Rant One: life subverts art, again?

OK, so I will admit right up front that this is going to be a bit of a rant post, no way around it. I will try to keep it brief and can only hope it serves some purpose besides ranting.

One of the classic problems of the Artist is an evil trio of time, money, and space (figuratively and metaphorically).   I have been raised on these notions. I am fortunate not to have the space problem. We found this place in 2000 and I am so glad that I wouldn’t compromise on our property requirements. I wanted a place that had a separate workshop that could be converted to a studio easily. Now I have a fantastic, gobsmacking

New palm tree in front of studio
View of the studio from the main house on the day of the palm tree installation – I have always wanted one of these. We are on the west coast after all.

space that is the envy of many (so I’ve been told). It has taken me years, the support of my partner, and some cash (materials and professionals when needed), and DIY sweat to make it what it is today – spacious, well stocked with materials at hand to create most of what I want, and an aura of creativity that is inspiring to say the least.

In the early years, my partner Michael created the most gorgeous (and dead cheap) ceiling out of rustic pine, installed a peacock blue metal roof, and gyprocked the chipboard walls (wood walls=bliss for painters); I painted the concrete floor in the main space.   The latest round of renos to the studio included new windows with screens, a new floor on a section where only sub-floor was before (and is now my daughter Haley’s Soapistry business production area), finishing trim around windows, floors etc. and four real convection heaters. The exterior got a good power wash, new soffits all around and enclosed part of the underside, fascia board, a new entrance door, fresh cherry stain and bright blue trim paint to match the roof.  I can now work in there year round. My next round includes water and better lighting!

BeFunky Collage3.jpgI blush sometimes when friends come by and express amazement at the work on the walls (some slyly note that some of it hasn’t changed in a while..), and the general aesthetics of the space. The blush is because I am self-conscious about the fact that I don’t have a space problem, but rather a time and energy problem; and of course a whole list of unfinished projects problem -all supremely lame excuses, I know.  Working to make money has taken the majority of my time and life and energy. I have this great space, but life actually gets in the way of utilizing it to the degree I should. I am shamefaced to admit that when I do have time on the weekend, its often the other things that are in constant competition for my time and space – especially the space in my head. Mental space, and the shortage of mental space are real things to me.

I also have a permanent need to recover from work (any activity actually) due to a long-term issue with vertigo that is getting better, but isn’t going away, and never will fully.  I am also, ugh, aging. Damn humanity.

I might actually choose to be a vampire if given the chance.  There are options for vampires now, like animal blood and Red Cross donors.

Whaa Whaa. So what am I doing about it? A good question that I battle with daily.  People say ‘you can only do so much’ or ‘don’t beat yourself up about it’.  I hear their logic and it comes back on me immediately as sour bile.  I am starting to understand something though, about aging: as we get older we are running out of time. Duh right? When I was younger this never registered.  I feel it all the time now.  There is so much yet to do and explore and we need every second to get us there, wherever that is. I see friends and colleagues who get to retirement and don’t last too much longer.  There has to be a better answer.

So I am paying attention closely, to others – as mentors and ‘higher powers’ who collectively are telling me something really important about life and living. Some examples in my near circle and who are drawing me into a new conversation and thoughts about this time/life problem are my dear artist friends who are an inspiration and real examples of people working it through and continuing to be creative and innovative in every aspect of life every single day: Constance Cooke – choreographer and dancer; Claire Paulette Turcotte – artist, poet and Shaman, Michele Hayeur Smith – artist, Norse archaeologist, activist, Olga Lysenko – artist, teacher, Jean Maddison and Martin Grove – artists, teachers, philosopher/mentors, Alfred Muma – artist and community activator. My neice Ashleigh Giffen – play write and activist. And of course, my family are always a grounding fabric of daily life, buoying me through all the crap.

Summer 2015.  Journaling in the backyard of Olga Lysenko and Paul Martin. Working in a handmade book created at Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) Studios in Toronto.


I encourage you to keep a journal. Write things down and take your inventory. I know it may seem like a cliche, but it’s not.  I’m going to write more about this in a later post, but I realized recently that all the ass-whipping I dole out to myself is a bit of bunk. I am doing just what I need to do, and plenty more than I did a year ago: Dr.Sketch’s Anti Art School Life Drawing (at night time even, whoa), gardening like mad, walking/photographing parks, working on paintings and book projects, talking whenever possible about art and nothing about work, listening to others (not enough to some it’s true), planning and making lists.

My advice to anyone who cares: talk to people every day, especially your parents if you can. They will be gone one day and then it will be too late. Talk to your siblings and your friends.  This is the meat and potatoes of daily life. Eat it up.

Is life really subverted?

Luckily I have finally learned to take a pause and think about things a little before hitting ‘send’or in this case, ‘publish’.  My life is not subverted. As my daughter Adryan would most likely say, I am a privileged white post-colonist and need to appreciate (or feel guilty for) what I have. Too true. Oh, the legacy. I’m sure she is going to comment on this.

In the end:

I admire my visiting artist in residence Miyoko Caubet for her amazing insight and ability to challenge life, and just do it.  What a bold strike to just leave her native home in France and come to Canada and be an artist here.  She is led by her curiosity and her energy. She spends it appropriately where she wants and needs to . She is the example to follow people. Take risks, and try it.


PS> I’m sure there is a post script in here somewhere….good luck finding it.


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