A number 4 Africana sable brush from 1970's USA. The 'Africana' company once provided high quality glazes, stains and supplies for the booming '70's ceramic industry. My parents had distribution rights for the products in the Grande Prairie (AB) area when they owned their ceramic studio. I used this brush to paint many small ceramic objects - then in the 1980's it took me through art school. In amazing condition, it is still one of my favourite brushes and will come with me to the Banff Centre in February (2015) for a visual art residency. I received word today that I am accepted into the Leighton Artist Colony - Gerin-Lajoie Studio. While at the studio I will focus solely on my art - (yes, someone else will do the cooking and the cleaning for me!) As part of my planned Education Leave from work, I have until the end of April to concentrate on my art practice. I feel a deep gratitude for this opportunity and plan to make the most of it. I shall keep you updated.
I thought I'd share a couple of photos from our latest wilderness getaway. The family usually just packs up the camper and heads out. We sometimes have a general direction in mind, but we don't always have a place. We just take it as it comes. I find these outings to be very relaxing, recharges my creative abilities.
I have completed the work for my Master's degree over the past weekend. I began this 'project' in 2009 and thought two years looked like a very long stretch in front of me, but like most challenges the time when by quickly. Being incredibly busy helped. I was working full time, going to school every 3rd+ weekend and working on homework during most of my spare time. It was taxing on my family and I want to thank them for all for their amazing support. I am indebted to my knowledgable instructors, Dr. Celeste Snowber, Dr. Lynn Fels, Dr. Indrani Margolin, Dr. Yaroslav Senyshyn, Dr. Carolyn Mamchur and Dr. Vicki Kelly. As an instructor myself, I understand how much you give of yourselves for your students! Without my peers in the cohort, I would be nowhere. Your ability to encourage me kept me going. And finally I would like to praise God who was with me all the way. I will convocate in October and after that weekend I will officially have earn my MEd. Arts Education from Simon Fraser University. I learned so much through deep inquiry, I cannot imagine living any other way. I look forward to living in the beauty that the work has brought into my life. Below are a few samples of the artwork that I was making as research during the last two years. I hope you enjoy...
A warm drink on a blustery day to help me stay focused. I have just over a month to go in my master's studies and I am looking forward to completing the work. This last class is on aesthetics in education and I am enjoying the material. I am reading from Landscapes of Aesthetic Education by Richmond and Snowber. Celeste Snowber is the instructor for this class and I find her writing really resonates with me. I just read a poem of hers called Moist Manna where she refers to a child catching snowflakes on his tongue.
In it she asks:
I wonder why as adults, we forget to lie down in the textures of the natural world and behold the beauty of what falls into our arms.
I still feel as though I am moving through life too fast; barely looking up from the load I am carrying. At this moment I want to look up and wonder at everything that is around me, the ants at my feet, the leaves overhead and a warm mug in my hands. At this moment I have everything I need. At this moment, I am okay.
I came across a post on a blog called Mira's List called "Finding Money for your Dreams" and I was immediately drawn in. This article is about asking for money in the form of Grants for creative writing or artistic work. Mira lets the reader in on her own story, then launches into grant myth-breaking. She says that although you don't have to be famous or know someone, you do have to have talent. Mediocracy doesn't cut it. So how do you know if you are any good at what you do? As a "slush pile" worker for a granting agency, Mira tells us that applications that credit Grandma as their biggest fan, or state that the jury will like their art because "everyone does" go directly in the 'no' pile. So who's opinion counts? Your peers, the curator of the local public gallery, people who buy your art, juries for group art shows, art instructors to name a few. The point is to get your work out there. Don't hide it under your couch like my grandmother did. She was an accomplished hand potter who dug her own clay from the banks of the river, taught community classes in pottery and hid her best work under her furniture. She didn't believe that her work was valid. As creative people, our work is always valid. It is a way of communicating opinions, thoughts, ideas, and observations. It can be a record of cultural influences, personal history, struggles, joys and sorrows. Those of us who are compelled to create have an important place in society and those who offer grants believe in what we do. They 'want' to see us succeed. If you are a creative person, do yourself a favour, go to Mira's list and read her post, then 'ask' for what you need in the form of a grant. I know I will!
I was pleased to have 3 pieces chosen for the Two Rivers Gallery 'Flux' show which is on here in Prince George until May. You can see one of my pieces on their website, Flux In my artist statement I talk about the work being my reaction to comparing the Christian iconography I knew as a child in the Catholic Church with Cree Medicine bundles of my aboriginal ancestors. Specifically exploring the idea that these visual 'objects' were thought to have incredible positive influence on the lives of those who had them, but as we move forward, not only are notions about these things changing, but the objects themselves are being represented digitally and through art. Do these 2D representations hold the same power and mystery as the originals?
I have spent the better part of 2 days building a profile on the Behance.net creative network site. They have an amazing interface that organizes and flatters the work. Other creatives are encouraged to view projects and appreciate them using the feedback button at the bottom of each project page. Membership to the site is by invitation only keeping it focused on quality creative work. I'd love you to visit my profile. Here is the link: http:www.behance.net/kimstewart
if you like what you see, appreciate it! You'll know what I mean when you get there...and thanks!
