Thursday, August 31, 2006

the scream

Munch's masterpiece The Scream was found today, two years after it was cleverly lifted in broad daylight from the Munch Museum in Oslo. What I didn't know was that this stolen painting is only one of four 'screams' that Munch painted. Obviously he found the subject as compelling as the rest of the art world, not to mention art world criminals who seem to have a penchant for the painting(s) (think Lillehammer 1994).

Me, too. This painting taps into something primal that I find endlessly compelling. What is it? And whatever happened to the institutionalized version of this fascination? John Lennon did Primal Scream Therapy.

Tears for Fears created music and even got their name from it.

But Primal Therapy (the correct name apparently) has definitely dropped off the radar in recent years. Until now, that is. You don't even need to leave the comfort of your desk chair to reap its benefits. I mean, how 2006 is this?

Scream is a software application to facilitate screaming. Scream sits quietly in your computer's system tray and automatically springs into action when it detects a scream. Scream disturbs your Windows interface. But it isn't aimed just at computer frustrations. In a world where "anger" is paired with "management," Scream encourages the return to prominence of the lost art of screaming. As Howard Beale said in 1976, "I don't have to tell you things are bad.... all I know is that first you've got to get mad." But whereas Howard advised his viewers to turn their television sets off to get mad, Scream proposes that you leave your computer on.

Check out the website for more.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

summer holidays

Another vacation done and a ton of photos to sort. We headed north, via the old Gold Rush Trail (sort of), to the sparsely-populated South Cariboo region of British Columbia this year, and stayed in an old cabin on Timothy Lake near the thriving metropolis of Lac la Hache (population 400). It's at an elevation of 925 metres (3000 ft) so even though the days are still hot, the nights got pretty darned cold! It's ranching and lake country: rolling brown hills covered in cattle ranches, forests of Lodgepole Pine and Aspen and dotted with fish-filled lakes.

What was particularly interesting environmentally was seeing the devastation wrought by the Mountain Pine Beetle in this region. When the beetle sweeps through an area it hits only the most vulnerable trees so the resulting burnt sienna amongst the green is actually rather scenic, if sad.

So what did we do? Paris Hilton would be bored silly but we managed to entertain ourselves. We went canoeing:

The boys enjoyed the cutting-edge, highly-skilled sport of 'tubing':

And we even did the more traditional vacation activities of swimming, hiking, and hotly-contested games of Monopoly and Scrabble:

We headed out to do tourist activities (and not just because we had the togs) at places like The 108 Mile and Nicola Ranches:

And there were endlessly beautiful vistas and wildlife. I was definitely a happy camp photographer even if my pathetic attempts at watercolour landscapes ended up in the circular file. Guess I needed a few silent sunrises and cheap thrillers to recharge my batteries.

PS Now that September is almost here, don't say the 's' word!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

performance art

let's paint tv with los cremators

Whatever did we do before public access TV? Let's Paint TV is like the ugly cousin of Bob Ross: not as pretty but way more charismatic.

Friday, August 18, 2006

interior exteriors

I love old buildings, especially early 20th C houses, but if I had a '50s bungalow (and was rich), I'd be all over these. But wait! The pink Cadillac doesn't have crushed velvet seats.

click on photos to go directly to page on

fuel up here with bevvies, snacks and DVDs

Thursday, August 17, 2006

memory and narrative 1

I am fascinated by what Barbara is doing for an upcoming local exhibition with Leap Visual Arts Collective (a group I was fortunate enough to be invited to join recently). Check out this recent post for more, then go to the main blog and scroll down a couple of posts to see the book she's working on (and which I was lucky to see 'in process' on Sunday night). Stay tuned for more on the October Memory and Narrative exhibition at Coquitlam's Place des Artes closer to the exhibition date.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

small west coast landscapes

I painted these small west coast landscapes about six months ago and have been waiting for a dealer I work with, who displays the work of her stable of artists in office tower lobbies, to pick them up, but she hasn't mounted an exhibition in months and appears to have nothing on the horizon. It occurred to me that they're just small enough to be considered 'small art' so have posted them to my Small Art blog. More details over there.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I want this bed

Beds, bikes, trailers, litter boxes and turn signals: all standard-issue items in 1956. Common as dirt. Beds, bikes, trailers, litter boxes and turn signals: still common, standard-issue items in 2006?

Monday, August 14, 2006

everyone wants my money

...which would make sense if I had any. As it is, I'm at the mercy of a generous spouse who makes me clean toilets in exchange for the time/space to create Frankenstein's artwork in the basement, so why come after me?

