Real Artists do this....

Real artists paint in oils.
Real artists use film cameras.
Real artists don't photoshop.
Real artists use stone lithography.
Real artists use physical instruments - not digital beats.

Finding a trend here? Me too - This was the conversation I had with an art critic from Saskatoon, Sk. I had come across his article reviewing a local artist who painted in oils and he stated that "real artists paint in oils". Since I'm an acrylic artist, I found it hard to swallow that I wasn't a real artist so I contacted him to see why he made that opinion.

Turns out, he was taught in oils - a more traditional medium than acrylics I suppose but I think budding artists are taught to think a certain way. For example, I grew up in a small town where art was good if it was an exact replica of reality. Art just wasn't art if it had a narrative or if it was abstract. So I practiced and practiced realism, trying to get it just.....right.

When digital cameras came out I was used to SLR film cameras and felt that the digital camera was cheating. Now everybody could be a photographer. When a friend of mine went to college for digital art, I secretly thought "that's not real art". Quite frankly, I'm a bit like the critic I spoke of earlier. I cannot grasp digital art being a "real" art form. Why? because it's not how I was taught and it's not what I love. I cannot help but to favor my art form. But that cannot excuse me from accepting a new age of art mediums.

The new era of art encompasses processes that make new art that perhaps a traditional medium just couldn't do. Let's appreciate that. You don't have to like it, but we can still appreciate it. I have noticed that in a lot of "fine art" competitions (whatever that means), oils are still the most popular winners. I scroll through the competitors and see all kinds of works that to me, "stand out" more than the oil winner. Most of the oil paintings that win look quite the same....heavy, impressionistic brush strokes...landscapes or portraits. Why is that?

I was once in an art competition where I placed second next to a figurative artist (I paint architecture). The judge was a figurative artist and when I asked what could make my art number one the next year, she simply said - maybe a new judge. She knows how to judge figurative art, not architecture so partially, her bias got in the way. could that be said for a lot of judges in these "fine art" competitions? Maybe, but I can't say forsure.

I will be so bold to say to art critics and adjudicators - step out of your mould and try to understand something different. We as artists are being told to push the limits and enjoy new media, so why can't the judges?

What do you think makes an artist a real artist?

Farm life For a City Slicker


For the longest time I considered myself a city girl, refusing to associate with those uneducated country bumpkins. Well, as I become more educated, I realize how much I still don't know. Here's what I meant....As I aged and began a family, I wanted to move to a safer environment, have lots of room for my kids to grow up, and have homegrown food choices. Oh - wait - that's pretty much where I grew up and wanted desperately to leave from! In the small town with a bunch of "uneducated country bumpkins". Oh how naive I was. 

As you've read in previous posts, we moved to the country - not my hometown, but an acreage nonetheless. An acreage with a hundred year old house, two quonsets, and old barn, and lots and lots of work. I learned quickly about the different kinds of knowledge there is. I have a bachelor's degree in architecture but definitely no degree in agriculture, horticulture, livestock, or just plain homesteading.

First, there was the ticks. Those nasty, awful, blood sucking parasites that live in the tall grass and bushes so prominent in the prairies. Well, when we got to the acreage, it looked like nothing had been mowed in years!!! Everyday for about a month we'd be picking off ticks. We even made a trip to the hospital after finding one on my 5 year old son that had been there for some time. In case you don't know, ticks can carry diseases that can cause death. Well, money or no money, it was time for a riding lawnmower, a whipper snipper, and a chainsaw. That's my parents weeding in the first picture and an overgrown weather vein and metal wheel in the second picture.

Well, after grooming the tall brush from the edge of our home and property, the ground bees attacked and it was full out war. They'd enter the house in all sorts of ways until we plugged all the holes. Their final entry was the chimney but then simply died in the basement. Yuck!

