It’s February. Already. As much as I like to hibernate in January, time moves on and eventually it’s time to reopen the doors to the world around us. Our community mourns the sudden death of a great man ripped away in the prime of his life. It reminds us of how fragile life is and that we better use our time to live life to our fullest potential, just like he did.
2019 surely holds many wonderful opportunities, to all of us.
For me it is exploring new ideas and giving them a life through words or paint or collage and submitting my artwork to the many opportunities and themed art shows lining up throughout year, while staying open for new projects. I’m also showing some of my work at the Goderich Coop Gallery that is always worth a visit when you’re in town.
And of course there are the many exciting art classes. Some I will be attending as student, because I believe in life-long learning. Others I will be teaching as instructor, most of them at the Southampton Art School. If you like a sneak peak or like to register early, here they are. Simply click on the highlighted words to get more info:
A very relaxed art class that will ease you into the season is Coffee Time! – May 16, when you’ll be encouraged to sip and dip into this delicious beverage while learning all the relevant techniques you’ll need for all water based mediums.
INK-tense – June 19 -21 is a three-day workshop I’m really passionate about. Get in the wonderful flow of ink and learn to paint spontaneously versus controlled, watch colour explode on your page, draw lines, and combine it all, e.g. images with hand-lettered words. It’ll be intense, but I guarantee it’s a lot of fun also.
Then I will devote my time for my popular children and teen classes over the summer:
For the 11-14 years olds we’ll dive into Modern Art. You’ll learn about lots of Modern Artists and, inspired by their art, create your own piece of “Modern.”
In fall I’ll be offering one more course for adults, Paper Art – Cuts and Collage, September 18-20th
Art is a wonderful way to get back to your core, find what is truly important to you, and without much effort gets you creative not only on paper.
And should you require a Certified Elemental Space Clearer to get rid of stagnant energies in your home or office and need a little help to reinvent your life, look no further. Get in touch with me or wait for my next post to learn some more.
Now it’s time to gently wake up and come out of hibernation, one step at a time. You are not alone outside your cave. Be brave.
“Shape and Form” is the name of an art show held at the Federation of Canadian Artists very own gallery in Vancouver over the next three weeks, from October 30 to November 11, 2018. Shape and Form is special as it combines paintings and sculptures in the same exhibit, versus the usual two dimensional format. Working with the Sculptors’ Society of British Columbia, whose society was once part of the FCA, they’re proudly reuniting for this joint exhibition. The artwork in “Shape and Form” responds to questions of space, depth and illusion. Even if you don’t live in Vancouver or close by and can’t visit in person the gallery at 1241 Cartwright Street, on Granville Island, across from the Granville Island Hotel and Performance Works, you don’t want to miss this exhibition, since it has been decades that the FCA has seen three dimensional work. For all of us living far away, here is the sneak peak!
I feel fortunate to be included in this particular juried show, as are two other members of the Bayfield Artist Guilt, a group of artists that hopefully and eventually might become an Ontario based Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists. I’m a member of both, and I’d like to introduce you to two of my local artists friends and their fabulous work:
The first artist I’d like you to meet is Martina Bruggeman. She is a self-taught artist from Strathroy, Ontario, and masters the art of capturing water scenes in acrylic perfectly. She owns a small organic farm, has run her own art gallery in the past and likes to dabble in new art forms like encaustic, etc. “As a Canadian Artist,” she says, “I am determined to live a creative life, dedicated to painting images that I have captured with my camera.” Check her out @MartinaARTIST
The second artist is Debra MacArthur and this is her beautiful entry. Debra is best known for her landscape paintings of places that she has discovered while exploring remote and back country areas in BC when she spent 30 years living in Whistler. In 2014 she moved back into her family cottage in Bayfield Ontario, where she had spent her childhood summers. These days she divides her time in summers spent in Bayfield and winters in Borrego Springs, California.
I’m teaching a weeklong kids’ class, “Inspired by Hundertwasser” in two weeks, July 23 – 27, and since I’m a little obsessed with the ideas of Hundertwasser, I thought I repost an article I wrote some time ago on my previous blog “antjeart.” In case you would like to sign up your 9 -12 year-old for this class, please contact the Southampton Art School located at the beautiful Lake Huron shoreline in Ontario. Otherwise I hope you simply enjoy the article:
“To paint is to dream. When I paint, I dream. When the dream is over, I don’t remember anymore what I’ve dreamt. The painting however is there. It is the harvest of the dream.”
