I just love spring, and to celebrate I'd like to freshen things up with a GIVE-AWAY! Recently it was Mother's Day and my work certainly celebrates mothers, so in honour of these two things I'd like to send someone four beautiful gift cards featuring four different images from the Birth Project. These cards make a lovely gift or are perfect for notes to new moms, midwives, doulas, doctors, nurses, friends...the list goes on. They also look sweet in frames or on fridges, and are an easy way to share the paintings from the Birth Project in a small scale. Sound good?
To enter, scroll to the PunchTab contest below, and chose one of the ways to participate. At the end of the give-away a winner will be announced! I'll even cover postage for the gift! Enjoy!
Here are the boys reading under the watch of these two strong women. I brought this painting home to live with for awhile. It has so much to tell me; I know it well but not at all. I put a lot into this painting, and I was really drawn to both of the 'looks' that these two women give in real life. I wanted to paint these two figures because they're both very strong, sexy but vulnerable, grounded and sensuous, honest and proud.
The unique thing about original art is that it's so alive. It will talk if you'll look at it often and give it room in your mind and life. A painting changes- with the light, your movement, the company and energy in the room, your mood, your circumstances. It's an object, not a 'picture'. It has the energy of it's creator in it, and often for the artist, creating is a very spiritual event. It's sometimes a struggle, sometimes effortless, as if the painting paints itself. We're just mediums, I believe. I do what I do because I'm called to do it. And I receive my affirmation when I feel my work has taken on a life of it's own. I'm so blessed when I get to watch how a painting becomes somebody else's; when a painting emits this mysterious siren song, and the viewer reacts, feels drawn, becomes smitten and falls hard. Sometimes it's surprising, often it's perfect. They each have their story, they each have a mate. It's a love story!
Yes, this post seems a little silly. But haven't you heard it, felt it? Haven't you heard an a piece of art calling? Or noticed the magnetic pull of some pieces, even if they're not for sale? (If not, maybe you should get around some good art!)
How we rise when we're born like the ravens in the corn on their wings, on our knees crawling careless from the sea God, give us love in the time that we have God, every road takes us farther from home (Sam Beam) 48x60
Strangely, I haven't yet shared this piece. It's the newest one, and I still haven't decided whether it's finished or not yet. Perhaps some minor tweaking. I've only exhibited it twice, and it was the only piece I brought home from the Brooklyn show with me. I'm glad, I wasn't ready to leave this piece, it's still unfamiliar to me, and I need to listen to and get some perspective on the women.
I've shared these on my facebook, but not here yet.
Here are some recent paintings I'll be showing (along with the large Birth Project) at the upcoming CAPPA Conference in Ottawa, as well as some commissions.
A sweet, sweet commission. What a pleasure to paint!
Not long ago I attended the first 'Birth and Beyond Conference' in London, Ontario. It was a lovely inaugural conference- small but intimate, with the opportunity to engage the speakers personally and meet the organizers. I really enjoyed attending many of the sessions (not usually a luxury at most conferences) and visiting with other attendees. I was lucky to attend co-sleeping, breastfeeding, attachment, post-partum depression, supporting through loss, creating a social movement, some breech dialogue, the pelvis...the list goes on! (James McKenna, Diane Weissinger, Rivka Cymbalist, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Gloria Lemay, Jack Newman, Teresa Pitman) It was lovely to see my friends Heather and Shannon from Choices Childbirth Services too!
One unique thing the conference offered me was an Artist Reception. This was a wonderful way to attract the attention of London by inviting the public to view the artwork, mix and mingle and hear my artist talk. The Artist Reception was picked up by two local newspapers including this one: Birth, in all its primal beauty .I was so thrilled with the media interest! I was also interviewed by the Fanshaw radio station. I never got to hear this fully, but it was fun to do the interview.
As a result of all this press there were actually community members at the event! This was amazing. I gave a short artist talk about why I believe in visual communication and painting birth. One highlight of the night for me was speaking with an elderly gentlemen who came to the reception because he read about my work in the paper. He explained he wasn't present for his own two children's birth- he was even told to go home- and when he read about my work he was so curious he felt he had to come down to see why someone would paint childbirth. Wow! We spoke quite a bit, he was interested in the tub and why someone would deliver in water. Pretty cool conversation :)
Another great moment was being told about an overheard conversation between two hotel staff. One youngish man exclaimed he would 'totally catch his wife's baby', to which the other replied, 'no way! gross!' The conversation went on, getting a little more explicit, but hey- it began a conversation!
