Two Bears

This past August Rhonda and I visited a local Shaman just outside of Calgary to participate in our animal naming ceremony. I was intrigued to have my animal symbol given to me since I am often offering up my idea of other people’s symbols in my paintings, it would be nice to see what someone thought I was. I’ve been drawn to many animal symbols in my life, specifically the bird, otter and whale. At the end of the ceremony, Rhonda is a Bear, and I am a Red-Tailed Hawk. Our friend Heather also went a few weeks later, and was also a Bear.

Heather and Rhonda have been lifelong friends, and I consider Heather a part of the family. Thus, I decided to surprise them with paintings of The Bear for each of them. I wanted them to be similar, to symbolize the bonds of their friendship, with one slight change to Rhonda’s painting which includes the smaller bear within the larger bear which related to the point in her life (moment of her birth) when her animal symbol first appeared to her.

Yeha-noha

The Gardner family presents their paintingsI tend to not paint very much between January and April. I don’t know why. It just sort of happens that way each year. Maybe to give my hand (and head) a rest, maybe just the winter blues tampering with my chi and dampening my motivation. Then as the snow melts so does my hibernating mind, and the ideas start to flow. Then more and more ideas come, and my head explodes into torrent of inspiration and I can’t get to a canvas quick enough.

The catalyst that sparked me out of my winter coma and into my painting frenzy this year was Lori and John. I am very fortunate to have so many people who believe in me (through acquaintance or just word of mouth), that (similar to a few other clients), when they purchased their new house, they told me to come over before they had moved any furniture in and “pick a wall.” They didn’t care what went up on the wall, they just wanted me to paint “them” however I saw them.

Their entire house has marvellous deep taupe walls and rich hardwood floors. For me, taupe is the “universal donor” of back-drops because not only is it calming and “earthy” (along with the hardwood), but it goes with just about every colour in my personal paint pallet.

The name for this set of paintings came from a song I listened to (repeatedly… of course) while designing the five individual paintings that represent this extraordinary family. Yeha-Noha is based on a chant of the Native Americans meaning “Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity.” It could not be more appropriate for the new house under whose roof these five amazing spirits now reside.

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Self

This was the 4th hanging I did (originally for Andy and Fiona until that whole couch fiasco – see 2 Tigers for details). Fiona challenged me to show more of my own essence through this one.

Top Row, Left to right:

The bear claw print is used by native cultures as an omen of good luck.

The second square has to do with an otherworldly encounter I had feeding sparrows with a stranger in Paris in November 2000. I was traveling with one of the best companions that ever accompanied me on a trip, Timothy Findley’s book Pilgrim. Art completely imitated life as happenings in the story began to be the happenings around me. Sentences like, “We are not free to choose what attracts our attention. It chooses us. This way, I have been chosen by you” and “Divide the human population in two, Pilgrim would write of another encounter, and there you have them, the millions who never connect” jumped right out of the page and shadowed me wherever I went. Amazingly enough, I got to meet Timothy Findley a few months before he died. I brought my raggedy country swept copy of Pilgrim hoping he would sign it for me. I told him of my encounter and how it mimicked what happened in the book. He was thrilled and told me the story of how that particular passage came to be (as he wrote most of Pilgrim at his estate in France), and signed my book, “For Marjorie, with mutual memories of the Sparrows of Paris! Be well.” Indeed, “For the sake of having a memento of our encounter.” Touché Mr. Findley, how I miss your voice! The picture is really an embodiment of the stranger (Annie Dillard writes, “As a stranger is the friend of another stranger on account of their strangeness on earth.”) Touché again!

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Hanging 2 – untitled

This was the second hanging I ever painted, and threw it together over the span of about a week and honestly did not put a whole lot of thought into it (that has never happened since, let me tell you!).

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