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One World We Share

Greetings to all of you around the world! This virus sure has made our world seem a whole lot smaller, while we are experiencing similar things in response to various restrictions that affect our daily lives, some of us more than others. I’m not going to say much more about Covid-19, because it is getting so much attention as it is, even eclipsing all the issues that were important before – issues that are still there under the current crisis.

So, that said, I’m finding it difficult to keep myself focused on what I was originally determined to paint for my upcoming solo exhibition for this November. Titled, “One World: Land, Sea & Air,” it is an exhibition of art with a message on endangered species and spaces around the world. I usually have goal posts such as group exhibitions and the like that help me finish paintings along the way. However, with all the cancellations of shows and other opportunities, I have found myself struggling with what I should be focusing on – maybe there is a more important message…

I wonder how much our world will change as a result of how we respond to this “crisis.” In many places where there have been lock-downs, there have been noticeable changes in pollution levels, but I don’t think that is going to last (too many variables, money and power being huge factors). But as much as I care about endangered animals (all animals, in fact), I also care about humankind. Far from endangered, yet we live with so many ongoing national and world issues that can at any moment threaten our continued existence. These issues are still there under the surface tensions of the worldwide Covid-19 threat.

Maybe my message should not be solely about endangered species and spaces… Maybe it’s more about the One World we share, the One World that is all we have, and the legacy we leave to the future generations of this One World.

So much to think about… but the painting must go on. More to come!

This is a recently finished painting I have showing at my home gallery until the time comes for my November exhibition, if public galleries will be open by then.

The Barn Owl is endangered in Canada. At first glance, this looks like a regular wildlife scene, but a closer look tells more… This is art with a message, with the destruction of habitat and the species represented by the cracking in the bark that is also spreading into the side of the owl. Its talons grip the branch that is in danger of breaking away from the tree. The snow is accumulating. “Don’t Let Me Fade Away” is mixed media on a 18” x 36” gallery wood panel.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

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Lakeside Trail

Autumn. It’s always short, but in 2018, it was incredibly sweet in Muskoka! And I was taking it all in, as usual, whatever I could get of it. The last time I experienced such extreme autumn colour was way back in 1997, when I was on my honeymoon in Algonquin Park. 

This is what happens when you feast with your eyes…

What goes in must come out, and thankfully, I was feasting on beauty! I called it “Lakeside Trail.” It’s an acrylic painting on a 36″ x 24″ canvas, with a whole lot of colour and textured granite rock and lichen.

Here is the full size painting:

"Lakeside Trail" / 36" x 24" / acrylic on canvas

“Lakeside Trail” / 36″ x 24″ / acrylic on canvas

Wanting to do justice to all the beautiful autumn colours, I found myself a little lost in the leaves, so to speak. Alas! Those leaves were all on the ground before long, but I had taken plenty of source photos from which I could create a scene. 

The path alongside this lake takes the hiker past the outcrop of granite and up into denser forest and to a lookout. Meanwhile the sun shines through the trees, creating a highlight on whatever autumn leaves it can reach. Watch your footing with all those rocks and tree roots!

Something I noticed along the way is my muscle memory for too much detail, an unwanted tendency toward perfectionism that I’ve been trying to shed from my early days as an drawing artist. For too long I resisted the paintbrush because of perfectionism, since I thought my pencil tip lent me more precision, but perfectionism robs me of joy. I found myself battling this tendency in the making of this piece, and I had to keep reorienting myself. It has turned out to be quite a fusion of styles!

That said, I am mostly pleased with it. I found a way to incorporate texture without losing all the details, so I am content.

But the colour! Now that is what excites me about this piece! Layers and layers of colour!

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This is where the painting hung before we sold our piano. It is flanked my 4 of my smaller landscapes.
The lighting could have been better (for the true colours of the painting), but this is me in July 2019 after “Lakeside Trail” won an award for honourable mention at the 61st Annual ECOAA Members’ Show.

Happy Holidays! Until We Meet Again in the Next Decade, All the Best to You and Yours!

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“My Backyard Is Full of Life”

I’m excited to announce that my book, “My Backyard Is Full of Life,” has been published! It is available on Amazon in print and eBook formats. I also have a limited number of print copies on hand and for sale at my art studio.

I wrote this book many years ago, but I finally made time to finish the illustrations. They are intended to look like the main character, 11yo Rachel, drew them herself for her nature journal.

