I am so honoured to present this series of work. As it is with most art, it has truly been in formation since my childhood. I hope to continue to discover stories and share them through my beloved medium, that one connecting liquid for many of us - coffee!

I have compiled short stories and notes as an introduction to the characters. I could never fully express all that comes to mind when I think on these people, their experiences, or even what I see captured in these specific moments. I hope that the paintings will communicate more of the heart than my words ever could.

To summarize, Common Ground is a coffee-on-canvas series of stylistic portraiture. The characters are meant to collectively paint a picture of the humble, hospitable soul of a strong rural community. With stories of family generations and neighbors, I want to invite you in to the farm kitchen for a cup of coffee and a genuine conversation.

To all of those who have allowed me to share these stories, shown me inspiring care, and encouraged me in this endeavor - from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

With love,

Lauren

LIFE's Evening Sun

A portrait of Raymond Daae

12x16" Canvas - Columbian Blend - Road Coffee Co.

“When I think of Grandpa, the first thing that comes to mind is cultivating with him in his Steiger tractor. As a 9 year old boy riding on the pail in the corner of the cab,
I watched everything he was doing. That’s probably where he taught me the song ‘Bushel and a Peck’.

He’d always take the time to stop, shut it down - so we could enjoy what Grandma had packed in his Stanley lunch kit. Sitting in the shade by the tires, the food carefully wrapped in wax paper (except of course the banana) - and Grandpa sipping his coffee. I could never figure out how he could drink hot coffee on +30 day... but now I do the very same thing.

We’d laugh about it, but I love how much time he took to visit - with anyone. It didn’t matter how much work needed to be done. He just cared about people so much.
I was there as he prayed for, and helped so many people along the way. With his big heart for others, he still made me feel like I was really special. I guess I never stopped watching everything he was doing.”

Written by Daniel Daae

CAKE KILOMETERS

A portrait of Verna Solie Daae

12x16" Canvas - 100% Columbian Blend - Tim Hortons

“I expect Ray will invite them in.”

I can picture her peering out the window at the farm. The unsung hero behind the famous hospitality of the Ray Daae family. One day she and her grandson put their heads together and concluded that over the years, she’d probably made enough chocolate cake to span over 1.3 km - if you placed the pans end to end.

Women like her are the real architects of society.

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.” - Kavita Ramdas


The Saddler

A portrait of Gordon Klarholm

11x14" Canvas - Original - Tim Hortons

We were so proud - this time we had succeeded in getting both the bridle AND the saddle in place... or so we thought. I started to lead out of the barn, and our hearts slumped right along with the saddle as it awkwardly slid down underneath the pony’s big belly. Feeling a bit of panic (while Nicky was probably pleased) we knew what had to happen next.

“I asked him last time!” Jess was quick to argue... and I knew it really was my turn. We dreaded having to ask Grandpa to come solve the latest problem with our black Welsh - not because he would be angry, but because we had to pull him away from his work; often multiple times a day.
I can only imagine his thoughts every time he saw a little girl in overalls approaching, but I can’t remember a time he ever said “no, not today.” He’d always pat Nicky’s neck and repeat “oh he’s a nice pony...yeh”, followed by quiet chuckles. He loved animals and he obviously loved us. Actually, I’d say it this way - he just LOVES.



PRAIRIE ROSEMALING

A portrait of Inga Klarholm

12x12" Canvas - Columbian - Road Coffee Co.

We opened our playhouse door, and there she was standing outside with a basketful of doilies, teacups... assorted trinkets. The dim wooden room was soon decorated with Scandinavian featured knick-knacks. My favourite was a blue wooden spoon that hung on the wall; it was hand-painted with bright rosemaling details.

Being busy little girls, I’m sure we never truly appreciated the moment as it went by. As I remember it now, I like to imagine Grandma taking the time and picking out each little piece she was going to surprise us with. Looking at small ornaments like these are like peeking in the window of a 1927 Norwegian girl’s dreams. It wasn’t until sometime in my teens that I even realized that my Grandma had an accent (as pointed out by one of my friends). Somehow her world, almost 4,000 miles away - was our world too.


