Thursday, October 27, 2022

This Post Grad Life--Tying Up Loose Ends

I'll admit I'm not the speediest artist, but I began this trio of dog portraits in 2019! It was hard to find a good chunk of time to finish them while I was finishing up school. Naturally there was a lot of things to do and I was only able to sit down and finish the final portrait this month.

Each portrait is 4x6" and was rendered in pencil crayon, marker, and PanPastel. Click through to see the larger version on Flickr.

Angel Pupper Trio

Saturday, August 27, 2022

This Post Grad Life--I'm A Winner!

One of the things about being a new grad is that it takes a while for it all to sink in--you've crossed the finish line--but there's so much work to do. In my case, I've spent the last few months cleaning, organizing, donating and recycling where I can. It's nice to not have to step over things and vacuum the carpet. Best of all, I get to make art for myself again. If you have been following my Facebook page or my blog for some time, you know I was a regular entrant to the Calgary Stampede Western Lifestyle Arts and Crafts Show. The show is a quiet, dim respite from the excitement of the fairgrounds but also a great place to see local talent from cakes to quilts.

I wasn't sure I would be able to complete an entry before the end of the semester and the June 20th deadline. It's probably true for a lot of grads, but once the semester was done, I was done. I could not make anything and the pressure was on. Instead of worrying about what the finished item would look like, I just simply got started!

About ten years ago I was making miniature tapestries with embroidery floss and revisited the tapestry idea by snapping a piece of aida cloth into a small embroidery hoop. Strand by strand, the landscape began to take place. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Work in progress tapesty
Making a mountain was the hardest part. I used a wedge of cardstock to weave the sky around it.
Once the tapestry was done, it got a haircut and a layer of glue around the edges.
Work in progress tapesty

Then it was time to make the front. I printed my drawing, "Little Horse on the Prairie", onto a piece of cardstock, snip snip snipped and assembled! There was no way I could weave the horse in on such a small scale. I was already having trouble seeing and ended up buying clip-on magnifiers for my glasses.

My frenzied work paid off because I won third place! My friend Luba kindly shared the news. Regrettably I did not get out to the Stampede this year to see the other works.0 I'll definitely be back at the show next year with something bigger and horse-related, I'm sure :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

#TBT: I Did It! I'm A Grad!

I can’t believe this happened two weeks ago—I graduated! My art school held convocation on May 26 in person. It was an exciting day with a couple of obstacles at first, but I made it. I did it! To recap, I started my BFA part-time through Cont Ed in 2003 and the Alberta University of the Arts was called ACAD, or Alberta College of Art + Design. I made mplans to graduate in 2009...2013...2016...2019...but life just got in the way and it was hard to give up well-paying jobs with benefits when one has bills and a mortgage today. I even took a five year break because I couldn't keep up with work and school.

Here are all the happy grads before the ceremony. The reason there are so many is that grads from 2020 and 2021 were invited back for their chance to walk the stage and fist bump the university president.

AU Arts Grads in gowns

The ceremony opened with a Treaty 7 land acknowledgement, a blessing from a Treaty 7 elder and a Métis Region 3 elder along with some short speeches and introductions. For the non-locals, Calgary is situated on the traditional territories of many Blackfoot Confederacy nations. Two former grads received honourary art MFAs, which was nice to see. Her Worship, our Mayor, was the commencement speaker and she gave a great speech about the importance of creative industries, which was pretty heart-felt. Then there was the student speaker, who I didn’t know. One of the downsides of being a part-time student is that you never have time to be involved with school activities.

Then, it was time for a lot of clapping. A lot of clapping! 2020 and 2021 crossed the stage and when it was time for 2022 grads, Ceramics and Fibre were called first. It’s amazing how a moment you have been waiting for and daydreaming about comes and goes so quickly. It was akin to being married back in 2004–-afterwards it’s like, whew, all that work for one minute? But it was great! I walked across that stage, fist-bumped the president, then paused to get hugs from my teachers. They gave all the grads a little card and inside was-—a needle! Awwww! What a touching little gift.

The whole ceremony was touching for its inclusivity. Indigenous students received an eagle feather from the Treaty 7 elder and Métis students received a traditional, red woven sash from a Region 3 elder. It was so wonderful to see the celebration. Students were encouraged to wear traditional dress if they so chose, but only a few did that I saw. One grad wore a Korean outfit and a Romanian grad wore a traditional dress under her gown, which she doffed when receiving a special award at the end.

The ceremony went on for a total of two hours and we scattered to the wind as we were ushered out. My classmates and I hoped for a group photo, but that didn’t happen. There were just so many people and we scattered to the wind.

I cried and hugged my mom. “I did it!” I said and she was red-faced and crying. Dad felt he was too old to go to the grad and my brother had fears about catching COVID. So it was just Mom that showed up for me. I cried in the washroom afterwards, whether from sadness or relief or hunger or hormones I don’t know. It was just a lot in one day and all jets were running on fumes. Hungry. Thirsty. Tired. So many feels!

