I write this monthly blog with a wide range of emotions. Of course the COVID19 pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts across the world. While this remains the most serious world wide real threat I have witnessed in my 66 years on this planet I have always had a positive approach to life and am fortunate to have creative skills that allows me to temporarily escape reality. The fantasy world that exists inside my head forges ahead with wild abandon and I perhaps naively allow it to dominate my thinking and emotions at a time like this.
My Earth to Sky collection proceeds at a steady pace. I have now completed 21 of the 29 but am starting to rethink my exhibition timeline. My normal framing shop is shut down for the foreseeable future and at this time and no one is going to a gallery exhibitions anyways. Keep working on the collection and hope that this pandemic will at some point allow us to return to normal life. My partner has been temporarily laid off with the COVID19 closure of her place of business. This collection is based on my experiences associated with her mother’s passing and I need to be sensitive to that when I work in my studio in her presence.
For more than a year I have my next project in my mind. Our first ever visit to Squamish, BC provided me with my first look at the “Chief”. It is the second largest granite dome in the world and its stunning presence forced me to take a myriad of photos. A series of abstract works based on these photos is my next project that I am itching to begin. I would like to begin now given the sensitivity of Earth to Sky but I prefer to finish what I’ve started. This may alter soon if the pandemic continues and my studio time keeps being diminished. Bottom line is that if I’m being creative and producing my vision then I am happy so I am more than willing to be adaptive to the moment so long as my studio is active.
The new decade is flying by at lightning speed but as you get older you get used to it. I am happy that my emotion and spirituality remains intact as I continue my Earth to Sky collection. I have completed six final works in the first 45 days of the new year and am very happy with my progress. I have begun the process of selecting a Gallery to exhibit this collection. My personal feeling is that this exhibit will be very powerful as a showing given the meaning behind it but as usual I am riddled with anxiety and self doubt. For me personally I feel undaunted by my anxiety as I am compelled to complete and show this collection to the world. As soon as I have information regarding this exhibit I will let you know!
This marks the first day of a new year and new decade. 2019 was a tumultuous year with the passing of a loved one early on and the subsequent emotional rollercoaster. The sadness and grief for me personally came with an unexpected gift. My Chinese partner for the last fifteen years lost her mother and I became absorbed with Chinese culture, beliefs and traditions in terms of death and spirituality.
One of these traditions I learned about was the burning of incense. For forty nine days ( seven weeks) on a certain day each week incense was burned with prayers and blessings from the participants. Each participant was given three sticks of incense for the burning. My personal interpretation of this tradition was that the rising smoke served as a conduit to the gods to carry our prayers and blessings. The first time was very somber, emotional and spiritual for me and I quickly recognized the “gift”. This particular type of incense does not simply disintegrate as it burns but rather twists and turns in all manner. I started sketching what I was witnessing. In my mind I had been blessed with the opportunity to record emotion and spirituality in an amazing raw organic abstract form!!
I began this series with the simple title “incense” in mind but as I continued to develop an understanding of the importance of this “gift” the title changed into “Earth to Sky” as it perfectly described the emotions I was feeling. It is important to know that this collection is my personal interpretation of what I was witnessing as by no means would I fool myself into thinking I understood the customs, beliefs and traditions of the Chinese culture.
There is a lot of symbolism associated with this collection of works. The “sky” is a series of blue hues found in the spaces provided by the morphing incense sticks. The yellow ochre represents the sun, the wisps of grey represent the smoke and clouds while the smattering of oranges and yellows offer the warmth and reflections of the sun. You will notice that there is never any red as this color represents luck and good fortune in Chinese culture and is not appropriate for this application of life and death. The “earth” elements in which the incense sticks are firmly entrenched begins with the warming glow from our sun followed by the green outer skin of our earth. The brown hues of the earth’s core complete the base. I decided it was important to now allow the earth elements to mingle with the “spirit” of the incense. Only the sky elements are allowed to penetrate the “spirit”.
There are twenty nine works of art in this collection. Four from each week of the burning including one showing all of the sticks being burnt. I also created the “Earth to Sky” title piece in order to show a visual representation of what this collection means to me.
My website remained dormant in 2019 however my creativity did not. In early January I opened an Instagram account and have been posting images on that platform throughout the year. With the dawning of a new decade tomorrow I will be updating my website on a regular basis in order to use it as a vehicle to promote and sell my work. I invite you to visit cbsteele.com on a regular basis to explore the various galleries and my monthly blogs. It is my desire to maintain both platforms moving forward in 2020.
Oh boy, the usual summer diversion has left my drawing table to collect dust and my drawing pens to dry up. My creative energy has flourished with my flower garden and a variety of projects to make our outdoor living space as enjoyable as possible. I built a 10 x 10 foot pergola and covered it with a clear PVC roof. The rainy season has begun (which is why I’m writing my first blog in 5 months!) and we can now sit comfortably in the great outdoors.
