The Road (not) Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…Robert Frost

At times the road taken seems for awhile to be the right one, only to discover it was possibly only a sidetrack. I’ve truly loved my time doing Lushes with Brushes but I realize now it may have been a very pleasant sidetrack from my real goal.


This month my artwork, along with my friend, Cheryl’s is on exhibition at
Cumberland Exhibitonthe Cumberland Art Gallery in Regina. Next month the exhibition moves to Weyburn, then other galleries throughout the province for the next year.

How surreal to see and feel my raw thoughts and emotions displayed for all to see, Phoenixhowever respectfully.  Mostly, the feedback has been gentle and supportive. I know too, that on occasion, I’ve connected on a deeper level.  My heart melts when I catch someone deep in thought as they look at what I made. Because I know how I felt when I made it and somehow I know that while I don’t know or need to know the specifics, they feel that way too. Maybe my story resonates with them, and if it does it’s because they have their own story. When they see mine, they feel theirs.

And while I love the gratification and teacher’s pride of showing people their creative side through Lushes with Brushes, I love more the connection I know is there buried in the open secret of my/our painting. That’s what I want to share.

So, while I won’t close up shop on Lushes with Brushes I will no longer promote it like a 3rd world beach vendor. My focus has come back to pouring heart and soul onto canvas and paper and oil and pastel and …

It’s been nearly 10 years since I earned my fine art degree, but for my whole life I will be an emerging artist. I’ll take other missteps but the further I go on my journey the more I understand that what I love about art is the connection that happens sometimes when someone “reads” my art the way I “wrote” it.

Lushes with Brushes: The Morning After

Success! Titillating times at the very first “Lushes with Brushes” painting party:

Karen was an amazing hostess: Baked Brie with hot pepper raspberry jam, Gouda wrapped in pastry, sushi, ribs; yummy and oh-so-cute mini purse cakes by “Becky’s Cakes”; and several bottles of wine brought by guests. At my house it would have been a bag of chips dumped in a bowl served with a tub of dip. Karen is high class.

Lushes with their handiwork

     
      
At the end of the day 10 more women, some of whom said they couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler, each painted a masterpiece and discovered the zen of painting.      

And did I mention there was wine consumption?

Thank you Sharlene for manning the camera all evening, capturing the work and the fun in progress. And for being a stand in in the group photo.

Ladies, I’m giving serious thought to finding a venue for an exhibition of these paintings. Stay tuned for details.

Book a “Lushes with Brushes” party

Lushes with Brushes

I’m excited! I’ve been playing in my studio all week! Painting stiletto heels.

My daughter-in-law made a suggestion a couple of weeks ago, and I love it! She said, “Why don’t you have painting parties where guests drink wine and paint, and call them, ‘Lushes with Brushes’ ?”

…. Well, why not?

I love painting. LOVE IT! I’ve been looking for a way to share my excitement for art. And I know (KNOW) there are a lot of closet artists out there. It’s time to come out of the closet; oh, and drink a little wine while you do it.

Imagine 1/2 a dozen women relaxing with a glass of wine in one hand, socializing; a paint brush in the other, creating… LOL…lolling….lol…ing…

Lush Stiletto in RedThe stiletto heels? I made a rubber stamp of a single stiletto, the right size for an 11″ x 14″ canvas. A sort of home grown paint-by-number, if you will. But better… More wine… And more laughs…I’ve painted 7 versions this week! Giggling to myself the whole time. I never get tired of it.

Traditional home parties = reluctantly accept an invitation to a friend’s house, listen to a sales pitch, and look through a catalogue of things you don’t really want, trying to find the least expensive item, so your hostess friend can earn the hostess “gift” and you don’t break the bank.

“Lushes with Brushes” = home parties where guests are PARTY guests who don’t open their wallets once in the door. A “luscious” girls night out!

“Lushes”, otherwise known as guests, together with the hostess provide the space, beverage, and munchies. Potluck or otherwise. Oh, and the laughs. Put the party back into home party, so to speak.

