Monday, February 28, 2011

Back to School !

Holy Crap.

I was up at four a.m. I think I slept a grand total of three hours. I got a drive with my neighbour who dropped me off at the Irving. I picked up a coffee and paid the rude grumpy, girl behind the counter. I ask myself, why to rude people work in the service industry? I say people get another job! I just wish I could get the nerve to say it out loud to them!

I didn't have to wait too long for a ride and a very nice truck driver stopped. He said he'd spent the last 22 years in Israel and was originally from Russia. He said he didn't like the Summer weather all the time in Israel. I thought on that a minute and about prying the icicles from my arse.

Well I have fifteen days within the month left to finish school.

We had our in progress critique today for Open Media and I got some good ideas regarding my final project which involves my late husband's writing and my long hand journals that span from 1972 up to the present. Someone suggested I scan them both. Good idea!

Good thing I got my painting done over the weekend, it's due on Thursday.

On a totally unrelated topic, I hate house work.

There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse. ~Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, 1968

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Next Stage - Application of Egg Tempera


I have tried to be mindful of not applying too much raw umber or sienna, because I loose my image in it, and I think it becomes too heavy and a dark and the egg tempera looses it's transparent luminosity. It 's not as easy as one might hope. Anyway I'm almost done this but I am out of eggs all except what little I have mixed up in a jar. I'll have to make this bit count. I think I may add some high lights of white sparsely.

Just a note of interest perhaps. When I was attending NSCAD as a painter, I was advised to stay away from white. My present teacher tells me he was told to stay clear of black. I never have been a big user of white, black on the other hand I never used or owned any Mars black, but mixed plenty of alizarin crimson, raw umber and ultramarine blue to make my black. Perhaps it's best to use both sparsely.

Portraiture


I have done many portraits in the past. Mostly graphite drawings of people and critters.
I've always found it amusing and interesting how many folks seem to think their dogs are the most beautiful of creatures, regardless of how homely. I know some dogs as so ugly they are beautiful to me. I love Mexican Hairless dogs and even did a painting of one once.

Drawing other people's animals can be satisfying if you like the look of them, the same goes for drawing their relatives. But nothing is quite as satisfying as doing some one you know either your own critter or friend because you have that bond with them.

This base drawing I have done for my egg tempera painting for class. The subject is a funny and sweet young women I have become friends with. She's older beyond her young years, and full of character. She actually has a agelessness about her and a wonderful free spirit full of fun and life. I am looking forward to completing this painting because I have this connection with her that is timeless and ageless.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ok Here We Go Again


Don't get me wrong I love writing.

I've been asked to do a daily project as part of my Open Seminar class, and I do really like it. Writing is my daily project, whether it is blogging or writing in my long hand journal. It's just that some days you just wonder, what the hell am I going to write and blog about today. So I have to simply get to it, like I am right now and then it's like greasing the wheels and I have some kind of gabble to write even if it doesn't make any sense to any one else but me. This is more often the case, when I write in my journal. I don't censor my writing as I do on a public blog, and that's a good thing because it allows be more receptive to creativity.

Talking to a creative friend today we were sharing our experiences with art techniques and then we got into talking about the creative process. I came to the same realization I always come to when I have discussions like this.

I am once again reminded that it doesn't really matter what the outcome or even the intention is but what is essential is the freedom that I find in the middle of the actual creative process within a daily creative discipline. When I forget this and don't bother, I disconnect from my own creativity and it leaves me feeling out of cinque, frustrated, alone, and discouraged. This is why I think I hear this over and over again from follow artists, keep making work! This is where the creativity lives!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ONDAS: Guerrilla Girls






I Had To Post This...

Art & Prejudice: Dealing with Sexism, Racism, and Ageism in the Art World
by Brian Sherwin on 2/19/2011 9:50:57 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

When one thinks of the art world, one thinks of a place of openness and tolerance-- yet that is hardly the case. The ‘art world’ shares the same prejudice we face in the real world. That said, the illusion of togetherness that has been constructed around the art world makes said reality even more toxic. Forms of sexism, racism, and ageism dominate art culture just under the surface-- which dictates our collective knowledge of art history. This is a topic that few gallery owners want to discuss-- because it is a topic that, more often than not, reveals a world of bigotry and unnecessary challenges placed before artists.

During my research for this article I contacted Elaine Kaufmann of the Brainstormers-- for those who don’t know, the Brainstormers are an art collective striving to force discussion concerning gender inequities within the contemporary New York art world. Many of the stats I used for this article are based on research the Brainstormers have conducted-- as well as information provided to me by an anonymous artist claiming to have association with the Guerilla Girls… a group that has fought against art world discrimination and corruption since 1985.

Kaufmann made it clear that when asked about exhibitions or gallery lists of artists that include overwhelmingly more men than women, curators and gallerists typically respond by arguing that what gets exhibited is based solely on the quality of the work. Kaufmann stated, “This seemingly lofty statement about quality disguises a belief that would be unacceptable to say outright, the belief that men make better artwork than women.” She went on to say, “Many perceive the art world to have long ago rid itself of discrimination against women. Unfortunately, it persists and continues to affect new generations of women artists.” Professionals within the mainstream art world obviously don’t want to face the reality of prejudice that they have helped cultivate-- which tends to spiral down into all aspects of art culture.

New York is considered the hub of the art world in the United States-- a place where you would think ‘openness’ and ‘tolerance’ would reign-- yet the average New York art gallery represents 76% to 96% male artists. Galleries representing the same percentages in favor of women can be counted on one hand. Over 77% of the galleries in Chelsea represent more males than females-- and only around 5% represent males and females in equal numbers. These gaps have fluctuated ever so often-- but artists who happen to be male continue to dominate gallery rosters. These numbers foster the myth that males are more apt to be better artists in the eyes of the general public. People in the position to bring about change-- such as curators and gallery owners-- tend to cling to the status quo rather than find solutions.

