From The Studio
Yes, I am painting. I'm not sure why when we think about what other artists are up to, we even wonder if they are creating new works. Do we ever stop doing that? Even if we go for short spurts away from the easel, the act of what might be in a painting never ceases to play over and over in our mental visual. I'm posting a blurry and dark image of what is being worked on right now. Nothing finished, lots with hope of being masterpieces. Canvases leaning and laying and waiting. Painting for a date of being featured in a gallery brings on a whole new momentum. So far, not stressed.
I thought I should check in here with some more current news since last April. I'm feeling a bit sad I missed the summer, where did it go? Oh, I know, it's still here officially, but the hint of fall is in the air. Stores and news screaming from the rafters Back To School is near. Such advisories still cause a slight tension in my gut brought on by nerves over the unknown we must march forward into. I think sending our kids back to school was more anxiety inducing than me going for myself. I just wanted them to be happy. Not such a big request in life, eh. It's still number one on my bucket list.
I also am constantly thinking about what I could write a book on, or an online blog, or journal, or word share, etc. In a few ways, I miss being a member of the online social site world. In many many ways, so glad I don't use my precious and limited time doing that. It's an addictive way to cultivate my already hard to control glitch called procrastinator. Instead of getting to what I had to do, I'd scroll and find ways to distract myself. Especially if I had a deadline I had to meet. I remember when I was in high school, I'd sit in the kitchen and whine and belly ache over the anxiety of a massive ( to me ) project I had to do. Mom would say, " all this time you've spent sitting there grumbling and complaining over what you have to do, you could have it done by now. Go do it. " I can't imagine how those years would have been if I had social media at my fingertips. Makes me shudder to think, bad enough to find it during my Bucket List age. Which, in a way, is very similar. Instead of during my teenage hormonal age, I found social media during my menopausal hormone age. Both of those phases that graze my memory banks bring a lot of shuddering and saying to myself, what the hell was I thinking?? I don't think we give enough credit to how extensive an influence hormones have on our sense of practical thinking. I should write a book on that.
Or, I should write a book on my life. Not sure who would want to read it. Do people buy books anymore? I know they write them, I read that online. I hope anyone reading this will smile at my sarcastic sense of humour. Seriously, tho, do we not all have a story? All artists use their medium in sharing their story. Music composers give us songs that come from a personal part of their soul. Even if it's a fictional song, it reflects something very personal about them. Since I discovered a radio station in Sequim that I put on Alexa everyday, I've learned more about music makers. This station plays EVERY genre of music. I have become a scholar on recognizing who wrote songs. I have become a scholar on recognizing styles, signatures that only that individual could have written. Okay, Professor Google in my hand held device helped me along the way. I so wish I got onto the smartphone thing while Mom was alive. She would have LOVED us being able to look up artists and celebrities on those Saturday after shopping evenings. Sorry, I missed the beat on that one, Mom.
Or, should I write a book on how to be an artist. I think it would end up being more a story on how to not be one. I've tried. I have announced my retirement, done, can't take the stress, just can't do this anymore. My husband waits until my rant is over, then tells me to go paint, and I say okay. I couldn't write a book on how to paint. I could never teach, not in me to take on telling people what to do. I do admire those who teach. In any subject, teaching is a huge responsibility. Perhaps I feel this way because I have learned since Professor Google came into my life, and Sara and Robert Genn letters, I am an HSP. This is why I sing better in the car alone than I do on stage, I'm an HSP. This is why I paint better on my own and not in a crowd, I'm an HSP. HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person, by the way. And, this is why the thought of teaching absolutely terrifies me, I'm an HSP. I'm so glad I don't have to teach.
If I were to write a book about living as an artist, it wouldn't be a how-to book, no. It would more likely be about perspectives on being a human being. The common thread that sews us together in ways that makes us all of the same material. Thinkers and dreamers. Riders on metaphorical rides of highs and lows. My perspective today is optimistic, even though I do have a civilian cold, nothing fancy, just a cold, I feel somewhat enthused that today will be a great day. Sun is shining, it's not TOO HOT, Gerry is having a day without too many horrendous OFF times ( Parkinson's sufferers will understand that one ) and I'm excited about what I am painting.
