Thursday, December 7, 2017

Roberta Jane Taylor

I had my first exposure to art classes at elementary school in Toronto Ontario. Two male art teachers had a real influence on me, imparted the idea that art was important. Later on under the age of ten years, I attended a few classes in a hall, while at the beach with a friend's family at their cottage. I don't remember a whole lot about this class other then thinking it was hard, but I was glad to be doing it, because I had a strong desire to learn how to draw.

Later on as a teenager we moved to Nova Scotia. There were no art classes offered in school, and being a creative kid, I sure didn't fit into the stream lined mold of the educational system and felt like a fish out of water.

Then I found out about an art class being offered outside of school with a women that was my best friend's next door neighbour. From time to time we would visit her, and I was intrigued with her being an artist. My friend relayed to me how much this woman loved nature and animals, and if memory serves me correctly I think she once had a pet crow. She also had painted a picture of my friend and her brother playing as kids in the snow and I believe it was entitled, Backyard Incident.

She was an unusual individual, very much outside the norm of small town Nova Scotia. This woman was Roberta Jane Taylor, who was rather introverted and lonely, but nonetheless she lived a very interesting life. She lived for approximately 15 years in New York City where she furthered her studies and worked. I remember being very impressed when I found out from my friend that Roberta had drawings that had been published in the New Yorker magazine.

I attended her painting classes in the old Academy Street School, in Amherst , Nova Scotia for the duration of weeks that it was offered. I was thrilled and we spent days painting a still life, a composition of bowls and a glass bottle. Roberta was very independent, humble, soft spoken, had an unassuming personality, was a good teacher and a wonderful artist.

Yesterday I was really thrilled to find an article entitled Bright Light in the periodical magazine mailed to me every few months, as an Alumni of Mount Allison.

Roberta Taylor graduated from what was then known as Mount Allison Ladies' College where she excelled and earned her a diploma in Fine Arts. Little did I know then, or ever imagine, as I took lessons from her as a teenager, that I would one day be graduating from the same school with my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree as Roberta Jane Taylor, that was now known as Mount Allison University.

A few years before Roberta died, I met up with her again in a residential facility in Amherst. At this time she was completely blind. I was so happy I get to see her one more time, after all those years. I told her who I was, and said how much I admired her, that I was friends with her next door neighbour and she unknowingly influenced me in my teen aged life. Her mind was still very good and she died at the age of 85.

Roberta  Jane Taylor

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Harry Leslie Smith - Don't Let My Past Be Your Future

Harry Leslie Smith

Today I listened to a very poignant and touching interview with Harry Leslie Smith, a 94 year old RAF Veteran, who is on a mission to speak out against an unjust society and he has a warning for those of us much younger, that we'd best heed, if we are wise.

Harry Leslie Smith is not only a beautiful soul, but a remarkable man, who has his own Podcast and has written numerous books.

I hope you will take the time to listen to this wonderfully, wise man.

Artists for Gender Equality

Having spent the majority of my art education during the early 70s at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and then again in 2012 at Mount Allison University, my perspective on what it means to be an artist was, and is very much formed and defined by Second Wave Feminism.

 I'm of the belief art has no gender, women should and need to be recognized for the art we create, not because we're tokened 'women artists', but simply because we're artists, no better, no less than their male counterparts.

My peers and I have been long immersed in the same gender equality presented in this film to be released November 27th 2017.

Today I'm even more concerned about gender equality, particularly in the art world, and especially in light of so many women increasingly speaking out against sexual harassment, within the whole world of misogyny, which has historically and insidiously permeated all aspects of our present day culture and society.

I'm so very grateful for the legacy women past, and present contributed to art, and I greatly appreciate that they collectively continue to reflect through their creativity how the personal is political.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sarah Pound

Sarah Pound

I first met and heard Sarah Pound sing, His Eye Is On the Sparrow, at a beautiful Celebration of Life service for a close mutual friend at the Baptist Church in Wolfville Nova Scotia.

This song had been especially requested by our late friend. I hadn't ever recalled hearing it in the past, during my years of attending Church and being in choirs.

Now I'll never forget it, because and I'd never heard anything quiet like it. I've since heard other versions by Lorne Hill and the late Whitney Houston, but they were nothing like this. It was, perfection.

The interpretation Sarah gave was second to none, in the way she lifted each and every spirit up at a time of deep grief, as she poured her heart and soul into every word and note. Safe to say she absolutely touched every one's heart deeply, if not moving us to tears.

To say Sarah Pound is an emerging talent would very much be an understatement, because of her innate natural ability and talent, that she obviously has honed on a professional level. Her passion for singing is immediately apparent and infectious. And so, I wanted to let every body know about this gifted home grown, Nova Scotia musician with the broader public who I'm certain is co-joined with the angels of Heaven.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stephen Fry - Mythos

Pandora - Catherine Meyers

When I heard Stephen Fry talk today on the radio about his new book Mythos , I got excited!

