Racing the Light

98 % of the time I paint in natural daylight, something our beautiful Canadian winter may lack. 

Rather than pine over lost working hours in the short days of winter, I have a little fun with it in the studio. 

It’s an exercise I call, Racing the Light.

You can it adapt to other projects, not just creative ones. And.. its versatile in rules.

 How like an artist to say that. 

Thou it’s great to do often, ( if  you’re really keen) I find it most fruitful in the midst of a painting project with an abundance of the 5 P’s.

1. Preparation ( information gathering etc)

2. Planning ( composition, etc) 

3. Problem solving

4. Pressure ( self induced or other) 

5. Physical labour.

For example, a commission or painting collection due in specific time frame for exhibition. It doesn’t have to be a large canvas, but most times it is.

Race the Light is not pre-planned. To get the most of the exercise it should be completely spontaneous. The thrill and challenge is arriving at appropriate the time of day and deciding to leap in. 

Like canoeing into the middle of the lake and deciding to go for a swim without having brought a bathing suit, extra clothes, or a towel.

Either you dive in, or possibly miss a spectacular swim.

Rules are straightforward. 

  • Preferably with 20-30 mins left of daylight , step away from the large project at hand. Turn it to the wall.  Note: as you improve,  try this exercise in 10 minutes.
  • Move all possible objects from the floor you may trip over in your artistic flurry. 

Now BEGIN:

  • A new smaller canvas from scratch
  • Brand new subject matter ( different from large project) 
  • No squeezing out new paint, or breaking out new brushes, or even clean ones _ limited to what is on existing palette and sticky brushes that are in play with the big project. 

~( old Masters did this with their palettes. Paint is expensive, Many artists today do an ‘end of paint session’ to use up the paint on their palette, if they aren’t saving it for next day.)

  • No fixing mistakes, re-working areas, or changing composition once in play.
  • Finish, or nearly finish the painting before daylight fades. 

~( nearly finishing is just as good, as you now have your ‘ leave something undone’ at the end of day. Robert Genn was a fan of this.)

The benefits of Racing the Light are HUGE.

  1. Thou super challenging, it can be playful at the end of a taxing paint day.
  2. It improves instinctive creative skill.
  3. May relieve neck/ shoulder/ leg kinks, by working on a smaller surface area. Because of the complexity of the big project, you may need to loosen up, and you are now doing so because you are working crazy fast to beat the light. 
  4. You aren’t just shaking off physical kinks, but psychological/ emotional ones too. Sneaky doubts, critic chatter, rejection letters, social media quicksand that bogs one down.
  5. Practically, you discover unique ways to use a sticky brush you would have otherwise trashed. 
  6. It brings a sense of freshness to a palette you may have been working with for days./ weeks/ month.
  7. It brings the present tense into focus, like a zoom lens.
  8. Along with the fading daylight, worries and thoughts fade too, because an exercise like this takes so much focus.
  9. You discover newfound confidence and energy.
  10. In what was supposed to be an exercise .. may…. just may.. .. become magic.

~ Photos above ~ Manitou in Winter~ All Artwork in including new , possibly still in progress “Clouds” 11×24 oil available for purchase.

A New Beginning

He repaints the studio walls after every project. 

….. every project. 

His studio is devoid of accolades or knick knacks. No awards or pictures adorn the clean white washed walls.

“They can be a source of distraction while creating.” he said.

It isn’t for lack of awards, famed music producer Rick Rubin has won 8 grammies and 2 CMT’s. “Time” has named him one of the most influential people in the WORLD.

 He is known for helping artists excel to levels they may have not thought possible. He sees possibilities, combinations, opportunity for artists to stretch their reach, beyond genres or stereotypes. 

“To bring their best”.

Who else could convince a country music legend at the end of his career, his voice failing from illness to record a rock song by the young band Nine Inch Nails?

“There were times when his voice sounded broken. He tried to turn that into a positive in the selection of the music.”

Johnny Cash’s last album including the cover of “Hurt” was the first to hit gold status in more than 30 years.

The video had songwriter Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in tears. It has over 17 million views You tube. (link below)

“Dan Charnas, a music journalist’ .. ‘said, “He’s fantastic with sound and arrangements, and he’s tremendous with artists. They love him. He shows them how to make it better, and he gets more honest and exciting performances out of people than anyone.”Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks has praised his production methods, saying, “He has the ability and the patience to let music be discovered, not manufactured. Come to think of it, maybe he is a guru.”

Barefoot, clad in casual shirt and shorts, a long gray beard dominating his features, Rick looks like a yogi master. 