Okay, on that optimistic note, I shall go and paint.... and maybe start that book :)
Oil on wide wrapped canvas
West End Gallery Ltd
Painted for the people of Ukraine. Featured in an online fundraiser exhibition at West End Gallery Ltd.
by William Blake
Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travelers journey is done.
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.
In true character, I am coming here far too late to post photos of my house decorated for Christmas. Or my optimistic wishes for a best-ever New Year for all. Time heals, but it also slides by so fast I can hardly catch up to my own thoughts in one day. I have photos in my camera still of ideas for my festive blog. It is, and was, always such a complicated month, December, full of triggers. The season of traditions and triggers. Decorating for me is not a chore. It's very like painting. A fresh canvas waiting to be filled with all the good senses born out of those triggers. It occurred to me while decorating, every ornament I have ever bought I was with Mom. Saturday was our day to shop, my fun shopping that is. My husband did the practical shopping through the week. Stock piles of food products on sale. Five cases of Campbells Soup to cases of Green Giant kernel corn, whatever the sale, he was on it. I used to say he must have had a past life during the 30s and was very poor. No, I don't believe in such things. His parents lived those years in the prairies. I suspect he learned his shopping habits from those who understood the necessity of making every cent be productive. Anyways, those days are gone. I do all the shopping. Without Mom, practical or fun shopping, I do it. It's not so bad, really, we eat T bone steak more often than we did 30 years ago.
Oh, the digressions of writing, eh. I don't think I intended to sit and blab away our shopping habits over the years. This word space is supposed to be about what is happening in my studio, oh right. I have been asked by the gallery that represents my work ( West End Gallery) if I would be interested in doing another solo show in the Fall of 2022. I was happily surprised to be asked. Two years ago, I was in panic mode over the need to produce a body of work for Fall of 2020. At that time, I was still in a choir that was gearing up for a big concert in March. Rumblings of a dreaded pandemic hitting the world was beginning. Gerry's Parkinson's was forcing it's ruthless wrath of terrifying symptoms he, and I, were not handling very well. I was painting, but I was not in anything close to a stress-free creative mode. By the time Covid was HERE, things really got crazy. Lock downs, cancellations, daughter moved home, Parkinson's and all the changes due to that, and painting for a show in the fall. I made it. I was satisfied, if not surprised, with the works I had for the show. It's amazing what we can do if we stay the course and just do it. But I was stressed and shared that with anyone who asked how I was doing. I'm surprised the gallery asked me again after all my whining. I'm surprised I happily said yes. There again is that mystery of life. We go through some of most difficult struggles, heal, then can't wait to get right back on that struggle ride.
I am planning for it now. Part of my plan is to keep this one stress free. Stress, it really is an unruly thing we all have trouble keeping in check. One of my best strategies in dealing with anxiety is to look back where I have been, and do an analysis on what I did wrong where the stress won. I know two years ago much of the stress around here was fear of things that we were perfectly capable of surviving quite well with. I think of 6 years ago almost to the day of right now, I found Mom dead in her home. That was my worst day, and subsequent few years of the absolute worst stress ever in my life, but I survived. Look back on what you've accomplished, Mary Ann. Look at today. You're here, healthy and surrounded by the strength of love of family. Painting for a show in 10 months is really a piece of cake. Bought from Whole Foods cake, I can't bake, and yes, I miss those cakes, Mom.
What I will paint will be what I paint. That's another strategy I use when the pressure of anxiety hits me, deep breath and simplify the idea. I have stations all round the house where I can take time to add more paint to a canvas. One spot where there is a BIG canvas, one where there is a medium sized one, and small ones in the dining room. There are also a lot of other projects going on, re-framing Gerry's lifetime collection of sports photos and memorabilia. This past year I have painted rooms and left the walls paintings free since, so I resurrected a lot of my older works that got stuffed into closets with piles of frames. It's surprising how many flowers I painted along the way. I never considered myself a floral painter. They aren't bad, kind of fun to return to my older works and do some critiquing. I have put them into nice frames and they look lovely on my newly painted walls. And, I have a nice big closet to store all my Christmas decorations so I don't have the physical chore of putting them up into the attic. Every year the challenge of embarking the journey of stuffing me, along with big Rubbermaid tubs, through that hole in the ceiling was getting more and more difficult. Ah, won't have to do that next time.