On Saturday at the art walk I was approached by a smarmy, deep-voiced guy handing out cards to all the artists who'd succumb to his siren call. I have always had a sixth sense about the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing type, which may be because I learned before I was out of diapers that what one is promised and what one actually gets have a nebuolus relationship at best. Take the guy who tried to sell me a vacuum cleaner when I was in my third or fourth year at university. I was living in a miniscule studio apartment, trying to make ends meet (and tuition) through student loans and a series of slave-wage jobs, but I agreed to have him demonstrate his Speed Queen because I actually needed the knife set. When he got to the point where he put a bag on his head, connected by a second hose to the Interior Sanitation System ("it's so much more than a vacuum cleaner!") so that he could dry his hair while vacuuming, I had to let him go before I burst a blood vessel. He even pulled the "you can take 10 years to pay it off and I have five kids at home to feed" routine. Seriously. It was an eye-opening (and highly entertaining) moment for me as to how far the exploited will go to exploit the exploitable. I have enough compassion that I felt sorry for him, but it was clear that the only thing on my menu was peanut butter sandwiches, so what was he thinking?

Which brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves: exploitation of the vulnerable. A former friend used to come over here and wax poetic about how he loved dogs and tell me the names he'd chosen for all the children he wanted to have, then kick the dog under the table and literally withold candy from the baby. It's salesmanship by bullies. Smarmy, deep-voiced guys showing up at art walks, telling desperate artists how gifted they are and how well he can market them without even mentioning the costs involved is like selling fear-mongering statistics and then bogus insurance policies to the elderly. You can sell rhinestone necklaces and call them diamonds to millionaires in Vegas every day and I'd call it a good day's work, but selling false hope or security to the vulnerable makes for seriously bad karma.

I was curious about what SDVG had to say, though, and actually wanted to know the price for digital scanning of images as that's useful to me, so I gave him my card and waited to see what would happen. Meantime, I looked at his website and discovered that he promises artists the moon and stars and says absolutely nothing about fees ~ or his commission. The website is cleverly dressed up to look like a gallery site, i.e. a place to sell art, not a place to exploit artists. He must have a huge amount of success selling his 'art services' (marketing, websites, printing services) to the vanity market (primarily retired folk trying to carve out a second career as artists ~ and since I was probably the third youngest person out of 18 artists on Saturday, he'd obviously lucked into his target market) because he didn't even bother to look at my website before ringing me up. He actually tried to sell his inflated web services to me before I told him that he might want to take a closer look at my card. You could almost hear the Homer Simpson moment when he called up my site on his computer. It may seem hard to fork over the standard 50% sales commission to reputable bricks-and-mortar galleries who, after all, take your work on a consignment basis, but they do all the marketing, post your work on their website, etc., at no charge. But to think there are artists out there who are vulnerable enough to pay serious cash up front for all of that with no actual physical display space, and have SDVGs take a cut, too, is just sad.

After that I got a call from the real estate agent who knows that we're looking to move. What he had for me was a newly-listed house that I already knew about, of the wrong size in the wrong neighbourhood for way too much money. Do I really look as blond as all that?

I think I'll leave that one 'til tomorrow, when the PMS has passed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

art walk

Yesterday I did something that I've never done before: an art walk. I didn't even know what an art walk was exactly. I guess I haven't been to many small-town summer arts festivals and when I have, I've tended to bypass the wall of landscapes and florals, tended lovingly by the members of the local sketch club, to make a bee-line for the food. Bad attitude, I know. But since the invitation to join the artists at Cloverdale's Blueberry Festival arrived in my mail box and I had a free day, why not?

The art displays were uniformly competent and pleasant, with one or two noteworthy exceptions. But the entertainment was surprisingly disappointing: no food (with the exception of baskets of blueberries and an ice cream truck) so I pretty much starved, and the live entertainment was, well, not. It was like watching parodies of old reruns of Hee Haw. I guess I really am a city girl at heart. Vancouver has expanded so much in the past couple of decades that I thought Cloverdale might have been absorbed, but apparently not, which is actually kind of refreshing.

There were two exceptional highlights to the day: I got to meet Ernie, a retired veteran whose wife died of leukemia last year. I tended his painting of lilies while he sat at his booth and sold copy after copy of his charming book illustrating historic barns in western Canada. He did all the artwork and research for the book and he's donating 100% of the proceeds to the Leukemia Society.

And when it was all over except for the crying, I walked away with second prize and a cheque for $100 thanks to the excellent judging :) by the Arts Council of Surrey. The first prize of $200 went to the well-deserving Daniel Tibbits and his painting Mass Machine.

When's the next art walk?

Friday, August 11, 2006


Excuse my narcissism while I play with this idea for Illustration Friday. This mosaic happened because I finally decided to indulge in one of my vanity press t-shirts and wanted to (shamelessly) show it off, so had #2 son snap a bunch of photos of me playing this morning for me to play with in Photoshop. He also got this great shot of Zappa's face that I had to play with.

