Wednesday, April 29, 2015



I wanted to say a great big THANK YOU to all of those who voted for my cousin Carla Bonnell during the CBC Searchlight Contest. Carla made it to the third round to the top ten representing Northern Ontario. Last year she'd got to round two. She was thrilled to have made it further this time round, and I know how grateful she is to each and every person who voted, supported and encouraged her to keep going.

Needless to say, we are all very proud of her determination, courage and passion for music and the stories she tells about the country, that she dearly loves, Canada.

I thought I'd put her thank you from her face book page on my blog post today.

" What a ride!! I want to thank all of you who supported me in the CBC Searchlight Contest. Third round was AMAZING!! I didn't make the next round, but I'm telling you it was a life changing experience to have so many of you supporting me and encouraging me the way that you did. Top 10 for my region was a real honor! Thanks again!!"

Monday, April 27, 2015

"It Might Be A Shit Sandwich, But You're Going Have to Eat It!"

Choosing to be an artist can make for some 'challenging experiences' to say the least. The unexpected situations an artist can suddenly find themselves in, in retrospect, we can find them funny, and even kind of pathetic, and some we'd just rather forget about, because they were so unpalatable, leaving us with a feeling, high up on the ick factor, jaded or resentful.

As artists we often get to see the best and the worst of humanity, including ourselves. On the other hand, there are many rewards, surprises, and sometimes even great remunerations for our work, which can restore our faith in humanity, even if temporarily.

One of my long time artist friends and I were commiserating today, how as artists, we can get ourselves into some crazy circumstances, and come up against people who act like what we do as artists is valueless, unless it is offered for free of course, and then we aren't half bad.

After a lengthy commiseration we'd both concluded, having a sense of humour is an absolute necessity when working as an artist. I believe the primary reasons for having a sense of humour are, it can give us humility, and is a good reminder of our fallible humanity. These are what make up the little and the big messes in the imperfection of life.

I relayed to my good friend, a story I have told to a few friends, that is one of those pathetically funny scenarios mentioned, that I've experienced, but there was a lesson learned as well. Ever time I share this, I think to myself, perhaps this 'story' would make for a good blog post. My rational for not blogging about my experience, was to spare or perhaps avoid embarrassing those involved including myself. I thought it might be just better to forget about the whole thing, because I felt foolish for allowing myself to be devalued and taken advantage of once again. But they shall remain nameless, and I think this is a story worth telling.
I am not blaming any one but myself. But this isn't the funny part! I'd rather get to the funny part!

My good friend  thought, and suggested that my story would make a good blog post. I had to agree, and so I thought ya I'm going to do that.

I think it was last year, I was asked create a painting that looked like a stack of books. The stack was already made from wood in the form of books, and I was going to paint each block to look like a book, with the titles on the side and on top, the cover of the book would act as the main focus of the painting.

It took me probably 10 to 15 hours to create a detailed egg tempera painting with imagery, and a kind of calligraphic painted letters for the titles. I finally completed the painting, and was very happy with what I had created. I dropped it off where we'd agreed to, and went home feeling relieved and quite pleased with what I felt was a job well done.
Understand there had been little talk of monetary remuneration, and I felt it was for a good cause,, though I hadn't thought it through. My bad. More than anything in retrospect, I am certain, I was being my usual people pleasing self. The truth being, my ego had been flattered just because I'd been asked to make art! 

The deal was as such. There would be a display of the work and then an auction. The artists were supposed to get a percentage of the money raised through the event. The remainder would go back into a fund to promote another 'creative project' for the town. Alrighty then! I didn't give it another thought. Once again, my bad!

It had taken me much longer than I expected  to finish the painting, so I didn't varnish it, as it would have taken even longer to dry, and I was running out of time. When I had informed the individual who'd made the request for this painting project, they'd offered to varnish it. Perfect I thought, and I said thank you for offering to do this for me.

I hadn't heard anything for a day, until finding an email in my inbox. It read, and I paraphrase. I don't know how to tell you this Catherine, but when I brought your painting into the house to varnish, I'd set in on the floor, and then went outside for about twenty minutes. Returning to the room where I'd left your painting, I looked down, and saw that the top of the painting (which was the top cover as mentioned, of said painted book) was gone, completely gone.

Gone I said? What do you mean gone? It had disappeared the individual said, adding, when I looked down again, saw my dog licking his jowls, and realized the dog must have licked off the egg tempera painting.

Dogs, they like eggs, and they will lick your egg tempera painting off, completely off.
I was a little shocked initially, but I had to laugh, and I said not to worry about it. I knew the person felt really bad. Trying to comfort her I said, " My Coonhound would eat the arse end out of a donkey! Not sure if that made her feel better. She offered to re-do the painting. I declined and said I would do it again which I again completed after another 6 hours of painting.

The auction did not go according to plan, was unsuccessful. Someone out there got a damn nice painting for peanuts and I got a grand total of $11 for about 22 hours of work.