He has been practicing TM since he was 14, encouraged by a doctor, saying his neck pain was due to stress and suggested meditation.

To get a sense of his creative process, tune into to Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful podcast interview. I urge you to listen, his voice cadence exudes sincerity and enthusiasm.

Dramatically, part way thru the interview, Rick and family had to flee his home with just ‘a few t-shirts’ from the raging California wildfires. He has no idea if his home has burned.. yet he seems peacefully focused during the interview. Besides the admirable way he handles sudden life crisis, its a glimpse of how brilliant creatives can be, accepting, fluid with circumstance beyond their control. 

A link to the interview here 

Gladwell asks him about the possibility of losing everything, and how would that be for him? Rick responds.. perhaps its a good time for the refresh button.

Besides an admirable perspective, Rick’s adaptability, and this seemingly non attachment to that beyond his control, may allow his creative process to flourish. 

It’s that genuine love of the work, and an understanding true excellence is discovered in encouragement to reach beyond. Growth requires vulnerability and fearlessness. It requires curiosity. To begin anew, we need to be brave.

Many of you are choosing to hit the refresh button with a New Year upon us. To start anew and purge that what no longer serves you.

Even happy beginnings can be daunting.Writing your first book, staring at the blank page wondering what comes next. Retiring, relocating, leaving relationships or career, learning a new trade or craft. Building a home or an art collection. Starting a fitness regime. 

Artists understand scary beginnings. We begin something new every day. We shed what wasn’t working, and explore what might. 

Thou starting out can be fearful, following directly after is wonder, possibility, power and newfound confidence.

There is so much strength in movement. In active choice. 

Taking the leap, picking up the brush, closing the door. Purge what doesn’t serve you. 

Open a new door, hold your face to the warmth of the sun, breathe in the light, sleep well the night, let dreams unfold. 

Turn the corner, turn the page. Open the paint box. Squeeze out life’s vibrant colour. Begin. 

Begin Begin Begin.

~

All original paintings are available, including NEW “ Moon” 18×24 oil on canvas. Email me to purchase.

I am working on a private 4 foot commission these days ( shown in studio photos). So exciting to be working in paint after weeks of working on the composition. I may not be post while I focus on this piece, but please feel free to email for purchases. As you can see from studio photos, lots of new inventory hoping to find homes. Cheers and Happy New Year friends!

Energy Balance

 “The Force is not a power you have. It’s not about lifting rocks. It’s the energy between all things, a tension, a balance, that binds the universe together.That Force does not belong to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi die, the light dies, is vanity.” Luke Skywalker to Rey~ Star Wars, the Last Jedi.

The energy between all things. 

Meditation is a little like this. Attempting to find the space between thoughts, quiet the mind, focus on breathing with life giving energy. 

It can be fleeting, that space, that place, and oh so elusive, but when it’s graces you, it’s pure, real and amazing.

Mediation may be one of the easiest and hardest activities to do, because quietening the mind, seeking peace, and surrendering to it, can be challenging. Like learning to swim.

Beginning swimmers learn to float on their backs first. Usually a parent or instructor stands in the water, arms outstretched beneath the beginner, encouraging them to relax, breathe, and trust.

Its another form of surrendering. Because its so powerful and challenging, you likely remember the first time you did this. It feels unnatural and scary. We want control, and yet in fear, we clench up, and .. sink.. or flail about. In trusting, relaxing and surrendering, it can be peaceful and freeing. 

with my cousin in the park.

In art, we apply skill, knowledge, problem solving, and observation to create. It is a dance of all of these elements, and at some point, there is a surrendering, recognizing we cannot control every element. We need to trust and seek the energy. That elusive space in-between.

Working in art daily ( amid life chaos & stress), One needs to often refresh creative, mental, physical, and spiritual energy. 

  • A few of my tips to achieve energy balance are:
  • Nourishment ( wellness, food, exercise, sleep)
  • Meditation ( and guided heart coherence meditation)
  • Walking in Nature ( any healthy activity in nature is great, but walking is grounding & can calm heart rate)
  • Mindfulness 
  • Setting boundaries with commitments
  • Reading 
  • yoga

and , for an easy renewing energy cleansing routine to start your day, try this short exercise, its one of my fav’s:

 He describes the movements and their purpose very well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOIr88AWXWg

… and Friends, May the Force be with You. 

~

New Work!

Sunset Pine ~ 18×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo

Winter Wonderland 9×12 oil on canvas $530.oo

Autumn Woods 18×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo

Studio will be closed Dec 20-Jan 2.  (I will be periodically checking email. ) Price increase in Jan. 

