There is always a bridge.

We live in a very divided political landscape these days.  There are a great many vocal people on both the left and the right, and sometimes it is difficult to imagine we can find any common ground with each other.

I helped found, and am the publicity director for, the Canadian branch of the International Watercolor Society (IWS Canada).  Our mission is to “promote peace, harmony, love, understanding and acceptance of each others’ differences” through the medium of watercolour.   We recently held a contest in which we asked people all over the world to express ways in which they celebrate.  We asked what celebration meant to them.  Many interpreted the question as ‘what’ do you celebrate, rather than ‘how’. In a way, we were asking for participants to build a bridge for us so we could learn about their cultures.  It has meant we’ve interacted with 1450 people all over the world.  It may be a small contribution to peace, and love, but many small contributions add up!  The 150 finalists chosen by our four jurors can be seen on our website (thanks to the hard work of Ona Kingdon, Elizabeth Franchetto Irvine, and myself ;)), along with the videos in both English and French made by our president, Ona.  We recognize, of course, that all art forms “can bring people together despite differences in race, religion, culture and distance.” We just happen to especially love watercolour.

As you know, I also happen to love digital fractal art.

This piece of mine illustrates a landscape full of great divisions, but wherever there is a chasm, the fractal algorithm has built a natural bridge.

Fractal landscape, natural bridges

There is Always a Bridge. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $325.00

What if we did that?  What if each of us made it our business to build a small bridge wherever we see a chasm we can’t fill (like in that song by Sting!).  Our hearts can be open without compromising our ideals. We don’t have to have “fortresses” around them.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to argue (not fight), just for argument’s sake.  So it may seem odd to them – me talking about building bridges.  But my arguments are never meant to hurt or cause strife – they are meant to bring more understanding, both for me and for the other person.  It really saddens me when that isn’t the outcome, as is sometimes the case.  There is always a bridge that can be built or found.  We can’t/won’t always cross the bridges, and can’t expect others to cross over to us either, but at least we may get a little closer to seeing the others’ point of view, and sometimes we can meet in the middle.

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How I spent my summer holidays…

It has been a long time since I posted any news here, and tomorrow I am participating in Woodstock’s ‘Pavlo in the Park’, a Canada 150 celebration, as an exhibitor, so I thought this would be a good time to do so.

It was such a busy summer I didn’t even have a chance to go to my own exhibits!  Allow me to explain:

In June, I was very lucky to be able to spend a couple of weeks in Italy, with my husband.  I took a week-long painting holiday at a place called The Watermill, which was fantastic for both of us. He was able to explore the Tuscan mountainsides hiking while I learned from watercolour painting master Keiko Tanabe and both of us had all the delicious food and drink we could want and met fabulous people.  After that we explored the Cinque Terre, Milan, and Venice on our own.

A scene in Verrucola.

A painting I completed in Italy

While I was away, my daughter helped me out by delivering a few of my watercolour paintings to our Artists of Oxford ‘Canadiana’ exhibit at The ARTS Project in London, Ontario. I arrived home just as the exhibit was closing.

Then, in July, my daughter and I went on a three week train trip across Western Canada.  She had had the good fortune to acquire a Canada150 VIA rail pass and invited me on her trip.  It’s a good thing we get along!  P.S. Canada is very beautiful.  P.P.S. It might be even more beautiful if you go by car and sleep in a bed at night ;).  P.P.P.S. I hate waiting for freight trains…

While we were away, my husband helped me out by delivering (and picking up) a couple of my fractal pieces to the Bridges Math Art conference at the University of Waterloo (our alma mater).  I was really pleased to be able to participate with my art, even though I didn’t get there myself.  Maybe next year!

When I returned home, it was time to fulfill my duties as a Co-Representative for the International Watercolor Society’s Canadian branch (IWS Canada).  We held an online competition from July 1st to August 31 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.  The three of us processed 1450 entries from over 80 countries around the world!  I am not a juror for the contest but they have a large job ahead of them!  Only 150 entries will be juried in to the final online exhibit, and eight lucky participants (3 in each adult category, 1 in each youth category) will be chosen to receive prizes.

