Foxy Loxy is all dressed up!
This project has been an invaluable learning experience. The biggest surprise was the hours it would take to complete it. Over 3 1/2 months I have put in approximately 100 hours. And now, looking back, I can see why. He became like a complicated puzzle, colours weaving in and out - and each piece painted with no larger than a size 8 flat brush (and most of the time my tools of choice were #2 and #4 flat brushes). I found myself wondering if there was a faster, more efficient, way of approaching this project but the only thing I would have done differently is to apply a good 2-3 coats of white as a base layer in the beginning. (Which would not have necessarily saved me time in the end, it would have just given me a smooth surface to paint on in the beginning, and perhaps saved me a coat of colour as the grey base sucked up that first coat.) Perhaps next time my design would be inspired by an arctic fox in a blizzard. (Just kidding...maybe.)
Last weekend I put in some marathon sessions in order to get it completed (much to the chagrin of my body). It was quite a challenge to precisely remix colours for touch-ups but patience has been the theme throughout my time with Foxy Loxy. And putting this many hours in means that I have challenged, and hopefully improved, my skill set along the way.
As I have mentioned in practically every other post about this project, it was a challenge taking a 2D design and adapting it for 3D. Every artist in the project that I have spoken to has felt the same way. It seems obvious now but the unique shape of the sculpture had us strategizing how to navigate our original designs. Using a ruler was no longer an option and even painters tape had to be manipulated in order to make me the lines I desired. Plus, I had the sides, underbelly and back to consider as well. I had originally planned to have the lines exactly mirrored throughout but it was apparent upon first fox sighting that my plan would have to be drastically revised. It was a tremendous challenge painting in all the nooks and crannies, making sure that the lines of my design were clean and had continuity. This fox spent a lot of time balanced upside down and in all sorts of precarious positions (as did I!!) It has been quite the experience in making him come to life!
I opted to work in the hallway outside the Syne Room as much as I could (better air flow, it was quieter, and I had a more preferable mix of lighting). It was always nice to have inquiries and encouragement from those passing by me while I was painting. And in the final days I had many inquire as to the meaning behind his design - questions that I had not received until this point. I absolutely loved being able to tell Foxy Loxy's story to all those who asked. I have kept much under wraps to give myself freedom to adapt and change as necessary so it has been exciting to reveal it all now! I am so pleased with the finished work and can hardly wait until his installation, along with his other fox buddies, along the trail system. What a cool project to be part of - I am so blessed!
"Inspired by our Northern Alberta landscape, I created my design concept to feature the beauty of our region and the familiar, natural setting by which we are surrounded. In light of our diversity as citizens of Fort McMurray, our experiences with the natural surroundings are something that unifies us. There is nothing quite like watching the Northern sky change brilliant shades of purple, red and pink as the sun sets - or being blanketed in the warming rays of sunshine on a long, summer day.
This design focuses on the plentiful wetlands in our region, with the bottom half of the fox containing the cattails and grasses of these marshes, and the top portion abstractly depicting the reflected rays of sunlight.
As our region is nestled in the diverse boreal forest, I wanted my design to be anchored by that landscape, drawing the greens of the painted sculpture into the ground of the natural settings along the trail in which they would be installed. The colour choices are intended to highlight the vibrancy of what we see with our eye by making them familiar but intensifying the shades used in order to evoke more of the emotional experience we may have in these surroundings.
As the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, we are diverse in people as well as our natural surroundings. The design weaves colours and lines in and out, to create one cohesive design. Each colour, each ray of light, each blade of grass, and each cattail was painted as an individual entity but it relies on the shapes and colours around it to bring this cohesiveness and unity."