There are so many places to go on the internet for inspiration. It used to be that I worked at home, alone in the basement on my art. There was no one to talk to, no one to show my work to. Now there are many virtual places to go. It cannot replace being in the same room as someone, but it is better than being alone. Here are a few links to articles and places I have recently enjoyed: Article: Voices of Geezerdom:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_1_95/ai_n17114144 Knitted Poo (yes, it is what it sounds like):
Noble Pets: this is very funny and kinda odd:
I do not take naturally to what I call domestic work. Those nasty chores that fall under the category of housework are never finished. I have been working for a month on staging our home. 3 weeks ago we listed it on the real estate market with the hopes that it will sell, freeing us to buy a home and property closer to the city of Prince George. We are about 38kms away right now. That translates to a 40 minute highway drive in good weather to reach the centre of town. The 'dad-guy' and I pounded away at replacing counter tops, installing tile on our backsplash and refinishing kitchen cabinets. The results are stunning. (I'd show you, but my son (14) has taken my camera cord to his room and it has 'disappeared' in there.) After weeks of 'cramming' to complete improvements, I have lost interest. There are still some details that should be looked after, but I can't seem to motivate myself to do them. Cleaning out storage cubbies, scraping old paint, and reorganizing basement clutter is not at the top of my 'holiday fun' list. Maybe I need a reward system, something like an ice cream cone, or a new toy for motivation. A search on google nets this information:
One principle that underlies these conceptions is that some people will focus more on challenging themselves to achieve by choosing moderately difficult tasks, persisting in the face of setbacks, etc. while others try to avoid situations of moderately difficult tasks where their self-esteem would be at risk (Atkinson & Feather, 1974). Those who are risk averse tend to choose either very simple tasks or very hard ones. In the former case they are confident they will succeed, and in the latter case nobody will expect them to succeed. Dweck and Leggett 
Another site tells me I need good role models, and specific goals. It goes on to say that if I am a high achiever, I will need a moderately difficult task. Maybe that's the problem. How hard could it be to clean out a cubby hole? Should I think about all the skills I will use to clean? Should I picture the space as it might look once it is organized? Maybe I could trick myself into thinking it is an important task. After a while of this non-purposeful thinking, nothing is done and my head feels thick.
It was December, the power was out and I had work to do. Candles seemed to be the logical solution. We are so used to losing our power for hours at a time in the winter that we have adapted and carry on. But the dark days are almost over. The spring to summer season brings dramatic changes to our natural light and our need for artificial light reduces. By the time June comes it will be light out until 11 pm. This is a natural cycle, a closed cycle. For now it remains the same, season to season, year to year. Indigenous people have adapted, lived and worked within these seasons since time unmeasured. I was recently on a site that talked about using natural cycles in nature as a metaphor for design. For example, what if buildings could be designed to behave like trees? Would they then become more integrated into the earth's cycle rather than an interruption to it. This is important if we want to guarantee the renewal of the seasons now, as they always have been. There is a lot of talk about carbon footprint and other effects of our lives of consumption on the eco-system. When I think about what I can do, I think about my role as a design educator. I can plant the seed of creative thought in those I teach. If I plant enough, some of them are bound to bloom.
It is Sunday. A day of work for me. I keep Saturday as a day of rest (see commandment #4 in the 10 commandments). My whole family does, therefore Sunday becomes a day of work for us. Typically I spend Sundays planning the next week of teaching. I have 4 classes to plan for, 3 in New Media: Multimedia (2nd year course), Intro to the Web (1st year course), Illustration (1st year course), and 1 in Fine Art: First Nations Art and Technology (1st year course). Most of the classes have a digital element using software of various persuasions and the lesson plans must be updated every 6 months to a year to keep up with changes in the industry. Just that alone can make a person insane! A seasoned teacher of Fine Art at the high school level gave me this advice: " Don't try to keep up with the software, you'll never do it! Just structure your classes as a series of problems to be solved, the software being one of the tools used." I knew this, I used it all the time when homeschooling, but somehow I did not transfer the technique directly to my digital classes. I gave out problem solving assignments, but still thought I had to be the software guru as well. The students expect it, but realistically they will not have access to me at home, or after graduation, so they might as well start solving these problems on their own, right now. Perhaps human nature can be compared to water, if not challenged, it will take the path of least resistance.
I have been sick, a usual side effect for me when I travel. The aftermath is always a series of me resting and reorganizing my world. I think the reorganizing is as much mental as physical. Traveling changes my view of the world and it takes some time to digest it all and redraw those paradigms, those maps I previously had to describe the world. Alaska was a place desperate for tourist dollars. Each business, cruise, or little stand by the road pleaded with every passer-by to stop and drop some cash. The season is limited and locals struggles to make what they can before the flurry of outsiders head back home again. But outside of my cynical view, I also saw areas of vast wilderness. It sounds like a cliche, but there really is no other way to describe the space. This photo was taken on a glacier cruise of a place called '3 hole rock'. As the boat slowed in front of this view, everyone was silent. Even with the world of sat-tv, internet, and iphones, people can still be awestruck by nature. Amazing.
This is a mixed media piece I've been working on, mostly pastel work. I love using the pastels because I can really lay it on thick then scrape off layers to reveal colour that is underneath. I like to work hard on my pieces and sometimes it looks great and other times it looks, well, overworked. Robert Murray who was one of the art mentors at Well's artist's retreat last year, after viewing some of my work, asked me if I was going to beat up my next art piece.
I guess I can be hard on the paper, if you look at the detailed photos of this work, it is scored fairly deep with lines, and words. I just like to work from the inside out, whatever is inside me works its way into my art, that includes scrapes and gouges. This piece is one I started with pencil sketches a while ago, I have a name for it, but I don't think it clearly reflects the piece. What do you think I should call it?
Sometime it is nice to have nothing planned and nothing doing. But is it okay to have a mind that refuses to think of anything important and a mouth that doesn't want to talk much. It makes me wonder what it would be like to take a vow of silence, just for a short while you understand. I'm thinking I will snap out of it pretty quick. Does silence include the written word? Oh, I hope it doesn't include symbols and drawings. I guess that depends on whether the vow is not to speak, or not to communicate. Hmmmm. I googled 'vow of silence' and found an interesting site called 43 Things. This site is a place where people have posted on things they want to do, and once accomplished, were they worth doing. I will think some more on this.