Dose of Awesome # 274

Awesome is finishing another work of art.

I much enjoy the process of creating any work of art. I appreciate the slow start of meticulously sketching the most important details, measuring each line to the very last millimetre. I love the smooth momentum of shading – darkening shadows in layers and erasing the highlights in a similar fashion as gradually, the portrait come alive one detail at a time. I love the struggle of working through a new challenge, as I’m forced to experiment with new techniques so as to best reproduce a detail or a texture I’ve never worked with before in a drawing. But as much as I enjoy all of that, there’s a special feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a piece of art.

There’s a story behind this portrait. It’s a self portrait, drawn from a photo taken in late February on a sunny, but freezing afternoon of snowshoeing with a friend. My scarf was frozen solid and covered in frost, as was some of the fur around the hood of my parka. My face was frozen to the point that I couldn’t tell if I was smiling at the camera or not. My hands froze instantly as I removed my pualuuk to take the photo – the photo that I couldn’t tell would take or not, because the sun was so bright it washed out the screen and, for all I knew, the cold had sucked the life right out of the camera’s battery.

I liked the photo immediately – not only because of how it turned out, but because of what it represents. It could have turned out a million different ways and it still would have told the same story – a story of healing in the midst of a lot of loss, a big life change, and a huge shift in focus. That’s why, after months of artists’ block, I was inspired to make this my next piece of art – a self portrait taken on a day I’d felt the most free and content than I’d felt in a long time.

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Dose of Awesome # 273

At the beginning of this weekend, I found myself overwhelmed by a lot of different emotions as I tried to begin processing the loss of another community member and student. This is the sixth suicide since Christmas – the second this week. Though I didn’t know this person personally, I’m faced with this constant worry that grows each time, and my heart hurts for the people of Kuujjuaq who are effected, as well as all the people working so hard to provide any support possible in this seemingly unrelenting time of sadness, confusion, and pain.

But now is an especially important time to focus on the awesome things in life, because, as hard as it may be to see, they still do exist during tough times. One of them might be the only thing getting a person through a day. I know I would have struggled a lot more this weekend if it weren’t for these awesome things:

1. Awesome is a discovering a new outdoor activity. This sunny afternoon, a friend and I went cross country skiing in Nuuvuk Bay. It was my first time. Though I like to think I did quite well for my first time, it did take me awhile to catch on to the technique, and required a lot of concentration. Not only was it a good 2.5 hours of exercise, sunshine and fun, it was a much-needed distraction from all the stresses life has thrown my way as of late.

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Older photo, but same place. 

2. Awesome are adventurous meals with friends. Yesterday evening, I went to a 6-course gourmet Scottish dinner party, where I tried both haggis and black pudding for the first time. On the menu were scotch broth to start, cod fish cakes with home made tartar sauce, black pudding with caramelized apples and whisky sauce, haggis with turnips and potatoes, rabbit kidney and steak pie, and raspberry custard and short bread for dessert. I’m still full.

But that wasn’t my only social meal of the weekend. I’d also joined some friends at the restaurant for dinner on Friday evening, and some other friends for brunch this morning. Again, there’s nothing like coming together with friends for some laughs and relaxation over delicious food during a difficult time.

3. Awesome is massage therapy, and starting an amazing Sunday with an hour-long deep tissue massage. If I were rich, I’d start every day like that.