Keep busy, keep busy, and take moments to look back. Today is looking like a pretty good day. Sun is shining and I have lots of projects and plans I feel excited about. I may have many moments of anxiety and fear ahead, but I'll get through them, and while I do that, I can paint. I am always amazed at that, and of course, COMPLETELY GRATEFUL. These are times where so many have had to side line what they love to do, or give it up. I miss a lot of things, but with my super storage memory banks, I enjoy most of the triggers, and keep going. Life is good.
Oh, heck, why not leave a picture anyways... My blue room, Mom's drapes she made me go perfectly, she'd love the new colour.
And, my most recent finished painting at West End Gallery, Victoria...
" Walk This Way" 30x24 oil on wide cradle canvas
Now, where was I....
Just dropped this very large painting in to West End Gallery this afternoon. I had planned to write an "in progress" write up with it, but instead I'd just like to say it's done. I amaze myself every time I finish a painting and call it done. It's a huge sense of accomplishment no matter how many times it's happened in my life. Done, never get bored of signing them and calling them done, very much a high five kinda feeling.
I don't often commit to doing a series but I am thinking I have been in a series of street scenes in my neighbourhood for a while. Saying I am going to do a series of street scenes is not me. Saying I think I'll paint street scenes until I break down and must go to a path in the woods again is more me. Don't commit, just paint. I enjoy painting the streets of our beautiful city a lot. This is what I live, this street in the photograph, I drive their almost daily. We drive it that is, my husband as co pilot, the tour guide actually, tells me where to turn, if he doesn't I panic, where should I turn?? Funny the things we adapt to, eh. I wasn't able to get out to photograph the essence of fall in Victoria this year. I may still but I think the tree jewels are mostly fallen and have become that dark sludge on the street. I'll decide next time the sun shines if it's worth a gathering of 100 photos or so. I have thousands of photos I plan on turning into paintings eventually. How old am I? I better get going...
On the easel now is another scene of fall in Fairfield, smaller, tho. This giant one (for me) in the above photo was painted on a black ground. My jury is still out on what ground colour is best. I'm not certain if the ground is to impact the artist or the viewer. The viewer doesn't know what ground colour was used, it does get very well covered. Now, the one I am working on had no ground. I was in the mood to paint colour directly on white. I was intrigued by the idea of sketching straight onto the canvas as if it were a piece of paper and I had crayons. A different experience and I must say, I am enjoying the build up of colour over the white ground. Love those little pleasing moments that would go unnoticed by everyone else.
So there is my brief catch up since I last posted way back in the summer. After I finish the painting on the easel right now, I bet I end up in Goldstream again, in spirit, how lucky is that? Very!
Do I start this blog entry with another... " ah, two months since I left an update " ?? Seems to be the schedule for me right now. Paint daily but nothing gets finished for two months. I am not a fast painter. I used to believe if I didn't bash them out in a few days I was not a good painter. Now, after bashing for some decades, I realize how an artist approaches their work is part of their personal signature. To bash and leave it alone and sign it is a fantasy, really. I also realize those works done by artists that appear to have been bashed out in record time most likely took weeks as well. Like the dancer who appears on stage to be natural and dancing perfectly with ease, there's a lot of hard struggling time involved before they take to the stage. The work behind making a viewer feel the painter created with ease is a whole other store.