Now back to your regular programming.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

beautiful things

Take a look at these two beautiful items that I got yesterday. Merlinprincesse brought me two brilliant photos when she and Mei Shile (who are visiting from Quebec) came for lunch, and the highly original bottle cap pendant I ordered from Tiffini Elektra X arrived in the mail. They both do amazing work so check them out for more info.

I just discovered when I was asked to post my Powell Street Festival photos. Apparently "NowPublic is a non-commercial, public news service that uses stories and footage from non news sources."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

slices of saturday

I'm all out of words right now so you'll have to read the pictures.

OK, so that silence was short lived! I was just reading the comments and they reminded me how much I love taking photos of old buildings in the grittier parts of the city. On Saturday there was this undercover bicycle cop who was keeping an eye on me. The car would stop and I'd hop out to take photos of what looked like nothing to the casual observer while he oh-so-casually observed. I should wear a t-shirt that says 'artist at work' (and how pretentious would that be?), then they could just shake their heads and get on with looking for real criminals.

Monday, August 07, 2006

ok go - here it goes again

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Saturday, August 05, 2006

isn't it time for the kids to go back to school yet?

me: Why is there a flip-flop on the ceiling?
#2 son: I was being spontaneous. Remember when I said I was planning to be spontaneous?

Friday, August 04, 2006


There's nothing like checks and balances. If I thought the first paintings in this series were a snap, then the recent ones have been exacting more than their pound of flesh. This one is called Sum because it represents the end of the growing season: the sum of all the changes and effort (of both man and nature) needed to get to this point. As for the sum of hours it took to paint this one, don't even ask.

A friend remarked recently that my painting shows a completely different side of me than my writing. In a nutshell she stated that the ironic tone of my writing is entirely absent in my painting. Naturally this got me thinking and I started assessing the painters and authors whose work I admire. It seems to me that while I am a junkie of humour and wit in both art and lit, it's the purely emotional (to use Carla's words) that hits home for me at the end of the day. The writers and artists whose work I return to consistently dig deeper. (And they avoid mixed metaphors like the plague:)

In my own case, it feels like the two disciplines exist on different mental planes: writing is an exercise for the intellect and the funny bone: words are for play and not for work. I never agonise. It ain't my artform. But painting draws on something that has nothing to do with my brain, though I do pretend to use it when coerced into writing an artist's statement*. And unlike writing, I obsess over every mistake and every success, and each painting has a thousand.

*In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. ~ George Orwell

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

suburban wildlife

DISCLAIMER No, this is not turning into an pet and/or animal blog. Regular art service will resume momentarily.

I need help identifying my latest find after a recent early morning run in Burns Bog. This time of day and year is a gold mine of opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts -- and taxidermists. Zappa and I have had our fair share of close encounters, from the heron that flew up and practically knocked us over when we turned a corner, to a dead beaver. Early in summer is the best time to see the young hare, still too green to make themselves immediately scarce when a 65 lb carnivore of the speedy sheepdog variety is up the trail. These aren't the domestic bunnies released into the wild, then breeding like rabbits and wreaking havoc on gardens in suburbia, like these ones I photographed at the University of Victoria (hard to see, but there are at least three in the photo) last spring. These are speedy little brown hare, one of which Zappa caught last week, much to my amazement.

But it's not just the bog trails that provide wildlife, dead or alive. On morning runs in winter we've seen a coyote at the top of our street, a dead opossum on a highway and then once, when it actually snowed, we saw this:

followed by this:

Bob, next door, used to have a koi pond. Raccoon families and herons would regularly come and sample his wares. One winter day, realizing his makeshift net was a failure, he got desperate and exhumed a large doll from his wife's mountains of craft items to scare the herons away. That very same day I got this photo from my kitchen:

Bob gave up after that.

Larger animals enjoy the occasional take-out meal, too. As a teenager I lived in Lions Bay. Coming home late one night from a babysitting gig I discovered a bear outside my bedroom window, no doubt looking for fast food from our garbage cans.

I took this photo near Powell River last summer:

But I seriously digress. Zappa and I went for a routine morning run a couple of days ago and ran by this not-yet-fully-developed-but-no-shell-in-sight baby bird on the roadside near the entrance to the trail. I was so curious about this creature that, typically, I had to run home and get my camera. It was huge, about 18 cm or 7 inches long, and with only a few feathers, a long way from hatching. But what is it? The only birds I see regularly that would produce a fetus this size are Bald Eagles (we have a pair in the neighbourhood) or Great Blue Herons. It looks like a heron. Help?

Zappa on a bad hair day