I've been moving so quickly the past few weeks that finally my body said 'hold on a sec, we're going under maintenance'. So I've just been doing little tasks this week.
In bigger news though, I launched my first “Commissions for Cause” event on Facebook! This one is for raising money for the Relief Efforts in Australia. I've had many people reach out to me and say very touching things. It is a great idea. However, I know it's only been active a few days but I was hoping for participants by now. I wonder to myself, perhaps, if people already donated before and I'm just late with the proposition. Maybe having a fundraiser button for only one charity makes it easier. Or, maybe they're still unsure of what to commission. I'm hoping it's the third case! I will host more of these because I love the idea, so even if this one doesn't run successfully I won't be deterred from trying again.
If you love my work and want to donate, here is the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2197153080588836/
Now then, last time I said that I would explain how I ended up where I am. Why an artist, why a printmaker, why a glassmaker?
My older brother was the one who encouraged me to draw. He himself was very creative, and he spent a lot of time in visual arts in highschool, but he dropped it in favour of the sciences and a more stable career. He's doing great but he has expressed he wished he stuck to it. But before all that, he and I would sit in the basement and draw dinosaurs. I went on to draw anything and everything, but most of the time I really loved drawing dragons. They had a little bit of everything; horns, teeth, legs, wings, scales, feathers, whatever you wanted. When we had the internet in the house (first computer we ever had was a Windows ME) I looooved looking at other people's drawings. I remember visiting and revisiting one artist's page. It was nothing flashy, just a continuous lists of texts and links showing her drawings over a span of decades. I remember feeling very motivated; “her earlier drawings are like mine, and now they're so good! There's hope for me!” So I kept at it, kept drawing, kept improving. It also inspired me to start drawing digitally, so I got my first pen tablet sometime in highschool. I would spend much of my time drawing fanart of my favourite tv shows and video games, and hey, that's still progress.
My parents chose to encourage my artistic career. The only condition they placed on me was that they chose which university I went to. They were paying for it anyway, so I was very grateful for that and agreed. In my final year of highschool, a few of my classmates and I went on an orientation trip to the John Labatt Visual Arts Center for a few workshops. I picked two workshops that greatly interested me: print and glass. Who knew that these two would be the precursor to my medium all those years ago? Print was evident, because that was what I was going to specialize in the next four years. Glass, however, was a funny, specific venture. The person that offered the workshop was a masters student who finished her time there before I entered my first year. I was disappointed, but it fell forgotten during my studies there.
My time at Western was... alright. I enjoyed my time but I mostly stuck around in the back of the crowd because my type of art wasn't exactly considered 'fine art'. It was considered “too representational”, “too illustrative”... at the end of it all there was some odd, negative connotation attached to those terms when anyone uttered them in group critique. I was stubborn, though. I strove to improve my skills and followed advice but I never strayed from my style or concepts. The failure to conform did get to me sometimes, since it impeded on potential awards and somewhat isolated me from my classmates, but I did find some good friends who I found things in common with.
I was happiest in printmaking. I was charmed by the labour and processes and loved the rush of surprise and satisfaction upon seeing the first printed edition of a project you were more-or-less working in the dark with. It was easy to get lost in, which was my style. Printmaking was also the lowest tier in fine art, for some reason. Maybe it's the idea of the edition, or the ability to apply digital elements to speed up the process, it's hard to say. I know a few classmates who were fantastic, visionary printmakers, yet I had to see them struggle justifying their choice of medium. Everyone has their reasons to make art, and while it can be questioned or its success speculated, whether it's easier to just paint it isn't a justifiable criticism to me.
Don't even get me started on what they'd say if you digitally-painted something. The computer doesn't do everything for you, guys. That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Upon graduating from Western, I wasn't sure at the time whether I'd be an independent artist, so I decided to continue my education. I applied to the Illustration program at Sheridan College in Oakville. I attended workshops and had colleagues suggest it to me. I remember stopping by the college to drop off my portfolio and application and I wandered to the AA Wing, where the printshop was. I remember looking at it wistfully, then getting intrigued by the glass studio just down the hall. It was empty at the time, and I had no idea that was where I was going to spend the next four years.
I got waitlisted by Illustration. I can't tell you exactly why, but I have a feeling that I wasn't cut out for it either based on my portfolio, which was a bit distressing. Neither fine art nor illustration had a place for me? Harsh.
I was accepted into my second choice, Craft and Design in Glassmaking, and the college suggested I attend it and wait for a spot to open in Illustration. It never did, but I am glad I took their advice.
Okay so, I chose glass because the medium has always appealed to me, but I never actually saw how it was made, let alone in a handcrafted way. When I was very young, anytime my dad took my brother and I to the mall, I insisted on window-watching a glass shop the likes of Svarowski; you know, with all the figurines in the window. I loved the reflections, the facets, the forms, everything. Fast-forward to the orientation field trip to Western I mentioned before. I got to actually see how an artist could morph glass into a shape. The masters student had a torch set up and various examples of their work on display: intricate little trees with jewel-like, colourful leaves. I remember when she let me try, I had such a handle for it that it surprised my classmates (I ended up getting self-conscious and fumbling it, but I still remember it fondly). Then, fast-forward AGAIN, I enter the Glass program. I was initially overwhelmed by the speed and heat of the hotshop, and I had thoughts that maybe this wasn't for me, but the longer I stayed to understand the processes, I started loving it for the same reasons I loved printmaking. And the people!! They were so genuine, so down-to-earth. And just so you know, the masters student from Western ended up being one of my instructors at Sheridan, too! Glass makes the world a lot smaller, a lot more comfortable.
I majored in kilnforming, where I specialized in lost-wax casting and enamel/silverstain painting. I also had the ability to minor in something, so to get my printing fix I enrolled in Surface Textile Printing. I was able to let loose and get real messy. In addition to my program, I was able to use the printshop in the Craft Wing in my spare time. I got to explore vitreography for the first time, a combination of glass- and print-processes. Score!!
And that's how I got here. I loved my post-secondary educational career, despite the gripes I have with schools acting more like banks than institutions. I still find myself torn between fine art, craft, and illustration, but I've come to accept that it's part of how I approach art. I love and feel all sorts of things, all at various levels of intensity, and the way that I express it will require a method that suits it. I'm content, and while I'm struggling to make things work, I'll keep at it. I'm stubborn, like I said.
Next time I think I'll go into what goes into my art and what concepts keep me thinking.
Have a great day!