Saturday, January 30, 2016

How Art School Helped Me Survive

There are as many reasons people become artists, just as there are those who become lawyers and mechanics etc. For me I believe the most contributing factor that caused me to be an artist, was always being allowed and encouraged to learn. The desire to learn and having a natural curiosity was innate, as it is in all children. My family knew this to be true and nurtured my curiosity, sense of play, and imagination.

Being drawn to creating things at a young age, my creativity was always encouraged and valued greatly. I was never told, no dear, you don't want to pursue art because that will never lead to gainful employment or a real job.

When I decided to attend art school and was accepted, it was a very happy, exciting day that my family and I celebrated. They supported me completely. Getting a job after University was the last thing from my mind, although I always worked during and after completing school. I was going because I knew this was where I belonged. Creativity was a huge part of who I was and what I wanted to pursue. My family believed in me and imparted that belief, causing me to believe in myself, which enabled me find my own creative path.

In art school I learned to develop a thick skin, to be resourceful and adaptable, in order to survive life's challenges. I eventually thrived and became my own individual. I was comfortable in my own skin, as a result of learning to think creatively, which I held onto throughout my life.

When life was at it's lowest point, being able to express my feelings through my artwork was one of the best kinds of therapy and still is. It helped me to cope with whatever I was going through. Creativity enabled me to adapt to whatever situation I found myself in, and to learn amazing life lessons in a kind of living learning lab.

 Creative growth helped to me to fulfill and understand my sense of universal growth needs. I came to understand how important it is to belong to a community, to have independence, a sense of achievement and empathy.

I do believe that art school helped me to survive the future and to eventually thrive.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Alexander Daniloff - An Exceptional Artist

Strength - Daniloff Tarot

 I'm so excited to share this post, an artist I found out about today while reading a Tarot blog by a fellow blogger.  I saw one of his Major Arcana cards from his Tarot deck, Strength, that I was so drawn to, I had to find out more about this artist.

 There is a wide variety of talented, gifted and skilled artists that have created Tarot decks. And through my love and study of Tarot I have learned about so many of them. More often than not they are exceptionally creative and versatile. Alexander Daniloff  is one such artist. He is Ukrainian and lives in Italy. His art work invites you into a realm of fantastical imagination, with enough realism to bring this world to life.  It reminds me of the way Alice In Wonderland made me feel as a child. I wanted to go into that land, and did in my imagination.

These talented artists that create Tarot decks have so many other creative outlets and are involved in a variety of other art forms which greatly enhances so much to their art illustration.
 Alexander Daniloff has a fascinating background in puppetry, theatre and costume and fashion design.

I think you will agree that Alexander Daniloff is a uniquely exceptional artist. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Still a Wonderful World Whether Your in Grade One or Not.

Kraftwerk- Teacher Lars Reimers Grade One Class Performs Die Roboter Techno Pop Song From 1978

 As the "adults" it's easy to can get caught up in all the seriousness of art, or lost in it's arty discourse and problematic issues.

Amid so many heavy events our world, it's real important to take a time out, and to simply allow ourselves to experience some childlike joy. After all, this is a big and important part of what the creative process is about. That's just what this you tube video is, joyful, and I think you'll agree.

 The video reminds me to relax, have some fun, daydream, and live in the moment, which are the helpful tools for creativity.
It's still a wonderful world, not in spite of itself, but because of it's self. Take time to celebrate it. Kids can really help us to do this. I loved it when that one kid stands up to bust a move! So much fun! And learning should be fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do We Still Need Guerilla Girls?

Yoko Ono is flanked by the masked activists known as Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz. (

One of the most difficult issues for me to overcome as an artist is to manage the marketing aspect of my art, ensuring my work as an artist, and in particular, as a woman, is not devalued.

There are loads of folks out there who perhaps don't understand the creative artistic professions, and need to be informed and re-educated otherwise. They assume what you do is either a hobby, or they don't consider being an artist as a viable and vital profession, for one reason or another. This particular issue has been paramount on my mind lately, as I push to eek out an income for myself, while slaying the devaluing art dragons. An artist needs to be there own advocate and to be an activist.

Speaking of activists, yesterday a friend, and one of my past professors posted a you tube video about the feminist activists, the Guerrilla Girls, who were guests on Late Night with Steven Cobert. Wow, I thought initially, times are changing! But that's just the media hype, and we are easily fooled and drawn into believing that things are either better or worse than what matches reality. Things have changed, but very slowly.

Then today, the Guerrilla Girls were interviewed this morning on CBC Radio. I didn't get a chance to see them interviewed on Steven Cobert until now, but did hear them on the radio. They really clarified how things haven't changed so much, and I was brought back down to reality, and how the history of art is very much a history of power and  yes, we still need Guerrilla Girls, perhaps more now than ever.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Are You Wired to Create?

I love learning about creativity, and hearing others opinions about what it means to them. Psychologist Dr.Scott Barry Kaufman had lots of great information about creativity, given during the interview on CBC Spark with Nora Young.

Much of what he said, affirmed many points that I apply in my daily life, such as the importance of taking time to day dream, reflection on the inner world, having solitude, and how creativity comes out of adversity, confusion and chaos. These are all important dimensions of my creative path.

