James Edward Hergel, Canadian Artist: A Collection

…home holds the heart as nothing else can

find me, buried in this frost & moondance rhythm of light & dark

the northern lights have held me hostage, willingly I die with them 

each summer, each dawn

this quiet haven of stilled sweetness,  thick & beloved, pining admidst the lucid shadows of winter—

there, all things are converging & tearing apart

my heart, my heart



I could pretend I know much more about Canadian artists than I do, but one thing I do know, Canadian artists seem to be some of the most illustrative & colourful. At least, my favourites are & I rarely see art from other countries that touches my heart the same way. 

Perhaps it is the bleak long winters devoid of colour, but I gravitate towards the intense images & bold colours. Often there is a fluidity to the lines that reminds me of blowing snow more than water. The shift colour gradients & deep shadows in many artist’s works is so engrossing. 

From a young age I wanted to be an artist, & for reasons I can’t quite understand, I felt very discouraged from this path. Only now do I realize you just can’t fight these things, you must let yourself be taken along for the ride with artistic journeys. For me, I could pretend only, to be anything else. My nature is artistic. 

Whether it’s been music, writing, visual art, fabric art—I am by nature an artist. This hasn’t always meant I’m good at it by nature, or that I’ve not needed to learn the craft, & practice it, it simply means, I see & dream & feel & live most thouroughly when being creative. I am not good with redundancy or conformity. I get tired, bored & definitely unproductive. Some people thrive on schedule, routine & knowing what comes next. I’ve discovered some people ‘hate surprises’ & change. That, I cannot wrap my mind around. 

I struggle to be constant. It is true, I love my own home, most certainly, my own bed; but, give me challenge & variants & an opportunity to learn new things, & I never get tired or bored. I wish I had a little more constancy to get perfected at something. I feel this might be my greatest flaw. But, if life had unlimited time, the slow gradual opportunity to form a skill as layers of sediment forms a ridge eventually, that would be perfect for my learning style. 

Anyways. Enough about me. I really just wanted to share some lovely art today. 

It’s a day when I expect the snow will start falling any moment now, things are looking browner by the day outside, the days are getting very short & dark, so this spark of colourful artwork is keeping me cheery. Enjoy! 

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In the Round

So one of my decisions I made some years ago now, was that I am unlimited by anything but time when it comes to what I want to learn, what I want to create, what I wish to become. 

I find time can be in short supply, but if given all the time in the world, I decided, yes…decided, I could really learn anything I wanted. I do not have a short attention span. I do have trouble, or have in the past, finishing what I start. Tho, I think I’ve come to realize this as well, is usually a time constraint issue. Many things pull at & unravel, my time. So this week I’ve managed to knit an entire sweater, top to bottom. I’d never learned this style of knitting before, termed ‘magic loop.’ Learning this style meant I managed to knit this sweater entirely on Round needles, even the sleeves, no dpns. I’ve not actually seen sz 36 dpns so, it’s good I learned this technique which like everything practiced, became super easy by the time I finished the project. 

This sweater still needs blocking, it feels rather bulky when I put it on, definitely a heart of winter sweater for skating or other activities where you get too hot in a coat but it’s cold out. It’s knit in a medium size which is large fitting too. Had I known, I would have knit it one sz smaller. 

But the speed of this knit is what is particularly attractive. I started late Sunday & didn’t even work continuously over the last few days and still, I managed to finish it up yesterday. 

I think I’m actually going to consider doing this knit in small for all my girls. I scoped out a more reasonably priced yarn @ Michaels, no special order stuff like this one is, that is machine wash & dryer friendly, unlike this baby, & I think I’m just going to go for it. This is my third sweater. Each one has been a learning tool, and I’m hoping to eventually be able to learn how to do Fair Isle patterns & such. I love Nordic designs & colour combinations. 

My goal when I took on knitting, was to create things, tangible things that have a life & a use beyond the maker of them. I wanted to be creative in a very different way than just writing or painting. I find it can be tedious at times & frustrating when it becomes easier to pull everything out and start again, but, this drive to make & create & persevere I personally felt unneeded to work on.

So, as with the other two sweaters I’ve made, I’m super proud of myself for executing this project to completion & for learning something new. 

I love the blackberry tones with hints of burgundy & navy in this black yarn; and I love the white with  vague greys & greens. Together they feel nature inspired & comforting. Together they look navy & cream but the black looks so black without the white toned yarn, I was truly so surprised how blue it became when contrasted. 

Anyways. That’s this week’s adventures in knitting. 

New Age Retrograde 

Promoting my daughter’s little beginner business: New Age Retrograde—Jewelry featuring unique vintage & antique book illustrations. 

Many of these are sold already but you can track down her wares at New Age Retrograde on both IG & FB. 

Go check out her stuff. If you like something claim it quick. 

Custom orders taken & she will hunt for the images you’re looking for. For added “charm” each piece also has a well thought out embellishment hand made in house to compliment each image. 

Every image is hand cut from a vintage or antique book.