For someone already on a fixed income, well below the poverty line, and eats dust sandwiches, that is demoralizing enough. But allowing myself to get involved with projects like this, or to not be properly remunerated for the work I do, only adds insult to injury, and just greatly increases my already existing fear of financial insecurity.

Most artists and many others, live well below the poverty line. The average artist lives off an annual income of $18,000. It has been this amount for as long as I can remember.  I will say this. If I could bring in $18,000, solely from my art work, I'd be be laughing!

I may joke about eating dust sandwiches, but there isn't anything funny about poverty, and not having enough to eat. But I refuse to allow myself to eat any more shit sandwiches, and then say thank you, just before I purge.

Eyes On The Prize

Knowing Mavis Staples was going to be interviewed on CBC Radio ,Q this morning, I was really looking forward to it. She sure didn't disappoint, and it was a wonderful interview. She takes you back to a time in history that is very relevant in so many ways to what is happening in the world now. I could listen to her talk all day.

Mavis is not only an inspiration and example of hope, but the message she conveys through her music is a real wake-up call, and reminder to keep up the good fight against racism and all the other troubles in the world.. I could  hear in her voice, and by what she said in relation to recent events in Ferguson, how she sees things getting worse in our world.

In spite of this, she is still filled with hope and holds on to her deep faith.

This is a great bio I found on the CBC site.

biographical info

On their second collaboration, legendary singer Mavis Staples and Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy have
crafted a gospel album for the 21st century, a music that strives for faith in a world where nothing can be taken for granted.

On One True Vine, Mavis Staples gives voice to something new in her repertoire, something deeper and
more resonant with our times; longtime fans will notice a new reserve in her singing, a muted, plaintive quality that serves the darker, more nuanced songs collected here perfectly.

If her Stax hits spoke for a growing black social consciousness, and her seventies collaborations with the Band and others gave spiritual weight to the rediscovery of traditional American music, then in our post millennial drift, Jeff Tweedy has crafted a pulpit from which Mavis lends her voice to a search for grace.

One True Vine is a dark night of the soul, a journey from a search for faith to glorious belief.  Starting with Alan Sparhawk from Low’s down tempo “One Holy Ghost” – a song that feels the presence of God without
fully comprehending it – and moving through the Jeff Tweedy original “Jesus Wept,” a questioning of the darkness in the world, the album begins in the depths.  Even the perfectly chosen Funkadelic classic “Can You Get to That?,” a high-flying respite in an otherwise subdued first half, is built around a question of the spirit. Then at mid-point, Nick Lowe’s “Far Celestial Shores” picks up the pace, and the album opens up like a parting of the clouds. The tempo kicks in with a tent-revival throb, and even when things slow for a moment with the greasy funk reworking of the Staple’s “I Like the Things About Me,” it’s a second half of
light and redemption.  Closing with the beautiful ballad “One True Vine” (the third of the Tweedy originals), the album ends on a note of salvation, with Mavis cradling the lyric like a prodigal son.

No one should be surprised at this new Mavis Staples; for six decades she has been the solid rock of American music.  Alongside the family group she is so identified with, the Staple Singers, Mavis has managed to transform herself as she goes, yet never alter. From the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s, to the engaged protest of the civil rights era, and then, amazingly, on pop radio in the Stax era with a series of soul anthems, from “I’ll Take You There” to “Respect Yourself:” through all these Mavis carried on, her warm embrace of a voice the only constant.  How many musicians can claim this: to exist outside any scene, outside genre, yet weaving themselves into the fabric of soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, rock and blues?

Many of the maverick names that come to mind are composers as well; that Mavis has created her legacy as an interpreter of others – an underestimated talent since the days of the band singers – makes her achievement all the more impressive.  She gives voice to others; more than that, she gives voice to entire movements, to eras, to songs so old their roots are lost.  And she manages to work a little PFunk in there too.

Recently, recognition of Mavis’ unique role in American music has been growing beyond her longtime
fans, dipping into the wider world of pop as she performs alongside Justin Timberlake at the White House tribute to Memphis Soul, or with Elton John in a show-stealing Grammy tribute to Levon Helm of the Band.  Her first album with Tweedy at the controls, You Are Not Alone, won a much deserved Grammy.

Now, on her second collaboration with Tweedy – Mavis calls him “Tweedy” all day long, and they are a pleasure to watch in the studio, riffing like some old vaudeville team – she has made an album to match her new national profile.

One True Vine is an album that will both surprise longtime fans and solidify her position at the helm of
American music.!/artists/Mavis-Staples

Listen to the CBC Q interview with Mavis Staples here.

One of my very favourite songs she has done is "Eyes On The Prize". It is a collaboration with the very talented musician Ry Cooder, whom I love so much.

Mavis she's surely keeping her 'eyes on the prize', and we would do well to do the same.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rachel Brice - A Heart of Creative Adventure

Rachel Brice is an absolutely incredible dancer, and I think beautiful, on the inside and out. I've said it before, and will say it again, she is the best. I admire and love her so much. I can only dream of seeing her live one day or even getting the opportunity to attend one of her retreats in Costa Rica or Bali, The Heart of Belly Dance.

