Olivia Stirton | Poetic Resilience

The Curious World of Olivia Stirton

Those lucky enough to spend time with Olivia Stirton will know almost immediately that Olivia leads with her heart. Olivia’s natural openness is a magnet for everyone who feels as much and as openly as she does. Her refreshing ability to relate to others surely plays a part in her poetry, along with her enormous capacity to feel deep emotions.

I met Olivia Stirton for the first time while working at a bookstore here in Kamloops. The first thing I noticed about Olivia was her incredible aesthetic skills. Every shift I had with Olivia, I would see a new side of her. I never knew whether to expect a beautifully freckled and red haired pixie-Olivia or a teal-haired smokey-eyed goddess-Olivia. Seeing the various expressions Olivia offered the world was pretty amazing and she immediately struck me as an artist.

Those lucky enough to know Olivia Stirton, will also recognize that her growth through art is only beginning. If you follow her on Instagram, you’ll be able to see her growth as a poet, an make-up guru, a photographer and more.

When/Where/Why did you start making art?

I’d always been passionate about art,
but I never felt that I was good at it
and I just fell out of practice. Then I
wrote a poem for an English
assignment through my online school
when I was 16 and realized how much
writing meant to me, and how it could
be art just as much as painting and
drawing could be. That original poem
ended up being published online at
Feminine Collective just last year,
along with a couple more recent
ones.

How long have you lived in Kamloops?

I’ve always lived in Kamloops, but I
want to explore and go elsewhere at
some point. There is so much more
out there to see and gain inspiration
from, and I would love to see more of
other artists’ creations from other
places. And I’m running out of places
to play with nature photography here!

What are your artistic goals for the next 5 years?

I’ve just started getting back into painting and I’m hoping to push myself to create what I want without letting the opinions or skills of others influence me or cause me insecurity. My art is my own, and my goal is to reclaim that part of me. I want to stop avoiding such a great outlet due to the thought process that I’m “not good enough” at it, and create what sets my soul on fire. I tend to scrap a lot of my paintings and things I’ve done because I’m not happy with them and I really hope I can stop myself from doing that.

What Pushes You to Make Art?

My art and writing often comes from my struggle with mental illness. It’s been a great outlet for me over the years, through the highs and lows. My poetry tends to be rather dark, and sometimes I’m afraid to share it for that reason, but the truth is it comes from my heart. When I finish a poem that I feel really expresses what I’m trying to say, it gives me a sense of relief, even if nobody reads it but me. I would like to be able to share them more, but oftentimes when I do the response is positive but also along the lines of “are you okay?”

What are your favourite mediums and what medium do you want to try?

I mostly write poetry and practice photography, but over the years I’ve taught myself makeup artistry as well, and I’ve just begun diving into SFX makeup. I also enjoy acrylic painting, but I’m hoping to try more oil and watercolour painting as well. I’d love to learn new techniques and try new things in all of those different forms of my art though, I’m still trying to find myself. 6. I’m passionate about the environment, human rights and equality, but I tend to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself because it’s just overwhelming to think about sometimes. I kind of wish I could change the world and then get sad because I can’t. I hope at the very least I can have a positive impact on those closest to me.

What do you want people to know about you or your art?

I struggle to find positive things to say about myself a lot and there’s not a lot that I really need people to know about me, but I’d love for people to have a better understanding of mental illness in general. Terms like “unstable” have weighed heavily on me for a very long time, and it’s disheartening to be putting in your very best effort just to be okay and have people on the outside thinking you’re just “crazy”. I’m thankful to have art as an outlet and distraction, but I wish I didn’t have to be so concerned about being judged for my struggles. I guess I just want people to know that I’m trying my best.

Read Olivia’s work here: http://www.femininecollective.com/author/akinse/

Stories You Cannot Tell | And How to Tell Them

We have have things in our lives that cloud us with the feeling of isolation. It could be the story of something you’ve seen, felt, heard or lived.

When I was growing up my mother was the strongest person I knew (and still is). As a young immigrant from England, my mother had to experience things that no one in this world ever should. Through pain and trauma, my mother beat many odds– by putting herself through school and raising a family.