Some have suggested that the stat breakdown does not represent educational background-- which implies that art school graduates tend to be male. However, when you consider that the average MFA program in the United States has up to 20% more female students than male students an obvious gender bias is clear. In other words, the MFA argument is flawed because more women study art on an academic level than men nationwide-- yet men dominate mainstream art galleries where the value of an MFA is obviously considered.

The glaring percentages don’t stop there-- they can also be found in our public institutions. For example, in a typical art museum visitors will find that 95% of the displayed artwork was created by an artist who happens to be male. Thus, women are only represented visually by 5% of the displayed artwork in the average museum. True, there have been many museum art exhibits that focus on ‘female artists’-- but I don’t think a handful of special exhibits make up for the overall percentages and clear gender gap. It sickens me to think that artists are being placed on the back-burner simply because of their gender-- but this hardly a new problem within the professional art world.

I can recall an interview I had with Sylvia Sleigh in 2007-- in which she stated, “I do think things have improved for women in general. There are many more women in Government, in law and corporate jobs, but its very difficult in the art world for women to find a gallery.” These words are haunting when you consider that the late Sylvia Sleigh is considered an artist who helped shatter the glass ceiling of sexism within the contemporary art world. Obviously that ceiling still exists-- research by groups such as the Brainstormers and Guerilla Girls bring light to the issue.

In the recent past, it was not uncommon to see only two solo shows by artists who happened to be female for every dozen solo shows to open in New York. Women exploring painting as the focus of their artwork stood even less of a chance of receiving a solo show compared to men. I doubt the situation has changed that much over the years. It troubles me that in the mainstream art world-- often noted for being liberal in thought-- such clear prejudice based on gender continues to dominate. This veiled prejudice fosters the idea that art is a man’s game-- and shoves that mode of thought into the psyche of the viewing public.

Due to this glaring bigotry, I find myself loathing the labels and descriptors that art world professionals, specifically art writers, use to group or categorize artists based on sex, race, and age. For example, this form of prejudice based on gender within the art world can be observed in mainstream art magazines, art blogs, and in the media as a whole when art is the focus of an article. It leaves one to ask why in 2011 artists who happen to be female are often stamped as ‘female artist’, ’female painter’, and other gender-specific descriptions that are never used when describing artists who happen to be male. It is almost as if the writers who describe artists in this way are giving females a pat on the back for their attempts. It is insulting.

Prejudice within the art world does not stop there. Race also becomes an issue. For example, you never read an article about an artist starting with so-and-so is a “Caucasian artist from…” to describe an artist who happens to be white. That said, if an artist is from any other racial background you can almost be assured that race will become a descriptor for that artists efforts-- “African American artist from…”, “Hispanic artist from…”.. the list goes on. While it is true that race can define an artists visual message-- if that is his or her direction-- I don’t think placing race before artist is a sound choice to define an artist in general.

The issue of age is apt to pop up in the fray of art world prejudice. Age is arguably the most offensive way to define-- or should I say label?-- an artist. I say that because the age factor often meshes with the two forms of prejudice I mentioned above. For example, most art critics, gallerists, and artists will tell you-- if they are honest-- that the majority of 30-something exhibiting artists who happen to be female are near career- end. That decision is not by choice-- it is fueled by age and gender alone in association with the prejudice of art dealers representing them.

After all, there is a double standard within the context of the art world-- artists who happen to be male in the same stage of life are often viewed as coming into their own. Sadly, I don't think the majority of art dealers, curators, and art critics realize that they are creating-- or helping to maintain-- a cloud of prejudice over the art world. It is almost as if it has become the status quo-- supported by feeble arguments that tend to bypass the issue altogether.

If you are not an artist who happens to be white, male, and are past the age of 35, it is likely that your career within the mainstream art world is playing an unwilling game of Russian roulette with three bullets in the chamber. I say that because the descriptors involved with those three factors often are reduced to art market trends and fads-- labels that artists don’t necessarily want for themselves but get stamped with anyway. This prejudice is an ugly stain in what is otherwise one of the most liberal thinking aspects of our culture.

I, for one, feel that it is time for art critics and the media in general to drop descriptions based on gender, race, and age when describing an artist unless that information is vital to the artists work. Gender, race, and age should not come before what an individual does when writing about said individual. Yet it happens all the time-- and most of the major art publications have long been guilty of this. Who knows how many artists could have continued to shine had it not been for these three factors serving as obstacles. These labels/descriptors breed prejudice no matter how you try to warrant it. It is time to look at the artwork and what artists have to offer instead of being so focused on their gender, race, and age.

In closing, we-- and I include myself in this-- have allowed the mainstream art world to become a place where maturity is punished, the color of our skin reduced to a mere exhibit qualifier, and our sex twisted into age-old stereotypes. It has become a place where the wisdom that comes with age is abandoned for youthful ambition, a place where an artist is defined more by his or her race than what he or she creates on canvas, a place where the likes of Tracey Emin will always be viewed as an adolescent girl breaking the rules-- even when she is 80! It is time to come together in order to deal with the issues of sexism, racism, and ageism within the art world as a whole.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Seth Godin - Tribes

I just finished watching this and thought it was worthwhile sharing.

Artist's I Hate? Continued


Michael Snow

Michael Snow considered himself misunderstood by the public and his critics. He was considered provocative but some, choosing random subject matter, transforming art objects, regardless of what medium he used.

Many artists are misunderstood, nothing new, however some artists perhaps intentionally keep the public confused or don't feel the desire or obligation to inform their public audience. This is a personal choice, however if an artist does not make any effort to explain their art practice, I would conclude chances are, the audience will be confused and not comprehend what the art is about, or the artist's perspective.

