The Art of Robin Baratta

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Spencer

A beautiful soul, touched my life, and has gone.
Spencer just appeared one day. My 17 year old son brought him home from a farm he'd been working on. I was told the 1.5 year old dog was going to be either destroyed,  or abandoned somewhere if he didn't take it. The pup was skinny and afraid of everything, so how could I say no...
When my son got his own apartment, the dog went with him, they were bonded so tight that unless the boy was at work or school, you never saw them apart.
But life changes, and my son first got his truck license, then his own rig. The money is in long haul, and Spencer was too afraid of the truck to allow himself to be lifted into it, so at 7 years of age he started staying with us, going home to the boy on weekends, until eventually he just stayed.  Spencer was our well loved granddog and by then our Jack was ancient, having a younger dog around perked him up enormously, so we were all more than happy with the arrangement.
Spencer, ever the pacifist, let the old guy be boss dog without a quibble. For almost 3 years they shared walks, camping trips and us.
The grandkids had started arriving, and Spencer was as loving and patient as any dog could be.


It was a common sight to see the big dog being walked by a tiny girl, he was ever mindful of his charges and careful not to pull.
That's not to say that he didn't have his moments, he was still fearful, storms and fireworks terrified him, until he went deaf. Rain or water from a hose, or in a bathtub were enough to make him run for cover, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, the list of scary things goes on. Water laying on the ground in a lake or ocean were irresistible though and  he couldn't resist a puddle!

He loved travelling, anywhere, anytime, just say car ride! and he was there. 
After Rolley the Jack passed he went into a deep depression, so 6 months later we adopted a new brother, Oakee. Oak and his antics gave Spence a new lease on life, just has Spence had Rolley. 
Spence taught Oak how to be a good dog, how to travel and enjoy life. 

The old guy  declined alarmingly, this past fall. After all 15.5 is really really old for a Lab. He couldn't manage the stairs anymore so we had been taking turns sleeping on the couch so he wouldn't be alone downstairs.
We were told if  we went South that winter, that he wouldn't make the three day trip there, that if he did, he certainly wouldn't make it home. We had actually made a plan in case of the worst. 
Once we started to pack though, the magic happened. He started dancing around like a two year old, he even tried to jump into the truck something he hadn't been able to do for a while (bad idea).
He travelled like the trooper he was.
We went to South Carolina and stayed just south of Myrtle Beach through some of the worst winter weather they have on record, not that he cared, he was just happy to be there.

By Mid January it started to clear up, and then great news! Spencer's favourite travel destination, and ours,  Hunting Island, was reopening ahead of schedule. We hadn't been able to go to for a couple of years because of Hurricanes Matthew and Rita. So we quickly made arrangements to extend our stay and spend a week there.
In years past Spencer had been nicknamed the Hunting Island welcoming committee. The snowbirds are a tight knit group, and he knew and loved them all. 
When we got there the devastation was awful, the landscape was completely changed, but Spencer knew where to go. He knew our favourite campsite, he knew where the paths were, and how to get to, and off of the beach. He recognized friends from years past, and even though he was blind, deaf and could only walk short distances he once again was the Hunting Island welcoming committee.
Our last walk on the beach before we came home, he simply stood with his toes in the ocean, and sniffed the ocean breeze for at least 30 minutes. I hope he was remembering all of the good times, swimming with dolphins, playing fetch in the waves, digging up crabs, and eating disgusting stuff washed up by the surf. 
In March I noticed a mass growing on his abdomen. He was getting weaker, but he still loved every day. He took 1/2 hour to walk around the block, but he smiled the whole way, greeting everyone we met. 
By the beginning of May he could no longer get up by himself, and he was falling more and more often. Finally we knew we had to make that difficult decision. We put it off as long as we could, he was still happy, loving, and wonderful, so it was really hard to know when... 
On June 8th, just a month before his 16th birthday, laying under his favorite tree in the backyard, with his family around him, loving on him, telling his how much we love him, we had the vet put him to sleep. 
There is a hole in my heart old friend, our home is so quiet without you. Your brother is a great dog, but he will never take your place.
Every memory I have of you is good, squeezing through Rolley's dog door, tippy toeing across the grating on the dock. Falling into the river and being a black lab for a bit, and the way I could absolutely trust you to be gentle, and obedient, no matter the provocation.  
You surely have you wings, because you were an angel on earth.
I love you, and I will miss you.
Swim in the giant ocean of stars, until we meet again.  
Good Dog, Spencer, Good Dog. 