Conscious Consumerism

Like you, they are unique, each, ONE of a kind. 

They won’t:

 ..require batteries, an app, or a subscription.

 ..cause eyestrain, or depreciate. 

 ..be outdated in a  year, or need an upgrade to keep fresh.

They don’t need to be plugged in.

Or require cell service to transmit or be seen.

Without embedded technology, they are a chameleon in the change of light.

They will be shared with many, including future generations.. contributing to the story of your legacy, not to a landfill. 

They weren’t made in a factory.

They are created sustainably, ethically, positivity, in a happy healthy work environment.

Minimal materials were used. Cloth, pigment & brush.

The key tools are ancient. Hands, heart & mind.

They will spark conversation, engage you, family, guests, clients, patients, community, and the public in spaces great and small. 

They invite you outside, and welcome wilderness in.

They will inspire wonder and possibilities.

Invoke peace, delight, life energy.

Original Art created with love, is a gift of love. 

~

It’s always a treat to hear from those of you desiring to give an original gift this time of year, (or treat yourself), and consider the many factors that contribute to your collection. thanks.

~

New work: ( in order of shown)

18×24 oil on canvas~ Autumn Shoreline $1,210.oo( thanks to Steve F. for his beautiful photo) 

16×20 oil on canvas~ Field & Forest at Dusk $1,030.oo

6×8 oil on board ~ Maple Seeds $400.oo

6×8 oil on board~ Winter Road $400.oo

~

The studio will be closed Dec 20- 27. Prices increase in January. 

Whirlwind

‘Cupcake’, ‘Sweetie’, ‘Honey’, were endearing nicknames given my little friends by their family. 

My Mom called me “Hurricane”.

Eventually, as a sensitive adolescent, I suggested the destructive meaning of the name was a bit offensive. 

“Ok,” she said. “How about Whirlwind?” with a twinkle in her eye. The irony not lost on her, I was under 5 feet tall, less than 100 pounds. 

A Force of Nature, she said.

 My brother calls me “Taz” for the cartoon character, Tasmanian Devil. “In a really good way.” he adds.

Its this positive force of energy I often channel in the studio. Finding balance between this kinetic enthusiasm and calm deliberation is key.

After all, the turtle wins.. channeling the hare in spurts. Like HIIT.

HIIT training emerged into the fitness world by storm in 2010. The appeal reaches beyond health benefits, attracting those with less time for fitness.

High Intensity Interval Training is applying quick intense bursts of effort alternating with periods of rest, or of lower intensity. 

HIIT also great practice for creating art. 

Artist demonstration ‘shorts’ ( brief glimpse of process) and artist work-in-progess videos are a popular request. Onlookers want to be entertained. Interactive multi media viewers want to know methods. SEE the action condensed to 10 second video. 

Skills long developed may look effortless, giving the impression the art ‘arrived’ to the artist unbidden, unperceived, without intention.

Much of an artists process is problem solving internally. If you can’t see the struggle, like in a running race, it’s hard to convince there is any kind of deliberation.

Prolific doesn’t mean easy. Fast doesn’t necessarily mean “skilled” nor does slow. 

One needs to adjust in the  moment to what the painting calls for.

Controlled intention with each stroke, and brave exuberant confidence help. 

Be the Whirlwind and the Whisperer.

~

New Work!

Evening at the Dock 11×14 oil on canvas ( shown crop and easel)$700.oo

Winter 11×14 oil on canvas ( shown in day & studio light) $700.oo

~

Price increase in Jan 2020.

Habitat

The large rough burlap sack secured to my wrist by a short piece of twine dragged behind me on the sand. 

Grasped in my small fist was a heavy long wooden pole, a nail embedded on the end. It was during the high heat of summer, clad in my cherry pink bathing suit, I scoured the shore barefoot.

Beach go-ers frolicked nearby, the scent of tanning lotion, hamburgers and cigarette smoke clung to the air. 

A part of the wilderness and wildlife we lived among, growing up in Provincial Parks we learned firsthand responsibility to each other, and nature. Protect, respect, live cohesively. 

It was the mid 70s before littering was an offence and smoking wasn’t cool. During busy seasons, beaches, trails, and campgrounds became visitors personal trash dumping ground. 

On this particular summer, park staff were on strike. While the garbage was oblivious to guests, and a statement to strikers, to my parents, it was an atrocity. 

My Dad, the Park Supervisor, explained garbage would make the animals, birds, even the fish in our fresh water lake very sick. It would make the land & water sick, and disturb the delicate ecosystem in every way. We needed to act. 