I don't live in the artist mind, God knows, I have a hard time to live in my own mind. I do very much appreciate an artist making an effort to clarify the ideology and reasoning behind the art. When this does not occur, art and artist are misunderstood leaving the audience to fill in the blanks usually based purely on a subjective opinion alone.

Michael Snow was an artist of the 50s and 60s generation the decade that provided many artists a way to re-evaluate traditional ideologies and discourse. The artist now had the opportunity to re-define and reconstruct their own art.

In his reading " A Lot of Near Mrs." he does little to clarify or dispel what he considered misconceptions regarding his work and his intention. It could be said, he was simply being provocative, playing devil's advocate, regardless I don't think this was helpful to any one but Michael Snow.

I do appreciate and recognize Michael Snow's ideas and contribution to conceptual art and the art world generally, I just not one of his fans. I think he lived too much in his head, had others do his work and most of his work leaves me cold.

Jen Grant

I don't want to limit the word, artist by restricting my choice, listing only visual artists, so I decided I would include musicians.

My opinion is sure to piss someone off who thinks Jen Grant is amazing and wonderful, but I can not stand listening to her, ever. Yes, she may be a fairly good song writer but as far as being a singer, definitely not. She has a affected way of singing that I find so annoying I have to shut the radio off, immediately. What can I say, it's terrible.

My mother was a singer, I come from a very musical family, on both sides. My mother always said that a person who sings well, does not have to use gimmicks for affect etc., to try and convince those listening that they can sing, it just becomes very apparent they are trying to make up for lack of talent and training. It just becomes annoying to listen.

Erin Costelo

Here's another musician I dislike and I have to turn off the radio, same reason as above. Drives me crazy to listen and unfortunately she is a great piano player and a talented song writer in my opinion. I think she should stick to piano playing and song writing.

I hope I haven't offended anyone too much, that wasn't my intention. It's just my opinion, no one has to agree. You know what they say about opinions.

Last but not least here's Vomit Art. I don't like it. Not to hard to figure out why.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So This Guy...

Geoff Campbell is my fellow student Mountie, in the International

Studies Program and I recently subscribed to his blog.

I have highlighted the link to a recent event, that took place on-line

because of Geoff's interest in NRP, and how suddenly, humble

Geoff Campbell became part of a training session a the Annenburg

School for Communication and Journalism.Today this video is the

10Th top favourite video for News & Politics in Canada and 5Th

Top rated in the same category. I am happy that Geoff got this

kind of notoriety even though it was inadvertent and unexpected.

It is an interesting example of the power of social media and the

individual and how a small humble voice can suddenly become a

big voice. Never underestimate the power of the individual.

Five Artists I Hate?

I have done this exercise on a smaller scale for my Art Seminar class. We were asked
to choose an artist we loved and another we hated and then present the reasons why.
As I have stated in a previous post on this topic, it is much easier for me to choose

an artist I love. I am not comfortable saying I hate any artist, with some exceptions.

I think this belief is based on my personal opinion of the individual rather than the artist. Hate is not a word I'd use loosely to describe my opinion or feelings toward any person or artist, art. The reason being I believe there is usually some thing I can find to appreciate about all people, art and artists alike.


After some investigation about this, I had to ask myself what I consider as being my own definition of art, what good art is and what would I dismiss as being bad art.



I have long been a admirer of Sir Ken Robinson and I strongly align myself with his

ideas and perceptions of what creativity is. Getting hung up on semantic attempts,

to define the word art and artist is really of little interest to me today. It's been an

ongoing historical discussion in the art world and though I do think it can be a useful discussion from time to time and one that we as artists, at some point need to have

if we are seriously going to pursue the life as a creative person and/or artist.



Sir Ken Robinson states, " Creativity is the process of having original ideas that

have value". He says intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct. I would purport

that creativity and intelligence are directly related. We all have an intelligence

and an emotional quotient.

So how does this relate to hating an artist? It doesn't for me, other than I can't

truthfully say I hate any artist. There are definitely some I prefer and

like more than others, simply based on my opinion however there is a certain

standard that I would think comes into play here, because at some point we all

make judgments based on some kind of standard imposed personally or externally

from some kind of institution or ideology.



I did a, "what is bad art" google search and came up with this site MOBA, There's

some pretty rough looking art in this collection. Would I call it art to hate? It's all

a matter of opinion.






Is it bad art? According to the museum, yes it is bad art.



Choosing art that I "hate" would depend on the "artists' intention. Suffice to say

discernment needs to be used objectively and subjectively, in balance one with the

other. If the artist intention is an evil one, I would say it's bad art. Hitler was an

artist and even an accomplished artist but was an evil and deranged human.



I do believe artists have a certain responsibility to be socially conscious and even

a moral responsibility to his or her own personal integrity as an artist and human

being with empathy for humanity, and I think this is often reflected in their art

practice. I think this makes for good human beings and more likely good artists.



That said, I am beginning to dance around naming the five artists I "hate."

I don't hate any of these artists but there are particular things I don't like about them or the art they make and for a variety of reasons , some similar and some different for each artist.



Damien Hirst



I did a presentation about Damien Hirst and why I did not like his work. I found

him to be more interested in art as a commodity, as opposed to the creative process

and this I find very unappealing and self-serving.



His obsession with death creeps me out and his dead animals in formaldehyde

sicken me. The fact that he had next to no involvement with the actual construction

of his work doesn't impress me much.



His early work I did not like at all however considering he was under the influence

of alcohol and substance abuse, this contributed to his flippant and arrogant attitude, though not an excuse, I do take it into account. He has returned to painting and

figurative work which I find more appealing and the fact that he appears to be

doing the work himself is commendable.



Gary Kennedy



I once read in a book about Garry he said he believed in nihilism and he described this as being his philosophy toward art. This I find very troublesome but not terribly surprising as

I read that Garry has a persona that referred to him as being the conceptual guru.

