Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tom Forrestall - Egg Tempera Master Class

 Oh MY Goodness! I am so, so excited to find out this week that I will be taking an Master Class with Tom Forrestall and his son William for five days in July!

 I never thought I'd ever have the opportunity to have hands on instruction with someone like Tom Forrestall. I have greatly admired him, especially after seeing a retrospect of his egg tempera paintings while I was attending Mount Allison University in 2011. He had a wonderful exhibit of his work including all of his art journals over the years.

When I viewed his egg tempera paintings at the Owens Gallery that Summer, I was so affected by them I had to hold myself up against the wall. It's an amazing thing when art can have this kind of powerful affect us.

At this time I knew next to nothing about egg tempera, I was a dyed in the wool oil painter and never imagined I'd be anything but. But I was about to do a complete 180 degree about face change in my medium from oil to egg tempera, and I've never looked back.

It was at Tom Forrestall's exhibition that I knew I absolutely had to learn what every I could about how to paint with egg tempera. The problem was, there was no one in the Mount Allison Fine Art Department faculty that knew enough about this medium to teach me.

 That said, I certainly had a great painting instructor that I admire very much at Mount Allison University,professor Christopher Down, who gave me a one of the finest books by Daniel V. Thompson. He is world's leading authority on tempera materials and processes. The Practice of Tempera Painting Materials and Methods (Dover).

However reading a book certainly isn't a replacement for being taught face to face and getting a hands on education from a mentor.  And so while at Mount Allison I was basically on my own, as I attempted to teach myself how to paint using the medium of egg tempera and all the techniques and processes involved, which was a little daunting. It was not like oil painting and I felt in some ways I was starting with the fundementals of painting again.

 Ironically I did get a brief bit of instruction one day on mixing egg yolk and the tempera pigment powder from Tom's grand daughter, who was also attending Mount Allison University in the Fine Art Department at the same time I was.

Tom Forrestall and his son William Forrestall, also an egg tempera painter will be coming to Parrsboro the week of July 5th - 9th that is being sponsored by Parrsboro Creative and will take place at the Art Lab  Studios and Gallery.

Since finding out that I've been given this very exciting opportunity to attend this Master class I've been doing what I call my happy laundry dance that Winston Spear performs here so brilliantly.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

National Aboriginal Day/Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice has always been a very special time for me, and as the years pass it becomes increasingly more significant.

Yesterday I heard a friend say he loved the Summer Solstice but it had a bitter sweetness to it. He expressed that knowing it's the time when there's the most hours of sunlight, and said he looks so forward to, but it saddened him knowing that the days and months to follow, mean there will be lessening hours of sunlight every day. I got the impression he thought it was very unfair. Perhaps he is right but life certainly can be that way. I've learned to remain hopeful and to have courage, in spite of the unfairness in life and have learned to thrive.

I thought about this and I understood the way my friend was feeling. At the same time, I know we can't have the light without the dark, and this is reflected in every aspect of our lives and it is all part of the life cycle.

On the Summer Solstice 37 years ago I married my soul and spirit partner, the late William Hackett. We met at the Young Street Mission in Toronto, Ontario. I think I fell in love immediately after hearing his laughter and when I laid eyes on him..

Bill was a writer, very much a romatic and "heard a different drummer."  We use to love to just hang out and roam around the city. On one such ocassion we wandered into a store with posters. Bill found this beautifully illustrated poem and bought it for me. I was deeply touched and treasure it always.

"Love" - Roy Croft

My late husband's mother was Cree. But Bill never talked about his Indigenous family history.  I have no doubt if Bill was living today, he'd be very engaged in his cultural heritage. He was not a religious man but a very spiritual, deep thinker. He had a great sense of humour, humility and a great love for humanity.

 Nova Scotia was very much his home in spite of being brought up in the heart of the Toronto. When we moved to my home in Nova Scotia, he absolutely loved it and felt a strong connection with the land and the peace it offered his soul.

I don't think it was a coincidence that we were married on the longest day of the year on Summer Solstice, National Aboriginal Day and there is much to be celebrated. As my friend said, Summer Solstice can be happy and sad, like many other celebrations that can be bittersweet, but today I choose the sweetness and to be very grateful.


I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

Bill and Me - Toronto 1980

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Rich Get Richer

My grandfather in his wisdom, had a saying. "The richer get richer, and the poor get poorer". He experienced first hand the Great Depression and knew the meaning of this old adage. This saying has born itself out and continues to do so because it's the truth.

Naomi Klein is a wise woman, a brilliant journalist, author and activist, who also speaks the truth.
Listening to her today on The Current made me sit up, take notice and I listened intently to what she was saying. What really resonated with me was what she said about crisis and how we choose to respond to it in ours lives. Crisis either makes us stronger or we become overwhelmed and succumb to it. Naomi Klein relates this what she calls "the new shock politics".

I was one of those individuals that wasn't shocked that Donald Trump was elected, nor was I ever a die hard fan of Obama. I've never put my faith in American politicians nor Canadian politicians for that matter.

But as Naomi Klein points out Trump is not like any other politician that's ever been elected. He's a reality TV star, pushing his brand, with his goal being to make the rich get richer and is a culmination of the Western preoccupation with capitalism, accummulation of wealth, power and control. It's what she refers to as being a "corporate coup".

Her message is not one of fear mongering, but reality. It is also not hopeless, but a  hopefuI message, based on higher ideals and solid values that are actualized into activism.
 I look forward to reading her book No Is Not Enough.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Do You See Past?