For days on end, my 7 year old brother and I used long poles to impale and collect trash to burlap sacks.

One group of adults found my activities novel, shouting derogative comments as I gathered my findings. A piece of trash flew into my vision as I shifted thru pure white sand to retrieve hundreds of cigarette butts.

“Here kid, another one for you. Ha!” They laughed in unison, finding pleasure throwing trash at a 6 year old tied to a burlap sack. 

I remember them well, lounging on their blankets, oiled bodies glistening in the warm summer sun, discarded sunflower seeds scattered among them. 

I ignored them as trash continued to fly toward me, but not before my icy stare caught the instigator in a short stand off. My brother scampered over to lead me to another part of the boreal forested beach, where we worked alongside.

These days, my parents wisdom still rings clear “We live here, and life privilege comes with responsibility.” 

It’s easy to sit by and point obvious blame to those who disregard the state of our delicate earth, our home. 

But human nature is a funny thing, even the word fight when used for positive change, can elicit defensiveness. Threats and visions of disasters can cause debilitating fear, producing a cowering urge to hide, deny, look away from scary images. 

Our biological makeup requires resistance and run from threat.

The very language we use can create more friction when it’s a time for unity and problem solving of a situation to immediate and obvious to ignore. The circling term ‘earth in jeopardy for future generations’ stalls proactive action, because it gives the illusion of ‘time’. It won’t happen to me, it will happen to someone else.. down the road.

Having an intimate relationship with nature as a youngster meant by the time our family moved to town, our connection to wilderness ran deep and secure.

During my work presentations, exhibitions and expeditions, I meet people who have no understanding or experience in nature. People sadly deprived of parks, gardens, and others who believe nature is a holiday. 

We live 90% of our lives indoors. How do we convince people to protect what they have absolutely no ( recognized) relationship with? 

A friend working with species at risk said “we made a mistake using the polar bear as an icon. Most people will never see one, or come into contact with the arctic environment. It doesn’t seem real to them. ” We spoke about using the family pet cat instead. Imagine the heading “Betty, the orange tabby’s life is in jeopardy because of global warming.”

I understand enough to know my own ignorance, only to know at time when we need unity and solutions, I see division, fingers of blame, and hear warring words.

Positive language and action of protecting our universal home may spark innovation, problem solving at its best. Initiatives, growth, invention, gather, invite, commune, collaborate.  We are humanity after all, we have cured diseases and taught ourselves to fly. We can do this.

“There you have it folks, that’s a wrap.” said the newscaster after delivering the latest devastating climate science, leaving viewers terrified in their seats. That isn’t a wrap, I thought.

Humans are motivated by hope.

Where are the directives individually and collectively to create positive change? Where are the amazing images of incredible eco- friendly biodegradable products already developed? Where is that story? and why isn’t it going viral? What clean sustainable companies do we support, and list of products we refuse to collect? Where are the stories of bringing a strong nature element back into society?

Building a positive engaging relationship with nature creates an emotional connection. Thou it may be naive, I believe its a critical necessary step toward a deeper understanding of what nature provides and what’s at risk.

A strong relationship with nature is an investment we all reap the rewards from, our individual health, and our global health. 

As a child on the beach that day, I watched holiday & weekenders depart for their camps and cars at dusk. Gulls flocked overhead searching for discarded French fries.

As the cigarette smoke cleared, quiet enveloped me and sunset shimmered over the lake. 

I remember feeling sad for them. Off to their busy noisy cities, they missed the best stuff. 

An understanding that nature isn’t temporary at all. 

Wilderness is the source of all life. Seen and unseen. The very reason they had cities, camps, cars, clothes and french fries lay beneath and around them. Forest, land, water, animals & plants.

The brilliant path of colour washed over me. I wished they could feel its vibrant energy and peace, offerings of nourishment, body and soul.

And wishing they too, could now breathe the fresh air. 

~

Accepted to the Artists for Conservation in 2009, was a privilege, knowing artists are selected on the highest credentials of quality of work.  An industry pro suggested I focus on animal art, like the majority of its members. “Its the one genre you can win awards in, and where the money is. People want to see elephants, deer and birds. Landscape artists are outdated.”

What could be more dated and current as habitat? Without habitat there is no wildlife, there is no life.

I contribute funds to World conservancy, and hope to remind people in my work in a powerfully emotional way, of our universal connection to nature. Fall in love with nature, renew a sense of belonging in the outdoors and we naturally become invested in protecting it.

