Despite all my good intentions this year, I haven’t managed to keep up with the writing and posting of my blog, as I had hoped. So much has happened since my last post that it is hard to know where to start; perhaps, I need to start with some of the bad parts.
For those who have known me for a while, know that I am a dog lover and have had two for the past 5 years. Bjorn, my 5-year old, was what my vet tech called, my heart dog. We were completely in sync and madly in puppy love. For the past few years, however, Bjorn was sick, developing a chronic liver condition that almost killed him a few times. Despite making sure that the liquor cabinet (do people still have these?) was locked at all times, having a special diet and a cocktail of meds, Bjorn’s crossed over the rainbow bridge in late July. You realise, what an important role our furry friends play in our lives, when they are no longer there to welcome you, to tell you - eh! It’s time to go upstairs - it’s late enough, to be a calming and reassuring presence and at times, to drive you a bit nuts. It created a huge hole and I am still mourning his loss. Milan, my 10 year-old, had a hard time as well, becoming sick and refusing to eat right after it happened. But now, we have revised our routine and are back into the swing of things.
Things are changing for me personally as well. I have come to the end of a chapter of my professional journey and have begun to actively plan my next chapter. After falling ill last year and taking some time off, I came back to a toxic work environment that is unfortunately not showing any signs of improvements. As a leader, you have the ability to create for your team a healthy work environment and to some extent protect them from negative external factors. But as a senior leader, when the toxicity comes directly towards you, there is no shelter, no layer of leaders that can act as a buffer or to some extent support and protect you. This reality, which unfortunately does not seem to be uncommon in my work environment, was starting to negatively impact my health once again.
So…here we are…I have begun to tell my story as I realised that staying silent only serves the bullies. As such, I am reflecting on how I want to contribute to making sure that the leaders in the public service and elsewhere can be more human-focused in their approach. It seems that we have forgotten basic human approaches in how we deal with people, perhaps exacerbated by our disconnection during the pandemic, and that at the end of the day, results can only be achieved with and through people. Interestingly, yesterday, I went for a massage at a new place and I had to fill a questionnaire. For the first time, I wrote down artist as my profession… boy did it feel good!
On the creative side, I completed my first year of doing art shows and I must say, I loved it. I did 2 shows in Toronto and 3 in Ottawa, in addition to Art Lending of Ottawa’s group shows (next one is December 16th at the RA centre)! As an introvert, it was not a given that I would be comfortable spending 8-9 hours a day in a booth talking to people about my art. But I did. I met some great and talented fellow artists and art lovers. It was great to learn from others and share our respective experiences. December will be about figuring out my plan for next year and I am hoping to go back to Toronto and find a few art shows to apply for in Quebec. I also have to think about the whole gallery scene and to what extent I want to pursue that avenue.
I am very inspired by painting trees in urban settings and this is an area that I will pursue in the coming weeks. If you haven’t looked at my painting collection of late, check out No Good Wars and Smile! You are on Camera! They are so much fun to do and they are allowing me to experiment with mixed media.
This fall, I had the opportunity to go to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City and to the National Gallery of Canada to see the Riopelle exhibit, which I loved. It is so interesting to see his artistic journey over the decades and how he used different artistic media to express himself. Being a painter who also prefers the use of the knife to the brush, it was so interesting to see his large painting marked by defined but free knife paint applications.
It is also interesting to read the captions for some of the paintings. At times, you really ask yourself, really, isn’t this a stretch? As an expressionist painter, that is, an artist who paints from emotions and feelings, as opposed to a specific scene, some of my paintings have a deep meaning, but others, not so much.
I decided to provide, some explanations of of my paintings, in the following paragraphs. At least this way, when my paintings end up at the MoMA or the National Gallery, the captions will perhaps be more realistic 😊 Eh, you gotta dream big!
I started painting a Fresh Start back in February. This was when I went back to work after my illness, and was subject to some serious bullying at work. I painted the tree knowing that I wanted to somehow represent the toxicity I was experiencing. My initial idea was to paint a black crow on the lower branch and to show how the crow was hindering the colours from moving through the branch. I put the painting aside in my studio and it stayed untouched for many months. I kept looking at it but didn’t have it in me to work on it. This changed in October when I had made the decision to cut off the negative impact of the toxic work environment on my life. Fundamentally, A Fresh Life is truly the best picture of my year for 2023. It has been a year of letting go or removing a number of things from my life that were pushing me down or acted as toxins in my system. This allowed me to create space to sprout some new branches that are growing steadily, soaking the sun’s rays and the fresh rain. I scared the crow away and despite the damage done, life renewed itself.
Had I finished this painting in February, it would have been called toxicity, focusing on the darkness instead of the light. Crazy to think how a few months can change one’s perspective by so much. Letting go and standing up to the darkness is hard, but allows life to regenerate itself, stronger, and resolute.
Hope this proves to be interesting. Wishing you a great end of fall and until next time.