Celebrating Diversity Across Canada… Hooray My Series is Finished!

Celebrating Diversity Across Canada… Hooray My Series is Finished!

It’s been over a year in the making, longer by several months than I had planned, and I had many moments of wondering whether I had anything creative left in me to finish this big project. But, here before the month is out, it gives me such immense pleasure to announce that the Canada Legacy Series of paintings is finally complete!

In a moment of great inspiration in the fall of 2016 I came up with an idea to explore diversity across Canada by weaving together painterly stories of our past, present and potential across territories and provinces to celebrate a full expression of the truth and beauty of Canada.

My plan with the Canada’s Beautiful World project was to take nine months to explore each of the territories and provinces; it’s history, culture, peoples, arts, and stories, and connect with the land and spirit to create paintings dedicated to expressing a voice, values and lessons each of us brings in creating a new frontier.

I had traveled in seven of the ten provinces and looked forward to reconnecting with them and virtually exploring the rest of Canada, as I began though, I quickly discovered that the scope of the project was much bigger and more time consuming than I anticipated.

The first several pieces I dove into a great amount of research and then had to find a way to distill what I learned into my impression of each of the territories and provinces. As time went on I realized that to continue with the amount of research I was doing it would take me more like two years to finish painting these thirteen pieces.

The history was fascinating, the diversity so much more diverse than I could have imagined from the indigenous peoples to those who immigrated from other places far and wide. The landscapes, scenery, arts and culture so abundantly rich and beautiful, sometimes utterly breathtakingly stunning.

Of course, there are the harsh sides, those that pull on the heart and made me want to wail in pleas and protests, which included environmental issues and global warming challenges that are greatly impacting the way of life in many places, though in the urban areas we are so largely unaware.

The making of ‘The Secrets of the Great Bear Sea’ for British Columbia, for example, was dedicated to bringing attention to the threats of the proposed oil pipelines through these waters, and the impact it poses to the whales, birds, seals, fish and ecology along the coastline and beyond.

SECRETS OF THE GREAT BEAR SEA British Columbia

In the territories, I was moved to overwhelming concern about the effects of global warming, as the indigenous peoples are speaking out about, though who is listening. Their winters growing warmer, the ice disappearing, the winds over the past couple of decades have actually changed direction. The winds have changed direction! It might not mean a whole lot to the rest of us, but to them this is a huge concern for survival. They can no longer make accurate predictions in weather patterns or changing seasons, and it affects their tracking and hunting so vital for their livelihood.

The polar bears are forced inland, as I discovered in not only the territories, but also in Manitoba, ‘Where the Polar Bears Reign.’ In Churchill, Manitoba – the thoroughfare to the seas for the bears, there are great numbers of them having to scavenge in the urban areas, in the dumps, anywhere they can search for food that is no longer available to them because of the receding islands of ice where they would normally live and swim and hunt.

WHERE POLAR BEARS REIGN Manitoba

Now, in this place people live with the real danger everyday of being attacked by a bear, so they are forced to change the way they live, having to travel in groups, staying indoors to stay alive. Children can no longer feel free to go outside and play, in fact, for Halloween their trick or treating door-to-door is restricted to a night in at the community centre. Table-to-table instead.

There is so much that is extraordinarily beautiful to behold, but I was also becoming weighted down with angst and depression at times, and with the amount of research going into each piece to prepare me for making the painting, I made the decision to alter my approach.

My research scaled back and instead I kept my ears, eyes and heart opened for what beauty, story or culture would draw me in with a desire to experience it somehow, and then give it voice through brush and paint to abstract representations on wooden panels.

Acrylic paint. Oil sticks. Gold mica flakes. Glitter. Pastel sticks. Pencils. These were the mediums I used.

Brushes. Palette knives. Chop sticks. My fingers. These were the tools I used.

West to East, first from the North through the territories and Nunavut, then through the provinces from British Columbia easterly across the nation wrapping up in Newfoundland and Labrador.

What a journey it has been. New discoveries to memories revisited.

In the making of ‘The Princely Isle,’ (Prince Edward Island PEI) a long-forgotten memory came bidding up unexpectantly when coming across a photo of the typewriter Lucy Maud Montgomery used to write her Anne of Green Gables series of books. I remembered, in a hazy recollection, seeing this very typewriter when I was nine years old, just shy of 50 years ago, and suddenly realizing that there were people who wrote the books I loved reading, loving the slinking away and slipping into other worlds. It might have been in that moment of realization that the yen, the yearning, the calling to write was born. The calling that would seek me and find me time and again, until I could no longer live or breathe without it.

THE PRINCELY ISLE by Kiernan Antares

THE PRINCELY ISLE Prince Edward Island

To finish up the series in Newfoundland and Labrador was pure delight. ‘The Rock Stands Out,’ from ancient metamorphic rocks and glacial fjords to the quirky, slightly off-kilter and many dialects of English, where storytelling is their way, I fell in love and put this place I’ve yet to visit on my bucket list. I swooned in the echoes of their own way of living and the stories being told, so their forgetting never happens.