I suppose because I was inundated with conceptual art at NSCAD, all through the

70s. I was not ever a fan and I am perhaps somewhat cynical about the whole movement.

I felt the baby was thrown out with the bath water, and I was one of those dissenters against, " a small cadre of conceptual-art enthusiasts who resisted the re-emergence

of painting," that Sherri Irvin speaks of, in her article, Garry Neill Kennedy, No More


boring Art, from Canadian Art magazine July 30Th 2002, though I do very much appreciate the contribution Garry Kennedy made during his 23 years at NSCAD.

Here is an interesting segment from Sherri Irvin's article.



"Those who speak reverently, even lovingly, of the Kennedy era recall his tremendous capacity

for bringing people and circumstances together to let great things happen. But others remember

the Kennedy regime, run by a small cadre of conceptual-art enthusiasts who resisted the

re-emergence of painting and drove out dissenters. Kennedy seems perplexed by the latter

point of view. He was admittedly forced to make tough decisions after the faculty unionized in

1986. But flexibility was the linchpin of his administrative strategy. He has his views about teaching,

he says, but he had no desire to impose them; at most, he would "make sure…there was lots

of room" for his own approaches. As for the college’s artistic direction, he denies having attempted

a conceptual-art stranglehold. His ambitions for NSCAD were drawn from the ever-changing art

world, not from preconceptions about either art or education. "A lot of people think that schools

are about teaching, teachers and students," he says. "And I think they’re more than that."

The point was to support art in all its guises, especially by stimulating the new work of established

artists. He knew that if NSCAD was an exciting place, the benefit to students would follow. Since

1990 a professor at NSCAD rather than its president, he still believes that "you’ve got to keep

charging the place, pumping it up."



These artists are my first two out the list of five. I'll continue this tomorrow.

Two down three more to go.




Michael Snow


Michael Snow considered himself misunderstood by the public and his critics. He was considered provocative but some, choosing random subject matter, transforming art objects, regardless of what medium he used.


Many artists are misunderstood, nothing new, however some artists perhaps intentionally keep the public confused or don't feel the desire or obligation to inform their public audience. This is a personal choice, however if an artist does not make any effort to explain their art practice, I would conclude chances are, the audience will be confused and not comprehend what the art is about, or the artist's perspective.


I don't live in the artist mind, God knows, I have a hard time to live in my own mind. I do very much appreciate an artist making an effort to clarify the ideology and reasoning behind the art. When this does not occur, art and artist are misunderstood leaving the audience to fill in the blanks usually based purely on a subjective opinion alone.


Michael Snow was an artist of the 50s and 60s generation the decade that provided many artists a way to re-evaluate traditional ideaologies and discourse. The artist now had the opportunity to re-define and reconstruct their own art.

In his reading " A Lot of Near Mrs." he does little to clarify or dispel what he he considersed misconceptions regarding his work and his intention. It could be said, he was simply being provocative playing devil's advocate, regardless I don't think this was helpful to any one but Michael Snow.


I do appreciate and recognize Michael Snow's ideas and contribution to conceptual art and the art world generally, I just not one of his fans. I think he lived too much in his head had others do his work and most of his work leaves me cold.




Blog, Flog , Grog, Slog


I've been having a time trying to get new blog posts on here, because the new post setting wasn't working so I switched to the old editor. Anyway I've got everything back to normal.

I've been doing house work which I really don't like doing though it is a good feeling when I get something done. I've been working at it ever so slowly. Oh to have a good house husband to help me!

Regardless I am a single woman never to be re-married again of that I am quite certain. Not to say that I wouldn't want to be married again because I do believe in the institution. The fact is, as a woman gets older statistically there are more single woman available, as opposed to single men, and many of these men, I refer to them as knuckle dragging' neanderthals named, Flog Grog, that you really don't want. Not wanting to sound completely cynical, I am sure there are good men to be found, but they are few and far between. Interestingly there is a much higher percentage of folk having a single status , than married.
I've found for most of my life to be a single as opposed to being been a married. I have learned to be content and taken responsibility for my own happiness, and this feels good and I am proud of myself for being so. It has been at times a hard slog and I have had to learn many lessons the hard way but they have been all worthwhile and I wouldn't change them, except for one perhaps but I don't dwell on regrets.

Many women, myself included, have historically wanted to be rescued in some way by a man. I know today, that I have had to become my own heroine and rescue myself and it has been an empowering experience.

The day you wind up single through divorce or separation is the day you get to test who you really are. - Ernie Zelinski

I have a multitude of options open to me primarily because I am single and don't have to negotiate where or how I'm going to live with anyone. - Flying Solo, Carol Anderson and Susan Stewart

The freedom to make the many small, daily choices, taken together, tenders a much larger gift: a sense of control and mastery. This is the gift of being single women most cherish. - Flying Solo, Carol Anderson and Susan Stewart


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Solitude


I'm just thinking about communication today, what it would be like if I couldn't talk or hear. That would be so difficult. I love silence but I love the stimulation of good conversation and laughter with others face to face.

Being an artist is a solitary kind of vocation and you need to be able to learn to be comfortable with that at some point. I think is has a lot to do with what kind of family we grow up in. My family was very small just two of us kids with a ten year difference in age between my older brother and I so I did spend much of my time alone learning to entertain myself. Growing up with a lot of stimulation, in a large family you get used to this I think and one really has to adapt to the silence of being comfortable in your own skin in the quiet of your studio. I love my solitude really and though I can't say I don't have times of loneliness I do for the most part enjoy my own company, in my own home and space.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Gratitude & the Now

GRATEFULNESS.ORG - A Network for Grateful Living


Painting, Fox, and Determination


I am pretty much finished my painting which I have posted. I still have a few changes I could make but over all I am happy with it and I had a productive and positive class critique. I learned a lot. This painting is of my sweet little cousin Skyler and her Arabian horse Koebe. Koebe was lost somewhere in the neighbourhood and was then found by a neighbour. This picture was taken of them both reunited coming into the barn. There is nothing like the bond between a girl and her horse, the bond between human and animal creatures. We have so much to learn our fellow creatures.