Keep close to nature’s heart.. and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir.

~

All artwork above is available for purchase, email me dawn@dawnbanning.com

Interior Design Trends

Thou Nature is always relevant, it’s now ‘trend.’

Killarney 8×10 original oil $500.oo

Biophilia ( nature inspired) and the Behr 2020 paint colour “Back to Nature”are current interior design trends.

New ” Grove” 18×24 original oil $1,210.oo

Experts say quality ’craftsmanship’, sustainable, repurposed materials, textiles, natural stone, warm woods, ivory palettes, millwork, handmade quality furniture and lighting is the new wave of design.  Recent elements include canvas inspired wallpaper created specifically to host ‘ beautiful works of art ’ featuring ‘nature’. ’ Dark cabinets, patterned tile, ‘overdone brass’ and metallics are out. Whitewash and subtle monotone textures are in.

Photo courtesy of Gray Development Group, Windsor. Gray Development Group design & construction. see link here and below.
Photo courtesy of Gray Development Group. Gray Development Group construction & design.see link below.
Photo courtesy of Gray Development Group. Gray Development Group construction and design. see link below.

They are trends reminiscent of historic traditions and a Yukon home I visited 3 decades ago traveling with a colleague from the arctic circle. Helen wished to visit her retired friends en route to Dawson City. Winding our way thru a wooded dirt road to the remote log cabin, I wondered about the people who made their home here, hundreds of miles from civilization.  

Emerging into a small clearing, a beautiful little timber home sat on forested shores with expansive views of a private lake. 

A massive cast iron stove with fire ablaze greeted us upon entering, surrounded by cozy handcrafted furnishings covered in well loved quilts. The multi purpose kitchen off the living area featured a makeshift shower, four cabinets and a doll size sink resurrected from a trailer. The kitchen window needed to be small enough a bear head not to fit thru. It took three attempts to find the right size.  “Grizzlies” the homeowner said, in conversation over washing teacups, “are determined.”

We enjoyed homemade bread slathered with berry jam, drinking in the home’s warmth. I was amazed at their ingenuity creating this beautiful home, making nearly everything in it. Functional items were works of art. Consciously chosen artifacts fed home and spirit, including a stunning original landscape painting. Longing to retire among nature, a quiet life away from noise and crowds, this place spoke to them. “I can fish off my front deck.” He said.

Photo courtesy of Gray Development Group, design & construction by Gray Development Group

These days, like with Helen’s northern friends, creative storage and functional multi purpose space is forefront of new design, with home office, fitness/ health areas gaining popularity. ( See my post on Wellness Architecture here. and below) Outdoor living spaces, views of nature inside and out are much desired.

Commercially, corporates are recognizing the productive benefits of healthy,  pleasing aesthetic work spaces, including fine art, nature elements, comfortable furnishings in their budgets and plans. 

2020 design continues toward soft palettes of ivory brick, and stone coloured floors. Wood of a lighter hue is a major feature, like honey pine floors, countertops, grey timber beams, accents, and furniture.  Reclaimed wood is a statement in design, beauty and sustainability, repurposing historical planks.

Original reclaimed wood art piece “Moss Gradient” by Craig Forget. Photo courtesy of Craig Forget, see link below and here.
“Woodland” 60×24 by Craig Forget www.craigforget.com

Nature is the focus in art, also themed thru fabrics, lighting and floor rugs. Out with geometrics, in with botanicals, one article said.

‘Gallery’ walls with a selection of several small art pieces are out, instead, walls with large feature paintings are in.

“Clouds” 4ftx3ft original oil $4,345.oo by Dawn. Handcrafted original desk and Boggs inspired chair by Marc Banning.

Current clean less busy/ornate designs, emulating warmth of natural materials could be a response of often over scheduled, electronic consumed lives. 

People are craving uncluttered restful spaces and connection to wilderness.

“Kenosee” 14×18 original oil $910.oo

It’s a yearning for nature infusion, unique comfort and tactile pleasure of handcrafted furnishing, dinnerware & textiles.

Original handcrafted dinnerware by Dayna www.potterycupboard.ca

Masterfully crafted pieces are a wonderful tangible reminder of self sufficiency and creative human spirit.

Marc Banning oiling his handcrafted walnut dining chair.

Emerging trends focus on human and planet health, rejecting mass produced disposable items, instead cherishing original pieces. 

Its a wonderful resurgence of reviving our roots, reaching beyond aesthetic decor.

Mountains original oil 4ftx3ft $4,345.oo

We feel good in spaces reflecting nature because it’s an integral part of our biological makeup. They feed our space and soul. 

