Monday, 31 August 2015

I'm fully rooted

Fort Langley! Thank you so very much for such a sweet reception on Friday. What a turnout. Family, friends, artists and art lovers alike came, saw the body of work I've been doing for the past 6 months and celebrated with me. I'm grateful to be part of this place.

The Fort Gallery, being an artist co-operative, is a big commitment of time, volunteering and out of the box thinking. It is also a place to shine, explore oneself and be helped by one's peers, mostly on a philosophical level. What an honour to be so fully welcomed to a group of academically superior artists.  I always question my artistic direction, but to be plainly asked "Why this?" is question I was only able to answer after much self reflection. This time it wasn't a "What inspired you?", but rather, "Why are you doing this?", to me meaning everything - material, composition, motivation, contribution. I have to say, after commercial success, this is an entirely different experience. My thought matters, my skills matter, my sales don't. It's a real headstand. I love it.

I'd like to add a very special thank you to Angie Quaale and her Well Seasoned team for the sophisticated catered experience and Lynette Sayers with the amazing Kalala organic wines. Local bites and sips. Last but not least, Ashley Waite-Womack, your smooth, gorgeously full and elegant voice  is unforgettable. I hope we can do this again.

Next up? A fun, but very important, community-involved Thing. See you this Sunday.  

Saturday, 22 August 2015

uncaged and blooming

I have a friend.  Let's call her Cinnamon Girl. She's been in my life for twenty five years, even when she was not in it. We've laughed together as 20 somethings driving in my Le Baron with an 8 track and our platform shoes, and when we shared stories about diapers and tamper tantrums of our babes. To say that I love her deeply would not be enough.

In the past few years, Cinnamon has gone through changes, at times hitting the deep dark trenches of raw despair. Were she to sing "Survivor", Beyonce would clap. My friend is amazing. 
I dedicate this painting to her. 

It is also for everyone that has broken their own cage, only to find themselves blooming brighter than ever before. I count myself in that motley crew. Are you one of us? Whether you are or not, may you be surrounded by kind words and love.

Nikol Haskova Studio


Friday, 21 August 2015

the case of the fallen

This one should have been easy. A purely technical painting, not much in a way of extra design, composition or colour interpretation. Still, I like to be sure the whole thing works when I'm done. As my current studio is teeny tiny for the scale of works in process, I often take a completed painting and place it high on the fireplace mantel on the main floor. I can then step back 15 feet and take the whole thing in in an entirely different view. Flowers that looked bold on the easel suddenly appear as timid little suggestion marks. And so on.

Yesterday, I propped "I Prefer Natural" up in this usual way. I turned my back and heard a crash. Besides being startled by the big bang and spitting out my tea, my mind immediately went: "Shit! There goes a week's worth of sweat!", quickly followed by "Shit shit! All the little paintings on the ground below are likely ruined too."

Once my heart slowed down, I picked up the big piece. Not a mark on it. Like a stupid move to jump off something that should break your legs but doesn't, it ended just fine. I was shaken and stirred. Ok, the little guys. The resin should've shattered, gouge marks should've covered them, a hole here and there would not be unexpected. Well. Someone is watching over me. Every single painting is alive and well. I have been chanting to Ganesha these past few mornings. Kind of prepping my day, planning tasks and asking for success and protection. Interesting.

My point? When you're most busy, slow down. It may seem counterintuitive, but, at least in my experience, it pays off.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

home is where the heart is

Thank you, Miranda Gathercole at The Langley Times. Your writing, photography and graceful connection are a great example of today's skilled young reporters. You have an admirable ability to make it seem like a relaxed chat.

the Langley Times article

Sunday, 16 August 2015

delicious flora

After I cleared customs at the Bali airport, I walked through a glass door. A wave of wet heat hit my face and my western-girl-travelling-via-plane clothes became a microwave worthy torture chamber. But then the scent hit me. Luscious, exotic, intoxicating, sensual, yellow and pink coloured, sweet smell of orchids.

Two incredibly beautiful girls in traditional costume, smiling from ear to ear, extended their hands. "Welcome to Bali! Would you like an orchid?", they asked simultaneously.

