2016, and the hope/love factor

It’s another New Year! I’m both excited and nervous to see how the year unfolds, but the following are some key factors that I believe will keep me hopeful, focused and on top of the niggles and doubts.

Last year was great. Actually, it was better than great! In regards to producing and sharing art it proved successful and rewarding in so many ways. My first solo show in June, a fabulous group show in July, the Filberg Festival in August and the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl in October were just a few highlights.

And then there’s this, my new studio space! In November, I moved into approximately 300 sq ft of work space in the former Bank of Montreal building in Powell River’s historic Townsite.

Studio Space

Here, I am surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a thriving and changing neighborhood, yet have the ability to shut out any distractions and focus on my new work. It is such a difference from working in my living room, warning kids and animals to stay away from wet paint, to simply turning a key, switching off a light and leaving everything as is without worry.

current work

The space is still a work in progress. The image above shows a new wall mounted easel, almost complete, that will hold much larger works. Below is an image of another new piece I began in December. Tired of working on the same images, I taped some left over canvas to the wall and started something new. Yes, I’m a procrastinator, this I know, but the freedom to change things up, and the space in which to do it has allowed that procrastination to make way for new beginnings!

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Last, but by far from least on my list of factors is my wonderful husband of 15 years, Jordan. Not only is he my biggest fan, but he is the guy behind the scenes of much of what I do. From dealing with my moods and outbursts, to sharing in my joys and successes, he remains strong and gives truthful and constructive criticism. IMG_20151203_182830673His bright mind has successfully named a number of paintings when my own muddled mind has failed me.

A carpenter by trade he is also the talent that creates each frame, to my specifications, for every painting and print I create. This image shows just how far he will go to assist me, hanging this 6ft custom print for a local client!

As I settle into my groove in this New Year, I’d also like to extend my thanks to all of you who have supported me to date. My very best wishes to you all in 2016!

With hope, and much love,

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

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Connecting the Dots

I’ve just returned from a trip to Roberts Creek on the lower Sunshine Coast, where a group of 19 local Artists took to the road to participate in the 6th Annual ‘Sunshine Coast Art Crawl‘.

Calling ourselves Malaspina Artists, Powell River Art Ambassadors, we took our art and enthusiasm to the masses of visitors from the lower mainland and beyond. Working as a cohesive team, we provided a little slice of our lives and selves to those who visited our location, with both collective pride and shameless promotion of our home of Powell River.

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I thoroughly enjoyed staying with this varied bunch at the Rolling Earth Farm in Roberts Creek. As Artists and community members, we always knew something of each other, and in the months of planning even more so. However, living and working together, supporting and lifting each other, has only served to strengthen these connections.

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And other connections have been made, between studios and artists on the lower coast and clients and admirers of our art. One by one, ideas, thoughts and realizations came out of this adventure, and whether or not we found the trip financially successful (which many of us did), I believe our success can be truly measured by those dashes between the dots – the potential for the future, and the growth of our fundamental base as Artists. What a life we enjoy, and what fun to experience it together!

Our collective pride and thanks spills over to all those who helped make this trip a reality. From the organizers of the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl to our generous sponsors – Tourism Powell River, Malaspina Art Society and Townsite Brewing.

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Challenge and Success!

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I last checked in. So much has happened, it would be difficult to recap, I will however attempt to give you a little insight into the past few months and the various challenges and successes I have had the pleasure to experience.

2014 ended with a bang! I was so pleased to see my largest piece to date find it’s forever home with a client from Alberta.

Early Spring was a quiet time of building work, in the knowledge of my first solo show upcoming, presented by Malaspina Art Society at our local Vancouver Island University campus. I was thrilled to offer a presentation to the grade 3 kids at a local independent school, on my life and work as an artist, my process and the importance of art within community. As Spring came to an end and summer hit hard, I was working night and day in preparation for my first solo show, ‘Into the Middle Distance’, a series of works I had created since resigning from my job, 20 months prior. The pre-show work, the hanging of the exhibition, and the ultimate outcome were all eyeopeners for me. A confusion over dates led to some heart pounding moments, but with the support of the local Art Society and the friendly staff at V.I.U, I was ready on time.'Into the Middle Distance' solo show by Anna May Bennett

Opening night was such a blast. I was overwhelmed with the turnout, support and sales. I remained on a high for a number of days after, and was eager to sink into something new, however with the kids out of school, I had to put that to the back of my mind. Instead of creating, the summer has been filled with kids, beaches and marketing. I participated in a group show in July with 6 other local artists at the newly created ‘Willingdon Gallery’, here in Powell River. This was my first formal group show and I felt so honored to show my work among the talents of such well known local artists as Rick Cepella, Meghan Hildebrand, Autumn Skye Morrison, Kerensa Haynes, Wendy Brown and Blake Drezet.