I was also interviewed for a feature article in a new little local free newspaper.  It is in this week’s edition.  A big thank you to The London Review for supporting the arts!

So now, (after this weekend!) I am really looking forward to settling in to my studio and doing some serious watercolour painting.  I have so many reference photos to inspire me!

Ethereal Visions

Before I begin to introduce this new piece, I would like to thank all of the nice people who visited my studio/gallery this past weekend for the Oxford Studio Tour, and showed such fascinated interest in my fractal art.  You really do help me keep the inspiration fresh!

As you may know, clouds exhibit fractal geometry.  Mandelbrot’s famous quote:

“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.”

is certainly a confirmation of that if you needed it.  That quote is from the very first paragraph of his book The Fractal Geometry of Nature and he discusses the topic in several places throughout it.

I took the photo of these clouds at sunset one evening here in Otterville.  Living down close to the historic mill in this little town, we don’t always get the best view of sunsets, but every now and then there is a spectacular one that must be photographed.  And of course since I am interested in the cloud geometry, I also like the way it is highlighted by the colours.

It seemed like a very natural place for this fractal, created in Oxidizer, to occupy.  The shape immediately brought to mind something happening in the sky, perhaps a place Zeus would be.  There was an obvious (to me) song title that came to mind too, and perhaps you can guess what it was, or maybe not.  But it didn’t quite interpret this the way I wanted, and I was stumped for a while trying to think of a title.  I liked the little spirals and the curved shapes reminded me of somersaults, and I still felt there was a musical component.

After having it printed on acrylic, and hanging it on my gallery wall, I showed it to my son, and asked him what he thought I should call it.  It didn’t take him very long to say “Aerials” and although the word on its own is ideal, I immediately knew he was referring to the song by System of a Down.  It is on their Toxicity album.  I confess I only know it (and all the other metal that I like) because of my son, but it is truly one of my favourite songs of all, and I hope they don’t mind me naming this piece of art after their music.  I agreed with him that it is the perfect title.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.  My suggestion is that you first go find and read the lyrics.  Then listen to the song.  I think you might agree too.

fractal, ethereal, sky, Lianne Todd

Aerials. Digital fractal art printed on acrylic, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $360.00

Awaiting the Tourists!

Hey everyone, the 10th Annual Oxford Studio Tour is this weekend, May 6 & 7!  That’s just in case I haven’t reached you yet… I have been so busy promoting the tour on its website, and on Facebook and Twitter, I almost forgot to post on my own blogs!

As you may know, my gallery/studio is Location #3 this year.  There is another near me, Location #4, and we are always happy when studio tourists make the trip out to the southeast corner of Oxford County, Ontario, to see us. Here is a peek at what you’ll find when you get here.

The entrance to my gallery is at the rear of the house:

I’m still saving the new art for when you get here!  😉

Have you seen our posters or picked up a brochure yet?  They are in libraries, tourist offices, and many nice businesses in and surrounding the county.  You could also get one from the first artist you visit.  This is what they look like:

But here is the basic information to get you started, and our website is full of maps as well:

New work!

It has been a while since I’ve blogged about any new pieces here… I was focusing on my traditional watercolours for the winter, although I did have a piece or two I hadn’t introduced.

For instance, there is this one which I called ‘Swiftly Tilting’.  I had just read the whole Madeleine L’Engle series for the first time, so this image conjured up that title – you can imagine why!  This is another one of my hand-painted pieces of fractal art – a watercolour on Aquabord.  (Image here is watermarked).  It is in a handmade black shadow-box frame (not shown).

Swiftly Tilting. Watercolour on Aquabord. 6×6″. Lianne Todd. $175.00

I’ve created THREE new pieces that will be ready for visitors to see on the Oxford Studio Tour!  It’s May 6 & 7 this year, and it is our 10th year for the tour!  I am Stop #3 this time.  I will be keeping the new pieces, (2 metal prints, 1 acrylic print) under wraps until the tour, because sometimes it is just better if people have the chance to see the art in person first.

