Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Notes from The Bell Jar..

"Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?"
~William Shakespeare

I hope that your May has been fabulous, that you have created work that means a lot to you, loved your friends and family more than ever and maintained good health :)

Some very exciting things have been happening around the studio lately!

First of all, I am going to hold off posting new paintings for my solo exhibition in November until the show's all about the surprise! That is why there is only a little section of the above painting visible. I will post the paintings as soon as possible. You can contact Abbozzo Gallery at any time to see the paintings. Some pieces have pre-sold already!

The body of work for this exhibition is developing steadily and has been growing over the past year and a half. It is another very personal body of work. I can hardly wait to share it with you:)

My painting "Clothesline" is featured on the cover of a book being published in the Netherlands. It is a theological book dealing with the relationship of the everyday with the sacred. The publishers thought that my painting looked like Tibetan prayer flags flapping in the wind. I was touched that they wanted it for their cover. Apparently the title for the book is "Alledaags en buitengewoon: Spiritualiteit in vrouwendomeinen" which means, roughly, "Ordinary and Extraordinary: Spirituality In Women's Domains". 

Speaking of book covers, my painting "David's Studio, Sunset" will be on the cover of a new e-book "Sonnets From The Labrador" by esteemed poet Samuel Peralta. "Sonnets From The Labrador" is poetry that Samuel wrote based on his response to the incredible artwork of David Blackwood. You will be able to acquire the e-book on Amazon. I will post details about this as they develop. Please check out his blog. His poetry makes my heart ache with its sensitivity, lyricism and beauty. I am honoured to have my work on this cover...

The cover of "Sonnets From The Labrador" 

Big news! Parks Canada Newfoundland has accepted my painting "Bonnie, Gros Morne" for donation.  The painting will reside in Gros Morne National Park. I will let you know exactly where when I find out. I am elated to know that my art will be in that magnificent park!

"Bonnie, Gros Morne"...on its way to Newfoundland! 

Finally, my little painting "Self-Portrait, After", oil on panel, 8"x10", will be in the Ontario Society Of Artists upcoming exhibition "The Ontario Society Of Artists Celebrates 140 Years". This exhibition will be held at the Aurora Cultural Centre and run through to July 14th. The OSA is the oldest art society in Canada and I am proud to be an active member of the society. The opening reception is from 1-4pm. I hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading! I appreciate it. I also have a newsletter sign up form on my website now. Simply visit and add your info to the newsletter sign up. I will send out periodic updates regarding shows and exhibitions. Thanks for signing up if you do!

Have a beautiful day from Sasha and I here in The Bell Jar to you!

"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart."~Buddha

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bowling Green, WKU and new friends...

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two weeks ago I returned from Bowling Green, Kentucky, where I was lecturing, exhibiting and critiquing students' artwork at Western Kentucky University.

This adventure came about when Ebony, art student from WKU found my paintings online . We began a dialogue and through our Twitter and email correspondence we developed a plan to have me travel to Kentucky and engage with the students and faculty. Last month it came to fruition and away I sped in my car full of paintings to western Kentucky.

I left early at 6am. My GPS told me that Detroit was the best crossing. Other than a brief fiasco at the border with routes and tolls and temporary export permits for my paintings, I was off and running. The entire 900km journey took me 12 hours with rest stops included. I headed directly south through Michigan, and drove across the entirety of Ohio. This brings me up to 36 states visited, and 8 Canadian provinces. I'm working on visiting all of them. Eastern Kentucky was quite attractive, with its rolling hills and lack of any great industrialization. I had eleven paintings neatly stacked and packed in the back of my Subaru, they were covered with a sheet to protect them and lots of bubble wrap and foam core to keep them from jostling about too much.

Shortly after my arrival I met with my new friend Ebony, a talented painter and the catalyst behind my visit to Kentucky and the university. She, her brother, her friend Jesse and myself went to Mammoth Cave National Park. If you haven't been here, you must visit. Not only can you hike and explore the park above ground but you can tour some of the over 300 explored miles of underground caverns that make this National Park a true wonder. It reminded me a bit of the movie The Descent. Fortunately our fate didn't end up like the characters' in the film :)

Some of the cave formations can be seen here. I found the undulations of limestone and rock to resemble gills of mushrooms and waves of kelp floating in the ocean. At one point our tour guide even turned off all of the ambient light in the cave and lit a match to show us how completely and utterly pitch black it can get. You can see the tiny flame below...

For a claustrophobe like myself, it really tested the limits of my sanity but the payoff was knowing I could be trapped in a labyrinth of caves with tonnes of strangers and survive :)

Monday morning and through the rest of the week was spent primarily at the university. I was assigned my own little parking space, which was pretty cool.

It was wonderful to meet all of the students in the three levels of art classes and find out what makes them tick, find out why they love to paint and where they see their art going from this point onward. I realized in my time at WKU that to be a small cog in the wheel of the teaching of art is immensely rewarding. Teachers are students too, and I came away from the week learning a lot from these young, talented and self-directed folks. They were mixing paint in interesting ways, asking for my assistance sometimes to help mix flesh tones and simply sharing their philosophies about their work. We need to be excited about something to put our best into it. We need to want to learn about a subject or a theme in order to put that energy and excitement into our interpretation of it.

My exhibition up in the Cube Gallery at WKU. 

Some QR codes were printed on the little tags next to the paintings, leading
 viewers to the associated back story to the painting on this blog.

On the night of my lecture I was, not surprisingly, very nervous. However, having spent time with many of the students and faculty earlier in the week, I was happy to see not only faces but friends in the made speaking a lot easier. Then again, as I've mentioned before, speaking about what you love rarely leaves you at a loss for words. I talked about my background as a painter, education,  solo exhibitions, representation with Abbozzo Gallery in Oakville and also mentioned technical elements of the work, along with slides of paintings in progress to show how pieces develop. There were some great questions during the Q and A phase of the lecture. I can really see how art instructors and teachers love what they have enthusiasm and keen students to offer thoughts and advice to is very rewarding!

Trying not to sound or look too nervous during my presentation :) 

I have to extend a huge thank-you to everyone who made the Kentucky and WKU adventure possible. It was a very enriching experience and I am hoping to travel to do more speaking engagements at other schools and universities in the future. Please drop me a line if you are interested in having me speak at your school.

Thanks to Yvonne, Kristina, Brent, Vicky, Jesse, Wesley, Katie, Alex, et al, and most of all Ebony for making WKU a truly unforgettable experience :)

Now I am back in Ontario and working steadily towards my solo exhibition this November at Abbozzo Gallery. I do hope to see you there as I feel it will be a terrific show!

If you have not checked out my new website please do so. I am adding sold paintings to it all the time so it is still in progress, but you can now see the site on your mobile devices, which is an improvement!

Be well, live and love fiercely and keep painting!


A great little card on the office door of Yvonne Petkus, a talented 
painter and instructor at WKU.!/Heather_Horton