I especially took note of something I'd never heard of, what he called post traumatic growth, giving the example of how creativity came out of Frida Kahlo's inner life, who experienced so much physical pain and trauma. Kaufman dispels the myth surrounding the so called tortured artist, but made the point that every one suffers, and referenced the Buddhist proverb, how we suffer 10,000 sorrows and 10,000 joys. Artists are no different.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Man That Fell To Earth... Has Left The Earth

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

It`s a very sad day for those who love David Bowie. I remember just how excited I was in 1976 day I went to see my cultural idol that I loved, in the movie based on the 1963 science fiction book, by Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell To Earth.

It`s been said that David Bowie spoke to the alienated and the outsider. This I believe to be so very true.

Film critic Drew McWeeny, also known by his pseudonym Moriarty, is a screenwriter, the former west coast editor of the Ain't It Cool News website, and put into words for me the very best description of how I felt about David Bowie, and his acting in this movie.

 McWeeny stated that he felt that in this movie David Bowie wasn`t an actor playing an alien, but an alien playing a human being. David Bowie was so convincing, I wanted to believe he truly was an alien being persecuted and so misunderstood by the human race.

The fact that Bowie believed so much in himself, in spite of his own feelings of alienation and being an outsider, it is why he was able to convey and impart this message so well to others; especially for artists who often feel this way, alienated and outside the status qou. It was a message that said, through his example, it`s ok to be yourself, forget about what others think, celebrate your individuality, and who you are.

David Bowie was truly a multi-talented, consummate artist`s artist, with the creative ability to transform and transcend himself. He exemplified what it means to have an ever evolving creative vision.
 He, was, is, and always will be very much loved, not only as an incredible artist, but as an especially good, kind, and gracious human being, a father, a husband, who will be deeply missed, forever and always remembered, in time and in space.

This video Lazarus so powerful, and so David Bowie. Rest In Peace David.

Friday, January 8, 2016

How To Make Learning Come Alive

Courtesy of Ada Leaphart Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler

Sir Ken Robinson understands very well how children learn through creativity, and how essential it is to learning. His presentations about the education system being in such disparate need of a paradigm shift, clarifies how educational institutions must be about the kind of creative learning, that's not serving consumerism, bound up in a society more concerned with employment, over creativity, and doesn't consider the kind of economics that Dr. David Suzuki references as a priority, who also speaks of a need for an economic paradigm shift.

 “Eco” comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning home. Ecology is the study of home, while economics is the management of home. Ecologists attempt to define the conditions and principles that govern life’s ability to flourish through time and change. Societies and our constructs, like economics, must adapt to those fundamentals defined by ecology. " The challenge today is to put the “eco” back into economics and every aspect of our lives."
― David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

 I believe there are great parallels found between these two very high calibered, proactive thinkers. Sir Ken Robinson encourages and urges us to have new ways of thinking about education. Scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki, promotes the re-connection between school and nature. These two points of view compliment and converge with one another, enabling learning to come alive, through direct integration and interaction with others, and with the environment. 

Early on in my art education as a student art teacher, I very vividly remember certain books that were required reading. One book was, Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Although it's a book that was published in 1969, it's still very relevant today. The most poignant thing I read in the pages of this book, will  forever be imprinted into my thinking about learning. Authors Neil Postman, and Charles Weingartner express in their book, that each and every subject taken by each student is related, and should be integrated. Creativity is what can, and does connect each subject, acting as a powerful conduit to academic learning.

One of my first great art education teachers I had, who taught me about the importance of philosophy and spontaneity, was Harold Pearse. He knew how integrating art into all subjects was so vital to learning, and he made sure all of his students knew it as well. Last week he posted this wonderful article from the online site, Mind/Shift called, How Integrating Arts Into Other Subjects Makes Learning Come Alive. I hope you'll be sure to read it!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

S.O.B.- Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats

I love Saturday nights. I've always associated it with music, dancing, parties, Saturday Night Live, Saturday Night Blues, Tom Waits' Heart of Saturday Night, homemade baked beans and brown bread, and a real nice soak in the tubby.

Now that all the Christmas and New Years is hub bub is pretty much over, it feels good to think about getting back into a usual routine again. However I don't take my decorations down until after the "Old Christmas" has arrived. It's just something I like to do, because it has had a personal meaning to me over the past 22 years.

 I'm not one to take down the Christmas tree and all the ornies down right after Boxing Day. In spite of all the commercialism  and the problems in the world, I still love the season, and the traditions that go along with it. It's a time for me to reflect on life, and those essential priorities that matter, like caring about others, and taking care of myself.

One of my long time traditions I have always associated with my late brother Ralph, is Saturday Night Blues. My brother being a real collector and a devoted blues man,  he first introduced me to this great show, and listening to Saturday Night Blues, has been going on as far back as the Holger Peterson started his program on CBC Radio. I listen faithfully every Saturday night. I learn about new, and old blues musicians. It's always a musical education. Last night was no different. I learned about this great band I'd never heard of, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. Holger played this great track of theirs called Shake that I thought I'd share. It's not really rockin', but a whole lot o'soul. After doing a little more digging and listening I found this second youtube video, that I love even better. You just might agree.

Santa's Other Brother Joe