Kim Stewart

Canadian Métis Artist

my opinions

mocha in my Helvetica mug, does it get any better than that?

creative motivation, home life, my opinionsKim StewartComment

the lovely Helvetica mug 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.

sneak peek: new art

my art, my opinionsKim StewartComment

Close up of floral pastel painting I'd like to show you the rest of the piece, but that would spoil the surprise. I really had a lot of fun working on this piece. My hands were just covered in the bright blue of soft oil pastels. I really get involved with these pieces. A mentor once told me that I 'beat up my canvases'. It just doesn't seem like I've done the work unless I push it. I'm sure you could find some DNA left on there if you had the right equipment.

You can see the entire painting this Friday at the show opening for Groop Gallery at 7pm in Prince George, BC.

Traveling to Van in a van...

my opinions, workKim StewartComment

Yes, it is true. Tomorrow the CNC Fine Art's class of 2011 and three faculty will be boarding a 15 passenger van headed for Vancouver on our annual field trip. We usually fly, but this year a fellow faculty member offered to drive us. Immediate benefits come to mind when I think of 'shopping'. We usually walk everywhere we go and shopping is limited to a couple of art books, basically whatever you can carry for hours on end. I was thrilled when I opened my email yesterday and saw that Opus Framing is having their garage sale this weekend, and, hey... we will have a van in Van! I could actually buy some frames and store them in the van. I am also thrilled that we can visit the Museum of Anthropology. I remember going there as an art student to sketch. Their collection includes over 36,000 ethnographic objects and 500,000+ archeological objects including full-sized west coast feast bowls and totem poles. The entire place is an aesthetic feast for the eyes! All I have to do is survive the trip down. Back to the van; I am hoping that 13 happy people traveling in a small space will not create an 8 hour din and just in case I am bringing a set of ear plugs. Now, before you decide that I am a party-pooper I should tell you that I have 'very' sensitive hearing. Those earplugs could mean the difference between a happy field-tripper and one with a migraine. Maybe I should bring my travel pillow and an eyeshade incase I really want to pass out. Just poke me when we get there!

Finding Foundation

Artists, artists worth noting, my opinionsKim StewartComment

We are listening as artist Toni Onley sweeps his arm along the horizon. "Now this is worth painting!" he declares. My eyes follow his arm out past his fingertips and I fight back a feeling of vertigo as I see the land below. An afternoon wind has begun to blow up the side of the cliff towards us. It combines with the heat from the sun making the space between me and the land below almost tangible. If I had wings, I could spread them at this moment and I would be airborne.  The mountains continue back as far as I can see, each range becoming a faint version of the one before it. The view is so large that it overwhelms me. Toni has plunked himself down in the grass. He's unrolling his brushes and talking to all the grey heads, "I hate teaching these community workshops, but it is the only way they would let me have this Yukon residency. Your landscape is amazing...Who paints regularly with watercolors?" My hand goes up, but mine is the only one. It would seem that I am the only one aware of who Toni is. His eyes quickly dismiss me as he replies, "Well okay then, let's just have fun. Paint what you see."

I look back at the landscape but it is too magnanimous for me. I don't even know where to start. I look over at Toni; he is talking about boats and the coast as he wets his page. Pale greens and grays swirl around his brush effortlessly. He has captured the summer haze from forest fires and the space inside the valley.

Space? How can anyone paint space?

Toni's view of the mountains

It is not what he has said with his brush that stands out, it is what he didn't say. The same restraint shown in his painting technique shows up in his teaching.  He sets his work down and says, "Now it's your turn", expertly steering the conversation to unrelated matters. Unable to to duplicate what I just saw, I looked towards the ground. There are some pine cones and needles in front of me so I focus there. Others are happily painting caricatured trees in dark green blotches, their little branches pointing upwards. Toni doesn't seem to mind. He keeps on chatting and moves over to see what I am doing. As his shadow falls on my work and his sentence trails off, I feel myself begin to sweat.

What will he say? Does he object to me painting the miniscule instead of the magnanimous?

Pine cone on the ground

I hold my breath and wait for his wisdom but he merely grunts and returns to his chatter. For a moment I feel as insignificant as the ground cover I am painting.  I can hear him continuing his chit-chat with the others. I feel disappointed.

Looking back on this experience I see it what I missed so long ago...Toni painted the isolation, the love of a moment share between a man and nature. He painted his relationship to the things that brought beauty and meaning into his life. He spoke with his brush and I must do the same.

