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Friday, 25 November 2022

Putting It All Together

I can't believe it's nearly the end of November. I've been busy with work and commissions and orders and of course, the flu and trying to take care of myself and others while being mindful of bills, rent, deadlines, and such adult responsibilities.

Generally though, it's been one of those strange years where I feel like I've accomplished little. Yet, when I add it all up, I can hardly get over how much I've done. Life seems to be like that. It teaches me self forgiveness, patience and gratitude. While ill last month, I managed to write up some grant applications. It's akin to strategically dropping seeds before the snow sets in. I'll find out next year if any of them produce results. If I'm SUPER lucky, that's perfect. They all compliment each other like puzzle pieces. And if not, there's a seed of the idea planted in my heart now.

I've been thinking a lot about art, purpose, the personal/political, motherhood, the experience of being female on this earth, and the earth itself, plants, life, and how it all works together or doesn't work together. Usually, I'm pretty straightforward, down to earth, in-your-face, tell it like it is. However, when I listen to some women artists talk about their art and, more specifically, WHY they do their art, I find it SO invigorating.

And my super explosive artist's statement is, "I stitch prairies."

I mean, come on. There's got to be more to it than that. WHY do I? WHY is it so important to me? Why do I get withdrawal when I leave the prairie? Why does the local plant life completely recharge me to the point that I feel WHOLE and overflowing past the brim that art literally overflows. What is that about? What does that natural world give me? How does it work that way? And why don't we give more to the natural world in return? Ah.. there's a problem.

I admit, I've never been a conscious environmentalist. But I'm really thinking and contemplating this in terms of my art, and the importance and unmoving sacredness of what informs my work. It's so full of spirit. I HAVE to show it off in fibre. I feel compelled to make you look. Is that me though? Or is that the plants using artists like me to speak, HEY! We are HERE. We are significant.

It's late. I have a bit of a fever with this flu. No, I'm not high or on any cough syrup. Ha! I'm just catching you up on some insights I've had through my journaling over the past couple summers, trying to make more sense of the importance of why I do what I do, past the, "woah! how long does it take to stitch that!?" which is the only question I have ever had over the course of thirteen years as a dedicated artist.

By the way, I have never answered that question when I am asked. I don't know how long, I don't time it. Honestly, timing has nothing to do with the art or the story behind the moment in time or the composition or the passion for the subject matter.

And so, I suppose, after all these years, I started to ask myself the questions that no one else has ever asked of me about my work. I think I got the idea after listening to songwriters and other visual artists being critically reviewed or interviewed in podcasts and biographies. There were such powerful stories behind the work. 

I want to put more of my story into my work, somehow. I have SO many stories. Let me tell ya! I'm full of it! Some way I will work it out. This next year will be a fascinating one! I can't wait to see the new prairie creations that are germinating. It's going to be BEAUTIFUL!!

thanks for listening!

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Sunday Housekeeping

Good morning! I fully realize I said I was, 'full steam ahead! I WILL blog regularly!' And now, in a few days, it will be November. Nonetheless, here I am. I've though of you and about blogging so often, but have been absolutely loaded with deadlines and chose to put them first. Admittedly, it wasn't even a question.

This morning, however, feels right. I have nowhere to be. I'm enjoying my coffee in the sunshine and I would love to visit!  So here I am.

Me 5 yrs ago. I'm grey & curly now.

October. I survived.

What was I thinking!? I gave myself more than one grant deadline. I decided, enough is enough. I'm not going to be afraid. I'm no longer going to sit around wishing. I'm doing this. I'm going to believe that even if I get a 'no go' on all of them, this was not a waste of time because I can always try again. The writing is done and I can chalk it up as experience. In my for jobs, I did grant writing all the time. I also had the very positive experience of working with a school this spring on a big project that involved lengthy and successful grant applications with SK Arts. So, I buckled up and took on a 'been there, done that' attitude and wrote up a request to explore a very personal and deep desire of mine. I won't hear back for a very long time, so... onward.

Onward indeed. After weeks of writing, applications, digging into the archives for images, uploading, acquiring support letters from the community, (not to mention weeks of covid in the house last month) I realized, 'HOLY SHIT. I have no money.' Artists' life: no sick leave, overtime on admin work, and you still can't pay rent. So, I set my own sale date, and I created over 20 new works (ie: more all-nighters). This includes 10 threadpaintings (a little bigger than my former 5x5's, I now do almost exclusively 5x7 in 8x10 frames), and a dozen or so minis. And then I pulled MORE all-nighters to mount and frame and photograph and list them into my webshop. Yesterday was the 'shop drop' as the fashionable Instagrammers call it.

Today ('and on the 40th day She rested') here I am, taking a day off.

Well, at least a couple hours anyway.

Want to see the art!? It's all here. I sold just over half of it yesterday. (Thank you!) I am SO grateful. I rearranged the listing a bit so you don't have to fish through all the 'sold out' works. They are still there so you can view them though. 


