Dear Collector Friend,
The subject of jade is often on my mind. I thought it would be symbiotic to write about my affinity to jade as we approach the month of February and the celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Ram.
I was not born with a jade spoon in my mouth, contrary to popular belief. And although my family has often referred to me over the years as Mr. National Geographic, I have never lived in the jungles of Africa or South America.
The first time I came in contact with anything to do with jade was when Canadian jade was first discovered in the northern region of British Columbia. At that time, little was known about this illustrious stone. I saw an ad in the newspaper that was seeking artisans for a jade studio in Vancouver. It was a fortuitous moment for me, as I had just completed art school. When I came across the word “jade”, I felt I had somehow arrived home- it seemed that familiar to me. As I look back in retrospect, I can see what a pivotal moment that was for me.
I jumped right in before I knew any of the facts about working with jade. I had no idea that this stone was harder than steel or, as I described it in my early days, “harder than hell”. I didn’t realize that to even begin working with jade, I would need to apply engineering processes as the studio equipment was primitive and often in need of repair. Innovative techniques had to be applied, including ordering diamond powders from China. As the saying goes… “If only I had known”.
As an artist, my practice has required me to take on the various roles of student, teacher, and master. With a recent opportunity to study and examine the works of Faberge in the private vault at the Hermitage Museum, I inhabited the role of the student. I felt honoured to be privy to witnessing these royal objects of imperial art. This experience afforded me with what feels like a set of “new eyes” in which I see a more enriched spectrum of colour.
Considering I fell in love with jade at first sight, I never stopped to take note of how much dedication would be involved. It has been a roaring love affair ever since.
Before my involvement with jade, I never realized that I had a propensity towards gambling. With the purchase of my first boulder, I wondered if I could rest assured that I had indeed made the right investment. When later I cut into the stone, I was happy to see that I had chosen well. Over time I’ve come to realize that I have been fortunate in this respect. There is a strong intuitive knowledge that seems to kicks in, allowing me to assess the highest value stone without even seeing its core.
This ability to identify higher value stones has garnered me a reputation within the rough jade purchasing industry. Every year when I go to the quarry to purchase my boulders, I am often followed by an entourage of the usual suspects- big buyers of gigantic boulders from the East. I have worked out a code to share with whomever happens to be accompanying me on these purchasing trips, usually my son, Kurtis. Using the code when I spot a favourite specimen keeps my selection process undetectable.
In my early years I would never have dreamed that investing in jade could be such a highly skilled process. Yet, in spite of all of the challenges, the allure for this ancient auspicious stone lives on within my soul.
I will soon be venturing off to purchase many different and rare gemstone specimens. Last year I spotted a favourite small jade boulder that I had seen in previous years. When I queried about its value I felt it did not match its quality. I looked into the stone with a light to see how rich the colour was within the matrix of the material. It looked to be of quite a high value, but knowing that one should never jump at a first viewing, I moved onto other jade sources. When I viewed similar jade from another location I made a comparison and found the quality of the first boulder to be inferior. I also found out that the first boulder had been not sold for a couple of years. I wasn’t surprised. Though the colour was enticing, the block of stone in its entirety appeared to be too much of a risk. Recalling this experience allows me to offer you a small vignette of the decision making process that is involved in purchasing rough materials.
This year I will be seeking out optically clear crystals and coloured gems that are blush or salmon coloured, as I had mentioned in the previous newsletter. Gemstones that display iridescent surfaces are my favourite, and I am always keen to spot the most rare stones in the richest and most luscious colours I can find. Sometimes I come across this kind of beauty the very first day of an exhibition. In a few of these instances in the past I had decided to look at everything else before I could feel sure enough to proceed with a purchase, only to return and discover that everything had been sold out.
This is the unpredictable nature of gemstone selection. It often sounds quite romantic, but in actuality it is highly stressful. There is always the possibility of buying the wrong stone or purchasing the right gems and having them never arrive on time. Imagine trying to contact the “miner” who is communicating from a laptop up in a tree in Madagascar only to receive the casual response of “What shipment”? True story.
This being said, the prospect of acquiring some new materials unfolds with a building excitement. This year after travels to Europe I feel especially inspired and I am full of curiosity to see what Gaia- the Earth- has naturally fabricated on this incredible planet this year.
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,
Dear Collector Friend,
Its the inside story again. By that I am referring to how winter the long dark days tend to draw me inside. Though I love the sun and any opportunity to be outside in nature. As an individual who thrives on inspiration I also value the inner terrain of my own psyche. As the popular saying states – ” Its all about me “. Which sounds a bit shallow and narcissistic. Yet there is this aspect to the personality of one who is devoted to the creative fire. I do believe that all Artist’s to a certain degree have strong omnipotent propensities in their character. I think also what defines an ordinary artist from an extra ordinary artist is this; most artists view their work from a place of being aware of all of the hard work and dedication he or she has given to their art form. The extraordinary artist, while still having a sense of the loyalty that is involved towards honing his mastery. Also believes within his soul that at some point in the creative process he is not alone with his art. There is another level of guidance that is esoteric-al and subtle in nature.
Consider the Master Painters and Sculptor’s how in tune they were with their inner guidance system. Certainly after spending time in Paris at the Louvre and especially with in the walls of the Faberge Museum in Paris I feel more supported in my work than ever. I don’t mean to imply here that I set the stage – as in create the design and then sit back and relax while I wait for the impulse to cut into a form or a gem. I still have to do all of the physical, grinding, muscling around heavy rocks, sculpting delicate shapes fine enough for the light to catch natural patterns within the stone. I have to be one hundred percent present in my body and in my mind, this is the state I strive for. And only when I think it is not humanly possible to offer more intention to my work of art, a release happens. A shift occurs, quite mystical in nature and I see what I am working on from a different perspective.
