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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.
" 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!
Apparently, I professed in my last blog here that I was to be taking to my typewriter again to share my thoughts. That was 5 months ago, March 7, one week ahead of our city closing it's shutters due to the C-19 pandemic Little did I know then what was about to happen collectively to we humans who share the living space on this earth. Here we are, 5 months later, no singing together, no walking into a store in a relaxed fashion hugging random people we bump into (that we know of course), no leaving our cars without a mask on. I can't say I am getting used to this way of life. It's probably best I shop alone and can't whine about feeling like I am suffocating under that cloth, that I can't hear without being able to read lips of cashiers speaking muffled sounds beyond the plexiglass. No point in complaining, we are all in this together.
What isn't different, tho, is I am painting. West End Gallery remains open and the feature show I was asked to paint for in September is still on. All of their feature artist's exhibitions have not had physical opening receptions, I suspect mine the same, good I won't have to put make up on. Yes, another show that a year ago approximately I said SURE! to is looming close. No, don't have that 20 painting collection I imagined a year ago I might have. I have maybe 20 excuses why I don't have 20 paintings nearly done, but that doesn't help, so I'll keep them to myself,, the excuses I mean. I will get there, a series of new works done by your's truly on September 12th, 2020 is coming together.
So what is this show titled? you ask? or I ask, good question. Under such unusual times outside of our own personal world, and inside our personal world, it's not been a childlike feel like my last show " Happy Childhood "... uh, no. Getting the time to paint is more difficult, when I do get the time, my energy level is low, some nights my energy level is below 0. I am still amazed, and thankful, that when I grasp that painting time, I can still paint. The magic of making art kicks in and something beautiful happens. It baffles me how that can happen, I suppose there are some good scientific answers about the brain high of creating art, but I don't have time to read up on that, I have to paint.
Living life now is more challenging than I ever imagined it could be. My husband has progressive Parkinson's that is vicious and cruel, but he soldiers on with grace, most of the time. We are in this one together. Our family, too, close by and bravely taking on each day in hopes Dad at least feels okay, that's really all we ask. I get to my easel close to midnight and paint. I can digest and absorb so many emotions through the day, and pick up a brush and feel enchanted by the act of putting paint on a canvas. The works in this show really are about that. I didn't go on any excursions to gather material for a series. I contemplated the thousands of photos I've taken over the years and decided that in light of how this artist's life is, paint for my own feeling of enchantment. I understand more well than I asked for that moments come at us daily in all forms, good and bad, simple as that. So, I have chosen photo inspirations of moments I recall. I'm thinking this show will be titled " Enjoy The Moments ", unless another title hits me I like better, there is still another month to go.
Enjoy the moments, they come and go so fast. The hard and cruel ones don't seem to, but they do. I have learned that every moment is my due, so just keep that book of moments as balanced as I possibly can. I really am so blessed, and I hope that comes through in my paintings, and that the viewers feel the same enjoyment I felt in those moments of being there, and painting them.
Yes, I have decided to blog share once again. I am not sure if I should continue to write them in blogspot or just here. I tried to figure out how to link my blog page there to here, but it's not working. So until I muster up some new word-ology of an artistic nature, I will leave the address for all 59 blogs I put over there over the past 10 years or so. It's email@example.com Holy smokes, 59 blogs, wonder what I said.
I am liking the idea of a fresh start, tho, who I am now in 2020... yesss