I am oscillating back and forth, feeling so down, and then feeling determined to not give up on getting back to school after my 10 day break, on the 28Th of February; now being without my car and having no wheels to get there. I have also been feeling surges saying and thinking, F--K you Murphy, I am going to school somehow, someway. I am referring to Murphy's law, which at this stage of life, I am very well acquainted with, to say the least. I could almost say we have become friendly enemies.


Stealthy messenger of the gods,
Cunning and wise, reliable friend,
Guide my steps through this maze of deception
And see this problem to its end.

I will say this about that. If it weren't for the love and support of good friends, the blessings that the Creator gives me from day to day, I would surely be dead in the water. I saw my friend today, The Fox, she was close to me. She's has a den here here in Apple River, on the back of the river bank for a few years now and I see her, always just when I need to. I happened to look out my studio window and there she was running across the open white expanse of the marsh and I managed to get this digital snap of her. She was there to remind me, she is my totem and I can draw on Fox's strength to help me now once again.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nothin' much to say...


I have had a very good day...got two As ...and I have a 10 day break from school, that's the good part of my day.

I've blown my car motor, that's the bad part of my day and I have nothing else to say...I am going to bed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Robert Pirsig and Dana Loomis



After completing my last few egg tempera paintings I find myself thinking about what kind of art I am producing and about the process used. I am not talking about the egg tempera but I am referring to realistic renderings and abstract work. I have for many years been a realist painter with some interests in abstraction. While attending NSCAD I was for a long while taking drawing classes, before I felt I was ready to even allow myself to advance into painting.

I was very fortunate to have had a painting teacher, Dana Loomis, who was a student of William De Kooning. His work was no longer abstract expressionism but realism. I think he was a great influence on me and why I think the way I do about painting and art. A required reading he gave us to read was, a book by Robert Pirsig, entitled, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This was another one of my life changing books because it taught me about the importance of balance. Dana had really come out of the decade of modernism lived through post-modernism and then came back to painting realistically. I am of the belief that the figure stills speaks strongest to the audience. Perhaps not because it is the most popular subject matter but because we are human, as social beings we have a strong inclination to and curiosity in observing and understanding ourselves.

When I complete a realistic painting, the critical censor within comes out and I hear negative messages, things like, that arm is out of whack and culminates in a lingering feeling of self doubt about my ability to render at all. I am quite certain this is a common occurrence with many folks involved with the creative process.

I ask myself this question, " Is it really essential that my painting be completely accurate in how it is rendered, or can I mix both realism and abstraction?" You might think, well do what ever you want to do. I am somewhat torn between the two, though I do know I am more drawn to realism and representational art. I would not consider myself an abstract artist, though I do appreciate it.

I don't really have anything to conclude but am thinking out loud and trying to understand and clarify for myself what it is I am doing and why, I think this is what it means to be an artist. I do think I have answered my own question. It is all about balance. between classical and romantic thought. I can't have one with out the other , I want and need both.

“ The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves. ”
— Willem de Kooning

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Discernment - Forks In The Road




I have come to love this word discernment. Looking for definitions I came across this site and the following resonates with me. As well I came across this blog about visionary blogging and discernment.



Discernment is the ability to grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly. It means we can see the true nature of things; it allows us to distinguish between what is real and what is imitation.

Discernment may begin with intuitive hunches and perceptiveness. With intuition as a starting point, the quality of discernment is built over time on honest observation, careful reasoning, and balanced application of our knowledge and principles. In a person who is highly discerning, intuition, emotion, and reason inform each other. As we grow in experience, our ability to discern usually grows stronger, providing us with insight that propels us toward greater wisdom.


By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
- Richard Dawkins


Monday, February 14, 2011

Canadian Experimental Video & NFB

Canadian Experimental Video & The National Film Board

America Now and Here

America Now and Here

Snow Rant!

I really didn't know if I was going to make it up my drive at 6:45 a.m. this morning with about 8 inches of snow down and big honkin' drifts at the end of my lane. I had to gun it and put the pedal to the medal. The road heading to town wasn't much better because the plow hadn't been out. There were three ruts were other crazy or brave souls ventured out in this. I sure am relieved I made it because I have a lot of work to catch up on. I try hard not to get myself into a lather but some days are better than others.

I have lots of challenges in University as a mature student. I do believe there are some real advantages to this however I have the same challenges other students have with work load deadlines and all the other stuff that happens in life. My most challenging is the weather and secondly money. Money is always an issue with most students so I do know I am not alone!

Any way I'm just rambling on here with nothing much in particular to say. I am going to go write in my long hand journal.

Last night I took pictures of my journals after dragging them out of the old antique box I keep them in. I laid them all out in the upstairs landing arranged and rearranged them, opened some up noticed the dates on a few all the way back to 1970s. I thought to my self like I often do when I revisit my journals, what in hell am I going to do with all of these. I did attempt some years back to compile and and edit them online keeping them in a folder. I made good head way. But I think I need to find the time to continue with this "project". I'm not sure if I can express in words exactly why I feel the need to do this, but I do know it has a lot to do with self discovery, self exploration, memory and my own personal history. We all have a story to tell. and we all have our own stories and keeping and writing journals is part of my story.

I've rambled on long enough I am going to go write and then it's off to photo.

I am wishing everyone out there in a very Happy Valentines Day and feel the love people!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Writing Everyday

Why you should keep a handwritten journal.
I have been trying to be very diligent in posting every day, but honestly not always writing. It is a different kind of journaling when you sit working from a computer. I recently heard a news item that said neurological science has proven that those children who are fluent in writing long hand, had actually developed parts of their brains that enable better brain function and with those of an older age can off set dementia and keep the brain active. There is also a link to an increase in creativity with the development of the the process of actual hand writing.