ANYWAYS... there's my opening paragraph after thinking I forget how to write. Yes, I have been painting daily. Since I changed this page title to From The Studio, I will focus in a non-digressing format on news from the studio (try to anyways). After a nice reward of selling three BIG paintings in one week way back in February, I was inspired to hit a big canvas again. Ordered a 48x60 aka 4ft by 5ft, and a 36x48 aka 3ft by 4ft. As usual, the waves of inspired enthusiasm waned by the time the canvasses arrived and I had started covering another painting shot in the wait time. A canvas that had been toned black with the beginnings of a flamenco dancer on it. Some years back I took a workshop in acrylics where the artist teacher had us working on 30 by 40 inch canvasses, our choice of subject to paint, but the focus was on painting the figure in dramatic lighting and form. I did one of a trumpet player I was very pleased with, then I started one of a flamenco dancer that the teacher had us take photos of to get the jest of drama and lighting. It was a fun class. But like most classes, I take from them bits of what I might keep, and quickly slide back to my own way of painting again, which is what is expected, not supposed to walk out of a class cloned into someone else.
Here is the beginnings of the paint over:
You can see the image of her shoulder and neck disappearing into another artist's idea. It was fun to work on a different ground. I have been painting my canvasses with a cad red ground for a few years lately. I am still not sure what my favourite coloured ground is yet. The black ground does give a quick sense of drama with light to dark contrasts, but black is black, and I am an addicted colourist. Hence, my new canvasses are still virgin white waiting for a ground colour. Take note of painting over flamenco dancer with ungrounded canvasses in the back against the wall in this photo.
During painting phases I have made the mistake of posting works "in progress", only to be told how disappointed people are that the finished work changed, they liked it better "in progress". So I don't do that anymore. If I am to share to the public an "in progress" shot of my work, I better have the finished product involved in the same share so I don't get any hate mail. Kidding, just kidding, I don't get hate mail, I exaggerate, but you get the idea I am making. I'm always curious how a work evolves that artists create, so maybe one of those site numbers are people who will enjoy such things on my site.
The lost flamenco dancer has now become another mental visual from our daily drives. Of course, I use a photo reference to capture the essence of a sunlit day in the fall, I'm addicted to colour. I've tried to detox and do summer greens and gardens. I don't know, just not the same as that heart stopping fall palette that makes me fill my memory card with hundreds of pictures. This painting is now of a well known corner in Fairfield. If anyone has taken a drive in Victoria along Beach Drive, ending up at Inner Harbour downtown, they would have come along this corner. It's just before reaching Ross Bay, and if I am to do any local tourism prompting here, the construction is pretty well done and we can now park at Ross Bay again. However, I suspect another phase is planned and people holding slow/stop signs will make your drive last a little longer. Can't argue infrastructure updating, tax dollars are meant for that. No digressing, oh right.
Here is the pretty-sure finished painting:
There have been lots of peaks and valleys along the way. The truck is blue in my photo, but it looked better red. The red car is white in the photo, I like it blue. I'm still in pondering mode of... ugh, I'm not sure, but then I look at all the paintings on my site and remember me feeling that way about them, so I'm thinking that's just me being a chronic self doubter. I think the painting says what I felt about that moment in time in my life. I think I found my way to communicate a sense of wonder over our beautiful city. There may be very few things I am sure of in each day I am given except that of how I feel, I know that one for sure. And I think I shared that one, I think. I will sign this and get to West End Gallery as soon as my feelings tell me to "put it in the car and take it for a drive, Mary Ann." Okay.
Good bye flamenco dancer, hello Hollywood Crescent. Good title, no, too long. Maybe.. Even The Cars Change Colour... naaa. Maybe Fairfield Drive Number 46... naaa. I'll think of something...
And so... what colour ground for those virgin white canvasses??... hmmmm
Thanks for stopping by!
Ah, over two months since I left a few words here. I always have grand ideas for a blog entry, I wish I could remember one of those right now, no grand ideas on what might make an interesting thought meander. It's getting onto midnight soon, my painting time, and since there is no good time to write a blog, I'll do it anyways right now. The dragging gray months called January and February are over, thank goodness, not my favourite months. Grim reminders of death of loved ones, trying times I recall thinking I'd never survive, but I did. We mark one year since we were ordered to cancel most of the good living things we like to do due to the wrath of Covid 19. Life is tough, and we keep on. Yes, we keep on.