— Friedensreich Hundertwasser
While visiting friends and family in Germany in December, I was lucky enough to see a fantastic Hundertwasser exhibition at the “Buchheim Museum der Phantasien” in Bernried, Bavaria. I’ve been fascinated by Hundertwasser for a long time. His unconventional forms and ideas, his vivid colours, his closeness to nature and his love of beauty has always intrigued me. Years back in Vienna I admired the Hundertwasser House, a unique apartment building, colourful and strangely shaped that features uneven floors (“an uneven floor is a melody to the feet,” Hundertwasser once said), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. Hundertwasser himself never lived there, but with this building he saw one of his many dreams and ideas realized by architects Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelican.
There are other buildings where Hundertwasser was at work, e.g. the train station in Uelzen, Germany, that is known as one of the ten most beautiful train stations in the world.
Oh, I wished I would have met him when in Vienna, or in Hamburg, where he once was invited to teach art at the same Art Academy I studied decades later, though he was uninvited shortly after from fear he might harm Hamburg’s reputation after his nude speeches.
Among artists, art historians and architects, Hundertwasser was not always popular during his lifetime. He was called a dilettante, a pleasing decorative painter, a down player, even a populist. Today we know of course that they were wrong and that Hundertwasser was in fact much ahead of his time, that if we had been brave enough and listened to him, we could have slowed down climate change and might be living in harmony with nature instead. We would have realized that his revolutionary ideas made sense, that he was as much an artist as he was an art theorist, a philosopher as well as an activist. He was unique, peaceful, even shy and he preferred his artwork speak for him in loud colours and unusual forms.
So who was this man that called himself Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser?
He was born as Friedrich (Fritz) Stowasser in Vienna, Austria, in December 1928. After his father died thirteen days after his first birthday from an appendicitis, Fritz Stowasser grew up with his jewish mother. In 1935 she had him baptized catholic – just in case. When Austria joined Nazi Germany in 1938, both were made to live with his grandmother and aunts and in order to protect his relatives the young Stowasser joined the “Hitler Jugend” in 1939. In 1943, 69 of his relatives – including grandmother and aunts – were deported and murdered.
After World War II Vienna was bomb-shattered. There were ruins and craters everywhere, but Stowasser chose to not see the world in ashes and rubble, he noticed weeds grow from the cracks in the concrete and tadpoles swim in the rain filled craters. He saw life where others saw death.
The philosopher Theodor W. Adorno said in 1949, “to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric.” It was actually the conclusion to an essay he wrote, but this conclusion, though later revoked, pretty much explains how most post war artists felt and related to their work. They kept their focus on the incredible terror and injustices they’d witnessed, questioned civilization and provoked their viewers by showing the ugliness and the mundane. It became almost a rule for the post war artist to despise all kinds of beauty.
Not so Stowasser. He wanted to see and preserve the beauty in life and of nature. As a boy he picked flowers on his walks and pressed them between books to preserve them. But disappointed that their vibrant colours vanished in the process, he decided to paint the flowers to keep their brilliance forever. A talented painter from an early age on, Stowasser enrolled at the art academy, but quit already three months into his studies in order to travel. He wanted to see and understand life and learn everything he needed to paint through painting itself. In 1949 he called himself Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Translated from German his new first name means as much as “kingdom of peace,” his last name derived from the realization that “sto” in Russian means hundred. Hundred water.
Besides preserving beauty and nature, Hundertwasser wanted to provoke his viewers and audience to think for themselves instead of following the norm, he wanted individuals, brave enough to step out of their uniforms and comfort zones and become creative. His ideas of the 5 skins became famous and resulted him to become the artist – architect – activist that he was. Some of his ideas were implemented. Some still wait for it to happen.
There’s a story I’m fond of that tells of Hundertwasser having had a cottage in Normandy, France. Unfortunately, close to his country home ran a mayor highway. Like I would, he much disliked that highway. It was loud and disturbed him. So he painted his beautiful house and the gorgeous surroundings … and instead of leaving it out, he included that highway as a big red line. He even painted a steamer on it. After he finished the painting, he’d made his peace with that highway and even liked it as part of his cottage life. – Therapists picked up on his brilliant method and still use it with many of their patients.
