Experiences make up who we are and ultimately for me, influences the artwork that I make. I had many great experiences this year, and I thought I would break it down for you all, showing some highlights of each month with some behind the scenes pictures of the paintings I’ve created, as well as some of the adventures and experiences that inspired me.
January.. (AKA my birthday month) is usually a little slow after the holidays. For a short time, I went every Wednesday to the local senior center to give painting tips and guidance to a painting group there. I looked forward to the two mile walk there and back each week. I love walking, and it was a good time for me to use my legs and get some fresh air in the wintertime. The company was light hearted and sweet, like a bunch of aunties who love to get together to chat, paint and laugh. The first painting that I started was the basket of roses. I painted it in a fever, and it kicked off a year of floral painting for me. Ulan surprised me with a stay in McMinnville for my birthday, and the drive out there was my favorite part. What I love about living in Oregon, is everything is still new to me and driving an hour feels like traveling.
We started Teaching our classes at the Art Department in February which goes for 8 weeks. I was wrapping up The Calling in February and we hosted figure study every Saturday.
We did a couple different portrait painting demonstrations for the public which is always a fun way to meet new people. I used to be so afraid of painting in front of an audience and would feel like there was a lot of pressure to be exceptional. After some experience though, I don’t worry about it so much. Maybe it’s because I have more confidence in my abilities, but mostly I realize that people love watching the process. Demoing (to the general public) is more about letting people know you exist in an environment where they can ask questions and gain a new appreciation for art.
I also finally made it to the Oregon Trail Museum in Oregon City. The stories of the people who migrated West are far more incredible than I had imagined before.
April was the month that I met my puppy for the first time, on Easter. I still can’t believe how small she was! I honestly can’t express with words how much she has changed my life. The bond is real!
I also mentored two high school seniors through the Salem Art Association’s mentorship program. They met up at my studio after school twice a month and ended up with two beautiful drawings. They are bright girls with so much potential and I feel lucky to have played a part in their lives.
The air really started to smell like blooms, like I was swimming in them and I jumped at every opportunity to study them. I have a pink dogwood tree in my front yard that I clipped a branch from and nursed it for a couple of weeks in order to paint it. I hung it on the wall with dental floss, which didn’t pop out visually too much and held up well. Those tough flowers stayed alive for 3 weeks! I visited Schreiner’s Iris garden which is one of the dreamiest places to wander around and spend the afternoon painting or reading a book. My good friend Val sent me a book on Anne Vallayer-Coster, who was the court painter of Marie Antoinette. Her still life's are breathtaking and I gained a lot of inspiration from her work this year.
We taught a work shop series in our studio in May and June where we talked about everything from making panels, to the anatomy of the human head, to design basics. We also had a portrait painting workshop that went well. June is also the month where we help Ulan’s dad haul hay for his horses, which typically lands on the hottest day of the year of course!
I like to make it to the St Paul Rodeo on the 4th of July. I love to snack on kettle corn while watching cowboys and cowgirls fly by at top speed on beautiful beasts. It’s something I never thought I would enjoy before I moved to Oregon. We were hard at work in the studio for the rest of the month, preparing for our show Evolvement in August.
This was the month that the traveling began. My parents arrived for their first visit to Oregon, and we spent two weeks road tripping around the state. There is nothing I love more than driving around Oregon and witnessing her beauty. Our show went well and we did a talk one evening about our paintings, going in depth about what inspired our pieces and the design process. We were overwhelmed by the support of this little town and felt really appreciated.
The adventure continued in September, when I had the opportunity to travel to Italy after winning the grand prize and first place in the Artist’s Magazine’s annual art competition. You can read all about that trip here.
in October things started to slow down. It takes a while for me to get settled into my studio routine after a big trip, with my mind still buzzing with excitement and inspiration. I usually get into the brainstorming stage in this mind set, and do a lot of writing and drawing in my sketchbook. The weather was exceptional in October so I went for a lot of walks with my dog.
I started this blog in November, which felt a bit intimidating but I have been enjoying the process of creating these posts. I was feeling the need to connect with people on a more regular basis. Many of you have been such a big support system to me over the years, and starting this blog is my little way of saying hello and thank you every week. Please do feel free to ask questions or make requests for topics you would like me to write about, in the comment section below, or send me an email.
I started a still life painting and a commission in November, and since then the whirlwind of the holiday season has taken hold on me, but I am chipping away. We were also invited to a house concert which I wrote about here.
I have decorated a tree in our studio for the second year now. I thought that I wouldn’t have enough ornaments for it, but soon realized I had a ton that have been given to me as presents from Aunts and Uncles over the years, which have accumulated! My favorites are the ones my parents made on their first Christmas together after getting married. They made little clothes pin dolls (drummer, archer, sheriff, Santa and Mrs. Claus, doctor, three kings..etc.). Last year I asked if they would mail one or two for me to add to a couple still life paintings, instead they sent all of them to me to keep. These ornaments were on the tree every year growing up and having them on my tree now, being so far away from my family, makes me feel closer to them and reminds me of their happy marriage and love for their family.
Ulan designed palettes this year (and I helped sand them). we sell unfinished ones at The Art Department in downtown Salem, and had a few finished ones that turned out really beautiful. We sold them to a few local artists, and are considering making a lot more. We also did a demonstration at the Art Department during Salem’s Something Red show to promote our winter classes.
I am now ending the year in silk pajamas (thank you Mindy!) which makes me feel like a queen. I’ve made my family’s pork pie recipe, which has been passed down from my French Canadian grandparents. My mother makes one every year for each of her kids to take home and eat on Christmas Day. I asked her for the recipe and started making it myself (since she can’t send one across the country to me). I didn’t care too much for it as a kid, but now I can’t go without it. Every bite tastes like Christmas, though Ulan strongly suggests it should be a year round tradition.
I still hope to make it to Christmas in the Garden at the Oregon Garden this year! I am not much for big New Years parties these days. Mostly I just get a bottle of Champagne, make something tasty and paint until midnight. I do enjoy a good fire works display and miss watching Seattle’s best, but I am perfectly happy at home as well.
Thank you all for following along on this blog so far, and for supporting me in creating more art. There are great things on the horizon and I am so excited to share them with you all here. Wishing you a beautiful New Year filled with inspiration and success.