Kaleidoscopic

Artsy-ing with my kids…top one is mine, but the rest are Spitfire’s. My kids love my art & I love theirs. It’s a special bond. After a day of relentless housework, I’d been craving art so bad & they insisted I join them in chalk drawing. Just what the doctor ordered…

Sculptor 

So, among the things as a mother I have grown to love, are these little treasures my children make me. My youngest & only son is now in his first year at school & has begun bringing home sculpted treasures for me. I hate to say it because all my children are very artistic, but he is my favourite sculptor. His are the most colourful & the most divergent from the plan they are given. 


His dinosaur, even his sister had to admit, kicked the butt of the one she did in Kindergarten. 

That all being said, these precious momentos of my kids when they are/were little grow more precious as they get older. I’m sure parents the world over have things the little hands of the children made that they treasure, and look back on in fondness. I am no different. These all sit, proudly displayed to remind me, this is the best job I could ever have been privileged with. These kids are my everything. 

Rückenfigur

It is, from behind I approach

The crumbled walls of the silent Abbey—

Do you see it’s coming death?
The crosses & graves strewn about, gaping raw & emptied of their clutch-treasured bones

I hear the heaving oaks, creaking with abandon, disintegrating, where once, the mourning masses stumbled in their tears, in their agonies, praying to their silent gods & idols, mumbling little prayers while the Devil looked on, lighting candles, the flickering flames of every soul he’s savoured. 

I look from behind the moment when silence grips the Abbey, the echo of the forest smooth like water over the rocks & I’m not lonely—there the heavens lay, a wide wide sky, the clouds roiling, the sun lilting, everything capsizing & burbling up, history to future, future to eternity, where all the birds & souls belong, like orchestral notes making a whole. 

This, the crumbled Rückenfigur, of what once was the darkness of time & gods, unseen & black as agony. 

***   
(The much adored, Casper David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood, probably best known for The Wanderer Above the Sea Fog, but really all his work appeals to the Romantics as we wonder what the story of his painting is.) 


Feels Like An Artsy Day Out

A.J. Casson (1898-1992)

October, North Shore, 1929

I feel like the North shore, beaten & wind-worn, the slim edges faded into moldy tones of oblique. My skin is like the crusted lichen, painted with drear of Winter & a little too dry, crumbling at the touch of even a small bug. 

I waste away, watching the sky shift & tide like the vast oceans, but my fingers can’t quite touch the waves, I cannot hear the roar—a silent movie. 

I trip on down the stones, accepting the scratches like little kisses on my skin. 

Having Artist Friends is Important…

If you’ve never had an artist for a friend I highly recommend you find one, especially if you are artsy. 

Celeste has been a friend for over twenty years, tho we’ve rarely spent time together since our late teens we have a kindred spirit connection. We don’t even know each other that well, because we didn’t grow up together, we stumbled upon each other. My most memorable time with Celeste was when we went camping in Jasper, quite ill equipped, and nearly froze to death that August weekend. August in the mountains at night is no joke. 

We went cliff jumping & hiking the longest trail I’ve ever hiked. The boats on Maligne Lake looked like ants. The mountain air was so crisp up at the top of the mountain we hiked I truly thought we may freeze to death, being far more summer dressed than mountain dressed. The sun was not sufficient to fight off the ice up there. 

Beyond that camping trip, we had a few fun times & I knew she was artsy. Her mom was a local artist & a total character. Her brother was warm & quirky like her, and frankly I could have adopted them all as my own. 

This kinship just happens, and rarely at that. It’s not a friendship based on history, childhood or otherwise, it’s a friendship that feels more comradely. Artists all have a deep similarity. They are striving to pull the insides of themselves out; why— only God knows. The drive of artistry is fairly normal I think, I believe we are made that way. But people who were born creative have been told negatives more than those driven by more classically ‘successful’ pursuits. Creative people have a vulnerability & fortitude, both so strong, you cannot tell if they are weak or strong more. They are equally weak & strong. 

We were born this way. Sounds cliche but it’s entirely true. My first desire in life was to be an artist, it just was. I don’t feel this desire was properly fostered & nurtured. I was repeatedly told it was not a worthwhile endevour. What a terrible thing to tell a child who is born creative. 

Rather than brainstorm how to channel your creativity into a worthwhile pursuit, it was viewed as a futile waste of time. To this day I have guilt over spending time on creative things. My logical self says one thing, my heart another. 

Celeste is an example of someone who slowly & surely all her life, has built a creative haven for herself. She doesn’t really sell enough to make a living at it, but she is passionate about what she does and she continues working at her craft. She’s had a gallery showing & has told me how it was what she thought she wanted only to feel it is not worth all the hassle of it. Artists must self promote mercilessly which, many of us just have the hardest time doing. We would rather just do the art and have people understand us through our art, which ever media we’ve chosen. 

All pictures below are of paintings by Celeste Rode. The painting of Spitfire was a gift & is one of my most cherished possessions. I’m so thankful for having an old friend & artist in my life.