Saturday, April 30, 2016

Is Anybody Out There?

When I was a teenager my brother had a CB radio. He use to talk to people from all over, and there was a big tall antenna atop of our house. He was also interested in HAM radio but never had the opportunity to get involved with it.

I remember the excitement and fun we'd have whenever he'd start talking to someone, and I came to really appreciate the reason people get so interested in this kind of communication. After all that's what life is all about communication with others be it human or otherwise because it's what embodies our relationship and that's what gives our life meaning, joy and purpose I think.

Here is a Paper Radio podcast called The Cosmic Frequency  that I listened to for a second time. The palpable, enthusiastic joy you will you hear from the remarkable American-Australian teacher and HAM operator, Maggie Iaquinto, is infectious and she was truly an inspirational woman.

Maggie Iaquinto
She was the first the HAM radio operator and civilian to communicate via computer to computer with a Soviet Cosmonaut in the Russian Space Station MIR.

Friday, April 29, 2016

International Dance Day

Margie Gillis

As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a ballerina. My mother would take me to the ballet and I idolized an older girl Sandra Miring who took ballet and was our next door neighbour in Toronto.

I would imagine myself being a dancer in a ballet, as I got all ethereal in our living room with flailing arms, twirling and swirling around to the music my mother played on the piano. She never laughed at me, though I did come to find out she had to leave the room a few times, but spared me from ever knowing until I was an adult.
I'm so grateful she always encouraged my spontaneous expression, as I know it made all the difference in me being comfortable in my body.

Once I realized how hard ballet was on the body and how unnatural it was, I gave up on my dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Though I did decide to take dance as an adult at University, enrolling in ballet, modern dance and tap, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Later, I took up Middle Eastern dance which is my passion, but any kind of dance is such a wonderful confidence building activity and connects you to the earth. I recommend it to anyone. It's never to late to learn to dance, and you can do it whenever and where ever the urge hits and you don't have to take lessons, just move your body.

Dancing is as natural as breathing. And so in celebration of International Dance Day here's a great video, a Live performance by C&C Music Factory,  Gonna Make You Sweat, a song that never fails to get me moving! Everybody dance now!

 Ben Caplan and his talented friends doing the cover version of Uptown Funk will rock off your socks off. I love it more than the original version.

Lastly I found another very special video of 102 year old Alice Barker, who was a dancer during the 30s in Harlem Renaissance and had never seen herself dance on film until now.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Earth Day Walk

Yesterday, Earth Day, was a good day. But everyday to me is Earth Day living in such a beautiful place as I do, and I feel very blessed because of it.

I've started back walking ever other day for an hour and a half. This morning as I went outside early I was greeted with the plethora of singing song birds, wild Canada geese, and warm sweet smelling Spring air.

On my way I encountered a small chickadee that I could almost reach out and touch, as she didn't seem afraid. A little brown squirrel and a rabbit scurried close by, and I saw what I think was an American Three Toed Woodpecker looking for breakfast, in a dead tree stump. Seeing all these tiny creatures filled my heart with happiness.

On my way back, it had gently started to rain, a few drops here and there. The soft rain gave the air an intoxicating smell of Spring and I thought to myself how I loved this earth, the land here, and everything about it. I searched the ditches for pussy willows that aren't quite out, and thoughts of Mayflowers filled my head.

Spring is my very favourite time of year, because for me it's a season of celebration, when I am even more  grateful for the beauty of the earth, as everything is in the early stages of new growth, full of the promise of new life in creation.

Yesterday in the PAINTS (Professional Artists In The Schools) program that a teacher and I facilitate together in our local school, we talked about The Circle of Courage in relation to Earth Day and what new art project we were about to create next, a tiled mosaic called an Earth Wall which they are very excited about.

 I am always so impressed with how children understand that are directly connected to one another as human beings, and to their environment. They acutely comprehend how important it is to honour and protect our earth.

I introduced them to a blog called Two Green Leaves, written by two 11 year old boys who also care about the earth and climate change. They are trying to make others aware of how important it is to understand and to try and make a difference in saving our earth.

I am so happy and grateful I walk this earth as an artist.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Poem To Bill

Poem To Bill

you gave me memories

that have stayed

hanging around

your ghost

long after you left

years turn to decades

i feel you

close to me

i 've become myself

because of you

i feel you

home in my heart

where you


live with me

Monday, April 18, 2016

Are You Perpetuating Destructive Falsehoods About Artists?

I've been out of commission since Friday, not even wanting to write any blog posts, so that's why you haven't seen any recent posts. I've been feeling a little bit out of sync, which is how I always feel if I don't do my regular amount of writing.

What I really wanted to be doing was to be digging into the good earth, planting peas and parsnips, transplanting my Winter squash and my cukes. Gardening puts me in direct contact with myself and my creativity and it's so good for me, mind, soul and body. But on Friday my body had other plans after I came down with the second cold in a few months, that frankly has knocked the bejesus out of me energy wise.

So I'm trying very hard to take good care of myself and have been doing as little as possible in my fashionable house coat and slippers. And so I am as contented as I can be with vertigo, a smidgen of nausea, a lot of post nasal drip and along with the usual accompanying aches and chills.

Although I didn't have much appetite, I've managed to get some good sustenance down my gullet, and even had a lay down.

