In the spirit of all things new I wanted to art something new so I experimented with gouache. I did a really simple study of a mug on my desk, the only thing in view while sitting next to a humble porcelain plate palette.
Well, I have noticed with great displeasure, that it is not oil paint. While this may sound self-explanatory, after years of painting a certain way and having to change this process is just a strange experience (but I was going for that anyway).
It feels just wrong to have to entice colour with water to get on your brush, but if you use too much water it will lose the intensity. Not even mentioning that it all looks darker when wet, and I hope you are not planning to paint anything brown because it looks literally like mud. That being said, this medium is not fussy when it comes to preparation and finishing. You can paint in a sketchbook and just close it once you finished. This relaxed attitude is just a funny aspect of the process being that you had to labour so much to get the paint on the paper.
The next surprise happened when I reopened my sketchbook the following day: it looked better than when freshly painted, having lost that touch of muddiness and wet darkness.
I am using a limited palette (for a change) that is somewhat different than my oil one as I removed cadmiums and cobalts as the binder in watercolours is too loose for my taste and I do not want pigment particles flying around.
Creation is beautiful, meaningful, works like clockwork, it has layers of meaning to it, and can inspire humanity for eternity.
We create because we are alive, and there is no other way to be alive. People who do not create are their own worst enemies.
We can all create, it is not hard to do, it is the most natural state for us children of God. The most simple act of creation is kindness. Thinking is a very judgemental process, it is the nature of the activity, there is no escaping it. You can give yourself a break from all the judgement and just be kind.
I was criticized by my teachers as a teenager for being too religious so I started suppressing my self expression, but recently I have been really indulging myself on all fronts, and that includes sharing my real opinions without worry of others’ opinions. I am truly finding my own way in this world. All the years of suppression are quite an annoying fact now. This process of my inner truth finding the way outward started a few years back, but really slowly. In spring 2023 I was doing a great declutter in my own home and asking so many questions: if I need, like or use things in my home and it sort of became my habit that transferred to all areas of my life.
I found things that were imposed in early childhood that stuck with me up until now, and totally were not my choice or preference, I was just doing it out of habit, not even questioning it. I am working on finding all these intruders in my life and shaking them out of my way. I had no choice as a child, but today, being a grown up for a long time now there is no need at all for maintaining those old rules.
The same thing applies to my supposedly overly religious expression, it is totally off topic, I have never been a fanatic of any kind, as well as that one cannot love and respect their creator too much. What is too much love? Am I too blame for being too loving? Blame me then, I cannot change how I am.
In July, 2022 we moved to Calgary, Alberta from Kelowna, British Columbia where we lived for 12 years. Destiny dropped us here in a whirlwind of unlikely events, and it has been quite an adventure getting here. Calgary is a great place to live, I am by no means complaining about it, but I just had my roots cut for the 7th time, and I need some time to heal.
I think I moved too many times in my lifetime, and it has taken it’s toll. I was only over 2 years old when I moved the first time. I left an idyllic setting (lot’s of flowers, sunny gardens, surrounded by numerous loving family and friends) to move into a concrete block apartment building. I met my best friend Ivana there when I was 2 and a half. That moment was critical for me developing strong human connections rather than location ones. I love all my people, and in my heart I never really left them.
This is a story about love, about God’s hand, about life, strong hearts, paintings and connections.
Taking on this story telling is quite an ambitious task for me. I have no idea how I am going to manage with such a complex story to tell. It is not a story about a well known battle you can find in history books but there is certainly a battle here. It is all about the hidden, behind the scene things, things you do not say or write about, things you feel or just suspect you may have felt in that instance but it quickly ran away. This story could be somebody’s life work and I am just trying to squeeze it into a blog post.
I am a visual artist. I generally paint still life pieces but stray off to other genres as well. This is not a story about me.
This is a story about God and Lee.
Anyway, to fully understand my part in all this, I will share how I met Lee in 2010.
I moved to Canada from Europe in summer 2010, pregnant, along with husband and our 3 year old son.
I met Lee when I literally knew nobody here, I was new to the area, country and actually to the entire continent of North America. I had only a very strong determination and understanding that if I fail I will certainly die and to die I did not want.
I was connected, by divine influencers to a number of people who will help me stay afloat and Lee was there. I was surrounded with divine love and every step of the way I was carried and nurtured. Lee was a God’s mother for me, she had strength, wisdom and she knew how to get things done. I can imagine I was not the most pleasant encounter for Lee, (being in survival mode) at the time, but she really left a very clear impression. She really was and still is an inspiration for me.
We are back in 2021 now, it is winter and I am painting a still life featuring a mannequin wearing a red crystal heart. While I work, the story is developing and I have a very clear idea about it before I complete the work. That is how I came to reveal that it is Lee that this painting is about and I named it Love Lee. I showed it to my art mentor at the time and she said, I remember the exact words, that it is a STRONG PIECE.
Love Lee, oil painting on Arches oil paper 20×16″
Mannequin is surrounded with a variety of objects that range from very soft to hard and the main character although clearly a focus of painting was in the background. First, there is a very soft scarf that I took a lot of care to describe. Maybe it seems irrelevant but actually, in my native language (Serbian) there is a part of heart called heart scarf so basically I am already subconsciously launching into the medical aspects. I am making all these decisions and I am completely unaware of the meaning of it all. During the course of the painting I changed the background couple of times and got upset with the flower container but I never changed the mannequin with heart or the scarf. What Lee revealed to me the other day is that the colour of the background is exactly the colour of her eyes.
In spring I connected with Lee on Facebook and sent her the picture of the painting and explained that she is the inspiration for it. She liked the painting and shared it with her friends. Soon everything was as usual. Painting was juried into a regional juried art show called OASIS organized by Central Okanagan Chapter of Federation of Canadian Artists that is held in Peachland Art Gallery every year. I delivered the painting to Peachland Art Gallery around June 26th, and exhibition opened on June 29th. Beginning of July I logged into Facebook to share with Lee that she can drop by the gallery, as she lives in Peachland, to see the show and painting she inspired. It was very disturbing to learn that Lee was in hospital with heart problems. Apparently, her getting to ER was just around the time the exhibition opened. It was revealed by the facts that I did not just show my appreciation for Lee with my work, it was an altogether new message, for Lee.
God was here and I did not even know.
I am excited to share those godly messages, writing Lee messages trying to let her know about the painting while she is in hospital fighting for her life and probably thinks I am insane talking about a painting. I am not even sure I am making sense with things I am telling her. I cannot begin to understand how she felt, she probably thought I was very insensitive and I am not even sure I managed to say what I needed to say or maybe she just understood all on her own. Even in that state, she was more composed and grounded than me and she understood, as unlikely as I made it for her. Her second, crystal heart came for her to Peachland and she is not to give up. There is a new heart, the one she built herself with the love she poured into this world.
You could probably translate it like this: Love you Lee, stay strong, heart is renewed, love and support to follow, no giving up.
Lee decided to buy the painting as part of her new meaningful purchases philosophy, and few days ago I delivered it and took a photo of Lee with it. Lee looks fantastic! I was blown away as to how well she is recovering.
I am so grateful to be part of this messaging that happened between God and Lee. I do not know how I deserved such great honour. I was blessed to witness beautiful love of the creator.
If you are still not clear on what kind of battle this story is about, well, I gave you just snippets, you must realize I am not a writer but a painter. I gave you all the parts you need to make up a story yourself. Lee was battling the doubts and fears presented by the family history, doctor’s forecasts and all the what ifs. Lee won.