July 2022

July 2022

July is here and with it comes warm weather, kids home from school, hockey camps and sandwiches packed for the beach.. and to be honest that often means less studio time, something that over the years I've come to expect.

As the summer days approach I've been thinking a lot about slowing down and finding inspiration in unusual places. Last month I was asked to be one of the judges for a local k-12 school art show on behalf of the local Hat Art Club that I belong to. Myself and another member went to award five prizes.. a somewhat daunting task with so many wonderfully talented youth! What stood out to me was two things.. first how subjective art truly is. The pieces that spoke to me did not necessarily stand out to my fellow judge (although we were able to find pieces we agreed on)  And two; how quickly people generally are to praise the realistically rendered art as "the best", obviously there is a tremendous amount of skill involved in hyper realism but art in all forms is valid and to me expression is the key. 

This leads me to my current art muses.. lately I have been greatly inspired by two artists, the late abstract painter Agnes Martin and contemporary Rug hooker Deanne Fitzpatrick.

Hmmm.. I bet you are wondering what on earth these two artists have in common??

Well in a word Meditation.

I began following Deanne Fitzpatrick on Instagram a couple of months ago and was quickly enchanted with her Nova Scotian accent, welcoming ways and charming stories. Every Thursday she does a live on her IG account were she invites us into her studio and shows her current work. She speaks about community, honouring our traditions and gives a comforting sense of nostalgia. I obviously wanted to give this craft a try!! I love colour and texture, folk art and nostalgia so found I was quickly hooked. Exploring different art mediums is very important to my creative process and as I attempted my first small projects I found myself really thinking about how to simplify down my shapes and focusing on what themes and colours are vital to what I'm attempting to convey. I am also finding the thought process translates over to my paintings as well. Deanne speaks so authentically about her love for her craft and her heart for sharing. How the meditative and calming quality of rug hooking is essential to her. Very inspiring and something I feel deep down I need more of in my life. Less rushing on to the next project, the next painting, the next post.. it is simply too much. We need time to think and lean into what it is that we are creating.


(photo from @deannefitzpatrickhookingrugs)


(My own little rug hooked creation - Hydrangea 5x7")


My other inspiration comes from abstract painter Agnes Martin. Now I'm going to be really honest here.. when it comes to abstract art we have all heard something along the lines of "my five year old could do that" or "I just don't get it". Well.. something similar may have crossed my mind when I first saw some of Martin's famous grid paintings.. I did not get it. Some of them seemed like just a bunch of simple stripes, some obviously more time intensive and tediously made grids. I just didn't understand what the fuss was about!?

I was intrigued by Martin's work while reading the book "Daily Rituals~Women at Work" and came across a short story highlighting her mental health struggles with schizophrenia, her reclusive tendencies and explaining how her paintings came not from a place intertwined with her mental health problems but in spite of them. I soon bought two more books on her life and art and have found her writing and lectures fascinating to read. She speaks on her process, vision, spiritual beliefs and working from what she calls "inspiration". How she strived to make art that was pure and not a reflection of herself. Her work was composed following the dictates of inner visions, they arrived as complete images that she executed just as she saw them, but bigger. She was incredibly dedicated to her work and spoke to the importance of solitude and being undistracted (perhaps to an extreme).

Reading about her life and work has shown me once again how important the WHY is behind the art. The story of our art is important, it is so much more than just being able to copy a photograph perfectly. I think we often start out just trying to improve our techniques and that is a very important step, but the longer I make art the more I want to get to heart of the matter. And Agnes Martin is a very interesting artist to research with that in mind. Many of her paintings have taken on a new light for me personally, and the intensely meditative quality is something I now greatly admire. Sometimes is not the image so much itself that draws us in but the meaning behind it. 


(Agnes Martin ~ Gratitude ~ 2001. Acrylic and graphite on canvas 60 x 60 in.)



(Agnes Martin ~ The Islands ~ 1961. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 72 x 72 in.)


With all that in mind, I personally have been working on a series of Hydrangea paintings in June and on into July. The series with be called Hydrangea Meditations and will include a large diptych (two works each 24" square) and 5 smaller works. Painting Hydrangeas for me consists of closely studying the colour variations and the importance of placing light and darks. Its a million tiny petals, dozens of shades and something I have found I am able to lose myself in (in the best possible way). The series will be released at the end of July and I will be sharing more about it as the date draws near!


 (Hydrangea Meditations in Ivory. Acrylic on wood panel 8 x 8 in.)


July Book Picks:

Agnes Martin ~ Paintings Writings, Remembrances by Arne Glimcher. 

An absolutely stunning art book! Although on the pricy side it is a complete career retrospective, including all Martin's most iconic works. The writings include many of her personal lectures and maybe one of my favourite features was the inserts of her notebooks that are printed in her own hand, it felt like a very personal touch.




Simply Modern ~ Contemporary Designs for Hooked Rugs by Deanne Fitzpatrick.

I loved this books approachable and modern take on Rug hooking. Offering the basics of supplies, design and style. I found it perfect for a beginner and it has many beautiful images of Deanne's rugs to draw inspiration from!


Find more Information on Deanne Fitzpatrick:



Other Books mentioned:



Thank you for reading, I will be back in August with my monthly letter! 


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Your work is amazing Ursula ! Wondering if you do paintings of animals ?

Carol Shoesmith

I love that bit right at the beginning about realism being the automatically assumed winner. I have often had similar conversations about this, and have to agree with you about expression being key. Realism may be a fundamental and truly incredible & valuable skill (even simply as part of the learning journey), but what is art if it lacks the emotional involvement of self expression.

Great post! I can’t wait to read more in the future! 😊


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