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Have you ever noticed how things sometimes disappear?

 

Yesterday I was driving along past the bank and decided to get some cash. I usually keep a small purse inside my big handbag.

 

When I run an errand, I like to take the smaller one to feel freer while leaving the big one behind.

 

Anyhow, I thought my debit card was in this small purse so only grabbed that one. As I excited and locked the car, my fingers were already searching for the card that I keep in it’s own protective sleeve. While walking briskly, I touched various cards, tissues, notes, toonies and change, realizing I could not feel the distinctive sleeve. Annoyed, I stopped walking and looked inside the purse until I took everything out. I had to come to the conclusion the debit card was not there.

 

Watching for cars backing up, I returned to my car and checked my large purse’s zippered compartment. It wasn’t there. Wallet? After going through it 3 times, I saw it wasn’t there either.

 

Upset, I got back into my car and drove home thinking it had to be somewhere in the house. On the table, in the closet, in a pocket maybe. I thought back to the previous few days. Another busy week it had been and remembered using the card at the art store a few days before. I thought I remembered shoving the cards and receipt in the pocket of my black coat.

 

When you lose something, your mind tries to reconstruct the past. But memories are not always totally reliable. We live such a distracted life that there are always a few pieces of information missing.

 

I got home and dumped everything out of my bag to no avail. I searched my house, pockets of my coats and pants, the office, even the garage (maybe I put it somewhere and don’t remember). I opened the computer and checked my account, no transactions since the one I remembered on Monday, which reassured me. I gave up looking for it after two hours.

 

All this got me thinking about things that disappear and how odd it always seems.

 

One time, we came back from a week-end trip to find my daughter had thrown a house party. One month later, my son wanted to wear the engraved cross I was safekeeping for him in my drawer. I was surprised and upset that it had disappeared from my bedroom bureau. I searched for it for six more months, refusing to believe that a party guest had gone through my things and stolen his property. I felt guilty for losing it and still think about it 20 years later…

 

Another time, when I was cleaning out a night table, I realized a very precious photo was no longer there. Do we do things and then forget about them? Where was that photo? To this day, I have never found it. This happened about 10 years ago, yet every now and then, I go through all my stuff again in the hopes of finding it.

 

Don’t socks disappear all the time? Where do they go? It is almost as if there is an alternate reality out there.

 

My friend’s i-pad disappeared in a strange way. She was there, she never saw anything. Probably stolen…

 

 

Distraction or selective attention is partly to blame. I recently read the book “Why we make mistakes” by Joseph T. Hallinan. It explains how it is impossible to be 100% present all of the time and “how we look without seeing, forget things in seconds and are all pretty sure we are way above average”. A very interesting read!

 

I used to be proud of being able to multitask yet research is clear that multitasking does not exist per say. We only shift our attention and each time we do, this uses seconds and the brain has to re-adjust, making both tasks less efficient.

 

Other things that sometimes disappear are people, friends, lovers and neighbours through move, break up, death, change of heart.

 

Everything and everyone will disappear one day. This is life, impermanence.

 

Things get misplaced

Things get forgotten
Everything shifts and changes

Everything will disappear one day
We try to hang on to people and things

But all we can do is enjoy them while we can

For all is disappearing every second that we live

While something new sprouts and takes its place

 

As for my debit card, I found it this morning, in the zippered pocket of my white coat, so it wasn’t lost after all. I was so sure I was wearing the black one, I never checked that one until today.

 

Thank you for reading and enjoy every second of your reality!

 

 

Suzanne

 

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Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair

 

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A short one today since I have been really busy and have not painted much lately. Lots of projects in different stages of completion though.

 

 

I resumed my creative writing workshops 3 weeks ago and have been writing quite a lot more since. I will probably add a section to this blog to share some of my short stories soon.

 

I saw this on Twitter (@writerconclave) a few days ago and thought I would share it with you my fellow writers and readers:

 

Dear Writer

You can write 10,000 words in an hour, or 1.

You can be a plotter, a pantser, or anything in between.

You can want to write for a career, or a hobby.

