October 29, 2006

More on off

This morning I was talking to a friend who asked me if I had a back-up plan, for when my (Un)Employment Insurance runs out (at least I get something—but not a retirement package—to help me through this big change). (I will definitely need to repace the loss of income somehow.) My plan is to paint and paint and paint and find places/homes/galleries that will appreciate (monitarily) the paintings and allow me to (buy more art supplies and) paint more. My back-up plan is to paint and paint and paint and find places/homes/galleries that will appreciate the paintings and allow me to paint more.

My job at the Art College has been a good one. It pays well for what I do, although not as well as it could if I had had full-time status (which also would have included committee work and a lot more responsibilities to take me away from painting, so it was fine being part-time). I’ve tried teaching from my home and also in other places. But it would never pay as well nor would the students have the same immersion in their work which is such a thrill for me at an art college. And at this point my studio would not accommodate anyone else. It is very crowded with me.

One new kind of teaching I’ve been doing recently is with workshops. I’ve been enjoying it very much. The next one is in a couple of weeks on the French Shore in Nova Scotia. It will focus on color and oil bars. The last one was color and abstraction. I would enjoy doing more of these workshops—itenerent teaching.

Posted by leya at 06:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 28, 2006

The other side of off

When I walked into my figure drawing class last Wednesday morning, if anyone had started talking to me I would have cried, no doubt. It seems this may very well be my last semester teaching at NSCAD. It will be very hard not to have this in my life. It’s been so much a part of what I do for the past twenty years. I love teaching figure drawing the most. It’s my favorite, but I enjoy teaching. Mostly it’s the students that make me enjoy it so much. They give me as much if not more than I can ever give them. Not only do I enjoy learning what they have been exposed to, what they know, but also being a part of their lives, teaching them to see their work more clearly. And I also like to see the latest in young fashions and hear their thoughts.

But . . . the Union (with pressure from the administration) voted in Mandatory Retirement a couple of years ago and I’m a casualty. Even though I am part-time (which means no vacation pay, no sick leave, no dental plan, no benefits, less pay for the same work). I don’t want to stop teaching. But . . . maybe it’s time. I keep telling myself little things. Like: one door closes; another one opens. And things like that. But I have no idea what door is going to open or what’s behind it. Right now . . . it hurts. And it’s scary.

But then there is the up side: more time to paint, not having to drive into Halifax in the early morning traffic and often treacherous weather, more time to paint, not having to park Lila in Halifax so she won’t be in her kennel for too long, more time to paint, more time at home, more time to go to art events. I’ve been teaching year-round for twenty years. Hardly ever a summer off. So it would be nice to have a rest. But it is a steady income that won’t be happening. Painting is good, in fact it’s great, but it is not a secure income.

Some students are sending around petitions on my behalf. They had over two hundred signatures in one day (and it’s not a very big school). It’s very sweet of them. But rules are rules with this administration. One of my students is a professor at St. Mary’s University here. He said their faculty would strike over this.

I’ve heard several reasons why our past President Paul was so eager to have this mandatory retirement passed. It doesn’t really matter now. I’m slowly getting used to the idea. It’s a new world out there for me to discover.

Posted by leya at 05:25 PM | Comments (3)

October 22, 2006

Taking refuge

A week ago last Sunday I went to the Refuge Ceremony at the Shambhala Centre here in Halifax. My friend Heidi was taking refuge, becoming a Buddhist. The ceremony is about taking refuge in the Buddha (the teacher), the dharma (the teachings) and the sangha (the community of other Buddhists). When I took refuge in 1979, the ceremony was given by the Vajra Regent, Osel Tendzin, then the main student of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The Regent talked mostly about refuge as giving up, leaving “trivial pursuits”, ambitions, strivings, behind, embracing our loneliness as sentient beings on the path. As Buddhists, we know that there is no external salvation. It is up to each individual.

Sunday’s Refuge Ceremony was given by the Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche, Trungpa's son and current head of the Shambhala Community. His emphasis was on embracing the community, being with others who are meditating and learning and helping us. We have the teacher, the teachings and each other to guide and encourage us. This is a very rich path. However you talk about it.

Posted by leya at 08:24 PM

October 21, 2006

A few about Lila

We had so much rain this past spring and into the summer, it was not good for the garden. But Lila found the one butternut squash that was large enough to pick--and picked it! She had a lovely time with it, for sure.



