Saturday, January 31, 2015

Graham Metson

Graham Metson, Renacer, Clorado, 1969

When I first arrived at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1972, my first drawing class was with a stylish and handsome Englishman. Of course being in my early twenties, terrified and intimidated to be in art school in my very early twenties, I never thought about how attractive he was. I did know there was something very special about Graham Metson, and I never forgot him.  It was exciting to be in his class, and he expected us to work as disciplined young adults independently on the particular projects he had assigned to us. We didn't all do this, most of us tried, but he clearly confirmed my belief, that it was important I know how to draw.

The first time I saw Graham's paintings, I remember how much they impressed me visually, with their vibrant colour, imagery, and narrative genre. They completely captured my young imagination. Specifically I loved a triptych he did, that I saw at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. I'd never seen any work quite like this and it touched me.

Graham was very different than other instructors at NSCAD in that he was schooled in England and had a free spirit that made him very approachable and down to earth. I did not really get to know him so much personally, but I do remember very well going to his apartment with a friend where we met his wife. She was a lovely woman and did the most beautiful applique work, and if memory serves me, I think she'd made a jacket for Graham that was exquisite.

I consider myself to have been extremely fortunate to have had Graham as my first drawing teacher, because he gave me the structural foundation to build upon my drawing skills. He was an energetic, engaging teacher.
I am very happy I have been able to reconnect with him after all these years, and I am excited to learn that he now has a website that I wanted to share.

There is a wealth of information on his site that I am certain people will find compelling. Graham has had such an interesting life. I greatly admire his intellect, talent, and his dedication to his art. He is a philosophical, visionary artist and writer.
I was particularly interested in his book about Alex Colville Dairy of a War Artist, whom I have admired greatly.

Graham is truly one of a kind, and I am a better person and artist for knowing him. I am grateful that he was my first drawing teacher. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

'Art School Mentality-The Indentured Culture'

I was a discussion a few days ago with an artist friend. We were talking about the business of art, and how difficult it is for artists to make an working wage, and about the lack of support given to artists in society, which plays out in terms of not considering the artist to be the essential if not the sole contributor to the cultural economy. There are certainly those who are making money, but unfortunately it is not the artist.

Today I read a great article that really sparked my interest, on this very topic, by Hrag Vartanian on the Hyperallergic site concerning The Artist As Debtor Conference held recently in New York City, at Cooper Union. 

Hrag's article describes an overview of the purpose, objectives and goals for this Conference that took place on January 23 2015. Unfortunately the recording of the conference, by LiveStreaming, that was provided, was very poor sound quality of the video presentations, which made it next to impossible to make out what was being said.

Hrag Varanian's article is excellent, and relays some very pertinent, and insightful information from artists Coco Fusco, and Noah Fisher who organized and presented The Artist As Debtor Conference with the featured speakers, Julieta Aranda, William Powhida, Martha Rosler, Gregory Sholette; writer Brian Kuan Wood; W.A.G. E. and BFAMFAPHD, and cultural theorist Andrew Ross.

There are some interesting links in Hrag Vartanian's article such as W.A.G.E. a similar non-profit artist organization much like CARFAC.
 I am a proud Canadian artist who is very grateful and happy to know Canadian artists do have some significant representation through Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC). 
However the fact is, we still have much work ahead to make the life of the working artist comparable, and on par with other professionals.
Art while it is pleasurable, it is work. Artists should be recognized and remunerated appropriately, for the work that they do, and work hard at creating.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are You A Neutrino?

Poppa Neutrino

I have a life long friend Rodger, with whom I grew up with in Amherst, Nova Scotia. I've known him since I was a teenager. We were actually both born the same year, 1953.

There was a gaggle of us kids who hung out together at the local hole in the wall, the very funky Y.M.C.A., where we had those big spools for tables you could get from the Power company, and they were covered in carpet. We had old couches and chairs, a pool table, and a ping pong table and even a "Blue Room" for those gals and guys who wanted to catch a few snogs in the corner. Most importantly it was were we learned about ourselves, the real meaning of leadership and we developed our values.