This is a book for parents, grandparents, and teachers to read to children ages 7 and up, and it should be preread for children who are highly sensitive to nature’s surprises. This would be great as an introduction to a science unit, or cross-curricular activity, for grades 3 to 5. It is also intended for children who can read independently, who appreciate a few illustrations (about one/chapter), and who don’t always want a long read. In fact, it’s only about 50 pages long, so it’s a story for one sitting. Nature lovers, young and old, will learn that nature isn’t always predictable (sometimes it is less scary when we try to understand), and also that we can – and should – do our part to take care of our world, starting with our own backyard! We can all make a difference!

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Introducing My “Art of Where” Shop

Introducing: Art of Where 

All items are designed by me from my original art, and they are made in Canada. Unique gifts, exceptional quality, great prices!

Wall Art, Clothing, Tote Bags, Accessories, Home Decor

Besides wall art (prints on paper, wood and canvas), Art of Where produces clothing items, pillow cases, and a variety of totes, carryalls, scarves and other accessories. Have a look below at only some of the items available from this production partnership. My complete store can be found by clicking on this Art of Where link. All items are made in Canada.

Interested buyers may also wish to contact me (Michelle) directly.

TO ORDER, email me directly at vine.art2014@gmail.com and I will send you an order form. I also take credit card orders. Shipping amounts are adjusted for multiple items, so it costs very little to ship additional items.

The following links will take you to other sites where art prints, clothing and household items can be purchased with my images:

Etsy Shop: VineArtandCreations

Fine Art America / Pixels.com

If ordering from within Canada, Fine Art America/Pixels.com will ship certain products from within Canada (no customs/duty charges), while any product can be shipped from their other locations (info here).

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A Wonder-full Experience

A Summary of my 2019 solo exhibition: “Discovery, Wonder & Storytelling”

One year ago, after being notified that my submission was accepted and the exhibition was confirmed by the Huntsville Art Society, I began preparing for this solo art show. I then submitted an application for a grant for exhibition assistance from the Ontario Arts Council, which was successful, so I made sure every dollar counted toward this show.

Pictured here is one of the posters I created to advertise the exhibition. The images give the sense that I am a wildlife artist and that I take my own photos for use in the making of my paintings. The title is meant to evoke a sense of curiosity, not only about the subjects within and the inspiration for the paintings, but also for the exploration of artistic media and processes involved.

And below is a video that shows the 46 pieces that were on display from May 31 – June 26 in the Partners Hall Gallery at the Algonquin Theatre, Huntsville, Ontario:

The opening reception was delayed because the first two weekends were busy at the Algonquin Theatre with the Partners Hall booked up for the events. So, my show was running for two full weeks before I could have my artist’s reception. All this was known to me long beforehand, of course, since the bookings were done well in advance.

On the day of my artist’s reception it poured. All. Day. Long.

Yes, there were some brave people who ventured out that day to join me 🙂 , but if you looked out at the downtown street, no one was walking about. (I know, we’ve all had our share of rain this spring – not just April showers, but then May, and almost all of June! Rain, enough already.) Thankfully, it didn’t stop the group of us from enjoying the art talk and some fine food! I met some fantastic people.

I prepared an audio-video presentation for the reception, making use of the projection screen in the gallery. This was done in part to ensure that I would have a presentation available that day in case I was unable due to the many migraines I get (I’ve written about this before on my blog.) Another reason for choosing this approach was to practice methods of multimedia presentation for future exhibitions. Yes, I love learning new things, and I am comfortable with technology! Why not incorporate all media, if one can! I plan to use my writings as well. I wouldn’t say I am a great speaker, and certainly not off-the-cuff, but I do know how to present (perhaps that is from my teacher/teaching background). My speaking mainly comes from my writing (in other words, prepared), and it flows from my writing.

Another development was the surprise invitation to be the guest of Noreen Mitchell for the Arts R Us program on Hunter’s Bay Radio 88.7 FM for the June 23rd broadcast. That turned out to be a fun first experience for me, since Noreen has a way of making her guests feel relaxed and welcome. Here is a link to our Arts R Us talk: https://soundcloud.com/hunters-bay-radio/arts-r-us-michelle-vyn-discovery-wonder-storytelling-jun-23-2019?in=hunters-bay-radio/sets/arts-r-us

Thank you to all who took the time to make this a wonder-full and memorable experience, whether you came to the reception or stopped in over the duration of the show, and if you signed my commemorative guest book. I appreciate you! Thanks also to M. Joe for the postcard. 🙂 That was a pleasant surprise to receive in the mail! All the interactions have been very encouraging! To the Huntsville Art Society gallery committee and all involved from the Algonquin Theatre, my sincere thanks and appreciation to you all for making my show possible and for making me feel so welcome! And finally, to the Ontario Arts Council for the grant to offset the costs involved, allowing me to share my work and grow as an exhibiting artist!