She is more than a dancer, Rachel Brice is a great mentor, and an example of how she honours the creative, adventurous heart within all women.

The costumes and adornments are all part of the dancing and presentation that transcends the whole experience to another world.

This particular video shows the level of her ability, skill, devotion and talent as a dancer. I've posted an unbelievable improvisational dance, and I think maybe the best video I have seen of her, and I've seen just about all of them.

She recently opened up Datura Bellydance studio/boutique in Portland, USA  offering both onsite and online classes. Of course nothing quite replaces face to face instruction, but for those of us far away from Portland, online classes are great.Nova Scotia really isn't so far away and so perhaps I'll follow my heart and take that creative adventure in the future.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Michael Gaudet - The Film - Writing, Art and Ketchup

I've been patiently waiting for this film about my long time friend and Artist Michael Gaudet. Here it is!
As a painter and a writer I sure identify with what he has to say about writing and art.

 Michael's attitude, talent and dedication to creativity is a testament to his heart and soul that can only inspire, instill happiness and give hope, to this beautiful troubled world we live in.

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Misery Loves Comedy"

I've always been a kind closet comedian.  Since I was a kid I entertained myself and my family with impersonations, animals impressions, silly walks, and other fun weird behaviours. I found it was a great stress release like opening the pressure value. It decreased the serious shit happening around me and my family. We could always have a real good laugh, and it made me feel good to get a laugh.

I could never get enough of this stuff, until finally in my mid-twenties, I met two clowns on Prince Edward Island. Seriously they were clowns, and we'd hang out doing' clown work, where I learned to juggle. It didn't take me long to figure out that I really wanted pursue the basis of theatre, and how to entertain.

So away I went back to Toronto where I'd spent a good portion of my childhood, to study Commedia dell'arte ("Comedy of Art" or "Comedy of the profession"), meaning improvised drama.

 If I'd known about Second City I would have auditioned. At this Mime school I attended, I learned that I wasn't cut out for solo performance, but worked better in groups. Drama wasn't my thing but comedy, especially improvisation, that was what I was crazy about. I still am, but I don't think I could ever perform solo, because I have too much anxiety, and stage fright.

Pretty early in life, I think I inherently understood why I was drawn to comedy, but later I began to be able to articulate for myself the reasons why. I so admire comedians that have the passion, drive, and the courage to get up on stage. In the meantime, I'll stay in the closet and entertain my friends.

Here is a new documentary film, the official trailer, to Misery Loves Comedy, written by Kevin Pollak and John Vorbaus. It looks like they've done one hell of a great job at explaining the whole miserable comedic mess. I can't wait to see the it!
You can listen to the interview that Shad had on CBC Q, with the director of the film, comedian Kevin Pollak.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Art of Michael R. Gaudet: Saskatchewan Government Awards Mural Contract

 I am going to date myself when I say I've known my good friend Michael, since way, way back in the 70s from our days as students at NSCAD, playing in a crazy band called the Suedeens. He is still the same soulful spirit who has a great passion for living life creatively to the fullest, with a big heart full of love and laughter.

I am grateful and proud to call Michael Gaudet  my friend. I want to wish him every success and blessing in his new creative adventure! I hope you will do the same in visiting his website. He's a pretty darn remarkable artist and human being!

The Art of Michael R. Gaudet: Saskatchewan Government Awards Mural Contract: About three months ago I got the head's up from a good friend that Saskatchewan Government Employees' Union (SGEU) was in the marke...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

She's Made It To The Third Round!

Carla Bonnell

My cousin Carla's made it through to the third round in CBC Searchlight Contest! She's now in the top 10 representing Northern Ontario.

I know what it means to this small town Minto New Brunswick, Maritime woman, and how very hard she's has worked to get to this point. Her father would be so, so proud of her, as are all of her family . I am so very happy she believed in herself to pursue her passion, and her dream to take this musical adventure.

Please vote and help her to make it the rest of the way!

Here's a quote from Carla.

"Thank you for getting me into the top 10 of the CBCSearchlight Contest! Its an honor to represent Northern Ontario! It would be a great honor to represent this awesome country of Canada. This final round of voting ends on April 27th at 3PM. You can vote from any country as CBC is internationally broadcasted!!
I could not have come this far without your support. I am asking for it again. You can vote several times a day if you wait a significant time between votes. You can vote from each device that you own! Lets make some history together. Please share this voting link several times a day. I will be on the road traveling to a couple of gigs in New Brunswick until the 26th. Help a girl make a dream come true! Take the Last Train to the top!
I would also like to thank the Akademia Music Awards in Los Angeles California for awarding " The Liberator" Best Country Album/Singersongwriter in the month of April. Thank you all for your daily support!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Lady of Shallot - John Atkinson Grimshaw

Lady of Shallot - John Atkinson Grimshaw
Have you ever wished you'd been born in another time and place? The land of Camelot perhaps? Do you look at certain paintings, longingly wishing to be transported there through a time machine? This is the way some paintings affect me. Creativity has the power to transcend and transport the imagination, and it is a wonderful thing!