‘The Road to Sunray’ 18 x 38″ Oil on Canvas

Group Show at Willingdon Gallery, July 2015

Fast forward to August and the Filberg Festival, at which I was a juried artist for the 2nd year. Filberg Festival is a 4 day festival in the Comox Valley and brings the best in Arts, Crafts and Music to Western Canada. Preparation was long and arduous, stretching canvas prints, building boxes, checking inventory and display materials. The road (boat) to Filberg was refreshing however, and I took pleasure in my holiday away from the regular family tasks, and reveled in the support and admiration from the festival attendees.

And this brings me to now, August 18th, and the final weeks of Summer. I have no plans other than being with my family and silently generating ideas for future paintings and shows. For the future, I’m looking forward to travelling to Roberts Creek with a collective of Powell River artists as we take over the local hall for the popular ‘Sunshine Coast Art Crawl’ October 16-18, 2015. After that, I will focus on preparing for my first solo show beyond my local area at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery, in August of 2016. It seems like a far off destination and time, but before I know it, I’ll be back into go mode, furiously painting to make a deadline, building boxes, checking inventory and so forth. And what’s really cool about all of this is that despite the stress, the last minute panic and the struggle to get organized, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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The People and the Places

It’s another New Year and I am so excited to be back at a job I truly enjoy. Perhaps it comes with the timing, perhaps it’s simply that I’m getting older and reminiscing, but I was giving a lot of thought today about the path I have traveled and the people and places that have defined who and where I am today.

One such place was Chetham’s school of Music in Manchester, England. My attendance there was to study ‘A’ level Art, a ‘side project’ while I studied full-time to become a professional dancer at the Northern Ballet School. This is where I first met Mark Weighton, a contemporary British Artist who was at that time Chetham’s ‘Artist in Residence’.

One tumultuous year later, I made the difficult decision to leave NBS and give up on my dream of becoming a dancer. Although dance was the reason I had left my home for Manchester, it was Art, the influence of Mark, and the space I was able to utilize, (the former hospital chapel built in the 1420’s, a gorgeous space with stained glass windows and stone arches) that would become the reason to stay. I spent my second and final year in Manchester working a couple of part time jobs and creating awkward, teenage art in a space where I felt content. Free from the extreme discipline of dance and the watchful eye and frown of the NBS faculty.

Fast forward to the next 3 years at the Creative Arts School in Edinburgh, where I shared my life and apartments with my partner, David, and various musicians and friends from a local Music College. Student life was wonderful both in school and out, and the people I shared those years with remain dear to me today.Life Painting 1999Miyuki and Cloudberry

At this time I was creating mostly figurative works, yet I was also dabbling in sculpture, photography and metal work. My graduation exhibition was attended by the man who would later become my husband, a Canadian I had met in Corfu while traveling in Europe during my final year of college. Again, people and places, shaping me and my life.

In the past 15 years on the West Coast of Canada, from Vancouver to Powell River, there are many people and places that have paved the path that have led to this moment. From my husbands step-father, the well known and incredibly talented artist Drew Burnham, to the award winning Duncan Weller and Lisa Shaskin, my drawing buddies from North Van, to local entrepreneurs Amy Sharp and Karen Skadsheim who coordinated my first exhibition back in March 2009.

And now, here I am, working in a job I love, at home for my kids when they return from school and among scenery that takes my breath away and gives me endless subjects for works. I am supported by my husband, family and peers, and feel thrilled to be working among artists both young and old who have carved out successful careers and continue to provide inspiration and challenge.

For a while there I thought my art was ‘all about the moment’. I even had a plan to blog about it. But as I sit here and reflect, and work on pieces for my first solo exhibition , I realize my art is so much more than that. It is a melting pot of people, places and connections that have brought me to where I am today. And how very thankful I am for it all.

