Mary Ann Laing

From The Studio

(posted on 22 Jan 2022)

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.

                              Christmas 2021


And, my most recent finished painting at West End Gallery, Victoria...

" Walk This Way"  30x24 oil on wide cradle canvas


Now, where was I....


Mary Ann