PORTRAITS

Artist Meredith Blunt on Fear & Following your Path

 

 Life as a working artist, mother-partner and household juggler is tricky enough that staving off the social pressure of taking a job outside of our craft is sometimes unbearable. When an artist realizes that their art is not a calling, but a chronic insistence of the soul, something clicks. And then - the leap! Artist Meredith Blunt takes us through her journey of fear, viability and the art of happiness. Meredith's fearless work and artistic adventures can be followed here on her Facebook page. 

 

Today, I am glad to be seen as a fearless artist in my home with a tiny kitchen studio full of my paintings and my family bouncing around me.  It all gives me such confidence, insight and joy in my journey.

I am glad as it has not always been this way.

For years, my fear told me I would fail, not to waste time. My perception of the world told me that denying my art was the correct choice to make. I  lost something to expectation, obligation, and responsibility. Those big, grown up, weighty words that I could not apply to my passion but could apply to everything else like the laundry. I lay down my brushes and put away my box of paints and built a career that brought in a salary, benefits, normalcy, security.  In the midst of a happy, normal life I felt lost and unhappy, despite my best attempts to be who I thought I needed to be. I had become useful and viable.

I had vanished.

A long time passed.

Then, one day, not that long ago, that passion which comes from a hardwired mysterious core that is as unique as our fingerprints, became utterly impossible to ignore any longer. Simple, basic pleasure had me put my hand to my still-wet canvas. I savoured the feel, the smell, the touch of the paint. My fear would no longer be the loudest voice. I would no longer be unkind to my honest self.

I learned that living your creative passion does not take away from your viability - it contributes to your life! I am so much more in tune with my family, so much more alive, so much more ME. Much like how relationships found within friendship, marriage, children, family can add intrinsic loving elements to complete the portrait we build of ourselves, Art is filling in the spaces that had been emptied by my own harsh choices. Without painting in my day-to-day, I was absent from my own life.

The price of avoiding failure is worse than the stumble. Failures will come and they can change fears into experience, pain into expressive beauty, change loss into a gain of what you didn’t know before you tried. Embrace them as a greater measure of your quality. They are fuel for passion and big or small, over the course of a life, they contribute to that honest portrait.

Don’t be afraid.


meredith's note to self

I see you.

I know it when I see a kid who sees unicorns in the snow. I know it when I see a kid who hears music and stories in colours. And, I know it when I see a kid, a person, who diminishes themselves because they want to please, they want to fit in, and they're afraid of failing, because they are afraid.

Failing at what?

Afraid of what?

When you get a little older, when you learn a little more, you'll come across the paintings of a woman called Georgia O'Keeffe. What you'll see is colour, bright, strange, interpretative, dissonant, and wonderful. What you'll keep of her is this:

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

It is okay to be scared. We all feel it at times. You are bigger and louder than that fear.

Remember that and always conquer it with your colours flying. They are something to be seen. Don't be afraid.

Award Winning Wines for a Wonderful Winter

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As we inch our way toward winter our palette in the Dukát Household tunes to wine. We find wines to be so cozy, unique and creative that anytime we get a chance to enjoy a bottle of something beautifully made, we are IN! We love wines so much that on our wedding day we had a skilled sommelier teach us and our guests about the six different wines we had chosen to pair with our wedding day feast!

So, we were thrilled to be invited to Queen's Park to cover the Lieutenant Governor's Awards Reception for excellence in Ontario Wines. To be surrounded by some of the best wine-makers in the country was a lesson in persistence, perfectionism and passion! We wanted to share these with you, because, if you love wine too - or if you're simply vino-curious - this is an excellent place to start. A stipulation of wine nominations was that they be commercially available for purchase so pick something to celebrate tonight with someone you love and bring home a bottle of excellence! Salut!

