Category Archives: art as relaxation

How To Make Friends with a Wildflower

Photo Credit: Jo Anne Lauder

Jo Anne Lauder, one of the artists who took part in “Befriending Wildflowers – An Art Retreat” at the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer this July, took the stunning photo above, capturing the delicacy of a prairie wildflower bouquet. “Befriending Wildflowers” gave us a chance to slow down, to explore the hills and meadows around us, and to spend quiet happy time in each other’s company observing, sketching, and painting wildflowers. We painted under the green shade of trees on some very hot days, and were grateful for the cooling breeze. Grateful too, for the generous hospitality of Glenn, Chantelle, Kathy, Tim, and Simba, the cat. Their hospitality included delicious meals and surprise snacks, thoughtful reflections about wildflowers, and mowing the  steep and curving trails that lead up the hills (a Herculean act, in my opinion). If Simba detected any sense of a rush, he had a lovely way of asking for some affection, and slowing us down. We were also deeply grateful for the many gifts of the wildflowers, and the beautiful natural world surrounding us. Below are some photos of our time together, and if you continue all the way to the bottom, some preliminary thoughts on how to make friends with a wildflower.

She said she doesn’t climb hills and then SHE DID! (Wait to go, Deb!)

this beautiful view (still celebrating the climb!)

new friends

we also came “to just be”, to quietly sit

Moments of quiet absorption

 

a little watercolour play

Breathe while you paint (this flopped but fun experiment because how will you breathe if you are worried about getting paint on the garage door??)

Loosening our brush stroke by pasting a stivk to the end of our brush (still worried about paint on the doors!!)

early Saturday morning, beautiful mist…that is the chapel in the distance

Spreading Dogbane Foliage by Deb

Getting to know the flowers by sketching them first (Deb)

Bouquet by Deb

Purple Prairie Clover and Gaillardia by Jo Anne

Unfinished Woodland Foliage by Jo Anne

Wild Rose by Jo Anne

Wildflower Sampler (Purple Prairie Clover, Western Wild Bergamot, Harebell, Prairie Coneflower, Gaillardia, Alfalfa) by Jo Anne

Wild Rose by Teri (First ever attempt with watercolours)

Wildflowers in Tree by Marg

Alcohol Ink by Marg

Bible Journal by Marg

Wildflowers and Earth by Marg

“Nature yourself with kindness” by Marg

A partial art gallery on the logs

Spreading Dogbane and other foliage by Sue

More foliage by Sue

Back: Teri, Jo Anne, Marg Front: Deb, Sue


Some Preliminary Thoughts on Making Friends with Wildflowers

  • The old adage “Stop (or slow down) and smell the flowers” is a good one. Stopping is necessary. Smelling is great – some of us have the most beautiful scent, some no discernible scent, and some a memorable scent. You can smell us best when on your knees.
  • Once you have stopped, spend a little time with me. Really look at me. Touch me – gently, see how I feel. Notice if there are others like me around. What made you look at me? Sing me a song. Tell me what you appreciate about me. It takes a long time to get to know me well.
  • From someone who knows us well: be humble around us. We have been on Planet earth for much longer than you. We are your Elders, your teachers. (paraphrased from Robin Wall Kimmerer)
  • Don’t pick me with out asking. I will answer. Wrap my stem in a little water so I will stay alive a little longer. When you take me home, admire me, place me in a central spot, sketch or paint or photograph me. If that is not your thing, you could write me a love song.
  • Never pick me if I am the only one, or if there are very few of my kind.
  • Walk lightly. That way if you step on me I am more likely to bounce back.
  • Come and visit me often. At first you will notice me only when I am in full bloom, but in time you will learn to notice my emerging leaves, my bud, how I flower and how my middle turns to seeds. You will find me beautiful even as I am dying. Each stage of my life is wondrous.
  • Listen to me.
  • Look around and notice who my neighbours are, which butterflies, bees and flies like to pollinate me, if I am tasty to any wild creatures.
  • Sometimes leave me alone. Just like any friend, I need quiet at times.
  • I enjoy your small gifts of thanks, but the best gift of all is an appreciative heart. Or lovely water (especially in a dry year).
  • Other thoughts?

