The Joy of Visiting Places Repeatedly

There’s something to be said about revisiting the same places over the years and painting them too. Last week, we all piled into our Mazda 5 to go camping. This car is getting small for us. I am sitting way in the back because my boys are close to 6 feet now and have long legs. My daughter gets pretty car sick in the back. The back is a good place to read, so I read a lot of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Klara and the Sun”(loved it) and “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words” by Malka Marom. We camped for a couple of nights in Dunvegan. Dunvegan is in Cape Breton and situated between Inverness and Margaree.

In my twenties and newly married I lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia. In the summer, we would go camping in and around Cheticamp and Dunvegan and drive the Cabot Trail. There are so many great hiking spots along the trail and if you drove around long enough you were likely to come across some live fiddle music at a legion. We would sometimes see music at the Doryman in Cheticamp. I started collecting Folk Art in Cape Breton and now have a small collection. The Ceilidh Trail stretches to Margaree and then you hit the Cabot Trail before reaching the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s all amazing!

We take our kids to Macleod’s Campground from time to time but last year Cape Breton was where we decided to go for the first time in what felt like forever. It was mostly due to covid and the fact that we could not go to Ottawa to visit my family. We will this year and maybe I will have more to blog about then. So we decided to go camping there again this year. Sometimes it’s hard for me to describe in words how I feel about places and things. I think the Ceilidh Trail is one of those places. It’s possible that it’s just so damn beautiful. It could be the people you meet. It could be the relaxed attitude. It could be the lack of access to wifi. It could be all the folk art. It could be that in my twenties I used to come here because I lived in Sydney and knew it was special and I still feel nostalgia and a connection to the place.

This year I went beach combing for sea glass at Inverness Beach with two of my kids. I have never found beach glass before and it was really meditative and made for a nice walk. We visited our friends Teena, David and their “full of personality” French Bulldog “Reggie” in Margaree. We saw a sneak peek of the art Teena was working on during the pandemic. There will be a show to follow in February 2022 and it’s going to be great and take place at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney. So it’s all very exciting.

A sneak peek at the “We’re in this together” painting which is part of Teena’s series for the “Growth and Transitions: Pandemic Perspectives” that she will be part of at The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. If you want to see more of Teena’s work you can visit her blog at: https://www.teenamariefancey.com/blog and check out her instagram @teenamariefanceyartist and give her a follow.

Here we are in Margaree last summer at Teena’s summer home with “Reggie” doing his “Middle” trick. He is standing between my legs.

Most of the time in Dunvegan is spent enjoying the wonderful view from Dunvegan beach. It’s gorgeous and the sunsets are breathtaking. The sea was calmer this year it seemed. Years ago we went in August and the water was quite warm. I didn’t make it in but I made a few sketches and one watercolour. The watercolour happened because as we were leaving we noticed we had a flat tire. First thing I grab is my sketchbook and paints. Grabbed a towel to block the sun. I am a red head so I burn in quite a dramatic way. We pulled a bunch of stuff out to keep the car from being over loaded. Dunc put on the spare tire and off he went to get it repaired in Inverness. The funny thing about this story is that we had a flat last year on the way to see Teena in Margaree. The super duper guy at the tire place fixed it for free knowing we were on vacation. We were actually on our way to get him a gift card from the Robin’s Donuts coffee place when we left this time. So while Dunc was off with Eli, Brigid played with a friend she met the night before, Guthrie enjoyed the sun and the view and I painted the view.

So there you have it! Out little two night stay in Cape Breton! Here is my little painting, mostly from plein air with a little bit of my imagination:

TRYING ETSY

I have been wondering for a long time if I would ever get around to opening an Etsy shop. I had not thought it would be so difficult! Everytime I would start it, I wouldn’t have time to finish. Somehow with everyone using my laptop for this or for that, I would lose any progress and that’s just for one listing. You see, you can’t save your work on Etsy and put it away for another day, until you get all the information in. This is what I recommend if you are to try it. Get one item ready for shipping and get it weighed at your local post office. It’s easier if every listing is the same size. Basically instead of freaking out like I did, just list all the things to need to fill out and then answer them on a sheet of paper before putting it online. Once you list one and you will have a general idea of what way to go after that.

The harder part now is how to get some online presence. I have no clue so I thought I would write this blog and see if it might help a little. I shared the items on Instagram and posted on Facebook as well.

I decided that starting with a few might be the way to go so that way every so often I might have a grouping to share on social media. I am trying to figure out how people actually get attention on their Etsy page. I have followed or liked a few items and that is rather fun. The friends and family I know on Etsy are being followed and some are following me. It’s fun to look around and see what people are up to.

I am going to continue this blog in a question and answer format. Have fun reading!

Why watercolours?

Well, paper watercolours paintings are small, lightweight and easier to ship than my acrylic on canvas paintings. I also have a small scanner that offers a really good image quality. I have a new mat cutter and therefore I am able to ship them matted. If I put these in a gallery I would have to have them framed which adds to cost. I am really enjoy painting the watercolours and I make a lot of them so they needed a place of their own.

Why Etsy?

Well, it’s worth a shot. I don’t know anything about how to get some attention to my page but I think I can learn this as I go. Months ago, I put one acrylic painting on Saatchi. But before I decide to put any other acrylic online, I think it might be best to get better photos. There are many rules about how to ship on Saatchi but with Etsy I think there is more freedom. I could look into a local market, I think that could take away from much loved and needed family time. So for now, Etsy is what I will try.