THE ROCK STANDS OUT Newfoundland and Labrador

It would be a vision fulfilled to see this entire Canada Legacy Series find a building for its home, hung together in celebration for our nation, past, present and future. If you know of such a place or have any thoughts or ideas, please do send me a note.

In the midst of a physically challenging January, with a cold being passed back and forth plaguing our home, somehow the inspiration, motivation, drive and energy compelled me to make my way into the studio, to forge ahead and open the floodgates for the creative flow that would bring the project home to completion.

Despite the artist block that plagued me like no other in my years of painting, I am filled with good measure of gratitude and fulfillment in this undertaking. I am richer for it, for all that I’ve learned, experienced, and created. I am filled. And, I am pleased with the artworks and my growth as an artist and as a writer finding my voice.

I am so very grateful to my husband for encouraging me, helping me to keep the focus, and for reminding me I can do whatever I set out to do.

I am also very grateful for all of you who cheered me on over the past year and wrote encouraging words that inspired me to keep going!

Most especially, I am grateful to God for giving me the gift of writing and painting, to express my heart and soul and all that he made me to be, through the way of words and colour.

May the long-time sun of dreams and purpose and calling be found in each one of us. May our destiny find us willing and ready. May courage strike a chord in all of our hearts that we may be filled to the measure, through our grit, and slings and arrows may our home find us in a deep abiding joy.

With love,
Kiernan

The Rock Where Everything’s a Little Off-Kilter

The Rock Where Everything’s a Little Off-Kilter

I’ve never been so charmed by a people as of those from Newfoundland and Labrador. How can you find them anything but endearing?

Oh the arts, the culture, the storytelling, the landscapes, ocean creatures, land and sky, the whole of it so rich, it beckons to the writer in me to want to escape into and create my own stories. Fantastical stories, sweet stories, whimsical stories, romantic ones too, for I do believe they see all of it, all of the life of it through their heart’s making.

The colour, the stunning beauty, the quaint and quirky, the off-the-beaten-path of living. Their tales with language of their own making. Can I just peak away and live in an imaginative world upon The Rock, just for a little while at least?

Painting The Rock Stands Out didn’t come all at once, no it took some effort, trying this here and that there, adding and pulling back. I nearly gave up on it because I couldn’t see it, then suddenly there it was.

I had colourful inspiration to gaze upon, but ultimately this photo became my muse that I landed on…

In between the strokes, I delighted in watching videos… listening to their lyrical voices, and their living close in that is their paradise. Here are a few to enjoy…

Can you tell I’m a poetic and romantic at heart, swooned by stories?

I’ve done my share of traveling in North America, the Caribbean Islands, Europe, Africa, and until I began this virtual painting journey across Canada I didn’t realize how much magnificence there was across this nation. Places I discovered would be so cool to visit, but the one that captured my heart the most is Newfoundland-it’s become THE  place that I want to put on a bucket list. So, BW if you read this, whether my man is keen or not, we’re coming to visit!

Dreams Coming Alive… in the Remembering Places

Dreams Coming Alive… in the Remembering Places

“Going around by the main road would have been so unromantic; but to go by Lover’s Lane and Willowmere and Violet Vale and the Birch Path was romantic, if ever anything was.”

~ Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

I was only nine on the cusp of turning ten, so the memories are perhaps not so reliable, and of course, our memories are always tainted by the limited awareness  and perception we have in the snapshot of a moment anyway.

I might even romanticize, what flashes in the turning upwards of my lips into a smile, what precious happiness there might have been, there and then… on The Princely Isle.

The walk along Balsam Hollow Trail, at Anne of Green Gables. A father’s thick calloused hand, made so by hard labour in a factory by day, and saws and hammers and nails in building on weekends, holds his daughter’s protectively. The ground made smooth by thousands, maybe millions of steps before them. A canopy of green, alluring, beckoning trees, a brook laughing itself in the hollow, vagabonds of the orange spotted Touch-Me-Not’s and Blue Violet’s delighting the senses.

A daughter, happy to be inhabiting her father’s world in this magical place, who takes pleasure in her mother’s arm around her shoulder as they pause and pose for a lifetime cherished photo.

Mum and Me 1971 Anne of Green Gables in PEI

What speaks to the heart, what inspires, what moves, what calls to that holy place where hopes and dreams find a stronghold to draw up, and down, and inward that are destined to burst outward, somehow, this delight, is so very different for each one of us.

Our magical place where we come alive, I think if we dig we can trace it back to a door that opened in childhood… to give us a peek, or to mold us and shape us and steer us back toward it if we’ve forgotten.

When I came across this photo doing research on Prince Edward Island… my heart skipped a beat as a flash, a lightening fast remembrance of perhaps THE moment when the concept of being a writer was set in motion. I was a reader from a very young age, oh yes I escaped in Nancy Drew seeking clues in her mysteries, I reveled in stories, but until perchance THIS moment when we came upon L.M. Montgomery’s typewriter, I had never given consideration to the ones, the marvelous ones who wrote, who dreamed up the stories and made them come alive on the page.