    Harebell Photo Credit: Chantelle Bonk, Qu’Appelle House of Prayer

Seeing Through a New Lense – Art in the City

From time to time, I have the great privilege of exploring Regina with a small group of youth, looking for art both inside and outside galleries. We call this “Art in the City” as most of us are from rural Saskatchewan. Often, I enjoy a research trip before hand, make a plan, and I create a little booklet so that we are interacting with the art we see throughout the day. Every time, I come home with the same bit of wisdom which is “Less is More”. What I learn over and over again, is that while it is good to introduce my young friends to things they may have never seen before, their own imaginations are even richer and they can make fun out of an open green field, an empty band stand, or anywhere at all. I am reminded ‘Hold whatever plan you have loosely, and leave lots of room for spontaneous adventures!”

Here is a quick rundown of our day:

Inspired by the wonderful Vic Cicanski show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery (don’t miss this!!), our theme was sculpture and we spent a long time with his fantastical sculptures. They made us hungry (all those fruits and vegetables!!) and so we went out to eat lunch with Joe Fafard’s bovine family. Then, we each chose a statue in the lobby, and imagined a name for the statue and a story, sharing them with each other afterwards. What is out the backdoor of the MacKenzie Art Gallery? More sculptures, yes…….but  even better than a sculpture garden, there was a huge green bowl of grass waiting for four girls to come along, kick off their shoes, and run and play games they made up under the blue sky for as long as possible. Although there were more things to see in the MacKenzie, we voted for ice cream instead. (There is a limit to how much beautiful art we can absorb at one time!) As we drove down 13th Avenue to the ice cream store, we yelled “HUBBA BUBBA” every time we saw art on a building, or a park bench or as a colourful sculpture! There were many “hubba bubbas!!” along this route. We tried to get “artistic” ice cream cones, colours that matched our fingernail polish or looked good together. After all this hard work, we went to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, where we had a  quick nap, and met up with Rebecca Hay, Earth Science specialist, who introduced us to Scotty the T-Rex, but most especially to the wonders of Tyndall stone…we walked around the whole museum looking at the  stone frieze carved by Hubert Garnier in the 1950s. We stopped to look at our skewed reflections in a shiny truck – we were all short and fat. While looking at the stone frieze,  we found the illicit Wascana mermaid. She is  quite small , tucked in with the fishes, and not really very illicit at all. The mermaid suggested we swim so we headed to Wascana Pool, stopping in the bandstand to perform an impromptu play on the way. We had the best swim, and on the way back to the car, we ran and froze as statues of anything we imagined. The drive home was quiet.

What is your favourite piece?

Imagining a chair growing vegetables

Drawing the “carrot couch”

Some other favourite pieces

the great green bowl where we ran and played

Ice cream that matches

Ice cream that matches fingernails…exactly!!

Nap time…I obviously should have napped too because I took no photos of Rebecca and our wonderful tour of the outside of the museum and meeting of Scotty

 

As summer begins, these girls reminded me how you don’t need very much to have fun if you have an active imagination. They never go straight from a to b without making it into a game or a play or something to laugh about. What a joy to spend a day with 4 girls, each one knowing they are absolutely loved, each one expecting something wonderful around the next corner, each one delighting in being with their three friends. They have amazing parents, and being with this group reminded of this poem, which appears on Facebook from time to time.

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

By William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents.

 

 

Spring is in the Air!!

Happy International Women’s day from the Kerry Farm Ice Rink, where spring is in the air.

How can I tell?

Ravens and magpies are more in evidence, swooping low. Dogs, young and old are chasing the ravens and magpies, even though we all know that dogs can’t fly.

The light is different. The March skies are starting to come.

I can skate and skate and skate until I am tired. Which is different from skating until I freeze!

The trails on our rink are sinuous and meandering, I love to follow their curves. I imagine I am a world famous speed skater (although Iin reality I skate quite slowly!) As I skate I think of the female leaders (from young to old) whose very integrity means they say what they have to say, quietly and succinctly. I am hungry for this kind of integrity in our public life. I think of all of the women in my life – my mother  and mother-in-law and grandmothers and aunts and sisters in law, my cousins, my daughters and their friends, my own friends – the women who have taught me about integrity and so much else. My skating weaves this way and that, giving thanks for all of these women, giving thanks for this day, this place, the very miracle of moving on a thin steel blade across ice.

