2021 – Wake Up Call
It’s been a year.
Just that . . . a year.
When I’m asked how I’m doing,
I’ve replied, ‘okay’.
But why? Why just okay?
What have I to complain about?
I’ve stayed healthy, and all my basic needs met.
No disasters have befallen me personally.
Yes, a pandemic shut down the world
restricted our activities and freedom
kept us from living normal lives
and tragically, millions have died.
And we’ve zoomed and zoomed and zoomed
until we’re zoomed out
with short windows of opportunity opening, into our old lives,
only to be slammed shut once again.
While many I know used this time
to be productive and share their skills with the world,
I’ve floundered in a muddy puddle of my own making
with little to show for my iota of investment.
However, today I’ve been wondering.
Maybe I’ve looked at 2021 the wrong way.
Maybe my attitude has clouded my senses,
Maybe some good things happened.
In the last 365 days,
I’ve shared laughter and tears with family and friends,
and kept in touch and supported with my creative community.
I’ve traveled within Ontario,
to Quebec and the Eastern Provinces.
I’ve enjoyed our abundant garden in the warmer months,
grown healthy vegetables and glorious flowers.
I’ve created new recipes and enjoyed scrumptious home-cooked meals
and some tantalizing ones in restaurants when restrictions allowed.
I’ve filled and refilled our bird feeders
and for hours watched a variety of feathered visitors.
I’ve fed sweet apples to the white-tail deer
who’ve graced us with their presence.
I’ve only completed a few paintings, but I like them.
I’ve written over 40 poems, some of which are keepers.
I’ve read a pile of wonderful books that took me places I’ve never been
and introduced me to characters I would not otherwise have met.
I’ve opened my eyes to the rising sun
streaming its brilliant beams across my bed,
basked in the rich jewelled tones of summer sunsets
gazed up at night skies filled with endless points of diamond light.
I’ve been loved by many and have loved many,
and been blessed by a partner in the autumn of my life,
who daily demonstrates his love and commitment
with affectionate words and in thoughtful actions.
And, I’ve had time to think about what’s most important to me,
to take a serious look at the time I have left,
to consider how I’ll spend those years ahead,
to determine if there’s a legacy I can leave behind.
Wow . . . 2021 was more than just a year –
it was actually amazing – rich in ways I’ve taken for granted.
While others in the world suffered tragedies and crises
I can’t even imagine enduring, I’ve been more than okay.
NOTE: I am truly grateful for those moments when I’ve come upon with a scene like the one I’ve painted here. While on a short walk in an Ottawa Park, we passed by a tree with this beautiful mushroom growing out of a broken limb. It stopped me in my tracks.
This is my wake-up call of gratitude.
© Wendie Donabie 2022
Apparently that’s the term for what so many of us have been experiencing over the last 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Foggy brain, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, lethargy. In a New York Times article, Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, the author of “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” and the host of the TED podcast WorkLife, says, “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
That’s certainly been me throughout this time. I would have thought with so many hours, days and months at my disposal, I would have written and painted up a storm . . . but no, I have produced very little. Only now with summer upon us I’m feeling inspired again.
On June 26, I took part in my second year of a 12-hour Poetry Writing Half Marathon. If you love poetry, consider signing on for this annual event. It’s free to participate, you receive feedback from other writers and get to submit two poems (one of which may be chosen) for the annual printed anthology. Last year, I went in without a proper focus and many hours I scrambled to come up with an idea, occasionally relying on one of the hourly prompts. This time, I used 12 of my paintings as prompts. The results in many cases surprised and delighted me. I might have begun with an idea in mind, but the poems often took on lives of their own. Here is one example entitled, Welcoming Woods based on my painting of the same name, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 30 inches, copyright Wendie Donabie.
The forest beckons me today
to come and wander and weave
my way through paths of sun-speckled, twisted roots
and sheltering boughs.
A raven’s shrill call invites me
deeper into his
wary of my presence
hoots and twitters
coos and shrieks –
Are you friend or foe?
I settle on the stump
of an ancient oak
its rings of life still solid, strong.
I close my eyes
Whispering boughs rustle overhead
A gentle breeze kisses my cheek
The scent of rich moist earth
and fresh pine fills my senses
My heart rate slows
to the forest’s rhythm
I am one with the life around me.