Monday, June 4, 2018

Musing, on the Muses

Well another PSAG show has come and gone, the work was so amazing that there was a 5 way tie for members choice awards...
The point if this story is in the aftermath though. 
My wonderful life mate and helper extraordinaire spent much of his weekend schlepping art stands etc, his only payment dinner at our amazing local restaurant. 
While we were there a RV type bus pulled up and disgorged a dozen or so people who looked like they were direct from LA, bling and plastic surgery abounded, and they were wrangled by a harried chap called Saul who looked like his ulcers were worse than his frazzled nerves. 
One of our local gents said hello, as people do in our small town, only to be verbally slapped down by a particularly haughty young woman. 
Saying distainfully do you know who I am!?!
The rejoinder: no and with an attitude like that I don't care to. 
The young woman appeared to be in total shock. She was obviously used to being toadied to. 
It all caused me to remember something a mentor said many years ago. 
Those of us who have been gifted with talent, and blessed with some level of success need to remember to be grateful for the gift. Always be kind and compassionate to those who's gifts are different from ours, and remember what the muses give they can also take away if you prove undeserving. 
I don't know who they were, and like the local gent I don't think I care to, but the muses know, and I hope the young woman learned a valuable lesson yesterday, before the muses decide she doesn't deserve her success. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Almost There

The parental house has sold. The closing date is a couple of weeks off, and barring the unforeseen, this chapter will close.
As those of you who have been through this process and/or follow me know, it's been a very intense 6 months.
So much of Mom and Dad's accumulated stuff was either donated or thrown away, the temptation of taking the easy way and keeping all of the special things was strong, but had to be overcome.  I still have way too much of it, things like boxes and boxes of photo's I have to go through, sigh.
At lest now I'm not spending all of my free time at the house, and I'm not in a high state of emotional turmoil trying to decide what to do with all of this, I have been able to get back into the studio, just in time too, as I was going to have to pass up another show. That would have made too many passed by this year.

Working Title: Where The Road Dips, 12x36, Glazed Acyclic.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Life Update

The last few months have been full of highs and lows. 
The high: I developed and brought to completion a massive Art Installation at Mount Hope Long Term Care.  
With the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, we completed 288 squares in 6 weeks.  Each square tells the story, in words and pictures, of one of our residents. Assembled the squares form an 8x16 ft Canadian Flag. Canada is a mosaic, a country that sees diversity as a strength, and our installation reflects the Mount Hope Community as a microcosm of that rich diverse whole. 
What an incredible experience this was. 
There will be a permanent page dedicated to this project on this blog, as soon as I get a few hours to put it together.  
Purely by coincidence, my Dad is now in care at this facility.  It was one of our 3 picks and just happened to be the one that came available.  
I've completed phase one of clearing out his house, the sort and toss stage. Now comes the getting rid of all his stuff stage, which is amazingly hard to do. 
I have a house full of old furniture, 
books, moms china, curios etc that no one wants and that I'm charged with disposing of :(
Even though Mom has been gone for over 6 years, and dad is doing well and adjusting to the nursing home, I find myself awash with a sneaky kind of grief. 
I see Moms copper bottom pots and remember her standing at the stove, or open a drawer and find a paper weight I gave dad for fathers day 50 years ago. 
Dismantling their lives, and giving it all away is like riding an emotional roller coaster, one that has you hanging upside down, and twisting unexpectedly every time you relax and think 'I've got this'
Art is my solace and salvation normally, but through out this I've been unable to create, I see things that call to be painted, but nothing happens, the juice has dried up, I know that it'll come back, I miss my dearest companion, my muse, but right now I'm just concentrating on getting through this. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life Is Change


auction, charity, art
This one is important to me
You know the old saying,.
 'The only constant in life is change'
We've been going through some major changes lately. Like so many of my generation I've become the primary caregiver for an elderly ailing parent. Also like so many of my generation I have kids who are in difficult relationships, who seem to still think Mom can fix anything. 
At the same time I'm  trying to manage my art career, and my businesses, all of which are keeping me really really busy, really busy.
The only way I've found to get through these times, are accept and organize. 
The serenity prayer hangs on the wall of my studio, you know the one...

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 


To that I would add, stay organized, and learn to say no. 

Clear the mental clutter and time drains. Too much stuff can be deadly, as can too much to do.
 In all of our schedules there are cluttery bits, tasks that we don't know how we got roped into doing, or that we've 'always done'. 
One of the hardest things I've had to learn, is to really think about how important a task is to me, and to say no when I decide it's not important enough to keep in my schedule.  
This is the first year since I joined the guilds that I'm not up to my neck in setting up the shows. I've really had to fight my feelings of guilt on this.  I should...I always have...They need me...but to my amazement, the world is still spinning, the tasks are getting done, the shows will go on.  
It's change, not easy, but neccessary.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beach Paintings: Hunting Island, Before Mathew