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Vine Art Gallery – Open for the 2019 Season

Welcome to my studio gallery! I am a participating artist on the ARTrail Muskoka, so if you see a purple banner flying out front, then the gallery is OPEN!

All of my originals are currently on display, and I am getting ready for a solo exhibition that starts May 31 and runs until June 26 in Huntsville, Ontario. During that time, many of my originals will be in the show, but I will have framed prints on display in their place. As another option, I am looking for a guest artist to show their work in the available space.

Also on display are home decor items, carryalls and totes, art prints and jewellery. If I don’t have an item in stock, I can order it for you and have it delivered to your home. I also take commissions.

As always, you can also make an appointment to view the gallery. Just call ahead.

Enjoy the ARTrail Muskoka! https://artrailmuskoka.ca/

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A New Season Is Approaching: New Photos to Come!

This is where I create and display my work. These are photos from 2018, but I’ve already been changing things up and creating more spaces to show art. I’m considering having a guest artist from time to time in 2019, especially while most of my larger works will be on display during my solo exhibition in June! More info below, and coming soon!

My art studio is situated on Brofoco Drive, in one of the most desired residential locations within the town of Bracebridge. Our home, pictured above, sits back from the road and behind it are the remains of the Brobst forest, where birds are plentiful and other wildlife visit on occasion. We encourage pollinators and we feed the birds (as well as squirrels, inadvertently), but we do not leave out garbage or compost for others. Aside from a couple of elusive creatures (on the ground or in the air) which do their regular rounds in the wintertime looking for small rodents, the others just pass through and sometimes we’re very lucky to witness it happening (even more so, if my camera is at the ready). These creatures usually end up in a painting, sooner or later.

There are 2 entryways to the gallery, one of which is the old breezeway, which is now a finished entry that will also display some of my art this year. The main entry to the gallery is the far door at the end of the concrete walkway that is flanked by perennials. In May this year, I am planning to open up a circular path that takes visitors through the gallery & studio, as well as the screened-in porch and the backyard, where gardens and forest will invite you to take a peaceful pause and enjoy their beauty.

I will, of course, be showing art in process and on the easels. I’m always working on something, and might even be painting outdoors in the backyard.

Workshops are also in the future. I will update my website and Facebook art page with upcoming events.

Meanwhile, I am currently preparing for an upcoming solo art exhibition in Huntsville, Ontario, at the Partners Hall Gallery in the Algonquin Theatre. That show runs from May 31 until June 26, 2019. The opening reception is June 15th from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Click on the photos below for a sneak peak at a few of the items for sale at the gallery.

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Lone Wolf – There’s a Story in His Eyes…

Lone Wolf - There's a Story in His Eyes

I have wanted to do this painting for so long. Wolves are one of my favourite animals, and before I knew better, I used to dream of having an encounter with a pack. I fancied this idea that I would become a wildlife biologist or a photographer in the Yukon, but the closest I came to that was to own a white German Shepherd dog and name him Yukon. 

So, finally, many years after all those drawings I did of wolves, I finally painted one. It’s fitting that it is a lone wolf, and there’s a story to that, but I’m saving that for another time and another post.

The working title for the painting is: “Lone Wolf Searching.” Searching for what, you might say. Well, the story is in his eyes. But by the way he is looking at the viewer, maybe he has found what he has been searching for? Or maybe, one of those viewers will feel the same and want to take him home? Then, he will have found his pack. 🙂 I would have to ensure that I get a quality photograph for some art prints, of course, before I let him go. I have a perfect spot for him at home, but he’s going to a show this weekend first.

The following photos show the the majority of the process from start to finish. I transferred my composition from a 6″x8″ drawing to the 36″x48″ canvas, and then went to work on the areas I wanted to accent with texture. The setting is the edge of a forest and near the twilight hour after a snow storm. That tree in the foreground stands out differently from the rest, because it leans away from the viewer and toward the forest, hence it’s bark still has a covering of snow from the storm which has not blown or fallen off. No tree is really straight, even if it looks so at first. Nature is full of surprises and is never “perfect,” so I try my best to depart from “perfection,” and shoot for excellence instead. I get so much more joy in that approach!