In Truro last Tuesday she enjoyed playing with Sarah's dog Izzy. They were a perfect puppy match.



and then there was a rare quiet moment in Victoria Park:


Posted by leya at 06:29 PM

October 20, 2006

Sometimes size matters

One of the more interesting things about my exhibit at the Marigold Centre was (while Lila was running around amusing us with her squeaky toy) seeing how the room expanded when the paintings were on the walls. The room itself is quite small for a gallery. Fifteen feet by twenty-one. But once the paintings were in the room it felt quite large. It was a major transformation.

Here are photos of a few of the small pieces. These paintings are six inches by six inches. Each painting is complete, not a study for a larger painting. In fact, they wouldn't work on a larger scale. They are what they are:






Posted by leya at 01:09 PM

October 19, 2006

At the Marigold Arts Centre

Tuesday morning at 8 am, Lila and I left here with my Element loaded with paintings. When we arrived at the Marigold Arts Centre in Truro, we unloaded the paintings (we being the people at the Centre and—Lila helped by entertaining everyone by being so very cute and lively.

While the crew were hanging the exhibit, Lila and I went to Victoria Park for a hike. It was a stunning autumn day, sunny and crisp. The trees and scenery were spectacular. The park is so beautiful (a thousand acres) I wanted to take it home with me.

Later in the afternoon we went to Sarah Campbell’s (the curator of the exhibit) home for an early dinner (she’s a great cook!) before the opening. She has a nine month old Golden Retriever. Needless to say, Lila was in heaven all day.

The exhibit looked great. I included the nine panel painting that was in the Anna Leonowens exhibit in June. I thought it would look good on the end wall. And hope that other people will be as enamored of it as I am.

Here are a few photos of the exhibit:




Posted by leya at 08:35 PM

October 16, 2006

We are off to the Marigold Art Centre

For the last few months I’ve been incredibly busy thinking (and not writing) but I do feel I will get back to it very soon (in fact, probably after tomorrow). But tonight I am off to an obedience class with Lila (she’s made it to the advanced class!) and tomorrow Lila and I travel to Truro, NS for an exhibit of my paintings at the Marigold Art Centre. We are taking the work in the morning, we’ll hang out in parks, and then dress up for the evening event. (I suspect Lila will be staying in the car at that point!)

If you are in the area (one hour north of Halifax), do stop by. The opening reception is at six pm. The show will be up until November 20th, I think.

Posted by leya at 05:55 PM

October 09, 2006

Unexpected visitors

I had an interesting visit today: a couple from Germany. They’ve been touring Nova Scotia in a rented RV, are taking a plane tomorrow to Montreal, and then a boat back to Germany. My parents did something like that in their early sixties. They took a boat over, bought a Volkswagen bug (before they were popular cars here), tooted around Europe, camping most of the time, and then flew home. They had a wonderful time. I think they were away five months.

This German couple saw my work on the Studio Rally Map (a map of artists in Nova Scotia), and stopped by. They are interested in buying a very recent painting, a diptych, 36" x 48". I will ship it to them when they return home in a couple of weeks. If they decide it doesn't work in their house, I told them they could ship it to ship it to my gallery in Switzerland, or to Denmark, or back here, but I do think they will want to keep it. In which case, there will be no problem!

Their English was not bad, certainly understandable, although often they conversed with each other in German, and then translated for me. At times we would search for the right word together. I enjoyed their visit and we plan to meet again either at my show in Switzerland next year (November 2007) or when I go to Germany at that time, or both. The funniest part of this was that I almost didn't answer the door. She had rung the bell at my studio door and I thought it must be a solicitor, someone asking for a donation and I just didn't want to hassle. But Lila was making such a racket I thought I would send her out as ambassador. I'm glad I didn't listen to me!

All those (many) times when I paint with no definite exhibition near, just paint because it feels right, make sense on days like this. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today and I have a lot to be thankful for.

Posted by leya at 07:02 PM

October 08, 2006


The last couple of days I’ve been stretching up canvases. The paintings I’ve started recently are too wet to work on. So this gives me time to look at them and think.

I’m preparing the one foot by five foot canvases inspired by my student last summer. The ones she did were put together (all five) horizontally. It made sense with her work but I am feeling that, for me, as usual, the canvases will end up being vertical. That is one habit I’ve tried enough times to break but don’t think I will this time either.

Posted by leya at 02:50 PM