Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Cat-My Muse


Ever since I can remember I have always had cats, and have been enamored by them my whole life. I remember everyone of them, their names and personalities.

I know animals are very therapeutic, but I've never really read anything until today, about how cats in particular can be a creative stimulant and act as a creative muse. But this makes complete sense to me. On a physiological level they do lower blood pressure and have a calming and comforting affect on humans. In order to concentrate we all need to be relaxed and this in turn would definitely help to enable and foster creative musings.

Today after losing one of my sweet puss-cats suddenly to a unknown pre-existing heart condition, this sad day got me thinking about how much I loved my little Fluffo Flower cat. She was a little ball of fluff, with a very small physical build, but with huge gentle personality. She would often stick out her tongue at me reminding me not to take myself and life too seriously, and she was so good humoured, playful, full of affection, with such a loving personality.

Even being so sick, she hopped up in my lap to be close to me, before she was taken to the vet. I prayed for a miracle, but it wasn't meant to be. I cried and have been sad all day. I'll really miss my very special little Fluffo soul.

Fluffo made me think about how I wished people could be more like cats, loving unconditionally, with the ability to show us how to be playful, and to remind us to use our imaginations to define our world.

"If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a desk lamp … gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious."

- Muriel Spark, A Far Cry From Kensington

Fluffo Flower

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lessons Learned - Now I Have a Choice

Ann Rea - Artists Who Thrive

After many years with all my art education, I was forever attempting to navigate my way through the art world, figuring out what I could and couldn't accept. I found relatively few answers to my questions, in spite of how much formal art education I got. If I didn't want to pursue an art career, I didn't think I had any other choice or option. But I know now, I do have a choice!

 Sadly Universities provide next to no information for artists to survive within the art establishment, and I believe more importantly, how to thrive or support themselves through there art work. It was my opinion you might survive if you were a man, or if you were willing to do a lot of ass kissing. Neither was an option I wanted.

Ann Rea has been the one person I found affirmed my way of thinking, and provided practical suggestions to apply to making and selling art. I can not say enough about her, and the work she does to re-educate artists who simply want to support themselves creating art work that they love to make and that has value  over and above the art they make. Finding this out was a confirming enlightening moment for me as an artist.

This recent video she posted on her site, Artists Who Thrive, about Canadian artist Linzy Arnott, I couldn't find a more compelling reason to opt out of the 'art establishment' and become a fully immersed in the the 'new creative class' that Ann Rea advocates.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spider Woman - Louise Bourgeois

Maman - Louise Bourgeois

 Louise Bourgeois born in 1911, was ahead of her time.
Although she never referred to herself as a feminist until later in her life, as she was born before this term was coined. She was a remarkable woman and artist, living well into her nineties, who thrived creatively I think, because she was willingly open about her life and the painful experiences she endured, growing up in a traumatic household with an abusive father, and no doubt an unhappily married mother, whom she loved very much, considered her to be her best friend, and who always encouraged her daughter creatively.

I am certain she spent much of her time feeling alone and isolated with her thoughts, which translated into her work as a prolific artist who understood the importance of solitude,which was transformed into deeply influential creative work. 

" Solitude, a rest from responsibilities, and peace of mind, will do you more good than the atmosphere of the studio and the conversations which, generally speaking, are a waste of time. "

" You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love. That is why geometrically speaking the circle is a one. Everything comes to you from the other. You have to be able to reach the other. If not you are alone…" Louise Bourgeois

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kamal Al-Solaylee

Author Kamal Al-Solaylee says brown people around the world share identity as source of cheap labour. (Gary Gould)

Author Kamal Al-Solaylee gave the best interview I've ever heard regarding discrimination and the profiling that exists in the West, surrounding brown racial identity. Particularly in light of the whole political atmosphere in the U.S. with Donald Trump being the presumed Republican incumbent for coming presidential election.

