Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Darkness Saved Me

The Darkness Saved Me


This time of year always fills me with thoughts about the light and the dark. I think about how we need both in ever aspect of our lives.
The extremes of Winter weather lately are one day like Spring, next day a big Winter storm.. My thoughts are often about Spring in the dead of Winter. I try to embrace Winter, even though I really dislike it’s psychological confinements.
Trying to embrace the short days filled with darkness, makes it a bit easier to accept and to even like whatever I can. I become introspective and solitary in the Winter months.
When I first heard this song, The Darkness by Rose Cousins, it resonated so much with me. It really speaks a truth that we all can identify with I think.
Like my wise and gifted friend Indigene Theresa  said to me,   “The darkness is a major part of who we are and learning to acknowledge all our parts, allow us to be complete.”
I have to say the  darkness saved me from myself.

The Darkness - Rose Cousins

To take a light into the dark is to know the light
To know the dark
Go into the dark
You can lock the door yeah you know how
You can stay alone, you’re so proud
But you can’t keep the darkness out
Oh you’re probably the strongest one I know
You got to the thickest skin
You got weight to throw
You can’t keep the darkness out
You can’t keep the darkness out
Whatever hurt you, what keeps you mad
Wants you to let it go, let it pass
When memories turn to doubt
You can’t keep the darkness out
Oh the dark is a river
and though it may divide
If you wade into it
With your arms open wide
Let it take you with it
Oh you don’t have to fight
It will provide, it will provide
There’s nothing wrong
with the heart in your chest
It might be heavy but it’s innocent
And it can’t keep the darkness out
You can’t keep the darkness
You can’t keep the darkness
You can’t keep the darkness
To take a light into the darkness is to know the light
To know the dark
Go into the dark
To take a light into the darkness is to know the light
To know the dark
Go into the dark

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Diversity the Cornerstone of Creativity?

Last week I heard a woman of colour talk about the definition of the word diversity. Perhaps many of us, myself included, have interpreted  the word to mean a varied group of people who are of different race, religion and culture. I hear this word diversity a lot lately and it's even been said that it's become a kind of empty cultural euphemism. But I've learned that it isn't simply about race, religion or culture. Diversity is almost synonymous with creativity and is innovative. It is a way of thinking and a lifestyle.

This month is Black History Month and it is such a rich history, needing to be told not just one month out of the year. Many Canadians don't know who Viola Davis Desmond was, a remarkable woman and a brave activist who fought segregation, here in Nova Scotia like Rosa Parks did, who was called the " Mother of the Freedom Movement" in Montgomery Alabama, U.S. 

With all the refugees coming into Canada, and within the next few days, our small coastal community will soon be welcoming a Syrian family to Nova Scotia. I am hopeful that more of us will always want to celebrate, honour and really come to understand the meaning of creative diversity and/or diverse creativity. It's what connects us to one another, and what makes us human.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Feather Fur and Fin

Glaciers are losing mass in the North Cascades, where Pelto's father has done work for decades monitoring glacier retreat and related changes. Annual glacier mass balance data is represented in the painting.
Credit: Jill Pelto

Fifty years ago when I was 12 years old, I had a friend whose mum and dad had been immigrants from Denmark. Her mother was very much a mother, a house wife and gave both my friend, her daughter and I an education that really stuck with me all these years. She was ahead of her time, in that she told us about what she called the green house effect, why white bread was not good for us and a number of other health lessons with photo illustrated textbooks. When I reflect on that time spent in Annette's kitchen with her mother, who opened our eyes wide about such serious adult matters, I didn't realize then how pertinent those lessons would become later in my life. We may of been 12 years old, but we understood this information was important.

Regardless if you call it global warming, climate change or the greenhouse effect is irrelevant, because the fact is, it is here and for me it has become the number one concern, because I love our earth and all of it's inhabitants, the two legged, the four legged, feather, fur and fin.

As David Suzuki says we must remain hopeful for our children. We must not loose hope and we must continue to work at saving out planet, if we want our earth to be here for future generations.

When artists can make their art a vehicle to get this message across about climate change, it can be a powerful way to inform and change the world. Danny Michel is one such artist, as is Jill Pelto.

Moments of Observation - Jill Pelto

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How Art School Helped Me Survive

There are as many reasons people become artists, just as there are those who become lawyers and mechanics etc. For me I believe the most contributing factor that caused me to be an artist, was always being allowed and encouraged to learn. The desire to learn and having a natural curiosity was innate, as it is in all children. My family knew this to be true and nurtured my curiosity, sense of play, and imagination.