I learned a few things like the meaning certain words and ut was a great interview, but then I found this youtube video of him reading the story of Pandora from his new book Mythos, and I had to share it!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Wounded Faith"

Sheila Allan 1955-2017

I've believed in God since I was a young one. A faith that was imparted to me by my dear late mother, for which I'm very grateful.

Having experienced the loss of many of those I deeply loved throughout my life and I don't recall being angry at God. I expect it was because I wanted to see the positive and to find gratitude and meaning within the sorrow. I was never a fan of anger.

Today I was confronted with my anger about my life long dear friends getting sick and dying. It's unfair and made little to no sense to me, and so I found myself angry.

During Sheila's service this afternoon among all who loved her so much, I found myself struggling with the words the Priest expressed, that were supposed to comfort.  Many of my closet friends expressed the same. They felt angry and were questioning why.

After I got home, I reflected. I see anger is a normal human reaction to something that's unfair, and it's in response to not having any answers to the question, why did this happen?

I also now understand, anger draws much more energy than gratitude. I don't want to feed my anger, but I do have a right to it. It's simply a feeling, and feelings pass. And so I choose to be so grateful to have had such a beautiful soul in my life and to have the privilege to call Sheila my dear sweet friend, and she will forever live in my heart.

Here's what Eli Wiesel said about faith and anger. I so love what he said, because it acknowledges that he hasn't lost his faith, but describes what he calls, having a "wounded faith", experiencing anger, questioning, and quarreling with God.

"My faith is a wounded faith, but my life is not without faith. I didn't divorce God, but I'm quarreling and arguing and questioning, it's a wounded faith."

                                                                                        - Eli Wiesel    

Friday, November 3, 2017

Writing a Memoir - Maureen Murdock

Maureen Murdock

As a young adolescent I've always been drawn to writing. Yes I was one of those girls who kept one of those little diaries carefully guarded with the small key. I felt very precious about it. But truthfully I think it was something I felt a certain desire to share it, but at the same time would have been mortified if anyone actually had read my inner most secrets.

My desire to share what I wrote increased in time, as my writing improved, but of course I never thought of myself as a writer, nor even a great reader for that matter, because I had a rather short attention span. But there certainly were books I loved to read. Reading just like writing is a discipline. And within that discipline there is freedom to simply be myself, and to learn how to be the best person I can be.

In my young adulthood while attending University, I learned more about writing out of necessity, having to write papers. Left to my own devices had I not learned to write, I was on the road to failure, in spite of my good intentions but lacking in the skills to succeed in University, that required me to write papers.

I'll certainly be forever grateful for having done so, because learning to write has been so rewarding and a form of self-expression that has greatly enriched and changed my life.

One of my very favourite writers is Maureen Murdock because after reading The Heroine's Journey, that was generously given to me by a good friend. This book was a life changer and affected my way of thinking about who I am as a woman, and opened up my spiritual beliefs surrounding the God of my understanding and the Sacred Feminine.

I believe humans are natural born story tellers, and we all have important stories to tell. Story telling helps to define who we are as humans.

Although I do have three blogs and I get great pleasure out of creating them, my first and foremost way of writing is through long hand cursive writing. I think I could say some of my blog posts are memoir like, but mostly my blogs are tools for learning about creativity and life in all it's forms.

I subscribe to a site about women writers and found this article written by Maureen Murdock about tips for writing a memoir.

  1. Memoir is not an autobiography but rather a selected aspect of a life. No event in your life is too small, but the details are important.
  2. There is a universality to memoirs.
  3. Honesty and Sincerity: Is the narrator authentic? When you are talking about yourself, you are talking about all of us to a certain degree; that’s the universal element. The struggle for emotional truth is central to memoir.
  4. Intimacy: The hallmark of memoir is its intimacy with its audience.
  5. Language in memoir is conversational, everyday, direct.
  6. Humor: Be willing to laugh at yourself, reveal your foibles. We all have them.
  7. Self-Reflection: The essence of memoir is the track of the writer’s thoughts struggling to understand some event in her life. What have you learned from this event?
  8. Character: In writing memoir, you have to make yourself into a believable character. What do you want to know about the people you write about, including yourself?
  9. Scenes: Vignettes, episodes, slices of reality are the building blocks of memoir. Get the reader into the scene with you. What’s happening? Who’s there? What’s the interaction?
  10. Voice and Tense: Start with the personal I (1st-person narrative). Start in the past tense. You are writing about the past in the present. This is what happened then; this is what I know now. You can write in the present tense later!
  11. Purpose: What’s the purpose in writing memoir? Self-discovery, understanding another, healing a relationship, finding a broader perspective, telling a story that must be told?
  12. Have fun!