The clarifying points he makes are incisive, and insightful. I listened to this interview twice. The second time was better than the first as I listened even more intently. If you get a chance, I would recommend that you listen to it twice.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sagging Panty Hose and Graduation Day


As a creative kid with an over active imagination, I was pretty typical as a young student in public school. I was bored, had little to no interest in the main stream lined education being offered, and was generally a 'bad' student. I could hardly wait to get out of there, and that's just what I did. Never did I ever imagine myself then, what I would be doing in the far away future, as an adult, but I did want to go to University, but never excelled academically.

Four years ago, I was sweating in a graduation gown, walking across the Mount Allison University Convocation Hall stage, with badly sagging panty hose. It was Graduation Day. It is hard to believe it was that many years ago, and I'll never wear panty hose again!.

 As a mature student it was pretty surreal. I felt like I'd really finally arrived as a mature adult, and was more than ready to gratefully be among the Fine Art Graduates at Mount Allison University. I truly was the best day of my life.

I found this link on line about education and the statement was made that all education is self-education. It is also life long learning. You can have degrees up the ying-yang but still not have a thirst for learning. You can go through the motions of obtaining that piece of paper, but if you don't have that innate desire and passion for learning, it's really a waste of your time, energy and money.

The internet offers immediate access to endless free open source education from Universities world wide and provides a really exciting opportunity for any one to learn in the comfort of you own home or space, and you'll never have to worry about walking across a stage with sagging pantyhose.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Donald Trump Is Just Made of Worm Shit Like All the Rest of Us

Anthony Atamanuil and James Abomian

 Until now I've refrained and yes avoided getting into the Donald Trump 'discussion' and brew-ha-ha. Because I find it all very surreal, and I'm sure like most people, was hoping and waiting for him to go away. But he just doesn't. The media is inundated with his obnoxiousness blow hard presence, and I am Trump tired!

Call it my coping mechanism, how I face the horrible, almost unbelievable fact that this man is running for president and that people are actually supporting him.  But I don't want to discuss all that, and so my other coping strategy is to use humour to divert my attention from this actual diabolical Donald and all it's seriousness, and just keep it light, funny and even a bit fluffy, kinda like The Donald's hair. I think that's a lot healthier, and well satire is a great way to diffuse all the Donald goings on, and keep the nausea at bay.

These two comedians, Anthony Atamanuik and Jame Abomian are exactly what the doctor ordered this morning while I was gulping copious cups of coffee, listening to the radio, contemplating my life and the serious state the world.

 I don't put my faith in politics or politicians, never have, never will. Three things that I take seriously is making sure I have a sense of humor, try to practice humility and a have love of humanity.

If Donald Trump was worth his salt, he'd know he's just made of worm shit like all the rest of us.

Donald Trump might think he deserves to be awarded for being in the lead.
This is the only award I'd be willing to give. My apologies to any of you sensitive types. I couldn't help myself, the Donald made me do it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What's Your Purpose Over and Above Your Art?

Obama Visits Landscapers - Ramiro Gomez 2012

I first heard about Ramiro Gomez today on CBC this morning. He greatly impressed as a person who has found his purpose over and above his art. Something that is reflected in the subject matter of his work. Being only 29 years of age, and seeing a young artist who is so connected to himself and his identity makes me feel happy, hopeful and inspired.

The art establishment and the art world definitely needs more artists like Ramiro Gomez.
He is both humble, honest, with a deep social conscience, and his art work has great integrity.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hope In Action

It the midst of so many problems throughout the world, plus natural disasters, like the wild fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta and in other parts of Canada, the knowing or perhaps not knowing, what to contributes to these events, may seem irrelevant to some.

First and foremost compassion is needed, putting aside all the political discourse and agendas, that will only antagonize an already disparate situation. After this, at some point, as human beings we do need and want to know why things happen. We try to either make sense of what has happened, needing to find some kind of meaning within these events.

It is essential that if we can know the antecedents or causes, then hopefully we can either find solutions or take preventative measures for a better future ahead, in being prepared so we can adapt. That said, hope alone is not enough. There must be hope in action.

