Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Alex Janvier

(source), Alex Janvier, Where the Big Fish Live, 1973

(source), Alex Janvier, the insurance on the tee pee, 1972

Alex Janvier is one of Canada's premier artists, his work is ethereal and soul lifting, and political all at the same time. I love his work- I find it wholly original and unique, and somehow related to his past and cultural background without being unrelatable or single minded. His aboriginal background informs his work, and yet it's not the only thing that informs his work. It's simply an expression of who he is- and it's so modern and beautiful for that.

The field of post-colonial art critiques is a minefield, especially in a country like Canada with such a recent colonial history-so I'm tempted not to even bring this up- but I think it's integral to (my love of) Janvier's work in particular, so I'll do my best to add this; He is a living example of a culture that is so often represented in a way that makes it seem like past history.

One of the nasty things about colonialism is the way that it makes whatever culture it's currently trying to colonize out to be a dead culture. This can be seen devastatingly in Canada's policies of assimilation (residential schools, Indian act laws etc.), or even the tendency to look at certain traditions as a historical re enactment (like oh polish dancing- what a great way to get to know your cultural history- instead of oh that's part of your culture, neat). It disintegrates that particular culture, it also makes the members of that culture cling to the way things were without realising that they are living members of that culture, not some dying race. It stops that culture from changing and suiting the needs of current generations, which kills it off for good, as it becomes something other than what they do every day. As a result that culture becomes an antiquity, a historical relic.

Alex Janvier's works are gems among Canada's art scene, and the best thing is that he's prolific, check out his latest works at his website-

Friday, January 28, 2011

happy friday

Just a quick post to say hello, and to share my first paperwhite blooms- they opened yesterday evening- so pretty- and so welcome in this wintery month. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's already thursday?!?

Ah well- if nothing else here's a picture of my kid using the cat as a pillow.
We've been sleeping this week- I'd finally hit the wall of sleep deprivation on Sunday night- and went to bed shivery and nauseous feeling - with N, at 8 pm. And since then I've been taking naps with her too- this whole night waking- toddler teething thing has caught up to me and as much as I was getting accomplished during her nap time- it wasn't really serving me well. I felt as sleep deprived as I did when she was weeks old- which was okay then because people assumed I wasn't up for much and they encouraged me to nap with her and feed my family peanut butter for supper and stuff like that. So this week has been for sleeping, and it's amazing how a couple of days of naps coupled with no happy toddler face staring at you at 4 am can re stock your shelves so to speak.
As you can imagine not too much else is going on here- just a batch of cookies, a pot of soup, some loaves of sourdough, and a very interesting pasta that used salsa as a sauce and had elk sausage and shrimp in it- yum, yum.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In the Studio this week

Jeans were patched, jackets were mended, cozy fleece sweaters were finally put together, aprons were sewn, some valentine decorations were finished and hung, and fabric was cut for a long dreamed of table runner. My basket of sewing to-dos is considerably emptier- but there are still a few projects that need finishing; a button decorated pillow that I started when I was pregnant with N, a quilt that needs one square (yes one square!) added to it, a favorite chenille blanket that needs some care, and yet another one of K's work jackets to mend.

K is so hard on jeans, that this year I finally started patching them for him, he's been wanting me to do some for a long time, but in the past I was too busy working outside of the house to get to them. Also I didn't have a space for my sewing machine to sit permanently, so every time I needed to add a patch I had to drag it out on the dining room table. As I was patching these ones for the second time (some are at their last patch job I think as the fronts are mostly patches by now), I was thinking how uncommon it is for people to make their clothes last in this way anymore, it used to be common, and expected to patch clothes- work clothes especially.

It's not a huge amount of money to buy new jeans when one pair wears out, but it is money, and it's also not exactly necessary to have pristine work jeans. Patching clothes is a way to make them last a season longer than they would normally, but also a way to add value or recognize the value of the items that we use. When an item is thrown away (or turned to rags) when it could be fixed, we're wasting so much of it. It may seem overly cheap and miserly to patch clothes in the big scheme of things, but I think that type of frugality is important, and it relays into other aspects of life, if you're willing to make the most of the smallest things it gives a feeling of resourcefulness that can seep into other parts of your life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lusting after table runners

(source)- I think this doily table runner is gorgeous and modern and classy- but it might not be right for our house.