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Typewriter at Ann of Green Gables, PEI

I’ve had this thing, this fixation, this happiness, this drawing to… anything coastal, anything horses, anything featuring writers… television shows, books, films… if it has any one of these elements in it, I’m there, enchanted, watching or reading… if it has a combination of any two of these things… oh boy! Maybe it all started in that dreamy time in PEI… when I was a young girl.

What sparks in childhood come alive in us? What dreams await for us to remember?

Researching, remembering, contemplating, and painting my piece for PEI in the Canada Series, The Princely Isle seemed to have touched a special place, a special remembering place inside.

THE PRINCELY ISLE by Kiernan Antares

THE PRINCELY ISLE by Kiernan Antares | Acrylic & Pencil on 24″ X 30″ Gallery Wood Panel | #18P-002-138-BW

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It has always seemed to me, ever since childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite inside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond – only a glimpse – but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

~ L.M. Montgomery

What dreams may come for you, in your remembering places?

Kiernan

Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Ah… Brunswick by the Sea, it had to have been the most challenging, most difficult painting to photograph, and one which after numerous attempts under different lighting situations, I have been unsuccessful in capturing just right.

The glare, the greens and yellows against… beside… the blacks. Just. Never. Quite. Right.

Down to my last three provinces, and after many months, long past my goal of completing the Canada Legacy Series by September, suddenly, with the new year, some forward movement and success in my artistic endeavours.

Writing, having become a desperate need, took over all my thoughts and took up all the space in my heart for expression for a good portion of 2017. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but honestly, I wondered if my ability and desire to paint had left me, in the empty, perhaps for good.

But this series haunted me. I was so close to finishing the first and most effort and time consuming phase. A part of me was so close to saying it was done, there was nothing left in me to give, to bring… to painting. But, this so close, wouldn’t let it go. Wouldn’t let me go.

It was the longest and hardest artist block I had experienced to date. Despite wanting, longing, needing to write, I often found myself unable to do either.

I’ve disappeared into something, out of sight, away from social media. That’s my way, when there’s nothing coming from inside, I need the abyss, the quiet, the away from everything. I’ve been that way since I was a young girl. When there’s too much stimulation, too much noise, too much of just about everything, including what I love, a tension builds inside that replaces everything and blinds me… and binds me.

When there’s too much, and my too much doesn’t take a lot to get there, my throat aches with the empty. I literally and physically have no words that my vocal chords can produce, not even in whispers. Everything inside me is simply empty, my breath heavy, my body weighted down.  My heart and my soul just wants to be held… in the stillness… in the arms of God… in the arms of my beloved.

This is my greatest life challenge, when the living of and in the world becomes too loud. This is my darkness.

Somehow, in the midst of all this empty, there is a swirling of creation, of life becoming something new, yet again. My last three paintings come out of this nothing, and my book idea redefines itself, a vision emerging within a new form.

Movement begins out of the void. I may find it challenging to be in the world, right now… still…  but creation itself stirs and this has to be where I am.

In the midst of winter, darkness, emptiness, love is deeply alive, even and maybe most especially because it breathes into existence in this place. There is a holiness here.

In the home stretch, long in the coming…Brunswick by the Sea emerges out of this desert.

Over the Causeway (and almost down the rabbit hole)

Over the Causeway (and almost down the rabbit hole)

I had thought that working on this painting would be among the easiest ones I would do because Nova Scotia, and particularly Cape Breton, have always held special meaning to me.

Boy was I wrong on that! This piece has ended up taking me months to do, with several stops and starts and scraping over to begin again.

I’ll also admit that while doing some further research once the piece was finally done, I got distracted while stumbling onto a Cape Breton website that listed our family name in the geneology section.

I had done a geneology search a couple of years ago and traced my father’s side back from Cape Breton to the early 1700’s in Normandy, France, but here I was again… get further information.

Then I also got so absorbed in the great information that’s become available on Cape Breton and the even smaller island my dad is from, Isle Madame. Photos and videos… so cool.

Anyway, come on over and check out my Over the Causeway Canada Series painting page to see more about this piece.

Here’s a sweet video about Isle Madame…

 

Cardinals, Robins and the Heart of the Canadian Rockies

Cardinals, Robins and the Heart of the Canadian Rockies

“This piece of heaven that I’ve found
Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground
Everything I need beneath that big blue sky
Doesn’t matter where I go
This place will always be my home
Yeah I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life
And I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die.”

~ Paul Brandt

Singer and Songwriter

Oh to let something bigger than you to run your life… to surrender the fight with the mind’s designs… and greet the day with a new song.

Walking, watching, listening… having conversations with the project and with my creator.

A bright light appears. Brighter than what the mind can imagine. I test the waters… see how it feels…

Discovering that maybe I’m not who I thought I was, who I became as a young one. Maybe that’s not entirely true. Maybe I am who I thought I was, but I pushed it down… buried it, then sealed it shut with what is not love.

Because LOVE is a magical elixir healing absolutely everything. Where does the LOVE come from?

Everyday when I walk, the sing song of the cardinals and red-breasted robins attune my ears, and at night as I lay my head down their sweetness fills me.

AND, I live in wonder at this thing… this pull in my heart.

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