Safe to say we are all pretty grateful for having such a great example that was set for us, by Arden, a compassionate and very intelligent man, a young 27 year old director, then about ten years older than most of us. He was truly a great example and mentor, who went on to bigger and better things, making the world a better place. The Amherst 'Y' would never be the same without him. Arden greatly cared about a bunch of wild and crazy teenagers, got us off the streets, kept us safe and happy as possible, and gave us all a lot of special memories. He made all the difference in all of our lives, in one way or another, and we are all grateful to him. I know we didn't realize then, how very fortunate we were to have him in our lives.

Once our group of friends left the Y.M.C.A. for the day, or on other occasions, my friend Rodger would often invite all of us down to his house, where we would play pool, board games, and eat copious amounts of junk food and just have a lot of clean wholesome fun. His parents always welcomed us, and there was never any illicit substances involved, at least not at Rodger's house.

Of course we all thought we were pretty cool, but weren't, but little did all of us know just how cool Rodger was, and what he was going to do in the future. This blog post is just about that, what my friend Rodger did in 1998. We all need to take risks, face our fears, follow our desires, be ourselves and walk our own path. That takes real guts, and makes us feel fully alive with conviction.

 I'm so proud and happy for my friend Rodger that he faced his fears, took a risk, and how it changed his life forever. He's another example for those of us living on the side lines of life as bystanders, as opposed to participators.
 Here's the link to the preview of what Rodger and the Neutrinos did.

I found a really compelling blog post about the Neutrinos that gives a great overview.

As the Neutrino website says 'anyone who stays true to their deepest desires and who lives by their own script is indeed a Neutrino.' Rodger certainly has done this, and I hope we all are or will be some time, some where along the way become Neutrinos.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Who What Where When Why How

My smart, creative artist friend posted some good practical information today, all about the business of how to sell your art work. I have blogged about this topic a number of times because it is a pressing ongoing concern of the working artist, because usually, most of us never make enough to support ourselves through our art, and end up having to get the proverbial 'real job'. Not that there is anything wrong with this, certainly not. Artists need to be resourceful, flexible, and adaptable, otherwise you're dead in the water. But this is not the point.

I said to my artist friend, many business types don't understand art or artists, in that they may very well think you are really on a dead end road financially, and why would you do that. I'd say a good majority, right out of the gate artists, like those coming out of art school, don't understand the business of art, in terms of marketing,  promoting themselves and all that the business of art entails.

 Many of us are almost apologetic for thinking we should get a decent wage for our artistic effort. The all to often reality is, many artists do live well below the poverty line, myself included. Oh I do get a some timely and much needed caches that are greatly appreciated, but this is not the norm regularly, but it has improved for me over the years.

What baffles me, is why this issue is not addressed in University Fine Art Degree programs. There is very little offered in the way of art students learning how to run your own 'art business'. If it is, it is very limited and I don't really understand why. I suspect it has to do with the historical development of the artist within culture and society, and how it has changed sociology, economically and politically.

There is a fair amount online about this matter of artists and business, but there is a desperate need to have this information accessible in University Fine Art Degree programs. For that matter, schools need to have this topic included in the school curriculum.There are so many things that no one tells you about being an artist and this needs to change, and it is why a fair amount of my blog posts are on this topic, which I have linked to in this post.

It is my experience you have to work consistently hard at promoting your own work, being your very own best advocate, manager, agent, accountant, and friend. Sure, if you can afford a hire a good agent, well that's great, make sure it is a good one, and good luck with that exceptional opportunity.

I've heard it said, the art world is no longer, now it is the art business. This leaves a bad taste for many people, and they are just not going to op in, because you can make a deal with the devil, end up losing your integrity in one way or another, and kissing a lot of bad butt.