New commercial gallery in Prince George!

Artists, artists worth noting, my art, my opinionsKim Stewart1 Comment

I am so excited that my friend Melanie Desjardines is opening Groop Gallery! It has been a while since there was such a place and I know that the artists in this town have work just piling up at home with no where to display it. The grand opening is tomorrow night and I am sure the crowd will be large. I have a gorgeous piece in the show, but I you will not see it here. If you want to see it you need to show up tomorrow night on 3rd avenue across from the court house, right next door to the new farmer's market at 7pm. I hope to see you there!

Are 'the Arts' necessary?

my opinionsKim Stewart1 Comment

When I'm thirsty I drink, when I'm hungry I eat. When I want to make art, I usually have to wait, and yet the urgency is there. I actually feel physical and mental pain if I do not create and after a while, if I continue to deny myself I begin to feel like I am dying inside. I have given up trying to understand why, although I still occasionally ask the question. I have found myself on a beach with rocks, sticks and water and that was all I needed. Dipping the stick in the water, I would then, quickly place it against a large stone and begin to make marks. The currents in the air would whisk them away as quickly as they appeared. If I have sand and my fingers, I work with those. Rocks are fine by themselves too. Anything really. Apparently my activity and the activity of other artists in all walks is greatly enjoyed by large numbers of the population.

One thing that robs me of my joyful activity is hearing harsh criticism of the act of creating, or worse yet, an overall indifference to the beauty, color and emotion in art, and I mean all art - music, writing, photography, theatre, gaming. Think about how many times you might interact with words, sounds or visuals, in books, on TV, in our theatres, on the internet,  that are the result of creative activities. Is it true that there are people who do not understand what it means to cut funding to 'the arts' by 90%? The British Columbian Provincial Government has not thought this suggestion through. Clearly they have no grasp of what the result will be. Without artists and creativity, none of what we see, including their own campaign ads, would be the same. Art is on cereal boxes, on milk cartons, in video games...someone has to draw all those characters! Art is on your iphone, your cell phone interface, your blackberry, your facebook page. There is music in your ringtones, your Opera, your movie, your hockey game! If young people do not have access to arts education due to lack of funding, this province will be stifling the great minds of our youth. Young people will not be aware of all the fabulous and interested careers that exist in the arts! Galleries and music lessons are where they (the youth) begin.and while they are clawing back arts funding, The BC Government might as well beef up their health budget for increased dementia, and depression, that's bound to increase as well, oh, and be sure to add some of that 90% claw back to the provincial law enforcement...especially since someone in the BC ruling party feels its better to keep moping up the growing mess created by gang and criminal activity after it happens than to prevent it in the first place with arts intervention activities.

But all ranting aside, really think for a moment about all the ways creativity impacts your life on a daily basis and tell me honesty whether or not we can afford to be without the arts. I think you know where I stand! Check out the Speaking out against the BC Arts Cuts website and see who supports the arts. The photos are interesting and telling! and please, tell me this is just a bad dream!

My connection to the 2010 Olympics

artists worth noting, my art, My Art Online, my opinionsKim Stewart5 Comments

As a leap year baby, the winter Olympics often happened each year I had my real birthday. I used to dream about participating in some way, perhaps as a figure skater. My athletic abilities never reached the world class level as I had to quit my skating lessons at 14 due to 'weak ankles', as my doctor would have said. Thankfully I don't need strong ankles to make art and making art has taken me to places beyond any dream I have ever had. In May of 2009 I was one of 15 Canadian Aboriginal artists commissioned to create an art bottle from Coke's Iconic shape. I began working on the 6 foot fiberglass base in October '09 and finished installing the solar-powered light in December. My husband was a huge help with the wiring and installation of the light and solar panel, but the graphics featuring ravens and flowers in the style of Metis floral beadwork are all my work. There were a lot of problems to solve along the way, like applying a flat graphic to a curved surface, and making sure the paint coverage would still allow light to shine through, but overall the project went smoothly. My bottle was unveiled along with 3 others in Vancouver, British Columbia to a room filled with media from all over the world. The sight filled me with excitement and nervous energy. These bottles will be auctioned off during the 2010 Olympics with the proceeds going to a legacy fund for Aboriginal children in Canada and I can't say enough about the opportunity to showcase contemporary Metis artwork to the world and to have contributed to the future of Canadian Aboriginal youth. I am touched to have made my own contribution to the Olympics. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my art career, your support has encouraged me to continue on this path. Art is the window to the soul. It is able to communicate beyond borders and cultural boundaries reflecting the world we live in and motivating us toward a better future. If you know an artist, please encourage them by purchasing their work, or appreciating what they do. If you are interested in participating in the Coke Aboriginal art bottle auction, it starts February 15, 2010.