My last entry here was about nothing probably, but I do recall posting a canvas I was working on. Well, that painting is done, and now down at West End Gallery, on the wall. Happy story, we had our errands to do on Friday, a schedule, first stop the gallery. I'm tired, oh big surprise, when have I ever said that before, when have I not is more the question. Anyways, luckily our spot was vacant for us to park, so I quickly grabbed this painting I am going to post and ran into the gallery. I rarely go in so it was nice to see Amy and all the gorgeous artwork IN PERSON! Not knocking the glorious ease of online exposure and shopping, but gosh I miss so many of the in person things we used to be allowed to do. After chatting for a bit, short catch up, a woman came over to me and asked if I was Mary Ann Laing who did the paintings on the wall. I said yes, and she said they had just bought the one she was pointing to. I nearly swallowed my face mask with a gasp of joy, HOW WONDERFUL!! The painting they bought was 36x36, the one I brought down, 36x36, it can fit perfectly in that spot. I'd say the timing gods were with me on Friday. I rarely get into the gallery in person, if I painted quicker and had more new work that might help, but what are the chances for me to bump into clients buying one of my paintings, very slim.
So here is the new painting I took down on Friday, the final product from the canvas in the photo I posted in my last blog. Gerry and go driving every evening, some days both daytime and evening. I know this is what many others are doing during this pandemic, but we have more reasons for doing so because it helps him when he's having his horrid "off" times with Parkinson's. At first, being asked to go for a drive every evening was not easy. This isn't a very big city, it can get rather boring, empty streets of Victoria, especially during the dark winter time. We've found some good radio stations that play music we love, it's really not the worst ordeal in life, in fact, we've turned it into adventures. My family members are pretty well pioneers of Victoria, Gerry's aren't, his family arrived in 1951. I found archival Victoria directories that go back into the 1800s online, and have found addresses where my grandparents lived when they arrived in 1910. I also remember so many stories Mom would tell me about her childhood days, so it's been fun to put those stories to the addresses we drive by that I found in the directory archives. I suppose, in a way, this is a form of stalking, but it's fun.
Imagine these streets once being walked on by my grandmother as a young woman who just arrived from Scotland. Imagine my grandfather labouring on those houses he built. Imagine my mom playing with her cousin Vera who lived on Toronto Street in James Bay. Imagine Aunty Audrey as a young girl with her sisters running out of that gorgeous house on Government Street. Imagine them seeing Emily Carr walk by, which they did. I know it's only my imagination carrying on from the stories Mom would tell, but it's so much fun. I'm thinking I should paint the houses that remain, some of them have been demolished. How lucky for me to have this endless history to visit right outside our door. So many stories, so many memories, those are the foundations in all of my artwork. I don't go on sight to paint, plein air painter I ain't, I think I could make a poem, or song, out of that. No, I gave up on that effort, but that doesn't mean I have nothing to paint. I do, and I doubt I'll live long enough to get them all done.
The above painting is from St. Charles Street in Fairfield, in the fall, obviously. The horse chestnut trees that line the streets of Fairfield are MASSIVE, and so beautiful. They have been carved into odd shapes over the decades to make paths for power lines and structures that have invaded their growing space. Some of them live for 300 years. Not sure if any of these ones are that old, but maybe Mom walked by them when she was little, or rode her bike by them. Or maybe my uncle climbed one of them. Dad grew up in Bamberton, I know which trees he climbed. Is it silly for me to gone so like this? Good, I was worried I'd lost my sense of silly.
Nearly midnight, time to paint. A blessed life it is!!