In North America art and creativity are not seen as an essential service, like a doctor, mechanic, plumber and the like. It is not a priority, considered as one of the basics to education, like English and Math. As Sir Ken Robinson talks about, we need a paradigm shift, and it needs to happen now.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Snoppen and Snippan!

After a busy morning and later on a stressful afternoon, I needed a laugh. I found it when I heard about this Swedish animation Snoppen and Snippan, that has gone viral and is meant to be a kind of sex ed video to teach kids about genitials. I had a good giggle when I heard this tonight. It actually is quite cute, and a pretty catchy tune too. But I'm certain there are people who may not think so and think a video like this is problematic. I'm glad I am not one of them.
Here's to Snippity Snop!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just A Brooklyn Boy - Henry Miller

Portrait of Henry Miller In Big Sur by Henri Cartier-Bresson
I've never read The Tropic of Cancer. Truth is, I'm a embarrassed to say I've never read a single solitary book by Henry Miller. What I did know about him wasn't much, until now. A person might get the impression he was rather chauvinistic, philandering man.  But I see him rather as a hopeless romantic, perhaps chasing after the illusive ideal love.

I believe he possessed a deeply creative soul. A philosopher of sorts, and definitely had 'street cred', and in his own words "I'm just a Brooklyn boy."  "I lived in the street and acquired the typical American gangster spirit."

His love affair with Anaïs Nin, gained a lot of notoriety, mostly because of her dairies I think. He was married five times. I get the impression both men and women found him charismatic.
Oh to have a time machine as I envy his life and time in Paris, being surrounded by artists, and writers.

I admire Henry Miller because he had the courage and the audacity to be himself. He had the fortitude to follow his passions and convictions regardless of what others thought. Money and fame were never his priority. 

The fact that he was a painter before he was a writer, I find really compelling, and what he had to say about painting even more so.

I found a great site, which is a tribute to him, by Dr. Hugo Heyrman. It's full of photos and facts with loads of information.

I intend to try and track down Henry Miller's book, To Paint Is To Love Again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martha Graham

Martha Graham

When I was a little girl I absolutely loved dancing, and dreamed of being a ballerina, before I understood what a difficult life it was being a ballet dancer.
When growing up in the East End of Toronto I had a older friend Sandra, who was about 16 years old when I was six or seven. Sandra studied ballet and I was absolutely in complete admiration, and adoration of her. I wanted to be her. She was my protector and like the big sister I never had. I loved her.

My mother would play the piano and I would dance around pretending I was a great ballerina. I would get all ethereal, and dramatic, twirling and swirling around in the living room.
I followed the careers of all the dancers, and later I especially love Martha Graham, when I learned about Modern Dance.

Years later my mother would take me to ballet performances and I would watch every show about ballet whenever they aired on television. As an adult I was able fulfill my dream to study dance at school in Nova Scotia, when I went off to study art in the 70s, and managed to get my point shoes, which I still have. At fifty years of age I took up Middle Eastern Dance ( Belly Dance ).

My mother always allowed me to live my life creatively. She never laughed, criticized or discouraged me. She only encouraged me to keep myself open to my creative energy, possibility, and the expression of myself in whatever form or medium.

Today I found this online, a deep, thoughtful and insight-fully wise quote by Martha Graham.

" There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. "

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dionysos-lacchos Twice-Born - The Fool

The Fool- Egg Tempera on Porcelain Tile, 6"x6" - Catherine Meyers, 2015

I painted for three hours and finally finished my painting around five o'clock. I took a picture after the natural light disappeared, so it isn't the best picture in term of exposure. I'll replace it tomorrow when I can take a photo during the day.

 I added a lot more marks, and some goat horns. Yup goat horns, that indicates The Fool is like an animal. He is the child of Zeus, and reborn of the underworld twice-born.

Having completed my first painting, and getting my car back from the garage after being without a vehicle for over a month, it's been a real good day and like The Fool I've come out of my cave!