And there's a few more perks that roll in! I'm telling you October was NUTS. I was invited to teach at a national conference. It's not until 2024, so I'll tell you more on that later. I also was contacted for an interview (finished! all done!) with a textile art magazine from The Netherlands! When that arrives in my hands early next year, you bet I'll be posting it here. Oh! And... I applied and was accepted for a solo exhibition at an incredible new gallery in Winnipeg MB. I CANNOT WAIT to boast away about this one.

THAT also all happened within the month of October. I'm not even kidding you.

Hold on. One more. I had a job interview. (You are like... SERIOUSLY WOMAN!?) Yup. I'm going to be working a couple evenings a week at my favourite Modern Art Museum, overlooking the South Saskatchewan River. SCORE!! I feel like the luckiest person. Honestly. If you are in Saskatoon, admission is free/by donation for the next 20 yrs.

at the Remai (RAY-mee) Modern

Okay, well. I hope to talk to you sooner than later. Have a good day, and enjoy Hallowe'en!

~Monika K.

Monday, 5 September 2022

Floral Summer Art

I just can't get enough of the garden, the plants, and the flowers. They've been my source of happiness all summer long. I sketch some. I photograph always. I have ongoing fresh bouquets of perennials with greenery from the carrots or back alley weeds. The more I snip, the more they bloom. Every morning and every afternoon when I step out into the yard, there is something different to notice.

This year, I've enjoyed sun printing on fabric. I have stacks and stacks of panels pieces created that I plan to put together as quilt blocks. I want to make myself a large botanical bed quilt for the studio loft. Now, the studio will be likely a couple years away, but maybe the quilt will be too.

Cucumber, Parsnips, Coral Bells, Geranium.

Blue and white always remind me of my mom. She loved her blue and white china and have collected quite a bit during her life. I think that's why, when I'm done this quilt, it needs to be at the cabin.

Isn't that pretty!? Some don't end up the way I love. I'll make bottons or postcards out of them. Most turned out FANTASTIC. They remind me of a night time moon garden. The prints that really look stunning will be made into larger, archival prints on art paper. 

Later this week, I'm going to do some Hapa Zone / plant pounding onto fabric. That is a good project for a cloudy day. There's still Sunflowers, Brown Eyed Susans, Tickseed, 4 leaf Clovers, Cucumber blooms, Yarrow, loads of Sweet Peas and some red Echinacea petals too.

I can't wait to share the results!
Take good care,

Saturday, 27 August 2022

When Life Hands You Lemons, Drink it Up, Plant the Seeds, Tend to Your Beautiful Garden

Hello Friends,

You may or may not know that my Mother, (immigrant, prairie landscape artist, hippie, single mom to me, the woman I share a birth day with, and whome through much of my life was my best advocate) passed away 2 summers ago after a year of general health decline. It has been a difficult few years for all of us who cared for her. People lovingly describe her as, 'quite the character!' 

Here's the story as I know it. I want to share with you, because I carry on her story. I hope you will read to the end.

In the early 1950's, her mother snuck her and her older and younger sisters with my grandfather to Canada when mom was 7. They came emptyhanded, with hundreds of people on a ship that was on it's last journey. Once landed, they travelled across Canada and fell in love with the Prairie: the open land, the river valleys, the unobstructed skies, the grasslands and lake life. This is where they unpacked their bags and settled. Settlers. Uninvited. Grateful. I was born here, a first generation Canadian on Treaty 6 Territory.

My eldest Aunt and carpenter Uncle bought a double lake lot in Saskatchewan in 1958. They had three children and built a cabin there by 1961. In 1964 they moved on west to the coast, and so my Grandmother (Oma, Marianne Kinner) bought that property with cash. The tell me SHE was, 'quite the character!' She apparently did this transaction on her own while my grandpa was at work, and told him about later that day. Wow.

My Grandmother passed away when my mother was pregnant with me, in 1970, so I never met her. People reassure me, however, I too am, 'quite the character!' Gotta love outstanding women, right?

When I was 11 or 12, we found ourselves homeless. That was when my grandfather gifted the lake property to my mother. She always loved it more than he did and we had already lived out there every summer since I was in diapers. I'm told he had a German phrase for it that meant, "shit lake". That's how much he didn't love it. And so this became Mom's. Eventually she added an old winterized building to the property about 25 years ago, and that's where she lived for the rest of her life.

The original cabin... decades later.

This is an important part of my story. My 20+ yr marriage came to an end in 2018. I happily stayed single for a year as I resettled into a rental with my children near their highschool. (Yes, highschool! When I started my career, they were 3, 6, and 9 years old.) As we lost the house, I lost my newly built studio. For those that followed me, you might remember? That loss took a big bite out of my career and my spirit.

Then my Mom passed away 2 summers ago during covid, and the lake lots were handed down to us, her 3 kids. I now share this land where I grew up with my brothers. My portion includes the original cabin my Uncle built.

