Friday, July 29, 2022

It All Begins with Inspiration

 This is a question that is often asked; that said, it never grows old: what are your sources of inspiration? 

I have two main sources: literature (mainly essays and poetry) and photographs (generally my own, but sometimes from my daughter Gina and sometimes from my friend Bob -- always used by permission).

Here are some examples:

This, from Bob...

Became this...

"Abandoned: Alaska"
5" x 7" on stretched canvas, floater frame

And this, from Gina...

Became this...

"Fire Moon" 
12" x 16", wrapped over stretched canvas,
floater frame

This, from my own photographs...

Believe it or not -- became this! 😆

"Red Pot" - 10" x 10"?  Can't remember!

As for inspiration from essays, lyrics and/or poetry...

This piece was inspired by Steve Martin's song, "Daddy Played the Banjo"... 

"Yellow Tree"
12" x 12"
SAQA Benefit Auction 2015

And this one -- available at Curiosity Art and Framing (Red Deer, AB) -- was inspired by Emily Dickenson...

"The Thing with Wings II" - 8" x 10"
Script & stitch on stretched linen,
floater frame

Clearly, creative inspiration can come from pretty much anywhere.  My "statement" pieces have come from the news -- like this one I created after the 2016 election in the US...

"Canada Weeps" - 19" W x 15" L
Fused applique, machine quilting, beading
Hanging sleeve/dowel

Or this one, for the theme "Garden", that I made when I belonged to the international art quilt group, Fifteen by Fifteen...

"Back to the Garden" (2013)
15" x 15"
Self-dyed cotton, machine quilted,
hand embroidery, beading

With that title, if you're a 'certain age', you might guess that it was inspired by lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock"We are stardust; we are golden...and we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden...

Well, now.  Turns out Joni was celebrated recently at this year's Newport Folk Festival, and well she should be.  I know for a fact that I carried her lyrics in my head and heart while I was clambering around the mountain trails and investigating CP Rail ruins at the Illecillewaet trail head in Rogers Pass on my Art in the Park adventure.

The artists for this project are all Canadian -- from B.C. (including Revelstoke itself), from Alberta, from Ontario.  There are 9 of us -- a photographer, a textile artist (c'est moi!), and 7 painters working in acrylic and/or watercolour and/or pencil/watercolour and/or oils.  We range in age from thirties to seventies; in education, from formal to self-taught.  Some of us are full-time artists, some teach, some simply exhibit when and where they can.

Marion Lake Trail
Three of us became friendly right off -- and hiked up a steep trail together (one we thought was "moderately" steep, but we were mistaken!)  Jolene (in her thirties) was recovering from an ankle strain; Tatjana (in her fifties) had some climbing experience but was unused to carrying a pack; I was the eldest and very used to walking -- but switch-backs?!  Whoa!

But...we made it in the end, and were very proud of ourselves!  We took photos to prove it, too.  Here's my 'victory' photo at the destination:

In my mind and heart with Joni was another Canadian folk icon -- Gordon Lightfoot -- with his Canadian Railroad Trilogy.  I walked on the "1885 Trail" that was part of the initial railroad venture through the Canadian Rockies, bringing the wealthy and adventurous to a grand hotel that once stood there -- before it was eclipsed by the venues in Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta, both of which were closer to the growing city of Calgary, and easier to access by the newer -- and reportedly safer -- alternative rail routes being built.

The photos I've taken have now been downloaded to my laptop, and I've started to print off a few, with visions of textural pieces, floral scenes, and something about the mixed blessing that is the railroad.  As I print them off, the lyrics resound in my ears.  Ideas for techniques are taking shape, enabling me to express my reflections on these photos.  

There'll be more about the process going forward, as I have to create at least three pieces for an exhibit at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in the winter of 2023 -- to be followed by a tour.  Given COVID's impact, this biennial Art in the Park program was last run -- and exhibited -- in 2018/2019.  It's important to bring art to the people of the area, and to others in smaller centres where these pieces will be shown.