Note: This photo was updated January 20th 2015.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Fool - The Journey Begins

The Fool - Egg Tempera on Porcelain Ceramic Tile - Catherine Meyers, 2015

I worked for close to seven hours yesterday. Just when you think you are done, then you feel like your not done, which seems to happen a lot. But that's a good thing, as it allows for positive transformation of the work, if you are sensitive to not over working a painting. I think this comes with experience over time.

 Finally I am finally coming to the end of the first painting in my series. This is The Fool, a the carefree traveler, a youthful spirit, filled with mysterious impulse, and is very willing to jump into the deep end of the river of life.

This card numbered 0, is the beginning of the Major Arcana, from the Mythic Tarot Deck, and The Fool is at the threshold, a sort of precipice, in the great journey of life. I feel I am also on the journey, or a new chapter in my life, right along side, traveling with him. I am  also feeling some of the same ambiguity, excitement, and fear that is depicted in this card. However not to begin this journey is to deny all that is youthful, creative, and that which is greater than myself.

The eagle is the bird of Zeus and watches over the Fool as he prepares to embark into the unknown. The cave that the Fool emerges from, is the past. I have to add goat horns on the Fool's brow indicates he is driven by instinct and intuition, like that of a young animal. He is innocent, and not yet conscious, nor does he comprehend what is in store, but is leaping into the future lacking foresight, but his intentions are pure.

It feels good to be so close to having this initial painting done, and getting ready to go on to the next painting,
 The Magician. 

 I'll be finishing The Fool tomorrow. I really did think it was done until I had a re-think. Not much left to add, but I will wait til the day light hours tomorrow, and will post the completed painting. That is, if I don't change my mind, because I think it's not finished, but I'm confident it will be done tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Creative Change

I heard a great rebroadcast on Nora Young's Spark today about changing your password to affirmations. Apparently it went viral a while ago but somehow I missed it.

It is inspiring and exciting when people focus on all their creative energy. Finding a creative way to achieve goals and objectives can change your life. So says Mauricio Estrella, who was going through a divorce and a very difficult time when he turned his passwords into affirmations and made some big changes in his life.
I wanted to post and share this Spark episode. I thought I'd give changing my password to affirmations a try, with nothing to loose and perhaps a lot to gain.

 Here is the audio link to listen to Mauricio Estrella.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Best Days

The Fool - Catherine Meyers

I painted for five hours today. I can't paint steady for that many hours straight, nor should I, because it's not good for the 'ole bod'.
My friend interviewed Mary Pratt not long ago, whom I love, and she was all crippled up with arthritis from sitting for so many hours continuously. It's easy to loose track of time when you are engrossed in painting, and before you know it, hours have passed. Once you get going it is hard to pull yourself away. But the best thing for me is to pace myself.

I like to paint in the afternoon, I write in the mornings and sometimes later at night, like now. My routine is to I always listen CBC Radio and have done this for many years. It's what I love about the radio you can always do other things, much better than T.V.

This first painting of my series 'The Fool' is taking longer than I thought, which is fine because I don't want to hurry the process, and I'm not on a deadline which feels good. I think I forgot how long egg tempera takes using my itsy bitsy painting brushes, and tiny marks. But I am getting anxious to finish it. I have more things to fix and add, which I will start tomorrow.
It was a good day today.

"The days you work are the best days"...  Georgia O'Keeffe

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ashton Cooper Enlivens The Discussion

Christine de Pisan Goes Viral - Catherine Meyers

It's a low key Sunday. I haven't done much of anything but tried to feed the wood stove to keep warm, write, and cook a turkey, and of course hang out online.

 One of my past painting instructors posted this item on Facebook that was from the site Hyperallergic entitled The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist An Argument For Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion. It is a poignant much needed discussion written by New York Artist Ashton Cooper, and I was compelled to share it.

