Studio Diaries 7: Spring, Series & Style

SD eps 7 Tree Says Spring

The other day I looked out the studio window and saw the telltale sign of spring: the little extensions on the end of the tree branches. No matter what the thermometer says, no matter what the weather reports, the only one I believe is the tree. She tells me when spring is really here.

2016 First Garden Photo

And this is why I trust her! On Art Day, I looked out the kitchen window and saw green! I grabbed my camera and ran outside to have a look. I was shocked and delighted to discover just how far the tulips had already come! I asked Shannon for her patience as I freed these sprouts from their protective chicken wire. Clearly it had done its job, saving some of these beauties from the squirrels, but now it seemed to be strangling them! A gentle cut here and there and they were free.

This is similar to what happens in our own creative lives. As we begin the delicate task of growing, we need protection, a gentle shield against those who might tear asunder our tender showings.  When we have grown enough to stand on our own, the defense that had once been so key to our survival blocks our way. Then it is time to let go of that precious protection and brave what is next.

Developing a Series

Art Day this week asked me for some bravery. Our assignment for Carla Sonheim’s Y is for Yellow class was to do gesture drawings, quick drawings that capture the movement, the essence of a figure. I know this is one of Shannon’s all-time favourite art forms. In fact, I remember a theatre poster that brought together her drawings of essential moments of the actors. Striking! For me though, ack! I’d never done anything like this before and it seemed wildly intimidating. The good thing was that it only required seconds of courage! At the speed of this exercise, 5 figures could be done in about a minute. I could be brave for a minute! What I found was that when I was in the experience, there wasn’t time to be afraid or to judge. There was just the work. I was reminded, once again, how often the answer to our creative conundrums is found in the work itself.

The other challenge coming in the time ahead is to develop a series. Shannon and I spent some of our time talking about what our series might be, what it might look like. I looked to what I have enjoyed most over the past several years of Art Day. What left me always wanting to do another piece and another and another? I know that there must be an element of discovery and surprise for me. I lean towards watercolours, mostly for their ease of use and the way they look and feel with pen. This reflection was a great way for me to gather my knowing about myself as an artist. For this series I have set myself some specs: watercolour and found drawings on a paper square. I can’t wait to get started!

Fresh Collective Role Model

Something else I can’t wait to get started is this new and exciting adventure I am on with Fresh Collective here in Toronto! A friend of mine suggested that I apply to their role model campaign so I had a look.

We love entrepreneurship, creativity, self-expression and community. Inspired by our customers, the Role Models Program is designed to celebrate those values, showing you fabulous ways to look great while you’re living your fabulous life out loud!

Clearly we are on the same page! So I filled out my application, had a conversation with Laura-Jean, the founder of Fresh Collective, and now I am officially a Role Model! How cool is that?! I am so excited by all of the possibilities not to mention my very first photo shoot, which is coming next week. Wish me luck! And expect to see a new haircut soon.

Iris Apfel Made Growing Old Cool

I have always been very inspired by style while being incredibly against repressive attitudes we see in the fashion industry. For me, the whole point of style is to express the uniqueness of who you are, to help you shine your individual light and grace into this world. It is for each of us to be a unique wildflower, not one in a series of homogeneous cultivated roses. (I have nothing against roses, mind you!) That’s why I so enjoy this short video of the exquisite Iris Apfel, especially this quote:

The greatest fashion faux-pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else.

Iris Apfel

Here’s to looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves!

Creative Prompts for Your Studio (Remember, your life is your studio)

  • Take some time to notice the changing season around you. What are the telltale signs where you are?
  • Like the tulips, is there something you’ve relied on for protection that it’s time to let go of? Will you let go?
  • What have you been wanting to try that feels intimidating? Muster a moment of courage and dive in, if only for a minute or two. See what changes after you step across the bridge of fear and truly encounter the work.
  • What do you know about yourself as an artist? Take some time to look at the creative work that you most enjoy doing and look for clues. What mediums, themes, motifs, approaches are you drawn to again and again and again?
  • Is there an opportunity that you’ve been eyeing? What would it take for you to throw your hat in the ring? Do it this week!
  • Put together one outfit (even if you have to buy a piece or pieces) that when you wear it, you look in the mirror and who you see is you. Wear it.

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