanced at the lid, which was down, and said "Hey, guys, is this pee on the lid?" Yup, turns out it was! My seven year old had to go so badly he just started going before he realized the lid was not up. Sigh... and sigh again.

At supper time I had decided to pull out some frozen blueberries for the kids to have with a little ice cream as an evening snack. I was quite proud of myself planning ahead and thinking it would be a real yummy treat for them. I'm such a good mom, I thought. They will really like this and gobble it right up. Well when I called them to the table just before jammie time I was met with sounds of disgust and horror. How could I not have known they would have wanted their ice cream in a separate bowl as opposed to right in with their blueberries. It looked so gross. They just wanted ice cream and how come it was so small? And where were the sprinkles? So I did what any burned out mom would do... burst into tears! Ahhhhh, the sweet release of pent up emotions! And just as I was beating myself up (internally) for raising such inconsiderate little creatures, they both rushed to my side with concern wondering why I was crying (they really didn't know). They rubbed my back, hugged me gently, stroked my hair, kissed me so so softly on the cheek and said such calming words like "It will be okay mommy" and "take a deep breath... in... and out" and "get mommy a blanket".

As I sit and write about it today, more removed from the situation, I am realizing that their earlier rudeness was not taught to them by me... really it was their own immaturity talking and it happened at the end of the day when coping skills are stretched thin (theirs and mine). After all they are still pretty little. But what has hit home is that in this situation they actually did show me what they have learned from me. Empathy, compassion, concern for another. I might mess up blueberries and ice cream, but it turns out, I am still a good mom.