Most people who know me know that nearly everything I do in my art practice is geared towards running Art For Aid. It's my love child without a doubt and it takes a lot of work to run it some days. I wouldn't trade a single second of the past 8 years away unless it was for love. I wake up each day and try to figure out solutions for things that negate the word "equality". And I get to do it through art because I have a support network that allows me to be the bridge for good things to happen. My husband heads that team and there isn't a day that goes by when I'm not grateful for his unwavering faith in me. He shares my every accomplishment whether he knows it or not.
In truth, I'm a glorified shipping agent with some skills. The people who support my putting quality art and craft supplies into remote school and art education programs are the ones who stand in the sun - at least that's how I see it. There is just no way I could do this without the support of people who believe in the power of the arts to heal. They support me being my best self. People in the groove of grace and generosity are truly beautiful to watch in action.
I am a Professional Artist, a Kind Person and a Good Human. I am 'capital i' Indigenous and proud of it.
Everything has a Creation Story
A lot of you know about the incredible watercolour on synthetic paper art medium (WOSP) that has brought such joy, focus and peace to my life. The water and paint I use is the fuel in the tank that drives Art For Aid. I found this medium by accident.
In my personal journey when I found this medium several years ago, I was a grieving person, a wounded person, a broken, imperfect, but beautiful person. I was creatively flat-lined, adrift in etherous doldrums. I was feeling particularly vulnerable. I had artist's block, bad. I couldn't seem to find a new starting point. Nothing was appealing, nothing sparked my hunger to find a groove and get in it. I was a wasteland of creative dead ends and in the distance my nemesis muse hovered on the edge of my thoughts......"what if I can't get it back?".
Sometimes an artist reaches a point where passions begin to ebb and the flow of "...what if I can't get it back?" whispers to us on the coming tide. It causes a chill. Perhaps it's the fear of losing what we love so much. It's the fear of losing the very thing that allows us to safely pour every drop of our dying blood into a pool and then love it back to life. "What if I can't get it back?" - this feeling has led artists down dark and dangerous paths throughout history. The path of a painter is fraught with frayed bristles.
So there I was at the abyss of a decision; put away these art tools or get busy loving my dying blood back to life.
I made a decision to create my swansong, and then put the tools away. But then I got confused...so I went to the art store.
The next day I sat at my table with 140 lb coldpress watercolour paper on my right; on my left, synthetic paper and in the middle, my beloved ground mineral watercolour paints, a medicine smudge, and a braid of sweetgrass to interpret whatever might happen here. I had no idea what to do with either of these mediums. I was a pen artist.
I reached for the synthetic paper and the 140 lb coldpress paper at the same time to feel them - to try and sense something - anything. And there in my inner vision, I saw the Lunar Black moving across and through the water on the synthetic page surface from a unique perspective – as though I were a spider, watching the minerals float through the water to land on the bottom of the pool right before my eyes. It was only for a second, but that was more than enough time for me to see something that ignited a fuel-filled creative chamber deep inside me. What a rush to feel those juices come roaring back to life like so much gasoline.
I mixed the paint and lay it on the surface, not knowing what to expect, but needing to see the paint move over and into the water as had seen in my vision. The need to see it was like a hunger that drove me and for the next several hours, I did nothing but play with Lunar Black on a 5x7 piece of synthetic paper. I was grateful and moved to great heaving tears of creative overflow. I was riding a serene wave of energy and newness and peace and everything else that was crowding in from the universe while I experimented with my beautiful Lunar Black.
I put my tobacco into the smudge and lit the sweetgrass, and thanked everything profusely.
I felt as though I were guided to this incredible art form, driven by hunger and by feelings of stagnation. This work gives me something every time I sit down to paint.
There is tremendous healing in all the arts, and in particular, there is great healing from the benevolent spirits who flow through the water and paint in a gathering as old as colour.