Sunday, October 31, 2010

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. ~ Schumann

Over the past couple of months, as I have been going through this whole ordeal of being diagnosed with breast cancer, and now approaching my surgery date on November 1st, one of the things that has been repeatedly said to me, is that people are surprised how positive my attitude is.

For the most part, I agree. Once I got over having heard that I have cancer, and got over the thought of losing a breast, the only real option, in my opinion, is to focus on what happens after. I refuse to live my life in misery because of this, and I do have that choice.

Do I have some fears about this? Sure. I am more afraid though of the actual surgery, than I am of dying of cancer. I am not even that afraid of pain after the surgery, though no one likes pain. Pain is temporary, as is the cancer. It's the actual surgery itself that scares me. My grandmother died on the table when I was 17 years old, and even though I know intellectually that they were operating on her heart, whereas they won't be going anywhere near my life dependant systems, I have that fear. Irrational, I know.

Once the surgery is over, I need to move on, and I need to live my life. I have prepared myself as best as I can, finding photos of post operative reconstructive surgeries, and reading about various patients' experiences. I have looked at the scars, I have cried, and then I have told myself that I can do this.

I have previously joked in this blog about how my paintings have had boobs showing up in them. Of course, I have had the surgery very much on my mind. Keeping my sense of humour has helped me keep things in perspective.

Somewhere along the line, when I was doing the found objects projects, I found some of those plastic egg containers that you can put toys or treats inside of, and once again I was thinking boobs.

I started a painting - one that was my way of saying goodbye to my breast. When my teacher saw it, he suggested a different approach, saying I didn't need to be quite so literal. He suggested "lots of feathers". So, I have done the art pieces both ways, because I really wanted to express this the way I originally saw it in my minds eye, but also thought that the other approach was worth trying as well.

Using the egg cups as breasts, but also as symbols of renewal, I gave them golden wings using gold leaf. 

With Golden Wings To Fly

16" x 20" Acrylic and plastic on stretched canvas

Next, I used found feathers from the lakeshore, and the remaining pink egg cups to create another way of saying it.

Thinking Beyond Pink
16" x 20" feathers and plastic on stretched canvas

It has been suggested to me that I should put myself in a place where I can be an example to other women going through this. To help them to have the same positive attitude that I have. I am not sure how I can do that, or even if I am the greatest of examples. I cannot choose their attitude for them. But I hope that maybe my work can show them at least one way of dealing with it. Maybe in this way, I can help send light into the darkness of someones heart, somehow, somewhere.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The world is perfect. As you question your mind, this becomes more and more obvious. - Byron Katie

After enjoying the found objects project so much, I felt like it would be great to repeat that kind of exercise. So, of course, I was quite pleased to find an amazing little "bird cage" made of wicker, with a little plastic bird attached on the outside.

What was the first thing I thought of doing with it? Well, put a cat in it of course! I came home to our kitten, and wondered if she would allow me to put her inside. Sweet thing that she is, she sat quietly long enough for me to grab a picture of her, then I lifted it off her, while I laughed maniacally, and uploaded the picture to Facebook for my friends to see.

I wasn't done though. I still wanted to put a cat in it for my found objects project. Now, I just needed to find the components to do that. On the day of my class, I still hadn't found said objects. Which is why, when my son came racing down the stairs for the fourth time in the past couple of weeks, saying he was late again, and needing a lift again, I was frankly peeved. I wanted to spend my morning figuring out my project.

Reluctantly, I agreed to drive him to his friends place, telling him to look out for peoples garbage at the end of driveways, or garage sales. As life would have it, just around the corner from his friends place, there was a house with a large Home Depot container for renovation garbage. My son thought I was crazy, but I rang their doorbell, and asked if I could look through their container for stuff to make my art project with, and - bingo! 

Which just makes me smile and say, ain't life perfect sometimes?

L-12" x W-12" x H-14"

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The nude portrait is only incidentally about the naked person in the middle of the room." - Paula Brook

I love the quote that I have used to open this post, and these examples from the past two weeks are great illustrations of it.

In my first class this semester, we were discussing making art with found objects, and the upcoming work we would be doing with it. Not having any objects with us, with which to start though, we were told we could go to the studio next door, and paint from the life model who was there.

So, off I went to sketch from the life model, who was a slim man with well defined muscles, though not overly built. I figured I would do a fast sketch, then bring the canvas back to the other room, so as not to be overly influenced, and stray too close to realism. I wanted the finished product to definitely look like a portrait, but an abstracted one. Once I abstracted from the sketch though, in place of his pectoral muscle, was a glaring boob! I thought I was done with the boob paintings, that I had expressed whatever I needed to about my current circumstances, but clearly, my unconscious mind has decided I am not.

I really like this painting though. There is something in the colours and freedom of the painting, and it just feels right to me.

Abstracted Figure
18 x 24 Acrylic on canvas

Next came the Found Objects project. This was fun, as you don't really know what you'll be creating until you find something. First I found a cabinet with glass doors, so I took the doors off to use them for my frame. Next, I found a leftover container from a Kinder Surprise toy. Naturally, given my circumstances, that reminded me of boobs - again! So, I went with the flow, and allowed the idea that started to form take life. A couple of shoelaces, some string, a little wire and a light switch later, I had what I needed for this one. 

I had thought I would look for some material to use as curtains behind the glass, but my teacher said we should look at it against a white background. When we did, the lighting revealed some really interesting shadows and effects, so I decided to leave it as is. By the way, yes, the light switch does go up and down.  

Here is a second picture with the table in the background, so that you can see the lines a little bit better.

Opening Doors
Approximately 36 x 24, glass, wood and more.

After all this, I thought, really thought, that I would be finally done with the boob paintings. But, wait 'till you see what I came up with next....