I'm so thrilled to share that I will be attending the Birth and Beyond Conference in London, Ontario, this September. This fabulous new conference has an incredible speaker lineup. If you're in the area, or in birth-related work, you absolutely need to attend this conference, even for one day! I'm really looking forward to the sessions; what a great opportunity to hear some really renowned professionals!
I'm also excited about the exhibition of the Birth Project at the Conference. This fall I've committed to staying within Ontario for the Birth Project bookings, and I'm so pleased that this is the first one to announce. I've been in the studio creating a couple new pieces that I hope to share after they've made their premier appearance at the Conference.
If you can't attend the whole conference, there is still an opportunity to see the paintings! Please share the word about my Artist Reception on Friday, Sept 21. I'll even be giving a brief artist talk about the paintings.
There's been some controversy over this piece recently. I'll share details later, but if you're on facebook you can head over to my 'Amanda Greavette Fine Art' page and find the image on my wall. I've re-posted this and asked for responses, for viewers to share their feelings and reactions to this piece. Currently I have over 175 responses- such a vibrant and varied conversation about art and birth! Awesome :) Please go add your voice!
Also, I'm thrilled to share that this piece has found a new home. It sold at the American College of Nurse Midwives Annual General Meeting and Expo, where I had the Birth Project on display, and a booth set up selling prints and cards. The event was a success, but not without some snags! I look forward to sharing more later.
Here are the new pieces I've done this year. Below are sizes and titles. They've been exhibited at Trust Birth in Nashville, Tennessee, and are currently on their way to Long Beach, California for the American College of Nurse Midwives Annual General Meeting and Expo. Enjoy!
‘There is a light in you
I have fallen into
There is a light in you
I have fallen into, fallen in too
Stop, listen feel
Stop, listen, feel
Stop, listen feel,
Believe, believe’ (Great Lake Swimmers) 39"x 32"
'These are the days of miracle and wonder' (P. Simon)
'Our mouths are filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy'
‘And you opened like a flower in the heat,
Your beauty on my eyes, like a masterpiece
Never has skin tasted so sweet.
And you said, oh, I didn’t know, that we could go
So many kisses deep
We were face to face and lips to lips and cheek to cheek
And you said, oh, I didn’t know we could go so many kisses
deep’ (A Cohen)
Under the moon, in the great, black night
With no lodestar in sight
And wait for it, there are only two of us now
This great, black night scooped out (and the fire glow)
The darkness rings, listen
The darkness, the darkness rings
Take off your things and listen
The darkness rings’ (S Harmer)
'All you need is love, Love is all you need' (Lennon/McCartney)
I asked myself this question as I drove home from a birth last week. I was particularly curious because this time I knew I was missing that climactic moment of delivery; when in unmedicated births the air is thick with oxytocin, tension finally breaks and there are tears of relief, joy and love. Even in complicated or surgical births this is a magical moment- when parents finally see their child face-to-face, a mother's pregnancy is done, and waiting is over. As transcendent and euphoric and addictive those minutes are, I know that's not only it. In this recent birth I regretfully missed that victorious act, yet still I felt bouyant, pulled back to the experience, and truly enjoyed being there for this woman's labour. Most of the births I have witnessed and attended to I'm tied to by family, love and at least friendship. I care about the mothers, the families, and the babies being born. But still, there's something about the stories I love to read, the videos and the knowledge I seek. I'm drawn to it magnetically, I want to experience it more. Birth work is a difficult world to live in: long, inconvenient hours, unpredictability, being on call. Too much for me to arrange for regularly with my life of small children. But there's the feeling that if I was called at the drop of a hat to come to a birth happenening now it would be a resounding YES. And I'm obsessed with it enough that I need to paint it, re-create it to represent all the meaning I find in it. What is it? Why do I think is it so cool?
