I actually watched the Academy Awards Sunday night! I think I've watched the show as many times in my life as I've stayed up for New Years’ Eve. Not many times! My friend Sharon came out to watch it with me. We put on wide brimmed fancy hats and ate popcorn. It was a lot of fun, although I must say, not a very exciting show. Some beautiful dresses. I was hoping Water would win, and Peter O’Toole, but I hadn’t seen all the movies so I really can’t complain. My vote for someone to host the show would be a clone of Ed Sullivan. Someone droll and understated. Until next time. . .
It seems my blog has been on Winter Break, along with NSCAD, Dal and the other Universities in Halifax. It’s been a good break too. Socializing and contemplating. Busy walking on the lake with Lila, playing ball on the lake, meeting neighbors and dogs. The lake has been such a wonderful treat this year, frozen solid, smooth with a gentle snow cover—it will (almost) be hard to see the warm weather return.
Last Thursday I had photos taken of recent work. Almost a dozen thirty inch square paintings. Almost. I still need to work on three. But it seems having so much time to paint, so little interference, so much continuity, I am able to try out, experiment, expand. I can’t rest with easy solutions. It’s exciting. I will put some pix up soon.
Sunday was the Buddhist New Year, a day of meditation and celebration. We are now in the year of the Fire Pig. I’m a Fire Ox. A lot of my friends have been Pigs (no slight intended). I don’t know why. So maybe that means this will be a good year. I know I am feeling good. With such an easy flow of paintings.
My friend Sharon came out for a visit after the events Sunday. She’s in town for a little while from Vermont. I was supposed to take her back into Halifax Monday evening, before my dog class, but it was snowing and blowing so we settled in to watch The Big Easy. Much better, more fun than driving in bad weather on greasy roads and poor visibility. And the dog class was cancelled anyway.
Last night I went to see Notes of a Scandal. The facial expressions in the last scene made the whole movie for me. Today was another walk in Point Pleasant Park. Tomorrow, painting. So that’s my winter break so far. And just think—no school for me next week either
The lake is like glass now after the heavy rain we had a couple of nights ago. The snow cover is gone. And I did see a pickup truck drive (very fast) across the lake this afternoon. The truck was grey.
The weekend past the sun was shining, the air was crisp and the whole neighborhood was out on the lake. There were people on bikes, with kites, on skis, just plain walking, families out for a stroll, on the lake. The ice is fourteen inches thick now. You could drive a car on it, I suppose.
By evening each day Lila was pleasantly exhausted. Saturday morning I was playing ball with her when a neighbor came by on cross-country skis and her two dogs. Lila went off with them while I went in to get my skis. I’d only been on skis once before, in Cleveland visiting my sister, so I was eager to try. My neighbor, Suzanne, helped me figure out how to get them on and then how to move in them. It was very exciting.
I don’t mind winter. It’s so very beautiful.
I went to a funeral Thursday evening. This one was for my friend Molly. At the funeral service friends and family talked about their experience of Molly. Molly was strong. Molly could be prickly. Molly was demanding, particular, exacting, not easily compromised. Molly always asked for more, from herself, from others, for more understanding, more perfection, to take more, give more.
I’ve known Molly since I first moved here twenty-three years ago. Our paths crossed and intertwined many times over those years. We worked together at the Shambhala Centre for four years. I was Practice Coordinator (setting up and administering meditation programs) and she was the graphic designer. She took classes at NSCAD U. with me, as well as some of the private classes I taught. The one word I associate with Molly’s artwork, the word I heard often from other students, was integrity. Everything she did was done with integrity and it was especially evident in her artwork even to people who didn’t know her in any other way. I loved having her in my classes because her inquisitive, challenging, intelligent questioning inevitalbly raised the quality of experience for other students as well as for me.
For a few months before she died we emailed frequently. She loved hearing about my painting process and seeing photos of work in progress. And she would tell me about her work. She and her daughter would paint on paper every day she had enough energy.
In her own words:
of course with my own work I go back and forth between being horrified and really feeling good. I hope I keep having enough energy to paint for a while longer both the abstracts and the still lifes. They are such an interesting combination.
My energy is really low these days. It makes me sad but what can I do? I just have to accept what is happening to me and relax with it as much as possible.
Any energy I have goes to do a little art. Oh well. That is a good thing to do. And at least I am recognizing that I have been an artist my whole life and that is good. I can have confidence in that finally.
I did visit her just a couple of weeks before she died. She was very frail. She and her daughter Zoe showed me the works on paper they had done together over the past year. Mostly abstract paintings, very colorful, vibrant, open, searching and discovering. For a while a couple of years ago, all of Molly’s paintings could be divided into two distinct paintings. Now there was a wholeness about the work, a unity. After knowing her for so many years when she was so critical of her own work, it was very exhilarating to see the joy she now took in her painting.
After we were through looking at the work, she told me she was about to start another round of chemo. And if it didn’t work, she said, she was toast. But, she also said, “That’s okay. I’ve had a good life, a very rich, full life.” She told me she’s been very fortunate.
As are we to have known her.
It’s been a meagre -20 degrees centigrade (that’s -2.2 F) when we go out in the mornings. Winter was long overdue. But this. This is cold. Day after day. Even Lila has trouble. The snow gets between her toes and hurts. Apparently the groundhog didn’t see his shadow this year, so this will be over soon. Meanwhile, it’s bundle-up time.
The best part is going out on the lake, throwing balls for Lila on the ice and snow. It’s a beautiful sight, seeing her running and sliding on the lake, stirring up the snow. A little black breeze. I bought some YakTraks (slip-on cleats) for my boots and they’ve saved me from a few falls.
Yesterday I clicked on Linda Fairchild’s blog and was surprised to find a photo of me staring at me. She (my gallery owner in San Francisco) tells the story of how we met and tells it very well. Almost all of the gallery connections I have made have been by chance, coincidence, serendipidy. It’s enough to make me believe in (I’ve spent several days trying to figure out the right word here, so I’ll just settle, for now, on) destiny. Although I know it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of work that needs to go into making that destiny (if you can call it that) happen. So then, is it really destiny. Linda calls it serendipity. Perhaps that is a better word.
The great thing about Nova Scotia, mentioned by many who live here, and more who come to visit, is the laid-back atmosphere. Yet everyone I know works hard at whatever they do. People here, as far as I can tell, the ones I’ve met, are just as driven and highly motivated, intelligent and talented as anywhere else (even Manhattan). Yet that drive still allows room to look around, enjoy the spaciousness of the landscape, of the people. (I guess this turned into a tribute to Nova Scotia!) I don't know why this happens. Maybe it's just that there isn't as much to do here as in big cities (good movies don't stay around long; I've walked from one end of Halifax to the other more than once), and so we can relax at the same time as we pursue goals, work on our ambitions. When I first wanted to move here, I was told there are more artists in Nova Scotia than any other province in Canada (I don’t know if they meant per capita or total). Fortunately I was able to convince the beurocracy they needed another artist. Yes, even with the erratic weather, I like it here.
(By the way, that great photo of me was taken by my friend Heidi. I do love her photos! but my hair is not blond, it's just the light on it.)
Lila and I went out on the lake today to play ball. It's frozen solid. And so very beautiful. I met my next door neighbor the other day for the first time. He was walking his dog on the lake. His dog is young too. The pups played and chased each other. A nice way to meet.