2016 Year in Review

Nineteen days after the start of a new year seems about right for a year in review, right?  lol

Last week sometime, I was thinking that I really should do some blogging and fill you in on what I've been up to lately; when it occurred to me that I hadn't done my annual Year In Review.

If I were doing it just for you, I'd let it go, because you've moved on by now (!); but I do these for me as well - to track not only what I was up to, but to see if there are any themes or areas that are moving to the forefront; things I might want to explore further in the next year; and find out if there are techniques I need to work on if I want to continue working with it/them.

For newbies to my YIR posts, they're long and wordy. You may wish to skip to the last couple of paragraphs where I talk about what's coming for 2017. (I won't know myself until I get there, I never know what I'm thinking until I write it down!)

So, in no particular order, on to the pictures. :)

This was one of the last watercolours I did this year and I like how water-coloury the background on this one was, and the fox is getting better, but it's still not quite there yet.

I thought watercolour would be "easy", but the medium is SO difficult to manage because it has a mind of its own. It does what you want it to if you're very skilled (I'm not); but it also does things according to the properties of the paper, the brush, how much water is on either or both, whether the paint you're using is granular or not, how much pigment is in the paint – even the humidity in the air can affect what you're trying to do.

This wasn't the only "message" piece I made in 2016, but it's the only one I can show you!

In this one, I completely lost the watercolour feeling - this could be acrylic. Boo! lol

This was the only piece I did en plein air  (or just "plein air" - which just means "outside".) It was pretty nerve-wracking at first, especially since people want to come up and look at what you're doing ("Get away, people! You're making me nervous!" ); but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. It looks like what I was looking at, it looks like a watercolour painting as opposed to an acrylic painting, and I managed to do it under what felt like intense scrutiny.

I love this little piece! :)

This one turned out pretty well too. The collector who purchased it wrote me some weeks after doing so to thank me again - she said "Every time I look at it, I smile." You can't get better than that!

Oh "Caramel"! Despite it's composition issues I love that innocent little face.

Very first watercolour ever. The moon's reflection is in the wrong place (lol) and the proportions are way off, but for a first effort, I like it a lot!

Second effort flew of the shelf - sold in less than 24 hours. I kind of regret selling it. Oh well!

Bird without a body or tail... lol The tail is there, but it sort of blends into the wing. BSP *bought* it from me!

Trying my hand at "styling" a piece for Instagram (which is where I spend most of my time these days. My handle is kitlangart if you want to follow me there.)

I loved, loved, loved this little baby sandpiper, but it got zero reaction. I don't care. I still love you little sandpiper! <3 <3 <3

No. Just no.  This rabbit made me laugh and laugh when I made it. Still does!

This one went to a collector in Australia!

I loved the little elephant on this one.

And this one. Now this one is COOL.  Oh hey! I made a fabric version of this one too that I finished, but didn't post!I wanted to mount this one and then do a post with the finished paper version and the finished fabric version, so I didn't even take a picture of the finished fabric version yet. I guess I better get on that.

Nope. The sketch of this had so much promise, but it didn't live up to the sketch.

I was trying two different techniques with this one and the one below.

They're both only *meh*

The above piece ("Queen Nanny"), was one my favourite things I produced this year, but I also felt a bit sad making it, because it felt like a goodbye.
I'm probably not going to work in this heavy, textural way anymore, instead working more like I did in "Fox & Friend" (that's the fox looking at the snowflake on his nose and the nosey red tanager peeking at him.)  That's not a bad thing - it's all part of my growth - but I'll miss it a bit, as it was "me" for so long.

