Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I'd like to leave this year with a little Christmas miracle. For years I've had a friendly feud with someone close to my family. He's a well to do, republican American working in a high level finance position. A right wing capitalist through and through. He's criticized Canada's bad weather, too left politics and even the Queen on our cash (which being a complete Anglophile, I quite like, only I wish she was holding a sword with alchemy skulls or a magic wand or something cool...uh...I'm digressing).
A few days ago, I had a conversation with this lovely man and I'm still trying to put my gaping jaw back in place. He spewed forth one of the strongest criticisms against the Bush administration I've heard yet. But more surprisingly was a bit of a turnaround, complimenting some European countries for their social programs and 'taking care of their own' not like the rampant greed and corruption he's seen in the states. I was filled with the same warm fuzzy feeling I would have had if I learned about a litter of puppies being safely rescued from a well. By God, it's a Christmas miracle! my right wing friend becoming just a smidgen left of centre. And being a little 'left' is really about compassion and humanity. So with that thought, I've changed my mind, if it all goes down badly and armageddon is upon us, I will DEFINITELY give you some meatballs AND my vegetable barley soup, but only if you promise not to make the fake gagging sounds like my kids did today.
Happy New Year everyone, peace, contentment and love to you all, see you next year.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I feel lucky. My flights home from Toronto were only 4 hours delayed. I made it home at 4 am yesterday morning. Walking through Calgary airport, getting my connecting flight, was a bit surreal. It looked a little like an emergency disaster shelter, crowded with many weary people trying to sleep on the floor, using their luggage as pillows. Some had been there for 3 days. It was extremely unusual for storm systems to be present across the entire country at once.
I'm always surprised in these mini crisis that people are so well behaved. People just sigh, get on their cell phones, complain to people who know them or go off to the airport bar and drink. The people at the boarding gate next to mine had to get back on the plane they just came off of and go back to the city they just left to get a connecting flight to Vancouver. Then a woman spoke up,"but this plane [referring to mine] is going to Abbotsford, [an hours outside Vancouver] Why can't I go on this plane!" I was expecting the beginning of a big scene. It also occurred to me, having averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night for the past week, you become a little like a hungry, mangy dog with a bone. That distressed woman could have slowly cut off my arm with a sharp, rusty metal file and I still wouldn't give up my seat on the plane. Hmmm... I think that imagery is a result from reading The Road during my trip. A brilliant book, hauntingly beautiful, but horrific and bleak, bleak, bleak.
During my trip I did manage to do one thing unrelated to my fathers death. My sisters and I went to the newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The space was redesigned by Frank Gehry, hosting an expanded collection. It was wonderful. The highlight for me was an installation entitled "The Index" by Montreal artist David Altmejd. It's a disco infused, kitschy Audubon nightmare, and I thought it was spectacular. But like all installation pieces, you need to walk through it to really experience it fully.
Looking at art from Rubens, to Picasso to pieces like Altmejd's, a selected scope of art history was at my fingertips. Contemporary art that (the proverbial) 'they' consider important can be summed up simply:
Large scale, obsessive created art pieces using common materials or objects, not art materials, remade into recognizable forms = iconic. There was sports bags and golf bags made into large totem poles, thousands of plastic craft beads made into a large curtained landscape wall hanging. Fine wire mesh that looked a little like window screening made into a replica of a bathroom. Although there was some big paintings, they seemed weak next to these other art spectacles. I thought it was exciting and pointless all at the same time, and if that feeling doesn't sum up living in the modern world I don't know what does.
Now I'm off to bake gingerbread cookies with my kids for the big red guy's appearance tomorrow. And honestly, I can't think of anything I'd rather do more right now. Simple pleasures.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I went to my father's funeral today. It was rough, but made a little easier by seeing childhood friends of family and being together with my siblings. Surprisingly, an old Estonian Baptist minister (almost an oxymoron, Estonians are notoriously moderate Christians, if at all) who was the only one available to do the funeral, made it easier by being a bit wacko. Very little talk about my dad, but lots of preaching for us to make sure our souls are saved. He was odd, with no talent for metaphors, a few were just too weird for me to remember. His 'loopiness', as someone remarked, made the experience annoying enough to distract me from much sadness. But I am grateful my brother, Victor and sister, Karin, spoke about my father, mentioning his amazing kindness and patience and I just want to hug them again for their wonderful words.
Grief works in strange ways. All week, I haven't been feeling much more than stress. I've been busy trying to prepare myself for the trip out here as well as prepare my husband for his brief adventure in single parenting.
Me to my daughters:
" Be good, make it easy for dad, but not TOO easy. I don't want him to think it's all easy. Ummm...you can beat each other up twice, and Olivia, never stop asking for a puppy."
I've been too busy and exhausted to grieve. I had 3 hours of sleep on Wednesday before leaving for the airport at 3:00am. Just before boarding I realized I left my drivers license in my other purse. The airline staff said they couldn't let me on, but could book me on a flight later the next day once I had my ID in order. Only then did I finally lose it - cried, sobbed, explained I had to get to my fathers funeral, and sobbed some more. So they relented. 11 hours later I arrived for what normally would be a five and half hour flight, but my luggage was left in another city.