My absolute favourite Pre-Raphealite painting is based on Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem, The Lady of Shallot and is so beautifully put to music by Lorenna McKennit. John Atkinson Grimshaw did his own exceptional  interpretation of the poem in his paintings.
John Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893

I've have always been particularly partial to the English landscape painter John Constable, and for that matter, passionate about the art work of all the Romantic painters.
When I look at a Constable painting, I want to be right there in those expansive English countryside fields, with the grand trees, and skies, filled with bilious stormy clouds, and maybe some Beethoven's Pastoral No 6 Symphony in the background. Just kidding about that part!

I especially admire Constable's ability to render the countryside. Besides his skill, exceptional talent, and ability to paint, the reason I identify with his subject matter, I expect has to do with my love of the land, and why I live in the countryside myself for over 20 years.

Constable's objective to express emotion through landscape was definitely accomplished as seen in his beautiful renderings, study of trees, clouds and the land. He obviously had a deep love for the land and the environment. This is why I think I identify so strongly with him.

In the past , I'd never aspired to be a landscape painter, because the undertaking impressed me as being too overwhelming, and daunting. I thought I'd surely get bored, and loose interest, or so I thought. I have since changed my opinion. I have created a few landscape paintings of the local scenes, where I live.

An artist can't help but be influenced by their environment, and have it emerge in their subject matter in some manner. There are however so many varied ways to interpret landscape. I don't know if I'll ever take up full fledged interest in landscape as a subject matter, but  I certainly do love seeing the variety of landscape painters and the myriad of expressions to be found in their art.

Today I found out about a rather overlooked artist. The Victorian-Era painter, John Atkinson Grimshaw  Sept 6-1836 - Oct 13 - 1893,  who created numerous landscapes, portraits, and some still life.  He was very influenced by the Pre-Raphealites, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt. These painters appeal to my hopeful romantic nature. His moody atmospheric expressions of England, in the moonlight, are absolutely captivating.

Knowing my family genealogy, on my mother's side, who's family came from England, specifically Yorkshire, where many of these painting scenes were depicted by John Atkinson Grimshaw, allow me to virtually experience in a small way what it must have been like to be there in that historical time and place, which completely captures my imagination.

My most favourite Pre-Raphealite painting, The Lady of Shallot, by John William Waterhouse. Recreating in his narrative work, the Victorian poet's poem written by, Alfred Lord Tennyson. This poem was also put to music by Lorenna McKennitt.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Art Appreciation - Humble Pie

I called my good friend tonight around 7:30 p.m. I told her about a situation that had taken place earlier today. I then said, I was going to have a late supper, and that wasn't really hungry, because I'm eaten a lot of humble pie. We both laughed, but what I was talking about was serious business.

Later in the afternoon I dropped into a friends, who had done me a very big favour. We talked about this and he relayed in so many words he was hurt, because I hadn't thanked him. My generous friend, was right I'd over looked thanking him, and now I really felt like shit. It wasn't my intention to not thank him, but as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.' I apologized profusely. I asked if he would accept my apology. He said yes he did. But as I left, walking back to my car, with my head hung low, it just didn't feel right. I felt horrible, even though he'd accepted my apology.

So many times I think for most of us, it is easy to focus on how we feel unappreciated and maybe we are, but how often do we tell  or show others how much they are appreciated. Sounds easy enough, but seems like humans find it a hard thing to do, and easy to overlook or forget about. Not a good default!

On the way back home, I thought I have to give him some art. Something that kind of hurts to give because it is cherished. I just wanted to try and make it right again between us by showing generousity, in the same way it was shown to me. When I got back home, I removed one of my paintings from the wall, in my studio, that was from a series I'd done a few years back. I am quite attached to as it has a lot of personal meaning to me.

I then immediately headed back over to his house again to present him with my painting. I was certain that he would accept and it was going to be his, and this would make us both feel better. He'd already had one of my paintings, and he is a great lover of art. But he refused to take the painting I was offering him! I pleaded and practically begged him. I wanted him to know that I really appreciated what he did, and for all that he does to help people in our community. Nope, he was not going to take it. He'd made it clear in making the the point, that all he'd wanted was a thank you , in others words to feel appreciated. He said he wasn't looking to be given anything, and stated that I should be selling my art work, not giving it away, and that I shouldn't have to do this. He said he wasn't going to take my art work when he thought I could sell it. I tried to explain that a wanted to give it too him, and it wasn't because I felt I had to give it to him. He became even more adamant, and I could see he was not going to accept this painting. What was I going to do now?

Most artists have a hard time selling their art. When you can't give it away, well that's not such a good feeling. However, under these circumstances, though my good friend wouldn't accept my painting as a gift of appreciation, he knew, because I'd made the offer that my apology and appreciation was indeed sincere, and heartfelt. This seemed to make all the difference to both of us. It was a beautiful feeling.
We both went away feeling better than any material gift would ever make us feel. I'd say my friend and I both received two gifts, that of appreciation, and especially the most precious gift, was that of friendship. 