This is great news and it confirms and further explains to me why I have held the belief that writing long hand is such a beneficial exercise . If it is done on a daily basis well then it stems to reason, the more you do it, the more of a benefit it would have. That said, here I am writing on this here darn computer and think I need to get back to writing long hand again. The temptation of writing on the computer is a strong one. The computer is an escape of sorts and regardless if what I am doing resembles work. I have noticed quite acutely as of late, since I have been daily blogging as part of a daily project, for my Open Media class that my regular long hand journaling has gone by the way side in many ways, though I am still writing some, just not nearly as frequently like I was. So, I need to make a concerted effort to get back to this. I have discovered writing long hand is a way of anchoring my life, because I have something tactile that has a physical commanding presence, that the virtual world does not really offer me. I think this enables and forces me to see myself, and helps me to grow as a human being.

I'm off to do some long hand writing in my journal.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dee Lite - Groove is in the Heart (Music Video)

Collette Urban

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Last year, around this time I got a chance to see Collette Urban who was invited to speak as a visiting artist at the Owens Gallery. Her presentation and work was very enjoyable, her elaborate kinetic sculptural pieces are thoughtful and playful which allow for the viewer to engage in a relational aesthetic. Having the privilege to meet her and getting a chance to speak with her I had the sense I was talking to one of the ground breakers that opened up the path for woman artists. I was in great admiration of her commitment to the Full Tilt Creative Centre in Bay Islands,Newfoundland and her strong connection with the land.










America Now and Here



I am doing a presentation in my Canadian Art History class about the relationship that exists between art, audience and community. Having been very interested as of late in rediscovering the artist Eric Fischl who taught and lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, I was really excited when I found out about this project America Now and Here via Artrain he has undertaken with the help of many other artists. We need something like this in Canada!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Pantheon of Artists


I was asked to list five people who are my, "Pantheon of Artists, "I admire and state the reasons why. I can think of many dead and gone, but I want to focus on the living and include more contemporary artists that I relate to and consider to be not only great artists with integrity but examples of mentors and teachers.

I am presently in a very vibrant learning environment as part of the Fine Art program at Mount Allison University and I cannot help but be influenced by the artists around me on a day to day basis. Some are teachers and some are fellow students and many are most inspirational to me. Here is my list.
Julie Cameron
Anne Lemott








Firstly want to talk about artists, who are also teachers. I believe artists have so much to teach us regardless if this is intentional or not. I see a connection between both of these professions. I have no idea who originally said this , but I don't believe it to be necessarily true. " Those who can't do, teach." This is said in reference to those artists who do not keep up with their own art practice, teach for the implied reason that they are not very productive or "good" artists. In all the years I have gone to art school, almost seven years now, I have never come across such people within the educational environment. Perhaps not all artists are the best teachers but the fact is, they are more than likely exceptional artists, and have dedicated and committed themselves to a creative lifestyle. I have mentioned in previous writing that I have admiration for the type of teacher that is heuristic, which means to teach in a manner that leads to self discovery. This is the best definition I found from Wikipedia.

Heuristic (pronounced /hjʉˈrɪstɨk/) or heuristics (from the Greek "Εὑρίσκω" for "find" or "discover") refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a good enough solution, where an exhaustive search is impractical. Examples of this method include using a "rule of thumb", an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense. In more precise terms, heuristics are strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving in human beings and machines.[1] Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/heuristic#ixzz1DZ8rEVD8

Having been a student at NSCAD in the Art Education program, I became acutely aware of what makes a dynamic and dedicated art teacher. One thing of particular importance I believe, is that a teacher have good rapport with their students. Having a sense of humour, and an ability to communicate effectively with others. Essential to teaching is an inherent passion for what I believe, needs to be a vocation. There are several other characteristic strengths and skills that I could mention however if a teacher of art does not have the foundation of these qualities I would suggest they stick to being an artist or some other career choice.

I will touch on each of the artists I have listed and speak about what it is a appreciate about each one and why I admire them as artists and as people, because I do not think I want separate the two.

Eric Fischl is the first artist I have been very influenced by over the past few years. I admire his sense of integrity and courage to invest in his subject matter which is figurative and representational. Coming out of the decade in the 70's where painting was dead and figurative painting was non-existent especially in art institutions, it took courage not to collapse under the weight and pressure of the then modernist and abstract art world. He considers himself first and foremost a painter and not an intellectual but I very much appreciate the way he thinks about art, with his head, heart, psyche, and life itself and what it is to be human.

Eric has a strong sense of the historical traditions of art and perceives these as part of his identity. As well, he has been fearless in looking at the demons from his past and worked these out, which are reflected very much in his earlier paintings. I also appreciate the fact that it is important for him to engage and communicate with his audience through his subject matter.
Julie Cameron I was first introduced to through another artist who was also an art therapist. Julie Cameron is a writer and wrote the book, The Artist's Way. This was a life changing book for me, many years ago and continues to be an influence to this day because of the principles she shares and the daily exercises she encourages the artist to internalize in their art practice and lifestyle. Jungian philosophy is at the basis of her writing and core principles which greatly resonate for me personally as a person in recovery for 17 years.
Anne Lemott, also a writer who wrote, Traveling Mercies. was the book I first read by her. She is an amazing writer, full of humour with simple and very expressive language that informs, entertains and enables great introspection of the human condition.

Andy Goldsworthy is an incredible sculptor and is an environmentalist of sorts, doing remarkable outdoor site specific sculpture. His work has a timeless quality that is usually made on the spot, from the natural materials he finds available within that natural environment. Many of his sculptures will stand the test of time and will be there for future generations to discover, which I find very appealing. Other pieces have an immediate in the present moment nature to them, disappearing over a short period of time under the influence of weather, and the elements.

