A sweet writeup in The Scene PG

I don’t know what people do with web sites. Embedding things is not my schtick. So instead, here’s the text of the piece Frank Peebles wrote about me, and a link to The Scene.

http://thescenepg.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=13884%3Abetween-a-rock-and-a-hardeman-place&Itemid=294

The impending passing of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie hits especially close for the country’s creators.

“I hope that all of us who have the audacity to call ourselves artists will find in ourselves the capacity to do what Gord Downie has done,” said Prince George painter Corey Hardeman, moved by the singer saying goodbye to Canada on a final concert tour despite terminal cancer.

“I hope we all courageously and relentlessly pursue our work,” Hardeman said. “I hope for all our lives we take our failing bodies and tired souls and force them out and on, and push and push and push because the life of a human being, even the long life of a long lived human being, is not enough. It’s not enough. Go, go, go.”

Hardeman is easily one of the biggest names in the region’s arts community. She has illustrated books, been a court sketch-artist and won awards for writing about that experience, represented B.C. at National Art Battle. In almost every notable way a Prince George viewer can see a painting, hers are there. She’s held paint tubes in her mouth to keep them from freezing outside in winter because her home was too small. A marriage dissolved. A life-partner died. All of it was turned into intense art.

“I guess what it comes down to for me is that making art is how I love the world, and how I love my life, and it’s the thing I am best at and the thing I am most willing to give my time and attention and thought and dedication to,” she said. “And as I get older my options get narrower; let’s face it: this is what I am doing, and I will be doing it to the best of my ability until I die. One life is not enough time to perfect a craft. You’ve got to go, go, go. All the time. It’s a breath and a prayer and a joy and the hardest work imaginable and the biggest frustration and a hell of a way to make a living.”

Absolutely nothing to do with painting.

Trigger warning: miscarriage.

I broke an egg on the floor this morning and in that moment I felt everything dissolve and unravel- past, present and future. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling. It’s grief. It’s like panic, a feeling like the whole veneer of my humanity is about to peel back and expose me, skinless, all my guts, all the parts of myself I’m not supposed to see. It takes me by surprise every time, even though its timing is often almost embarrassingly predictable. It’s tied to the calendar and the clock; my sense of at this time in that place is a constant, pedantic voice. It keeps me tied to wound like an umbilical cord.

I don’t talk about this one much. This is the miscarriage I had four years ago. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I was already up to my eyeballs in babies, my marriage was a disaster, we lived in the damn bush. But I was pregnant and the baby was moving and I loved it. I wanted out, and I wanted the baby and I didn’t want my life. And then one morning I woke up and I thought, I haven’t felt this guy move since yesterday. And I went to the bathroom and there was just a tiny bit of blood, and I thought, I remember this so clearly, I thought “Everything can go all the way wrong”. My husband asked if he should go to work and I didn’t want to be around him so I said yes, and the kids and I got on with the business of the morning, feeding horses, tidying up, hoping I was wrong. I had just thrown a flake of hay into the pony paddock and I felt a soft pop and my jeans were soaked and I thought “here we go”. I changed my clothes and loaded the kids and the dog into the truck and I called my midwife and I called the hospital and told them I was having a miscarriage. It was a beautiful day.

Some of us know how it goes, and like all births and like all deaths, it’s the same and different for everyone and it’s private and public at the same time. It was terrible, though some things are more terrible. I know people who have lost infants and children. That’s worse. Losing Tim was worse. But it was terrible. There was an ultrasound to confirm that he was dead, and there he was, and the tech said “what a beautiful baby”, and he was.

When he was born, I was alone. My husband was with the kids and I was just waiting. It wasn’t painful. It wasn’t scary. He just slipped out and I held him in my hands between my legs till the nurses came. I delivered the placenta and they clamped the cord just as they had with my others; they let me cut it, they handed him to me in a blue blanket. His eyes were open and they were colourless.

When whales get beached, their bodies can’t support themselves and they collapse. Blue was like that. When we looked at him on the ultrasound, he was round and perfect, baby like, but out in the world he caved in upon himself, he bulged strangely. My husband had brought my bag and I drew him.

That was how it went.

Sometimes terrible things happen.

I remember thinking, of course, that it was my fault because I had said I didn’t want to have another baby. I remember wondering if he’d had a chance to think about it and decided he’d rather not be my child. Or whether perhaps he’d had a chance to be something better, like a sea lion, or a sunfish or maybe a narwhal. A bird, perhaps.

It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t want to be pregnant, but I would have loved him and raised him and loved him. I know this because I didn’t get to raise him nor even see him ever draw a breath and I still love him.

There’s a lot of talk about how women don’t talk about miscarriage. An awful lot of us experience them; my mother did, I did, most of my friends have. If you’re reading this, I hope you know that it’s ok to talk about it, and if that’s what you want to do, I hope you have a safe place to do it. If you don’t I can point you to some resources, as can your doulas, doctors and midwives. I also hope you know that it’s ok to not talk about it. It’s ok to keep it inside, I think, if that feels safer for you. Not if it’s going to eat you up, you know. But if that’s how you keep safe, it’s totally ok.

I remember thinking a lot about rabbits, and how sometimes when they’re stressed, mother rabbits eat their kits. It seems awful and barbaric, and I can’t pretend to know what motivates rabbits, but if I had to guess, I would guess that they’re keeping them safe. I would guess that they’re getting their babies back into the safety of their own bodies the only way they can. And I guess that’s the way it is.

 

Slow painting

As many of you will remember, at this time last year I was gearing up to paint 103 paintings in 103 days. As I have described the exercise at length here and on social media, I won’t go into it too much now, except to say that I have decided not to do it again this year, and here’s why:

I learned a lot from making that many paintings. I learned about my own habits, I learned to clean up my composition, I learned to prioritize the parts of the pieces that mattered over the parts that didn’t. And round about painting number 40, I stopped learning, and I just kept painting. Which is not to say it was a futile exercise; all practice is good practice, and let’s face it, all money is good money when you’re trying to make a go of it as an artist, and particularly when you have dependents. And I was grieving and I needed to work. It was how I kept myself alive. I needed a mission, I gave myself one, I accomplished my goal and I am glad.

I have learned some other things this year, and my art making is changing, as it must always do, because making art is a living process and all living things must change. I have been thinking about slow painting; about making work that demands time and attention, not just to the image but to the idea of the image. I have been thinking about making work that talks about the world that exists in parallel with mine, ours, we humans, the world of fish and soil and certain kinds of light that don’t require or acknowledge me but which somehow are more real to me than anything. I am trying to find a language. The fact that my attempt to articulate it here is so feeble should indicate how difficult it is to undertake such  project in a way that is meaningful to me and which I can perhaps one day describe without sounding like a total flake.  We’ll see. At any rate, I am making these paintings that are taking a lot of time and focus, and if I make other work I think I will distract myself from the place I need to inhabit right now. And it’s hard.

I am accustomed to working fast. When my kids were little, I used to set the timer on the microwave for ten minute intervals and I would paint in these hurried bursts, and in that way I built a practice. My habit is still to paint as if my easel were on fire; I want things done, I want to get to the next and the next. I think that’s useful energy and it serves me well and it’s not that I want to lose that; it’s that I think it’s time I learned a little patience (I can hear my dead mother laughing). I think that in the same way I am trying to learn to listen to the world, I need to try to listen to my work.

So that is what I am going to do.

Stay tuned.