One of the very best things I loved about returning to University as a mature student was taking art history. When I attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the 70s, the art history professors were men with one exception, but when I returned after thirty years to finish my Bachelor of Fine Art degree at Mount Allison University the art history teachers were all women. What a wonderfully exciting, enriching and refreshing experience it was having a female perspective on art history, and to learn about so many artists that were women. It was a far cry from the lack of female art historians in the past and the distorted view of female artists throughout history that seemed to be non-existent.

One of the many artists I was really taken with was Christine de Pizan , who was a writer born in 135, and her career spanned over a period covering 1399-1429. I did a painting project of her for a class, Women, Art and Society, which I enjoyed immensely.
Christine de Pisan is a timeless artist,  a Renaissance woman, and historical mentor for contemporary women, and I am grateful she did not get overlooked.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Is Heaven?

I spent a good portion of my day yesterday doing a Tarot reading for a friend. This can be time consuming as I don't rush, and want to be thorough. I was intending to paint, but I sensed perhaps there might be a pressing need for this friend to get a reading as soon as possible. I don't see my kind friend during the Winter, and so wanted to get the reading done, which I eventually finished, but first there was a problem of power.

I had just started to cook supper, and had been working away at my friend's Tarot reading, when the lights flickered during what wasn't supposed to be a big ass snow storm. Fortunately I had a candle burning, and so I wasn't in total darkness when the lights went out. The weather developed into a big mess. I lite all my candles, kept feeding the wood stove, and had containers of water because I have had some 'pipe issues.'

I thought, well it's way too early to run to my bed, and I'd made up my mind I was going to refuse to give in to having a lack of power, when I have personal power to make the best of this situation. So I wrote in my journal, listened to my radio, the country station which was barely coming in, because the batteries were near dead, and decided to transfer my uncooked supper onto the wood stove. I cooked my grub and made a hot pot of tea. Oh I was so grateful for  'old faithful', my New Olympic Record Foundry wood stove, made in Moncton New Brunswick, probably 100 years ago. She's a great old beast, and got me through many a storm. I was grateful for my beautiful maple wood, my radio, and for being warm, full of supper, and hot tea.

The power was off for about three hours and came back on by 7p.m. I have been without power much longer in past days, over the twenty years I've lived in the country. When the lights came back on this time, I was so frickin' joyous and grateful I felt like I had been given the best gift and a new lease on life. I was high on happy. Later, I'd wondered why I'd felt this way. I attribute it to having a number of 'things' that have gone off the rails so to speak, nothing too serious, just the usual life events. But out of these events, I have really come to appreciate the little things so much, that it brings me a lot of happiness when things are right, and the ability to cope when things aren't.

Mind you, no one wants to be endlessly without power. Truthfully I resent being so dependent on the power company, especially here in Nova Scotia were we have some of the highest rates int he country. I dream of being of the grid.

And so I assure you, I am not Pollyanna, though I do like her I admit, because she had a good attitude of gratitude, in spite of her shitty life, but I think she knew how to focus on what she had, instead of what she wanted, and that's why she was happy because she was grateful  for what she had.

I'd never seen or heard this quote by William Blake before, but oh, it is a good one.
What is heaven mean to you?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Terminal Uniqueness

This is blog post 601. Wow I can hardly believe that. Could have been more had I blogged everyday since 2008, Here it is 2015 and I've been at this for seven years now. So it's a good time for change, and to take stock. I'm so happy to have started back painting again after a hiatus since Summer.

I don't always feel like I want to post work I am still working on, that's not completed, but that's just my sensitive ego that I like to ignore. I think having a sensitive ego is rather like what we call in A.A.having a case of terminal uniqueness. I suspect not showing unfinished work is perhaps best left for writers.

When attending University we had ongoing critiques of our art work, which I must say I do miss as I always learned a lot.There was no room for sensitive egos in art school, especially when I attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design back in the 70s.

Today I had a good long stretch of painting, for about five hours. I really didn't want to stop, but I find once the natural light source of the day is gone, it's not so conducive to painting.