Tom Forrestall I had the privilege of meeting last Summer, when there was a retrospect of his work in the Owens Gallery, at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, New Brunswick. I was spellbound by his paintings, particularly by his egg tempera pieces. I found myself wishing there were teachers at Mount Allison that were skilled in this ancient tradition, because I am now involved with this medium and process in my painting. There is something special to me about having a connection with artists like Tom Forrestall that not only were teachers in the Fine Art Department at Mount Allison Universty, by were also students there. Tradition and history are very important to me as an artist, however I do not want to be fettered by the constrictions that can be often imposed by the constraints and conservatism of tradition. It is essential to me as an artist to be open to change and to be flexible.

That's my list of five. I would love to hear from others and who they have on there list as their Pantheon of Artists.
































I Believe She's Amazing Flash Mob - Toronto Eaton Centre

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why I am an Artist/Painter


I was asked the question, why I am painter. This question is a very important one for me to answer and I think in many ways is an ongoing one, in that, I am often asking myself what my art means to me and by times I have had for brief fleeting moments, thought about the reason I would even want to be an artist however I do not support the notion, that there are very negative consequences of choosing a field that may result in pending poverty, or madness. Along with this notion I would include, the myriad of myths and preconceived ideas about artists generally. In the book, The Artist's Way , by Julie Cameron she lists a compendium of these myths. This book was life changing for me, helping me to rediscovery and recover my creative self.

The question I hear posed repeatedly, "what are you going to do when you graduate", or "what will A Bachelor of Fine Art, is that what it's called, get you?". My classmate and I were discussing this notion the other day. I concluded the reason for this query from others perhaps is, because many do not understand how a Fine Art degree can possible translate into anything really viable, other than endless hours of painting in a garret, being a tortured soul, and living from hand to mouth.

That said, I come back to the question of why I am an artist. I believe we are all born creative, some of us become artists, others not, but we all have this innate creative impulse, that is either fostered or not. Fortunately for me, my creativity was greatly valued and I was nurtured as a child growing up in a creative family. Within the school system, in Ontario where art and music was a significant part of the curriculum, played a very valuable role in my decision to be an artist. Academically I was not a good student and did not feel comfortable in a stream lined educational system. This situation became more problematic for me when my family moved back to Nova Scotia in my early teens.
Growing up art for me was an escape and a comfort being in difficult family circumstances. If I couldn't seem to excel in anything academically, I could always express myself creatively and this was supported by my family.

Family, and the educational system both played a major role in my draw toward creative interests and pursuits. Once I became older I was able to find great rewards and satisfaction in my life and work as a Youth Care Worker and being an artist became a life style choice and a way of thinking that was fulfilling and gratifying. I could help young people the way I was helped. Being an artist is more than a vocation, where once being a Youth Care Worker was my vocation, being an artist is all about learning and living life in a holistic manner. Life and art are not separate entities. They both inform one another and as an artist I intend and hope to make the world a better place in encouraging others to follow a creative lifestyle regardless weather they themselves decide to be artists.
I am primarily a painter. I am not sure if I can verbalize exactly why but I have come to learn that painting tells me about myself in a variety of ways. In addition, I feel the strong desire to communicate through painting, though I use other medium, painting for me is the one I feel most connected to. It is a very sensual, physical, and tactile experience. There is a challenge in approaching the blank canvas going through the painting process and then having the satisfaction of work completed. There is a freedom I feel through the discipline of being a painter. It just feels really good for me. As an artist I have learned to be honest, open minded and willing through the creative process.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Today is Not a Good Day


I could go on about what is happening today with me and circumstances beyond my control but the more I think about talking the worse I feel so my entry for this afternoon, is comprised of this very short stream of consciousness for now until further notice. I'll start my day over later.


I started my day over around 1:30 p.m. It's much better now!
I subscribe to a site called White Bison. This helps me to get my head on straight and reminds me of what I need to remember. Here was the one for today. It was very relevant to me.

"I can tell you that understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit. All things - and I mean ALL things - have their own will and their own way and their own purpose; this is what is to be respected."

-- Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE

" Everything on earth has a purpose and is designed special. No two things are created identical. Sometimes in our minds we have a picture of how things should be, and often what we see is different from what they really are. When this happens we often want to control how things are, making them act or behave according to our picture. We need to leave things alone. God is running all things. How do we do this? In our minds we tell ourselves to love all things and respect all things just as they are. Accept what we cannot change.

Great Spirit, teach me the value of respect and help me to accept people, places and things just as they are."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mid Life Journal


I was running through the blogs I subscribe to and the great blog, The Mid Life Journal I started to read and found this lovely drawing from a book called, How To Make A Journal of Your Life . I haven't read it or heard of it. But I sure liked the picture on the cover.
Well I had enough of this day. Going to get horizontal.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What to Paint


I have a completely independent project to work on the next while for my painting class. We have a fair amount of time and it is a project of considerable involved work.
At times it can be a challenge figuring out just what to paint as a subject matter. I have been wanting to turn toward landscape and intend to continue this, just not right now. I feel pulled to explore figurative work presently, as I felt very satisfied with the outcome of my first egg tempera figure painting. I am going to worki in a much smaller scale which won't be as overwhelming, using this medium. I have thought about painting my family members. I never taken this on. It's because thoughts of them are painful for me. When you do figurative or portraiture you do think about the people you are rendering and you do make an emotional connection. At least this has been my is my experience. My cousin recently shared a picture of my great uncle and aunt whom I never knew and nor what they looked like. Perhaps I can start with them and work my way along.

Interspecies Love On the Beach

A cousin sent me this today and I have never seen anything like it.