 Besides the lesson of humility, I learned another important lesson from my friend. Never assume that someone knows you appreciate them, tell them, show them. Never assume someone knows you are sorry, tell them, show them. Appreciation comes in all forms, and it comes in the form of a simple word, that should never be overlooked. A heartfelt, thank you.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Disposable Youth - Henry A. Giroux - Hardened Cultures and The War On Youth

As a former Youth Care Worker for over 20 years, I often have used the description 'disposable youth' when referring to society's attitude toward youth. My ears picked up immediately when I heard the Ideas program tonight on CBC Radio that had scholar, Henry A. Giroux talking about " Disposable Youth ".
And here all these years I thought I'd come up with that term! Lol

Anyway this guy sure got my attention.  It is rather disturbing what he has to say, visionary really, and he brings it all into focus when it comes to the war on youth and our hardened culture.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"The Age of Love"

Ageism stinks! Having an older mother who was 41 when I was born, I never thought about her age. Even when she got into her 70s and 80s I never thought of her as old, but just that she was getting older, with grace, and in the natural way. My mother was very young at heart.

I've always been drawn to older people that have an ageless attitude. They never let age define who they are  what the do, or how they behave. It's what keeps them young and inspiring. Life is an adventure to them.

They pursue dreams, never saying, oh I'm too old to do this or that. It never seems to cross their mind they can't do what they want to do. I really admire that outlook.

In the last few years it is really wonderful to see more open and changing attitudes around aging. The documentary called Advanced Style by photographer and blogger by Ari Seth Cohen certainly is exactly the kind of creativity that helps to redefine what it means to age.

Now here's something I am really looking forward to seeing, the movie produced and directed by Steven Loring, called The Age of Love . Here's the trailer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"What To Do When People Do You Wrong" - Mercy Tools

Early on in the day when I was thinking about what to blog in my post, I wrote down these two words in my journal,, mercy and tools.

I have CBC radio on just about 24/7. This morning was no different. I wished the news was better. More often than not, you listen to news casts that have more bad news, than good. I expect because it makes better copy for the media.

Today I heard a particular story about a women and her 19 year old son who had been severely beaten while in jail. He had been in a coma, and now was awake, without the ability to speak or move. He was suffering serious brain damage and was completely incapacitated. The correctional authority would only allow the young man's mother to visit with her son for an hour a day, as opposed to being able to have unlimited visits, which she had, when he was in a coma. There were now correctional guards at the door, round the clock.

The young man in the hospital was suddenly considered a threat once again, and was being treated as the prisoner in custody, prior to his hospitalization and complete incapacitation, unable to move or even speak. His mother was desperately pleading to be allowed to see her son, more than one hour a day, in order to assist in the healing of his serious brain injuries, supporting her son, close by his side. It was heart breakingly sad to hear her express her deep despair, and sorrow.

What really struck me was the phone call that came into CBC Radio, in reaction to this situation. The person that called , was so full of what sounded like aggressive, vindictive resentment toward this mother's plea. The caller went on at great length to explain in vehement anger, and self-righteous disgust, why this mother should not be allowed to have more time with her son, regardless of the circumstances. She then made a statement put in the form of a question, asking why didn't she spend the time with her son when he was getting into trouble with the crime that put him in jail in the first place, and where was she then. It left me feeling very sad. I say this because, to me it is a microcosm of what is happening in the world today, that initially starts within in the family, and spreads outward into the community and globally from there, systemically in the form of love and mercy, or in hate and vengeance toward others.

My first thought was disbelief in how merciless this kind of attitude seemed to me. Some folks think that punitive measures toward children who have become involved with criminal activity, should include and extend to the parent as well, in what every form or however judgmental it is.

In my other life before becoming a full time artist, I was a Youth Care Worker for approximately 20 years, with youth at risk, young offenders and with the adult population in custody. I have seen first hand the correlation between dysfunctional families affected by poverty, mental health issues, substance and sexual abuse, racism, addiction, and systemic socioeconomic problems that are all in some way correlated if not directly the antecedents to criminal behaviour.

 It seems the person who made that phone call into CBC Radio, not unlike others I have known, is searching for someone to blame. Fact is, we all must take responsibility.

Vengeance, blame, resentment, even hatred without mercy or forgiveness, are certainly not tools for change in a seemingly hopeless situation or world.

So, it was timely that I found this video today on the topic of forgiveness, by Marie Forleo entitled, What To Do When People Do You Wrong.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Carla Bonnell - She Made It Again To The Second Round!

I kind of like to think of my sweet cousin Carla Bonnell, as a female version of Canada's Stompin' Tom Connors, only prettier. Sorry Tom. But believe me when I say she's knows every song and then some!Like Tom her music resonates through the stories she communicates and she knows how to make a connection with the everyday person.

I'm proud and happy to tell you that Carla has made it to the second round of the CBC Search Light competition, for the second year in a row. Please vote for her again in this second part of the competition, will you? Thank you for your support. Here's her bio. I think you'll find it colourful.

