Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reel Youth

As a former Youth Care Worker I am always excited and overjoyed when I learn about innovative and  youth programs involving creativity, because it makes me feel hopeful about the future of humanity and the world. Here is a fantastic program called Reel Youth.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Moth

A few years back when I was attending Mount Allison University, finishing my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree. I had enrolled in a required class, Art Seminar, which was one of the very best courses I have ever taken during my formal art education , spanning nine years approximately, first at NSCAD way back in the 70s, and then at Mount Allison.
In this Art Seminar class, Jery Ropson was our Professor. Jery is from Newfoundland, and a natural born story teller. He introduced his students to The Moth, a grand radio show that features story telling. I heard this great story replayed on CBC Radio today. I have to say it is one of my very favourites. I can see why Ed Gavagan's story was so moving and popular. It's an incredible human story that touches the soul deeply, a story about living life to the fullest, being grateful, and seeing the best in humanity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Poverty Game - Imagine

Today I stopped into a good friend's to have a chat. We had a great heart to heart about youth care work, vocations, and so called " women's work ", the rewards, setbacks, difficulties and what we can and can't accept.

Growing up in the sixties, and during the second wave of feminism, I often find myself acutely aware of the differences, and similarities between now and then. I can't help but feel we are regressing in so many ways when I see the media, and how it objectifies girls and women. As well, the governments greatly contribute to this situation with their lack of compassion and support for women, children, families and all those living  on the margins of society. Finding it to be disconcerting and disturbing is an understatement.

 Instead of decreasing, it appears to be on the increase throughout the world, with the devaluing of humanity and destruction of the environment, discrimination, xenophobia,  and violence toward women and girls globally. Our priorities are very misplaced, and backwards, if not almost lost, or even seemingly non-existent. Economy has usurped ecology, and that especially includes human beings.

My friend showed me some beautiful, exquisite hand crafted work she created through the Winter. It was a lot of hours and skill she'd put into this work, but she expressed that a number of people weren't willing to remunerate her for the time, effort, skill and money that she had invested, and we both agreed because it was considered " women's work ". We continued to talk and agreed any child minding work was viewed the same way.

 She expressed to me government services provides a grand total of four dollars an hour, paid toward any child minders of foster children, toward the foster parents cost. When she told me this, I could feel my blood pressure rise, as I thought of my own past experiences within the foster care system, but that's a whole other story.

I have to say, this devaluing of work is a common lament among artisans and women generally. CARFAC has reported that the average yearly income of Canadian artists, is a total of $18,000, gross. That figure has been the same as long as I can remember. I am here to state, if I could make $18,000 a year, I'd feel pretty darn comfortable. That said, I know this amount of money is not just below the poverty line, but subsistence.

Women make less then, or the equivalent I am certain, to what artists make, and those are the working poor, never mind those on Social Assistance, disability pensions, or others on fixed incomes.

 Poverty affects everyone, and is a historic legacy, but does not need to be the future legacy we leave to our children, and to our children's children.

I ask myself, time and time again, why? I know the answers, but it is no consolation, just a continuous frustration and disappointment, and I wonder, where it will all end.

Today my thoughts went to the Bluenose 11, here in Nova Scotia, after hearing how our government has spent the God awful staggering amount of $19,000,000 on refurbishing this schooner. Now, there are estimates of it costing a further $24,000,000 plus, before it's over. THIS IS INSANITY!

When I was a Youth Care Worker for twenty years, not that many years ago, I attended a workshop, and played a "game" called The Poverty Game. It had been invented by a group of people who were on Social Assistance, and it simulated what it was like to be on assistance. We were given a defined character,  a fixed monthly income, and a personal life scenario, that would develop along, as we continued to play the game. Not long into the game, you could feel the stress levels go up in the room, which was palpable. If you chose to quit the game, this meant you had committed suicide.

Concluding the game, every one was asked who " cheated ", meaning who didn't report any income you obtained under the table, you lied to the Social Worker, who asked every month, if you had any extra income to claim. When asked, every one in the room raised their hands to indicate in fact, they had cheated.