There’s much more to tell about Hundertwasser, from his ideas of recycling and composting, to his painfully slow – vegetative – process of painting, his invention of new printing methods, to sewing his own clothes, to his unique symbols he used throughout his art.
After he died on February 19th 2000, on board of the ship Queen Elizabeth 2, he was buried in the “Garden of the Happy Dead,” New Zealand, the country where he decided to settle. Like in his theory of the ecological form of burial, a tree was planted on his grave. “In this way one has not died,” he once said, “but lives on in the tree: in one’s own physical self one gives nature back something of what we have taken away from her. Hence the good conscience and the happy dead.”
I encourage you to visit Hundertwasser.com to learn more about this unique man and artist. In the meantime I hope you’ll be inspired by some of his colourful “dunkelbunt”paintings underneath…
… not even two more weeks till Easter!
The heart is the universal symbol for love and affection. In time for Valentine’s Day and for the art prompt “parts and inner workings,” I created an illustration in honour of two ladies, one I never knew, one my dear friend.
In 2012 I learned that the heart is more than we generally think of. My friend Lorie was in desperate need for a new heart, but hearts are in high demand… Lorie had to live over the winter months in Toronto away from her family and young children in case a donor heart would become available. She waited… We all waited… for the person with a suitable heart to die… What a thought, right?! — Finally it happened: A young woman died. How much pain and grief and sorrow did this cause to her loved ones? And yet this young woman was generous and thoughtful enough to donate her “spare parts,” the organs she wouldn’t need any longer for another person to live on. What an act of love!
(I too am an organ donor, are you?)
Impacted like the ocean’s tide,
I’m stirred when you’re fullest.
My soul escapes its body then
Flies high toward Elysium
and dances in wondrous places
Drinks up sweet nectar
of pleasure and bliss
I’m unafraid and positive.
Illuminated lays the night
Woven with finest silver
A calmness settles the busy mind
Deprived of fear and danger
My soul turns round in safety
it summersaults in glee
You watch my play so closely
What harm could come to me?
I think your light will guide me
Through all the nights to come.
Proceed with optimism
My self-esteem is strong
But when your light keeps fading
A fright steals slowly in
I’m trembling, dreading, fearing
That not enough I am.
The night is dark and starless
No glimmer shineth through
I’m worried, long for soothing
I cannot help the gloom
I realize with fervour
The hour and the room:
It’s not a lack of power
Just the dark side of the moon.
I endure lonesome duty
My heart is faint yet true
I better test my strength now,
I persevere, see through.
The load – it is so heavy
There is no end in sight
The path is long and awry
No friendly face in mind.
Somehow I overcome
The darkness and fatigue
I work without approval
Grow tougher in those weeks
And then one night my head rests
On a pillow soft and white
You come at last around then
gently kissing me good-night.
My art team on days when the painting process is painfully slow …
There was a time when I wrote poetry, simply because it was new and fun and I didn’t overthink it. I won prices then.
There was a time I doodled and sketched, I painted and tried new media every other week, simply because it was new and fun and I didn’t overthink it. I got compliments and ended up in papers.
There was a time I made up stories, simply to cheer someone up (or to get me out of trouble – my lies were so big I actually earned praise. Thinking about it, I should have become a politician.) I wrote nonfiction and essays, simply because I needed to work through some experience or new knowledge and had to make sense of it. People loved to read what I wrote.
Eventually I started overthinking… I’ve no clue why? Perhaps because I thought in one language and spoke in another? Because I didn’t want to offend? Be liked? Fit in? Fit in what?
We can’t please everyone, I realized. It shouldn’t even be a goal. I ended up stubborn like my donkey Molly. But stubbornness takes us nowhere. It blocks. Sometimes we not even get the desired “carrot” like everyone else and we pretend it doesn’t matter though we sulk.
So this year, 2018 (in my synaesthesian mind I see this number as red, my favourite colour as a child), I intend to enjoy! I intend to enjoy the snowstorm outside, and the food I eat, the people I talk with, the paint I use, the word I invent, and the stories I come up with. If I enjoy my life – with everything being thrown at me – and enjoy whatever I will do, chances are others might as well.
No more overthinking… just thinking, just attention, just savouring.
Do you have intentions for 2018? Do you mind to share? I’d love to hear them.