“Brushes”, otherwise known as me, provides art supplies and instruction. Sorry, here is where opening the wallet comes in, but the cost is small, $25 per guest.

The Lushes take home their masterpiece and some fun memories. And maybe a newly (re-)ignited desire to paint. What woman doesn’t love a sexy stiletto? I can’t wear ’em, but I sure can paint ’em. Any Lush can!! LOL. From a simple heel in primary colours to one as elaborate as imagination limits.

Here is where the hostess gift comes in. For providing the space, and arranging for food and bevvys, the hostess does not pay for her art supplies. She will not earn a bigger and better gift by encouraging anyone to look through some product catalogue. Your purses can stay  safely stowed away once you start to party.

I love to paint, and I love the idea of bringing out closest artists who lost the joy of art somewhere back in grade 4, who now say to me, “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.” I say, “who cares”??

Edit: I’m no longer promoting these parties regularly, but you might be able to twist my arm. See the following blog entry.

Still have a question, please leave me a comment.

Brain Skitters

My brain skitters around like drops of water on a hot griddle when I’m experimenting in the studio.

Try this… Okay, that worked. Nope. Modify… Hmmm. What if I try that? … Oooops… Now what? …Oh, maybe that… Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a cool down and clean up… Write some of this stuff down before I forget it…

No wonder I’m exhausted at the end of a productive art day.

Sometimes I frighten myself with the way my brain disengages from my active thoughts. Split brain, if you will. I don’t know if this happens to everyone. Probably. It happened this morning, as I was journaling. Writing is much slower than thinking and I was writing about a workshop I’m preparing, when my brain flashed to the the open sketchbook on my desk with a drawing that might help to instruct the workshop.

I’m preparing some printmaking workshops, but next up is molding paper sculptures for my next exhibit. So part of my brainpower kept the words I wanted to write lined up ready to jump into my hand, pen and then paper. But held enough in reserve to plot the logical steps from the sketch to modeling clay to making a mold to casting the paper sculpture.

I have actually really frightened myself by stepping back from a piece of artwork and thinking, “Wow, I don’t even remember doing that.” I actually videotaped myself drawing, “Universal Witness”. Still, somehow as strange as it sounds, it felt like channeling… See, scary stuff…Sometimes when I draw I succumb to the process and have a semi conscious thought to relinquish control to my right brain intuition, or the Universe, or whatever the power of the piece comes from.

Like many artists when I pull out of that altered state I am absolutely drained. So much of my being and absolute energy went into the piece that I have little left for myself.
So while Diana Hume takes the credit, I’m not completely sure that I haven’t been the tool, not unlike the pencil or paintbrush in my hand. The more I succumb to an unconscious direction the better it often is. Though it’s not a switch I can turn off and on. It requires investing some time in the technical skills, and also sitting back and discussing between right and left brain what the impact of the piece is and where it might be made stronger and more appealing to the left brainers.

Universal Witness copyright 2010 Diana Hume
"Universal Witness"; Diana Hume, 2010, 22" x 28", Graphite on Paper

Whatever it is, it’s an awesome journey!!

Happy Stampers

Rubber stamps

Recently, I was asked by a nearby art gallery* to teach a printmaking workshop, since my BFA major is printmaking.

Mostly folks don’t really know what printmaking is. I didn’t until I took my first class. In a nutshell, printmaking is making a  “plate” that can be used many times to print an image over and over. The simplest “plate” is a rubber stamp. In this workshop I showed participants how to carve an image into a rubber block, ink it, and print it. The stamps in the picture on the right were made by Grade 4 students. Stamps were printed several times each, including Artist Trading Cards, and a large poster of everyone’s stamp.

“A” printmaking workshop turned out to be 3 days of workshops. Students ranged in age from grade 1 to grade 12. Time varied from 1 – 2 hours, as well as an adult class that was all day. Time between classes was sometimes non-existent. Ahhhhhhh.  The hardest thing for me, was preparing materials because it changed for each group, especially because the youngest group didn’t use sharp carving tools. To say the least it took considerable effort to prepare for!