I have started a series of 22 paintings, loosely based on the Major Arcana, arcana meaning, Major Secrets, from the symbolic imagery in the Tarot decks, Rider-Colman-Smith, and the Mythic Tarot. This first painting is The Fool , the first card in the Tarot, representing the human journey of life. The Major Arcana Cards are the milestones, happenings or the phases in life. The 56 cards are the Minor Arcana that remain, for a total of 78 cards in the whole deck.

The process of mark making, working with egg tempera, I find so satisfying and rewarding. It may have to do with my compulsive obsessive nature, but I love the effect of the painted marks with layering colour. The surface I am painting on, is a beautiful quality of stone tile I was given by a good friend. With this painting I first applied several layers of gesso which I think should hold up.

I might get it all done tomorrow, but I'm taking my time and am certainly not in a hurry. I still have to fix up the hands, the rose, the eagle and the sun, add a tree, some vines and greenery and a dog. Not decided yet the background yet, but it will be light and airy.

Critique comments are most welcomed. Oh oh, my delicate ego!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Are Your Creative Routines?

I started painting again yesterday after a period creative dryness. I always feel the same when I start a new painting. I suppose because a blank canvas or whatever the surface can feel daunting, and you can be filled with thoughts of doubt and fear of not being able to create anything that 'measures up' to the standard, preset by that inner critic. I have learned to ignore that voice, and push on through until I start feeling like the work is starting to make sense visually even though I haven't come near to the completing the work.

It felt great to get back at it and today I reached that point where I began to visualize the next steps. When I first embark on a work I can't see much of anything and I don't much like what I do see. A preliminary drawing always helps me immeasurably work out the psycho-babbling kinks, and get my groove on.

Not all individuals who create art have this initial doubt and fear at the beginning of creating an art work I am fairly certain. It doesn't last very long for me, just a passing thoughts that comes and go. I acknowledge these thoughts, then release them as soon as they appear. I suspect if I painted everyday these thoughts would lessen. And so I am reconfiguring my inconsistent painting habits to an everyday routine. I am more creative than I give myself credit I know, but there is always room for improving creative habits, and that's what I aim to do.
This project will be a series 22 egg tempera paintings. My time bound goal for completion is May or June.

What are your creative routines?

Here is something interesting; the creative routines of creative individuals throughout history

Monday, January 5, 2015

Where To Find The Habit of Self-Refinement - One Step At A Time

Crescent Moon Bear - Catherine Meyers

I love fairy tales stories and myths, but I admit I've never been a strong reader of fiction novels. I tried hard to change that last year, and did a pretty good job, but I'm always drawn back to philosophical writers, especially those who are Jungian . I'm not talking about Greek philosophers and the like, though I am interested in Greek Mythology since beginning to study Tarot, doing readings with my Mythic Tarot deck, and writing daily posts on my Tarot blog.

This year I will continue to change my reading habits, along with a list of other areas in my life. It's not an easy undertaking to change habits, and so I've attempted to arm myself with information about how to do this, but I have learned that I need to remind myself to take one step at a time, I don't have to see the whole staircase.

One thing I found surprisingly helpful was doing an introspective written inventory of 2014. I was glad I did this. Once completed, in retrospect I realized my impression of this past year was not a good one. It actually felt to be one of the worst for me personally.

After looking at what I actually accomplished I could see clearly that I had accomplished a lot, and in fact, the year was a darn good one after all. I could see my perception and reality had been distorted as my focus had been on my imaginings and worry.  I call it 'awefulizing.' I don't remember which book I found this adjective, but it describes what I tend to do perfectly. It's a bad habit. Gotta work on changing that one.

Finding this article on Brain Pickings today excited me, about 'self-refinement' and there is a list of books to read by a number of writers and philosophers who had and have a lot to say about resolutions or changing habits. Here's a brief list of what each one said.