Being drawn to creating things at a young age, my creativity was always encouraged and valued greatly. I was never told, no dear, you don't want to pursue art because that will never lead to gainful employment or a real job.

When I decided to attend art school and was accepted, it was a very happy, exciting day that my family and I celebrated. They supported me completely. Getting a job after University was the last thing from my mind, although I always worked during and after completing school. I was going because I knew this was where I belonged. Creativity was a huge part of who I was and what I wanted to pursue. My family believed in me and imparted that belief, causing me to believe in myself, which enabled me find my own creative path.

In art school I learned to develop a thick skin, to be resourceful and adaptable, in order to survive life's challenges. I eventually thrived and became my own individual. I was comfortable in my own skin, as a result of learning to think creatively which I held onto throughout my life.

When life was at it's lowest point, being able to express my feelings through my artwork was one of the best kinds of therapy and still is. It helped me to cope with whatever I was going through. Creativity enabled me to adapt to whatever situation I found myself in, and to learn amazing life lessons in a kind of living learning lab.

 Creative growth helped to me to fulfill and understand my sense of universal growth needs. I came to understand how important it is to belong to a community, to have independence, a sense of achievement and empathy.

I do believe that art school helped me to survive the future and to eventually thrive.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Alexander Daniloff - An Exceptional Artist

Strength - Daniloff Tarot

 I'm so excited to share this post, an artist I found out about today while reading a Tarot blog by a fellow blogger.  I saw one of his Major Arcana cards from his Tarot deck, Strength, that I was so drawn to, I had to find out more about this artist.

 There is a wide variety of talented, gifted and skilled artists that have created Tarot decks. And through my love and study of Tarot I have learned about so many of them. More often than not they are exceptionally creative and versatile. Alexander Daniloff  is one such artist. He is Ukrainian and lives in Italy. His art work invites you into a realm of fantastical imagination, with enough realism to bring this world to life.  It reminds me of the way Alice In Wonderland made me feel as a child. I wanted to go into that land, and did in my imagination.

These talented artists that create Tarot decks have so many other creative outlets and are involved in a variety of other art forms which greatly enhances so much to their art illustration.
 Alexander Daniloff has a fascinating background in puppetry, theatre and costume and fashion design.

I think you will agree that Alexander Daniloff is a uniquely exceptional artist. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Still a Wonderful World Whether Your in Grade One or Not.

Kraftwerk- Teacher Lars Reimers Grade One Class Performs Die Roboter Techno Pop Song From 1978

 As the "adults" it's easy to can get caught up in all the seriousness of art, or lost in it's arty discourse and problematic issues.

Amid so many heavy events our world, it's real important to take a time out, and to simply allow ourselves to experience some childlike joy. After all, this is a big and important part of what the creative process is about. That's just what this you tube video is, joyful, and I think you'll agree.

 The video reminds me to relax, have some fun, daydream, and live in the moment, which are the helpful tools for creativity.
It's still a wonderful world, not in spite of itself, but because of it's self. Take time to celebrate it. Kids can really help us to do this. I loved it when that one kid stands up to bust a move! So much fun! And learning should be fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do We Still Need Guerilla Girls?

Yoko Ono is flanked by the masked activists known as Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz. (

One of the most difficult issues for me to overcome as an artist is to manage the marketing aspect of my art, ensuring my work as an artist, and in particular, as a woman, is not devalued.

There are loads of folks out there who perhaps don't understand the creative artistic professions, and need to be informed and re-educated otherwise. They assume what you do is either a hobby, or they don't consider being an artist as a viable and vital profession, for one reason or another. This particular issue has been paramount on my mind lately, as I push to eek out an income for myself, while slaying the devaluing art dragons. An artist needs to be there own advocate and to be an activist.

Speaking of activists, yesterday a friend, and one of my past professors posted a you tube video about the feminist activists, the Guerrilla Girls, who were guests on Late Night with Steven Cobert. Wow, I thought initially, times are changing! But that's just the media hype, and we are easily fooled and drawn into believing that things are either better or worse than what matches reality. Things have changed, but very slowly.

Then today, the Guerrilla Girls were interviewed this morning on CBC Radio. I didn't get a chance to see them interviewed on Steven Cobert until now, but did hear them on the radio. They really clarified how things haven't changed so much, and I was brought back down to reality, and how the history of art is very much a history of power and  yes, we still need Guerrilla Girls, perhaps more now than ever.