White Ghost of Wisconsin

Annie Pootoogook

Annie Pootoogok
Learning about Annie Pootoogook in our Canadian Art History class was an exploration of a woman inbetween the past and present and no doubt left in doubt about wondering what the future holds for the Inuit people.

About Us

Inukjuak
Meaning: The giant
Population: 1184

Inukjuak is located on the north bank of the Innuksuak River, known for its turquoise water and turbulent rapids. The many archaeological sites scattered along the meandering river evidence thousands of years of inhabitation. The land around Inukjuak is marked by gently rolling hills and open spaces which endow the landscape with a "silent beauty," in the words of local Inuit. From the tundra, one may admire a splendid view of the village, its small port, the Hopewell Islands and Hudson Bay. In spring, ice between these islands and the mainland is moved by the action of tides and currents to create a spectacular field of immense, upraised blocks of ice.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the area was given the name Port Harrison and the French fur trading company Révillon Frères established a post here. For its part, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) opened its post in 1920. Competition between these companies ended in 1936 when the HBC bought out Révillon Frères. The subsequent HBC fur trade monopoly continued until 1958. The St. Thomas Anglican mission was founded in 1927 and, in the years following, the federal government began delivering basic community services in Inukjuak: a post office and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police attachment were opened in 1935, a nursing station in 1947 and a school in 1951. In 1962, the co-operative store opened and, in 1980, Inukjuak was legally established as a municipality. Throughout this period, most Inuit however continued to prefer their traditional lifestyle on the land and only began settling in the village in the 1950s.

A much more painful period in the history of Inukjuamiut incongruously involves Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord, communities created 2000 km away in the High Arctic. It was in 1953 that Inuit from Inukjuak were involuntarily relocated north by the Government of Canada, essentially, in order to act as flagpoles. They represented this country's efforts to occupy the uninhabited High Arctic and counter the feared expansionist activities of other nations. Families were split up and relocatees were placed in the cruel position where to survive they had to quickly acquire new hunting techniques in the face of much harsher climatic conditions. In 1996, the Canadian government provided monetary compensation to the surviving relocatees and their families, but this settlement fell short of apologizing to the Inuit for the hardships they had endured. Instead, it offered a 'statement of reconciliation.' History should remember these people for their important role in establishing Canada's presence in the High Arctic.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This information was obtained from the Nunavik Tourism Association Web Site www.nunavik-tourism.com



James Houston is credited as the person who brought Inuit artwork, particularly their ancient art of stone carving, to the attention of collectors and museums, and it was Houston who introduced Inuit to the art of printmaking. Because of his efforts, the Inuits had prosperity and the outside world had new forms of art. He was also an author, film maker, designer, painter, and for 40 years, a designer for Steuben Glass for whom he created more than 120 pieces.


I found it of interest to note that James Houston studied with Arther Lismer. I saw an NFB film made many years ago about the Coop he started in Cape Dorset.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

SFU Video - Joe Average

I love when a not so great day turns into a great day. Thanks to the SFU students for sharing this video on Joe Average!

Snow


I am snowed in. SAD is starting to seep into my psyche and I am having anxiety about a number of things. Winter sucks. I have given up trying to somehow convince myself that I can find some way to discovery an appealing quality or some thing to appreciate about Winter. I have nothing right now. With the exception of sun. That shines regardless Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, thank goodness that never changes.


Damn Farmers Almanac they were way off this year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sign The Petition!









Norvel Morriseau










When I think of Norvel Morriseau's art work and many First Nation's people, I am reminded of semiotics, a word I just learned about in my Art Seminar class! Don't ya just love school?!

These symbols are so ancient and innate in our human nature that we are compelled to express ourselves starting in childhood. Shapes that are found in preschematic drawing in particular, I think of the circle, the common symbol that is the first one usually drawn by children at this stage. Circles are powerful symbols, they have long represented to me infinity, eternity the cyclical nature of life and eternity. I think they are so close to our nature, a powerful language that we relate to on an intuitive and subconscious level. I have learned about spiritual geometry and explored some of it through my art work and find this too comes from a similar kind of consciousness.

Native spirituality is beautiful and makes so much sense to me and only wish the Christian community could be as compassionate, as many First Nations do not reject Christian spirituality and have embraced many of the traditions found within the church.
Many years ago when I was very involved in my vocation as a Youth Care Worker, I had the opportunity to travel to the West Coast to Victoria B.C. where I attended a National Youth Care Conference. I came across a very obscure kiosk, awkwardly set off to the side. The booth displayed literature and video about a program that engaged youth with what was called, Rediscovery. Bill Reid the Haida elder and internationally acclaimed artist was supportive of this program. In all my 17 years of experience working with troubled youth, this kind of program and philosophy was the only kind that made sense to me, ever still, true for me to this day.

"Rediscovery's goal is to promote cross-cultural understanding and global peace by adopting traditional Indigenous People's values of respect for oneself, other people and the natural environment."















Pine Point NWT


Being a fan of Doug Coupland I clicked on this link that he shared , stating how much he loved this film and how brilliant it is. I have to agree. It is a very touching, heart felt and powerful story on many levels. It got me thinking about something my Professor said to me yesterday, " Local stories are often overlooked." After watching this film that statement really caused me to ponder. This NFB film based on Pine Point , a zinc mining town in the NWT, that shutdown and was abandoned because the mine closed. It has stayed alive through a website filled with memories of it citizens.
Having lived in the NWT for three years, and now in rural Nova Scotia for 17 years I understand how people bond with one another in isolated communities and it's not unlike many mining towns, that have been uprooted and left behind due to similar situations and reasons. What makes me pause, is that it speaks to me and reminds me of so many rural towns and villages that have lost their livelihood and with it their sense of community, family and a big part of their identity. What lives is held within memory. But what then, once those who hold the memories are gone, who will remember, who will know?

There is a old African saying, "Know your history and you will be wise."