I want to say a big thank you to each and every person who spoke words of encouragement along the way. I am so appreciative for each inquiring mind and each thoughtful word. (It can be difficult to separate yourself from your work and encouragers can certainly get you back on track and give you a good dose of reality.) There are many I could thank by name, but I fear leaving someone out! Thank you to the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo for the wonderful opportunity and for supporting the arts in Fort McMurray. Thank you for providing us with a place at MacDonald Island to work away! It is such a joy to be part of this community, especially as we see the arts come alive here. The investment is necessary and adds so much value to our community. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Birthdays are the perfect time to celebrate people. It's the perfect day to tell someone just how special they are. Of course, every day is the perfect day to encourage and lift someone up but on birthdays we are allowed to make a special fuss over people. Today that special fuss is focused on my husband Kevin as it is a milestone birthday for him! These milestones are markers in time that cause us to reflect and reminisce (and make us wonder where on Earth the time went!). And truly, where has the time gone? I have known Kevin since my second year of University - we actually started dating 16 years ago on March 1st. And as much as we have grown together, we are still the same goofballs we were back then - which keeps us feeling much younger than the accumulating number of candles on the birthday cake.
As I reflect on how to make Kevin feel extra special on his birthday this year and what the perfect gift would be, I quickly realize that birthdays really are about the gift each person is to those around them. He is the gift, knit together by God with a plan and a purpose. Kevin is the most incredible blessing - to have this man to journey through life with - I am so grateful. I thank God who saw it fit to bring us together, intersecting our lives paths so that we would walk together through this adventure.
So, Kevin, my love - today I celebrate you. You are such a kind, patient, generous, gentle, fun-loving soul. You are hilarious and playful and wonderfully ridiculous at times. And still, you are focused, methodical, and thorough. Husband, Brother, Son, Uncle, Friend, Christ follower, ice cream aficionado, Nascar fanatic, stray animal whisperer, technology expert, researching advocate, photography buff, mountain admirer, camping enthusiast, mocha fancier: just a small list of things that are a part of who you are. You are a such a blessing - such a gift. May you know how loved and special you are to those of us in your life - and not just today but every day. Happy, happy birthday to you. May the next chapter be filled with more wonderful adventures, increasing joy, lots of laughter and love that runs even deeper. xo
I had the great privilege of being asked to collaborate on the latest issue of "NorthWord: A Literary Journal of Canada's North" as the cover artist, with guest editor Russell Thomas. The theme was surprise! As I first considered the theme and how I would visually portray this with paint, I thought about all the elements of surprise. Surprises can be wonderful or horrific - you usually love them or hate them.
Personally, I am not the biggest fan of surprises. Although, one of the best birthday's was when I turned 19 and I had three surprise parties thrown for me amongst various groups of my University friends. Those were good surprises, making me feel loved, special and valued. But, with more frequency, we experience surprises that are not nearly so pleasant - things that bring stress and panic and new deadlines. Ultimately, it all boils down to the unexpected. Most of us fear the unexpected. We don't like change. We like our lives rather predictable. We thrive in routine but things can get stagnant in a hurry.
I approached the painting with a sense of expectancy rather than fear. I began with the image of the jack-in-the-box because we often approach surprise the way we do this downright creepy toy. We start churning that handle, bracing ourselves for the inevitable surprise. We know it's coming - at some point - but we cringe, not knowing exactly when it will come or what sort of freaky looking thing will pop out and nearly give us a heart attack! I decided to let go of the fear that comes with all that anticipation and imagined what that would look like instead... what if the surprise surprised us? What if I not only expected the surprises but I had hope and faith that they would be something wonderful (even if not at first sight)? What if all the unexpected things in our lives could be beautiful - leading us to growth and change and freedom from fear? Would I dare to invite surprise in my life?
These thoughts resulted in the cover artwork as well as a poem that I was delighted to discover had also been selected for publishing in the issue. I just picked up my copy today and am looking forward to reading it cover to cover. I know I will be surprised with all the different writings and angles used when approaching this theme!
Pick up a free copy of NorthWord around town (I picked up mine as I headed out the front doors at MacDonald Island) and join us for our "Surprise Party" on February 26th!