Things are much better now, I have clothes, a toothbrush, the funeral is finished, I'm looking forward to going home and hearing the familiar sounds of kids screaming, the dogs barking, the hamster OCD'ing on his plastic wheel all night... I'll be back online, back to myself in a few days.
Thanks to everyone for commenting, emailing and phoning their sympathies, that meant a lot.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
It's been a bit of a reflective day as well. My father has a constitution of steel. He's had TB, heart attacks, a stroke, prostrate cancer and has bounced back from all of that miraculously well to become his good, old mellow self again in record time. And mellow he is. When he was a boy, his mother saw him lying on the grass,looking down at something,completely motionless. When she went to him, he was staring at a wild strawberry, red ripe on one side and green on the other. He said he was watching the strawberry and waiting for it to ripen and remained there for hours. Sometimes, when I'm thinking about role models for zen like patience, I forget there has been one part of my life all along.
So as I'm waiting for some word from thousands of kilometers away, I realize whatever happens, all I wish for is for his comfort. 96 is a good, long life. If you were to choose the length of your life, what would you choose? Could you choose? Or would your thoughts immediately shift to how meaningful you make that life. If you were able to accomplish much of what you wanted and experienced the full joy and richness of life by the time you were 60, would you want to live to 110. These thoughts occurred to me yesterday morning when reading Edward Winkleman's blog post The Immortality Paradox. I've just started reading his blog, it' s a great read about art, the art world and the art market (high end). This post was more philosophical about post-human ideals, the conquering of death and extending life spans to 1000 yrs and the moral argument surrounding the desire for immortality. It's an interesting read, the comments even more so.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I went cloud chasing today. Living sandwiched between mountains and an ocean, experiencing extremes in weather is common. It was a clear and sunny day. However, while driving around doing errands, my easily distracted brain noticed a big, white, fluffy cloud stretching across the ground down the hill. I suppose the other term would be fog, but I'm full of child like wonder today, so I prefer cloud. I dropped everything to go walk through it. Here's a picture I took this afternoon. I was cloaked in a white mist. A few hundred feet on either side of me, I would have been standing in bright sun. It was a completely surreal experience. I wanted to rush home and paint a huge picture with just layers and layers of buttery oil paints and try to capture this subtlety, but not today... there's groceries, dinner, kids to pick up and parcels to send away. Meh, maybe tomorrow.
And here's a picture of one of my daughters at her school's big Christmas concert last night. Yep, that's her in the red and black top. And I was so pleased with myself for arriving early, thinking what great seats we got this year....
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Unfortunately, not long after, my computer told me it had deflected an outside viral attack. It did this many times. There was a nano battle occurring right in front of me, so I assisted by using my power of invisibility - disconnecting the internet. Then I felt lost. Because a computer with no web access? What's the point? Free cell? Solitaire? So I wasted time doing that, to prolong the insane amount of things I have planned today. Now I have to get back to all those things.
I have a few posts planned for the December Challenge. But I'd like to use one my lifelines please. I'm asking YOU, reader, for ideas. Anyone? Keep in mind, I'm not above personal humiliation right now (to a degree). Topics that are off limits are: automobile things (because nothing bores me more) and team sports (same reason) and that's it, anyone?
Monday, December 8, 2008
That clip was from Associated Press. I wanted to see updates from this news story so I fearfully explored that path of ugly stupidity and took a peek at ultra right-wing Fox New's take on the story. Not surprisingly, Fox News expands the doll's messages to include Satanic ones as well. And if you understand what they are from the video clip? then you're marked and you must BURN, WITCH BURN!
The power of suggestion is everything. Adults pick up many accidental little quirks in kids toys. Mike Mozart's humorous reviews of common toys demonstrates this point. This one's my favourite, how... HOW did Disney miss this before it went into production?!
The one case of true toy sabotage I know of is an act of genius in my book. In the early 1990's a group claiming to be the BLO, the Barbie Liberation Organization took 300 talking Barbie and G.I. Joe Dolls and switched the voice boxes before returning them to the store. G.I said things as, "I hate math" and "will we ever have enough clothes?" while Barbie said, "Eat lead, Cobra!" and "Vengeance is Mine!".
Mike Bononno was the mastermind behind the prank and went on to form The Yes Men with Andy Bichlbaum. They're activists, posing as representatives of the World Trade Organization, Exxon, Dupont and others to expose the true nature of 'The Man'. They call it "identity correction" and their weapon is elaborate satirical pranks. The Yes Men documentary is smart and gut-busting funny. Here's the trailer for it. Go rent it! Now I'm off to sleep to rest up before confronting the crazy Christmas Shoppers. G'Night.
**A big thanks to Andrea for the doll news clip (keep them coming!)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
When you sketch purely from imagination as I was doing with this drawing, it's pretty clear that you're influenced by whatever is going on at that moment. In my case, my daughters were bickering for most of the weekend. After exhausting myself as a referee, I gave up and hid in the basement with my pen and paper and let them fight it out. My youngest has a new (only mildly disturbing) saying she uses when her older sister is squeezing her or pinning her down, "That hurts so much it doesn't even hurt anymore!" I should have bred more. In a big families, the sibling torture is nicely spread around, not so damn focused.
