Sunday, October 26, 2008


Yesterday I drove to Dunvegan for a meeting of the Artist Trading Cards group. We get together every last Saturday of the month to trade our original art cards with our peers. We can even trade with people who aren't there! Ronna brings in cards made by artists who send them to her by snail mail. We add our own card to the collection and then help ourselves to the one we like.

I made cards that had a haiku written on a piece of hand-painted paper. Each card had a layer of transparent embossed paper covering the haiku, making it even more Zen. My Haiku was:
In Dunvegan we
trade miniature artworks
one-for-one, for free.

This weekend was dedicated to doing what I love to do, so I sat down and made a series of ATCs for November. They are inspired by the concept of Notan, which I recently came across while Googling sacred sciences. Notan means "light/dark harmony" in Japanese. It is a concept that helps to design harmonious light and dark values in your painting. The idea is similiar to the Yin/Yang symbol: keeping light and dark in balance is the essence of harmony.

I invite you to try this out. Take a piece of 1" square white paper and cut out shapes. Use what is left of the square and all the pieces you cut out to make a design on a black or dark art card. The challenge is greater when you increase the size of your square to 2" ( like my cards # 5 and #6).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Art Classes

To solve the riddle of the upside down photograph (see Gina's comment on my last post), here is the original. The tower is reflected, upside down of course, in the stream.

This is the fifth week I have been working full-time and today, being a Friday, I need to quote that most famous line "Thank God it's Friday". My self-description to the left of this post now seems a bit ironic. What happened to the leisure time, the indulgence and the passions?

I now feel for, and can relate to, all the people out there who go in and slug it out at their workplace. There are 350 people employed in the company I work for and that, I find, is the most interesting thing about it. All these unique stories and missions moving around "making a living" in the same place during the 8 1/2 hours I'm there. Every day is an incredible drama. Is it more like a battlefield or a jungle? All the people in there are, to some degree, intensely involved with producing stuff and getting things done and it doesn't always work. I practice detachment when things get ugly and I am really happy when some nice teamwork or simple graciousness appears. I am learning a lot about myself and how to stay who I am while adapting to all the demands and pressures. I sure don't run home at the end of the day to watch a reality show! Today I had some screaming/crying therapy in my car on the way home...............very helpful!

I'm excited to announce that I will be giving art classes at a gallery in VanKleek Hill, Ontario next month. They are not exactly like the creative art workshops that I have given in the past but I will include some relaxation and awareness exercises. This time the focus will be on how to get the image you want on paper. The inspiration will be a photograph of your choice. I would like the participants to enjoy what they are doing while they get the results they want. My inspiration comes from my own great teachers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Tower

There is a nature reserve close to my home called "Baie Brazeau". The main trail in this reserve, a perfectly straight, grassy path through the woods and marshes, is part of an old railway line. The tracks were pulled up when steel was needed at the end of World War Two, but the solid ground built up under the tracks remained. A decade ago, the municipality decided to open up this area for the enjoyment of the public. The defunct railway station was rebuilt as a community center. Illustrated information boards along the trail educated visitors about the fauna and flora. At the end of the trail, you could climb a tower to get a panoramic view of the reserve.

Autumn is my favorite time to take this walk. The mosquitos and blackflies are gone. The slanting light creates a soft shroud between the trees. The bright palette of leaves keeps changing and eventually become a faded, rustling carpet.

I took these pictures last week during a morning walk to the tower. The picture to the left is actually upside down! See the tower in the reflection? You can see me in the photograph above, right:I am the little dot in the top of the shadow of the tower, reaching over the golden marsh grasses. Above left, you get a bird's eye view of the trail. These pictures play with unexpected perspectives coming out of reflections and shadows. Fun!

"The Tower"is also a symbol used in one of the tarot cards. According to the interpretation given by Liz Greene and Juliette Sharman-Bourke, the tower is a man-made structure created to impress others. It represents our socially acceptable side. Inside the protective tower are the parts of our character that we consider unacceptable but are really hidden treasures. One day, be it by lightning, earthquake or hurricane, the tower must crumble and allow the imprisoned energies to be free. I enjoy reflecting on the symbolic meaning of objects and colors. Every thing is much more than what it seems. We lead symbolic lives.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Closing Down the Garden

Looking back through this summer's photo collection, I found these Bruxmanias, about to open. Their haunting pale lavender hue and their mysterious and exotic appearance fascinate me

That was July. Now it's time to pull the curtain. The show is over. Frost has determined the end of the blooming season. The once brightly colored maples and summacs are dropping their faded leaves. Today I am saying good-bye to all the daylilies that started off my blog adventure. They are put to sleep for the next seven months. I cut back all their foliage neatly and collected huge piles of compost. Isn't Nature brilliant?

This ritual of garden closure connects me to the Bigger Plan that insists itself on the lives of residents in this area. It is my choice to spend all year in a climate with extreme polarities and huge distances. It fits with my tendency to seek challenges and be part of what is happening instead of escaping into wishful thinking.

My latest challenge, thanks to the influence of Divine Bean, is my new full-time job. It sure makes a dent in the life of an avid blogger!....but I get a lot of satisfaction from this new lifestyle. My alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. and I have a mission to fulfill. I belong to the world out there, creating my fortune with others. Every day is full of surprises and learning, a meaningful adventure, even if, believe me, it is a totally unglamorous activity! Sometimes I can sing mantras and do breathing exercises while my hands are busy. It's also wonderful to be home at 2:30 and have time to walk my dog and get some sunshine. I admit to the thrill of a paycheck, too, as fat as my pet man's. I'm also amazed at how much time I use to daydream, and dither and dawdle over trivialities. Thank you, Divine Bean!