1. Thoreau: Walk And Be More Present
2. Virginia Woolf: Keep A Diary
3. Seneca: Make Your Life Wide Rather Than Long
4. Anna Deavere Smith: Define Yourself
5. Alan Watts: Break Free From Your Ego
6. Carol Dweck: Cultivate A Growth Mind Set
7. Benjamin Franklin: Turn Haters Into Fans
8. Hannah Arendt: Think Rather Than Know
9. Anne Lamott: Let Go Of Perfectionism
10: Carl Sagan: Master critical Thinking
11. Rebecca Solnitt: Get Lost To Find Yourself
12: Bruce Lee: Be Like Water
13. Maya Angelou: Choose courage over cynicism
14. Emerson: Cultivate True Friendship
15. Eleanor Roosevelt: Live By Your Own Standards

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Finding the Right Stuff - Marie Forleo

I've been focusing on changing my habits, and especially in relation to my creativity and getting things done, because I want to get some serious stuff accomplished in 2015. I'm not interested in resolutions, but I am wanting to change and improve upon my thinking and my habits.

I have a life long friend Cliff Eyland, who recently had a commission to produce 5000 tiny paintings that were recently installed in the newly built Halifax Public Library. I listened to an couple of interviews  he had on CBC. One was of particular interest to me with Nora Young, on one of my favourite CBC Radio programs Spark.

Nora Young asked Cliff how he managed to produce so many paintings. He attributed it to the daily habit of creating a painting everyday. This work habit enables him to create a large amount of work, over a period of time.

Everyone works differently I know, and painting everyday may not be your forte. I do believe however that it is essential to have some kind of creative daily habit, whether it be painting, drawing, writing or whatever creative outlet you choose. Daily writing everyday has changed my life, and has become an essential part of my creative process and practice.

I'm not one to get into media personalities unless I really believe they have something important to say, perhaps not everything, all the time, but most of the time, I will listen, if the information they relay is pertinent.
I can't remember how I found out about Marie Forleo, but I subscribe to her site, and really look forward to her videos, which are helpful and entertaining. So after watching this particular video this morning I decided to share what she has to say, because it relates to habits, creative habits and the 'right stuff.' I hope you find it helpful.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

“If You Speak For the Trees, You Speak For All of Nature,” - Diana Beresford

Heart of the Dragon - Beth Moon

 I guess some might call me a tree hugging fringe hippie from the 60s if they knew how much I loved trees. Truth is, I was not old enough to be a full fledged hippie, but I sure wanted to be and tried my best.

My love of trees has deepened over the years, and became more than a fascination, that really deepened after hearing Diana Beresford-Kroeger talk about trees on a CBC podcast a few years back. It was then I was completely enchanted, hooked and in awe of her knowledge and wisdom. When I think of trees my thoughts go to The Tree of Life, to friendship, and to life itself.

Today I found out about a magnificent photographer, Beth Moon, who also has a passion for ancient trees, ancient cultures, the natural world and for platinum photography.

Beth Moon traveled to the Horn of Africa, to the island of Socotra.. There she photographed trees, 500 years old that are other worldly, and are so beautiful beyond imagination where she found native animals and over 700 plant species exisitng no where else on earth.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Andy Warhol On Changes

Happy New Year Y'all!

Not wishing to do too much other that sit and listen to my stomach digest New Years day I really did not intend to post any thing on my blog, but it's a habit I have, a good one for a change and so here is it.

Like a lot of folks I have been reflecting on 2014 and looking forward to 2015. Not being a person that makes New Year's resolutions, I just don't ever bother, but I am always trying to find ways to improve my art practice and get creatively motivated. My motivation the past few months has been non-existent but thankfully  something has shifted and I'm feeling that I have decided to get off my duff  and am even feeling like making some art.

I love this quote from Andy Warhol that I believe speaks to resolutions, time, and making changes.

  They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol

So I did a search about resolutions for artists. I found this helpful list on that can be useful any time you are feeling inclined to make some changes. This is a list of are specific, tangible steps to take, that I think can make a real difference in creativity and productivity.

After receiving a beautiful art journal for Christmas I have started to make immediate good use of it, and will be writing these suggestions in my journal today.