The mice - good thing we have cats, but the nests in the yard were unreal. Speaking of cats, apparently our long time cat we had in the city wasn't as good at avoiding vehicles on the grid road as she was at avoiding them in city streets - she died. You can see her if your look closely at the wooded picture.

Then the lawnmower had issues but we're not exactly small motor experts, and have yet to clear the land for livestock and a garden but have no equipment to do so.

Then the mosquitoes! Basically, run from the car to the house without opening your mouth or breathing. Open and shut the door as quickly as possible or suffer the wrath of buzzing in your ears all night and itching your face all day.

Then the black flies...where do they even come from?

Then the maple bugs - why are there so many? We only have one elm tree!

The there's garbage removal. There is no simple black or blue bins to throw your waste and recycling in to. You burn it, compost it, or collect it and haul it away. 


Then there's the first snow storm. Most of the grid roads to civilization are not protected by trees and when the storm hit, we were at work in the city- 30 minutes away. We packed our kids at the end of the work day, crawled home, and got stuck within the first 30 feet of grid road. We had 5 miles to go - well, that didn't happen. We managed to get unstuck enough to head back on the highway and rent a hotel in the city for the night. The next day, after the end of the work day, we tried again. We followed the goat tracks (trails that trucks have previously made) and got stuck again. And again. And again. And again, until we managed to plow over the centre snow and ice mounds too high for our family van. 

So, needless to say, our knowledge base is ever expanding in ways universities don't teach. It's not all bad though either. The sunsets and sun rises are unmatched. Leaving for work in the morning there is often clouds that sit in the valley that make it seem like we're in heaven. The sounds of owls and crickets at night is more soothing than sirens and screaming out our front door in the city. Watching deer through your window munch on the berries is quite lovely, and the northern lights, milky way, and cluster of stars are so clearly visible that you can almost touch them. And the rainbow ends in the field across the road from us only a walking distance away. These surreal experiences make the learning curve much more tolerable.

In the end, those "uneducated country bumpkins" are more educated in ways you could not understand until you fill their shoes. I have come to appreciate both city life and country life and the people that embody each way. My body of art is supposed to reflect more than the object in the window, but the reflection of life that it touched. These new learning experiences put me in the shoes of those who know the land, used the tools, and shared similar experiences. I can't wait to get started on some new pieces!


Beginning Again

It's not easy to maintain an art business when that's not your sole source of income. About 7 years ago, I began the dream to become a professional artist. It was after my first boy was born and the process was going well. But fear held me back. Fear of not being able to support my child(ren), and then fear of actually becoming successful. Then I'd have to be my own boss, and keep up with my Blog, and Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and shipping, and accounting, and of course, immense amount of creating-all on top of a full time job. Sheesh! That's a lot of effort. Would I even have time for my family? What if I don't get enough support to earn a living? Fear held me back. Fear, made me lazy. And so I didn't pursue art business with as much determination as I should have.

I've recently been researching my genealogy. The story begins when my great grandfathers immigrated here from Prussia in 1875. They travelled by ship across the seas, to a country relatively unknown and foreign to escape military execution for their religious beliefs and began again. They then took the new rail road across Eastern Canada from Quebec to Moose Jaw and travelled 160 km of grassland by horse and cart to establish a colony to live in peaceful relations with other cultures taking the same journey. They tilled untouched soils with horse following behind on foot with a plough, in order to begin again. They built sod houses and lived in conditions where snakes could burrow into their homes, sometimes falling from ceilings, all so that they could begin again. They faced droughts and floods and tornatoes and bug infestations, so that they could begin again. They lost many children to disease before immunizations were invented, so that they could begin again.

When I think of my ancestors I am encouraged to keep going. What do I have to fear? They came here so I could live the way that I do today. To create art and blog, and tweet, and package things, seems like a walk in the park compared to the life of my ancestors. And so here I am, beginning again. I hope my journey can inspire others along the way.

Here is the link to my original blog, left stagnant in 2013. That is a part of my journey.