The highlights of the workshops were seeing sparks of inspiration. It made the hard work worth it. I fanned those sparks into flames as often and as hard as I could. Mostly, I loved being asked repeatedly where to buy these materials, and I loved that they wanted to keep working even when it was time for them to go.

I thought I’d prepared for every possible scenario though, until I set out to teach my daughter’s grade 4 class. As I was leaving home, my daughter phoned to say she wouldn’t be meeting me at the school after all, since she was going into labour!

It made for a very interesting couple of classes! Her students were darlings who clamoured to know about their teacher and the baby that was coming soon.

My daughter made her own stamp on the world with a big beautiful baby boy who was healthy and perfect. And her students felt like they somehow shared the experience because their teacher’s mom was with them while she had the baby. Their excitement was fantastic!!

Besides the excitement of a new baby, and making stamps, our workshops were sponsored by PV Disposal who also gave each of the kids an apron to keep the ink off their good clothes. They were almost as happy with the aprons as they were with their new rubber stamps.

Even though we used brayers and printer’s ink in the workshop, at home they can use their stamps over and over again using a simple stamp pad. I’m pretty sure more than a few will go out and get supplies to make more stamps at home. My job here is done!

In my next blog entry I will describe how to make a rubber stamp in 6 easy steps.

______________________________________________________________________

* Allie Griffin Art Gallery , Weyburn, exhibited a Printmaking retrospective of Saskatchewan artist, McGregor Hone in Feb. and Mar. 2011

Letter to my unborn grandchild

Dear Baby,

Well, it’s April now. Your birth month. You’re nearly ready to make your grand entrance.

So, sweet grandchild, let me tell you what will happen when you get here. Prepare to be snuggled and cuddled and cooed to, and love, love, loved.

I gotta tell you, you are most welcome. You will have a big brother who’ll always be there for you. OK, so you’ll fight a little, but he’ll be your biggest supporter and your go-to-guy. Then, there’s mom and dad. How they’ve wanted you. I’ve watched you grow so big inside your mommy she can hardly walk. Your mom and dad have been working so hard to make sure you will have the very best life. And you’re not even here yet. Just wait til you see how they love and care for you in May, then more in June. Imagine this: it will be more and more every day for the rest of their lives! Really. I know it’s hard to believe, since they already love you unimaginably .

There’s more! Grandmas and grandpas and great-grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins and great-aunts and great-uncles. And that’s just your family. Then there’s friends. Oh my gosh. You are surrounded by oodles ‘n oodles of people who already care for you.

There are so many people I wish you could have known, baby. Maybe you met them on your way here? What beautiful people there have been in your mom and dad’s lives. You wont get to meet them, but their inspiration is still felt by the people around you, so in a round-about way you will know them.

What will you be like? Who will you be? Borrow a little from mommy and a little from daddy. But most of all, I know, you will be you. I can say with some certainty you will be independent. I’m pretty sure you will be considerate and loving, intelligent and thoughtful, creative and articulate. I know these things because that’s what you live with.

Most of all, you will be you. My little unborn baby grandchild, your entire life is still ahead of you. A blank canvas for you to paint your life on. You are not limited to being mini-Tracy or mini-Dean. Amazing as they are, and as much as you will learn from them. You will be you, and I can’t wait to get to know the person you will become.

Welcome.
Love and hugs and kisses
Grandma Di

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

-Dr. Suess
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly it’s true
That bang-ups and hang-ups
Can happen to you.
On and on you will hike, And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
Will you succeed?
Yes you will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

April 4
So sweet baby, today is the day! I’ll meet you within hours. Your mama and you are working together at this very moment. Soon. Love you.

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

I slept in an extra hour this morning. It’s a holiday. I got up to coffee that was automatically brewed minutes before I woke. I wrapped a cozy comforter around me and wrote this note on a fresh page of my notebook with my favourite pen, on my handy dandy lap desk.

Later this morning I will lay a wreath at the cenotaph.