You can check out all the poets and poems on THE POETRY MARATHON site. Let me know if you’re joining us next year. You can choose to do the half (12 poems in 12 hours) or full marathon (24 poems in 24 hours). It’s a stimulating and creative experience and has lifted me out of my state of languishing!
Next I’ll return to the easel to finish two projects on the go with many more on my To Do List!
If you are visiting in Muskoka over the next few months, we would love to see you. Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery is now open on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors again and showing off the new work by our artists.
Take care and continue to stay safe!
Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery will open for the season on Saturday, June 6 from 10 am – 3 pm and thereafter for the same hours on most Fridays and Saturdays until October 11. At other times, please call for an appointment. For the protection of visitors, we ask you to bring and wear a facemask. We will be wearing them too. Hand sanitizer and plastic gloves will be provided by us. Due to space constraints we will be limiting access to 2 people from the same household at the same time. Drop ins are welcome, however, when possible, we ask visitors to call ahead: 705-646-3663. Curbside pickup and local delivery within 50 km is available. All gallery products are viewable at our online store at https://herons-nest-studio-gallery.square.site/. Items can be placed for viewing in a safe location outside the gallery if requested.
Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery features the work of Muskoka & Area Artists and Artisans. Currently, we carry encaustic paintings by Pat Whitte, Antiqued Ironwork Home and Garden Decor by Deb Harkness, Stained Glass creations by Maureen Haines, Aritisan Designed furniture by Conel O’Regan and Paintings in various mediums and limited edition giclee prints by resident artist, Wendie Donabie.
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|News from Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery – June 2020News from the Nest is a newsletter from resident artist, Wendie Donabie|
to keep you informed about what’s happening at Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery.
Please share it with friends and family.HERON’S NEST SEASONAL OPENING
Since my last newsletter, the world has changed. It’s been a difficult time for so many losing family members and jobs, dealing with business and school closures and the added stresses for those working on the frontlines. We’re all experiencing social distancing and isolation from friends and family and taking precautions to safeguard our health.
Opening under these new “normal” conditions took some careful thought and consideration. I still wanted to offer a safe place for a Muskoka outing to local and seasonal residents and vacationers.
As restrictions are beginning to ease, we’ve set up some safety protocols to protect people coming to the gallery. Visitors will be required to bring face masks and only two people from the same household will be permitted access at the same time. We will provide and ask everyone to use hand sanitizer and wear plastic gloves.
We open on June 6 from 10 am to 3 pm and thereafter will be open on most Fridays and Saturdays during the same hours until October 11. At other times thoughout the year, the gallery will be accessible by appointment only. When possible, please call ahead 705-646-3663
We’re pleased to have the following artists returning to Heron’s Nest:
Multimedia Artist, Pat Whittle: encaustic (wax) paintings, pendants and stained glass applique lanterns.
Stained Glass Artist, Maureen Haines: from angel sun-catchers to sophisticated designs and pictoral stories in glass
Artisan Blacksmith, Deb Harkness: antiqued ironwork garden and home decor
Artisan Furniture Designer, Conel O’Regan: furniture and home decor created from deadfall – no trees are cut down for his designs.
Sculptor, Naomi Frohlich: hand sculpted black bears
and me (Visual Artist, Wendie Donabie)- Acrylic, Oil, Chinese Ink, Watercolour paintings. Limited Edition Giclee Prints and blank Art Cards.
The biggest news is the cancellation of all art shows so far this year. This has been a huge hit to working artists, many of whom earn the bulk of their income during the summer months. I still have paintings hanging from shows in two locations that have been closed since the outbreak of COVID-19 and don’t know when I’ll be able to bring them home.
However, the shutdown of galleries and museums has inspired the creation of virtual exhibits like the Brown Baggers Painters Show on currently at Muskoka Place Gallery in Port Carling. My painting, Meditation – Water Lilies on Cache Lake, Algonquin Park, (acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 24 x 24 inches) is part of that exhibit that runs until June 30.
As of today, I’m still scheduled for a solo show from July 6 – August 9 at the Muskoka Tourism offices on Hwy 11, (northbound between Washago and Gravenhurst), however, their offices are still closed so the show may be cancelled.
Also, I’ve applied to two other shows, one, a gallery exhibit and sale in Ontario, and another virtual exhibition in the USA and I’m awaiting status of these applications.