THE Professional

A portrait of Clifford Sydney Quist

12x16" Canvas - Dark Columbia - Generous Coffee Co.

“I’ve been interested in playing since I was six years old. My dad played the Hawaiian style lap guitar - the lap steel, you know, you put it on your lap and go ahead. Things kept evolving, I got a better guitar when I got older, and then I heard something new on the radio. I had no idea at all what it was, since we had no tv - but the next thing that happens I was introduced to the pedal steel - the very one
I have to this day.
There were tent meetings up at Onion Lake Reserve, there a Mr. Don Thompson played... well I couldn’t get enough of that. I ended up buying it from him and that winter Kevin and I both worked on it. We had to learn all over again. That was the early 1970’s, we’ve been self taught and learning it ever since.

You know in life when you got some talent, you can’t just live to yourself and exclude everybody else out of it... that just doesn’t work. I play the steel guitar, you paint pictures.”

THE ROSE

A portrait of Rosemarie Eaton Quist

12x12" Canvas - Columbian - Tim Hortons

“I have been young - and now I am old. I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging for bread. That’s my testimony.
One of the slogans we used to to tell our family was ‘Be a leader, not a follower’. Then you will know where you are going, and you will reach your goal because you will be guided by YOUR values, and not the crowds.”
- Excerpt from “Thoughts from my past” by Rosemarie Quist

What is done in love, is done well. You wouldn’t believe how much this woman has done well. Aside from the memories of times together, my 26 cousins and I have physical examples of such things. I think of the Christmas she planned, patterned, and cut her wedding dress to pieces to make beautiful jewelry displays for us. She is a servant and a quiet worker for love. A little girl who grew up near Carlyle would some day be this woman, this unique bloom, Rosemarie.

THE Faster We'd Go

A portrait of Harold Dynna

11x14" Canvas - Dark Columbia - Generous Coffee Co.

“Harold just loved the farm. When we lived up at Southey, every free weekend we’d jump in the car and drive back. His excitement was so obvious - because the closer we’d get to the farm, the faster we’d go.” - Lois

I was mere months away from meeting this man. He passed away unexpectedly, after years of surviving agressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Stories about him make my heart race, his legacy is larger than life. I’ve been told that he would give you the shirt off his back, and on more than one occassion he nearly did just that. ‘Like two sparrows in a hurricane’, through loss of every kind, he held up faith and joy with Lois by his side.  
An inventor, a dreamer, a bold voice for love.


THE WAITRESSES

A portrait of Lois Ryan Dynna & Lilah Solie Daae

10x20" Diptych Canvases - Columbian - Road Coffee Co.

“Lilah and I worked in Rederberg’s General Store in Lake Alma one summer. Oh we had a good time together. The day that picture was taken we served at the Hagen twin’s double-wedding in Torquay... we were quite excited to have been asked.”

When I first picked up the little black and white photo, my jaw dropped. “Is that Lilah?” I hadn’t really seen many pictures from her younger years. I was captivated. Squinting from the bright sun, she stood straight up and looked so feisty. I loved her. I obsessed over these two ladies. Caught in time on a 4” paper, their whole lives ahead of them. The determination they had... they were going to need it.

‘Lilah’ was essentially painted twice. Through a mishap with a garden hose and my 5 year old, I watched my finished work dissolve. Fighting my tears and temptations to give up, I repurposed the splashes of ruin, with intention. I realized that in some ways this tragedy echoed the stories of their lives. It’s difficult to describe the lighthouses that these women became. They certainly battled, but their struggles produced diamonds.


86 Years

A portrayal of Harry Erstgaard

12x12" Canvas - Dark Columbia Blend - Generous Coffee Co.

This Norwegian bachelor, he passed away well before my time. Nonetheless as I looked through my Grandpa's old photos from the farm, this figure grabbed hold of my heart. Just two, low quality photos of a thin, moustached man in a big coat and cap.