For five years, since Hubby retired, we've been snowbirds. Four of those years we went to Hunting Island SC. Paradise. 
Unfortunatly hurricane Mathew devastated Hunting Island wiping much of it away. 
Cleaning out my studio I came across three small paintings I had started there last year, but not completed. 
I just finished them. 
It breaks my heart knowing the inspiration for each is gone. 
Mini 4x4, glazed acrylic, North Beach #1
Mini 4x4, glazed acrylic, North Beach #2

8x10, glazed acrylic, Beach Grass 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wondering if this will work

So far so good...
Since google and apple had a falling out I haven't been able to access blogger since I'm a Mac girl...
Then brain storm....
I still have my old iPhone with it's in updated iOS will it access blogger still?? 
Let's see
Reference for my next painting 
Cross your fingers....

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Step by Step: Elgin Panorama

When driving around my rural neighborhood I often see patterns, texture and colour combinations that entrance me. At this time of the year the frost kissed trees add their own narrative to the stories the land tells.


18x36, gazed acrylic, headed for the STEAG Show at the CASO
in St Thomas




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Time, Again

Looking over my postings for the last few months I notice that they all have a common thread, time, or the lack there of.
I had a conversation yesterday with a dear friend where she asked when do you want to retire?

Want to retire... that's a loaded question, yesterday or even better, last year, would be when I want to retire. The reality is that I don't see retirement in my future at all.
This is an all too common dilemma faced by creatives.
I love working with my 'old sweeties' in Long Term Care, but I am fighting a continual battle with the clock/calendar, and it get's very tiring.  
Retirement sounds like a dream come true, unfortunately having been self employed most of my life, the only CPP for me will be the little bit I get from the part time side jobs I've periodically had.

I'm at a stage in my art career where I need to be spending more time in the studio, but time is an ever more elusive beast. I hate turning down invitations to show that have been coming my way, I hate having no new art to show at the Art Emporium, and being under pressure to produce work for the next show

  STEAG 10th Annual Show & Sale 
November 11 - 13, 2016
Fri. 6-9pm, Sat. 10am - 6pm Sun. 11am - 5pm
CASO Station, 750 Talbot St, St Thomas (behind Giant Tiger) 

Please don't think I'm whining, or have any serious regrets, because I'm not, and don't.  I don't have much work because I did some serious experimentation this summer, not all of which was successful and what was sold quickly... 
So, I continue to soldier on, dreaming about windfalls, and winning lotteries with tickets I never buy, and 'one day' when my ship comes in, though I'll probably be a the train station... painting in the moments I'm able to carve out of my day, it's amazing what you can do with 15 minutes here and there.



 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Time Precious Time

I used to 'play' in my studio, the light heartedness implied by the term play was intentional, I didn't want to get too serious for fear of chasing the muses away.
As children we weren't allow to play until our chores were done, a practice that taught us a deeply engrained work ethic and a very practical bent, the unfortunate consequence was that that word 'play' became a deterrent.
It took me years to figure out why I felt like I had to do everything else first before I could focus on my art, that darn word....
It's amazing what a difference specific language can  make. I've long called my art my work, but the process was different, or was it? After all the process is important to me, that's what I derive joy from.
Each painting is an experiment, a learning opportunity, a chance to push the medium a bit further, and the wielder of the medium too.
Calling the process 'work' gives it the respect that it deserves, and helps me to carve time from an overloaded schedule every day.
It's the all too common lament I hear from artists, there is paper work to do, marketing, networking, schlepping your work hither and yon, applications to fill out classes to prep/teach etc etc etc. Then of course there's family and house hold stuff...ARGH!
My solution? It's a job. I have to show up 5 days a week. I have a calendar hanging on the studio door that I check off every day that I work, even if it's only for a short time.
Some days all I can punch in for is a few minutes, but it's amazing what you can do if you consistently day after day work 15 minutes here and there.
As you have guessed, I don't wait for inspiration. Inspiration comes from the work, a lesson learned from Chuck Close who famously said "inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work"
Do you find it hard to find time for your art? What solutions work for you? Share share, we all need ways to create more time!


Elgin County, Mapleton, maple, country road
The Hill on Mapleton Line, Glazed Acrylic Robin Baratta, 16x20, juried into STEPAC In View Of The Artist Show.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Artist = Flake