The simple act of writing defines you as a writer.

Speed doesn’t. Style doesn’t.

Simply, write.

Love, a fellow

 

Thank you for reading and keep on writing !

 

Suzanne

 

 

 

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“I think we’re creating all day long. We have to have an appointment to have that work put on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting, or just gets tired” – Mary Oliver

©2018 Suzanne Bélair

This really speaks to me as I am sitting here and thinking about all the ideas that cross my mind, all the projects I would like to start and of all the exciting art I would like to make. The last few weeks have been extremely busy with the little ones and preparing for the next Symposium, seeing friends, and publicity for the LAA group. I find myself getting frustrated because there is no time to put anything down on paper or canvas.

 

The last month has been a whirlwind of emotions and activities. The birth of our first granddaughter and seeing my daughter pregnant in the previous months brought so many powerful emotions that had to be processed.

 

One day, as I was sitting with my daughter who first became a mother two and a half years ago and was pregnant with the little one, I was hit by a reality I was not expecting. I saw her, not as my daughter but as a strong independent woman, who has carved a good life for herself and is in control of her destiny. It hit me that she really didn’t need me anymore. I could almost physically see the shift in my head.

 

Once a mother, always a mother and up to this point, I still felt that my kids needed me somehow, that I could enhance their lives, help make everything better like when they were small. It was a belief in the background of my mind, something I took for granted for nearly 40 years. But my three children are adults now, independent and autonomous. They all enjoy good family and social lives, either run businesses or have decent jobs. They are all well functioning adults and don’t really need us parents so much anymore.

 

I knew all that for a long time on an intellectual level but now I feel it on an emotional level, deep in my core. They are all successful and our role is changing from parents and protectors of their well-being and happiness, to observers, on the fringe of their lives even if intertwined. I am proud of the three of them and of the lives they made for themselves. I feel we did our job as parents but we were also very lucky that they are all intelligent and healthy.

 

In a way, I am back to my carefree days. I feel I am in a transformational stage of my life right now, that my role is changing in a big way. New doors are opening and hopefully, there will be more time for art making in the weeks and months ahead.

 

Thank you for reading !

 

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Forest confection by Suzanne Bélair

Forest confection
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic & Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

I am sharing this painting today to make a point about exploration when it comes to making art.

 

As artists we often feel we have to paint certain subjects or in a certain style expected by our viewers, buyers, galleries we deal with, etc. It is true that viewers come to expect a certain type of production from an artist. But we must be able to explore and break these boundaries in the studio.

 

I have been watching some friends that are now dabbling in faux stained glass and this inspired me to paint this small forest. I love working with inks and enjoyed making the lines and defining the areas.

 

I started with a textured background. I use the flexible paste by Liquitex to texture my canvas. This insures it won’t crack over time.

 

When you feel like painting something that is unexpected or new to you, go for it. Especially if you feel some anxiety at the start, you might think, “I could never paint this” or “If I do it, I’ll never show it to anyone”. Well, if you think this way, you must try it because it might turn out to be the key that unlocks your next series or the next step in your painting process.

 

This self-censoring we go through is what eventually leads to a creativity blockage. All the assumptions and self-judgements should be examined and questioned if we want to move forwards in our art.

 

We all get inspiration, our imagination sometimes sends us wild images that we often disregard as unimportant or not “fitting in” with the image we want to project of our art. It is in our best interest to follow these seemingly random suggestions we receive through intuition and imagination.

 

Life gives us a seed and our job is to make sure it grows. Artists often feel like they are carrying the “burden” of creation, that they are responsible for every stroke, for every decision regarding what goes on the canvas.

 

But it is not so, we need to relax about it because it you think you are responsible for everything, then the process of painting presents endless opportunities for mistake and your success or failure becomes your full responsibility. It is indeed a heavy burden to carry. Painting becomes stressful and aren’t we painting to enjoy ourselves?

 

When you take the attitude that you do “what needs to be done” because you’re following your intuition and this is where it wants you to go, you become free.