I hope you enjoy the steps in the process, awkward as they may be!

If I don’t get around to posting before the holiday, have yourselves a wonder-filled holiday! Merry Christmas!

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Dive into Diversity (Awareness & Acceptance)

I am about to share a story I have written. It’s a message about “acceptance.”

October is Autism Awareness Month in Canada.

It is also the month for Sensory Awareness, and during the first week (dates vary) is Mental Health Awareness Week. Well, what does all this have in common? For some people, and some families, all three of these campaigns make a difference.

I wrote this story because “Awareness” is still needed, but “Acceptance” is needed even more. And I intend to have it published with my own art, since creating art was part of the process that led me to be inspired with this book idea/message.

I have called it “A Sea Turtle’s Plea,” because the main character is a sea turtle who is autistic and has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder/Dysfunction).

The subtitle, “Dive into Diversity,” is geared to teaching young people about Neurodiversity, which is a term that applies to differently wired brains and ways of thinking. Diversity, in general, within a group can lead to different contributions toward a goal, which can lead to greater chance for success/survival of the group and other groups affected. In this sense, the contributions of the Neurodivergent should be considered and respected for the benefit of all. I do envision the story being shared in schools within a unit of teaching plans on Neurodiversity and/or bullying awareness (Bullying other children with differences happens much earlier these days). Because of the pairing with the artistic illustrations in the book, teachers might use art for cross-curricular lessons for younger children, while other children might benefit from gaining increased awareness through additional community living and social studies lessons.

For more on my reasons for creating and sharing this story, see my prior blog posts, starting with this post (World Autism Awareness Day 2018)

If you enjoy this story in any way, please message me your contribution of encouragement, which is something that could be much more plentiful in this world.

Love to you all!

(the story follows..)

A SEA TURTLE’S  PLEA
(DIVE INTO DIVERSITY):

© C. Michelle Vyn

What is this?
A crack is forming. It’s loud, and I’m shaky.
This is my beginning, now I see.
But the light is too bright for me.                [Scared]

I breathe in air,
And stretch, pushing through this cage that surrounds me,
And tumble into something scratchy.
It’s everywhere. I can’t get free.                  [Overwhelmed]

Look! I’m not the only one.
The others rush to meet the approaching sea.
Waves welcome them within, leaving me
Wondering about this mystery.                  [Confused]

Fast forward.
I make my way into the sea, far behind.
When at last I catch up, I’m defined
As “different,” say the unkind.                  [Rejected]

They laugh at how gritty sand hurts me.
When I swim in circles, they point, and they poke.
They eat crunchy food that makes me choke.
And, I’m the last to laugh at a joke.         [Sensory & Social issues]

Many years later, I’m my only friend.
I’ve always felt lonely, kept outside the crowd,
By those who closed their circle, so proud.
Never to trust again, I vowed.                 [Depression]

One day, an old wanderer stops by,
Who says to have hope, and to myself be true.
Others need time to accept what’s new.
It depends on their point of view.          [Encouragement]

At that, he continues on his way,
While I struggle with my feelings, too intense.
If they knew how differently I sense…
Instead, they only took offense.             [Blame]

Never mind. I’m enjoying myself,
Healed from feeling fragmented… and forgiving.
Control is mine where I am living.
Wait. I am gifted to be giving!               [Accepting Self / Gifts]

It can’t be right to stand alone.
It might be unfair, but they are unaware.
If I withdraw and refuse to share,
How can I say I truly care?                    [Purpose / Meaning]

So, I make renewed attempts to connect,
But only on my terms, and when it feels right.
There are times when they’re only polite,
But sometimes they think I’m quite bright.    [Confident, Patient]

Now, this might be the best life ever gets.
Or, maybe, that nice turtle sees the real me.
He’s not like the others, that I see.
In fact, he looks confident, free.           [Hopeful]

We dive in, talking and listening,
Discovering what we share in mind and heart.
Yet this friendship is only the start
Of something we both want a part.    [True Friendship]

We pledge to partner with the goal
Of helping others to connect with someone.
And we agree it will not be done
Until true acceptance is won.              [Pledge]

We all need each other to succeed.
United as one, now that’s evolution!
What’s missing? Your own contribution?
Acceptance is the solution.                 [True Acceptance, not mere tolerance]

I’m not missing any pieces.
Nor am I a puzzle, as some might say.
I’m one colourful piece of the big picture,
Fitting in a different way.                  [Understanding]

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The Evolution of My Work with Acrylic Skins

From pouring paint…

Marbled

Marbled / 18″ x 24″ / acrylic on canvas

To finding uses for all those “leftover” bits…

Giant of the Deep

Giant of the Deep / 8″ x 8″ / acrylic on canvas SOLD

To purposeful “fracturing” for a stained glass window effect (on canvas)…

I can definitely see the progression over time, after learning what I could accomplish with pouring paint. I will do more of these, but sometimes I think that I should show these separately from my other works, because people could be confused about my “style.” I’m not confused; I simply love variety!