I think I've ranted around this point before, but this is a hot button that keeps getting hit.
When I went through the small business training program 5 years ago I was told point blank by one of the supervising councilors that art was  a hobby, not a business.
I beg to differ.  
When we were applying unsuccessfully to dog adoption agencies I listed my self as self employed/artist, and was told I had to be employed....WTF? I'm sure a self employed plumber wouldn't be told to get a job, grrrr. 
At an art fair a person walking through the tents after enquiring if I was an artist said 'it's a lovely hobby isn't it'. 
Today at the dog park, of all places, during a conversation I told some one that I'm an artist, and was asked 'where do you work?'
I started to talk about my work (art) and got a blank stare. Obviously this isn't what she meant. 
It seems that people see artists as hobbiests at best and unemployed, unprofessional, potentially suspect persons at worst. 
It saddens and amazes me, and makes me wonder how a respected profession, slid so far into disrespect. 
It also stuns me when in our gallery we occasionally have people complain about prices, they can get the same thing at homesense for $60, or less...
Artists, we have some work to do. 
The world seems to have forgotten the value of what we do, and who we are. 
Occasionally I see flashes of hope, the minimalist movement I think works in our favour. 
Only possess that which you must and/or brings you joy is a philosophy we can get behind. 
I get annoyed when I see artists playing the role of flake. If someone must choose a role I wish they would respect themselves enough to to play at being a professional, intelligent creative business person, because isn't that who we are??

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Openings Necessary Evil?

The opening for the Square Foot Show at the Westland Gallery is tomorrow, Wednesday at 7:00pm.

It's one of those common knowledge things, that is  touted as being a truth, in the fine arts business; you have to attend openings to advance your art career. The assumption being that it's all about building a brand and having the 'right people' get to know you.

Is there any truth in that?

At most of the openings I've attended 70% of the crowd are artists, the rest are family, friends, and a few serious art patrons.
The artists talk to each other or their family/friends, the patrons talk to the gallery staff. Occasionally an artist and patron are introduced, but that is not the norm, at lest not at the openings I've attended. People like me hide in a corner and leave as soon as they decently can.

I hate crowds.
Even when I know some or most of the people in the room I feel like snakes are crawling under my skin in a crowded room, and the older I get, the worse it gets. If I have to go to an event I make sure I have a job to do, for example I'll volunteer to serve the refreshments. Being able to focus on a task makes it easier to ignore my discomfort, but it never goes away.
It's the reason I won't go to a mall, and I find every excuse possible to get out of social engagements including...openings.

 This is not a poor me moment intended to elicit a 'there-there' response. The confession is because I think that many artists are to varying degrees in the same boat.

So I ask, is it true, how important is it to attend these things?

Lets get a conversation going, I really want to know what you think.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who's Calling Whom a Professional?

 I received a 'call for artists' this week that said it was for artists of all levels, and it asked the artists to categorize themselves as student, emerging or professionals.
It gave definitions, which were similar to the ones from CARFAC which for a professional are: 
  • 1-earns a living through art making;
  • I earn much of my living from teaching and selling art, but I could not support myself with it, in any style to which I could get accustomed to. 
  • 2-or possesses a diploma in an area considered to be within the domain of the fine arts;
  • I have very little formal fine art training from a place of 'higher learning', just lots of classes, and experience. 
  • 3-or teaches art in a school of art or applied art;
  • I teach (and have an Artist Educators certificate), but not in an 'Art School', applied or otherwise.
  • 4-or whose work is often seen by the public or is frequently or regularly exhibited;
  • I do exhibit, and my work is definitely seen by the public.
  • 5-or is recognized as an artist by consensus of opinion among professional artists.
  • The last criteria is tricky, frankly I've never asked the art community for a consensus of their opinion, and I couldn't ask most of my art friends, since they are in the same position I'm in, I'd have to find 'professionals' to ask!
  • By this definition I will never be a professional artist. Yet in spite of all of this I do consider myself to be one because;
I get paid for what I do. 
I continually try to better myself, and to learn as much as I can about art, and the business of art. 
I'm very active in the art community, some times too active, when it interferes with the making of art!
I keep regular studio hours, inspiration comes from the work, not work from the inspiration. 
I actively market my work on Facebook, Instagram, mail chimp, and my blog etc
I have a business license, a business bank account, and pay business taxes. 
Most importantly I THINK I am a professional, although this made my imposter syndrome kick in briefly lol. 
Really, isn't it where you are in your heart, head and effort that should matter? 
I'm sure the organizers of the show were trying to keep the competition fair for all levels, but I resist being labeled. 
What do you think?

work in progress,
Work in progress

First step for a commissioned work. 


Robin

Artist, teacher 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Getting ahead. What a feeling!

I'm glad I have my work ready for the Port Stanley Show, I've been able to get some gardening in, and I've got a good start on work for the Westland Squarefoot Show this week! 
Like many artists, I'm an avid gardener, I've used my garden as reference material many times.
This time is the year I usually feel very torn between spending time in the garden, and time in the studio, with the weather usually being the deciding factor. This week has definatly been gardening weather, it's wonderful to be able to indulge without guilt. 
Almost done, a tweek here and there to do and it will be ready to mount on board. 
Elgin County
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