 

When you listen to the voice of intuition, you are listening to nature, to your own self and it is leading you ahead, always learning and living.

 

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I am presently in Mexico and don’t have much time to paint or even write except for travel journaling.

 

This is a post that I first published in March 2008 and that still rings true to me. It is about creativity and moods, about the fact that we must keep on going no matter what. I still struggle with my low moods and have to push myself but I understand now this is my life and as long as I keep on going, I’ll get through the day and there is another day just around the corner with endless possibilities.

Marché conclu
©2009 Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 8 X 10 in

About creativity and our everyday mood

March 24, 2008 by Enviroart

 

Today’s thought:

“WHEN UNHAPPY, ONE DOUBTS EVERYTHING,

WHEN HAPPY, ONE DOUBTS NOTHING” – Joseph Roux

 

I sometimes wake up feeling like I am not capable of anything and the day ahead will be difficult. I don’t feel like I can produce, either paint or write or even do something insignificant. The important thing when we feel that way is to keep going. Some people have it easier than others. Some people wake up in the morning and they just feel good, full of energy and ready to take on the day. Optimistic people… How I admire them and would like to be like this.

 

I just heard the term “slogging” recently and wondered what does this mean? Couldn’t find it in the dictionary but got all kinds of synonyms that give the idea: plod, trudge, struggle. Anyhow, it is sometimes how we feel in the morning and… so what? We are not supposed to like slogging, in fact we’re supposed to hate it. The only way to keep on going then is that we have to believe that our state of joyful production will return. It always does. We have to keep going in the meantime. In the interim, we have to show up at the easel, at the computer, wherever we create. And we have to listen, ask for guidance and listen and it will come. It always does. As artists, we must be able to see a reality that does not exist yet. We must be able to start with the end in mind. This is what creation is all about. But it is sometimes difficult and when it is, it is better to just start and fiddle with something without really knowing where this is going or what we are doing. We call this practice then and this is necessary. It is always better to “practice” than stay idle, waiting for “inspiration”.

 

Consistency is important. It is what brings about results. We have to be consistent with the way we spend our time if we want results. Once an idea for a painting or a book comes, and we start working on it, it gathers momentum; it fleshes out and becomes real, at least for ourselves. The more real the idea becomes, the easier it will be to transmit and all that practice will then come in handy, having perfected our skills. Once it is real for us, it can become real for others.

 

As for optimism, we have to work at it sometimes, we have to cultivate it, we have to choose to be optimists and we have to make it a habit. Each day that we manage to shift our mood in the right direction will make the next one easier and bring the confidence necessary to keep on going, to keep on creating.

 

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A little over ten years ago, in December 2007, I started this blog. My original intention is reflected in my tag line: This is a blog about art, the environment and the angst of life and creation. This has not changed since and I still hold the views I was presenting in 2007.

 

I am leaving on vacation for a few weeks and thought that instead of posting while away I will revisit some of my earlier posts.

 

I used to write a lot about the environment, climate change and air pollution. I also wrote a lot about painting, feelings and life.

Magnifique
©2009Suzanne Bélair
Oil on canvas 10 X 8 in

 

So here is the first post I would like to share with you. It was first published on June 5th 2008.

 

Reflection on painting

June 5, 2008 by Enviroart

 

Today, I am reflecting on the art, on the work of painting, on the world of painting. It is often difficult to get going and start a new painting. The famous blank canvas… Some say that if you put a coat of background color or rather an undercoat, you erase the stigma of the blank canvas. But this is not true. If it can be useful to judge the tone or unify the painting, it remains a blank canvas. The blank canvas might be yellow or brown or blue or white, it still represents a challenge. Will that first touch of paint, that very first brushstroke be right? Will the color show how my mind’s eye expects or sees it or will it be totally wrong and send me in a tailspin of wondering, of corrections and self-doubt, of inquiring and research?

 

True, there is technique and we can learn to mix colors. It is an art in itself to be able to do this properly and rapidly, but the best way to learn and reduce this anxiety of the first stroke is really to practice, practice, practice. Some days are better than others but all days spent painting, each minute, are a step on the path the painter wants to follow, meaning forward, learning, progressing.