Here is the link to vote:

North Bay, ON, CANADA
Bio ABOUT CARLA ….Canadian recording artist Carla Bonnell brings depth, diversity and colourful storytelling into play with her songwriting talents, that touch on folk, blues, country, bluegrass and roots elements that fuse together to become her special and unique contribution to the music scene. As a singer-songwriter, Bonnell wears her heart on her sleeve, which is channeled through her lyrics that express universal themes that everyone can relate to.
As a follow-up to her 2013 Nashville recordings, an inspirational Country release called "Back To You", Carla felt a calling to go back to her roots in the Maritimes and craft a very earthy collection of songs and record in the region where her and her musical family have flourished, for many generations. Thus her 2014 album release titled "Liberator" was recorded in Nova Scotia and produced by journeyman east coast performer J.P. Cormier (Jimmy Rankin, Rita McNeil). The album is a testament to her tenacity to be herself and share her thoughts and stories with fan base that has grown in various regions of Canada via her live performances in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including the "New Brunswick Country Music Showcase" concert series. Carla Bonnell has performed with band members of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison on some of these select tour dates, who embraced her natural talent and stage energy, as well as live performance collaborations with Juno Award winner Lawrence Martin.

With numerous radio interviews and airplay for her Nashville release, Bonnell subsequently took her career to a new level with a national radio campaign for "Liberator" along with live performances in cities that embraced the new release. To date, “Liberator” can now be heard from coast to coast on over 30 radio stations (and still counting) and  has charted on a number of Top 10 Roots/Folk charts including CFUV (Kamloops, BC), CJSF (Burnaby, BC), CFBX (Kamloops, BC), CFRC (Kingston, ON) and CIBL (Montreal, QC).

Carla Bonnell has always given back to her local communities by performing benefit concerts, even if it means travelling great distances to do so. She was recently recognized in her hometown of Minto, NB on the "Minto Country Music Wall of Fame" alongside many N.B. Country Music Wall of fame inductees.

Radio personality Brent Buchanan, Morning Show Host, Country KHJ says, "Carla really hit a homer with this new CD. You can relate to every song, and that’s what country music is all about right, way to go Carla.”

Carla inspires her fans with her honesty and integrity and is currently writing new material for her upcoming 2015 album release. Bonnell is focused on bringing her music to new audiences and is booking her 2015 tour and applying to select music industry showcases, to achieve her vision of spreading her musical wings into theatres, select house concerts and premiere listening rooms across the country.

Carla’s music has many elements and influences. The album titled “The Liberator” is inspired by Calling Me, which is an upbeat folk song with a country flair that will sweep you over the hills of Cape Breton in your imagination.  Swing into a 50/60’s style rock gone country with For A Fool. The Letter will instantly tug at your heart strings and draw you into an ethereal state of losing a partner and a way of life. The western style guitar in Cariboo Express touches on traditional country sound, singing of dedication of a girl’s memory of a father now passed. Two Little Towns is a local favourite playing with bluegrass beats and licks. Rain shakes it up with a Canadian aboriginal beat, telling a story based on a true to life narrative of the sometimes political struggle to have treaty rights recognized and respected. Feeling introspective? Wishing Well will lull you into deep introspection with its poetic lyrics and hypnotizing melody. You will soon wake up to a new day with Gypsy Heart, incorporating the traditional country sound with a hard blues back beat to tell a story of dreams and desires of the heart. The Drive slows it down again in Leo Kottke acoustic guitar style, enticing the listener to feel the heart ache of losing a long term relationship. Bless or Curse the Tide wakes you to attention with driving fiddle, expressing the mood held in the lyrics of folks who makes choices to bless or curse their lives. Often described as the jewel of the album it’s the Last Train with its completely Canadian lyrical experience and folk country acoustic sounds. The harmony in this duet has been described as eerie and long lasting. The hidden nugget of the album is a short little jig with banjo, fiddle and guitar. The Kitchen Party celebrates the Canadian weekend culture of jamming with family and friends fondly known as the kitchen party

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Thought This Would Be A Quickie But It Wasn't

I had one of those 'I ain't got nothin' kind of writing days, when I suddenly received an email from Marie Forleo who was telling me she was having the same kind of day. The heading in the email said, "Everyone Loves a Quickie". As I read the email, I could see the message was meant to really encourage me, to simply start writing something, anything, when feeling like I had nothing to write. The next thing you know, you have something written, a post even, maybe a whole page. It was a timely email!

Well that didn't happen. I got completely diverted into watching videos up until now. Not cute kitty you tube videos, but two in particular that kind of left me feeling energized and I learned a lot.. Then I joined a webinar from Melbourne Australia about Tarot, which I enjoyed.

The first video I watched was an interview done by writer, Tanya Paluso  who wrote the bestseller Open Your Heart. Her guest was one of my very favourite writers and mentors Maureen Murdock, who wrote The Heroine's Journey, an amazing life changing book.

 I have posted this video. It's not a quickie, but very worthwhile watching in my opinion, about the ancient Sumarian myth of Inanna's descent. Pretty scary shit!

