Monday, August 29, 2011

A reading...

One question I was asked a lot during my gallery show was if I do tarot card readings. "Yes!" is the answer and it was because of this that I was first struck with the idea of doing my own interpretation of the Major Arcana.

My first deck was a gift (Traditionally it is believed that one should not purchase their own deck but have it given to them.) and the giver not only bestowed me with the beautiful set, but also offered to tutor me in reading them. I was fascinated with the artwork, the intricacy of the images and the depth of their meaning and wanted to learn more.

This interest was what fueled me to start exploring the history of tarot through painting. On top of that I had a strong desire to see my large depictions in a traditional Celtic Cross Spread, one of the most commonly used spreads for conducting a reading. I did get to use this spread at my show and photographed it extensively and enthusiastically, thrilled to see my dream coming true.

Another spread often used when reading tarot is the quick 'three card spread', which is usually how the cards are shown being used in popular media. The reader lays down three cards and 'foretells the future' of the querant...or something along those cheesy lines.

In actuality, the cards are used to read energy and they don't reveal anything you don't already know. They are meant to give direction, not definitive answers. Or at least that is how I've come to understand them and how I've always used them.

So what of this particular three card spread? It can represent many things depending on what you assign each card - mind, body and spirit/ past, present and future / positive, negative and self. Or it can be used to answer a direct question of the querant such as "Is my relationship healthy?" or "Am I doomed to be single forever?"

Personally I quite like current focus, coming focus, overall focus. When applied to these three cards: Love, The Chariot and The Sun, it makes a very profound statement about our own sense of self worth.

In this order Love sits in the current focus. This means that the individual is or should be working on loving themselves compassionately in every way. Good advice for anyone, really, and a large part of why I'm working on becoming a Life Coach.

People don't love themselves nearly enough but I believe it's extremely important to be your own best friend. When you can learn to rely on yourself and feel a sense of pride in who you are and how you've come to be that person, doors will open and life becomes far more enjoyable.

Which leads us to the second card, The Chariot, in the coming focus position. Ultimately, loving who you are isn't necessarily that difficult. You can sit down and make a list of the things you've accomplished, all the things you're proud of and all the joys you get out of life. You can list your favourite attributes and your skills and talents. You can find a sense of confidence and begin to really shine - but then we will notice the other things that couldn't possibly go on such glowing, positive lists. That silly mistake you made at work, or that time you were careless with someone else's heart. That selfish, hurtful thing you might have done or that cruel joke we partook in.

The Chariot asks us to look at how we can be our own worst enemy sometimes and that part of loving ourself is about compassion for those darker sides. It's about accepting responsibility for our actions and knowing that what we may have done in the past doesn't have to dictate what we'll do in the future. Rather than fighting, clinging, grasping and struggling, we need to open up, relax, accept responsibility and embrace change.

When we do we will reach The Sun, the overall focus and the plateau of Maslow's Hierarchy or the moment of enlightenment. That divine, glorious moment when we can understand that life is beautiful in it's tiny intricacy and it's never ending chaotic glory. This is positive energy, fitting in with the world and knowing that we are all connected, we're all unlimited potential and we are all capable of great things.

So this particular spread is full of a lot of good energy. It's one that I think makes a good teaching for how to live life with a sense of contentment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Day After

Blank Canvas - The Apricot Gallery awaits

Sorting the layout

Prints of pieces in Canada hung in traditional Celtic Cross Layout

Buddhist themed work

Excited artist

Guest viewing the work

Celtic Cross layout of the original canvases

I thought this blog entry would write itself. I figured the entire experience of hosting a gallery show of my Tarot Card series would be content enough, but looking back I really have no idea where to start. This show felt like a very nice full-stop to what was originally just an intriguing idea for an art project.

From the High Priestess to the Wheel of Fortune, each card has been an exploration of my beliefs, the beliefs of the world around us and the energy which flows throughout. The sense of utter exhaustion I felt by the end of the two days was partly due to the physical effort involved and partly due to the emotional intensity of it. My blood, sweat and tears went into these paintings and as each guest came in I greeted and discussed with them the finer points of my work.

It was extremely interesting to find out which card drew an individual in and why they felt so captivated by it. For some it was the imagery, for others it was the description. For a few it was a combination of both, but no one seemed to leave without having chosen a card or two for which they felt an affinity.

I'd like to thank each guest I had for taking time to come look and have a chat. I feel like I have gained an even greater understanding of my own work by viewing it through the eyes of so many others.

I am extremely grateful for all the support I've had on this journey. I know I thanked many people upon completing the set, but I'd like to thank a few people in particular for this final step of showing my work.

I would like to thank my psychologist - my most expensive friend and a force to be reckoned with. Her persistence helped me stop making excuses. One of the guests of my show remarked that to put something like this one must take a lot of guts. I want to thank my psychologist for teaching me that fear can't actually hurt you. Without this encouragement I'd not have taken the plunge to move to London and I'd certainly not have believed in myself to think I could and should pull off what I have this past weekend.

I would like to thank my parents - they have always encouraged me to be the best of myself and without their unconditional love I know I wouldn't be the person I am today.

I'd like to thank those who were able to purchase my work. I did these paintings for myself but I shared them for people like you. I am so grateful for your appreciation of what I do and feel honoured that my work spoke to you in such a way that you would love to have it hung on your own wall to admire every day.