1. Take stock of 2014. It’s always easy to think about the things we haven’t yet achieved, the dreams we haven’t made happen, and the sales we have yet to make. Yet many of us forget to look back on the past year, to consider our successes (and of course, maybe some of our less successful ventures). Write a list of all of the things you achieved in 2014, big or small, and then write another list of the things you could have improved upon or taken more advantage of. These will be a good starting point to thinking about areas to develop for 2015!

2. Write a list of things you’d like to achieve. Think about all elements of your art business – how many paintings would you ideally like to produce a month? How many exhibitions would you like to be in this year? How many Facebook page fans would you like to acquire after 6 months? If it’s possible to set deadlines for specific tasks, plan these out on a goals calendar (e.g. by the end of Jan you would like 20 more followers on Twitter, and to have made 3 new works). Put this calendar somewhere you will see it every day, and keep on top of your aims.

3. Improve your website. Your online profile is always centered around your portfolio, i.e. your website. Making improvements to this as soon as possible will give you a satisfying confidence boost, whilst improving your professional image to others. For tips on how to create a new website or build on your current one, see our articles on the topic: Increase artwork sales through your website and 8 Ways to Improve your website.

4. Think small. Rather than focusing on huge tasks, break things up into easy to manage chunks. So if you really want to make 5 paintings this month, try and think about how many hours per day that will involve realistically. Then set yourself daily goals based on those numbers (e.g. make time for 1 hour of uninterrupted painting per day). See motivation techniques.

5. Work on your online presence. We’ve long since talked about the importance of social media in expanding your network (see here!) but we can’t stress enough the value of building your online voice. If it all seems really overwhelming, it’s more effective to focus on one social network and put all your efforts into connecting people that way. Start with building a Facebook page, which couldn’t be simpler with ArtWeb’s Facebook syncing capabilities – find out how here. Also, it’s worth making use of linking your social media accounts, so you can update more than one at once!

6. Manage your time. Part of the reason many resolutions are forgotten in a few weeks (or days) is due to poor time management. Although most artists lead busy lives, often working full or part-time in addition to their practice, it’s important to prioritize your art, and there are always methods to focus your time and become more efficient. Start by make a list of all of the unnecessary procrastination tasks you do instead of art-making and try to cut them out. For more tips on managing your time see our article on Managing your creative productivity.

7. Begin a mailing list. Having a contacts database is important in itself, so if you haven’t started collating one already, start on the 1st January! In addition, it’s a good idea to send out regular newsletters to remind our network what you’re up to – including achievements, exhibitions, awards, and workshops. There are lots of easy ways to send newsletters – try

8. Experiment more. If you find you’re getting stuck in a rut, why not try a totally new medium, or join a one day workshop. All too often, when artists lose confidence in their style or medium, they can stop making work altogether (the all too familiar artists’ block). Get out of your comfort zone, and keep producing work, in any format or medium you haven’t explored yet. You might hate it, but at least you’ll have created something, and it might be all you need to get that brainwave you’ve been waiting for.

9. Stop making ‘test’ works. This might sound contradictory to the last point, but what we mean here is to not fall into the trap of continually testing your ideas as an excuse to not finish things, or to distance your ownership over something you’re not confident about. It’s all too easy to show someone a recent work and just say ‘Oh I was just trying things out, this isn’t really the art I want to make’ etc. Believe in every piece of work and experimentation as part of your ongoing practice, therefore making the process is as important as the output. When talking about this, emphasize the positives of trying new things.

10. Don’t sell yourself short – know your worth! This is a resolution all artists should be making and keeping. Talk positively about your work, be confident in your art, and sell it for what it’s worth. Consider your time and materials, plus get to know the art scene and your competitors and peers (see pricing your artwork). Remember that not everyone will like your art, but that doesn’t matter… what matter’s is that you believe in what you’re making, and there will plenty of people out there who agree – it’s just about finding them.