So I was craving some peace and quiet. Today, I also received some old photos of my parents and my family when we were all young. Both my parents escaped from Estonia during WWII. We grew up as part of an Estonian community in Ontario. My parents Estonian friends were close enough for my siblings and I to call them Aunt and Uncle, but our only true blood relatives in Canada were my Great Aunt and her family. Thanks to the magic of Face Book, my cousin has contacted me and has been sending old photos. I love getting them. As I was looking at them today I thought of old rustic, Estonian, woodsy like things when I drew the picture (the background is pure BC though).
It's interesting to see old photos of yourself that you've never seen before. Here is one photo sent today of me and two of my sisters with my great aunt. I'm the little, squishy one sitting down. Awww, poor me, cute but a little like a flunkie alien child from Village of the Damned. I would be posed for world domination if only I could find my other shoe...
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I sold a few things in my Etsy store and thought I really need to start adding more pieces. I'll be adding this little painting shortly. This is my daughter, who actually has started enjoying posing for me, so I'm taking advantage of it. I'm reworking this piece, trying to determine what I want for the background. I'm thinking the suggestion of a beach at night and cityscape in the distance. Basically Vancouver, which is where I spent the entire day today.
I would post some of my pictures of my escape from suburbia into the big city, but when I downloaded them, they were all blurry, except for this one...
I've never seen this picture before. It was no doubt, taken by one of my daughters, who DO understand technology better than me. This is my poor, old dog. It's the holidays and time to humiliate the pets. Gently placed hats allowed, garland and lights, no.
Forgive me, we had our weekly family movie night and today's screening was, Fred Claus. I'm still recovering. So I'll leave with a beautiful singer, Lior and his wonderful video done with silhouette marionettes. And yes, I've made peace with YouTube.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I've always liked Freuds work. He's known for his stark painterly portraits that never romanticize the subject. He paints flesh, exaggerating folds and crevices like some kind of figurative topographer. His painting of a pregnant Kate Moss is unlike the Kate Moss we're used to seeing. And if this queen was a 15th century one, he just might lose his head. He gets to the blood and guts of what people are, which is...blood and guts. To me, his art makes more accurate statements about the human condition than anything his dopey grandpa said.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
My poor reaction time is no doubt from staying up too late again. If anyone knows a good technique from switching from a night owl to a morning person, I'd be ever so grateful. I knew I was especially tired today, because I glanced at my wall calender and misread December 8th as Hajj (Muslims pilgrimage to Mexico) and didn't question it, just thought "why the venue change?" Oy. It's been quite a day. Tomorrow, I'm in the studio, painting and listening to soothing music ALL DAY.
I feel a need to be at least a little useful and to make up for my humiliation for accidentally posting an altered version of the kitschy 80's Soviet ground beef commercial I originally meant to show. If you didn't see it (and I'm hoping that's EVERYBODY), some twat thought it was oh-so-clever to subtitle the ad with juvenile references to male appendages and the like. Sheesh. So, for you artists and those interested, here are some links and resources for films and videos relating to art/artists .
The PBS series Art:21: Art in the 21st Century is a fascinating program on current contemporary artists and the direction of contemporary art. On the website you can watch show previews, bios of all the artists featured and related links to them. If you can catch it when it airs, it's definitely worth watching.
Saatchi Online TV has a little bit of everything. Mostly low tech weblog info on artists, visits to artist studios, galleries, etc. And if like me, you're miles away from an art scene, you can live vicariously through this site. There are a few short films and film previews. This preview of a documentary on artist Alice Neel by her grandson Andrew Neel fascinated me. Her unconventional and tragic life and her art are explored in this film. Certainly an artist I want to know more about.
I have more links but since I'm blogging everyday this month, I need to ration. Until tomorrow my good people...
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I'd like to make a correction to this post, in which I shared the slinky toy commercial from my childhood and said I didn't think they made metal slinkies anymore. I was wrong.
Yep, my anti-consumerist rant backfired. My kids saw the commercial and whined for a slinky.
Last week while clothes shopping, my kids' paranormal toy sniffing gift led them to find a couple of slinkies hidden in the back of a high shelf in the toy section. After getting the slinkies home, the excitement didn't last long though. That old commercial is all lies. You need a physicist to calculate the exact arc, position and speed to get those babies to make it down more than 2 stairs. And I didn't cheap out on them when buying them either! I just noticed my receipt reads, "Slinky - DELUXE". If you look closely at the picture maybe you can spot the upgrades or special features I missed.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The only thing I really like to do is walk. No, more like, wander. A friend from high school contacted me a while back and asked if I still loved to walk. She remembers how I would say no to a bus ride and choose instead to spend 3 hours walking home from the across the city. When I moved to my current city, I worked nights and explored the mountain trails in the region for hours. Then I worked days and had children and the years and the scale moved forward.
So I'm off today to explore again, although I don't have the time (and probably not the stamina) to explore for hours. I'm determined to keep this up, because finally I understand that consistency is the key to everything. That's what this daily blogging challenge is about, consistency. What you do doesn't have to be perfect or amazing or brilliant or extreme. You just have to DO, like the tortoise plodding along.