Earlier this year, I was the one updating our website with all of this year’s locations, artist blurbs, sample art images, and maps.  It’s going to be a great tour, and there are even more reasons to come to Oxford County what with part of Big Cheese Days happening the Saturday of that weekend too!  Gunns Hill is right on the way down to Otterville from the 401 and their cheese is delicious!

It has been a very busy year of creating and exhibiting so far, and I hope that continues.  I look forward to the tour, and to a more active year of blogging about my art too!

Welcome Again

It is time again for those of us who are artists, artisans and specialty shopkeepers in the little town of Otterville, to open our doors and welcome visitors from all over Southwestern Ontario.  This is our 20th year holding Welcome Back to Otterville, a studio tour that was founded by my good friend Sue Goossens years before I moved here, and continues to change and evolve as do the participants.

A press release for our tour follows – please feel free to publish the release as we are on a limited advertising budget!  We are very grateful to Ashlyn Kernaghan for writing this up for us.

Welcome Back to Otterville Studio Tour Celebrates 20 Years

By Ashlyn Kernaghan
Glendale Student

On the weekend of November 19th and 20th, the artists and crafters who call the historic village of Otterville home will be opening up their doors for the 20th annual studio tour.  Visit Otterville and browse through unique shops and studios. Meet the artists and experience a world of creativity.  Studios and shops are open from 10am – 5pm and each day and the event is absolutely free to attend.

This year the studio tour includes 6 local artists – watercolours, oils, acrylics and mixed media – who will showcase the best of their best throughout the weekend in their homes or studios.  The participating artists include Mae Leonard, Lianne Todd, Linda Hoffman, Trudy Verberne, Shirley Hokke, and Sue Goossens.   In Bloom Designs featuring the jewellery of Jillian Driedger will be in the old general store in Hawtrey.  Ralph Moore & Sons has a large selection of bird seed and feeders and all things bird!  Shawn Pinnoy, owner of Styx and Skids, and Nordale Woodworking are new to the tour this year.  Shawn Pinnoy creates up-cycled decor including wreaths, bird houses, barn board signs and much more.  Nordale Woodworking, owned by Bryan Mertens, specializes in the production and sales of solid wood furniture and outdoor poly lawn furniture.  Nordale Woodworking is open all year.

All participants on the tour live in Otterville and area and create their own unique products or own a shop in town.  The event has evolved throughout the past 20 years with three of the original participants still on the tour – Sue Goossens, Linda Hoffman and Shirley Hokke.

“Artists truly enjoy meeting new visitors, old friends and sharing their passion for the arts.”
“Each year the tour attracts visitors from all over Southwestern Ontario from Windsor to Toronto,” said tour organizer Goossens. “People are always impressed with the quality of the artwork that is available.  We have the reputation of having many accomplished artists in Otterville.”

This self-directed tour provides the opportunity to personally explore the creative approach of various artists, along with the chance to wrap up some Christmas shopping.  Tour participants can visit as few or as many of the artists as they wish, over one or both days.  The Otter Creek Golf Course club house will be open for lunch Saturday and Sunday.
Welcome Back to Otterville brochures and maps can be found at participating sites, the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg, and online at http://www.welcomebacktootterville.ca.  Look for yellow flags that mark the studios.

Styx and Skids is not on the map, but can be found just around the corner from Linda Hoffman’s studio, on Grove St.
For more information call 519-879-6352 or visit www.welcomebacktootterville.ca

 

Here is the map of the tour.  Hope you can make it out!

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New designs…

It came to my attention recently that my site was not terribly friendly for those who are unaccustomed to reading blogs, and that I should make the images of my work more accessible to the attention span of the casual visitor.  So, I spent a little time the other day doing just that.  The home page is now a static gallery of my fractal work, and the blog has its own new page on the menu.  Please have a look at the newly designed site – is there anything that you as a viewer would suggest to improve it?  I am open to suggestion – although there are of course limits to what I can do since I am using a template.