The woman facilitating the game, informed us this game had been played with a group of nuns, and everyone of them also "cheated ". The lessons learned that day were many. What we learned mainly, was that people on social assistance get 50 % of what they actually need.

My grand father always said, " The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. " This continues to be true today. Some say, poverty will always be with us. Perhaps, but I am not one who believes this to be true, nor does it have to be. I have a much more hopeful destiny for mankind and our world... Imagine...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Anna Deavere Smith - " Be More Than Ready "


Anna Deavere Smith 

" Be more than ready. Be present in your discipline. Remember your gift. Be grateful for your gift and treat it like a gift. Cherish it, take care of it, and pass it on. Use your time to bathe yourself in that gift. Move your hand across the canvas. Go to museums. Make this into an obsession…
What you are will show, ultimately. Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things. "
I learned about Anna Deavere Smith today, from a site I subscribe to called, Brain Pickings. I love this site because I always learn something about artists, people, psychology, and human behaviour etc.
Everyday we learn, whether we want to or not. It is especially wonderful and joyous to learn if you want to. Perhaps there are some who are unaware that they want to learn. Teaching ourselves, or being taught is discipline. There is no shame in admitting we don't know something, but it is vital that we have a desire and willingness to learn and not be fearful of what others will think of us. I believe it is false pride to not admit that we don't know about something.

Remembering my early life as a young girl, I am so grateful to my mother for the opportunity to study piano,  accordion and art. The fact I don't recall wanting to take piano, or accordion lessons isn't relevant, more important, is that the regular practice of lessons, and playing, helped immeasurably, because it gave me a discipline and later assisted me to apply it to many creative pursuits I wanted to immerse myself in, primarily in art, music, and writing.

Piano was a great foundation to start and to build from. This was not an easy endeavor, as other personal issues and concerns interrupted my ability to be disciplined. I began to think of discipline as a dirty word, and associated it with something I had to do, and it was going to be an unpleasant experience, because I didn't want to do it.

 Thankfully, I always returned to creativity, where I would tap into that discipline, and it eventually enabled me to understand freedom, through discipline. I began to really connect with what makes me happy, what my gifts were,  immersing myself in creative activity and practicing my art in a disciplined way.
 It's a great feeling to know and understand discipline, having learned this without my knowledge at an early age. Grateful thanks to my mother for helping me to understand the importance of discipline in creativity, helping me to find my way, and letting me be who I am, an artist.

 “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Alice Neel

Alice Neel 1900-1984

Yesterday I had a lovely visit, with my good friend and artist, for a cup of tea, two pieces of her rhubarb homemade pie, over our usual conversations about art and creativity. She told me about a women Alice Neel, a wonderful artist, who like my artist friend, was also very involved in doing portraiture as her subject matter, and was very excited to tell me about her.

 My friend and I we often have heart to heart talks about the creative process, why we are artists, what art means to us, and what motivates our choice of subject matter. Having a strong social conscience we agree, it is vital to us as artists, and is very pertinent to the art work we make.

When my friend spoke about Alice Neel, I thought the name sounded vaguely familiar, and I said that I must have learned about her in my Fine Art-Art History class at Mount Allison University, that focused solely on artists who were women. I could not recall, perhaps because she had not been covered in detail, if at all. And so today, I went on the hunt to find out as much as I could about Alice Neel. What I found was very exciting, and moving. Her work as a dedicated artist was compelling, and I am excited to share this with my readers, particularly with other artists, who like me, are not very familiar with Alice Neel. This is what I love to do more than any thing else on this blog, to learn about women, who's art work and life have been overlooked, and whom with the masses are not familiar. My hope is that you enjoy finding out about this remarkable artist, Alice Neel and other inspiring and courageous women like her.