And in the spring I'm thinking of taking up fencing or archery. Yep, old fashioned sports with weapons. I wonder what that says about me. I think it means I played too much Dungeons and Dragons with my brother when I was a kid. And I'm a geek. En garde!
However, I'm not going to let the matter get me down because today is my one year anniversary in the world of blogging! And so even though I'm a terrible party planner, I'm going to throw a virtual party.
First, a celebratory cake.This was tough, because when googling "existentialists cakes" you get nothing, and that's what I really want pastry wise. But this is even better! Picasso's Woman with Crow by artist Jean L. Zaun, not a cake but all chocolate, including the frame. Yum.
For wiping off the chocolate, you must use these, retro stressed mom napkins available at Mikwright. They read, "where the hell is my pickle fork? i can't have anything nice with you kids" I love them.
During the party we can play a giant game of scrabble like this one played at Wembley Stadium in London.
Later we can sit and put our feet up wearing these bird seed shoes and see who can attract the most birds.
Hmmm...I even give bad pretend parties.
But it's been a good year here. To all those who read this blog and to those who comment, I'd just like to say I couldn't ask for more intelligent, beautiful, perceptive, interesting, wise, articulate and overall super duper fabulous total strangers come into my life, who now... feel like friends. Cheers!
Monday, December 1, 2008
At the time I thought I was basing this image on Edvard Munch's The Scream. What I didn't realize, was in fact, I was painting a pretty accurate self portrait of me in the future, specifically last week.
Three points and I'm not going to harp on them, but quickly just imagine:
1. arthritis in your cheekbone
3. sinus infection
ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
The other annoying thing I won't do is what every woman who has given birth does when she experiences strong pain in her life is to use the childbirth scale. On a scale of one to ten, how bad was it in comparison to childbirth, that sort of thing. Irritating.
Seven...it was a seven, sometimes 8 1/2 and with no cute, cuddly baby reward at the end.
I'm much better now. So better in fact when I read about the blogging everyday for a month challenge, I thought I'd participate. It was for November, but I see others are starting one for December, so I'm signing up. Yes, it's December, the worst month to start. Christmas Day will probably have nothing but a YouTube video of the burning Yule log, but I'm going to give it a go.
Be prepared for creative spelling, big grammatical errors (even more so than usual) and pointless ramblings (even more so than usual). Possibly even some intense personal disclosures, simply for lack of better ideas. Anybody else want to take the challenge?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
In blogging time (similar to dog years) about 4 years has passed since my last post. For me, it seems like only about 3 days and I'm not surprised by my perception of time. My sense of time is like Cro-Magnon Man, there is DAY... and there is NIGHT. Obviously, I'm no slave to schedules. Maybe I should be a little more aware of the passing of time though.
How do you go about slowing your perception of time to make the most of it? Time seems to speed up as you age. There is proof of this. Physicist Michio Kaku in his documentary series Time, approached people on the streets of Manhattan asking them to tell him when they thought a minute had gone by. They younger people finished counting before an actual minute had expired, the older people after a minute. There may be a biological reason for this or it may be because as you age life becomes routine and more predictable. New experiences that engage your brain and seem to put you in the 'moment' stretching your perception of time, are less frequent.
I experienced this recently while taking a tai chi class. I'm completely out of shape and needed something more than my occasional walks to get me into an exercise routine. Tai chi sounded enjoyable and well...easy. And when I discovered my instructor was insane and hung out with Kerouac and Ginsberg in the 60's writing beat poetry? I thought, "my god, the universe is so kind to me! How did it know?!" My western mindset is also attracted (a little shamefully) to the idea that since tai chi is a slowed down form of martial arts, if you speed it up, you could really beat the crap out of someone (in self defense of course). The class was good for a while. But then my instructor turned out to be perfectly sane and tai chi is just so, so sloooow. Moving at a snails pace and having complete awareness of every tiny gesture made the class seem like 4 (boring) hours instead of one. Had I enjoyed it, the sense of expanded time would have been wonderful.Another way to slow down your sense of time is to have adrenaline pumping, life threatening experiences. People who've been in a car crash or even a near crash, experience the event as longer than it was, being hyper aware of all the details surrounding the event. A study was done where volunteers free fell from a drop of 150 ft into a net. They estimated the length of the fall double than it's actual time.
So how does this apply to me or you? Personally I'm no thrill seeker so flinging myself off a plane or a cliff so I can feel like I've lived longer doesn't appeal to me. I'll think I'll just copy children. I'm guessing partially the reason why kids perception of time is lengthened because they bring all their senses to an experience. They're so much more physical than adults. My kids bounce or hum when they're at the kitchen table for dinner. They have a need to touch everything at the store. They're in the moment because everything is a sensory experience. Adults live partially in memory and often with a distracted mind. Our senses diminish with age, no doubt naturally and maybe a little from lack of engagement. Using your senses in the moment really expands time. I'm going to commit myself to really bringing my senses to my daily experience, because even in the simplest things, look what a wondrous world unfolds when time slows down...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Back on topic. My youngest daughter had a big birthday party recently. She put the word on the street that all she wanted was Barbies. The kids heeded the call. After the Barbie windfall from the party, a Toys R Us gift card and money from grandma, she had enough Barbies to populate a toy planet. Scattered among the multitudes, there is only one boy Barbie, a (VERY HAPPY) Ken doll. There used to be 3 Ken dolls in the house, but for some reason their heads kept coming off.