Regardless if you have any one close by to take of you or not, you've got to do your best to take care of yourself.
Living alone when your sick sucks, mostly because you haven' t any one to comfort you. But fortunately I have learned how to take care and comfort myself.

It's a falsehood that artists don't take care of themselves, or they're self-destructive. And if we don't take care of ourselves, the fact is that, it is no less, or no more than other people, and has nothing to do with being an artist.

 I love to tell stories through the subject matter of my art, from myths that speak of eternal truths. I am not interested in falsehoods, and there is a difference.

I don't know who comes up with all these falsehoods, but it isn't artists!

Oh there are lots of other falsehoods, that I've listed below.

1. Making art isn't real work and it's easy.

Many people think artists shouldn't worry their pretty little heads about money, and think because you are really doing this as a hobby and just for fun,  it's not really a job. This falsehood devalues art and especially devalues artists, and perpetuates the falsehood.
The misconceptions surrounding making money and making art perpetuates the falsehood that these two are seemingly viewed as not being economically feasible and are somehow diametrically opposed one another.
Artists simply want to make art that they can be proud of and to make a comfortable living.

 2. Artists aren't smart, they can't do much of anything else, so they make art.

This is so untrue and insulting. Creativity is an absolute essential to education and learning. The countless creative thinkers like Albert Einstein and numerous others prove this to be true, throughout history, and within our contemporary world. Creativity is not only for the artist it is present in everyone and it's a fact that the arts can significantly improve academic learning in every field of study and profession, and it is good for the intellect.

3. Artists are starving and poor, because we can't ever expect to make a real living at making art.

This falsehood is so destructive and defeatist. If you are of this opinion, it is not only extremely untrue, it can be so destructive and self-defeating  that it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy we tell ourselves that leaves us no where, but dead in the water.

4. Artist's suffer for their art like martyrs.

 I don't have much to say about this falsehood other than, no we don't, and that would be masochistic. Artists are not masochists.

5. Artists are alcoholics, addicts, self-destructive and mentally ill.

Artists are no different than anyone. The majority of people in the world have some kind of dysfunction. Those individuals who purport not to be dysfunctional in one way or another, including addiction or mental illness, depression etc., are in denial.

6. Artists are slobs, disorganized and unreliable.

No. this is another untruth, and falsehood. Slobs, people who are disorganized and unreliable exist in every class, culture and profession.

7. Artists have a certain look. They look like artists and are eccentric.

Well maybe they do, maybe they don't. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. Who cares? I ask why is this important? Accepting one another as we are is what's important. Diversity is a very good thing. Out of diversity comes creativity and innovation.

8. Artists have mental illness.

See falsehood number 5.

I'm sure there are lots of other falsehoods and untruths. Feel free to add and share any that you might have yourself or what you've heard. We've all heard them, at one time or another. I want to challenge and dispel these falsehoods that are founded on anything but the truth. Falsehoods are not necessarily lies, but untruths based on misunderstanding and ignorance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Painting Another Lighthouse

Painting a lighthouse that was life size would be a monumental project and I would never entertain that idea. The lighthouse I finished painting today I was commissioned to paint. It's a metallic lighthouse replica, approximately five feet high. I was very happy to get the commission, none the less the work was tedious and slow going. There is always something to be learned by doing work that you would not normally choose to do, mostly you learn about yourself I think, especially when the work is challenging.

This project is nothing like the usual kind of painting surface, nor the usual kind of paint I am use to working with. It was challenging enough to complete, but it wasn't something I could rush even a bit, so it was long and drawn out. I am very happy it's done and that I'm satisfied with the outcome.

It appears the past few years my life has been surrounded by lighthouses as a subject matter in the paintings I have been commissioned to paint, which is a good thing because it's given me a new and greater appreciation of them.

I forgot to mention the utilitarian purpose of the lighthouse is to be used as a recycling bin outside a coffee shop.

The video I've posted is of a magnificent spot close to where I live, called Cape D'or. I spent some time working there a number of years ago. It 's what I consider to be quintessential Nova Scotia.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Nova Scotia PAINTS

Yesterday, April 1st was an exciting day for me because I helped to facilitate a program called PAINTS, in our local school in Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia. This is offered through Visual Arts Nova Scotia. Professional Artists, go into the schools over a period of weeks and facilitate art workshops.

Many moons ago, way back in the 70s, I was attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as a student in Fine Arts and the Art Education program. At this time art was beginning to become seriously cut throughout Nova Scotia in the schools. This was very disturbing to artists and art educators alike, and we began to fight back against these cuts. Seemingly to no avail, as the cut backs continued.

Fast forward years ahead, there where fewer and fewer art teachers to be found in the Nova Scotia educational school system, primarily in secondary school. However,  I am overjoyed and heartened to learn that this is finally turning around and art is now being reintroduced into the schools.

The higher ups and I am certain teachers themselves are seeing how crucial the creative arts are as one of the basics, as a way to integrate and directly affect academic learning. The creative arts not only augment academic learning but improves it substantially, exceeds the average person's expectation and it is how to make learning come alive.

The children I am working with right now, are in grade three to five and are so much fun, astute and an absolute delight. They need no convincing to understand how and why art it is important to them inside and outside of their school classrooms.

Their teacher who I am working with, is a highly intelligent and very creative person. We share similar ideas about teaching and creativity. She is a real joy to work with, and I am so very grateful to be involved with this wonderful program PAINTS.