If you meet my mother, you wouldn’t know these things. She has raised four strong willed and resilient children, all on her own. Our family is not perfect. I haven’t spoken to my sister in years and we all mourn a brother who’s lost. But we’re all successful in our own rights.

From what I’ve learned in the past two years especially, is that we all have these stories. We’ve all been through things that no one should have to go through. We all bleed from different injuries, in different ways.

The things I’ve been through have only made me stronger, smarter, and more empathetic. It’s unfortunate that it sometimes takes tragedy to show us a new perspective.

To those who stories they cannot tell: If anything, I hope you try. I hope you still imagine yourself as a child, full of curiosity and innocence. You can tell your stories in a way that you keep yourself safe. Through art, work, hiking, or merely being a friend.

Mac Allison | Making A Creation

The Curious World of Mac Allison

When I first met Mac, it was very clear we were going to be friends. Her passionate, artistic, adventurous and occasionally mischievous nature was a recipe for friendship success. It wasn’t a week into our friendship when Mac was first mistaken for my wife. We bonded over art, music and spending time crafting at the Kamloops Makerspace.

Being twenty-somethings in the modern world can be a challenge. We’re constantly side-hustling, working day jobs and trying to navigate the world. Mac hasn’t been immune to this, but she has always done it with a friendly smile on her face. Her caring and empathetic nature is truly inspiring.

One of my favourite memories of Mac is her singing a cover of a Dog Tooth and Nail song about the borders that divide our countries. Never having sang in public before, Mac barely hesitated to sing what she was passionate about. Her art is a reflection as to what she cares for and I look forward to celebrating her successes in the years to come.

Mac Allison

When/Where/Why did you start making art?

When I started to make art, I was so young I can hardly remember. It was from a very young age I had a big curiosity with art because of a single mystery painting. It hung on the wall in my Grandparents bedroom. When I came to visit there was always a white sheet hanging over the picture frame hiding the painting. My grandmother did this you see, because the painting was too erotic for young eyes. They had many paintings in this home collected from their travels, many original on canvas. The day I pulled the sheet off the wall and unveiled this “mystery” painting I fell in love with art and wanted to make art. This painting I own in my collection now and it reminds me about my fascination to art. The painting my Grandparents purchased this painting in Mexico it depicts a topless woman with very strong features, oil on black velvet canvas makes for an extra sensual touch. My own artwork usually depicts a peaceful forest or wooded surliest scene. Inspired by an old 1970 oil on wooden canva,  hung in my house growing up, this was of a classic cabin in the woods painting. It was the realism in this painting that gave me the fantasy of walking into the painting. It gave me peaceful feelings as I’d look into it like a window. I also own this painting now in my collection to continue to inspire my artwork today.

How long have you lived in Kamloops?

I was born in Surrey British Columbia, and relocated at the age of 6. I’ve since lived in Kamloops for about 15 years.

 What did you attend post-secondary for and did it help you on your artistic journey?

 My post secondary studies are just beginning. I’m currently beginning my first year with the Centre of Art and Technology in Kelowna BC. Here I will study Website Development and Graphic Designing. I hope to use online technology as a new medium for my creative mind to play with, to help boost my artwork and create a profitable career.

What are your artistic goals for the next 5 years?

My artist goals for the next five years, has much to do with my graphic design work. I hope to build my first company which offers services online to help curate other businesses. I’d also like to have my own studio space to work on my other art practices including my jewelry making, I want to sell online. Another goal I have is to create an installation complete enough for a gallery space to display any creations I have completed over numerous years of my art development.

What are your favourite mediums and what medium do you want to try?

My favourite medium is acrylic paint on canvas, I found this to be the most natural for my abilities. Things I’m less practiced at include pottery, textile, performance art such as dance, and music. I’d like to work on a musical expression for my future medium the most. 

 Besides making art, what are your passions?

Besides art my passions mainly include searching and studying spiritual practices. I have a great curiosity for the teaching others offer in regards to the human condition and the many different ways others reach out the the higher divine. I’m not born religious so I’ve made a conscious effort to seek teachings and practices that assist my own well being. I explore nature, and speak with animals, and look to other artists for inspiration. I’ve always been interested in any teachings regarding herbalism or gardening, active health and nutrition. These passions are life long explorations, I look forward to working on. 