Why try it now and not before?

Covid19 changed a lot of things for many of us. I am selling on my own now therefore I need to have my work somewhere online. Instagram is great and attracts other artists with occasional sales. Facebook is the same with a range of people interested in many things and sometimes it’s art. But it isn’t enough. I could look into local markets but what if the virus makes it hard to be in contact with other people again. I had been wanting to do it but for a variety of reasons, I was getting in the way of myself. At times, I want to do too many things and get stuck. Last week I took a week off from painting anything to help with gaining perspective. I am actively trying to stay healthy by walking, skiing and doing Yoga with Adriene this winter. I want to eat healthier; which for me means giving up any sugar, unhealthy treats and excess carbs (I did have one chocolate last night because of Valentine’s Day). I want to live a more balanced lifestyle. I decided that these are things I can control. I can control how much I paint within my time limitations and where I place my work online. I can’t control whether other people like my work enough to purchase it. But that does not mean I shouldn’t try. I do believe this new found relaxed healthy lifestyle might be the reason I was finally able to let go and just do it.

I just wanted to share my latest life story and I hope it helps you and if you can perhaps check out my three Etsy listings at: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/FlyingMackerelStudio

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Dunvegan Watercolour Sketchbook

In July, we spent three nights at Macleod’s Camping Ground in Dunvegan during our pandemic stay-cation. It was the first time we went camping in 8 years due to a number of factors and it was such a pleasure for us. We had not been to Dunvegan in perhaps 9 or 10 years and it still takes my breath away. We were lucky to have beautiful weather while we camped and the camping site is just near Dunvegan Beach.

I now always take my watercolour set to the beach and this was no exception and this time I brought Brigid’s watercolour set too. It was her very first camping trip and I think she was pretty excited. She does get a little nervous about long car rides  because of car sickness but she did just fine.

I loved being in Cape Breton again. When we were first married, my husband and I lived in Sydney. We lived there for several years and our summers involved a little bit of camping along the Ceilidh Trail and along the Cabot Trail.  Cape Breton is a magical place and this year we brought the kids! We did a little sea kayaking, sunset watching, gallery hopping, beach going, wave swimming, brewery pub crawling (to eat), friend visiting and we stayed in a fancy “inn” too.

I was glad to see when I came home that many people took the stay-cation seriously and traveled within the province. It was clear that the Cape Breton Island needed more travelers about while we were there but according to my social media peeps, many we knew did the same vacation.

Here is my little tribute, in the form of a handmade book of a little slice of The Ceilidh Trail:

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Another Series

It is very common for creative people to get artist’s block. It happens and it is not unusual. I have had it and I am terrified of it. It usually creeps up after a show that I have worked on for months or when I am doubting my direction. I know other creative people get it and I don’t know the answer to this problem. I just think I need to put myself through it and quite possibly it might be part of the creative process.

There are times, during artist’s block, where I continue to make things out of fear of never doing it again. Maybe I make curtains for the house, perhaps I make facemasks for the family (pandemic duties), I bake yummy things (also pandemic duties…haha) and I think I continue to produce sketches and paintings in all varieties. I go through a hyper critical view of myself thinking I do not have what people call having “a style”. I have always been very creative and found it hard to commit to one way of working. In art school, my printmaking looked nothing like my painting because the processes were different. Printmaking was a place to explore and painting was a place to learn a skill for me, I guess. Over time, I think I explored more in my  painting practice. But the flip flopping led to mild criticism from one instructor suggesting it would seem like I had a mental health issue. Luckily and surprisingly, I took it lightly as I did with most “art crits”. I am not convinced that someone who is in their early twenties really knows what they want, but I digress.

I have spend the last few years in this limbo state. I did manage to get through a group show and paint quite a few series of things for practice and for fun. It wasn’t a complete dry spell but it was all over the place and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am happy to announce that I have finally started a series of work I am totally and passionately excited about. I am working on large (for me) mystical landscapes in acrylic paint that celebrate the movement, colour and pattern where I have one foot in reality and one foot in my imagination. This would not have happened if I didn’t decide one day several years ago to take my watercolour set to the beach, and paint in plein air. It would not have happened if I didn’t make my big abstract for fun in January (I am still playing on it) it will go in my house someday. I don’t think it would have happened without the pandemic which gave me time to work though all this stuff in my head. I managed to produce quite a few beach paintings when people were so lonesome for the beautiful Nova Scotia beaches so I know I love it. It might not have happened if I didn’t do The Sketchbook Project thanks to my friend Leah who gave me it to do because her son did not want to do it.

Everything you make leads you somewhere so just go with it.

WE HEART OUR BEACHES

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I am not originally from Nova Scotia. I made this place my home in the early nineties and then again in the early 2000s. The ocean, the wide open skies and the colourful Historic properties captured my heart and my imagination. I made this series of little paintings in response to the beaches being shut down due to Covid-19. People in Nova Scotia love their beaches and with good reason. They are clean, beautiful, uncrowded (except for the day before they shut us down, I suppose). The ocean water can be warm in the Northumberland Strait although I did on one occasion frolic in the ocean before a storm was looming at Crystal Crescent Beach.

To this day our beaches have not opened since the lockdown and we in Nova Scotia are all hoping it is the next thing to open up. In the meantime, I will happily continue painting these little beaches in my studio.