Now, it’s time for me to introduce another fractal that you may not have seen yet.  I’ve exhibited it already but you may have missed it.  This one was difficult to title.  What I saw in it first, changed for me, until I was seeing it a number of different ways.  Perhaps that is why it appeals to me so much.  I decided it deserved a name fitting its ‘behaviour’, one that would allow the viewer to perceive it their own way as well.  So, I called it “Indeterminate”.  This image is a small watermarked version of the digital image used to create the piece of art, as photographing the final art printed on acrylic proves difficult with all the reflections.  If you’d like to tell me what you see in it, I would love to hear – but please do it in a private message using the contact page.  I would like all viewers to see it with fresh eyes uninfluenced by the perceptions of others!

Indeterminate. Fractal Digital Image. Available as an original single edition print on acrylic, 20x20". Lianne Todd. $360

Indeterminate. Fractal Digital Image. Available as an original single edition print on acrylic, 20×20″. Lianne Todd. $360

Halls Creek Festival

September 10 & 11 is the Halls Creek Festival of Creativity in Ingersoll, and I will be participating again!

This festival was good fun last year and I kind of wished I was one of the attendees rather than an exhibitor – lots of learning and creating going on all over the place, and great live music most of the time.

I plan to have some of my fractals there – last year I ONLY brought the fractal metal prints – but I think I will also bring some paintings of fractals this year and some other paintings as well.  I also hope to do some painting while I’m there.

Check out the website for details.

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Alien Architecture

Associating fractals with architectural design is not a new thing – I don’t make any claims there.  In fact, fractal geometry was used as a basis for the design of places to live long before we had a name for it – especially in Africa. There’s a TED blog about this very thing – just search for fractal architecture and you’ll find it.

I, however, like to make fractals using no intent, then capture images according to what my imagination lets me see.  The fantastic universes I am able to explore have their own landscapes and their own architecture, and the “creatures” that some of the flame fractals reveal are alien yet familiar.  I like placing them in the alien worlds and imagining what might be unfolding.

For the Square Foot Show at the Westland Gallery in London, Ontario, I created two pieces of fractal art, each a 12×12″ metal print, with a hint at alien architecture in common.  Keep in mind these photographs are of the metal prints themselves.  As usual, they are tough to portray in photography because of the reflective surface, and you really need to see them in person – preferably in good light.  For one reason or another these both ended up on the bottom row of the wall at the gallery – not ideal when they look their best with light bouncing into your eyes!  However, there is literally more wonderful art per square foot in that gallery right now than there is for many galleries all year.  This is a great show, and the opening night was packed with people.  You could barely move around.  It also happened to be pretty hot and humid that day – so many of us ended up just outside the door fanning ourselves.  The ice cold drinks were going fast!

The show is on until August 12.  Go check it out if you can.

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

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An Archetypal Image

I think I have mentioned before how I see many fractals as somewhat archetypal in nature.  We have, in our decorative past, incorporated many motifs that turn out to be quite common in fractal geometry.  The swirls and whorls, the spirals and branches, the radiating patterns… it is like we knew about fractals before we knew about fractals.  But of course we did, didn’t we?  Because fractals are the shapes of nature, and we are a part of nature ourselves, and surrounded by it.  We noticed the regular and irregular natural patterns around us and we appreciated them.  We began to find them beautiful. Then we began to associate them with ideas, and some of them became symbolic.

This particular fractal is one of those ones that seems to be archetypal.  Of course the cross shape, as a symbol, is much more ancient than the Christian religion.  This is more complicated than a simple cross, though.  What other associations does your mind bring to this image?

Symbol.  Digital fractal art on metal.  Single edition print. 16x16". Lianne Todd

Symbol. Digital fractal art on metal. Single edition print. 16×16″. Lianne Todd

I hope you’ll come out to my studio this coming weekend during the Oxford Studio Tour to see this piece and more.