Monday, November 30, 2009

November 29th, 2009 - First Ever Gallery Showing

I want to thank everyone who showed their support by coming out, by assisting with the set-up, by purchasing or commissioning stuff and just by giving me encouragement every day. I especially want to thank my parents for their unwavering love and belief in everything I do. A huge thank you goes to my roommates, who kept the howse clean and the guests fed whilst I took orders and arranged future get-together's.

Many more thanks go to everyone who has ever said they love my art and would buy it if I chose to sell.

Thank you to my psychologist, who helped me realize so much about myself.

Thank you to my very best friends who have shown their support in uncountable ways.

I once posted about when one can tell if they are successful. Today I feel truly, wholly successful but there is no way I could have done it on my own.

*Blows Kisses*

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Tomorrow is my gallery showing!

Someone said to me that they don't put the effort into making their dreams come true because they are so afraid of failure. Actually, a lot of someones have said this to me. In fact, I used to say it.

Inaction is, in itself, failure.

We are all capable of so very much when we accept that it is our responsibility to realize our own happiness.

I'm really excited about my showing and excited about my Facebook ad. I'm excited that I have business cards and that, when I go out into the world my job, what I do and who I am is an artist and a writer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Art and Psychology

I like to say there is a fine line between insanity and creativity. We get it in our head to do some brilliant thing and it might seem crazy and it might turn out to be just that, but we do it anyway.

Today I saw my psychologist, who I affectionately refer to as my 'most expensive friend'. I don't think she's paid to love me. As she herself said in an anecdote, I pay for the therapy. The love is free.

She recently told me I was her 'star-student', which took me by surprise. I take it as a compliment, just as I did when she told me I'm not neurotic. She confirmed that indeed, I was neurotic when I first came to her, but I'm not now.

If anything, she is my compass. As I've worked through the negativity, the neurosis, the kleshas and the shenpa, she has been there nudging me and forcing me to think. I have always been capable of creating the things I do, of running my own life and living it as I wish to, but the reminders were nice. It helped a lot and I think of her more as a coach and a Buddhist teacher than as a shrink. Our time together always fuels my inspiration and gives me fresh ideas and something new to ponder.
Whilst I painted two more dragons, I reflected on today's session. I know I've come a long way in the last year and I know I'm going in an amazing direction, but I also really like right where I am at any given moment.

*This entry is dedicated to the late, great Rev. Ron of CJSW 90.9fm. A great man who 'got it' and knew just how to live right...and was just about one the craziest people I knew.*

Friday, November 20, 2009

100 drawings and a plane ticket

I've had a fondness for Calgary which has been what has held me here for so many years. It's necessary for me to clarify that my fondness is not for Calgary in general, but for Inglewood. It's my home, more than any other place on the planet. The proximity of the zoo, bike path, bird sanctuary and wildlands has been a huge influence on my life and why I delight in nature. But the ninth avenue shopping strip is the only strip I really look forward to shopping along. The buildings are the oldest in the city because before downtown moved to where it is now, 9th Avenue was downtown. I accompanied my parents to Christmas in Inglewood, a yearly event held along 9th Avenue.

I'm as familiar with the store fronts as I am with my own front door. But that's not to say I've always gone inside. During the Christmas in Inglewood event most shops stay open until 9:00pm. My parents and I began at the intersection of 13th street. The first store we visited has a selection of fantastic furniture and statues from Africa and Asia. I've often admired the giant driftwood benches when driving by, but had never actually taken a close look until last night. There were other fabulous and extravagant items, like a giant concrete Buddha statue. I admit a part of me thought it would be really lovely to have my own meditation space, decorated with ivy and a little fountain with a giant Buddha to join me as I sit quietly.

Our next stop was a relatively new store to the 9th avenue strip. I found myself captivated by the art on the walls more than the knick-knacks and jewellery, which my mum was enthralled with. Most of the art was done by local artists, including one piece done by a man who lives two blocks from the store. I adore that close-knit community aspect of Inglewood, which was a reoccurring theme as the evening progressed. The fifth stop on the 'shopping' adventure was at Catherine Studio, where I met David, a local artist who works primarily with oils. The first thing to hit me upon entering his studio was the smell of paint. A row of fedora's hung from hooks right inside the door but the rest of the walls were hung with canvases in all sizes and shapes. My eyes were instantly drawn to the movement captured on a white canvas painted with a black figure. The style reminded me of a Bill Plympton cartoon and I was captivated by the bright shock of red and the stark contrast. David began talking to me about his work and our conversation followed all manner of routes. My dad joined me in the studio and the three of us talked for ages. I think, of all the stops on my journey that evening, meeting David was the highlight. We spoke about Hazel Dooney and the success of her career as she's gone forward doing what she loves, doing it well and doing it for herself. He also told me a story about a teacher he'd had who'd walked into the class and said their assignment was to submit 100 drawings by the next day. Then he walked out. Panic ensued! But a drawing can be anything. A scribble. A thought. A quick doodle or an elaborately detailed sketch.