Fresh restful palettes, organic materials and nature focus invite mind, body, and spirit opportunity to rest. To dwell in possibility.

Literally.

~ “The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate- it is life, intensified, brilliant life.” Alain Arias-Mission.

~”Design is everything” William Merritt Chase

Interior photos, construction & design by Gray Development Group, Photos courtesy of GDG. Windsor Ontario. www.graydevelopmentgroup.com

Craig Forget Reclaimed Wood original art www.craigforget.com photos courtesy of Craig Forget.

Handcrafted Dinnerware by Dayna at the Pottery Cupboard. www.potterycupboard.ca

New Artwork shown above~ all art is available for purchase.

Belonging

Artists may have invented the work from home concept.

 Cave drawings are a great example.

Art created in these home studios were more than decorative, representing language, history, culture. Accuracy was critical. Confusion over a buffalo or tiger sketch could result instead of finding dinner, you become dinner. 

Those with skill were highly revered. I can just imagine demand of their work, traveling with their charcoal to document friends genealogy, map rivers, or do a little freelancing.

In medieval times ..” the working classes often set up craft and trade-focused shops in their homes. They offered goods and services to support their families in living spaces that were architecturally designed to accommodate working from home. As time went on, merchants and craftspeople before the Industrial Revolution created what might be described as the first home offices. These hybrid work-homes had street-facing shops or workshops, and private areas set aside for day-to-day living.” Flexjobs.com

These days, with the growth and accessibility of technology, all kinds of diverse professionals are working from home. They are designing websites, prosthetics, and performance gear. They’re reviewing water samples, essays and archeological discoveries. Editing books, grant submissions and portfolios. Working remotely is no longer an anomaly. 

“There has been a cultural paradigm shift in what society deems to be an appropriate workplace – and remote work has capitalized off of that newfound freedom.Remote Year.

Thou some are thrilled eliminating commuter traffic and set up shop in the outback, jungle, or converted attic above the garage, not everyone copes well with solitary environment. 

Some miss social interaction, interpersonal feedback and workplace camaraderie, the feeling of belonging. Change in our culture and social dynamic may cause a longing for the ( non- virtual)  ’tribe’. 

“Sad solitary feelings ( loneliness) experts believe the reduction of life span due to loneliness is similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” Jessie R. Shafer RD.

Feelings of isolation affect all kinds of lone wolves. Whether working alone in your new start-up, perhaps recently retired, or a year sabbatical to finally write that novel, or just finished college to jet solo around the world designing software, maybe running a home based business from your kitchen table.

Self employed artists can relate, and surprisingly, help. After all, we have been doing this for a really long time. Ever since Cavegirl Jane carved out a wee spot in the dwelling to work on her wildlife drawings.

Help is the reason a client reached out, when the downsizing of her Toronto corporate office required her to work from home. 

After discussing her major concerns, I offered strategies to counteract her challenges. ‘Connect’  15 min daily for a virtual chat with colleagues, I suggested. Talk shop, not shopping. Organize a weekly luncheon with work friends. (desire more tips I shared? email me, perhaps a future post topic)

Being a lone wolf these days doesn’t necessarily mean lonely. There are ways to maintain a sense of real connection, and be engaged. It doesn’t take a huge effort to find ways to connect and bring a sense of belonging back to your life.

I run most mornings to engage with nature, the occasional puppy & neighbours. A quick wave, hello, a smile or a furry pat is enough to fuel my sense of community. Even brief interactions can be restorative.

Many artists have unique ways to venture from the cave and find familial connections. Some join fitness classes, yoga, meditation. Others attend music events, dinner parties or occasionally workshops. Artists will pop to join a plein air session, or travel to museums with art groups.

Babysit, dog sit or volunteer. It doesn’t have to be directly work related. I often prefer it not be. How refreshing to join a songwriter, potter, business mogul or yoga teacher for lunch. See what the local nature club is up to. Gym mate camaraderie high-fiving during a cross-fit workout is a great boost.

If schedule allows, I meet a weekly cycling group. This fit bunch of fella’s spark a wide range of stimulating conversations. I always learn something during our county rides. Its a wonderful combination of stimulating my body, mind and enjoying their companionship.

Creatives don’t even have to venture from the studio to feel the strength & love of artistic community. Robert (& now Sara) Genn’s twice weekly letter arrives in my inbox, bringing wonderment of discovery.

‘Dear Dawn,’ it begins, as does my education. The free newsletter may include painting tips, art history, or industry insight. It may have a hint of the philosophical, threaded with humour, be profound, lighthearted or practical.