I've got three themes in mind:

"Flora" or "Meadow" 


which will really focus on tree textures...

This one's been altered by my photo editting 
software already.  Texure.  Think: texture!


Railway "navvies" -- not from Parks Canada info.

There's a lot there for reflection, pondering, planning, expressing.  All of this will be part of the "inspirational stew" swirling about in the next few weeks before I get down to the business of making fabric samples and going forward with creating final pieces.  As I consider my experience and the photos I've taken, I'll be concurrently thinking about materials I have to hand -- fabric types and colours, other media (paper, etc.), assorted threads and their purpose and potential (including colour, thickness, application).  

All of these thoughts, ideas and plans will appear in posts over the next several months as this work takes shape -- something very new and yet very familiar (landscape tradition).  Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, of course, there is a balance...currently achieved with knitting and cross-stitch.  It's going to be a "Very Stitchy Christmas" this year, as I've selected several small pieces to make for Very Special People.  One of the first on which I'm focusing (focussing??) because it's rather large -- well, long, anyway -- is the Growth Chart I mentioned in my last post (scroll down).  If you look at that "old" photo...and then at this one,  you'll see I've been working hard!

Even though the chart quality is abysmal (as I may have mentioned!) and there are multiple colour changes in leaves and stems (I've taken to keeping up to six (!) needles threaded at a time in those parts!), I'm having great fun with it.

Right now we're in a heat wave here -- and this will continue for the next several days if the forecast is right -- punctuated, if we're lucky, by thunderstorms!! -- so it's the perfect thing to work on in my shaded north-facing living room, with my table fan full on in front of me and a ceiling fan breezing away through the opening between my kitchen and living room.  

Mercy!  Now, I well know we've not had the temps experienced by my friends and Gentle Readers elsewhere, and I feel for you, but we Canucks are still not quite used to these temps in our summers.

Anyone denying the effects of human activity on the climate -- which didn't necessarily cause climate change, but which don't help in the least little bit -- well, y'all need to go back to school and take your science classes over!  This time, pay attention!!  😉💓

On that not-entirely cheerful note, I'm going to sign off -- before I get myself into trouble!  Well...maybe there's a P.S.

When I got back home, I found my sweet daughter had picked my first raspberries.  I've followed that with two more pickings plus the picking of several cherry tomatoes.  And making of raspberry jam.  And enjoying LOTS of salad.  So...a few garden photos to show you that all is not lost on this land yet...

Third raspberry picking -- and not the last!

Some of my lettuce, mesclun/mixed greens, and dill

The zucchini are trying to over-run the beans!

A bird-planted sunflower,
growing under a tree!

That's really all the news that's fit to print for now.  It's a long weekend ("Heritage Day") here in Alberta...and a similar one in other parts of Canada.  We're under heat/thunderstorm watch for the next 3 days anyway.  Perfect for stitching indoors with fans going.  (AC?  For 10 days in July? Not me!)  As I link this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Gentle Readers, may you all have a lovely weekend, wherever you are.  Be well, be safe, find your centre in stitch, and...I'll be back in a week or two.  😊


Gwyned Trefethen said...

Where does your inspiration come from? You captured it - everywhere and anywhere. Love your interpretation of the garden planter photo. I find photos used as springboards vs. something to replicate a true inspiration. Wish I had known Joni Mitchell was coming to the Newport Jazz Festival. It's only a 90 minute drive from my home. I would have gone there.

Susan Lenz said...

This is indeed a wonderful post. I so enjoyed all of the photos you shared. Especially wonderful is the one of you at the end of the switch backs, a successful CLIMB! In my heart, I knew you could do it! So proud of you ... and now, I am also grateful. Why? Well, due to your gentle prodding, I did go ahead and apply again to be a SAQA conference presenter. I was ACCEPTED! Thank you so much for the encouragement. I owe you dinner or drinks in Toronto! Susan