The amazing guys from Handcraft Creative shot this video last week when I popped in to do a little more #kbscript on the frozen Red River at The Forks. There's more to this story and if you follow along with me on Instagram you might have seen some of the photos from the last day of 2014 when I painted a large skating rink full of inspirational resolutions... and my heart cracked open.
I love winter. Painting on ice makes my heart happy in a way that I can't describe. But, if you have a minute - watch this beautiful video to see a small glimpse into the winter I love so much. THANK YOU so much HANDCRAFT CREATIVE.
I love winter. I love snow. I love ice. I love polar bears. I love Canada. I also understand, quite intimately, that in order to enjoy those three things YOU NEED TO BE WARM. Also important to note: I live in a place that is sometimes labelled "THE COLDEST SPOT IN THE WORLD". By THE WEATHER CHANNEL. (That's not a joke - I think it happened twice last year!) I am a really big fan of the NORTH. As in the ARCTIC. I regularly spend time in the Sub-Arctic and I feel like I can speak with a little bit of street cred. ;)
[ It's also important point out that winter gear is totally specific to the activity you're using it for. Taking the bus requires different gear than climbing a mountain. Standing at the Arctic ocean watching polar bears needs different gear than skiing in Rockies or bobsledding or heading to the mall in light flurries. You get my snow drift? Haha, drift.]
I can't remember how I stumbled onto Love Winter's Valenki boots, but I did and I feel compelled to post an honest review in case others were interested.
At first sight, I fell in love with the wool boot. I love the charcoal colour. The texture. The properties of wool. You can wear the boot WITHOUT the colourful "galosh" and that's what I did last winter (in the house ONLY!) because I was not confident the galosh was going to be able to weather a real Winnipeg winter. (Plus, I grew up in Sorels and I am skeptical of any brand that might not understand our temperature.)
A couple weeks ago I went to the SubArctic to see my favourite things: POLAR BEARS. Churchill, Manitoba - the 58th parallel. I was packing painting gear so I only had room for one pair of boots. I didn't want to take the Valenkis but I wanted to get photos of the boots in use in REAL winter.
I decided to risk frozen toes and take the Valenkis. (Oh, yes, I packed plenty of warming 'hot-shots' to slip in the boots. I surrendered to the idea that I'd most-likely be painfully frozen - AND I probably teased by locals. ;)
In true Churchill form, it was FREEZING. It was cold. It was snowy, blustery windy and wet. It ranged from -18˚ to -8˚C (0˚ - 21˚F) The shores of the Hudson Bay are relentless. Temperatures that might seen tolerable in the city - are completely different standing by an ocean. My fingers inside my expensive MEC mittens (with hand warming packs) WERE FROZEN.
My FEET? AMAZING. I was shocked by the warmth of the boots. I'll go ahead and say it: I DID NOT EXPECT THAT. I'll eat the humble pie. I expected them to be slippery on the ice. They were not. I expected my toes to be painfully cold and they WERE NOT AT ALL. (I wore one pair of cotton socks under one pair of wool socks - that's all.) I did NOT use warming packs in my boots like I have every time before.
I have NEVER HAD SUCH WARM FEET.
People I passed on the streets asked me about them. People from other countries and languages asked me about them. Local people asked me about them. Kids complimented me. Older people told me about remembering their grandparents from long ago having a similar boot style (this is true - it's a Russian boot design!).
And I have NEVER HAD SUCH WARM FEET.
VALENKI PROS: WARM. Beautifully warm. They are wool so they dry fast. They are light. You can change the colour of galosh! You can take the galoshes OFF and just wear the boots inside (AMAZING). The grip is GOOD! (They were no more slippery on shiny ice than my Sorels - I would say they were more than ten times better than UGGs.) The boots are comfortable and easy to slip on and off. I spent hours standing in the windy, cold snow watching POLAR BEARS - AND MY FEET WERE WARM.
VALENKI CONS: If you find yourself in thigh deep snow (like I did) then snow is going to get into your boots and your feet are going to get WET. End of story. If you do not find yourself lodged in a snowbank - then it's not an issue (I should have been wearing ski pants). I'm going to guess that these boots are probably not super great for hardcore activities like alpine hiking or agressive toboganning because there is no way to tighten them. I LOVE the green colour. I have been wearing them EVERYDAY for the last 75 days - they are getting scuffed. They are easy enough to clean, but are showing signs of wear. Also important to note, if you don't get the right size for you - they feel like walking in large rubber boots.
FIT: They fit LARGE/BIG - so consider that if you order. I wear a 7-7.5 (size 8 in Sorel) but am somewhere closer to a 6 than the 7 in Valenki. Because they do not tighten - the fit is important.
