Saturday, August 9, 2014

Creative Summer

It's hard to explain what happened this summer.  Shortly after a May visit by Neil and Susan, I went on an inexplicable painting spree that started with the mural of Elsie Yanik that I wrote about in our last update, but continued with a portrait of the first Aboriginal First Nations chief in Alberta, Dorothy McDonald, on the east wall of the shop.  From there it was non-stop, producing a mural of our neighbour Norm Sutton, and multiple smaller format paintings of Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Adam Levine, Katy Perry, and so on.

Perhaps this was an exercise in stabilizing a ship that had been rocking for some time; or perhaps it was a way to fill an excess of time during a lazy summer. As it turned out,  painting has completely supplanted fishing as my go to leisure time activity, hours of relaxation and creativity that has become an unexpected and delightfully surprising revenue source.  With two exceptions - painting I can't share as they are commissions that are being given as surprise gifts - here is my collected works produced since mid-June.

Elsie Yanik, 96" x 54", acrylic on wall

Dorothy McDonald, 96" x 60", acrylic on wall

Miles Davis, 16" x 25", acrylic on pine

Oscar Peterson, 12 3/8" x 12 3/8", acrylic on record jacket

Bob Dylan, 18' x 24", acrylic on canvas

Norm Sutton, 60" x 48", acrylic on wall

Adam Levine, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Stevie Ray Vaughan, 12" x 12", acrylic on canvas

Katy Perry, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Keith Richards, 12" x 24", acrylic on wood

Freddie Mercury, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Freddie Mercury No. 2, 12" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Robert F. Kennedy, 18' x 24", acrylic on canvas
The requests have poured in as I've shared this creative journey online.  In order to keep track of future painting projects I have about 15 photographs tacked up in my shop.  The response to this style has been nothing short of extraordinary.  Depending on size, complexity, and whether the finished work is framed or unframed, prizes have ranged from $250 to $550.  I'm overwhelmed and delighted that this has turned into a great injection to our vacation fund.  I never would have guessed it was possible.

Dylan had an outstanding life-altering experience at Artstrek in July, Alberta's provincial theatre camp held in Red Deer.  He lights up and bubbles over when describing it to people.  It is completely obvious that he thrives in a creative, social, and exploratory environment.  He made many new friends and has set himself up incredibly well to transition into Westwood Community High School, which has a thriving drama program led by a good friend of ours who also played my lovely wife, Madame Thenardier from Les Mis, Terri Mort.  

Ben is about to complete his three week adventure with DramaFORCE at Keyano Theatre.  The 19 students in the drama intensive have put together a stunning production of Aladdin Jr. in that short amount of time.  We were able to all attend the opening performance yesterday.  Ben did an outstanding job, singing, acting, and dancing as Razoul.  We are very proud of his work ethic, teamwork, and talent.

We enjoyed a short but excellent visit with the Wagner side of the family during our annual summer get together, this time in Crownest Pass, on the August long weekend.  The highlight had to be our Crowsnest Pass scavenger hunt, which you can read about in detail by clicking here. Here are a few photo memories worth sharing.

Don't those pictures look intriguing?  Bet you want to go read about the Crowsnest Pass scavenger hunt now.  It was such a hoot, and a great way to spend time together as a family.

Most of us went on a search for Window Mountain the following day.  We didn't quite find it, but we sure enjoyed breathing the wonderful mountain air and doing a vigorous hike.

On our final day, Ben and I went parkouring on Frank Slide, jumping from rock to rock looking for the sculpture he had made the previous day during the scavenger hunt.  We never did find it, but we sure had find searching for it.

I'm grateful that this family tradition was started and that each year we reconvene for some quality time together. It was only a couple of days, but they were very good days indeed.

As we wile away the rest of the summer, Dylan and I have one more trip before the fall kicks in.  We will be off to Mindcamp on the 19th.  He'll be serving as a "Banana", or a conference helper, while I'll be filling my mind attending multiple sessions over three days.

Summer will come to a close with a pretty significant milestone for Heather.  After many months of waiting, she finally has a surgery date.  We will travel down to Edmonton on August 28th as her pituitary procedure is slated for the following day.  The doctors anticipate she will spend 3 or 4 days post-surgery in hospital (U of A).  I will be staying with her the entire time, with my home base being at Graham and Jenn's house, just a short drive away across the river. (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Graham and Jenn)  Neil and Susan has generously offered to travel to Fort McMurray to be with the boys while they begin the school term.  (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Neil and Susan)

We anticipate very positive results and a speedy and complete recovery, but would appreciate all the positive thoughts and prayers you can offer.  

Obviously, there is no shortage of things to share in our happy, healthy, creative life in the north.  I'll close with the very positive thought that my job with the United Way of Fort McMurray is going spectacularly well.  It is fulfilling, challenging, and inspiring - a great combination.  I also get to work with an awesome group of people (pictured above).  Yes, I'm the token male in the group, but I'm OK with that.  I'm comfortable in my masculinity (LOL).  

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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