Sitting here thinking about one year ago. One year ago I was in a silent mental panic over knowing I had to come up with a "body" of work for a show that would feature my work at West End in September. A "body" of work, a series, a showing of what I could paint in less than a year. I was panicked knowing my studio time was ever changing due to the ever changing of my husband's abilities to do things without assistance. Panicked, yes, I admit I was. Now, looking back, it wasn't anything more than what I was doing to myself with my own thoughts that was causing my panic. I know now we were both adjusting to how life was going to have to be due to our new boarder named Parkinson's. In that panic one year ago, I cancelled all my social media accounts, thinking that once I got the paintings done, I'd reactivate them. Funny, I don't miss them, so far no inclination to reactivate them what so ever. I always did go on the Fb scroll with chin resting in hand thinking... why do I do this? Why do humans need to do this? Why can we not live our lives without the need to publicize it? Not in a pointing finger at others thinking way, mostly asking myself why I do that. I spent many years sharing every insignificant thought on social media. Gathered reinforcing praise on painting shares that stopped me from slashing some half decent works. I did and over did my share of sharing. I still ask, why, tho, and ponder this urge we humans have to want to play the share game. Heaven knows I missed out on a lot of sharing when the pandemic hit and forced all physical sharing into the lines of cyber. I could have been using my platform to write parody songs that according to the television news, were being flooded online by those who were bursting with musical insanity stuck at home. In lighter and more spoiled days, I would have been all over that. Yes, good thing I cancelled out, that body of work would have had a pretty slim physique.
Here we are one year later, much has changed, much has not. Listening to a news caster yesterday who was asked what her New Year's resolution would be, she said to be more adaptable and patient. That's a good one. Looking back to one year ago, I needed to make that resolution. Go with it, be resourceful, accept the current situation and find ways to make things work better. We have done that in our house. We are a team who has gone through the panics and fears, and doing a pretty good job at living for the most part. I don't want to make my art website blog space about our journey with Parkinson's, but it's part of my life as an artist, the impact is real. Yesterday, on the first day of 2021, I thought how in the past I always painted on the first day of the new year, or took my tree and decorations down, or both. So yesterday I decided I would paint. Oh, can't be upstairs in the studio in the daytime, okay, I'll go on location and...
.... do this! No need to fuss and panic, go where I can to paint. I can listen to music, keep updated on the hockey games and news from a voice in the tv room, stop for anything asked, and just go back and continue. Why didn't I do this one year ago? I was too busy panicking and trying to demand time. Looking back, if I was in a more adaptable state of mind like I am in now, I might have had a bigger and better body of work. Maybe not, I may have still been in that state of mind I was in a year ago no matter where I set up my easel.
I am also taking time to update this artist run website. If anyone happens to check here more than once and notices someone seems a bit obsessed with fiddling around with their website, well, that's somewhat true. I am forever infatuated with the power of mood on how we choose and see things. Last night I wanted a light colour similar to the one I just painted my bathroom with. Today, I felt more subdued and gray. I might feel dramatic black tomorrow. I may need a smaller font, oh wait, I don't think I know how to change that, better leave that one alone. All in all, not exactly sure why I need a website at all. My work is on the gallery's website. I don't have a little shopping cart icon to click, or paypal buttons, no interest in making sales through my site. I guess it's like a business card. If someone hears my name, or sees my work somewhere, and wants to look me up, well here I am, have a look. Besides that, since I cancelled out on all my social media, this has become my play space to do whatever I want, yeah, that's it.
My easel waits, time to dab at my street scene from that recent autumn day in Fairfield. Those very old trees that line the streets in Fairfield are MASSIVE, and in this painting, I want people to feel that sense of being a small character navigating through tunnels created by those giant trees. Such a beautiful area that we are blessed to live in, it's right outside our door, how lucky is that? very.
Happy New Year!!
Christmas 2020 arrived in it's usual way. Considering the prison-like walls of Covid-19 we live in at the moment, I know how lucky we are in our family bubble to be able to celebrate as we always have each year. In actuality, I'd say Christmas has evolved into a much easier time of year for me. I surprise myself when I say that considering the difficulties we deal with as a family with Dad's relentless force of progressive Parkinson's, but it's true, the holidays are much easier in so many ways. After 67 years of Christmases, I have lots of stories on what Christmas means. It can be a very difficult time depending on what stage of life we are in. Past Christmases echo memories of childhood excitement, to painful sadness of loved ones sick, or gone, all the stages we go through leave a vivid imprint that joins the boxes of ornaments dragged out of the attic each year. Can't help but reflect, even when reflections bring pain and sadness, they too are as brilliant as the reflection in the silver bobbles. In the beauty rings a silent reminder of the pain, you can hear it in some Christmas songs. Beauty and pain make for some exquisite artistic creations.