 What is the best and most difficult part of the Kamloops art scene?

I’ve found the most difficult aspects of the Kamloops art scene is the lack of community support for funded spaces to help create up and coming artists. Growing up I was a part of the “young artist’s ” hosted by SD73. This was a collective of youth artwork. Submissions collected by the school district were judged by the community art teachers. Over my school years I entered I was selected a number of times. One year we were invited to TRU where we for a day participated in art courses hosted by the art teachers at TRU. I found this to be a very good idea to introduce to young students the possible courses to look into for post secondary education. I hope they still run this today because I feel as an artist this is the kind of support needed to help generate and encourage talented Artists. I feel aside from school assisted programs Kamloops does not have much to offer for the fellow freelance artist. There are a select amount of artist’s who host painting classes or spaces for art making, and I’ve tried out a few. I feel like the people running these spaces work very hard to financially support the rent and many have failed in maintaining the space. My own art teacher I once attended after school, lost her space I believe because it wasn’t supported enough to continue. I think Kamloops has elevated a few artists, but does not put in enough to help create more artists. 

What do you want people to know about you or your art?

My artwork is very connected to my emotions. I paint or draw and create in times of my life when I’m distressed, upset, and undirected. I don’t usually create for the purpose of making something “pretty” or “beautiful” but to calm myself in my own mind, to create that window of peace to gaze into and to meditate on those better feelings of serenity and happiness. My art is commissionable however my style is unpredictable, so you might not get what you expect. I call my style intuitive art because it’s the feelings I grasp onto in my process that creates the outcome. I’ve always felt that creating was my most natural ability, my art is a part of me. I am Mac, making a creation. 

You can follow Mac’s journey on instagram @macmakingacreation

How to Use a Spirit Board Alone (and Safely!)

spirit board, planchette, how to use a spirit board

5 Steps to Using a Spirit Board Safely

Spirit Boards can be used for many different purposes. So if you think they’re merely a toy or a piece of cardboard used to summon demons, think again. They are a multipurpose spiritual tool. If used correctly, the spirit board can teach you wonderful lessons and tell incredible stories.

I’ll be laying down details as to how you can make the most positive experience possible as well as it’s different uses.

The Difference Between a “Ouija Board” and a “Spirit Board”

As stated above, Ouija Boards are a trademarked product. In short, I do not have the rights to call my product Ouija Boards. Because they’re not! The spirit boards I make are made from %100 recycled materials. Producing less waste. Producing good karma. And allowing something that would have been thrown out tell a beautiful story.

The Different Uses of a Spirit Board

Self Discovery – If you’re going through a hard time, in need a bit of clarity or if you’re on a self-care kick– the spirit board can help. Follow the steps below and make self discovery you’re intention.

Making Peace/Healing – Sometimes we have someone in our heart, living or not that you may want to make amends with. Using a spirit board gives you the perfect opportunity. Set your intention to make amends or make peace with someone from you past and follow the safety steps below.

Curiosity – What can a spirit board teach you? You and thousands of others have wondered the same thing. As long as your intentions are clear of malicious or hurtful intentions, let your curiosity guide you.

Divination – Did you know spirit boards can help you make decisions about your past, present and future? Make this your intention the next time you use one.

Step 1: Do NOT Appropriate.

It’s common practice to burn sage over your board before use. But you shouldn’t be burning plants or materials such as White Sage if it is not apart of your culture’s original rituals.

Why?

White Sage (Salvia apiana) recently became endangered because of it’s recent burst in popularity. It’s original use as a sacred plant of Native Americans, Indigenous folk and the First Nations people of Canada is at risk because of it being over harvested, mass marketed and misused. Read More.

Seriously, pals. It’s bad news. Just use the sage that grows naturally in your area. Show it respect and don’t over harvest it.