I'm just saying it like it is.
I let my 2 daughters play for a week without having to clean up. I managed a little half hearted nagging but they protested with, "but we're still playing!". Even if 2 days passed with the barbies left untouched, I let it go. I understand 21st century Barbie is so accessorized with gadgets that assembling the whole set up again is time consuming. Barbie has 2 flat screen TV's, an IPod, an IPod docking system, 2 MP3 players, laptops, several cell phones and even little plastic cappuccino cups. I actually think my husband is jealous of all the crap Barbie has.
After a week of finding little setups on bookshelves and under tables, I realized the little bimbos (bimboes? bimbos? how do you pluralize bimbo, I've never had to before) were taking up the entire top floor of my house and it had to stop. The barbies needed something like ... hmmm, a sorority house? We went to the toy store, looked at doll houses and then I was overcome with that icky feeling. $150 for some big, plastic toy that will have about 2 yrs of use, then nothing. But I had to admit, if I had the extra money to spend on something like that, I would probably buy it, just to make my life easier. All my desire to get away from consumerism and live a life that enriches, not pollutes the planet, pretty much evaporates when it comes to my kids.
This is my anthem whine - how can I raise my kids to truly understand value doesn't come from STUFF , when here in suburbia, here in the world, all around them, that's all they see? I know they are no more spoiled than the average middle class child, possibly less so, but still, marketing to kids has exploded since my childhood. In this New York Times article, "80 percent of global brands now deploy a 'tween' strategy". And parents get caught up or worn down and do the buying. I'm amazed at how many adults I've heard say how important it is their kids get the trendy and fashionable clothing, even it goes beyond their budget, for fear of their child being teased or left out. We're sending the message that inclusion is something that has to be bought at younger and younger ages.
There may be a small silver lining to this global recession, the disposable culture of consumerism will lose some of its power. The world beyond the mall or boutique will be explored and people may start slowing down and investing time into positive experiences and relationships. Wouldn't that be something. Doing so, can only make us happier.
As for the doll house, I'm going to a thrift store and finding a small bookcase that I'll strip and paint the interior to look like a house. Barbie will have a fixer upper. Then she'll have the room to store all her gadgets and endless beauty supplies (and I won't be tripping over them). My kids know their Christmas won't be excessive with stuff this year. After telling them so, I've watched them discuss with each other about what they want and if they even want it that much. Now they're not really sure what they want and don't seem to care. What is truly wished for in this house (for ages 10 and younger), is lots of snow, no school and playing outside.
Since I've become a little bit of a YouTube junkie and like to show off my recently acquired video embedding skills (that took a ridiculously long time to learn on this blog), I'll leave with this slinky commercial from my childhood. Times were different then, or maybe I was an idiot child, because I remember how thrilled I was when I first got a slinky. I notice they don't really make them anymore, or they only have plastic ones. I wonder if that's because of parent paranoia. I can imagine how a child could accidentally fall on a metal slinky and slit their throat like some old school Mafia piano wire whacking. Okay, enough with the sarcasm, have a moment of nostalgia with me.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I'm not an American, some of my close relatives are and I live near enough to the border that when I stand on my back porch I can see streetlights in Sumas, Washington. In fact, in moments of extreme restless boredom I've thought of crossing the border, getting a cup of coffee and coming back all within half an hour. Then if anyone asks what I did today, I say with uber coolness," Oh, I was out of the country, just got back now, it was great, thanks for asking."
So, I feel some kinship with my American neighbours . I followed the election with interest and am happy with the results. I was moved by Barack Obama's victory speech yesterday and pleased by the graciousness of McCain's words, but when I read this man's (hilarious) post today, it pretty much echoed my thoughts throughout this campaign (without of course, the baby strangling) . I'm also weary from socialism considered a dirty word. And it's true America is no where near a socialist government. Relax. No one is going to steal your land and go through your shoes in your closet and divvy them up with your neighbours. The shelves of Walmart won't be bare and you won't be standing in long lines to get toilet paper. If you do, it won't be because of socialism, it'll be because all the trees have been cut down and made into flyers advertising free flat screen tv's with the purchase of a brand new leather sofa set. *Sigh* Now ignore everything I just said and go finish celebrating.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I actually would like to move onto incorporating other wildlife that lives in my area into my art, but I have a bit of a dilemma. Without a good camera and telephoto lens, animals and birds have to come to ME. There is the occasional bear and cougar that wanders into my neighbourhood, but I think enticing them with my stash of peanuts may be a bad idea.
Now I must leave the house and get some fresh air. If I don't go out, I might as well dress up like this for Halloween, a future I'd like to avoid.
Since I've spent the morning getting googly-eyed loading up crow images to the computer, this video seems entirely believable to me.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
I was grocery shopping today when I noticed I was making a small jingling bell sound. In my cloth shopping bag I found a little bell on a ribbon. It must have come from one of my daughters stuffed animals. I decided to leave the bell in the bag and continued to walk around jingling. If anyone looked at me funny, I thought I'd tell them I have to wear a bell because I like to sneak up on birds and then I'd give them a crooked smile and demand pie. Because nothing breaks up the monotony of a day than acting like crazy lady in small town suburbia.