Detail of Coke bottle design by Kim Stewart

Detail coke bottle design by Kim Stewart

Kim Stewart with 6 foot Coke bottle

My Dreams, Your Dreams...a reality.

creative motivation, Learning, my opinionsKim Stewart1 Comment

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!

Sold 3 pieces

my opinionsKim Stewart3 Comments

I was thrilled to sell 3 pieces of my work last week, Entanglement II, Bundles I and a little pastel sketch called Flowers all to the same family. I have been thinking about renting a space in town as a studio so that I can continue to work diligently on my art. I am torn though as it is so convenient to come into my basement and work any time without having to travel anywhere. Then again, it is easy to be distracted and interrupted and the studio space is in the basement. It is adequate, but not beautiful and studio visits by potential buyers are a bit awkward. Kevin has suggested we renovate the space and give it a 'door'. I would really love that! The dogs are constantly coming in and shedding around the place and I would love to lock them out. It would also block me off from the general noise around the house, like music and movies playing. You see, if I hear a movie playing in the rec room, well I often just wander out to see what it is... and then I stay...sigh. What to do?

healing, sort of.

home life, my opinions, painKim Stewart1 Comment

I have been sick for 4 weeks. I could feel a virus coming, but I had no idea of the intensity behind it. It hit me on a Monday afternoon with a full force of fever, nausea, sore throat and the like. After a week I lost my voice. A week beyond that I still could not speak. 3 and a half weeks later I am still easily tired and my voice gets raspy with a slight cough each night. I am guessing that I let myself get run down. I tend to over-commit as several friends have reminded me. "You keep way too busy." I've been told. It is tough when you are practically homesteading, yet holding down a full time faculty position in Fine Art and Media which also requires you to be a working artist...oh yeah, and I'm a mom and wife with a great family. I have always had a long 'to do' list and I am seldom bored. I could fill several lifetimes with all the interesting activities I want to explore. I love skiing with the Dad-guy and my kids! Drawing, listening to music, visiting, volunteering, oh why is life so short? Or, at least couldn't I have more stamina. In the meantime, I feel like a 2 year old kid that doesn't want to go for my nap. Sigh, resting has never been my strong point.

Kid's Self Portraits

home life, my opinions, teachingKim Stewart5 Comments

aleccombo ambercombo

I meant to post these during the summer, but other things got in the way. These self-portraits were drawn by my kids during week long art lessons with Mom. It was interesting to see the progression.  I am not sure if my lessons made an improvement to their drawings or not. They progress from left to right with the left one being the drawing they made on their own, without my guidance.

Life in dark places

home life, my opinionsKim StewartComment

We have been carefully removing clutter from our place and recently discovered these growing in the cold room drawers. They are the leftovers from last year's potatoes. Too small to peel, they sat neglected until now. It is amazing the growth that happens in dark places. Places we normally do not look. I'm not sure, but I think there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

Gas prices are changing my life

home life, my opinionsKim Stewart2 Comments

We have changed our lives a lot over the last couple of years, reducing the amount of trips to town and combining activities to reduce our gas consumption. We live about 40kms from the city and it takes about 35 to 40 minutes to drive to the heart of town. The whole family used to attend sports activities in town 2-3 times a week, as well as trips to work, grocery shop, etc. Over the last year especially, we have dropped our town activities completely, we go in maybe twice a week during the summer for essentials. In the fall, we will have to carpool to save on gas where we used to take separate vehicles to accommodate for different schedules . Everyone in our family either works or goes to school in the city. This will mean more hours of hanging around in the car, waiting for each other. The car is like our second living room. I am considering stocking it with a bar fridge, hotplate, and fold out tables for kids to do homework. (Hey, maybe I am on to something!) I really don't think we can cut back any more than we have. We are people who have chosen a lifestyle that takes us away from the violence, crime and stress of the city, back into nature, gardens, peace and quiet, but we are taking a beating financially for our choice. Others must feel the same. Will this force people to move to the cities, ending a way of life? It seems less and less financially feasible to live and work in the country. These are interesting times, full of change. It is tough to make decisions that will reflect well on both the environment, and the mental and physical well being of my family.