Eventually my mum called, trying to locate my dad and I. She had moved on to Suzie Q. Beads, another amazing success story. I bid Dave farewell, but not before grabbing his business card.

In Suzie Q. my mum was most exuberant as she showed my dad every bead she possibly could. As I said to David, Suzie Q. is a testament to the truth behind doing what you're good at, doing it well and being successful in it. From teaching people how to make jewellery out of her home, Suzie has now had to move twice to upgrade the size of her shop in order to accommodate the interest of so many people. When business is booming in a recession one must be doing something very right.

As is so often the case with events like this, eventually you run into someone you know. I found two friends I met through MYN, who greeted me with hugs and asked about my ten day adventure in London. One mentioned that she'd been reading about it on my Blog. I was chuffed about that since I have sometimes wondered if the only readers I have are the ten people Blogger allows me to e-mail upon posting.

They recommended we get drinking chocolate from Choklat, so we did. My mum declined but my dad and I each got a cup, unable to resist the delightfully thick drink topped with whipped cream.

Drinks in hand, we continued along, eventually crossing the street and finding another Art Gallery. This one was full of collected works of several artists across many mediums and the variety was enough to keep one browsing for ages. Whilst commenting on photographs of what was obviously Irish and Scottish countryside, one of the gallery staff approached and we began to talk. We had a lovely conversation about all the museums and art that await me when I go to London. I let her know about some of the opportunities I was looking into, including a residency. An interesting point of amusement was when I told her I had no formal schooling. With a skeptical tone in her voice she said, "And you got a residency?"

I let her know I was applying for it, but that they didn't ask about schooling in the application. One merely required a portfolio and an explanation as to why it would be beneficial. She accepted that, but I can't help thinking how interesting it is that there is an expectation one must go to school for everything and anything in order to achieve success. Again, school does have it's benefits, but going to school for art is not a guarantee one will become a successful artist. This has been a reason for several of my friends dropping out of school and making their own way.

By the time we left Arts on Atlantic it was pushing nine and most of the shops were closed. Not everyone was so eager to lock their doors and due to our mutual love of shiny things, my parents and I found ourselves in Circa, ogling chandeliers and vases. Glass is an art form I simply adore, though have no desire to do myself. I leave it to the likes of Chihuly.

Utterly tired, the very last stop we made was into Nectar, if only to look at the menu and delight over the fabulous flavours of ice cream and sorbet they carry. Not only do they have Green Tea Ice cream, but there's Chai and London Fog. I admit, I was tempted to spend money I don't have if only to have one small tub of the stuff.

So all in all it was an amazing art filled evening and has left me all the more excited for London and creating new and lovely things of my own. I'm going to venture into oils after the conversation with David, but more immediately, I will be doing 100 drawings. Today, as I go buy my plane ticket and visit with my High School art teacher, I'll have my journal in hand, ready for 100 drawings, as they come.

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Keeping busy

Seven weeks to go and I'll be back across the pond!

I've been applying for jobs like mad, mostly at bookshops and art supply stores, although I've looked into a few tattoo parlours and art galleries too. Knowing where I live and understanding the post code system of London is brilliant. I'm so chuffed I went for the ten day visit.

"Make a well-considered choice and don't look back. This is the wisest approach."

I've also been seeking out arts based opportunities. I cannot, with the Visa I have, be self employed, but that doesn't mean I can't dabble in what it will be like when I am. I've found a few fantastic sites based in the UK. One such site sent out their newsletter with an incredible residency opportunity. Unfourtunately they're conducting interview for it between January 5 - 8th. Even if I am there by the 6th, I'll be ridiculously jet lagged.

I but my plane ticket on Friday. Depending what day I pick, I may still apply for it. Imagine, a fortnight in Lincolnshire, working with gallery owners and fellow artists, exhibiting your work and creating more.

Why not, right?

In other news, my clay dragons have all been fired and I've begun painting them. I painted the clay version of Spoonwinkle. I'm terribly pleased with him. He is so very adorable.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jet Lagged

London is seven hours ahead of Calgary.

London is the same area of Calgary with a population of six million.

The Underground is the primary mode of transport.

It's also known as the Tube or, to tourists who 'mis-pronounce' Tube, the Subway.

The different tube lines are distinguishable by the colour of the poles on the trains.

Space is limited so everything in London is small, including appliances, cars and cats.

London is really old and the pipes are still lead in a lot of areas so it's a good idea to let the water run from the tap for a bit before drinking it.

Mind the gap.

Jaywalking is compulsory.

The tube stations are closer to each other than they seem when taking the train. Get out and walk and you will realise how close everything is.

Spell realise with an 's', not a 'z'.

Pick up a London AtoZ as it will ensure you never get lost, as long as you can read a map.

