Saturday afternoon I went to a funeral for the nineteen year old son of a friend of mine. He had died as a result of a car crash the week before. Two other of his friends also died in the crash. There must have been about five hundred (or more) people there, half of them under twenty, most of them crying. I don’t think I have seen so many people cry in one place before. It was very very sad. Yet the readers tried to emphasize celebrating Vladimir’s life, his infectious smile, enthusiasms, intelligence and wit. It was still very very sad.
Yesterday I saw the movie Venus with Peter O’Toole. Those Brits really know how to do it. An amazing movie. Beautiful cinematography. Perfect acting. You can’t beat Peter O’Toole, for sure. No plastic surgery here, no hiding. no pretence. It was, simply stated, about love and living even while facing death. I doubt if it will stay around here long. But I hope it does, that more people see it. Like the fog, death creeps in on little cat feet. But it is not something we can avoid by moving farther inland.
I also saw Karine Ponties’ dance performance Brutalis on Thursday evening. It too was an intense experience. Beautiful graphically with exotic lighting making the body dislocated forms. Rarely was the whole body seen, just parts of parts. The fifty-five minute performance went by very quickly, perfect. And it was just enough.
Feeling housebound after last week’s rain and snow and cold, Lila and I went to Point Pleasant Park for long walks on Saturday, on Sunday, and again yesterday. I used to take Katie there almost every day the four years we lived in Halifax. It was dense with trees then. Now, after Hurricane Juan, it’s a very different park. But still, it’s a wonderful place to take a dog.
Some trees are the same as they were before the storm.
And a self portrait:
I'm plowing along through the 30" square pieces. It's very exciting working on so many at once (twelve!). It gives me the opportunity to experiment more, to try out images and painting ideas without the pressure of making the painting "work." It's almost like it was when I worked a lot on paper. But I enjoy canvas so much more, so it is even more exciting.
Yes, I guess I am more relaxed, even though the financial stress continues. I just don't think about it too much. I'm doing everything I can to make this "retirement" work. Teaching is much more stressful than anyone can say. Just not having to get up early and be on the road by 6:45 am no matter the weather is a relief. I'm even sleeping much better. Although sometimes I have dreams about being asked back to teach and feeling torn. I don't know what I would do if it happened soon. I feel I'm just getting started on a very real journey to some place I've never been before.
My exhibit in Denmark is scheduled for June 6. so now I have to start thinking practically, about what would look good there, what sizes, etc. Yesterday and today I started working on about six 30" x 30" paintings. When I start them I don't have a solid idea of what color they will end up being, but when working for a show, especially, I need to have a variety. I started one this morning that looks like it wants to be green. I've been told several times by various art dealers that green is a hard color to sell. But if the painting wants to be green, it will be. Time will tell. We will see.
When I've done multiple panel pieces before that aren't just vertical but need nails in the wall, I've put nails in, but if I do use four of these canvases in a multiple 60” square, the pieces will be heavier, being 30", not 20" square. And even those, the 20" ones fell down sometimes. But I guess that's just the chance I have to take if I'm going to do it. So far, I just want to get some 30" square pieces on their way so I can have a better idea what I might show in Denmark. I'm really excited bout going there.
We’ve been having real winter weather for the first time this year. Snow, rain, cold, and icy road. Our dog class was cancelled last night. Thankfully. Besides the snow, one of her dogs is about to give birth so she wants to stay home. I was relieved. I stayed here today too, cancelled my piano lesson. Environment Canada said to stay off the highways if possible. The roads are not nice. There have been a lot of accidents. Another day to stay in and paint. What luxury!
I've been busy gluing pieces of canvas and fabrics onto my new blank canvases for the past week. This morning I was able to put some paint on the canvases, It felt so good. There is so much to do to get ready to paint. It's always such a relief to start painting for real. But I love the anticipation, of what might happen.
I think I'm going to try arranging four 30” x 30” canvases together into a 60” square. The only problem I foresee is how to hang them while I am working on it. I'll have to put nails in the wall and hope the paintings don't fall down while I’m painting.
Without teaching, time feels so different. Bigger, broader, more air in a day. It feels good. More time to paint. More time to worry. (But I'm working on not worrying!) I’m finding time itself very satifying. Just time. Very real.
I went to see The Freedom Writers this afternoon. I’ve never cried that much in a movie—ever. I was choking on my tears, trying not to make noises. The friend I went with didn’t hear me, thought I was sitting there stone silent, unmoved. Just shows how well I can hide my feelings, really. The movie was so good, the story, the acting. Very inspiring. Makes me wish I was still teaching, having some effect on how people approach their lives, their work.
And give up my new time—not yet.
The weather has been unusually warm for January but the sun still puts on a spectular show in the morning as it rises:
Finally, studio time. Last week I was able to begin the first stage on some canvases, the collage part. I bought a dozen 30” x 30” canvases and a dozen 20” x 20” as well as some 12” x 12” before the holidays (they were on sale at Loomis!). So I have a lot of prep work to do. A friend was here on Saturday and suggested I put the 30” square canvases together in a group of four, making it 60” x 60”. Interesting idea.
Today I was able to put paint to canvas for the first time in almost a month. But only on some pieces I had almost finished previously. It always amazes me how much more clearly I see the work when I have been away from it for a while. One piece I had been struggling with for weeks, just told me quickly how to bring it together. And it worked.
Last week Linda Fairchild, my gallery owner from San Francisco, brought someone here to my studio to look at my work. (Linda has family in Nova Scotia so I see her here a few times a year.) The woman she brought responded well to my work and ended up buying the first piece she looked at. While we were talking, she apologetically told me there was one thing that was disturbing about the piece: the center line, down from the top, looks like an open wound. I said, yes, I know. Then she said it also looked to her like female parts. I said, yes, I know. I just couldn’t paint it out. It seemed to belong there. She bought it. Her boyfriend loves it. And I’m glad it found a good home.