Its nearly three years since my last entry. And on a precious spring evening.... which means no leaves on trees, no green on the ground...basically a lack of snow and if you look closely...a bronze flair to the maples. This means spring is on the way. The robins provide a way post, hopping along where the sun melts the earth enough for them to tug worms out of the ground. That's the promise of spring.
You can't blame the harshness of winter and you can't wish for an early spring. Well, you can wish for it unconditionally, knowing that the roller coaster ride of recent weather patterns means you might just get 20 C followed by -20 C. Still, a few snowdrops and the hint of daffodil leaves would be inspiring. Having forced the cuttings of dappled willow, all tangled now with their roots, and the transplanted hydrangeas from the dark cellar to the light kitchen, it's out of my control. I am more than okay with that.
Life gets in the way of everything so the last few days have been taken up with everything else. Back in the studio today, and it feels good to get the creative focus going again. Had some exciting discussions with other artists and creative minds in the area on Saturday and my next feat is to test out my small scale ideas in full / or nearly full size.
In the meantime I have been pouring paint, letting paint be itself and then corralling it into a sense of flow. The challenge for me is to connect the dots of what I am doing, creating and see if there are some parallels. At least I know this - at the centre of it all is me, so there has to be some correlation!
I have been inspired by the fine Artist Ann Hamilton and there is a wonderful book at the ArtsPlace Library that showcases her work. I have also decided to replicate the 'contained forest' feeling in 'real space' rather than tank space. Part of the appeal is the transformation of natural world on its own. The forsythia blossomed of its own accord, even as its corralled in a tank with some water to help it along.
The other main consideration is the appearance of grids in my work. And its importance in imposing order, defining space etc.
With Good Friday and Easter holidays over - it is now day 6. ArtsPlace (the gallery here) is exciting, what seemed like 200 children attending the Easter Creative event on Saturday. I am still exploring my practice, and have decided to fix 12 sprigs of forysthia into a fishtank with the roots suspended just below the water line, which is 2 inches in the tank. The sprigs are equally spaced so that when you look through the tank you could imagine yourself in some madly blooming forest (now that they have bloomed). I had this mad idea of removing the cellophane that is holding each twig in place (along with a little scotch tape) and wrap silver threadlike string around each to create a self supporting grid.
Interestingly, visitors to my temporary studio here assume that the plastic on top is to increase temperature to help them root. So, perhaps I am trying to get them to root?
I find my work is like trying to be a forensic psychologist, tapping into my subconscious by looking at the debris / creative output that surrounds me. Sometimes the work says more about the place you are in your life than any self imposed research project. Its a bit like Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumb trail.
I have also been working on a painting that has involved a lot of pouring - I like the way the paint finds its own way, with a little tilting to create obstacles to work around on canvas. I have also included bright flecks that a fellow painter has interpreted as parrot fish, or just parrots. As its an abstract then they can be anything.
I have been visiting my favorite coffee shop and wandering aimlessly around town - today was beautiful weather for it.
42 F - not exactly a heat wave but warm enough not to wear gloves and a hat or have your face freeze off with wind chill. The town is well contained with Granville Ferry across the way looking over to Annapolis. It feels cozy and its only when you hit the traffic lights on the main street and look out to the old road to Digby that the landscape opens up. Tourist season is nowhere in sight yet, though spring is, with crocus (croci?) in yellow, buds on the ornamental quince hedges and furry buds on the magnolias.
After a refreshing blast of spring air, I returned to a productive afternoon - researching poetry and the definition of 'to root' as well as its antonym. I am not sure it is the right word. It certainly has a history, and lots of synonyms. I also photographed the tank today - I have before and after pictures now, so will post them. I feel somehow that I should be using the whole space here which I measured out by footprint to be about 12 feet by 22. Being self contained it could feel a bit prison like but it doesn't. Its a good size, and you can hear people come and go in the gallery with voices wafting up the stair case, tones of conversations rather than words.
What I am doing here?
As a pilot project, I will clarify the direction of my artist practice and explore areas of interest for my next body of work through experimentation, interaction, trial and error. I hope that being based here that artists will visit to see how progress happens (or not!) and share ideas. It will not be about a body of work or a product at the end – if that happens that is fine. Importantly, it will allow me the space and time, the freedom to explore and expand my interests. At the end there will be an artist talk or discussion that may inspire others.
A constructive day in the studio - I have mapped out three ideas and have decided that I will try and pursue them until one of them falls off.
Where am I?
I am at ArtsPlace, in a beautiful historic building in downtown Annapolis Royal. As well as being the home of the Arts Council for the region, it is a vibrant, creative community space including three gallery areas on the ground floor. Annapolis Royal is a small and vibrant community in South West Nova Scotia. It takes about an hour each way from my rural backwater on Digby Neck, on the Bay of Fundy to get here. Still, there is never any traffic jams (there are not enough cars) and the roads are good as long as it's not snowing, sleeting, hailing or freezing rain.
This is now Day 2, and as a guinea pig of sorts, I am now in a blank white space above the gallery with a window view of the main street that goes through town. There are little bits of snow left in messy piles by the roadside. It's only 25 F out, too cold for a leisurely wander through town. Instead, I head to what might become my new favorite coffee place "The Sissiboo Roaster" with excellent fairtrade and organic coffee, and equally excellent almond croissants. It's an easy 10 minute walk from here and not enough to walk off the calories.
The gallery downstairs is bustling with activity as there is always an exhibition on. The next one starts in a week so there is lots of hanging of paintings to do. It's nice to have the busyness around me without being directly involved.
I have been referring to the Fearless Creating book by Eric Maisel which is proving a useful starting point, especially as it relates to idea selection. I have at least three ideas and in a burst of early inspiration I have collected forsythia twigs from my garden to suspend in a mock gallery setting. So far so good. I like to live with what I am working on around me for a while. Being physically close to it helps absorb it on a subconscious level.
I also have been visiting the library at the gallery - poetry and installation work are the current inspirations.