VERDICT: YES. YES. GOOD BOOTS. GOOD. BOOTS. I would buy them again. I will buy multiple pairs. They are warm and beautiful. Easy and light. I am so proud they are Candian and I, of course, LOVE that the soles of the boots say LOVE and WINTER. (And no animals are harmed in the making of these boots.)
AM I BEING PAID TO WRITE THIS? NO. I have been a fan of the boots for a while. I have been lucky enough to meet co-founder Polina in person! I created a 'BE AMAZING' #kbscript print for them and I have supported their Indiegogo campaign by PURCHASING MY OWN BOOTS. Love Winter has not asked me to write this review. I simply felt compelled to say something after wearing the boots in the Subarctic and being utterly impressed. WARM and... IMPRESSED.
This print is now in my Crated shop. It's meaningful to me. Fall was stormy here. We struggled. We lost one of our littlest family members and life slowed as we said goodbye to summer. This script print of my own words, will always be a good reminder for me. Life has an ebb and flow and the darkness serves us, slows us, and sets sets deep gratitude for all that is light.
[The above image is part of a card and print collection that I designed for Fifty Eight North - only available on the 58th parallel in Churchill, Manitoba.]
It's that time again. When polar bears wait anxiously for sea ice so they can get back to the things that fuel their souls. And me, I'm packing up to go stand on the shore of the Hudson Bay and watch them go. I'm not even going to pretend that this isn't going to be overly emotional for me. Fall has been relentless for us - in the best and worst ways.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to stand on the ice weeping.
And then get back to the things that fuel my soul.
The wild in me honours the wild in you. I have been passionate about living creatures since I was very young. Animals mean a lot to me.
This is a peek at #kbWILDER. #kbWILDER is a collection of animals I painted in April. They might not look painted. They might not look overly special to anyone but me. I painted them with a sumi brush and black gouache - in one take. There are lots of little marks and imperfections that half my brain says SHOULD BE FIXED, but the other half says - it's okay. It is what it is. My internal dialogue when working on a painting is this: ART IS A COLLECTION OF THE MOMENT. In these moments - I made straight-lined animals.
This collection is one of the reasons I started printing at Crated. This poster is available in many sizes (and colours like a soft grey background or simple black and white - EVEN ORANGE!) and the quality is better than I could ever do before. HUGE POSTER SIZES are available! Wrapped canvas, too. I will be adding each individual animal to the #kbWILDER collection over the next few days as well.
Last weekend, I spent some time hanging out in a downtown back alley painting (I might have indulged my inner Banksy as well). I painted 3 huge panels. The canvasses (3/4 inch MDF board unprimed) were ridiculously fun. Probably because I had zero plan other than the end goal: these pieces were for a collective energy art project that would be worked on at the Raising the Bar event to combat homeslessness. This event brings services under one roof to support our city's homeless. I was asked to participate and I had a bit of an idea to create a large art project and get people to contribute their own words, dreams and goals - hoping the collective energy would create something magical.
I wanted to create something authentic. I wanted people to feel included and important. BECAUSE THEY ARE. The three panels represented three things: THIS IS MY STORY, THIS IS MY PASSION, THIS IS MY DREAM. During the Raise the Bar Event and also during the CEO Sleepout (this thursday!) I would be asking people from all walks of life to contribute. I've done this before and it's not easy to get people to access their vulnerability. I assumed that this event would be MORE DIFFICULT. Because the people I was going be asking were homeless.
I was not prepared for the response.
Almost every single person participated. I asked and they shared. They shared their stories with me. They shared their pasts. They shared some heartache. They shared frustrations. They shared their passions. They shared joy. They shared their dreams. They wrote things themselves and if they couldn't write - they dictated them to me and let me share their stories. I felt trememndously honoured. It was pretty unforgettable. Hearing the comteplation in their thoughts about their stories... Watching peoples eyes light up when they talk of their passions... Seeing DREAMS. Some as simple as "find a home" and some as heart wrenching as "see my family again".
[ I didn't take many photos because it didn't feel right taking pictures of people sharing their hearts. Their courage, vulnerability and willingness to be part of something like this - was magical. And humbling. ]
And so inspiring.
The man in this photo isn't homeless (he's an elected official named Kevin Chief).
It became obvious early on in the event that this should not just be a collective art project for people without homes. We are not and should never be defined that way. This project is about PEOPLE. EVERYONE MATTERS. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a passion. Everyone has a dream. I asked volunteers and organizers to participate and share and the experience only became richer. PEOPLE matter. WE matter. We all want to be included. We are all capable of greatness. And love. And BELONGING.
This photo is from part way through the day and this is only one panel. I am very grateful to have been included and accepted. I shared, I listened, I hugged and I cried. To the people at the event: THANK YOU for indulging me and trusting me. Thank you for the smiles and the laughter. Thank you for the collective energy - it was SO GOOD.