But then I remembered there are more positive mental games I could play. The news media junkie I've become is making me forget the most important one. It comes from Mother Teresa.
She said,"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." I love that quote. Shifting away from the negative to the positive, without living in la-la land and denying the negative, just changing the focus. It works for everything. Let me demonstrate-
Instead of "I'm against racism" you say- "I'm FOR recognizing the humanity and dignity of everyone and treating everyone with equal respect and rights" (sometimes the positive can be a little wordy)
Here's another one: instead of "I hate tabloid television" you say, "I love so many of the great shows on PBS and HBO" or instead of "I hate cockroaches" you say, "butterflies are pretty special".
Many people do this automatically, but if like me, you weren't born with the Pollyanna gene and you hung out with your interesting, somewhat gothic Estonian mother when you were 9, watching The Seventh Seal , this mental shift is incredibly useful.
I used this all day today, starting with my to do list of chores. I don't hate laundry because I do love having clean clothes in my drawers that are easy to find. Weirdly enough, I had a completely uneventful, but happy day and it somehow resulted in me eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. I can't explain that last one. One bad side effect is that I may have nothing really to blog about. So I'll pass you over to a funny ranter, comedian Rob Paravonian ranting on Pachelbel's Canon in D and why not...
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This sketch had Pandora in it originally, but I messed up her face, then reworked it and reworked it, until finally she looked like Dr. Zira from the Planet of the Apes and couldn't be improved, just cropped. And surprisingly, I think it works better edited.
I was browsing through my bookshelf and picked up my copy of Bulfinch's Mythology and thought I'd give it another try. The link I'm providing is to the entire book, so you can read mid 19th century discussion of Beowulf online! What fun!
The writing style bored me a few years back when I initially bought it, and although it's not any less pedantic to my contemporary ears, the first myth was about Pandora. Pandora was given a box from the god Jupiter that she must never open. When she can't resist, all the good flows out of it and from the world. She manages to get the lid back on before hope flows out. So that's why when life gets kinda sh*tty, people always say, there's always hope. You can blame and thank Pandora for that. I simply can't resist stories of innocent women with natural curiosity being blamed for all the ills of mankind. I also like the idea of working in the confines of a theme at the moment. Because choice can be overwhelming, I'm going to keep my little sketches or illustration exercises as contemporary interpretations of mythology for a while.
My artists blogging friends have been working within themes that have been great to view online and see how they develop. Melanie, is creating a series of abstract art quilts based on Moby Dick. I was moved by these, they have a literal and celestial quality about them that I love. This one is Baleen.
Andrea Pratt is reworking some of her mixed media drawings from her celtic lunar tree calender series. She has a wonderfully distinct style. I also love this drawing, adapted from one of her paintings, Birdland. I'm lucky enough to admire this every day as one of 3 of her great pieces gracing my mantle.
Melody Madden "paints" with a sewing machine in a way that completely intrigues me. She is inspired by the natural world and here is a piece I love, Undercurrent in Red, it's beautiful and earthy.
Angela Rockett recently finished a show in New York City, exhibiting her abstract paintings that explore watery blues and grays. Living on the rainy westcoast, I can relate to these works. This is my all time favourite. Mapping the Depths It's gorgeous.
Paula McCullough creates art from found objects. She's been working on a series of 100 clocks that are as much pieces of contemporary sculpture as they are functional objects. Currently she is auctioning off one in a series of 10 identical smaller clocks. Click on the image to get to the auction
There are more artists I'd like to mention, but the day is slipping away and I have to go see Beverley Hills Chihuahua with my kids. Bet you wish you were me!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Phew! Okay here it is, I hope I deleted the partially written post before it made it into any readers or picked up by any bots, because not only is THIS post supposed to be about how I decided not to publish THAT post, but THAT post wouldn't have made any sense being partially written, got it? No? Lets just say if you use blogger and accidentally hit the enter button while writing the title... your post goes online. I've done that WAY too many times.
So what was THAT post about? politics, ideology, religion, the Middle East, the Iraq war, Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, propaganda, and a general end to humanity if we all don't start friggin' getting along. Finally, I would have ended THAT post with something about bringing cloth bags to the supermarket. Aren't you glad you don't have to read it? But it engaged my mind for half the day. And since I feel free to rant now I wanted to make the first ranting a doozey, with a video clip from Al Jazeera even! Yep, you heard right...al Jazeera.
I'm also suffering from pretentious artist angst lately. I'm attempting to create art everyday that doesn't suck and failing so far. Combining that with wanting to get on with a series of larger works that will take the better part of a year to complete for a gallery (somewhere) is stressing me out. Having no guarantee any of it will sell, means I'll need to store those big paintings. And what with the economy and all that worry? To further degrade my self-esteem, when helping my daughter with her homework, I discovered Grade 4 math may be beyond me. Ouch, and I thought I was smart.