I think one reason is the rare experience of witnessing the mysterious 'stripping away' that often happens in labour. Quite literally, a woman has layers of inhibition fall away like the clothes she often discards as labour progresses. It's fascinating and moving to watch a woman turn inward, to lose her concern for others and the world around her, to say exactly what she wants, to become attuned to only her own body her baby. It's an honour to be present for these intimate acts. While it feels a bit voyeuristic to enjoy watching this, it's also humbling and awesome every time. It's simply amazing to see a woman's body perform such a monumental task so gloriously and glow with power and energy as it does in labour. Many women shed their clothing, and it's that rare we allow people other than lovers/partners/spouses or children to see us nude, especially naked and uninhibited. It's a wonderful thing! As a figure artist, of course, I love the figure- the body, the human form, the flesh. Sure, artists have more than average opportunity to see people naked, but even models are usually inhibited. A labouring woman is not- and her body is an amazing thing. The extra weight a woman usually puts on in pregnancy is not treated with loathing (hopefully), her curves are magnified and her body is doubly infused with life. She's created a human being inside her, and the transformative process of brining it forth is happening before your eyes. In a 'good' birth, a woman can work with her body to cope with the sensations, to move as it needs to, to bend and stretch and open and release. Being present at a birth means getting to observe things society rarely is privy to- this emerging of a new person, a mother's body rippling and shining with exertion, her working with or against her physiology, tapping into her animalistic nature, retreating into herself, expressing emotion and feeling openly. It's really, truly awesome. I need to paint it because I want the world to see that power, that beauty and that strength that a woman has, but I know it needs to be respected and protected in order to emerge in labour. A labouring woman is beautiful, and while most women probably don't feel glamourous or pretty as they're moaning, sweating and grunting, I would argue that in fact, they are stunning.
Of course, there's also the spiritual dimension that I recognize is such a powerful part of birth. Labour and birth time is sacred- it's set apart, it's outside of regular time. Often labour starts and a woman continues normal activity until she needs to focus. Once attendants are called or she goes to a center or hospital, it seems to remove from 'regular' time. Everything is suspended, and it was once believed (and still is) that as a woman is bringing new life into the world she is hanging between the states of death and life; that she is especially connected to the spiritual realm. No matter what you believe or your religous affiliation, I think this aspect of birth is often unappreciated. I feel that there is a 'holiness' surrounding birth, that it's sacred- of special meaning and honour. We know that we can't truly control birth, it's a physiological function but it's also an experience- one that can shape and change us. We tap into our inmost selves, we rely on God, we listen to our bodies, our hearts and we communicate with a child within us. Many meditate to cope with labour, others re-think their belief system after becoming parents. My personal beliefs cause me to feel birth is a 'holy ground', and that we are brought a little closer to God as our hearts are pulled by life forces.
Birth is also simply awesome. To consider what our female bodies do in order to bring forth a child, to think about how we've grown a human being, to realize that this new thing is a PERSON....what? Unbelievable. We, women, get to do this- get to grow life. Our pelvises, our breasts, our uteruses are awesome- amazing! Of course, arms and fingers are cool too; I'm pretty captivated by the human body, but women are pretty fantastic.
To be serious, there are so many thing I love about birth. The emotional high. The uniting of mother and child outside the womb, who've been together for so long but had to go through a body-and-heart-wrenching process first. The euphoric moment I referred to earlier- when a woman's work is rewarded and she grasps her child and hugs him to her breast, often sobbing, shocked, ecstatic, stunned. It's over-the-top, messy and fulfilling. It's about mystery- the way our bodies are so perfectly designed, the unveiling of the child that's been so close, but so hidden for months and months. It's about the mystery of something so basic, so intricate, so uncontrollable but so common. It's often about the victory over fear, doubt and pain. Of course, and yet unmentioned, it's that about that strange wrinkled creature who's head is so soft and breath so intoxicatinly sweet and fruity.
The list goes on, the reasons birth is so profound are numerous. Different people would answer that same question in different ways. But I think this is why I love it. Birth is awesome, and women are great. They mystery, the stripping, and the strength. And of course that incredible climax of reunification...the sweet reward of great patience.
Thanks to publications like Squat and the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice, my work has gotten a lot of attention this last year. Of course, this has helped with the web press too! I'm so thankful for this kind of reproduction, but there's still nothing like seeing the real live painting up close, or from across the room. My work is large- life size!- so it really tends to overwhelm or at least impact the viewer with the emotions and ideas I'm trying to convey, and I just don't know if this translates the same way in print or reproduction. I'd encourage anyone interested in my work to try to see it in person (or any original artwork for that matter!). And the great news is, for those in the United States, I'm personally accompanying my work to a few birth conferences!