Mia is digging….a snow sculptor

made in a cake pan, celebrating the last full moon

the layers on the inside of a snow drift

Last week, the North wind blew forming beautiful snowdrifts on the rink. Hello, Snowdrifts…this week I have been coming to know snow drifts, up close and personal. In clearing trails, I notice all of the layers of snow, some with grit in them, others pure white, some soft, some quite hard. Snowdrifts are best removed a layer at a time, and as I make a crack in the snow, the drift separates how it wants to…usually with lovely soft curves, just like the ice rink. Each piece of snowdrift is so beautiful. I place each one carefully along the sides of the paths. They look to me like a line of ancient women…standing in many different postures with the blue bowl of prairie sky as a backdrop. In the book I am reading, Braiding Sweetgrass,  Robin Wall Kimmerer describes learning how to basket weave. As she weaves, she feels as if she participates in “the beginning of a reweaving of the bond between the women and the land.” This is how I feel on the ice rink in a small way – working and playing with what nature gives us, what is already there to co-create something wonderful, and as I am doing it I am befriending  and getting to know the natural world better. In this, too, the women and the children will lead.

I give thanks.

Befriending Wildflowers (the quiet version)

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Georgia O’Keefe

“Befriending Wildflowers” was a two day art retreat which gave us time to “really see a flower” and to befriend some of the  wildflowers who live on the slopes of the Qu’Appelle Valley. By spending time with the wildflowers on the hills, by painting and drawing the flowers that called to us, we came to know a few flowers more intimately.

We were so fortunate to be able to hold this retreat at the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer  which is

Photo by Tania Wolk

nestled in the hills above Echo Lake. We painted under the shade of trees during the hot days, and hiked through woodland trails up to the top of the hills where grasses and flowers bloomed profusely in the early mornings and evenings. We were so warmly welcomed and cared for by Glenn, Margaret, Kathy and Tim.  Silence and quiet are encouraged and allow us to connect with nature more deeply than usual. For those who wished, Eucharist and “silent sitting” enriched our experience. The Qu’Appelle House of Prayer is a sacred place.

some of our “cat flowers”…instructor Kami Jo second from right

While the land (and the flowers) were our greatest teacher(s), we also learned so much from each other. Our youngest participant, Kami Jo, led a session on creating cat flowers which was fantastic. Tania helped us draw flowers in their simplest shapes, getting to the essence of the flower, and helping us see flowers in fresh ways. We painted with dominant hand, non-dominant hand, standing, sitting, upside down,  and we sometimes timed ourselves to get the feel of a flower rather than the details. We did flower yoga, and played flower charades, and  did breathing exercises. We laughed frequently. We moved  very slowly (to Kami Jo’s frustration). We called our unhurried pace “wildflower time”. We learned how painting on the ground in a meadow was a completely different experience from painting a vase of flowers.

Wildflower Joy! Photo by Tania Wolk

Photo by Elizabeth Gavin

Photo: Tania Wolk

Speaking for myself, It was pure joy to be with others who take notice and delight in wildflowers. Being with others  who are totally absorbed  in trying to get the feel of a particular flower on paper is very settling, calming and joyful. I saw wildflowers in new ways, and sometimes through the eyes of others, I saw familiar wildflowers in completely unfamiliar ways. I treasure my friendships with wildflowers – through the presence and teachings of my companions, my friendships continue to grow and thrive.

Once upon another PLAYshop, this one focusing on trees, hypnotizing chickens became the most fun thing to do. During our Befriending Flowers time, the most fun thing for Kami Jo was having the chance to drive Margaret in the golf cart! You have to scroll to the bottom for photos of that one.

I feel gratitude for the sacred place that is the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer, for the people that care for it, and for us; for the beautiful hills, grasses and wildflowers; and for each of those who took part so wholeheartedly!! Thank you.

Diane getting to know gaillardia

Gaillardia seed head, Diane

Gaillardia sun and shadows, Liz

Gaillardia, photo by Tania Wolk

Gaillardia Seed Heads by Tania

Purple Prairie clover, first impressions, Liz

Purple Prairie Clover, Photo by Tania Wolk

Cat flowers, Kami Jo

Purple Prairie Clover, Tania

Trying with marker, Kami Jo

Wild Rose, early morning meditation, Diane

Wild Rose, early morning meditation, Tania

Wild Rose, after the petals fall and before the rose hip forms. Beauty in every stage. Tania.