It is a powerful thing to open your heart to people.
The ARTshop is open again. NEWNESS. Neon. Gold. Neon + gold. Canvasses. Paper. It's full of colour and chaos. EVERY SINGLE THING is more amazing in person than the photos show. Man, I just couldn't get the neon paints to cooperate in photos. DID YOU KNOW THAT'S NORMAL? Fluoresence is just made to be experienced in person, I guess.
If you'd got time - check things out. There are custom script possibilities. Gift certificates. A HUGE discount on CAMERA PAINTINGS (because I am running out of room and my head is exploding with new ideas!).
Take a spin through the colours. Happy weekend. xo
I am about to reopen my ARTshop. And let me tell you that this has been a tough go. Why? Because it has never been more clear to me that I AM AN ARTIST. I loathe wasting time NOT PAINTING. I've been photographing + inputting art into my bigcartel shop. FOR DAYS. And I could probably work on it for MONTHS, but it's just time to stop. DONE is better than PERFECT. It's not fancy. It is, in fact, MESSY. Understyled. (Like me.) I've stripped it back to basic, basic, basic (just like in my studio reno that happened in August). I feel like it's time to focus on doing what I do better than anything else.
I will be offering 100-150 new pieces of original art. Lots of beautiful neon script work. Golds. Colours. Canvasses. Did you see that part that said NEON?? (Gorgeous.) Hearty emotional stuff that will mostly not be making its way to prints. It's one of a kind.
I'm making the move from prints (lucrative) to originals (probably not lucrative) on my ARTshop site because I woke up and realized that I was spending MOST of my time filling orders and working with files that I have been seeing with my tired eyeballs for too long.
My heart breathes to paint.
By the end of 2014, my studio will be a place of original paintings and commissions. This change marks a conscious decision to stop doing the things that ARE NOT MY JAM. What the heck does that mean? It means I can waddle my way through Twitter and coding and photography and business decisions. I'm really good at comparing myself to others and feeling crappy, defeated and discouraged about that. But, what I'm really here for - IS TO PAINT. I make stuff. So, as hard as it is for my perfectionist, I-can-do-it-all brain - it's time for me to BE WHO I AM AND DO WHAT I DO. It keeps me alive.
ORIGINALS:I love originals. I have been making originals ALL MY LIFE. AND THE TRUTH IS: there is NOTHING like seeing brushstrokes on paper. There is NOTHING like feeling the weave of a canvas. I love the drips and the imperfection of it all. I love the colours that only eyes can feel... not lenses. I love the textures and brush hairs and gouache dust. I love that it says I WAS HERE. I love that it says THIS IS A MOMENT IN TIME. Prints are great (and my most favourite originals will hopefully make their way to prints), but originals are really, really great. (This is especially true of brushscript!)
EXCITING NEW ARTSHOP ANOUNCEMENT: I will be accepting requests/commissions for custom #kbscript bw, neon and gold ON LUXE WATERCOLOUR papers. In a couple different sizes. FOR A LIMITED TIME. I will only have space for a handful so if this interests you - get it sooner than later. Beautiful, beautiful gifts and keepsakes.
PRINTS: Crated.com is the home of my prints now. I love Crated. I love prints (when I don't have to ship them myself!)! I make professional, beautiful original files and they can print them in a bunch of different sizes (you should SEE the Busrolls now!!) and ship them FAST. Canvasses, framed prints, whatever your heart desires. OH, if you liked my WILDER series I did a couple months back then you will like what's coming at Crated next month. ALSO, you know I love polar bears...
Last month I was asked to put together a spur of the moment script installation that was hung at the Winnipeg Fringe festival. I wasn't here to see it in action, but the act of making this piece is something I will remember as a highlight of 2014. I also really, really loved seeing the photos pop up on Instagram.
The words are Neil Young's Heart of Gold. It's scripted on clear plexi and was hung with a mirror behind it so that you could take photos inside and through. What's meaningful about it (to me) is the fact that I was asked, instead, to script some words from Winnie the Pooh (who is from my town). BUT I DIDN'T. After reading A.A.Milne's Winnie the Pooh backwards and forwards - I wasn't inspired in my guts and I didn't find the passages worked well with script. (FYI Winnie the bear eventually became a captive bear.)
So I followed my heart.
Neil Young is also from this town and Heart Of Gold is a beautifiul song. His reference in this song to "I've been to REDWOOD" is about a bridge not far from where this piece was hung so I felt these words were a nice tribute to a man that stands up for what he believes in.
The script took one pass, no revisions and no start-overs. It magically fit the 4x8 foot sheet perfectly. And to me - that means it was the right choice. I love it when that happens.