I did once again over decorate. It evolved over a few weeks, like a painting, it took it's own course and direction. I put everything out. Every craft that has survived that our children made gets it's place of honour. The window display still features the cute (in my opinion) snowmen I made 35 years ago that my mom and sister laughed at. It all gets it's special attention, welcomed back each year.
I suppose I am a department store kind of decorator. In this photo you will see a decorative Christmas tree that came from a department store. The pink roses are plastic, the greenery is felt covered plastic for leaves, a coating that is disintegrating into a fine green powder if you touch them. The small silver bobbles have lost their luster, so much so they are more a pewter bobble. Most would say it's ugly and needs to go to the dump. I nearly did that, but in my exhaustion it got thrown into the car to go to our home when we were clearing out Mom's house after her death. I remember when my late sister brought it home in 1967ish, mid to late 60s. She worked in the Eaton's advertising department and the left over decorations were being thrown out, or taken by employees if they wanted them. Of course at that time, the tree was new and quite vivid in colour, not washed out as it is today. I look at it and hear my mom shriek with JOY at Teresa bringing it home, she loved it. I remember Mom putting it on the fireplace hearth each Christmas after that, it always made us think of Teresa who sadly died in 1970. Now I look at it and I think of Mom. I'm glad I kept it, but it really is falling apart and may not last for many more Christmases. I don't mind that I might appear to be a department store kind of decorator. My happiest childhood memories at this time of year are of the excitement of going into the big city, Victoria, dressed up and wearing patent shoes, always dressed up to go downtown. All those childhood experiences surface when I take to decorating.
I have read, and agree, all artists bring their childhood experiences into their making of art. It's the basis of what inspires us to do it at all. I always have a memory of new Hexigon Crayons when I go through my paints, searching for colours. Or Laurentian pencil crayons. I loved Peacock Blue. I loved all the blues. I loved all the reds. It was that thrill of looking at those colours that made me want to create something. That doesn't ever really go away, the child is still very much with me at my easel.
Now we brace ourselves for what is to come. Amidst the bleak news of so many suffering, I know to be thankful for what we do have as a family. I think back to my complaining over so many things in the past that were so unimportant. The strength of love in this family is something that keeps me strong, and not complaining, every day given is a blessing to not take for granted.
On that note, time for more child's play. My 36x36 painting I started last month waits, and it's going to be a good one. Not bragging, just giving myself that cheer-on thing I do at this stage of the piece, haven't reached the " oh god, this sucks " stage yet, the stage before.. " aaaa HA.. THAT'S IT! " stage. Childhood excitement, never goes away, and I just love that.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!!
My biggest fan. Actually, that should be the other way around, I am Logan's biggest fan, adore my beautiful grandson.
I spent a good hour and a half last night writing a blog. For reasons too long to explain, I used a laptop that I bought over 5 years ago, and that could be the reason it blew up and disappeared on me. The blog entry I mean, not the laptop. The laptop is still in one piece sitting on the desk in my studio, amazing. So frustrating to pour thoughts out until the eyesight begins to fade into triple vision, only for it all to disappear in one innocent click. I can't re-write it, it was off the cuff, adlib, spontaneous, and maybe, a blessing it disappeared. Maybe it was the internet gods who decided... nu uh, Mary Ann, you don't want to share that.