I've got a handy check list of things to complete before I depart in January. As far as art goes, I want to complete one more tarot painting and finish my 'Dragon a Day' project. Whilst I was in London getting my foothold my mum fired all the clay dragons I've made in the past few months. I'll be glazing those shortly, very likely on Sunday. In the mean time I'm just going to work on re-setting my body clock so I don't crash at 6:00pm and wake up at 4:00am.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why London?

The most common question I get when I tell people I’m moving to London, besides clarifying that I mean London, England, not London, Ontario, is “Why?”

Generally I laugh and say, “Why not?”

But “Why not” is about the same as “Because” as far as answers go. There are so many cities to choose from, dozens on par with London. I could have chosen New York or Paris or returning to Melbourne. I didn’t though, and the reason isn’t just “Why not.”

I chose London because of the Thames, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Bishop’s Gate.
I chose London because of the London Taxi.
I chose London for sparkly lights.
I chose London for museums with no entry charge. For museums in huge, old buildings. For museums containing things I’ve always wanted to see.
I chose London for the art and the music.
I chose London because my grandma was English and I’ve wanted come since I was a little girl.
I chose London because I love the accents.

I chose London because it's been too long since I've looked after me.

I chose London because I want to see all of Europe and this seemed like a good start.
I chose London because I would rather say I shouldn't have done something than wonder what would have happened if I hadn't.

I chose London because it chose me. Because when the Universe whacks you over the head with oppourtunity you’d be foolish not to pay attention and take advantage of it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's 4:15 am in Calgary, 11:15 am in London

I love it here.

On my second day I hopped the tube and, without getting lost, made my way to Trafalgar Square. Stepping out from the Underground station I wandered up the block until I spotted signs directing me to the National Gallery. I passed a monument to Oscar Wilde and a large glass Gazebo type structure with 'Crypt' written on it. I've since found out that they throw incredible Christmas concerts inside, where the ceilings are vaulted and the acoustics are incredible.

As I rounded the corner, following the mad crowd of people (London observation: Jaywalking is obligatory.) across the street, the sun broke through the clouds and I was standing on the edge of Trafalgar Square. Looking to my left, down between the buildings, I could see Big Ben and the London Eye. It was as if I'd stepped into the pages of a book. My heart felt as though it would burst and there was no containing my grin.

I wandered into the square, soaking up the sun and the sights. I found the Canadian Embassy and snapped loads of photos, until my camera started flashing it's 'low-battery' sign at me. Tucking it away I went inside the National Gallery, where cameras aren't permitted anyway.

Entry is free, although they encourage donations. Seems entry is free to most of the museums in London, which is just about the neatest thing you can tell a nerd like me.

I put my ipod play list to my OCD mix, the most favourite songs I've got going at the moment, and began to explore. Painting after painting filled with intricate detail. Oil made to look like photographs. Pieces done by artists I've not heard of. Beyond the biblical scenes most of the subjects were unknown to me as well. I read the little cards though, soaking up what appealed to me, deciding living in London will be akin to attending Art School.

I went from room to room, targeting pictures that appealed to me and spending time gazing at the details and jotting notes about the artist or the style or influences. I entered my fourth room and gazed around at the walls, determining which painting to go to first.

And there is was...

It wasn't a poster or postcard or puzzle. It wasn't some duplicate of photocopy. It was the actual thing. It was more beautiful than I realised (London observation: stop using 'Z') it would be and as I gazed at it I found my eyes filling with tears.

Eventually I pried myself free and resumed my self-directed tour. I found several paintings with a dark twist to them, unlike the classic, bright work filled with Saints.
In one room I came across another heart stopping piece. My parents have this book about dragons which I would spend hours reading and researching in. Towards the back were some photos of classic art depicting dragons. One in particular always frightened me for how graphic it was. The picture I looked at in that book was about two inches by two inches. I stepped into another room and there it was:

It was life size and grotesque and stunning.

I had somewhere to be though and my back was growing sore from the weight of my bag. I finally tucked my journal away and walked quickly towards the exit, reluctant to leave but thrilled to know I could come back as often as I like. I will return with the intention of learning everything I can about the art and the history here. I will soak it up and revel in the art at my fingertips for a whole year...or two...or seven. Who can tell how long this city will capture my attention when there is so much to see and do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barefoot on Bishop's Gate

There are things in the world which can be given freely because they belong to no one. Something like a sunset or the colour of leaves.

Or there is the view of a billion little lights of a city, a constellation of orange and the moment when it stops being just any city because suddenly the eye of London, Big Ben and the Thames can be defined in those lights.

There is walking along Bishop's Gate and realizing where you are shortly before walking down a street in an area known for Jack The Ripper.

There's stopping for Curry on Brick Lane and watching the world go by.

And then there's sitting on the Tube...the London Tube, an unstoppable grin upon your face.

I'm in London, baby. *smiles the widest smile of them all*