I investigated our local history book - my new favourite read. A short entry submitted by my Great Uncle continues to stir my interest. "Harry George Erstgaard was born in Norway on October 18, 1879. He immigrated with his parents to the United States at an early age. In 1902 Harry came to the Macoun district and filed on a homestead in 1903. Harry was quite active in the community in the early years. He loved to play the fiddle and entertained at many dances in the area. One piece of music which was his own creation he called "The Halbrite Tune". Harry lived on his homestead on SE 14-5-10 for almost sixty years, at which time he retired and moved to Macoun.
Harry passed away on December 10, 1965 at the age of eighty-six years.

A Song In The Night

A portrayal of Lois & Arlin Ryan

11x14" Canvas - Original - Tim Hortons

It was the forties, Lois and her brother Arlin were determined to play. A picture of hope for the future, faithful walking... quiet anticipation. In sweet tones but with the authority of soldiers, now in their eighties they continue to live out songs.

“You can have a song in your heart in the night
After every trial, after every mile.
Anyone can sing when the sun is shining bright,
But you need a song in your heart at the night.”

1950

A portrait of Arlin Ryan

12x16" Canvas - Original - Tim Hortons

“I took that picture of you!” Lois gleamed. “It was 1950, I remember that day.”

He looked it over and then chuckled. “Now what was going on... there must be a mistake. Why am I wearing a Canadiens jersey?”

I remember where he always used to sit, on the right side of the pew and close to the front. I have a vague memory of a lady beside him sometimes, and then I mostly remember him coming alone. Always straight up, with perfect posture and an air of authority around him. He would stand at the pulpit occasionally and I remember his passion and heart.  He reminded me of a figure you’d see in the movies, almost like John Wayne - but kinder. And more humble. But strong as everything.

THE SNOWMACHINE

A depiction of Raymond Daae and his snowmachine

11x14" Canvas - Original - Tim Hortons

Oh, the inventive minds that the old days produced. Rather than being wasteful (or perhaps, realistic) - you kept every little piece of this, because you could maybe use it later... for that.

Enter Raymond Daae. What a sight to see him bump along the snowdrifts on his home-made snowmachine. From odds and ends including a flywheel, old motor, and a sawhorse - he engineered a mode of transportation for the frozen prairies.

“Great minds have purpose, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.”


DUG OUT

A depiction of the Klarholm family and neighbors (1960s)

12x16" Canvas - Dark Columbia - Generous Coffee Co.

Out of naive excitement, we always anticipated it to be a quick job. At the end of the lane and under the heavy snowfall, waited the perfect size ice... we just had to clear the dug out.
It was a family event, and friends and neighbors would come over sometimes to enjoy it with us. Dad would bring a barrel out to have a fire... what could be more Canadian?

This was the setting on those special occasions on the farm. It’s the same scene I found in a photo from the 1960’s, from across the field where dad grew up. Family and friends gathered on a day that they’d remember forever. Whether it be the ice rink or your best frozen-fashions, there’s always something to be dug out.

KIND RECIPES

A portrait of Rena Torkelson

12x12" Canvas - 100% Columbian - Tim Hortons

The tradition was (and still is) to have your photo taken with your cake. This capture with dressy hat and belt, skirt blowing in the wind - to me characterizes something tangible from the time. She is dressed up to socialize but for some reason I do not see pure leisure - I see ‘doing what you have to do’ with grace. I see a woman who determines herself for the task at hand, even if that ‘task’ is celebration.

Much of what is most beautiful in the world arises from struggle.
I find myself grasping on to whatever hints of these experiences exist, as time marches on and those that knew them fade away.

Seeds

A depiction of Wayne Daae and Grandson Easton Daae

12x16" Canvas - Dark Columbia - Generous Coffee Co.

“It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer.”


- Excerpt from “So God Made A Farmer”, author unknown.


This solo exhibit debuted in October 2019 in Estevan, Saskatchewan.

Most of the pieces have been sold, but if you would like to inquire about a piece (or print) please reach out by emailing artist@laurendaae.com 


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