"Yes, please! I would", I answered with tears in my eyes. One of the goddess-like young women tucked a precious bloom behind my right ear. I forgot about my Lululemon chamber instantly. Throughout that trip I encountered many orchid varieties, lotus flowers, tree blooms I couldn't identify, offerings of dry petals, and too many other beauties to list. I don't know which God or Goddess gifted these to the island, although I suspect Saraswati had something to do with it. I'm sketching and painting studies. So far, I'm not happy enough with the results, but some big paintings are coming. I'm thinking Valentines' Day.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Saturday, 15 August 2015

take a hike

This post is for the woman that kickstarted my career. 10 years ago I sent a submission to her gallery. It was the first time I had a no for an answer. The Taurus bull in me didn't like that, so I pointed out the reasons why she should reconsider, which she did. 
A decade and over 400 paintings later, we have both grown in our paths, both personally and business-wise. To say that I am grateful for her would be a huge understatement. Now being a mid career artist, I'm enjoying an entirely different connection with her. Instead of dinner & wine, home cooked meal (by her) and a hike. 
Life is amazing. Thank you, Barbara Pelham, for being a part of mine. Canada House in Banff is an amazing place for staff to thrive, artists to make a living and probably 10,000 collectors to enrich their lives. Here's to another 40 years!

Nikol Haskova Studio

Thursday, 13 August 2015

community support

Payangan changed me. I knew it would, I just didn't anticipate how much. While Ubud is the destination most likely to come up in conversations about Bali, its street ratio of expats and Caucasian entrepreneurs rivals that of the true locals. I will not mention the movie but will say I did not venture out to 'his' place. Nor did I visit the yoga centre founded by a down to earth yogi rock star. Instead, I embraced the little mountainside village where I spent a week with 6 other women. The tiny miracles, mind shifts and spiritual awakenings based on precious small earthly things were priceless. More on that later.

When you see an entire village come to the dirty, narrow roadside to greet you and point at the white girls to say their "hullo, how yooou?", it does things to you. When a tiny naked toddler giggles and extends his hand, only to be protected by his naturally caring and loving pre-school sibling and his bare-breasted grandma comes running to chime in, you kind of swallow hard. Hopefully you reflect and reach into your heart before you can't resist taking a picture.

There are so many things that happen to you there. If you're open, you begin to count your social and economical riches while you realize that you're deficient in one on one interactions and simple, raw exchanges of kind words and acts. When I got back to Canada, I stayed home for a week. Pretty much in my pyjamas, changing to take my son to school and that's it. I journaled, reflected, wrote, wrote, wrote and cried. I missed Bali. Not for its intoxicating beauty. It was the simple, natural, honest life. When I finally went to the supermarket for some milk and the poor girl doing her shift didn't look me in the eye when she dryly asked "How are you?" without expecting an answer, I swallowed a tear. I felt shortchanged. I wanted to smile at her and tell her she looked pretty. I didn't. When I got home, I realized that she could have been exactly the person that should hear those words. I felt bitter about her lack of interest in me, based on connections with people that live for a gentle word and a few extra dollars for their kids. Quickly I realized that I couldn't fault the supermarket goth girl. She did what she knew. She treated me the way she'd been treated in a highly plastic society. Every time I go back, I tell her something kind now. It doesn't matter how small the exchange is. She looks at me now. And she smiled once.

Nikol Haskova Studio

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Art Farm

I love to give. Whether it's a painting for a cause or for someone that needs a little love, instructions to students that can't afford classes, or my time to teach to raise money, it just feels so great. One day I'd love to be a philanthropist.  

Last week I spent two days working with The Fort Gallery. It was exhilarating. With eager students, some gorgeous sunshine and a number of talented instructors, we enjoyed a day at the farm, creating. 

Thank you, everyone that paid to come learn with the experienced teachers and with me. I hope to see you next year again, maybe with some friends. Huge. Humbling. Experience.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

nurtured land

It was a warm autumn afternoon. 
Everything basked in a glorious golden pause.
The cherry tree in the front yard was naked for the season now,
yet looked more alive than during a luscious spring.

The black feathered gentlemen and their escorts, 
I'm guessing around fifty of them, 
certainly provided an eclectic buzz. But that wasn't it.
It wasn't the 70s orangey filter on everything either, 
nor was it the absence of those metal driving machines.

No, it was none of the sound or the visual. 
It was more of the feeling. 
I knew I was witnessing something
extraordinarily touching. 
It may have been the profoundly simple gift 
of nothing and everything at the same time.