The second set of Sunflower Seed paintings have been finished and claimed. They are being sent out to Aleksandra Danicic, Kelly Small and Andrea vanV. You can learn more about the project and sign up to get on the waiting list for the next batch of Sunflower Seed paintings here.
I’m not going to say I never take a sick day, but I thought I would share a picture of my ‘office from this past Friday. No, I am not a workaholic either. I know a cold usually gets worse before it gets better, so I figured between naps I would try and get something done. There might be a day or two coming up where I don’t have the energy for this either, and as an independent artist, if I don’t get it done no one else will!
Salvation is one of the latest paintings in my Western Series, which you can see here. Salvation is based on a Sifton era (1896-1905) Canadian immigration poster. The image depicts an angelic harvest figure which appears as though in a dream, showing the plenty and prosperity that could be had for the immigrant who braved the ocean voyage, the cold, isolation, and the breaking of the land, to uproot families and make a one way journey to Canada. Many of these immigrants would have spent generations never straying farther than 50 miles from home. I had to wonder what the conditions were like where they were coming from in order to make that sort of leap of faith.
Finding A Dance Partner is one of the newest paintings in my Western Series, which you can see here. This painting references an immigration poster advertising the charms of Canada to potential immigrants during the early years of the 20th century. Particularly, in this case, potential single female immigrants. During this time in Britain their was a great deal of discussion about the problem of the extra female population, for whom world conflicts had reduced the number of eligible mates. At the same time there was an imbalance (in the other direction) in the ratio of male to female immigrants to Canada. The idea of immigrating for better marital prospects, which the image seems to suggest is the idea, seems like a huge step. She put her eggs all in one basket and took the White Star Line across the ocean, but look at all the eggs she has to choose from now! This is a fascinating idea to think about coming from the first half of the 21st century, where love is still a huge part of life, but hardly the defining element of a woman’s life. Far from life and death, it is in some circles a game, even being played in front of television audiences.
I am not going to give you a lot of practical, solid investment oriented reasons as to why you should commission a work of art for yourself or your ‘organization.’
I could talk about the difference between having a professional trained in translating feelings and thoughts into an aesthetically pleasing visual expression, and an amateur snapping an off the cuff photo and having it ‘blown up.’
I could talk about honouring your subject with a one of a kind highly crafted and durable object.
I could talk about investing in both the status and worth of yourself or your organization, and the subject, through having it recorded in the time honoured manner of the wealthy, the noble and the pious.
But I am not.
Instead, I am going to talk about magic:
The real reason you should commission a painting, in my opinion, is because of the magical way it heightens your feelings about the subject.
I don’t completely know why, or how, but the act of having a professional artist invest hours, weeks or months, of their time, skill and attention into the interpretation of your thoughts and feelings in relation to the subject (a home, a garden, a pet, a loved one…) seems to imbue the subject with a certain magical quality of stirring emotion, even more than the photo that may have served as reference.
At unveiling, time and again I have witnessed unexpected tears as the individual sees the painting for the first time. Whether it is a gift or for yourself, I think this is what you are looking for when you commission an artwork, that recognition of the magic of feeling, time and attention.
What do you think? Have you commissioned an artwork? Why? What was the reaction to the finished work?
I Have A Gift For You:
Do you love art?
I want to give you a painting.
I want to give you a painting of a sunflower seed.
The sunflower is a dramatic plant:
I recall my sadness, the first time growing them, at the first frost. I wished I could turn the clock back by one day, for the day before they were in their prime, and the next morning their heads were blackened and drooping, never to look up at the sun again.
Life can change just like that.
We seem to be in a time now where we wish we could turn back the clock by one day.
But there is a saving grace:
I see so many actions by individuals, giving gifts of themselves to make the world better, whether it be signing a petition, writing a letter, joining a march, making soups for housebound seniors or dolls for hospitalized children. I want to encourage us all to focus on the gifts we have to give, the positive actions we can make, rather than on putting up walls and hoarding what we think we have against those we think are out to take it from us.
So, If you love art, if you believe that we all have a thousand gifts we can give the world, and that we can affirm our lives through giving those gifts, then
May it remind you that you too have a thousand gifts to give the world. May you give them, and may your life grow a thousand fold.
Painted on a bandana background, it refers to Cowboy culture prior to the invention of barb wire fencing, which led to the fencing off of range land and permanently changed ranching culture in North America.
Previously ranching operations ranged freely across much on north america, with herds intermingling. The job of Cowboy was crucial and harsh. Rounding up and herding, sorting and branding cattle on the open range; cowboys lived with the cattle for the season, eating, sleeping and working on the range in makeshift and improvised settings.
The text of this painting, Free Range Coffee, playfully alludes to both this reality, and to the current desirability of free range ranching practices as part of the ethical treatment of livestock, though it can’t hope to approach the scope of that earlier free range.
While branding is seen as a questionable practice for some, it was also an indispensable practice for free range ranching of that era, without which it would have been difficult to maintain an open borders practice while tracking livestock ownership. The painting includes three brands (in the flames in front of the coffee pot), belonging to three of the big four founders of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
Wallflowers is part of my Landscape series. Completed in 2015, it serves a very special role:
It is an idyllic image of a perfect day at Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary Alberta Canada. What’s more, it is an encyclopedic painting depicting a range of attractive wildflowers which have been declared invasive species, because their hardiness and vigorous growth habits endanger bio diversity in natural areas by pushing out native plant species. This is a problem because animals and insects who rely on those native plant species as food sources may be adversely affected by their displacement.
I created this piece in cooperation with the Friends of Fish Creek Park, as an aesthetic intervention and educational tool. The idea is to educate viewers about invasive species, recognition and control strategies. Educated viewers can get a print of the painting as a resource to keep. The idea is to enjoy the beauty of these invasive species of wildflowers by displaying them on our walls, rather than in our gardens, where they could inadvertently be spread to our parks and natural areas through storm or surface water run off, animal transfer or human disposal. Hence the title of the painting: Wallflowers.
If you would like a print of this work, I would recommend contacting the Friends of Fish Creek Park to find out about the next educational event where the painting will be presented. Either that or watch my newsfeed for announcements of upcoming viewing for this painting.
Pancake Breakfast, from my western series, is a fairly straight forward piece. Growing up in Calgary Alberta, one of my favourite traditions of our annual (July) city wide Stampede celebrations are the free pancake breakfasts. For ten days, rich or poor, young or old, if you can line up on a sunny summer morning you can have a great breakfast, and entertainment, and possibly swag, all free of charge. Breakfasts happen all across the city every day during Stampede. Put on by community groups, churches, corporations, politicians, dentists, you name it, they are a great expression of community inclusion and caring. Even if you can’t afford to go to the Stampede grounds more than once, or at all, there is still a plate of pancakes and some country music waiting somewhere for you in this city.