" Obituaries recount her courageous life, her dedication to art, and her struggles against the tide of the art world. William G. Blair of the New York Times calls her (October 14) ‘the quintessential bohemian ... [whose] unconventional and intense representational portraits, many painted in her early years, were neglected, even resented, in official art world circles’ and notes that ‘in the last decades of her life, the honors that had been denied her came her way.’ Stephan Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes (October 16): ‘Steadfast in the pursuit of her own vision and amused by her ability to shock both the art world and the arbiters of American taste, Miss Neel lived a singular life devoted to painting and to the laughing, suffering world around her.’

After looking for photos of Alice Neel's work I came upon this one below that I posted of Art Historian Linda Nochln & Daisy. My visual memory was triggered upon seeing this great painting by Alice Neel, in my Art History class. I was glad to realize, that we did in fact, study Alice Neel.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Louise Bourgeois- Studio/Home

Louise Bourgeois

Barely getting my first cup of coffee down, and having half my hair braided, I found this fantastic post about Louise Bourgeois. I think I must have intuitively knew it was waiting for me.
I increasingly love to read more and more what new posts have been blogged, on the list that I subscribe to. Sometimes I don't bother to have an close look, but for whatever reason I was compelled to do this immediately this morning, and I am so happy I did!

I remember very clearly learning about Louise Bourgeois, in one of my all time favourite Art History classes, that focused on 'women artists.' I wasn't a great fan of her Louise Bourgeois' sculpture work, but I was definitely impressed, and amazed. I was struck and fascinated by her personality, and was left wanting to know more about her. She seemed mysterious and troubled, but not a lot of information was really known about her in the context of art history. I see now, that she was a mature age before she got a lot of professional recognition within the art world. I knew Louise Bourgeois had a trouble childhood, and her work was some what rather dark and disturbing to me. I am not saying that this is a negative thing, my subjective opinion is not that relevant. I appreciate her now, in a fuller and more expanded way, having learned more about her.

This blog post I read this morning, is an article written by Lucy Davies, who visited her town house in NYC where Louise Bourgeois lived and had her studio. It is very insightful, and intimately reveals a lot about her personality, and what a remarkable artist, and woman she was.
Germaine Greer wrote an excellent article as well for the Guardian in 2010.
I believe it is necessary to know about an artist's personality, and what influenced them, as it gives a deeper appreciation and understanding of their art, and helps you to have more objective and balanced opinion regarding the artist's work.

 I am so glad I subscribe to this particular blog because I have had the opportunity to finally learn more about Louise Bourgeois.
Louise died at the age of 98 in 2010.

Artist - Louise Bourgeois - 1989

  "I am lucky to have been brought up by a mother who was a feminist and fortunate enough to have married a husband who was a feminist, and I have raised sons who are feminists."
                                                                                 - Louise Bourgeois

Monday, June 16, 2014

Graeme Patterson

Recently shortlisted for the 2014 Sobey Award, Canadian artist Graeme Patterson is a really wonderfully fun, and amazingly dedicated artist to his art, and creative imagination.

What I really appreciate and love the most about Graeme, besides his humble, yet very engaging personality and dry wit, is his sense of play. He hasn't forgotten his childhood, not only remembers, but pays attention to what it was like to be a kid, and the lessons it can teach.

Graeme Patterson's love of creating miniatures is embodied in creative, three dimensional stories, and is the real stuff of imagination, that you see in children. It is refreshingly creative, charming, thoughtful and insightful. His playful pieces simultaneously reflect  a serious commitment and dedication, that is very admirable, and I think somewhat enviable to me, because he and builds puppets and miniature art  and then brings it all to life through animations and installations, that really appeal to my inner child or mini-me!

Often paying homage to a Canadian life, his art work and creations are so much fun to see in person, and nostalgically deeply touching.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit one of his exhibits, I strongly recommend that you do so. I assure you, you will feel joy, a little sadness perhaps, and definitely amazement.

I have provided a link below to one of my favourite of Graeme's installions, entitled Woodrow, the place where he is from. It is a beautiful and touching homage to his grandfather Herb.


I think it is essential for artists to be very connected to this sense of play in their work, because if you are having fun creating your work, chances are very good, that others will enjoy it, and pickup on this kind of energy. Play and humour can connect us to memory and identity, and what it means to be human, through the power of imagination.