I thought about it yesterday when I went for my run in the heavy fog. I thought about all the brand name items I put on to make my run comfortable. Special socks and special shoes, layers of under and outer wear, shells to put on or take off as the temperature dictates. I strapped on my heart rate monitor with GPS, and I put on my headphones attached to my iPod. But first, I checked the weather conditions on the iPod, then checked my email and my Facebook pages. Only then was I ready to head out into the foggy morning.

The soldiers who bought this life for me had none of that. Probably not even the iPod. My brother-in-law tells me his father got to  visit Italy. Only I bet he would have preferred not to. His visit was part of the Italian campaign of WWII. He marched day after day, week after week, not knowing what each day would bring. Not knowing when it would end. Or how it would end.

Total Allied and Axis soldiers who died in the Mediterranean theatre was close to 1 million. 1 Million! And that was only in the Mediterranean.

As I ran in the fog yesterday the sound of my shoes on the pavement echoed in my ears. I’ve run down that road hundreds of times. I know it well. It leads into a quiet little park where the odd time I’ve seen fox or deer. I tried to imagine being thousands of miles from home, lonely, cold, wet and exhausted. But frightened. Not knowing what the thick fog might hide. I could scarely see 100 meters. What would it be like fearing what might  be hiding in it? What would it be like to be in dense forest where every tree might hide someone ready to kill me? What would it be like if the last days of my life were filled with that kind of discomfort  and fear?

And I can’t. I can’t imagine it. All I can do is be grateful. Grateful, because they paid the price. I am free to not know the horrors they kept at bay. Grateful to sleep in a nice warm bed and wake up to freshly brewed coffee. And freedom.

Thank you.

Frog Day Afternoon

My darling husband, Pat, and I moved back to my family home in the tiny village of Creelman 2 years ago. In the midst of a chaotic and emotional move I amalgamated 3 art studios.

In the intervening 2 years we’ve gotten the main house re-painted, re-curtained and re-floored, and generally made it ours.

Then there’s the basement. Anything that related to my art practice, or otherwise didn’t have a home, landed downstairs. Boxes were stacked to the ceiling sometimes 2 – 3 rows deep. Ever seen “Hoarders“?

Two weeks ago my wonderful son and family came with a trailer load of building supplies and built me 22 feet of floor to ceiling cupboards in my basement studio.

I’m THRILLED!!

I’ve since found the floor, 4 office desks, and my etching press (the size of a kitchen table.) Armed with a marker, masking tape and a labeller I loaded the shelves and for now can tell you the exact location of almost anything. It’s been a fabulous treasure hunt!!

 

I also discovered that we did not actually have a salamander in the basement. We had frogs. Tiny frogs less than an inch long. But frogs. I don’t know how they get in, but it’s an old basement.

A few summers ago when I first started using the basement as a studio I’d also discovered frogs. My mom, who was 82 years old at the time would come downstairs, kleenex in hand, and pick up the frogs. Then she’d step out the back door and release them into the wild. If she could do it, I could do it. And I did.

But that was a few years ago, and it would take a little time to screw up my courage to that point again. So I ignored them temporarily.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry about the frogs because yesterday as I cleaned I came across a very small garter snake. Now, if you think you need to gather courage to pick up a frog, triple that for snake. And a kleenex is just not going to cut it.

It was a particularly fast snake too, because very shortly after sighting him in the SW corner of the basement I would see him in the NE corner. Then 2 minutes later in the SE corner. Wait a minute!

The jig was up when he became 1/2 the size he was 5 minutes after a sighting. That day I suspect I saw 4, but fear a nest considering their size. Oh Lawsey!

Fortunately I married a man who played with snakes as a child. I didn’t need to screw up my courage. Pat would take care of them! Either that, or I could lure in the fox I’d seen in the yard in the morning. But, then how to get rid of the fox? Hmmm, it was becoming a zoo!

I cleaned the rest of the day. Safe in the knowledge that Pat would take care of it.