Always engaging, never disappointing, always inclusive. When he realized so many artists were on their own all over the world, he hoped to both inform and bring a sense of brotherhood & sisterhood to combat loneliness we all sometimes face. ~ Painters Keys link below, and my tribute to dear friend Bob.

If you are solitary in your pursuits, there are wonderful creative ways to find your sense of community. You aren’t alone, we understand the dedication required to be self motivated and the challenges of flying solo. There is a diverse global community here rooting for you. High-Five Sister/ Brother, peace & love. 

Art is a form of love. Art is the ultimate gift. Art heals life.” Robert Genn 

Someday we’ll find it, that rainbow connection, the lovers the dreamers and me.” Kermit the Frog

NEW WORK!

Sunset on the Lake” 11×14 oil $700.oo (Thanks to Lynda C. for photo credit)

“Sunrise Graze” 14×18 oil $910.oo ( in progress, nearly complete). photo credit to Kathy Rissi ~ Ride the Wind Ranch

Photos above: me in studio and with recent painting SKY 4×3 ft $4,335.oo

a few of the fella’s, and peace logo.

Summer Days

I relish days like today, with the studio bathed in late afternoon summer sunlight.

Butterflies visit purple Russian sage outside the studio window, and gold finches feed on little yellow buttercups. Every once in a while, a lovely breezes catches the wind chimes delivering a scent of lavender.

We used to call them lazy summer days. Remember those? enjoying an iced tea on the deck, puttering in the garden, going barefoot all .. day…. long. Quiet nature walks after work or supper on the patio. Weekends visiting art fairs and beaches, long bike or paddling excursions. Exploring and actually taking time to soak it all in.

When is the last time you heard someone announce ‘embracing a lazy day’ on an outdoor hammock with a good book? 

The recent phrase ‘ I’m busy’, is so common it’s been written in song. “Wildflowers” by Matthew Szlachetka reminds us “Busy. We’re all so busy, We forget to take a look around.” 

Megan Wycklendt of the Washington Post writes “Six reasons you’d be happier if you stopped saying busy”. Her article was published in 2015, I wonder how much progress we have made?

Gary Burnison says successful people don’t say ‘busy’, reporting being specifically honest with responses is key. As Megan wrote’ busy’ is not ‘a feeling’. Nor is it an activity.

Professional Artists cope with deadlines, multi tasking, media, inventory, books, interviews, social media, while fielding emails, calls, texts from dealers and clients, on top of creating original work on a consistent basis. The pressure to produce work and self employed running a business can easily be overwhelming.  It’s easy for us to be pulled into the ‘busy’ realm of response.

Last month, wandering down to view a brilliant lakeside sunset, I spontaneously stopped in at a fellow artists studio.

I knew he would be watching the sky, heading out soon with his camera in tow. It had been months since I had been in the area, so it makes sense his first question was ,”Hey Dawn, how is work? are you busy?”

Well, yes, I said, things had been going well, new projects, new clients,” His next comment had me laughing out loud. “Well, is that just busy work, or is it inspired work? because those are two different things completely.”

I agreed.

Here’s hoping you all have some lazy summer days amid the chaos. That you have the patience & time to watch a spider build a web,( even a small one) or watch a sky unfold into a beautiful summer sunset. 

That you sit a spell on a rock, amid natural ferns and listen to the trickle of a waterfall. No electronics, or rushed commitments, just you, the sky overhead, earth beneath and forest surrounding you. 

You may not even open the book. 

~

Brian, most thankfully, it’s inspired work.

~

NEW work!!

  • “Northern Waterfall 30×40 oil $2,970.oo
  • “Sunlit Clouds” 18×24 oil $1,210.oo

Embracing Change

~ Life is ten percent what happens to you, and ninety percent how you respond to it. ~ Lou Holtz

How do you feel about change?

New years resolutions usually involve some kind of self improvement change, how are yours coming along?

Even if its for the benefit of health, relationships, dwelling, work, or community, change can be challenging. A friend in health care divulged “People don’t change, even when circumstances can be dire.” 

Why does humanity resist change? why is it so hard to make changes, and how do we overcome? How do we light the fire, face the fear, and begin?

In part, it comes down to habits.

“Half the time you are awake is spent with automatic behaviours: in other words, Niklas Goke writes “ You spend 1 out of every 2 minutes doing something you aren’t even aware of.”  “Habits Matter.”  He says change is about energy consumption, and changing one keystone habit can have a beneficial domino effect.