Heron’s Nest Online Gallery Store
With the potential for fewer visitors to Muskoka and to artists’ studios and galleries this season, I decided it was time to create an online store. Every product available in the gallery is included in the online inventory. You can browse through and when something catches your interest, I can arrange for you to view it in a safe location. If you want to avoid coming inside the gallery, I’m offering curbside pick up and local delivery (within 50 kms of Bracebridge). The Online Store is also accessible through Facebook and Instagram.
NOTE: The best display option available for the online store is a 1:1 ratio (square images) so products that are rectangular do not display the full image. If something interests you, email or call and I will email full images to you. For full-sized images of my paintings in their original ratio, visit www.WendieDonabie.com
For now, I’m writing short articles on local artists for a new online magazine, Muskoka Style. You’ll find the articles listed under ARTS. The magazine offers a refreshing light and entertaining view of life in Muskoka, dedicated to curating the best of style in Muskoka. ART. FOOD. FASHION. FUN.[The] team’s inspiration is the easy summer style that best reflects the spirit of Muskoka and sunny days at the Lake.[Publisher],Lori Knowles is an editor, writer, author, and lifelong Muskoka resident: lori@MuskokaStyle.com Take a look – subscriptions are free!
What’s Happening on the Easel?
Forest Commune, Acrylic & Mixed Media on Canvas, 40 x 30 inches is finished..As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the inspiration is Mother Trees to illustrate how these trees feed and nurture smaller and weaker trees in the forest with through canopy communiation and an underground network of mycellium. To sculpt the bark and the roots in the foreground, I used tissue paper and acrylic soft gel.
In April, Patience – Making Strides, Acrylic on Canvas Board, 12 x 16 inches, also left my easel and is off being framed to hang in the gallery. During a photo jaunt to Algonquin Park and area, I captured a number of images of a heron fishing in a misty rain falling on the Madawaska River. I was confident his fierce concentration and patience would pay off with a tasty lunch. The painting name also reflects what I’ve been feeling during this time of social distancing and restrictions on our ‘normal’ lives. We all need to develop patience with ourselves, our family and friends, with the government, with life in general. We are making strides towards a treatment or a vaccine to defeat the virus, and towards better understanding one another and the impact we have on the earth. The changes in the natural world have been profound and my hope is that lessons are being learned by us all.
This month, I completed another painting as a housewarming gift for my granddaughter, Tiffany and her boyfriend. Last year when they purchased their first home I asked them to think about what they would like me to paint. The decision came from Tiffany. She wanted a reminder of her parent’s farm where she spent most of her childhood. The result was Home at Sundown, Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 16 inches.
Free of deadlines for shows and exhibits, I’m taking time to paint something different now. In the past, I’ve completed canoe paddles (an endangered Spotted Turtle and an iconic Muskoka Black Bear) for Muskoka Conservancy’s annual charity auction but I’ve never painted any to sell. So, up next is a canoe paddle that will be adorned with beautiful trilliums…. watch for it in the online store and in my next newsletter. There will be more paddles to come!
Musings from Wendie
Unlike many people, these uncommon weeks have been good for me. I’ve recognized how much pressure I’ve allowed outside influences to put on me and drain away my time. Moving forward, I’m clearer on what I want to focus on and where my priorities lie in my life and my work. I’ve recognized how important my relationships are during this time and I want to nurture those connnections with family and friends.
Even changes we’ve all had to make to our shopping habits has been good for me. Now, I shop once a week whereas in the past I might drop into the grocery store several times a week for one or two items. This simple change has given me more time to do the things I enjoy. I love to cook but that has changed also. Now, I plan meals in advance, instead of prepping food at the last minute.
I hope that through all these strange and sometimes trying months, each of you has discovered something new and exciting to add to your life, that you’ve paid more attention to nature and wildlife, become more patient with yourself and found joy in the simple things.
Due to the pandemic and concern for the health of the public and their own families, several of the artists on ARTrail Muskoka this year, have opted to stay closed for the next several months. However, others are making accommodations to provide a safe environment for visitors or finding other ways to offer access to their work.
For 2020, our year-round, self-guided tour offers the public access to over 50 artist studios and artist-run galleries. We always recommend calling ahead before planning a visit to any of our artists, especially at this time.
The 2020 Studio/Gallery guide is printed and will be distributed across Muskoka once pandemic restrictions are lifted. You can also download our brochure/map NOW from our website.