I returned my gown, kept my cap and we had some more snacks outside. The day was picture perfect—-just sun, no wind or grey clouds. A perfect day for graduation. We ducked back inside for the grad show and found my picture hanging on the wall. Mom said it was very nice (of course Mom would say that).

It was hard, seeing all those happy families hugging and celebrating their grad. Grads are a bigger deal now in the social media age than 1997. There was an acknowledgement and validation that yes-—your child can go to art school and it’s not an embarrassment anymore. That they can have a successful life and career in the visual arts. It had been so, so long since I had seen so many happy people hugging and loving that it was like I had forgotten what joy meant.

I cried all night. The day was overwhelming and even two weeks later--it doesn't feel real. I did it!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Time for Junicorn!

Post-grad life just doesn't seem to slow down! I can't believe it's June! What happened to May? Well, I can tell you a bit about May--I spent a lot of it catching up on eight months of life delayed. I reconnected with friends, re-organized my art supplies, vacuumed and bit by bit cleaned up a mess that took eight months to create. I also pushed a writing and art submission too, which was a lot of work. It's been fun to do normal things!

And, it's been fun to return to drawing. I missed draw a lot. So, what better chance to catch up on that than Junicorn? Junicorn is a month-long drawing challenge much like Mermay or Inktober. I think I'll do a daily sketch and draw a finished picture at least once a week. We'll see--I'm trying to be gentle with myself and remember that it doesn't all have to be done in a day!

I'm posting the best pictures to Instagram and you can follow all of them on Twitter too.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Somewhere around Week 12...

For my final Tuesday class project, I did a small installation with a photograph. I would love to do larger prints of the photograph. However, 9x12 was the largest size guaranteed by the photo lab for next day printing. Ah, art students! Some things never change no matter how old a student you are ;-D In reality, waiting for the light to be just right was tedious. There were many overcast, spring days where the right just wasn't right.

Time to Bloom is inspired by a genre of still life painting called vanitas which was popular in 17th century Netherlands. Usually they feature haphazard composition, signs of wealth and signs of mortality such as skulls. Mine is much more toned down and humble. For example, below is a vanitas (titled "Vanitias" by Pieter Boel and Jacob Jordaens):

Vanitas painting

My photo wasn't as cluttered. Some things I wanted to include I simply could not find around the house either, doh! I could see making more photos like this though. Our personal objects and homes say a lot about us, whether we realize it or not. Additionally, vanitas paintings are often coded--a skull may represent death and mortality, books could indicate knowledge and gold, of course, wealth. It took 169 photos to pick the perfect one, by the way, and I chose five for printing.

Time to Bloom still life

Here's a close-up of just the photo:


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Twelve Weeks Goes By So Fast--That's A Wrap!

It's funny when you're finishing up school--excited for the future, anxious in the moment and relieved when it's over. How does 12 weeks go by so fast? I had so much time in January! I also swear semesters used to be 15 weeks.

My last Thursday class was tough. I was so exhausted—I stayed up too late and got up too early—and when my turn came around, I kind of flubbed the delivery. But, the semester is done like dinner. Time to put a fork in it ;-D. I just have one assignment to hand in and that’s it. I’ll be back next week to drop off my piece(s) for the grad show and then won’t be back again until convocation in May.

I expected the last few classes to be wrapped in some kind of sentimental, nostalgic montage of feelings and experience, but there were none. There was mostly a lot of thirst and hunger. I didn’t have lunch until 3pm on the last Wednesday and when Thursday’s class was over, I wolfed down a cheese bun and a buffalo chicken wrap. It takes a lot of calories to simply stay awake.

I’ll post pictures of my work in the coming days. Mostly I just want to rest and clean up around the house. Every horizontal surface has been fair game for the past three and a half months and it felt so rewarding to simply vacuum yesterday and not step over a giant pile of art supplies to get into my office!

Studios have to be cleared out by the 22nd and I grabbed everything in one trip last week. Already it feels so weird to not have any homework. I completed three writing assignments, eleven projects, learned a lot about papermaking, started a couple things over twice and generally worked a lot more than I normally would at my own pace. Two of the projects were kind of turds and one of those will go in the recycle bin, heh!

I still journalled my adventures and will get this blog all caught up in the coming days. Stay tuned!

Bags and bags

Monday, January 24, 2022

Gearing up for Week 3--Ideas into Action

So, after filling out my studio proposals with project details, I sat down to work on sketches and ordered supplies. To keep things straight, each class has a distinct theme. The first project for each class has begun. I was so into my homework lsat Saturday that I forgot to eat!


Memory and place--four pictures depicting a place which no longer exists and a memory that may or may not have occurred there. This is always a great broad theme!


Renaissance-inspired art--I love Renaissance art and it doesn't get the attention it deserves in art college. It's easier to focus on modern artist, but now I have the skill level to re-explore and do some research on the period.


Homebody--I proposed a series of square-based works of domestic life during the pandemic where self-isolation means spending a lot more time at home--and with ourselves.

The fun thing about paper-based art is that I have all the materials at home, so the projects will be thrifty and eco-friendly. I am going to track all the waste created from my projects by saving anything that can't be recycled to examine at the end of April.