Coming up only a few short weeks away in April, is the Trust Birth Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I can't wait for this Conference, it promises to be amazing! It's the last time it will be held in the US for several years. Also, it's super affordable for non-birth workers, with the 'Parent Track' option of picking select sessions for $100. Come to Nashville! Come to this fantastic conference, say hello and take in some art at the same time!
In the fall of 2011, I attended the first-ever joint CAM/MANA/ACNM conference in Niagara Falls with my large paintings and prints. It was an amazing success, and based on the response there I've decided to pursue exhibiting my work at birth and midwifery conferences. I've found my audience! It was so validating to hear in person how my work impacted people, so many shared that they could see their life's work and passions in the paintings. The conference environment was the perfect place for the Project and the paintings really added to the atmosphere. It was all pretty thrilling. I had an awesome time hanging out with Amy Swagman from The Mandala Journey and meeting some of the organisors of CAM and MANA,and the ACNm. I met so, so many fantastic people.
To see some of the photos from the Conference, click on the links below. There's even a photo of the amazing Naoli Vinavar with one of my pieces!!
The Birth Project will also be expanding this year. This is in part due to the upcoming exhibition opportunites, but also because some paintings have found...drumroll...new homes! I'm thrilled to share that 4 of the significant pieces have been purchased by loving owners.
So, currently I'm exploring Conference options. I'm already booked to be at the Trust Birth Confrerence in Nashville Tennessee in April! This is a very exciting opportunity- I've heard great things about this conference and am thrilled to be attending.
My next challenge is to find a reasonable way to get my work across the continent. Hint hint, I'm trying to 'get' to California. Amazing things happening there! This has been quite the obstacle however, any suggestions are appreciated. The significant challenges are the transportation of the size of my work and the distance. Don't tell me I can't do it, though, or I'll prove you wrong!
And, lastly, Amanda Greavette Fine Art is now an 'Artist' page on Facebook! I've finally seperated my personal profile with my professional one- check it out to keep abreast of the daily adventures of life as an artist and....everything else.
This year is shaping up to be a pretty significant one of professional develpment, I'm excited to see where it takes me and the paintings!
The Birth Project, along with first-time-ever prints and cards of the Birth Project will be displayed at the joint Canadian Association of Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of North America for the North American Midwifery Conference in Niagara Falls on November 9-12 2011.
This is my first conference, and I'm going both as a vendor and a 'delegate', or conference-goer. My paintings will be displayed throughout the conference area, and I will have a table to sell the prints and smaller paintings. What an exciting opportunity!
One of my original paintings will be up for auction at the Live Auction and Dance event.
If you're going, stop by and say Hi! I'll have Jethro Vader in tow, and will only charge $.05 to squeeze his succulent thighs. Hoping for an enriching conference experience, and a couple sales would be nice too! I'd love to see some small pieces of the Birth Project go home to hang in midwives, doulas and birth-lovers homes and offices!
Recently I had the honour of being a nominee for the YWCA Women of Distinction awards. I was nominated for the 'Arts and Culture' category, and my Birth Project was highlighted, as well as my community involvement with Friends of Muskoka Midwives and La Leche League Leader. I was shocked to hear my name called as the 'winner' at the Gala event, as the nominees were highly respected artists with many years on me! How exciting, what an honour and surpise. Thank you to my nominators and to all the amazing women I'm blessed to share my life with!
'Universal Child' at Auburn Gallery, 190 Royal Street Gravenhurst
Aug. 27-Sep 9
Opening Aug 26th, 7-9pm
This is my upcoming exhibition, opening on Friday August 26th. I've been working on small portraits of children, and I'm excited to exhibit alongside my brother, Matthew. This is the first time he's displayed his moving photographs of children from his visit to Swaziland.
Matthew is a professional photographer, visit his website here: http://www.mchaloux.com/ Please come by if you're in the area!
Be sure to swing by the newly remodeled website, www.amandagreavette.com Let me know what you think- the whole 'Birth Project' can be viewed there, as well as a lot of my other and older work, including some commissions.
Check it out! I'm featured in the super-cool birthing magazine SQUAT. Click here to preview the mag and see my work featured, it looks like a great issue! You can also purchase it and other back issues with other fantastic artists.