When one door closes... you know what they say? One of my brothers suggested, 'You know, the last few years, Mom used the old cabin as her summer studio. That's all she used it for, was to make her art.' Hint, hint. My new love, a carpenter & bushman, took one look at the place when we were out there after Mom's burial and said, 'I can restore this.'

MY HEART AND MY EYES AND MY SMILE grew three sizes that day!

The planning began. A year later, we started. I've been the funder/designer and he's been the muscle/contactor. I dreamed it up and he made it viable. I did some fundraising through I Fund Women which helped a buy shingles and second hand windows, as well as pay for dump and hauling fees and he removed rotting siding, a sunken roof, and walls full of mice nests.

Last year, the original structure was leveled, siding removed, rotting floor joists replaced, new windows reframed. This year, the roof is redone. The walls are reframed. The outhouse is useable and we stay in tents when we're out there. When I grew up here, we had electricity and hauled drinking water. That's the level I'd like to bring it back to.  There's 2 wood stoves back to back - one for cooking and one for heat. This place will getting winterized so I can go make art any time of the year. Without water, there's no pipes to freeze.

I'M SO GRATEFUL. I'm so grateful that this is happening. Designing it so every window and space feels creative and good and right has been just amazing. (My childhood dream was to become an Architect.) Paul, my Carpenter is outstanding in muscle and perfection. He likes things done right and above code. He's been amazing and really has his heart in the place as well.

Eventually, my dream will include bringing mom's garden back to life, adding perennials in the yard, creating the perfect little kitchenette, adding a covered porch on the North East side where a very fallen addition was finally removed. A wood pile is started.

It's a place that calls you to create. It can feel like a chore to get out there, but once you are there, it's extremely difficult to get in the mindset to want to leave. Being back returns so many childhood memories to me. The sounds in the air, the temperature of the breeze, the steady roll and break of the waves on the rocks below. Fall is my favourite season out there. Most people pack up for the winter but my mom would keep us out there until it got too cold to sleep at night. The whole place would fall silent except for the birds, the mice, and the falling leaves. I can't wait to make art out there.

  ~ Monika

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Good Morning!

Well hello! Yes, I'm here. I miss blogging dearly. I'm turned right off by the IG rat race and diligently working on typing this with one space between sentences. (I momentarily imagine laughter and a roaring applause.)

I'm back to blogging because I love to put my thoughts into words. I find that I can share my ideas with greater flow and ease this way. Filming myself and editing an entertaining video with great showwoman ship, perfecting hair, makeup, sound, lighting, text, background music, blah, blah blah... just for more followers. Excuse me, but, fuck that. Admin and sales is not where I want to pour my energy and the pressure to show and dance is making me miserable. As a women and a housewife and a mother of a few and the sole breadwinner and a creative and a dog owner and a gardner... I just have one head to balance all those hats. 

I take care of a lot of people in my life. I realize that in my business, what's more important is a) my mental health. I need to feel good to make beautiful art. That's just how it works. If you ask for a commission from me, and I'm grieving or completely falling apart, I will not spend time on it. I won't put that energy into your special piece. That might sound flaky to some, but trust me, you want the art made by the woman who creates with joy in her heart. You'll get a much better piece.

The second most important thing I realize is b) quality of relationships, not quantity. I'm talking about you, the customers / the clients. I know this. Everyone should. 10,000 followers doesn't mean much, unless you are mass producing or looking for sponsors and subscriptions I suppose. I could some day. Aside from a few prints, supplies, and greeting cards, I make original art. 50 thousand followers won't impact my work when it only takes one person to fall in love with the piece.

Back to blogging vs IG reels. I could jump around and put the camera up my nose and make you notice me. (Ok, I DO enjoy reels. I watch other people daily. Some of you all are FANTASTIC xo.) Blogging is important because with MY work, I have stories to tell. I love telling the stories. Each piece of art, from inception to completion, has stories that are integral to their creation. The story gives flavour to my work. I love to share that with the written word. It holds identity, like a name. And then you learn the meaning of the name. You know how that opens up a whole new layer to associate with the visual of someone or something? That association settles well into the memory, I find. It often gives more substance and purpose to what you are looking at.

This isn't appropriate for all art. In fact, it's rather taboo for some. However, for my landscapes as with commissioned landscapes, they do start with a place. Placees hold many tales. The original image I work from is a capture of a specific moment in time. Sometimes I have amusing or wonderous stories about just GETTING TO that spot. Sometimes I have stories of wildlife, or meet ups with stray individuals. I might have noticed something in the image after I took the photo, and that makes the story. I remember all of them with great detail, and I feel the need to share them is part of my art.

You end up missing thoughts and little bits of personal connection on IG. I miss the thoughts and personal connection.

So here I am. August 2022. Are you still here?

p.s. if you cannot comment here on the blog for whatever reason, please email me any time to say hi.  Messages can go through the comment page of my website, and if you don't already, you can sign up for announcements at the bottom of any page on my website. My Sweet Prairie

I look forward to telling more stories! 

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