Angela & László

Riddled Sparkling, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars

Riesling, 2010, Hernder Estate Wines

Riesling Icewine Reserve, 2013, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate

Sauvignon Blanc Signature Series, 2013, Peller Estates Winery

Small Lot Riesling “Wild Cask”, 2013, Thirty Bench Wine Makers

Gravity Pinot Noir, 2012, Flat Rock Cellars

Riesling, 2014, Creekside Estate Winery

Chardonnay, 2013, Ravine Vineyard

Gamay Noir Private Reserve, 2013, Peller Estates Winery

Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah, 2012, Rockway Vineyards

Sandy Clark on Fabulousness and Authenticity

 

I'm so thrilled to introduce you to Sandy! A Career Management Professional and certified coach, Sandy is a firm believer that our lives evolve most when we are open to opportunities.   She lives by the motto, 'Dwell in Possibility' because she's learned that anything can happen. When you meet Sandy you feel a profound sense of calm and positivity. She's climbed Kilimanjaro, navigated her unique patch to professional success and remained a humble giver and all around beautiful energy to be around.  Sandy agreed to share a few thoughts on fabulousness and authenticity, which, in my opinion, this woman has nailed in spades!

 

 How to Look and Feel Fabulous or Why I’m Tickled Pink

 

With a sigh, I hung my beautiful wedding dress back in my closet. A single occasion gown. I knew I wouldn’t wear it again. With an uncharacteristic lack of sentimentality and show of fiscal responsibility, I had decided to sell my gown, and so I took it to be cleaned in preparation. To my dismay the cleaner declined to risk treating the hand dyed fabric. So, back into the closet it went, and stayed, amongst other precious but seldom worn garments like my mother in law’s fur coat and my husband’s leather university jacket. I need to tell you about this dress. It’s a soft ballerina pink. The full silk skirt is covered by a heavenly swath of pink tulle. The back is sheer, adorned only with a single row of covered buttons from neckline to waist. All of it envisioned by me and skillfully created by a movie costumer designer with nimble fingers and a creative love. I’d never felt so special or feminine as on my big day and my dress played a huge part in that. So it’s very sad to me that my wedding photo album is missing but one shot - a photograph of me, by myself - rapturously enjoying my gown.When I asked Angela what I should wear to my “Notes to Self” shoot, she suggested that I wear a dress, something that made me feel fabulous. This was after she looked at my Facebook page, showcasing me mostly in athletic gear. Hmm, I wasn’t sure where she got the dress idea. I only own three and none would qualify as making me feel fabulous. I couldn’t imagine wearing any of them for a shoot, let alone a pose I could strike!

. Late on the night before the shoot, I remembered my pink wedding dress - the only dress I have ever loved. I sent Angela a note about my dress and a photo of it. “YES”, she exclaimed, “You have to wear it! It is fabulous!”The next night, she and I jumped into my VW beetle, me at the wheel with tulle up to my ears. We hurried to the location, knowing we had limited time to catch that elusive magic hour light. And we did have magic. I had fun. We both laughed. I was wearing my ‘Sandy’ dress. No heels, just barefoot in the grass. I didn’t pull out the hairspray or comb that I had brought along, just in case. I was able to be myself and there isn’t anything easier to be….if only we could allow ourselves the luxury of just that - Being ourselves….that’s when we look and feel fabulous, both inside and out.

Averill Bell on the Importance of Being Photographed

 

Averill Bell is an artist, manifestor and magnificent mother of three. She's fearless in her pursuits and relies (with a great deal of success) on her free spirit and kindheartedness to overcome challenges.  Averill aspires to enjoy life no matter what comes her way,  to laugh, smile, drink wine and always be grateful for what she has been given.  No matter what, "Life is Good!"

 

As a photographer, being on the other side of the camera is very different for me. It is not a place where I’m used to being or at all comfortable, but it’s important from time to time, to get out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves in ways we normally wouldn’t.

There is something to be said for having courage and allowing yourself to be seen. I’m not as skinny or as fit as I used to be, I have plenty of wrinkles and grey hair. My body after three babies has taken a beating and I’m not as young as I once was. So is this why so many of us are afraid to have our picture taken? To have a moment where the focus in on us? Why do we hesitate to give historical and photographic proof of who we are, especially as we grow older?

As women, and mothers in particular, we typically don’t like to be seen. But our existence needs to be captured and we must take the opportunity to be remembered for who we are, wrinkles and all! We have to jump in, both feet, and embrace the moments we are given and not shy away from them. Too often we run away from the camera, feeling we aren’t in our ideal state – our hair is a mess, we are carrying a few extra pounds or have no make-up on. Sometimes we are missing from photos altogether because we’re just too busy doing other important things.