But then...a truly miraculous thing happened, I turned on the TV to escape and there he was....Bob Ross, the happy painter from the Joy of Painting. How can anyone stay blue watching Bob Ross, he rocked! That wonderful, formulaic painting of smudges of colour that miraculously turned into trees and rocks. The homey feel of that genre of painting graced every basement rec-room in every suburban home from 1965-1985. And you can tell he LOVED every minute of painting. Bob Ross made it all better. Who cares about outcome, it's all about process, or in broader terms, the journey. Thanks Bob, I know you're residing in happy tree, happy rock, happy waterfall heaven right now. Paint on!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I spent the entire day in my studio yesterday, trying to get new work ready for the new Etsy store. Creating art for such practical reasons was pretty much a bust. I was also in the mood for experimenting which was at odds with my purpose. I grabbed pastels, because, like a toddler, the pastel box was pretty and shiny and I wanted to play. I did 2 pastel landscapes, completely not in my realm of expertise. You can't see them because their new home is the trash can. Part of me knows deep inside that experimenting, making mistakes is all part of the learning experience and the only way to grow. The other me, the busy, middle aged mother of 2 kids, trying to fit time in for myself, grumbles, "enough with the learning experiences! I don't have TIME to make mistakes! I just want to get ON with it!" And then I just tell myself to...BREATHE.
Anyways, more eye candy, found this dress made of paper by Anthropology on Enzie Shahmiri's blog, World Market Portraits . Here's my girly-girl side coming out. Even though I often dress like a homeless man in a soup kitchen in the 1930's, I love this dress. It's kind of sugary, Marie Antoinette bimbo combined with an over the top, flowery kick-ass quality.
Do check out Enzie's blog, she's a wonderful portrait painter and finds some of the most gorgeous work by artists, photographers and designers (and even an animator or two) to post to her blog. She is also having an ebay auction of her beautiful, original painting to raise money for the Darfur relief effort. You can find out more info below.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
To celebrate my new daily art blog and Etsy store, Luule (online on October 5th), I'm giving away a piece of my original artwork. Just comment on this blog telling me which piece you'd prefer and I'll randomly select a winner and post it on October 5th. As far as my stats tell me, I'm not terribly popular, so your chance of winning is pretty good.
The first choice is the more craftier piece, shown above. It's an original paper mosaic entitled, "By the River". It's 8" x 6" on a mounted wood panel that is 1 1/2" deep, the sides are painted a gloss black and it's wired and ready to be hung. The first one I did sold recently and you can see it here.
The next choice is an original mixed media piece, entitled, "Two". It's comes unframed, on 8"x8" bristol card stock, and is rendered with acrylic, ink and coloured pencil.
These next gems I discovered today are not part of the giveaway, because if I owned them (and I WILL have them!) I would never part with them. Coolest barbies ever! Alfred Hitchcock's, The Bird's Barbie released this year. Those superiorly intelligent crows attacking oblivious Barbie? I'm in metaphor heaven.
and Borg Barbie!
The latter is the perfect toy for me, combining my sci-fi geek tendencies (yes, they exist) with my girly girl aspirations which are somewhere latently buried within me. Christmas is coming early for ME this year, boy oh boy.
I found The Birds Barbie on one of my favourite blogs, The Scary Parent. He's a dad and a published horror writer. You can read his novel Stillwater, which he's posted exclusively on his blog, if you're in the mood for some deep water creepiness.
Don't forget to comment and good luck!
Monday, September 29, 2008
I wish Bill Moyers was my uncle. Then I could visit him over the Christmas holidays, and listen to him brilliantly discuss his experiences talking to some of the most intelligent and interesting people on the planet. But then again, I would feel intimidated and shy because of his great mind and it would be uncomfortable, unless he was the kind of uncle who gave out lots of candy, then it would be okay.
On Oct 1st, I'll be posting the art giveaway contest. Original art, no prints and you get a choice! I feel schmaltzy marketing myself, I'm so very bad at it, but I have been getting excited and inspired by some of the new work I've been doing. As of today, the kinder, gentler me can be found on my new daily art blog . I managed to tackle a few things with the first post, an Illustration Friday drawing and a piece for the traveling sketchbook which has gone into Melanie's book. Katie has posted her contribution to the sketchbook here. I have 2 more to catch up on which I'll get to this week (just reassuring everyone who is participating, they have arrived safely!). I'm also wondering, now that I've separated much of the art from this blog, what this blog will become. A ranting place? Time will tell.
Finally, regardless of whether you love Palin or loathe her, Tina Fey's impersonation is brilliant. If you haven't seen it, watch it, it's hilarious.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When I'm done, I'm planning an original art giveaway with some silly question asked in which you must comment, because I'm needy for your attention and I want to know you're still out there and listening. And I just like giving away free stuff.
In the meantime, my last googling fix unearthed a bit of eye candy sites.
Dave Beckerman's gorgeous black and white photos of New York City places and people. His work is beautifully atmospheric and narrative. I love lingering in his photographic world.
My Love For You Is a Stampede of Horses is a blog highlighting artists. You'll notice a similar style in her choices of artists - graphic, mixed media, Etsy hip. There is a lot of interesting art to be found. It's a wonderfully image rich site.
Artist Liu Bolin paints his models to blend seamlessly into their backgrounds. Wild, take a look.