There is a theory that all Mastery takes is to study and apply some skill for over 10,000 hours and a very ordinary individual can achieve mastery. This author makes it sound very potential for there to be millions of masters in different disciplines all across the globe. This may be so but I do wonder how many are truly extraordinary ? Judging by this statistic one can master a skill but how exceptionally masterful can a person devoted to their practice become ? Contemplating this science I went to study the famous Artists of the Renaissance and Russian Imperial period. What was their understanding about Mastery ? To really have this knowledge one would have to spend a lifetime most likely in each of these Artist’s studio’s and gallery spaces not to mention their homes and social environments. Yet just the brief time I spent in their ambience I feel a part of this elite group as I never have before. After all Faberge championed beauty in nature, adored gems including jades and was passionate about the arts. In all of my years as an Artist I have never experienced such a profound level of perfectionism as I have seen – not touched in the works of Karl Faberge.
When I wasn’t mesmerized by the superior objects de art, at the Faberge Museum and the Hermitage. I was salivating with all the rich colours and patina’s everywhere. I could hardly wait to be in my Studio again, and experiment with my new colour and form visions. I also knew I had to wait for over 4 months till I could re-stock my gemstone palette. And now finally the time has arrived – this will be one of my next ventures. As I had mentioned in the Jan NL 2015, I will be sourcing out the most sought after exquisite materials to embellish and create this year’s collection. Following attending and showing at A Fine Art Event in Maui, I will be travelling with Colette and our Son Protege Kurtis to venture to the Purveyor’s of world class precious and semi-precious gemstones.Watch for all colours of the rainbow and textures to soon be launched later this year.
I began this blog sharing about how valued I feel the world of exceptional is. And how under valued this word has become in today’s society. To further enhance this perception I want to express this poem by Mary Oliver ” What I want in life is to be willing to be dazzled – to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world “.
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,
Dear Collector Friend,
Imagine this – nearly a life time of hearing about this magical place. So beautiful and captivating through centuries many of history’s most notable artists and writers would call this place home. In fact, Benjamin Franklin one of the fore fathers of the United States spent more of his life in this city than in ( what was known as the brand new United States ). In my late teens I traveled to Paris and while there I was walking in one of the many districts of the city. When a riot broke out in front of me and I was swept away with a huge crowd of people. My only escape was to run in the opposite direction as fast as I could. Quite over whelmed with the whole experience I quickly ventured on to Spain. Where I discovered the most tender chickens – which turned out to be pigeons – but thats another story.
Back to Paris. I supposed I was traumatized by this experience of being involuntarily apart of a riot. I never returned to Paris till decades later. Visiting this city again reminded me a little of the first time Colette and I and our then 7 year old son took a journey to India. This was the first time we set foot in Asia. And the whole venture offered a paradigm shift similar to our experience visiting France for the first time. This second time however, was as different as night and day. Though as a youth I was enamoured with the Galleries and the Master’s. I didn’t have the maturity as an Artist to really appreciate the complexities that these great creators were able to over come. Now visiting these mentors whom have stayed in my psyche and influenced my artistic direction for so many years I found myself – the best way I could describe it is completely at home. Being surrounded by art in its most exquisite form is a sublime way to spend an afternoon. There is no question in my mind why the Artists through the centuries have found this city so enchanting.
While strolling and luxuriating in the rare ambiance of the Lourve I became mesmerized by the elegance of lines, shapes many rounded and full. I found Renoir’s comment fascinating. ” If it wasn’t for the human breast I would never have taken up painting “. The rhythm and harmony of aesthetically pleasing forms seemed contagious. Everywhere I looked beauty reigned. We carried 4 camera’s if you count the phones. As we kept shooting and shooting. Sometimes with difficult angles, as the room with the Mona Lisa. Where there were crowds of people trying to get as up close and personal with the diva as possible. I felt I could never get enough images of even one of these masterpieces. My appetite for the culture of the Master’s had been building up for so many years that when I finally reached this mecca of creativity. It was as if I had spent nearly a life time in the desert and was now being led to water.
Not only super fine water, but the best bread, butter, and lovely pricey morsels that could be found at random Cafe’s strewn along busy and semi-quiet street. I read recently that it is just not a Visitor’s opinion that France’s vegetables and bread tastes so superior to many other countries in the world. The fact is because Bordeaux is located in a micro climate off the Mediterranean makes for a growing area that is unique in the world. Apparently, due to these currents photosynthesis occurs differently here than anywhere else. Giving the vegetables and wheat a different molecular structure that equates to simply more tasty epicurean delights. As our appetite for fine art sharpened our intuition for perfection , it was vis versa for our palate. You know when you travel you have a preconceived idea about how the culture and cuisine will be in certain countries. Well, Paris was a complete surprise, it seemed almost impossible to order a – soup de jour. Its one of our staples when we travel and how was I to know that I would have to wait to get to Russia to try out this simple faire. And before we knew it, very easeful entry into Russia and voila all of the soup de jour we could imagine. Though St. Petersburg was sunny it was also crispy and cool and we could feel the cold snap at our faces as we entered the grounds of the Hermitage. It was early in the morning and the Museum was about to open, as we entered the grand hallway we …
ART , NATURE AND BEAUTY
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,