Liz’s flowers…gaillardia, bergamot, wild rose

Cat Flower, Liz

Wild Bergamot (using Tania’s shape method), Sue

Wild Bergamot makes us go wild and free, Diane

And the wind blew, and the bergamot got wilder!  Whoohee!!

Dancing in the Meadow, Sue

Kami Jo’s flowers, photo by Tania Wolk

Who painted the fastest of us all? (Kami Jo)

Early morning painting in the meadow

Totally absorbed as we “befriend a wildflower”

Mai Jo befriending Margaret, Margaret befriending Kami Jo. Margaret is one of the co-directors of the Qu’Appelle House of Prayer, along with Glenn Zimmer. Photo by Tania Wolk.

Saving the best for last!! Finally we are speeding up, says Kami Jo. Photo by Tania Wolk.

through the looking glass, Northern Bedstraw, photo by Tania Wolk

 

Guest Blog: Art in the City

by Lanelle Muirhead and Dominique Baggett

Su’p, I am Lanelle (left) and I and  want to tell you about Art in the City. This day was so much fun (laughing ha! ha!) and I hope that you have as much as me while reading it. (Fun, that is!)

Hello, I am Dominique (right) and this is our post about Art in The City, a day we spent with Sue, Rebekah, Ruth and Brenda way back in July. It was Rebekah’s  birthday!!!!

Brenda, Rebekah, Ashlie, Ruth (peace sign), us (Sue took this picture)

Brenda, Rebekah, Ashlie, Ruth (peace sign), us (Sue took this picture)

 

picking out our sketchbooks at Regina Public Library

picking out our sketchbooks at  Regina Public Library

We started at the doctor’s office which was not really a part of Art in the City and was really boring.

Things got better!! We went to the library and borrowed  our very own sketchbooks which we borrowed for a year (you can see them in the picture at the top.) We never want to return them.

 

Riding fake trikes outside the library

Riding fake trikes outside the library

We saw art everywhere - even on the rug at the library!

We saw art everywhere – even on the rug at the library!

 

 

Artist: Dominique

Artist: Dominique

 

 

 

We sketched in the park with our new sketchbooks.

 

Lanelle:

“Sue would not tell us where we going next. It was a surprise. But we accidentaly guessed it! I was telling a story about a henna tattoo place and then Sue said, “Was that a guess or were you just telling Dominique a story?” We were confused….Suddenly Dominique said, “Are we going to somewhere they do henna tattoos?” Sue said, “Nooooo, but you are so close.” We thought and thought and we guessed and we guessed and finally we guessed we were going to meet a tattoo artist. We were right! Sue told us we were going to meet Ashlie of Tattoo Nebula! We were so excited!!

This is Ashley, owner of Tattoo Nebula

Here is the real Ashlie, owner of Tattoo Nebula. Look how purple her walls are.

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Ashlie sharing her sacred geometry designs(Photo Courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

Artist: Lanelle

Here is the real Ashlie!   Artist: Lanelle

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Ashlie’s hands. Her tattoos come from sacred geometry in nature, like on the book cover

 

Tattoo Nebula was deep purple inside and very magical and we learned all about tattoos. Ashlie loves mandalas. She gave us all temporary tattoos. Rebekah chose first because she was the birthday girl.

Rebekah's tattoo

Rebekah’s tattoo (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

Lanellle on the left, Dominque on the right

Look at our tattoos! Lanellle on the left, Dominque on the right( Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

Artist: Dominique

Artist: Dominique

Artist: Lanelle

Artist: Lanelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo courtesy B. MacLauchlan

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Photo courtesy B. MacLauchlan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to have a picnic with the cows at the Mackenzie Art Gallery.

Picnic, Joe Fafard cows

Picnic, Joe Fafard cows… (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

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Riding cows (Photo Courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

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Picnic (Photo Courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

We saw art everywhere - even in the fossils on the Tyndall stone at the art gallery

We saw art everywhere – even in the fossils on the Tyndall stone at the art gallery (Photo Courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

meeting the statues in the lobby of the MacKenzie Art Gallery

meeting the statues in the lobby of the MacKenzie Art Gallery…where is the statue?(Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

Dominique telling us about her statue Henry

Dominique telling us about her statue Henry (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

Lanelle and her statue Susan

Lanelle and her statue Susan (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

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Rebekah and Ruth (Photo Courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

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We are doing a great job imitating this statue!