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Labor and Love

Beginning a new painting and I’m suddenly full of the joys that accompany those first few brush strokes. Those ones that hold so much promise, so much wonder and glee. I must however put this into perspective as I think back to just 2 weeks ago, running on 2 hours sleep after a mammoth late night painting session to complete my latest ‘masterpiece’, a 5 ft canvas of a stunning local beach at low tide, strewn with hundreds of rocks.

September Tide

‘September Tide’ Oil on Canvas 60 x 30″

I remember in my sleep deprived hours comparing the painting process to giving birth…I am after all the proud mother of 2 lovely boys. Giving birth was painful. Both times. Painting, although joyous from those first brushstrokes also becomes painful, working through the color selections, composition, paint application, even brush selection. It can be tiring and ever so frustrating. But we do it again, and again because, when gazing upon what we created, the immense joy and satisfaction that we feel can be so great the pain simply disappears and here I go again, back to the labor. Back to the love.

Here’s an image of those first few hours of paint application. That joyous time I cling to and look forward to repeating. Not that the labor is truly awful, or perhaps it is, it’s just that the outcome is so satisfying.

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Year 2…the fun continues

 

I havOn the Rocksen’t posted in a while so am not too sure what these ramblings will hold. I did however want to acknowledge the end of a transition year and the start of another. Last September was the beginning of a new journey for me, a journey in art exploring that which resonates deep down in my very soul. What happened next was what you have seen so far, a few more paintings produced, an article in Powell River Living, a show and commission at Townsite Brewing, a magazine cover for Ferns and Fallers, a show at the Old Courthouse Inn and representation from ‘Works of H’Art’ on Quadra Island. In April I was juried into Artique Artists Cooperative here in Powell River, and in August I was thrilled to show my work at the fabulous ‘Filberg Festival’ in Comox. All in all, for an unexpected year of me finding what was right for me, I’d have to call it a huge success.

So here I am, poised for another year. This year, I have my days to paint as my youngest son is now attending Kindergarten so the scales have certainly tipped in my favor! I have begun work on my largest canvas to date and am excited to see it to completion. What fun to continue on this path, with so much support from so many!!

 

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The magic of “Yes!”.

I’m thrilled to share with you a story and a painting I recently completed for the wonderful folks over at Townsite Brewing, a craft brewery right here on the Sunshine Coast in Powell River, BC.

The story starts in September of 2013 when I resigned from my regular job after a lengthy struggle with anxiety. Within days I received a call from Michelle at Townsite asking if I would be their exhibiting artist for the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl. My inner response was panic, but I said “yes” and embraced the direction that the universe was pointing me in. 4 months later and a successful exhibition over, I was asked if I would like to be the 3rd artist to create a label for their ‘Hulks’ series of Belgian Beer. Again, I said “yes” and was committed to my first commission since becoming a full-time artist!

This commitment became drive and I began researching the topic for my commission, a Union Steamship called the SS Cardena. Said to have the most beautiful lines of any ship on the BC Coast, Cardena was also known for her faithful and reliable service to the settlements of the BC Coast, which she served for over 30 years. Cardena was built in 1922 by Napier and Miller in Scotland. If you’ve read my ‘about me’ page you’ll know that I too was made in Scotland, and this shared heritage made my commitment to this piece even deeper.SS Cardena

Townsite Brewing was recently nominated and won runner-up in the Community Impact category by the Horizon Business Awards. What a great job they do of supporting non-profits here in our City, and of their support of art and artists. As with any compliment, the trickle down effect of one positive investment goes so far. For me, the opportunity to expose my art, the reward of a paid commission and every other enjoyable part of this journey has made for a better ‘me’, and that wonderful feeling of accomplishment and being supported has shown its effects in my daily life and especially as I move among others.

The magic of “Yes” has given me a solid base from which to continue this path. Despite the nerves, self-doubt and all the other stuff we talk ourselves out of things for, grabbing that bull and creating something definite out of the unknown has been such a complete and rewarding lesson for me.

So I say “Cheers!”, “Yes!” and  a sincere “Thank you” to everyone who had a hand in this realization and validation.

Now go get some beer!

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