Life can change and does change in the millisecond. Places and things can be replaced, but people can't. And what's most important in life, is our relationship with others and how we love our fellow human beings.

Educating ourselves, is key to change, so we can prepare ourselves as much as possible for dramatic change that we need to adapt to. Much of life is beyond our control and we can quickly drive ourselves crazy worrying about the people, places and things that we can't control. Learning to wear the world as a loose garment and to let go, is a very important life lesson, which I know is easier said than done.

Lately I found I kept coming back to a Ideas program I heard with journalist, social-scientist, and human rights activist Kevin Bales who wrote Blood and Earth. Frankly it shocked me, and would have left me feeling pretty hopeless if I hadn't heard his hopeful message of hope in action.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


My Mother - Sarah Helen Milner Meyers

Lots of holidays and occasions we celebrate we don't know their origins, and some mean more to us than others. Mother's Day is one of those particular celebrations that has significant meaning to many.

Many people are very grateful for having a mother, some I know unfortunately have not had a positive relationship with their mothers, and that's a sad thing. I am always so grateful that I found both my friend and mentor in my mother, and as the years go by, I become even more grateful and miss her deeply.

Mother's Day has become commercialized in many ways much like all the other holidays but when it does come around most of us do think about our mothers whether they are still living or have left this mortal coil. I am no different and it is the same for me, I am thinking about my mother today.

Today I also think of motherless children, and childless mothers who can find comfort in knowing there is a Great Mother like Demeter in search of her child Persephone, who always loves unconditionally, who watches over us, and is closer to us than our own heart, and we can aspire to be like her.

We all have memories of our mothers, and I hope your memories, are all good ones.

The Great Mother - Catherine Meyers - Egg Tempera on Porcelain Tile 2015

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Here Come The Judge!

Sammy Davis Jr.

I think it's so important for artists to have a good sense of humour, because we can tend to take ourselves far too serious, especially when it comes to competion and being judged. Creatives are sensitive, possessing  delicate and sometimes fragile egos.

I've never been comfortable with competition of any kind, and I don't take it too seriously. I suppose some might say, well if you don't take competition seriously, maybe it's because you fear rejection. That may be true, but is any one fond rejection? I don't think so.

Especially artists competing creatively is frankly high up on the ick factor for me, and I think it always will be.
I realize there are some folks that thrive on this kind of stuff, and well I say each to his/her own, live and let live. I just know it's not for me. I also know there probably isn't anything I can do or say that will change the competitive art establishment. But that won't stop me from voicing my opinion about it.

For instance, there is nothing terribly wrong about entering, say exhibits where juries decide whether or not to accept your art work as part of an exhibition. I think it is good exposure and gives you an opportunity to network with others involved with art.  But it ends there for me, full stop.

I've always had disdain for the idea of artists competing. I've come to the conclusion I don't need that stamp of approval, asking someone's permission and even paying others for me to enter an art competition. It's bull crap in my opinion. And now I'll tell you how I really feel.

I believe Ann Rea who started Artists Who Thrive has the right idea. You can be part of the art establishment or the new creative class. You can choose to have an 'art career' or an art business.

A long time ago I opted out of the idea of having a art career, and opted in to having an art business. If my art sells then in my opinion this makes my work and my ability to create art work 'good enough'.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

" Without stories and poems and pictures and music, children will starve." - Philip Pullman

Wise words from Philip Pullman, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005

  I have come to realize my mission and purpose as an artist is to advocate for creativity and spread the message about importance of the art and why children need regular exposure to the creative arts, just as much as any of the other basic necessities of life.

This isn't easy and seems to be a never ending goal, because unfortunately in the West creativity is not valued like it is other cultures and other parts of the world.  In Europe for instance, art is seen as vital to education, as the way to integrate academics in order to greatly improve learning, and to develop children in a holistic way.

Philip Pullman so eloquently and succinctly expressed his thoughts about why children need art when he wrote the following wise words for the tenth anniversary of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2012 .

"Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.
But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.
It’s true that some people grow up never encountering art of any kind, and are perfectly happy and live good and valuable lives, and in whose homes there are no books, and they don’t care much for pictures, and they can’t see the point of music. Well, that’s fine. I know people like that. They are good neighbours and useful citizens.
But other people, at some stage in their childhood or their youth, or maybe even their old age, come across something of a kind they’ve never dreamed of before. It is as alien to them as the dark side of the moon. But one day they hear a voice on the radio reading a poem, or they pass by a house with an open window where someone is playing the piano, or they see a poster of a particular painting on someone’s wall, and it strikes them a blow so hard and yet so gentle that they feel dizzy. Nothing prepared them for this. They suddenly realize that they’re filled with a hunger, though they had no idea of that just a minute ago; a hunger for something so sweet and so delicious that it almost breaks their heart. They almost cry, they feel sad and happy and alone and welcomed by this utterly new and strange experience, and they’re desperate to listen closer to the radio, they linger outside the window, they can’t take their eyes off the poster. They wanted this, they needed this as a starving person needs food, and they never knew. They had no idea.
That is what it’s like for a child who does need music or pictures or poetry to come across it by chance. If it weren’t for that chance, they might never have met it, and might have passed their whole lives in a state of cultural starvation without knowing it.
The effects of cultural starvation are not dramatic and swift. They’re not so easily visible.
And, as I say, some people, good people, kind friends and helpful citizens, just never experience it; they’re perfectly fulfilled without it. If all the books and all the music and all the paintings in the world were to disappear overnight, they wouldn’t feel any the worse; they wouldn’t even notice.
But that hunger exists in many children, and often it is never satisfied because it has never been awakened. Many children in every part of the world are starved for something that feeds and nourishes their soul in a way that nothing else ever could or ever would.
We say, correctly, that every child has a right to food and shelter, to education, to medical treatment, and so on. We must understand that every child has a right to the experience of culture. We must fully understand that without stories and poems and pictures and music, children will starve."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Physical Activity and Creativity

Wild Canada Geese in Apple River

Exercise for me all of my life has been an all or nothing deal.
It's mostly what determined my weight gain or weight loss.
What has helped me, has been finding activities I really love doing like dance, swimming, gardening and walking in the countryside, where I live along a tidal river and close to the ocean.

Learning about the physiological affects and effects of whatever it is I do, whether positive and negative, helps me to overcome some of my addictions and improve my health and well being.

This Spring I've been spending my days since April 21st walking with a neighbour every other day for an hour and a half. The challenge of chuggin' up a very steep hill is the hardest part, but once I get past that, the rest is a cake walk, without the cake. Give me pie!

Being very excited about getting out into the garden, on May 1st, I managed to  get digging, hoeing and raking for about 3 hours over two days, and got three types of peas planted. Who knew planting peas could be so demanding on the old bod'. I was walking a little funny after that. I'm good to go now, but there's still lots of gardening ahead, but easy does it.

It is my strong belief that physical exercise boosts creativity. I didn't know exactly how this works until today and it makes perfect sense.

I knew that approximately 90-95% of our oxygen is needed for our brains to function optimally. Breathing helps us to relax, which helps us to concentrate more effectively, and all our muscles work better.
But that's not what the really exciting bit is to know about. What is really affirming, is to know how exercise increases your creativity.

This is how it works. Physical activity focuses your mind on what you are experiencing in your body. That in turn allows for the subconscious to open up the imagination, and this is when ideas and problem solving happens.

When we exercise, the stress hormone, commonly known as cortisol, is flushed out of the body. Cortisol blocks the brains ability to function creatively, and to solve problems. Physical activity also causes the pituitary gland to release endorphins, which gives you that "runners high" feeling, or what I call the happy hormone.

Exercise helps to grow new nerves cells and synapses, resulting in the elevation of neurotrophins that also enables nerve ending growth, increasing oxygen in the blood which gives your brain mental energy.
Exercise changes your brain, and increases your creativity!

I find this information very affirming, inspiring and definitely motivating as an artist.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's walk!