PS Also maybe don’t call it “smudging” if you’re not practicing an actual, legit, smudging ceremony. Or if it’s not apart of your cultural practice. If you’re unsure as to why this is important, ask someone from your local native community if they would be willing to educate you on their traditions and why it’s sacred to them.

lavender, spirit boards, softness, planchette

Step 2: Make Space

Before I use a spirit board (especially when I’m alone) I ensure to clean my house. It sounds crazy but it’s important that you’re comfortable — and that you’re not busy worrying about your laundry, studying or any other menial chores you may have to do.

I’m also in the habit of lighting candles. This can symbolize the beginning of your session and the opening of your board.

I also surround myself with positive objects. If you have a favourite plant or rock, it’s nice to keep them close by. I like to keep a basket of medicinal plants by me.

I also lay sprigs of lavender around my board to encourage healing and softness.

Step 3: Set an Intention (A Positive One!)

Lastly and most importantly:

  1. Good Vibes Only – Only use a spirit board in a positive and healthy environment.
  2. Do Not Use a Spirit Board to Meddle – If you’re merely looking for a good time– or your want to meddle with things you don’t understand stay away. The outcome is never good.
  3. Set Positive Intentions – Whether you’re looking to make peace, discover more about yourself or you’re curious as to what it can teach you– do it respectfully.

Step 4: Open Your Board

Before you start, take a breathe and allow yourself a brief meditation session. Clear your mind, calm your body and set a gentle pace. This is where you’d say a quiet prayer, mantra or something to make you comfortable.

Whatever energy you’re about to put out into the world– is going to be the energy you attract. Make sure to make it good.

Let it be known (out loud) what your intentions for this session are. If you’re looking to make peace, you can say something like:

Let it be known that I’m here to make peace. I don’t want any harm to come to myself or others. So mote it be. (Or of the like)

Step 5: Close Your Board

Warning: The failure to close your board properly can cause some unwanted side effects.

When your session is complete be sure to say goodbye, you can do this by saying it out loud or pointing your planchette to “goodbye” on your board.

Blowing out your candles can also symbolize the completion of your session. By doing this your allowing the energy from your session to settle– so that nothing unwanted lingers where it’s not welcome. You’re no longer inviting unknown wanderings into your home.

If You’re Still Unsure

If you’re still unsure if you want to use a spirit board or how to use one properly. Ask you local witch shop such as Ritual Cravt, Catland Books or Juju Pittsburgh or someone you trust (all of these stores sell boards by Under the Apocalypse, also). There isn’t necessarily one way to use a spirit board. Everyone has different experiences and practices. You may know someone who has a set-routine that works for them– and that’s fine. But ensure you do everything with respect and caution.

Laina McPhee | Artist With a Cause

laina mcphee, flowers, sunflowers, birds eye view, portrait

The Curious World of Laina McPhee

I first met Laina shortly after starting a small artist community called the Kamloops Open Art Society (KOAS). The process of starting this society was slow– but I was quickly approached by a young woman artist by the name of Laina McPhee. If not for Laina’s support and enthusiasm, there might not be a KOAS at all.

One of the first things I came to appreciate about Laina was her openness to discuss mental health. As artists, we’re often labeled as neurotic creatures who thrive off of inner turmoil in order to make art. After attending a Nick Cave concert last year, I took a new perspective to heart with the words he had said to his audience “Misery does not inspire art, we make art despite misery.” I think the same can be said about art and mental health. Despite our struggles with anxiety, depression, past trauma or whatever we may deal with– we use art to help heal us.

I knew I wanted to feature Laina as soon as I came up with the idea of having a blog celebrating women artists. Her vision of a community of artists was paralleled to mine and her passion was infectious. Read what Laina has to say about what it’s like to be a woman, an artist, a Kamloopsian, and a human just trying to make it by in the modern world.

laina mcphee, flowers, sunflowers, birds eye view, portrait, Lindsey tyne johnson

A Kamloops Artist Through and Through

Q: How long have you lived in Kamloops?

A: In short: 7 years. Long answer: This is my hometown; my sisters, dad, and several other relatives were all born here as well. When I was four years old, my family moved to Vancouver Island, living there for 13 years until coming back to Kamloops in 2016. I have stayed in town since and look forward to continuing to make it my home for years to come.