I’d even forget about the little suckers for awhile as I became absorbed by my sorting. But as I charged from one side of the basement to the other I’d stop in my tracks periodically, startled by a snake slithering out of my way as fast as it’s little legs could carry it.

Near the end of the day I rolled a storage container to a new location only to realize I’d run over a snake’s tail. (Do snakes have tails?) I watched in morbid fascination as it struggled in vain to escape. Darting one direction and then another, only to be pulled up short by it’s imprisoned tail! Sucks to be him.

Finally I heard the front door open. The cavalry! “Paaa….aat. I have good news and bad news. We don’t need to worry about frogs in the basement any more…”

Failure

So, Thursday was a write off. Or was it? As usual, I multi-task to the extreme.  A trait that was valued in my career as a lab-tech, but frowned on by organization gurus.  Guess what I’m not.

I jump from task to task. Scanning photo albums for a photo book, hyper varnishing a set of reprints out in the garage,  and mucking about with plaster in the kitchen.  Probably not the best combination.

But I have an excuse. I am not a patient person. Once I get a notion in my head I either have to run with it immediately, or give up on the idea forever.

What I’m really looking forward to is the plaster. I bought a new 50 pound bag of industrial plaster  Wednesday when I made my bi-weekly foray into the city. I needed to replace one stored in my over humid basement.  My recent purchase of a dehumidifier brought the humidity down from a dripping 75 to a much more normal 48. But I’d lost a number of supplies to warping and moisture first. Lesson learned.

So even though plaster casting wasn’t supposed to be on the agenda, I was anxious to see if my recent episodes of plaster not setting was indeed because the plaster had absorbed too much moisture.

Brilliant idea number 1, make a mold of several varieties of leaves. I want to cast them in paper for my Seriously Whimsical project. I love the irony of using paper to reconstruct trees. I know. I know, it’s rag paper, but the thought persists.

I wander around my yard plucking leaf specimens that have not yet started to turn yellow.  See, my impatience is justified again. Soon it will be too late to get non-crispy leaves.  Then I roll out some Play Doh smooth enough to leave a leaf impression. Best use of a rolling pin I ever came up with. I must be hungry because the Play Doh smells like cookie dough.  Then I place the impressions into plastic  containers that can hold the liquid plaster.

Brilliant idea number 2. Cast pea-stones so I can eventually cast paper as stone walls. Would that make great castles or what? I pour a layer of pea-stones in the bottom of another plastic  container.

Now I’m ready for plaster. Immediately I can tell the difference from the old plaster. This feels silky. I’m confident it will work.  I mix an ice cream pail to perfect consistency and pour it into the waiting containers. One of my best batches. The plaster heats up as the chemical reaction begins.

I return to my other tasks of varnishing and scanning, going back to the plaster once the plaster cools a little. I tip the containers over and push the plaster out. Yuck! The heat of the plaster softened the Play Doh to the consistency of chewing gum on hot pavement. The impression of the leaves, tentative at best, will be gone even if I could ever remove the Play Doh from the plaster. Awwwww.

Next I work at removing the stones from the plaster. Funny how it looks like conglomerate. Oh ya, I forgot to coat the stones with any kind of release. But I don’t think it would have made any difference. The small stones have allowed too much liquid plaster to flow between them. I pry out about a third of the stones before giving up.  Time to toss it all out and clean up my mess.

Thank you Carolyn Roberts  for  the Carl Jung wisdom , “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.”  My Facebook friends agree if Carl Jung says mistakes are ok, then we’ll go ahead and make more.

Let’s see. Maybe next try I could use very soft clay to take the impression of the leaves? Ya, that’ll work. Next.

On a whim I run hot water over the pea stones I pulled out of the plaster. Presto. The stones release immediately.  Something to store in the “good things to know” part of my brain. Was it just the water, or does the water have to be hot?  Maybe I can dip the conglomerate into a bucket of water and all the stones will release?  Maybe I can make a mold of the conglomerate, and then mold that before making my final mold.

Oh I have more investigations to make, but later, because now I have to go for my run.

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