This month I attended a 4-day workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Lauren Mantecon. I have been in her Dive Deep mentoring group this year working with her and a wonderful group of artists. I knew heading in that I might feel vulnerable and outside my comfort zone during the workshop, and boy was I right! At the same time, I do need to stress that the workshop was a very safe and supportive space. I am one of those people who does not feel comfortable being vulnerable with others. Give me anger or frustration any day, but raw vulnerability, uh thanks, but no…..
I have worked with Lauren through Mastrius before the Dive Deep program, and I adore her, but she and I are VERY different people. It’s one of the reasons I have learned more from her mentorship than any other. Although my thoughts go all over the place and make unpredictable connections, at the same time I am drawn to a linear logical list-making type of existence. I prefer having concrete answers that include visible evidence for everything (which logically, I know isn’t possible). Lauren sees so much outside of this type of existence and asks questions I don’t know how to answer but I understand I need to examine. She is spiritual, deeply grounded, and knowledgeable. This wasn’t an art technique workshop; it was a space and experience where we could all experiment and dive deeper into why we make art and what it means to us personally.
Continual professional and personal development are so important, and that’s how I looked at participating in this group. One of our smaller activities was creating a soul collage and then a circle discussion about what we produced and what they revealed about ourselves. They were made utilizing magazines and building a collage with the images you are drawn to at that moment. (Mine is pictured here – titled, “Listen up Bit%&!”). My description is not doing it justice, but you get the gist. I will not get into the nitty-gritty of the discussion, however, during my turn, Lauren made a comment that hit me like a lightning bolt. She said, “your art acts as an escape valve for you.” O. M. G. YES! I have never been able to put my finger on it but that is exactly what it is! With this eureka moment I spent many of my mornings in Santa Fe writing about this idea and subsequently have rewritten my artist statement. (You can click here to go read it)
The piece I created during the workshop was quite interesting to me as it ended up being a blend of the style I used when creating the Catharsis collection and the pattern and detail I utilize now. I think it partly came from being “in my feels” that weekend. I entered the workshop with the intention of being open and receptive. I am happy with the end result, regarding both the art and what I learned about myself. This piece is currently unnamed, but I intend to hang it in my home, spend some time with it, and continue examining and writing about the experience.
Santa Fe is a stunning and beautiful place to visit. I honestly think they have more art galleries per capita than anywhere else. Between the galleries, Aspen Vista, Meow Wolf, the Georgia O’Keffee museum, my workshop, and writing, I had an amazing trip and would suggest a visit to Santa Fe for any art lover.
On a totally different topic – I am part of a Studio Tour this upcoming weekend and if you are in Calgary I would love for you to attend! Because I am moving studios soon, I am hosting mine at A Collaborative Design Group – a stunning interior design firm.
When – Saturday, October 22nd & Sunday, October 23rd, from 11 am to 4pm
Where – 4521 Manhattan Rd SE (A Collaborative Design Group)
Click here to learn about the other artists involved and to see the google map of all of the stops!
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As I sit in my backyard trying to soak up the last bits of summer weather I am realizing how fast it went by this year. It's been the first summer since 2019 (and if you know my recent history, it's been since 2018 for me) that has been anywhere close to normal. Everyone seems to have had incredibly busy summers and are now getting ready for the kids to go back to school.
MJL Fine Art (that's me!) had some firsts this summer. I had my first experience with an online show in the Abstract Square Foot Show. It wrapped up last weekend and I would categorize it as a big success. I met a number of amazing artists and art enthusiasts and also sold 4 out of the 5 pieces I had submitted.
In less than a week the second online show I in opens! The Mastrius - 100 Days of Summer show is also online and features 100 artists all submitting 10" x 10" pieces with theme of summer. This show opens August 26th at 12pm MT and closes August 31st at 11pm MT. The pieces I created for the show are inspired by Alice in Wonderland and fantastical worlds, these landscapes are bright, bold, and unconventional. The patterns inserted in the initial layers create depth in these small but mighty pieces. Typical of my style, contrast plays a big role! The variation in hues and values is pushed to the max! Fun, whimsical, and lighthearted - exactly the summer scene we need after the last few years! You can check out all of the pieces here.
Click here to shop the sale once it opens on August 26th at 6pm MT!
Why abstract art? I have been asked this question numerous times and until recently I didn’t know how to answer. I have spent time reflecting on what draws me into abstract art and I think I have mostly figured it out….
As a young teen the freedom that abstract art offered was magnetic. Both creating and viewing abstract art offers a world of expanse that, for me, just doesn’t exist in representative art. The fact that each person can interpret the same piece in a totally different way is intriguing. The viewer is not given or directly told the subject matter, ie; here is a mountain, here is a person's face. The viewer's interpretation is unrestrained by traditional form and entirely their own.
This leads me directly to the main reason why I have always loved working within abstract art. There is no box I had to stay inside of, it felt as though there was an absence of failure, I could colour outside the lines, so to speak, and that was even encouraged. Working within non-representational abstract art gave me the feeling of being unrestricted, which was a breath of fresh air for me. Being a very hyper ADHD child, I felt a constant obligation to control, subdue and bridle my energy and my true self. I did this to conform to the expectations of others and avoid annoying or upsetting those around me. However, within abstract art I could completely express myself, my full energy, and my unique ideas. Within the environment of abstract art my divergent thinking and energy led to success rather than disappointment from others. It was exceptionally affirming to have a true part of me accepted and praised by people I respected and wanted to connect with.
This may not be specific to abstract art, and I am absolutely certain it is not specific to me, but when I am being creative my mind empties and I can be 100% present. It's the only time my busy overactive and overstimulated brain has silence and peace. I feel the most grounded, sure of who I am and what my purpose is when I am in my studio creating.
I believe that if I had to define why I love abstract art in a single word, it would be liberation. Abstract art affords me the freedom to unmask and step outside of societal imposed boundaries and fully express myself through my creativity. The freedom abstract art grants me fills my soul, grounds me, and allows me to communicate authentically with the world, how could I not be drawn to it over and over again!