“Why facts don’t change our minds” the logic of staying with false beliefs when presented with truth, James Clear states is also a tribal thing.

The obvious we may neglect to realize, “Change is unavoidable” writes Jeffery James, highlighting benefits of change here.

What about when change is unbidden, unexpected and terrifying?

“With life and death on the line, survivors “Perceive and Believe,” writes Eric Barker: they “immediately begin to recognize, acknowledge, and even accept the reality of their situation… They move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance very rapidly. 

“Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. That is an important step in creating an ongoing feeling of motivation and preventing the descent into hopelessness. It also provides relief from the unspeakable stress of a true survival situation.”

Gold nugget wisdom. Implementing change, unexpected or desired is about being conscious of habits, energy expenditure, facing the obvious, and wanting to be part of the group. Facing huge shake ups, lives can depend on perceiving the situation quickly and reacting appropriately. 

Celebrate small success’s in the journey. 

In addition, my thoughts why we may reject healthy change and how to implement positive transformation.

1.  The word ‘change.’ , Lose it.

Language, externally and internally can be ohhh sooo powerful. Whether in self assessment or professionals are verbalizing :

“CHANGE:  your habits, job, relationship, weight, fitness, artistic style, attire, . etc”… suggests, rather critically, you’ve failed. Whatever you are doing isn’t working or positive, and well. stop it. right now.  Super pumped about turning a new leaf? or overwhelmed, self berating?

This can lead to the path of denial drawing people like zombies, turning to the comfort of bad habits and questionable beliefs, like ‘smoking might be good for me.’

2. Lose the word change, and implement positive emotional connection.  “How do you feel about…:

  • “Evolving your style? stretching your reach in your work?”
  • “New opportunities?” 
  • “Working for a company whose vision is aligned with yours?
  • “Embracing your innovative entrepreneurial spirit and opening your own company?
  • “Introducing a new fun fitness regime? ”
  • “Meeting someone new who values you?”
  • “Adding daily nutrient dense meals that will satisfy your cravings?”
*Note, the word change becomes: transformation, growth, life additions, evolution, embrace, vision, satisfaction, value, quality, freedom, opportunity. 

With emotional investment involved, the more we connect, and the more motivated we can be. Change can be less about losing and all about gaining. Revisit and write down positive words daily that describe your vision, associate them with your beginnings.

3. Be Real.

After failing at fad diets and disliking exercise, she decided to just live it up and indulge in life.. even if it meant shortening it. The health magazine expert suggested she write a letter to her grandchildren explaining why she will no longer be around. 

Harsh, yes. Effective? possibly.

What truths do we tell ourselves? Be honest about why these changes matter. You may not want to write future grandkids, but making notes & revisiting your ‘why’ can keep you on track.

4. Enlist the pro’s.

 Research action plans and enlist professionals. Recruit your tribe. Art dealers, mentors, business professionals, Doctors, fitness trainers, accountability to a running or weight watcher buddy, family, support centres, etc. 

Be open to professional advice, not meant to criticize, but to help. Letting go of the immediate defensive mechanism, we can learn so much and recognize their gift.

Here is to new beginnings, and friends, ..EVERY DAY is New Years.

~PS: After applying at a reputable gallery when first moving to Ontario, the owner agreed to review my portfolio and conduct an interview. His comments were unlike any I had encountered in my art career:

  • “How committed are you?” 
  • “You have a high stress office job, you need to change that. A less stressful day job frees your energy for creating. You work in acrylic, I would like to see what you can do in oil instead.”

I could have left to not return, feeling slightly criticized and rejected. Instead, I recognized an experts wisdom from working in the field for decades. He understood art, the market, and his clientele. 

I bought oil paints on the way home, mucking them up for a good year before I even had an inkling of how to use them.  I left my office job to work in a brewery, canning beer by hand. Although the smell was really bad, the stress wasn’t.

A year or so later, I unveiled my first oil painting collection ever at Farmhouse Pottery. 

It was an unexpected success. Later, a second show, even more so. At the end of the exhibit, the owner & I sat alone with a celebratory beverage. “And.. “ he announced, smiling, “they will call you an overnight success! “ his grin exploding into an infectious deep belly laugh.

Thanks Al, always. 

~“ The function of art is to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The artist shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see it anew.” Anais Nin

~ Be the change you wish to see in the world. ~

NEW WORK:

  • “Canoe” 18×36 oil ~ $2000.oo
  • “Brilliant Sun” 24×36 oil~ $2,390.oo
  • “Tree” 24×36 oil~ $2,390.oo