Graeme has had an interesting life, and is a real story teller. This past Winter I had the great pleasure to be apart of a story telling event with Graeme in Sackville, New Brunswick. I was transfixed by his story telling, and it is always fun to talk with him, because he is such a salt of the earth type of character, and always ready to laugh.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Heart of Fathers

Recently, I began to dig into the genealogy of my mother's side of the family. Precisely, I was wanting to learn about my grandmother's side of the family. Generally speaking the tendency is to gravitate to learning about our father's side of the family, at least this has been my own experience for a myriad of reasons. In part, I think it is a cultural thing, where the convention is being more interested in the male progeny. Learning about our family fulfills our strongest need, belonging, and re-enforces our sense of identity.

Being Father's Day today, I began to think about this. I had to conclude without our mother's we'd not have our fathers, and I can't help but think about my father, without thinking about my mother, and visa-verse, when these parental celebratory days come around every year. The fact is, many women perform the role of both mum and dad, which was my family situation having an absentee father at the age of 13.

Many of us loose fathers to death at an early age, or are children without parents. I feel the need to talk about this on this Father's Day. We often overlook the darker side of these parental, so called, celebrations doesn't exist, and are left as an implicit, unspoken agenda, expectation and pressure to happily go long with the crowd, smiling and sending sentimental messages on social media etc. The reality is that for many, it is a painful time with overwhelming feelings of great loss. I certainly am not opposed to these 'days', it's just something I think society in general needs to be sensitive to.

My late father had been a police officer. When the death's of the three R.C.M.P. were recently taken, Const. Doug Larched, Const. Dave Ross, and Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, I began to think about my father, when he was as a Police officer. If he'd been killed in the line of duty, which could have very easily happened, I would not be here. I'd never been born.
I am so grateful for having had my father for so many years.

Especially poignant to me right now, is the tragic and violent deaths of the three Moncton R.C.M.P. Officers, who's young lives were taken, leaving young children, wives, mother's, fathers, sister's and brothers, devastating to the families and to those who loved them.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all on this Father's Day.

   Const. Douglas Larched,  Const. Dave Ross , Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan

Friday, June 6, 2014

Same Mould, Same Mould

The day before my birthday, on June 3rd, 2014 I had a egg tempera painting exhibit at Struts Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick. It will be up for two weeks. The exhibit for me was a very affirming experience, and I enjoyed myself immensely, though I admit it was stressful leading up to the opening, being that I was not so thrilled about the subject matter, and found it very difficult to get motivated to paint, however upon  completion of the series I was feeling happy, and satisfied. I choose this subject matter as something entirely different, as a change in what I'll normally paint, with the thought, that it would be a good exercise, which it was.

 I certainly learned from the experience, painting ugly and rather gross things. My sculpture teacher first encouraged me to paint these illustrations from the recipe book, Davis Dainty Dishes that I had showed her a couple of years ago, when I was still at Mount Allison University, completing my BFA. She attended my opening, and I reminded her of the time I'd brought the recipe book into class, and told her, this was now all her fault that I was painting these moulds! She stated it was good to paint ugly things! Indeed!

 One of the ugliest of the " Dainty Dishes " is called Tongue Mould. Not that it is the ugliest, but the thought of eating cow's tongue brought back an old memory in my mind, the sight of a big old cow tongue laid up on the counter, in my mother's kitchen, that she was lovingly preparing for supper, when I was a teenager, and at that very moment I swore this would never ever pass my lips!

This one has got to be the ugliest!
Lobster Relish

 I couldn't bring myself to even think about painting tongue mould, not unlike many others in the book.  Before  my sculpture professor left the Struts Gallery on Tuesday night, she requested a commission painting of, you guessed it " Tongue Mould!

Now for you visual pleasure, I 've posted below the picture I have been commissioned to paint of  tongue mould. The other six are from my series of six egg tempera paintings I have hanging at Struts Gallery. They will be up until Saturday June 14th 2014. Here's to painting ugly things!