The second video I watched was by Sara Avant Stover, whom I'd never heard of until tonight. She has a powerful story she shares, and wrote a book called The Way of The Happy Woman. Sara is a kind of a pioneer that shares what she has learned through her own dark descent, along the way of the heroine's journey to reclaim feminine power, which for me, is creative power.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Living Life Creatively Means Living With Hope

I have for many years been a person who attempts to live my life from the perspective of hope. Living life creatively means living with hope.

I am always searching for messages of hope. Not only in written word but especially through the example set by those who are hopeful, not in spite of the struggle or difficulty they have not simply survived and encountered in life, but they have thrived because of their experience, strength and hope, becoming strong and transformed into hope filled individuals that freely share their hope with others.

This inspiring essay read by Parker Palmer, written by Victoria Safford, about hope, lifts my spirits, and is a kind of hope injection, that makes me feel really good, and it reminds me of the prayer of hope. I think it just might do the same for you if you listen.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Diamond Lil - The Transformational Power of Music

In our small community it is truly the kind of place where people really do know their neighbours, and help one another. Last night there was an Open Mic fund raiser for a young couple who have a little one in hospital, a new born who is just weighed just three pounds. We all came together as a community, and had this event, that was well attended, with some of us local entertainers, and folks from away who came out too. It was a grand time to get out after a long hard Winter, and there was a good amount of money raised. There are regular monthly Open Mics through out the Summer months, and are great celebratory, joyous, and fun gatherings.

Before arriving at last night's event, I picked up my 88 year old friend Lil. We had practiced a song the day before, that we would perform together. She is very musical, plays piano, guitar, and has been a singer all of her life. She is a great inspiration to me, and I know also to others. On our way over to the building, she and I had a talk about music, and how powerful it can be. We both agreed that music can sustain and transform our lives. It not only brings community together, it heals, helps and is great fun to boot.

My wise friend said something to me last night that I have been reflecting on. She said, "Don't ever give up on your music, because it will be your salvation as you get older, and will keep you going." It was very obvious to me, this is just what has happened to her. Over the past year or so, Lil has been attending these Open Mics and it has been such a transforming blessing to her, and especially to those of us who are younger and aging.

My dear friend Lil, (we call her Diamond Lil) made me think about my own mother, who was a singer, and how after playing piano and the organ all of her life, music was always her joy. In her later years she developed macular degeneration causing the loss of her most of her visual ability to read music. Although my mother never really played by ear, and always depended on reading sheet music, when she lost her sight she adapted, playing  music by ear, from this point onward.

The music was my mother's soul, and she was able to remember all her favourite tunes. She played her piano every day up until she died. She always had gratitude and never dwelt on the difficulties in life. I think her love and appreciation for the joy and beauty that music brings, gave her great strength, comfort, and happiness. Music is a transformational, a life affirming gift, and a blessing we are all given if we are open to receive it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Search Light - Please Vote For My Cousin Carla Bonnell

Carla Bonnell

This beautiful women inside and out is my cousin Carla. She has entered the CBC Searchlight competition and there are only four days left. I am asking for your support. My sweet cousin has truly a musical soul. Please vote for her here at this link below. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chris Down

Chris Down

I have had in my life, as an art student, the pleasure, the privilege, and the honour really, to have had some wonderful teachers while attending NSCAD in the 70s and at Mount Allison University  in 2009-2012.
Chris Down is one of them, and is having a solo show at the Peter Buckland Gallery in Saint John New Brunswick.

Chris is a completely dedicated teacher, passionate about his work as an educator, and as an artist. I know he would not agree with me when I say this, because he is a very humble man, but I think he is a brilliant artist, having a mind and intellect equally matched.

I can never remember a time in painting studio where Chris was not fully engaged with his students, and carrying around some book that he'd been reading. Whenever we would get into a one on one discussion about art in class, after a bit, and at some point in our conversation, my brain would turn into Snoopy the dog in Peanuts. This was due to my lack of knowledge or comprehension I would then begin to hear, what Snoopy heard, ' wa-wa-wa ', upon listening to Chris, because he is brilliant, and I alas am not. Regardless he never made me feel less than, or intimidated, because he was neither pedantic or ego driven, and as I mentioned previously he is very humble man, self-affacing, with a great sense of humour, who loves being a teacher.

I am so very grateful to have called him my teacher and my friend.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Margret Watkins - Canadian Photographer - Domestic Symphonies

I heard about a wonderful Canadian photographer today. I don't know how I missed her, and sometimes I feel really ill informed but better late than never.

A most distinguished and important photographer Margaret Watkins (1884 - 1969), died in obscurity in Glasgow, Scotland. Fortunately she came back into the spotlight in 2014 with an exhibition of her photography at the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton Ontario in the city where Margret Watkins was born.

Moving to New York at the age of 25, she set up a studio in Greenwich Village, and worked with other great photographers such a Clarence White, Stieglitz and Strand. She exhibited internationally, and her work in advertising and photography was considered innovative and experimental.

Her photographs were not revealed, nor was the scale of her achievement apparent, until after her death in 1969, but no doubt this remarkable photographer, like so many artists, never got the kind of recognition she so deserved, for a number of reasons.