What I noticed:
1.    I've been doing more beading than might be apparent from these pics - for these posts, I only share *completed* work; but I have several pieces with beading that are in process. 
3.    Although I didn't do a lot of representational watercolour on paper, I did a TONNE of abstract on fabric. I can't decide whether those abstract watercolours on fabric are, in fact, paintings and should just be mounted; or whether they're painted fabrics to be worked with like other fabrics.  I still haven't decided, although some feel like, maybe, yes. I also intend to make more representational watercolours on fabric and paper.
3.    I did way more fiber work than is apparent, (there were seven other fiber art commissions in there - two of them quite large (!)); but I haven't been given permission to share them with you. In addition, I have several fiber works in process - some large, some small, some medium sized!
4.    Which leads me to the next thing I noticed. Last, year, I decided that rather than be driven to finish things; which I have done my entire career, I would work on any given one when I felt like it, and put it aside when I wasn't feeling it anymore.
My reasoning was that in my drive to complete something before I moved on to something else, I often was unhappy with the finished product. In the end, I don't know whether that will result in more pieces I'm happy with, but it will take a couple of years to find out. Stay tuned for my 2017 "year in review". :)
5.   There were a lot of foxes and bears in my work (both posted and unposted); and white tailed deer began literally sneaking in (behind trees and in tall grasses and such). I used to have elephants and rabbits everywhere, suddenly, it's a menagerie!

6.   I want to improve my drawing and painting skills in 2017.
My big takeaway this year was really only crystalized for me a few days ago.
It's kind of a two parter, but you'll remember in this post, I talked about finally giving myself permission to make pretty art, rather than trying to create "important" art. 

I don't mean important art like Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama or Jean-Michel Basquiat; but important to me. Meaningful, is what I mean I suppose; rather than important (although "important" was the word I was using, wishful thinking! lol). I thought it was important for artists, especially myself, to make art that is personally meaningful and responsive to the time we live in. But I realized that making art that's beautiful for its own sake is important too.
And that brings me to part two of this: the other day on the SAQA Yahoo list, someone asked if we work with nature, and what the meanings and symbols in our nature work are. This was my response, in part:

The taiga and the creatures that live there inform most of my work.
In the past this manifested in lots (and lots) of birds; while white tailed jackrabbits and eastern cottontails have been known to peek out here and there in my work - to the point that I have had people say "as soon as I saw the rabbit, I knew it was yours!"
Just lately (in work I haven't posted yet); I have been focusing on white tailed deer, the brown phase of the North American Black Bear, the Algonquin Wolf, and am developing an obsession with two of the taiga foxes - red and grey in equal measure.
I used to try and ascribe some meaning to these animals in my work; after all, these animals as "symbols" look better on an artist statement.
But the truth of it is, these are the animals I saw every day growing up in the North American taiga on that good strong, Canadian Shield; and the pull of that place and time is what informs my representational work, as well as my spirit.  
I have underlined and bolded a particular section of my response, as I now believe, this is where my truth lies as an artist. This is my place, my space, my sanctuary, what makes my heart happy.
And it's where I intend to "live" as an artist for the foreseeable future.
That doesn't mean that I won't continue to hand-stitch on my hand-painted abstract fabric (which I am getting an absolute thrill out of producing); and it doesn't mean that the occasional beaded box won't show up - I have to do something to keep my hands busy in front of the tv or on long card rides!
But the work I do in the studio? That's going to be all about what's behind that door that I kept trying to kick shut. I'm throwing the door wide open, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out. :)
So, that's 2016.
Although I usually finish up my year in review with a particular quote by Vincent Van Gogh, as I'm turning over a new leaf, I thought I'd share with you a different quote by Yumi Sakaguwa that I've had on my inspiration board through 2016:
Eliminate the noise around you so that your animal god can press its lips against you

and breathe out the song that will save the universe.
I don't know exactly how this is going to manifest in my work, but I do know that it's time to breathe out, and let what's in me, sing.

Happy 2017! May it be fruitful and happy!


Kit Lang


  1. I love seeing year-in-reviews from artists, and I too like to do them for my own benefit. I think it's especially helpful to see that I have accomplished stuff! And thank you so much for sharing your insights and struggles as well as your wonderful work. Finally, I've never seen the Sakaguwa quote before, but it's fabulous. You'll have to share your piece if you embroider it.

  2. So, you "threw the door open," and two months later...