One of the big things that happened over Christmas was that K finished the dining room table, (well, it still needs a few finishing touches- like paint- but we'll get to that). It's a giant table-8 feet- homey and beautiful- with a hand carved skirt and custom turned legs. And ever since we've got it inside the house I've been thinking of table runners, something just as beautiful- maybe even seasonal ones.

here are some links to the runners I'm ogling this week:

Diary of a Quilter

Pleasant Home

Sew Mama Sew

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Nook Jackson

I think it's time for me to bring back some art on Mondays, so here goes I'll kick off with someone personal, Erna Nook Jackson. These paintings are some that we started collecting a few years ago- by a female artist- of some connection to A.Y. Jackson. They're landscapes and they're really painterly works. I'm not sure what her history is, but it seems likely to me that she was trained at least a little bit- and her works were informed by the group of seven- that particular style of paintings.

They're lovely works- very free, and complex- yet simple- she's given just enough marks to imply great detail, without complicating the scene. I find the works themselves inspire me to paint- they remind me of the reasons I love to paint, and what I want my own works to be like, they're like touchstones for me- something that encourages and centers my paintings.

Living in a winter wonderland

We've been having some serious snowy weather here for the past week- some days we've had 10 cm (4 inches) of snow back to back, which is kind of romantic I suppose as long as you're not the one who has to blow out the lanes, (a job that K manages with some help from his dad). There is so much snow here it's mind boggling, if this is not some sort of record winter for snowfall I'll be surprised, very surprised.

It is beautiful though, it's the type of snow that covers everything, like a down comforter, and sticks in the trees for a long time after it snows- it's gentle and cozy, not a stormy sort of snow. It's surprising to see the wild life out there at all- it seems as though the whole world should be sleeping- underneath the snow in little burrows.
Despite that we've been spying some squirrels, and a pair of chickadees, a troupe of grouse stop by the yard now and again, and a small doe has been coming to eat the birdseed I've scattered, when that happens N and I follow it around from window to window, trying not to get too excited. I can't wait for spring- and yet there is a certain charm to this type of winter, as long as the roof doesn't cave in under weight of the snow that is.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In the Studio

We've been doing a little reorganizing around the house, and my studio caught the brunt of it (luckily), the result is a space that feels like I could actually get some work done. all kinds of work- sewing, painting, even some clay if I can't get out to the shop. It's a breath of fresh air to have that space sorted out- even though there's still a *few* tubs of fabric and what not around that need a home, the majority is all cleaned up, so now all that's left to do is make use of the studio.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


A little quote :

" There is a direct relationship between self nurturing and our capacity for a sustained creative flow. We don't want to work spasmodically and sporadically. We want to work consistently and creatively. This means we must treat ourselves as finely tuned mechanisms. We must learn what makes us thrive and give ourselves a diet of those nutrients."
pg. 97, Letters to a Young Artist, Julia Cameron

I think this is true for everyone- not just 'artists'- how much better would our lives be if we could identify and feed ourselves only what we needed in order to thrive?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

O Tannenbaum

The tree is still up...I don't know when to take it down, as long as it smells good, I feel like it's a shame to get rid of it. I actually even hung some of the ornaments that I bought after christmas, on sale- just the other day. For some reason I feel like it's lazy to leave it up- but I also can't bring myself to take it down- how long is it okay to leave it up?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I'm generally pretty bad with resolutions, so a few years ago I stopped making them, but this year I've been thinking about it differently. A newsletter I subscribe to asked this question a few months ago : "what are you dedicated to? would someone know that you are dedicated to this thing by your actions?", and it's been on my mind ever since. I'm a firm believer that actions speak louder- or more clearly at least- than words, so maybe that's why I'm moved by this question. There are things that I am dedicated to that are crystal clear to anyone who spends time with me- but then there's making art- which is something I let pass to easily, I'm busy and so making art and working on my craft are among the first things I put off, I think it's clear that art is important to me- but it's the process of making art that I let slip.

So my new years resolution is going to be to make art daily, and to do as many things that support the making of art as possible- studio reorganization, becoming a member in some arts organizations, even applying for grants. I'm looking at it as a re dedication of sorts, a chance for me to focus, and build a working practice for myself.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

wishing you well as we strech towards the light of a new year.