But it’s important that when our children are older, they have photos where they see us for the women we were – not for the outfits we were wearing or if we sucked it in enough. They don’t look at us that way. All they see is “mom” - how beautiful we are, the love we carry for them and hopefully, a warm and wonderful memory to go alongside the image. When I look at older photos of my own mother – all I see is how beautiful she is, her warm and tender smile, and how much she loved us. Nothing else! It’s vital that we start to see our beauty through our children’s eyes.

As nervous as I was to take this leap, I am so grateful to have had the courage to let myself be seen through the lense, to be captured in the moment, to let the world see who I am, to have an image of myself for my children to always remember, and above all – to allow myself the opportunity to embrace my own beauty and who I am.

Be courageous, smile and be seen!

~averill bell~

 

Holly West on Self Love as a Journey

 

If you don't already know this writer, I'm stoked to introduce you to her! Holly West is a Toronto-based writer, who is working on not being a lady of leisure. She likes fanfiction, documentaries, Dolly Parton, and cool and tart glasses of lemonade. Check her out at westerlywinds.tumblr.com where her refreshing and witty style will have you wondering where the afternoon went.

 

“Here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right.”  ~ The Beatles

For me being seen has long been an issue – I stand a staggering 4’11” and have always been easy to miss in a crowd. I’ll admit blending into the tapestry was by design, but as the years and decades have marched merrily along I’ve made inroads into not only being seen but also being seen in the way that I want.

The day of this photo shoot I was on the tail end of some bleak mental health days and the further along I got in the long trek the more I felt myself unfurl – was it the literal physical forward motion? Was it the coy and interested looks some of the fairer sex were casting my way? Was it the landscape as it chased its way from pot-holed and industrial, to sprawling farms and smooth roads? Who can say, but by the time I hopped off the bus I was ready to lay bare all normally left shuttered away.

With the afternoon sun warming my freshly shorn head I sat on the parallel lines of train track and thought about all that came before and what is yet to be.

My last name may be a direction but I was directionless. Years of internal struggle left me adrift. But as my grandfather used to say, “hurry up slowly.” I was and am going to get ‘there’ someday. I now dress, cut my hair, and write so that I am presenting exactly who I am. You won’t have to squint to see me.

As the sunset and I headed home with my grass stained butt I felt that thing. You know that feeling? It feels a little like hope, a little like loving myself again. That love is helping me to have better days and a future that looks just as crystal clear as the sunlight highlighting the blue of my eyes.

Guest Blogger: Holly West

Find Her: westerlywinds.tumblr.com

Photographer: Angela Durante, Dukát Photos

#Notetoselfproject

Portraits of a Lady

When we woke Sunday morning to thick snow and a chilly sky I was grateful for our cozy indoor plans with Katy. This was our last shoot of the year before we head to Budapest for the holidays and I couldn't think of a lovelier way to wrap it up - a deep soul in an large window, Katy is such a treat to photograph. She's so laid back and so poised all at once, you wouldn't guess she spends her days in the muddy trenches of construction sites as a Quality Control Manager.

So, to celebrate a great year we raise a glass in gratitude - to Katy and all the loveable and inspiring people we've photographed this year, may the road rise up to meet you!

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Love & Light,

Angela & László

Forbes Magazine and The Orange Dress

Four seconds before this photo was taken at yesterday's photo shoot with the inspired folks at Event Spectrum  Inc., President Cynthia Richards threw up her arm and shouted, "NEXT YEAR THIS PHOTO IS GOING TO BE ON THE COVER OF FORBES!"

Goosebumps ran up my arm. YES!, I thought. THIS is how it's done.

If anyone understands how the universe delivers on our declarations it's this team. Dynamic, fun and innovative, ESI Inc. has been rocking the world of business communications for seventeen years. They are an always-smiling force to be reckoned with who have turned the old business cliché on it's head - apparently you can mix business and pleasure. Their signature orange dresses not only turn heads on the street, they symbolize a key underpinning of their business philosophy - they are family.

So,  the declaration is out you gorgeous gals and guys of ESI - the cover of Forbes is yours for the taking. Cheers to the year ahead - may it be as fabulous as you are!

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Angela & László