Her photographs taken when she traveled to Moscow are said to have been her best work. By the look of these photographs I would have to agree.

Moscow Street Photographer - 1933, Margret Watkins

Moscow - 1930s, Margret Watkins

Leningrad 1933, Margret Watkins

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Molly and The Mud Girls

No I'm not talking about mud girls wrasslin' or mud boggin' but Mud Girls , an inspiring, life affirming collective of Canadian women from British Columbia, who build structures from mud and other naturals materials and teach others how to build naturally.

Here is the Mud Girls Mission Statement and their Guiding Principles.

Our Mission is to Empower ourselves and others through sharing skills and knowledge that promote healing and living in harmony with the Earth.

Our Guiding Principles

• We work with unprocessed natural and recycled materials to create beautiful and healthy structures that are earth friendly.
• We are a women’s collective and seek to empower ourselves with employment and the skills to build homes.
• We are a collective that is human friendly: recreating our concepts of work to prioritize respect and care for our hearts, our bodies and our children while we work together. We create a work environment that nurtures us.
• All our events are child and mother friendly with quality childcare always provided.
• We seek to do our business in a non-capitalist spirit. We keep the cost of natural building affordable by keeping our wages low, offering our workshop for barter, building for people with low-income as much as we can.
• We are structured non-hierarchically. Each member is equally valued and has equal say in decision making.
• We use the teachings of Non-Violent Communication to create a peaceful, mutually respectful and revolutionary harmonious group process.
• We work together to make this up as we go, nurturing a creative, inventive and courageous spirit in us all!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Bonnets-Bunnies-Colouring Books

Well it's comin' on Easter and I suppose I could be thinkin' about Easter bonnets and chocolate bunnies and candy coloured Easter eggs. But I figure I'll have none of these, but I do have a bug-a boo. Yes, I suppose you could even you could call it my Easter bug-a-boo, about colouring books. It's not the first time I have posted on this topic.

I expect there is a whole slew of children feverishly colouring with crayons inside the lines of their pre-drawn pictures of Easter eggs and bunnies with baskets full of eggs, to take home to be proudly mounted with fridge magnets on to their kitchen fridges. Isn't that great? No! Looking at colouring book pictures, makes me cringe and believe me I avoid it at all costs.

This particular bug-a-boo has been with me for more years than I care to count, but it really started in earnest when I began my formal art education in the 70s at NSCAD. I was taking a Bachelor of Fine Art and Art Education degree and in our introduction to art education, a required reading was Creative and Mental Growth by Viktor Lowenfeld and W. Lambert Brittain. It was like the art educator's bible really.

I feel compelled to post about this topic again, because lately I have been seeing online articles about artists making colouring for adults. Frankly, I was not only shocked to hear this, but baffled. It is completely beyond my comprehension why an artist would ever entertain doing this, let alone think that this is a 'creative' endeavour to foster and encourage creative expression.

Making colouring books for adults is plain ridiculous, and creatively counter intuitive, but for children it is detrimental to creativity. I have to say this kind of predigested activity is worse than no art at all, as it inhibits creative expression, and the natural imagination of a child. I may sound like a purist to some, which I am not, but when it comes to nurturing the creativity of imagination, well then yes, I am, I make no apologies for that.

Here's what Viktor Lowenfeld said about colouring books.

" There is general agreement that colouring books are detrimental to children's creative expression. These books usually have an outline of some form or other, such as a cow, or a dog, or a complete landscape. The youngster is supposed to colour within the lines and some youngsters seem to enjoy this activity. This enjoyment may be because these youngsters do not have to think for themselves. The dependency upon  someone else's outline of an object makes the child much less confident in his own means of expression. He  obviously cannot draw a cow as well as the one in the colouring book. Parents, however, are becoming much more aware of these problems, and often blank pages can be purchased in book form for youngsters to use. The lines that a child makes himself are more meaningful, and children who mark all over a colouring book do not do the same type of marking over their own drawings.

We can decry the use of colouring books for children, but some of the same objections can be raised to the paint-by-the-number kits that adults use. Just as a poem can be copied without understanding the message, the rhythm, or the metaphor, painting a picture  with a paint-by-the-number kit is an automatic procedure that merely reinforces one's own inabilities.

It may come as somewhat of a surprise to find that workbooks used  in arithmetic often greatly resemble colouring books. One arithmetic book has a child draw seventy-six repetitions of a stereotyped rabbit, eighty-eight repetitions of a bird, sixty-two of a kite, eighty of a balloon and so forth. Such repetition is meaningless. A study by Heilman (1954) indicated how dependent some children can become upon these workbooks, for the data revealed that the general growth pattern through creative work was seriously influenced by these workbooks."

This book was first published in 1947, and there have been several later editions. It is reading still very relevant in 2015.

So, give me the Easter bonnet, the bunny, chocolate bunnies, and coloured Easter eggs, but for God's sake throw the colouring books in the recycle bin!

Happy Easter everyone. Now go draw your own Easter pictures!