Simon’s Soul

Once again, another wondrous and mystical collaboration with a very willing and open client. Simon emailed me back in January as he was emerging from a dark time in his life. He was turning over a new leaf and embarking on significant changes to his life and mindset. Part of his new direction involved buying a new condo which he wanted to decorate with his own artistic flair, which included a reverence to his life in symbols.

This painting came about one morning as he was sitting on his couch having his tea before work and focusing his mind on how fortunate he has been in his life. He wrote me stating he wanted something “significant, pertinent, beautiful and spectacular” to fill his walls.

“… I want those walls to carry positive images, something that evokes positive feelings…images of aboriginal icons came to me because they are mysterious, they have a meaning, every time you look at them they are different but also they are minimal-geometric, they are a brilliant exercise of concise synthesis and communication of ideas…I realized that what I was thinking of at that moment was the images from your art work and I thought right then and there that the “something special, significant, pertinent, spectacular” I want there to fill my walls is one of your art pieces….I would be honoured if you consider to paint something for me in that big format …something that would be an inspiration everyday when I have my tea in the mornings, and something that welcomes me after a day out. Something that inspires me and tells something about me in that simple language of lines and planes of aboriginal symbols. Something that would lift my spirit and reminds me of all that is good and well.”

And thus, our journey began.

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Turtle Tattoo

My client Jennifer and I had been talking on and off for a few months about her getting a tattoo done. Although she wasn’t quite ready to get a tattoo yet, she wanted me to keep some ideas in mind for when she was. She knew she wanted a turtle, but she also wanted something that embodied her 2 young children, Ashton (8) and McKenna (7). Although they are only 10 months apart, personality wise they are complete opposites. We wanted to find something that both accentuated and harmonized their differences. What better than Yin and Yang? But that seemed a bit too prosaic. I wanted more than that, and suggested we use the Sun and Moon and their favourite colours to represent each child. McKenna is the sun with vibrant reds and energetic yellows, and Ashton the moon with deep and soulfully reflective blues. Jenn’s favourite colour was green, so we made the outline of the turtle green.

Jennifer had this permanently embedded upon her person on August 3, 2006.

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Rhonda’s Seahorse

About 2 months before Rhonda and I ventured down to see U2 in San Francisco, she started to contemplate the idea of getting a tattoo on our trip. She said if I designed something for her, she’d definitely get a tattoo. Great, it was decided. Then I promptly drew a blank… for a month. Calling up memory banks….. wrrrrrrr….. nuthin.

The dragonfly had recently come to me, but I wasn’t sure if that was meant for Rhonda or for Ralph’s hanging (see Follow Your Bliss for more info) which I was also doing at
the same time. I thought the dragonfly would work as it reminded me of the R.E.M. lyric “the dragonflies are busy buzzing me,” and Rhonda is the biggest R.E.M. fan on the planet (she has traveled all over the world to party personally with the band). But the deeper I got into Ralph’s painting, the more I knew that symbol was meant solely for him. Rhonda is an architectural technologist, so I wanted something representative of angled design that also incorporated swirled refinement. The days were ticking down and I was feeling the pressure of finding a symbol. But nothing was coming to me.

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The Eye

You know… I had a really good reason for coming up with this name while I was painting this one. But, akin to the fellow who first discovered insulin… I forgot to write down why it is that name struck me. I can tell you, I’m sure it was something brilliant. This is in my living room.

Although I find my “inner animal” is essentially an otter, I still use the bird and whale as my symbols. I use the bird as I was born in the year of the bird (Tibetan). Okay, and yes I admit, I’m a Richard Bach fan and there is probably something in there which is a throw back to paying homage to Jonathon Livingston Seagull. I also love the resiliance of the whale (I have a Maori tattoo of a whale tale on my ankle), symbolizing strength, bravery, cosmic truth, and unity.

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Hanging 14 untitled

This was originally done for my new house, but realized once I hung it up that the red in the painting was a bit too much for my deep terra cotta walls. Oddly enough, Rhonda had recently renovated her place, and this fit PERFECTLY into the space and colour scheme her bedroom (eerily so), so it didn’t take long for this hanging to find the perfect owner and home that matched it so completely.

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Hanging 12 – Untitled

This one went to Delores for her partner in crime. I used the turtle and the lizard as symbolism in this hanging, as well as my 2 different images of the sun / moon. Much of this was also done right-handed (injured my hand painting Pending Sun) as there was a rush to get it done so she could give it to him for Christmas. How I suffer for my art!

Went retro while painting this one, 80s tunes were the order of the day. China Crisis’s “Wishful Thinking” and Ric Ocasek’s “Emotion in Motion” were played at least more than once…

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Hanging 11 – untitled

This design has been a bit of an evolving work in progress, but definitely one of my favourites which is why I have done so many of them.

It has the sun and moon I use quite often, followed by a different take on the cycle of life (why I found it appropriate to give to the hospice). The bird (yin and yang) for flight, and the whale for perseverance.

This is one of the pieces I donated to the Sarcee Hospice, where I work (when I have time… sorry Sandy, I’ve been really busy… honest!!!) as a Palliative Care Crisis Volunteer.

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It’s a good life if you don’t weaken – New Zealand

This one I had the privilege of personally delivering to Christchurch, New Zealand. I wanted to capture essence, strength and perseverance in this hanging.

Although this one is untitled, the essence of this photo comes from the Tragically Hip lyric, “Face so full of meaning as to almost make it glow.”

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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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