I won't go on for long here because, who knows, maybe this one will poof into thin air as well. What I said basically was a few words about the show way back in September, old news yes, but the pandemic is still current and forcing it's vicious wrath on our world. The opening was on a day that not only were we all gradually allowed back into public places wearing masks and nervously keeping distances between ourselves, but also making our way through grey smoke graciously shared with Victoria from the mainland of USA and BC. I didn't ask anyone to venture out of their homes to come see my artwork. It was an honour to be in this past show. Amy and Lana put it together with Elaine Brewer White's sculptures beautifully. In better times, I would have made sure to have all my friends and family there. Oh well, I made it. Yes, one of the hardest 6 months I've even endured in getting a group of works together, signed and done, but I did it. Since then, the painting engines are pretty idle, but I do have a new piece to take in to the gallery this week, so no white flags, just slow engines. Amazing how different it feels to paint after all that stress and pushing myself. Nice to ponder and muse again without that voice saying.. you don't have time, it's fine, leave it alone, go onto the next one.
Now onto the Ho Ho Ho time, and in my word meander last night, I don't think I was too light and merry. It will be fine. The house loves me to decorate so I shall. I may pour my soul out again once I recover from my last blog mishap.
Much to be thankful for. Thank you to Amy and Lana and all the staff at West End Gallery for featuring my work, and the sales I am so grateful for. Thank you to art lovers who make sure they own something that makes them feel joy, that's the ultimate goal we who take to making art hope for. Thank you to all who take time to look, in this world where we have so much time to look at online, nice to know there are people interested in what we do. But, the gallery is very open to the public, I advise you if you live in Victoria to go to West End Gallery in person. Beautiful artwork that doesn't get complete appreciation online, something about the magic of the brushwork that can only be truly understood in person.
And thank you for reading, now I will hold my breath and see if this one posts.
older blog items...
" From My Heart To Yours "
New Works by Mary Ann Laing
September 12 to September 24, 2020
West End Gallery, Victoria, B.C.
In partnership with Elaine Brewer White's new collection of sculptures, " Canadian Iconic "
Opening reception Saturday, September 12, 2 pm to 4 pm
" A Visit With The Grandparents " oil on wrapped canvas 48 inches x 48 inches
It is September 1st. I am brush hustling, or maybe that should be paint hustling, last minute push to finish those works that were promised before they were born. I feel okay with the paintings, anyone who knows me will think I've made a major break through of confidence saying that. Okay is good, in fact, okay is amazing. Not saying I will feel okay all day, but at this moment of time, I'm thankful for okay.
My inspiration for this collection of works comes from years of photos I have collected over the decades. I've never been an artist who bonded with painting on location, perhaps that's because I am basically an introvert who needs the protection of her creative cave surrounding her while she pushes her brush across the canvas. I ponder the ways artists are inspired and how it comes through in their work. In fact, before I started painting for this show, I made the mistake of looking at other artist's work to find inspiration, then remembered that after all the years of painting, time to look at myself for inspiration. No one knows what drove the artist to paint what they did except themselves, from their own silent and personal heart. SO... I decided that was it, look inside my own heart, past paintings I have painted, the memories that stir old emotions that never disappear, hence the title for this show, From My Heart To Yours.
I have, however, gone back to my bible of words written by Robert Genn. I am constantly reminded by his eloquent words why I paint. This particular newsletter I looked up on trees truly says it all for me. So I am going to quote Robert Genn now:
” I find it valuable, in solitude, to anthropomorphize natural objects, including trees. This means to attribute human characteristics to them. Trees of different species, for example, droop in sadness, empathize with one another, pray to the sky, take joy in the wind. Some trees reach out, others are smug or private, still others are exuberant or voluptuous. "
"More than anything trees are metaphors. Firmly rooted, genuinely patient and content, willing to undergo insult and humiliation, they also open themselves to all manner of creatures and make a home for many. These oldest of living beings have nobility in every leaf. They bring warmth to the northern cabin, and shade to the southern traveler. Daily, they do the breathing for our increasingly fragile planet. If they were to disappear, we would soon be dead. To honour trees is to grasp life. "
Amen Robert, and thank you!
Thank you, also, to West End Gallery for giving me the opportunity to share my artistic soul to the world, I am always so grateful!
Back to my paint hustling, hope to see you there!