Jean, Michael and Jesse

Seeing past what's on the surface of people, places and things can be challenging to human beings.  All too often we let fear dictate our behaviour, resulting in judgments, based on preconceived notions, misconceptions, and misunderstandings.

Growing up I was exposed at an early age to disease and mental illness. Not that I thought this was a so called "normal" life, but I came to accept and understand, that it simply was and is life, for a good majority of people, and my family was no exception.

 I also became familiar with what seemed to be all those "D" words that connote negative and hurtful descriptions and an attitude of what is often seen by society as being less than, and different. However I was never made to feel this way within my own immediate family, and I'm so grateful for that.

When I was a Youth Care Worker, it was once pointed out to me that many of the words historically used to describe youth began with the letter d, like delinquent, dysfunctional, disordered, disturbed, disabled, detached, damaged, dangerous, deceitful,, deficit, delayed, dependent, depressed, destructive, deviant, devious, disgraceful, disobedient, all words that can be disheartening and discouraging to those needing to be lifted up with hope and dignity.

Similar words can be heard in reference to the mentally ill, and physically or mentally challenged in one way of another, including those marginalized within society. Fortunately some of these words are not so frequently used, and more politically correct language is heard, but there certainly are exceptions and words are still used as hurtful weapons.

I believe there still exists an attitudinal hangover that remains to this day, toward any one not seeming to belong to the norm and those not in the socio-economic mainstream. Every one needs to feel that their dignity is left completely intact when interacting with others.

Language is powerful and it reflects our bias or our kindness, and/or our cruelty toward one another. Ideally, the words we use are a reflection of our values, and hopefully our higher ideals for good and positive change and treating our fellow human beings with dignity.

Any opportunity one takes to exercise their individual power, dispelling fear and judgment, based on the aforementioned notions and misunderstandings, surrounding any kind of perceived difference, I believe can enable the knowledge, that we all have much more in common than difference.

There's an absolute need to see past the superficial trappings, and to see the individual for who they are, not for what we perceive them to be, based upon initial impressions and judgments. When we are accepted, loved and celebrated for who we are our so-called disability becomes our ability.

Recently I spoke with one such caring and very creative couple in our small coastal community, Jean and Michael Booth who have used their individual power to make real change in breaking down barriers and lifting up others with dignity through a charity they happened upon while Michael was in an airport in the US. He'd picked up money that a women had dropped and immediately returned it to her. This is what lead to him and Jean meeting Mark Richard who started the Hope Haven International in Guatemala, which provided 90,000 free wheelchairs in 106 countries in the first 16 years of outreach. Hope Haven has be operating now for over twenty years,  and hs delivered 130,000 wheelchairs to giving dignity and hope to children and adults in over 107 countries.

Prior to interviewing both Michael and Jean, I'd had a phone conversation with Jean about writing this article and we spoke about her experience as a teacher. She told me what she attributed to her changed perception toward seeing past the disability of another and seeing the individual for who they are. She said it was after having worked with a young boy in her classroom. He'd been born with no legs or arms due to his mother being prescribed Thalidomide during pregnancy.
Jean said this young boy had been fitted with prostheses and he was able to join his class on a ski trip after he'd had specially adjusted equipment made for him, and he was able to ski with the rest of his peers and to feel the great freedom of mobility. The way Jean described this transformational experience for this young boy was evident in the joyful expression on her face, and the happiness in her voice.

What made this story poignant is that Jean and Michael saw to it that a young boy in our small close-knit coastal community, thanks to their friend Mark Richard and Hope Haven International, had a custom built therapeutic bicycle adapted just for him. He is the only boy in Canada who has such a therapeutic bike and any one who is in need will not be turned away regardless of where you live as Hope Haven International is a world wide charity.
Busy in the fitting room

Jesse is a much loved and great kid, full of personality, life, character, with a keen sense of humour. I had the pleasure of teaching him art in our local school with his peers last year.
A video was made when Jesse received his bike and of him riding it, that was absolutely priceless to see  the joy and happiness on his face and especially the happiness and joy it's brought his whole family.

 “Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.”
― Jean Vanier, Becoming Human

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I Love Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke - 1887 - 1915

I subscribe to a poetry site. A poem-a-day is sent to my inbox. Truthfully I read some of them, many I don't. During the weekdays I'm sent poems by contemporary poets. Weekends I get classic poems written by dead poets.

For some reason I was immediately drawn to the title, which lead me to read this poem today called Beauty and Beauty. It was written in 1914 by the English poet Rupert Brooke who was born in 1887 and died tragically at the young age of 27 in 1915. I'd never heard of him until today.
Well I've now fallen completely in love with Rupert Brooke, but I'm prone to falling for dead artists. What can I say, I have issues around men who are emotionally unavailable to me.

 Here's Rupert Brooke's poem Beauty and Beauty. I shared it with two beautiful individuals that are celebrating their 60th wedding Anniversary today.

When Beauty and Beauty meet
   All naked, fair to fair,
The earth is crying-sweet,
   And scattering-bright the air,
Eddying, dizzying, closing round,
   With soft and drunken laughter;
Veiling all that may befall
Where Beauty and Beauty met,
   Earth’s still a-tremble there,
And winds are scented yet,
   And memory-soft the air,
Bosoming, folding glints of light,
   And shreds of shadowy laughter;
Not the tears that fill the years
Rupert Brooke