Another artist asked me recently, “Just what are acrylic ‘skins’?”

Let’s just say that sometimes they are: 1) accidental paint droppings that are created when poured paint falls over the edge of the canvas or wood panel; 2) the paint that dries on the palette, often bumpy and oddly shaped, while the reverse side is usually smooth; and 3) intentionally created upon a level plastic surface, from which they can be peeled when fully dry. I prefer the latter, and I am picky with what I choose to use. Sometimes it is the reverse side of the skin that is much more interesting. A curious artist will find ways to end up with interesting leftover “skins,” often intentionally choosing the surface they dry on to create a textured effect. I can’t reveal ALL my trade secrets, of course, but thanks for asking!

These 3 photos are of acrylic skins that I intentionally made back in 2015, for the purpose of fashioning them into something colourful. I didn’t know the specifics when I set out to make them, but I have an intuitive knack for seeing what will become of the art in the process. Inevitably, a number of ideas will take form, but when the paint dries, then I must ultimately choose how I will use them. Once I have cut away the sections I need, they are permanently removed from the whole piece, which is beautiful in itself.

What do you see in each of the skins above?

And can you guess how each of the paintings below were created? Was the paint poured directly to the surface, or applied after drying into a skin? What type of skins have been used? Palette skins or intentionally designed skins?

 

In 2019 I will be having a solo art show, so I will be creating future pieces with a mind to fit with my theme, “Discovery, Wonder, and Story-Telling.” Some of these already completed works will be shown there as well. While these pieces were created using “skins,” not all of my pieces do, but I tend to value colour and texture, so those elements will be consistent.

You can see these works and more in person by visiting the Vine Art Gallery of Muskoka, which is open for special dates and also by appointment. Online photos do not show how detailed or textured they are, nor do they give a true sense of the layers of colour within.

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Monarchs

You know you’ve met a nature lover when…

…You visit their house and as you approach their front door you notice some rather tired-looking, chewed-up milkWEED plants dominating the garden, where a much more beautiful specimen-plant should be.  Yes, that’s my house. Well, until this week, that is, when the last generation of this year’s caterpillars finally had their fill. The ratty looking plants are now in the compost bin, and our Rose of Sharon is in full bloom, getting all the sunlight it desires.

I tried to plant the milkweed seeds I harvested from last fall, but nothing came up in the spring. My plan was to see what came up, if it would increase somewhat year after year, and then I could eventually plant more beautiful specimens at my front door. Instead, I came up with a plan ‘B’ to attempt to transplant some new milkweed sprouts, but you have to dig way down to get the full root of the plant. After several tries, I think I was successful with transplanting 4 plants, although all but one died soon after. From what I’ve read, they will seem to die, but if the root becomes established, it will spread and come back the following spring. Fingers crossed… After all, the ones by my front door keep coming back, no matter how many I pull out for lack of space!

The following pics span from the first of June to mid-July. The flowers were in bloom and pungent at the end of June, when they are actually quite lovely, while some plants that were already well-favoured with eggs and caterpillars were looking rather worn out by mid-July. As soon as they looked this tired, I was itching to pull them. If I discovered an egg on one of the leaves, I waited. Sometimes I had to move a caterpillar to a different plant, so I could pull out the spent one.

Last year, I brought 25 caterpillars inside over the summer, later releasing all of them when they emerged from their pupae as adults. This year, I did not bring any inside. The Monarchs arrived earlier this year and I thought I would see how it went. But the predators didn’t really reveal themselves until August. I started seeing evidence of this… dead caterpillars with ants, spiders and beetles around them. And then the ground wasps returned. We attempted to exterminate the wasps without harming anything else, but that is an ongoing battle to revisit next year.

20180719_103915-EFFECTS

Even now, we are seeing adult Monarchs visiting my gardens, and the last generation of caterpillars have now pupated. So, it won’t be long before these ones are making the long trek to Mexico.

 

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