It has been pouring rain all weekend and my drawing table is slowly coming back into focus as a need for my creativity. I love the outdoors as I am always seeing things in nature that amaze me. Last week I saw something for the first time in my life! A flock of hummingbirds!! There was 8 or 10 of them flitting about at some rose hops playing with each other, dive bombing and cavorting crazily. It was absolutely amazing!! The energy I garnered from witnessing that spectacle needs to translate itself back into the studio.
I have been steadily working towards the publishing of THE COLORIST BOOK and am providing a sneak peek at some of the images in this months FINE ART GALLERY along with my colored interpretation of them. The entire ALDER series is based on my fascination with the shape and interactions with the leaves of an Alderberry tree. I have found that one image morphs into the next by simply focusing on a portion of the original work and let the visual stimulation lead me in whatever direction seems pleasing. The titles I assign to the images is intended to reflect the progressions from one to the next.
When THE COLORIST BOOK launches the format will show the pen and ink drawing for coloring and my interpretation of it side by side. The new work entitled Fo Lo is very exciting for me in that it is a complete shift from the Alderberry theme. The abstract motif allowed me to visualize something completely different from the original intent and the prospect of seeing other people’s interpretation will further stimulate my creativity. Enjoy my progress.
Happy New Year to you all! 2018 promises to be an exciting and eye opening year for me. I am very pleased with the response to my Christmas Gallery as well as the chronological restructuring of the website. My Pen and Ink Gallery remains incomplete but will be finished shortly. I have been focusing my energy on the Colorist Book which I anticipate launching in February. At the moment I have 12 images prepared and am hopeful that number will rise to 20 when I launch. I have a lot of work to do prior to the kickoff but I am very excited to see how others will interpret my abstract images.
The two works on my drawing table remain in progress but I have been experimenting with the abstract coloring as witnessed by the three new entries in thee Fine Art Gallery this month. It is exciting but almost frustrating at the same time as it seems the possibilities are endless. What satisfies my eye one minute leads to questions and further exploration the next.
It is with great pleasure that I am unveiling the first of two new galleries to the website. The Christmas Gallery is a collection of the 31 years of producing a Christmas card for family and friends. I have been revamping the website to display all my works in a chronological order to better represent my growth as an artist. I am also beginning to present the various stages of development of a work rather than just the finished product. My 2017 Christmas card is the first time I have displayed the birth of the concept from my sketchbook.
2018 promises to be a very exciting year with the inclusion of the Colorist Book and my venture into social media. I am clueless when it comes to that stuff but it has been recommended that I start with Instagram. I have done zero research into what vehicles might better promote my product but I guess it’s important that I start somewhere. Not much point offering a product if no one can access the information. I have heard of several options and my take is the more exposure I can get the better. I’m also rather curious regarding the feedback from Colorist Book customers and how that may affect my creativity. My stimulation is always visual so I will be curious how an individual will interpret my pen and ink drawings. Happy holidays to all of you and may the new year bring you good health, peace and happiness.
Alas the two works in progress remain just that, however, I have finished the 31st edition of my Christmas card and will introduce it as I launch the Christmas Gallery in December. The website revision is nearing completion with the remaining element being the Colorist Book. I am excited about it but fearful as well as I understand the importance of venturing into the world of social media. It is terrific to have a substantial and interesting website but rather pointless if nobody knows it exists. December is only a few weeks away…..stay tuned as the adventure grows quickly! Of note; the foolish grin on my face has resurfaced.
At precisely 1301 PDT on September 22nd the sun indicated the beginning of the fall solstice. I have been thinking about that moment for some time. The itch is returning and I have been asking myself the question why do I always lose it in the summer….? My mother provided me with the answer years ago when she described me as a hedonist. A hedonist is obsessed with pleasure and self gratification and as it turns out she was absolutely correct as I have learned that as soon as the weather turns my studio creativity morphs into garden creativity. The rest of the summer is spent on the “do-nuttin deck” simply absorbing the great outdoor vibe. Here we are at the change of season and the inevitable itch has returned. I am in the process of shifting my pleasure and self gratification from enjoying the outdoor space that I have created and returning my energy to the studio.
I have two pieces on the go that have sat idle since April and the evolution of my website to include the new galleries plus “The Colorist Book” are all priorities. It is pouring rain outside as I write this…..the perfect scenario for returning to the cozy comfort of the studio. I relish the return of artistic creativity to pen and pencil. The outdoor creativity that flourishes in my flower garden is fulfilling and satisfies my hedonistic tendencies but lacks a tangible productivity. Productivity re-emerges as October begins tomorrow. I have a wide and foolish grin on my face as I glance at the two works in progress.