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...
I've been messing around in Photoshop again. Practicing composition skills, using colour and shape to direct the viewer's eye, combining my traditional sketches with photos I've taken. I've gone the abstract route for my subject, preferring to evoke a mood or feeling along with a narrative or story-like image, rather than creating something representational.
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.
There is a tiny hole in the fabric of this family. In January my family lost our little dog Bandit to an unnamed illness. I have been trying to adapt as we still have our lovely Laika dog, Sheeba, but there seems to be a small presence missing. Bandit was a positive, happy, and constant companion who was game for absolutely anything, except a bath. He kept me smiling with his 'glass half full' view of the world. Last week the family headed down to the local pet shelter 'just to have a look' and we found this sweet little guy:
At 1.5 years old, Ruger is every bit a clown, intelligent, handsome and agreeable. We started the adoption process and were scheduled to bring our dog Sheeba down for a meet-and-greet but found out that all the shelter dogs were under quarantine due to Kennel Cough. The shelter has no estimated date for release, and we have no idea whether or not Ruger has been infected. So for now, we wait.
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.
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!
I finally have a website up and running. It has been many years of wishful thinking, interface designing and plans. I finally had to admit that I do not have the time to program the site myself. So, I have settled for a Content Managed site by Livebooks. It is super easy to update and looks great. Please visit when you can: kimstewartonline.ca
I will eventually have my own designs one day, but for now I am just happy I can share with you!
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?
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?
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.
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!
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!
The Coke Aboriginal Art bottle auction has begun. You can bid on my bottle at Ebay until February 25th. The bottle would be a perfect addition to a corporate workspace. To see my original post on this piece of art check out my connection to the 2010 Olympics. The proceeds go to a legacy fund for Aboriginal youth. What a great investment in our Canada!
These are seemingly unrelated topics at first. What they have in common is their connection to my life lived in rural BC. This land calls to me with images of loveliness, brilliant green in spring, vibrant colors in summer and the serene monotones of fall and winter. On the surface, deceptively romantic, but really it's a struggle everyday. Routine items, like keeping warm and dry, growing food and running a variety of appliances with electricity become these large choreographed performances. The latest venue played last night as the heat seal from the wood stove crumbled into my hands right after I had filled the firebox for the night. I could not repair it and when the door was closed without the seal the air whipped in the gaps and over the wood filling the stove with bright orange flames. I could tell it wouldn't be long before the stove reached a dangerous temperature. Pulling the fire apart was the only solution I could come up with so I called my son and we pulled each log out, dousing it with water in a metal bucket and hauling it outside. We successfully emptied the firebox of wood while filling the house with smoke. Our eyes and throats burned and I couldn't help but wonder if there had been a better solution. After an hour of airing out the house, I finally headed to bed. It was after 11:00 p.m. and I had some trouble falling asleep. I kept thinking about how great it would be to sell the place and move somewhere...easier. I decided to open my window and put on an extra quilt. The weather was mild and the fresh air felt soothing on my throat. At some point I must have drifted off because the next thing I remember I was waking up to the sounds of a discordant chorus of coyotes with the neighbor dog singing back up. It was 2:20 a.m., only 3 hours remained until the start of the next day. Bring it on! I thought sarcastically before I drifted off again.
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.