When the PURPLE BANNER is out, the artist is in!
For more information visit www.ARTrailMuskoka.ca, Facebook page, Instagram. email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-205-0119.
Feel free to contact me at 705-646-3663 if you have any questions or are planning a visit to Muskoka. Please call ahead to confirm gallery open days and hours.
When Heron’s Nest is open, the PURPLE BANNER will be flying outside the gallery.
Thank you for your interest in my work and in Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery.
News from the Nest is published bi-monthly, so you won’t be bombarded with emails from me. ~ Wendie
Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery
Where art and nature meet!95 Muskoka Road, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1H4
Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery Online Store
The JUNE ISSUE of our bi-monthly newsletter, NEWS FROM THE NEST, will be emailed to subscribers this coming weekend. If you are interested in seeing and reading it, please click on on this link. Like what you see? You can subscribe on the same page! And it’s FREE!
NEWS FROM THE NEST keeps you updated on what’s happening at Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery and with Wendie’s art projects and shows!
In the June issue you receive a coupon for a FREE Art Greeting Card with the image of one of Wendie’s original paintings. Drop by during the month of June to choose your card from the large selection available. No purchase required. Just bring the coupon or show it to us on your cell phone.
There were lots of last minute details but Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery opened on schedule, Saturday, June 2. Friends, visiting for the weekend, helped to make set up the refreshments, greet visitors and clean up afterwards. The weather couldn’t have been better – 21C, sunny with a light breeze all day so folks could mill around outside with a cup of punch and snacks to chat after viewing the gallery space.
Here are a few shots of the interior with Maureen Haines’ stained glass filling the sun porch and paintings in the inside gallery space by Micheal Zarowsky, Pat J. Whittle and me (Wendie Donabie), as well as furniture and food service pieces in wood by Conel O’Regan. We’ve also added some small alcohol ink coaster sets and matted pictures by Sue Tait, as well as blank art cards with imprints of many of my paintings.
We’d love to have you come by when you’re in Muskoka!
Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery
95 Muskoka Road
Bracebridge, ON P1L 1H4
OPEN: Saturdays, 10 am – 4 pm, and at other times by chance or appointment. Please call ahead 705-646-3663
Last summer my husband and I purchased an old home in our neighbourhood. Built in the early 1920s, it had the traditional set up of a rectangular living room and dining room running along one side of the main floor with the kitchen and staircase to upstairs on the opposite side. Upstairs there we have one large and two small bedrooms and a bathroom.
At some point in its history, probably in the 90s, a two-story extension was added to the back of the house creating a family room, laundry room and small bathroom on the main floor and another bedroom with ante room above it.
We knew the family room would be our main space for spending time and entertaining and decided the formal living room could be converted into a small gallery with an entry off the sun porch at the front of the house.
The normal entrance into our home is off the family room at the side of the house. With our winters, the main entrance through the sun porch isn’t practical. Too much snow and a resulting slippery stone walkway leading up to the front door. But as an entrance to a gallery and retail space, it’s perfect for the summer tourist season when it would be busiest.
The sun porch offers a lovely entry that will be filled with the beautiful stained glass creations of fellow artist, Maureen Haines (Log Cabin Glass Studio). Her colourful work will be a cheerful welcome to visitors.
Once inside, paintings by Micheal Zarowsky (website) and I (website) will be found in the actual gallery space, along with a selection of artisan designed wood furniture by Conel O’Regan (Happenstance Design Studio)
Maureen’s exceptional stained glass designs shimmer with colour and magic. You must see Conel’s one-of-a-kind artisan furniture to truly appreciate the fine workmanship. Micheal’s special technique working with watercolour and acrylic paint on birch panels produces paintings alive with movement and light. Wendie’s paintings reflect her love of nature and concern for the environment.
Collaborative art displays and shops such as this can prove more successful than an artist going it alone. Potential buyers are presented with a variety of work to view and find that special item they must have.
In addition, I’ll be cross promoting with other artists in the area. Do you remember how staff at Macy’s in the movie, Miracle of 34th Street sent customers to Gimbles Department Store because they didn’t have what the customer was looking for? Well, I see art the same way. All art doesn’t appeal to all people. So, why not help each other out. If visitors don’t find something at Heron’s Nest, I’ll be providing them with information on several other studios for them to visit.