Q: When/Where/Why did you start making art?

A: I used to tell everybody that I was the least artistic person they know; that I had no creative skills whatsoever. When I was in grade 10 at Esquimalt Highschool, I needed one more course to fill my schedule, and picked self-paced Art 11 as an “easy course.” I figured if it was self-paced I could just ‘bs’ my way through the semester. What I found was a natural talent for watercolour, and a soon-to-be fascination with all things you could create. There was no bounds and being in self-paced, I could choose what I wanted to explore. I’ve never stopped exploring since then.  

“I used to tell everybody that I was the least artistic person they know”

laina mcphee, flowers, sunflowers, birds eye view, portait, lindsey tyne johnson

Adding another layer of depth and resources into the Kamloops art community and scene.

Q: What are your artistic goals for the next 5 years? 

A: My goals for the next few years are mainly to build my portfolio, expand my personal business into more commission work, and continue to develop my (our) new project the Kamloops Open Arts Society into something that can truly add another layer of depth and resources into the Kamloops art community and scene.

Q: What are your favourite mediums and what medium do you want to try? 

A: I practice in a few different mediums, mainly pen on paper, watercolour, photography, and acrylic on canvas. My favourite medium to date is plain old acrylic on canvas though. I will probably be trying out oil soon, not as of yet because it’s a bit daunting for me, but my dream-medium has to be marble sculpting. Very expensive and hard to do, requiring lots of brain power, planning, and strength, marble statues and sculptures have always captivated me.

laina mcphee, flowers, sunflowers, birds eye view, portait, lindsey tyne johnson

The Bitter Sweet Kamloops Art Scene

Q: What is the best and most difficult part of the Kamloops art scene? 

A: The best part is definitely our small-town feel. Although technically a city, the community is still small enough that if you know a couple of people, you pretty much know half the town and art community by association. The most difficult is absolutely the flip side of that; because Kamloops isn’t a huge place, it doesn’t have the resources and developed art scene that somewhere like Kelowna or Victoria has. There is little to no accessible spaces for unestablished artists to meet, gather, be social, and be creative. 

On Creativity & Mental Health:

laina mcphee, flowers, sunflowers, birds eye view, portait

“I actually did my art school (grade 12) final project on the correlation between how my art style developed alongside my mental health. I initially only did black and white, very monochromatic pieces, that were much more twisted and surreal. As I became more comfortable and confident in myself I began painting much more colourful, abstract pieces. It was very difficult at first to learn to manage my anxiety around painting, specifically having to start with a plan, following very particular “rules” I would set for myself. The more I let go the more my art developed and the more I liked it myself.”

Lindsey Tyne Johnson

Hope is a Dangerous Thing for Women Like Us to Have– But We Have It

Growing Up & Being a Creative

It’s October 11th, 2019. I’m just about to have a pumpkin carving party at my home in Kamloops, BC with a house full of warmth, music, food and talented women artists.

A little over two weeks ago I decided I wanted to start celebrating the women artists in my community in some way. The amount of beautifully talented artists in my community has always impressed me and it’s always shocked me how under-rated they can be.

Being a woman today has it’s challenges. Heck being a human is an everyday struggle. I feel when the universe decides you’re an artist, it doesn’t give you the entire job description. It doesn’t tell you that your need to create will consume most of your anxieties, dreams and aspirations. It doesn’t tell you the roller coaster of emotions that comes along with the creative process.

Here I will be telling you the stories of many amazing young women who’ve persevered making art despite how difficult it is to remain creatively active in our insanely busy and competitive world.

Collage of women artists in Kamloops | Lindsey Tyne Johnson

PS Lana Del released a song last year with the title ‘Hope is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me to Have’. The title itself was enough to grab me. As I read into the song, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into the Lana rabbit hole. I couldn’t help but feel as if this song was a response to the anxiety and responsibility that has come with her fame and life choices. Or perhaps the anxiety and responsibilities the come with the everyday struggles, pressures and responsibilities that is being an artist and a woman.

Lindsey Tyne Johnson