And finally, Royal de Luxe's little giant girl. Magical -
Monday, September 15, 2008
The past weekend I was overjoyed when everyone in my family said yes to my suggestion of visiting the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island. This is a beautiful area of protected wetlands in Ladner, BC where the Fraser River meets the Pacific ocean. 280 species of birds have been spotted there, so I was anticipating some spectacular photo opportunities.
At the entrance I immediately was taken with my first bird encounter. Ducks and lots of them. I bought a little bag of seed for each of my daughters. These boisterous birds are used to being hand fed.
Walking along the trail, more ducks appeared ahead, ready to be fed.
And then... more ducks.
I could hear other birds, I knew they were somewhere out there, but...
Leaving the gift shop, we were again accosted by ducks. I didn't like the shifty look about them. They were moving closer...
Quickly, we made our escape off the island away from those swarming ducks!
The lesson to be learned, the best time to see a variety of birds at the Sanctuary (without a good pair of binoculars) is the spring (nesting time) or winter, when a lot of species have migrated there. Or right now... if you just love ducks.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Technique: At the moment I'm loving Golden's fluid acrylic, along with an acrylic glazing medium. The results aren't like an oil painting, even though I do use some of the traditional glazing techniques of oil. It's a little more like egg tempera, lots of transparent, quick drying layers rendered with tiny brushes.
As for meaning, is this not the part so many artists hate? We want our work to speak to the viewer on a gut level, on an emotional level and for them to come to their own conclusions. Yet I've discovered, when I can't clearly articulate what a piece is about, it's usually because it's only decorative (which is fine, if that's my soul intent) or I don't really care much about it.
This painting I do care about, and I've felt a series building for some time in which this one is included. I realized after observing and studying birds and now other animals this past year, I find it difficult to remove the human presence from any art I create about wildlife. There isn't a species or area of earth that hasn't been transformed or affected by human activity and I have an urge to explore that reality in some way.
Breaking down the elements-
1.) I tried to find some moths to photograph at night, but came up empty handed. Late the next night, while I was deep in concentration painting, a huge moth hit the window in front of me. I went outside with my camera, but found nothing. It happened again, I went out to the window, not there. I have to say it was a bit weird, like it was (ooooo) a ghost moth. No prophesies please, I know crows and moths have the same negative superstitions surrounding them (death), but hey, really they're just nighttime butterflies.
Failing to find my ghost moth, I decided to paint this moth from a compilation of found images. It's part of the Saturniidae family and this one was common in the part of Eastern Canada where I grew up. These moths are usually large. They have no mouths or digestive tracts so can't eat. Their soul purpose after they emerge is to mate and lay eggs. They live a week of less. Something to put on your list of daily gratitutes - I am thankful I am not a Saturniidae moth.
2.) I met the barn owl at the rodeo, of all places. The Vancouver Zoo has a Birds of Prey exhibit and presentation that includes this young owl. It's handler was extremely nice while I took lots of photos. It's a stunningly beautiful creature and I knew I wanted to include it in a painting at some point.
3.) As for the last element, the hand. I love hands. They're the hardest part of the human body to paint because of their complexity. They are responsible for so much of our non verbal communication. I love their gestural quality, I love that they can wordlessly convey emotion.
I believe, in any art piece, the analyzing really comes near the end of the process. I had this image in my head, I wanted to do it and then started thinking of the 'why' after. I think that's what creative output is all about, a compulsive need to express something that is the unconscious amalgamation of your experiences, what attracts you, repels you, fascinates you. We make better sense of it later.
If you've read this far, and I don't blame you if I've bored you to unconsciousness, I'd love to hear what drives you creatively, what it is you're needing to explore, themes, colours, ideas, materials.... anyone?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I started writing a big, wordy post about art, about realism, about illustrative art, conceptual art, about visual art as a concept vs. an object and how both are fused in the act of painting, and what that means in a media that has been proclaimed dead many times over since the invention of photography... blah... blah.... blah. Then I realized, no one visiting this blog is interested in reading that, including me. I go read that from the smarter people.
So from a smarter person, here is quote that has resonated with me lately:
"What I want to show in my work is the idea which hides itself behind so-called reality. I am seeking for the bridge which leans from the visible to the invisible through reality. It may sound paradoxical, but it is in fact reality which forms the mystery of our existence" - Max BeckmannThis quote was taken from the archives of the Big Crow website (how synchronous!) created by San Francisco artist Anna L. Conti. A lot of interesting links and articles on art and realism can be found on the link.
My art tastes mimic those people who, when asked what type of music they're into, they say, "all kinds of music, as long as it's GOOD". I may feel compelled towards realism for myself these days (months, years...), but one of my favorite artists, one whom I've mentioned on this blog before is Vik Muniz. His art speaks of the illusionary aspects of representational art and the impermanence of the materials he uses is so relevant to modern society. And it's a bit cheeky at times. I simply love it. Here's his talk on TED on creativity and his art. He's entertaining and worth a watch.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Some recent acrylic and ink works on paper. The background text is excerpts taken from Mark Twain on Indian crows.
My crow obsession is slowly waning, although it is branching out to a general bird appreciation. I've just discovered there is a Great Blue Heron reserve not far from me. I'm off to find it this week with the help of Google maps. I only hope my downloaded directions are more accurate than this:
From xkcd webcomics