And in the tradition of saving the best for last, I would like to thank my partner. Not only did she do some smashing photography of the event, but she has given me huge amounts of support and encouragement throughout the planning and preparation. From all the little thing - like picking up cups for the wine and greeting people as they came in, to the really incredibly big things - like booking taxis and putting up with my fits of worry and anxiety, she has shown great patience and care. I am more grateful to her than words can possibly express.

In the aftermath of the showing I've become quite reflective. During the show many people asked what I intended to do next. I didn't have a straight forward answer for them but I can say that I came to the conclusion that, for now, my paint brushes will be set aside. I have mentioned before that I tend to want to do quite a lot all at once and feel almost paralysed by the abundance of ideas for creative projects which crop up on a daily basis. I feel though, having focused so entirely on this body of work for the past two and a half years, that there is time enough for all my work to be done - one piece at a time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How To

How to Put on a Gallery Show

  1. Complete something really incredible that you want to share with the world. You don’t even have to have a finished body of work. It can be a piece in progress if you like, just make sure there’s enough to share.
  2. Find a space. Any space. It can be a gallery, it can be your living room, it can be a pop-up gazebo in a park somewhere. As long as it’s suitable to what you are showing and you’re happy with it.
  3. Promote like crazy. Let everyone know repeatedly when, where, and what. Let them know who you are, most importantly, and make sure they know why they should come: e.g. original work, meeting the artist, a fun evening out, interesting conversation, something entirely different.
  4. Sweeten the deal. Throw in something extra. Add value to the evening. Food is a great thing to offer. People love something to nibble on when they’re admiring your work. Something to drink is good too but keep it classy and make sure any restrictions are considered when doing so.
  5. Sell yourself a little more. Make a special offer for people who attend. Like a slight reduction on the price of originals or the chance to win something you’ve made. Nothing that will be detrimental to your own pocketbook. You’re a professional, remember. Giving away your work for free doesn’t just keep you from making money, it means people will think you don’t value your own work. Make your prices reasonable but throw in a slight perk for those who attend.
  6. Give yourself ample time. Make a backwards timeline from the day of the showing. Figure out what you need to get done and by when. There is always going to be a certain amount of stress when it comes to putting on a gallery show but there’s such a thing as ‘unmanageable stress’. Remember, you’re your own boss. You make your own hours and you know how much time you need to complete any given task. Be kind to yourself by having an effective plan in place.
  7. Let go. At a certain point you’ll have done everything you can do. The trick is not to have any expectations, good, bad, positive, negative. The single objective is to share your work. If you sell something, fantastic. If you sell a lot of things, all the better. But if you don’t, that’s O.K. too. If a dozen people show up, that’s fine. If you end up with more people than the gallery can hold and it violates fire regulations, oh well. The important thing is that you are sharing your work to anyone who happens by.

8. Enjoy yourself. You are an artist. This is your moment. Relax, and just be.

Monday, August 15, 2011

This week!

This Friday my Tarot Cards will be on display at the Apricot Gallery just off of Brick Lane (Sorry to be flogging a dead horse with this one, but, y'know, self promotion is sometimes a bit repetitive.)

Several of the originals will be displayed as well as prints of the pieces currently residing in Canada. Multiple Hi-Gloss photo prints will be available for purchase and I will be taking orders for canvas reproductions.

I'm extremely excited to be sharing my work publicly for the first time since November 2009. My Tarot Cards are one of my proudest accomplishments but also the result of an incredible amount of support and encouragement from friends, family and fans. My work is an expression of my gratitude, my love of life and my desire to help people realise their own potential. I certainly hope you'll be able to join me on the 19th or 20th to celebrate.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A London Gallery Show

Photos from my November 29th, 2009 Gallery show in Calgary, Alberta

In just one week my Tarot Card paintings will be on display at the Apricot Gallery just off of Brick Lane. It seems like it's been absolute ages since finishing what ended up being a two year art project and booking the space to exhibit the completed work. I suppose it has been, having finished my final three cards back in February, but the time between my last Gallery showing and this upcoming on has been much longer.

In 2009 I truly began to take stock of my life, how I wanted to live it and where I could see myself in the coming years. I embraced my creativity, seeing my abilities as a writer and artist not as something to fill hobby time, but as something which could make me a living.

I also made the decision to move to London, one which has changed my life in unimaginable ways. Living in this city has been and continues to be an incredible education. Where else can you encounter a Henry Moore sculpture on a street corner, watch Kevin Spacey depict Richard III and gaze upon countless original pieces by the great masters of art?

I feel honoured and elated that my own work will soon be available for viewing by the London public. It seems so long ago that I took those first tentative steps into sharing my work and offering it for sale - a time when only eight of the twenty-two Tarot Paintings were complete.

Now I'm taking a new focus, still giving special consideration to my creative works, but with an aim to have a career which not only funds my art and writing, but also fulfills my passion and love of helping others. There's a lot to consider and as I do, I am becoming more and more excited about this gallery showing and what will come afterwards. There is nothing more liberating than the moment when we realise we are in control of our lives and in doing so we are loving the life we're leading instead of looking for a life we can love.

Faunawolf Creations Gallery Show: 5 - 9pm 19th of August and 11am - 9 pm 20th of August at the Apricot Gallery in the Rag Factory on Heneage Street just off of Brick Lane, 5 minutes from Aldgate East Tube.