Tongue Mould From Davis Dainty Dishes

Charlotte Russe - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6"x6", 2014

Carrington Mould - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6"x6", 2014

Pavlova - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6" x 6", 2014

Beetroot Mould - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6" x 6", 2014

Fruit Jelly Mould - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6" x6", 2014

Salmon In Jelly  Mould - Egg Tempera on Ceramic Tile, 6" x 6", 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Blog Tour!

Well I've been busy working part-time and trying to get ready for an up coming exhibit at Struts Artist Run Centre and Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, June 2nd -15th. Next week! The opening reception will be on June 3rd, day before my birthday.
Spring is a rather overwhelming time so much to do, in and outside of the house. But I'm just doing what I can and taking it all just one day at a time. The warm weather has been very slow in getting here in this part of the world. Today on an afternoon CBC Radio program I heard someone call this month of weather Junuary! Oh boy. Not that cold, but sure as heck not very warm! Furnaces and wood stoves are still being fired up, sweaters and wool socks are also being worn! Any who...

Just this week, I was contacted by a dear online friend, Indigene Theresa Gaskin a prolific, talented and beautiful, insightful and  very vibrant artist. She asked  if I would be interested in participating in a Blog Tour. Apparently this has been happening for sometime now online. It gives you the opportunity to meet other women artists by visiting their blog and  maybe subscribing  to see what is going on in their studios. What a fantastic idea! Wished I'd thought of it!!! Such a positive and uplifting  thing to participate in! God knows we need that right now.
It's a wonderful way for women artists to connect, network and support one another, plus see a lot of great art! 

And so Indigene forwarded me questions to answer and here they are!

What am I working on?

Presently I am doing a series of Jelly Moulds from a 1920 - 1930 recipe book, Davis Dainty Dishes
​" Charlotte Russe " Egg Tempera on ceramic tile, 6' x 6", 2014
Charlotte Russe was mentioned on the BBC series " Downton Abbey " as being a " lovely pudding"

" Carrrington Mould " Egg Tempera on ceramic tile, 6" x 6', 2014
​" Pavlova " Egg Tempera on ceramic tile, 6" x 6". 2014

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There aren't many painters around using egg tempera these days. I expect because there are few people that are schooled in this technique.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Writing for me is an essential part of my creative process. It greases the creative wheel so to speak. and keeps the creative flow going writing taps into the intuitive source, involving the mind, body, and spirit. It is very much a meditation, contemplation, reflection, prayer and a clearing away the psychic rubbish in my mind, so I have a clarity of thought and open channels to creativity.
I have been journaling long hand for over 30 years.
Primarily my work subject matter lies in exploring the Wild Woman, the Crone, based on story telling, and cultural myths. I also like to just have fun with my subject matter incorporating humour.

Wolf Woman - 12" x  8" egg tempera on wood panel 2011-12

Wolf Woman - 12" x  8" egg tempera on wood panel 2011-12

Wild Woman - Singing Over The Bones, egg tempera on wood panel, 2011-2012
How does your writing/creating process work?

My writing is a three page journal entry consisting of random stream of thought. I usually write first thing in the morning, long hand and then I blog online which are specific posts about art, artists and creativity.
My art blog I began in 2008, as an exploration of what it means to me to live creatively.
 I am primarily a painter, using egg tempera medium.

 I graduated as a mature student with my BFA from Mount Allison University in 2012 and attended the Nova Scotia College of  Art & Design for approximately four years in the early 70s.

The two other women I have chosen for this blog tour are Julia Speer who I met online some time ago. She is a wonderfully gifted and passionate artist, art educator and teacher. Julia facilitates women's retreats in Georgia USA, and is a deep kind of thinker.

Judith Joseph is a remarkable artist, who is very versatile and her specialty is intricately detailed Ketubah ( Hebrew illuminated marriage contracts, that are illustrated using calligraphy) for Jewish weddings.
The blog tour is open to anyone, but personally I have a great passion learning about other women artists, as I find them inspiring as women and as artists. I hope you enjoy these blogs written by these three women I have linked too, as much as I do.