 

Just like writers are told to write everyday no matter what comes out to exercise the writing muscle, painters, sculptors, artists must practice their craft everyday even if we can give it only half an hour. When you love painting, this anxiety is mixed with expectations and questions. Expectations, because you want this new painting to be better than the last one, to be truer, to expose you a little bit more. Are we just asking for people to understand us a little better? Difficult to say…  Questions, because you just don’t know how your painting will be received.

 

Unless you are a really experienced artist, that knows what his public wants, it is hard to judge how the painting will be received. This depends on so many different ideas and criteria, that vary according to the individual staring at the painting. When you offer a painting to an audience, you are trying to touch the onlooker. To go deep into his or her soul and somehow touch a part of them, light a switch, create a “Ah !”  moment before the analysis takes over. Before they wonder will this fit in my living room, in my dining room? Is this the right color?

 

I think we are looking for understanding, for people to peek into our heart and soul, to share something joyful we feel in our core, or sad in some cases. The only way to do this is to paint first and foremost for ourselves. I think this is the main difference between doing artwork and doing “decorative art” or “crafts”. Unless you create, you don’t normally see the difference. Actually a friend of mine said one day that decorative artists are only “good technicians” and I felt a bit insulted by this statement. But now I see the difference. It is true that decorative art is all about technique except for those that actually create patterns and designs. There is a bit of sharing when you pick the pattern you want to reproduce or paint. But is nowhere close to the opening of the soul that happens when you create from your core.

 

I am speaking for me but there is no emotion when I simply paint someone else’s design. There is the satisfaction of completing a project but none of the excitement, no skipping of the heartbeat, none of the quiet joy of just working at transferring your soul to the canvas.  In conclusion I would like to say that the main thing is to make ourselves happy with what we are painting. I don’t mean to be 100% satisfied with the finished product but to paint for ourselves, about things we like and appreciate. It is not about painting what is trendy now if we hate it (unless we are painting strictly to make money). There is so much talk about finding your style and being unique, but each of us is unique and it is by painting what you believe, what you are, what you like that your uniqueness comes out. We have to live with ourselves, we are the only constant in our life and painting first and foremost for this individual that inhabits our body is a good way to start. So paint what YOU like and do at least a little bit everyday.

 

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I have been working on a series for a special exhibit that took place in November. I needed to paint 12 profile canvases sized 10 X 10.

Instead of painting different subjects, I decided to paint all of them of the same subject and with the same primary colors, in effect creating a series.

Echec en folie
©2017 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic and Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

This is the twelfth and final painting of my contemporary forests series. The previous painting of the series can be viewed here.

I had the best time painting this one and intend to do a large piece with it.

As soon as I looked at the background I saw the horse and it made me think about the game of chess which I used to play on Friday evenings at our country house, but I haven’t played in a long while and would probably loose real quick!

The strategic game is super interesting, I love the tactic and finding out how to make moves that your opponent does not suspect.

I thought I would use the large bottom area on the right side to build a chess board. I so enjoyed going back to basic perspective and build the board with ink and paint. To stay with my concept of contemporary forests, I put some trees in there of course. I thought the pawns were coming late from behind the trees and from the tornado-like spins to join the queen, king, rooks and bishops while seeing there is a knight missing!! Where is he going and what is he running from?

The pawns will follow the leader and defend the queen. I loved the concept! I used the yellow drips to create some background trees and considered doing something with the yellow drop at the top but then decided to leave it. The background trees became more interesting when I added some droplets of blue ink to give them dimension and link them to the trees that are in front, without taking the eyes off the main subject.

Here the trees are coming in and the chessboard is established:

©2017 Suzanne Bélair

What did I find out with this series? I found out that, no matter how I want to go more abstract, I still like details and realism. I like to recognize something, a feeling, an object, something that talks to me in a painting. So it is with my pieces, I like to understand the story, understand the painting, feel it. Each of them is so unique and personal.

I hope you enjoyed this painting journey and wish you creativity and fun painting!

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