At Rebekah's house, time for a rest!

At Rebekah’s house, time for a rest!

Us two snuggled under a quilt

Us two snuggled under a quilt

We saw art everywhere - a purple kitchen floor at Rebekah's

We saw art everywhere – a purple kitchen floor at Rebekah’s

Once we were done napping, we just had to have a snack. What better place than the Mercury? There were even nebulas in the art at the Mercury!

Milkshakes at the Mercury. Dominique: I was mad at Lanelle because she dipped her fries in the milkshake. Yuck!

Milkshakes at the Mercury, plus drawing in our sketchbooks. Dominique: I was mad at Lanelle because she dipped her fries in the milkshake. Yuck! (Photo courtesy of B. Maclauchlan)

 

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How could a day of art make us so hungry?

After the Mercury, we went in search of art in the alleys and on garage doors.

In the Cathedral area

In the Cathedral area. (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

 

Pretending to be in fear of the dragon

Pretending to be in fear of the dragon (Photo courtesy of B. MacLauchlan)

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We had so much fun!

What we learned is that you can find art everywhere!

Thanks for reading our post!!

Thanks for reading our post!!

how to behave in an art gallery

Note from Poached Egg Woman: Lanelle and Dominique’s next blog will be  about how to behave in an art gallery ha ha

 

 

How Creating Art Benefits Children

 

 We focus when creating art.

Creating art is relaxing. I often notice a kind of “let down”, a “settling in” to the art activity when children and youth come to my studio (or elsewhere) to create art. Most children find it easy to really focus on what they are doing and while they are creating art, they are not thinking about other things. They may be excited about what they are creating but they are excited in a grounded and calm way. Creating art can very meditative. Studies have shown that when tested after creating art, people’s cortisol levels went down significantly, irregardless of their skill level or prior experience. This was most true with younger participants in the study. Cortisone is the “stress hormone” and increased levels of stress interfere with learning, memory, and general health as well depression and mental health.

We can draw what we see in our everyday world.

We can draw what we see in our everyday world.

Creating art helps you look at the world in new and different ways. We have fixed ideas about art. We often think we need to paint something particular like a beautiful scene or a still life. Everything around us can be the subject of our art practice; sketching common items like salt and pepper shakers, your shoes or your pet can teach us a great deal and provide inspiration for more artistic pursuits.

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Creating art helps us express ourselves. There are many things all of us would love to express but have no words for- joy, sadness, delight, confusion, peace, anger. Like music and dance, art is a wonderful way to express some of these emotions. People often feel “lighter” after working on a piece of art. Art is a fantastic way to express yourself without having to talk.

What colour do I choose?

What colour do I choose?

Creating art helps us learn to make choices and problem solve. Every step involves making a decision: what color to use, how to make a line, what size to make something. With every choice the object becomes more and more their own.

Having fun with imagination!

Having fun with imagination!

Creating art stimulates the imagination. It is such a great thing to have an active imagination. For one thing, you will never get bored. The ability to imagine other ways of being helps to create empathy in children. Imagination is thought to be “exercise for our brain” and benefits both the memory and the intellect. Through art, children create something that, until that point, was only imagined. Creating art is a terrific outlet for an active imagination.

What mistake?

What mistake?

Creating art lets us respond to our mistakes in a positive way. Some of my own favourite pieces have come about because I made what first seemed to be a huge mistake. I had to be resourceful and figure out a way for the piece to work. Responding in this way to art can help up use our mistakes positively  and solve  problems in life as well.

 

image-37Creating art brings together the generations. As a parent, I remember dropping my kids off for their activities. I loved swimming lessons or going to the library or hiking because we could do these things as a family. Creating art is something all generations can enjoy doing together.

 

Proud!

Proud!

 

Creating art offers satisfaction and a way to make where we live more beautiful. Children feel satisfied and proud when they have finished a piece. They can put it their room, give it as a gift, put on the fridge or even better, frame it and hang it in a place of pride in their home or school.

 

20160712_132534Creating art is pure fun! Creating art has a wonderful element of play, so that even when we seem to just be “fooling around” or doodling, we are learning new skills and expanding the possibilities in our life.