Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Nature of Island Artists

I have been asked to participate once again in this bi-annual fundraiser for The Goldstream Nature House which continues through September until October 12, 2009. Over 70 Vancouver Island and Gulf Island artists are exhibiting their creations: wood and stone sculpture; oil, acrylic and watercolour painting, photography, fabric art, clay works and much more.

"The theme of this year's show is 'Art to Heart: Connecting with Nature through the Creation of Art'. There are many ways to connect with our environment, but there is a particular intimacy in the connection made between an artist and their subject. This year...we will be running nature art programs in which schoolchildren will get the chance to immerse themselves in nature and forge those important emotional connections. We will also be exhibiting "inspired by nature" murals created by local Vancouver Island classes.
Funding in schools has reached a critical low and opportunities for field trips and activities have become fewer. For more than a decade, schoolchildren were able to attend educational programs and experience the salmon run firsthand at Goldstream Provincial Park for free because of provincial funding. In April 2002, this funding was withdrawn and hundreds of classes were missing the opportunity to connect with nature. Fortunately, the Goldstream Nature House and the Habitat Acquisition Trust have been endeavoring to provide these educational experiences to children by raising funds to offset the cost for schools wishing to attend salmon run programs. One of the ways we make this possible is through the proceeds raised from the Nature of Island Arts Show." Nicole Polet, Naturalist, Goldstream Nature House

Field Study © 2009 Kristine Paton SOLD

Artists' works are available for purchase outright and some through a silent auction bidding process. Visit the gift section where you will find prints and art cards for sale. Every little bit helps!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Artist's Blog on Artists' Block

I never gave much thought to the concept of the blocked artist because I didn’t think it applied to me. Once I am in the studio, I have no problem applying that first stroke to the canvas nor do I lack inspiration… in fact, I have far too many ideas and images wanting expression. However, I have recently learned that a blocked artist is one who finds it difficult to actually get to the studio… and that would be me! Friends are forever saying, “Quit doing all this other stuff and just paint would you? Paint, paint, paint!”

But “all this other stuff” holds as much interest for me as does painting; at least that’s what I thought until someone gave me the book “A Life in the Arts: An expanded workbook edition of Staying Sane in the Arts” (which I will read next) and discovered I just might be the proverbial blocked artist. Who knew!? And what is the cause of this blockage which, unlike my arteries, can’t be blamed on Ms. Vickie’s chips or 7 Layer Dip?

Although clinical depression or mania is no joking matter, I sometimes refer to myself as bi-polar, manic, having ADD, etc., in an off-hand manner. Well that may actually be the case, a prerequisite to being an artist, and here are several excerpts to illuminate the causes:

“Your intense, driven, and sometimes enthusiastic way of being may have a manic feel to it. This restrained mania may become one of your characteristic moods: your mind racing, hands moving, dreams vivid, art more alive to you… I attribute part of this manic edge to the fact that artists are gambling every day… Art-making is one of the greatest gambles of all. As Helen Frankenthaler, the visual artist, put it, ‘No matter how fine or meticulous or tortured a picture may be in execution, the risk or chance of its working or not working is always there, no matter what the method.’ It is a high-stakes gamble, after all, to work with all of your being on something that has so great a chance of failing.”

This could explain why so many artists who rely on their art for income are propelled to repeat past successes; safety and freedom from anxiety are not found in the unknown. The true artist in our midst, and there are few today, is not a formula painter, dancer, writer, poet, etc., and perhaps this is why I often block. Yes, I am a painter, but I wish to be an artist in many forms:

“You have the desire to honestly communicate the truth as you understand it. Frequently you’re the only one in your neighbourhood making such an effort. You’re the one who must tell your grandmother’s story, your father’s story, or your own story as best you can. And since the truth is frequently painful and rarely profitable, few except you are interested in championing it… Standing apart, holding your own counsel, attuned to both the beautiful and the moral, you are the one able and willing to point out the naked emperor, the stench coming from the closet, the starvation right around the corner, the colors of the far mountains as the eye really sees them...

There are cynical artists who withhold the truth from their art in order to gain an audience and make money, just as there are cynical clergy who preach while neither loving nor believing… Other artists will tell only a fraction of the truth of what they know to be true, or will alter or subvert the truth, because of self-censorship, a desire to be popular, or a desire not to offend. These are both manifestations of the impulse to have and keep an audience… Every artist internally debates this issue. Should he sing the equivalent of a jingle or the equivalent of a hymn?”

Copyright © 1992, 1994 by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Being Me and Being You

The following poem ©Douglas Malloch is from a book I am currently reading. I decided to post it here so that I can read it whenever I want to be someone else:

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley—but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush, if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie, then just be a bass—
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here.
There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
And the task we must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun, be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail—
Be the best of whatever you are!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Going... Going... Gone!

Gone But Not Forgotten

Some of you may recall one of the first watercolours (pictured above) I painted almost 20 years ago: "Cooling Off", later reproduced in a limited quantity, is of the dock and logs at Mason's Beach. Well, if you haven't driven past Mason's Beach in a while, you may notice something missing when you do. I am not alone in leaving Shawnigan Lake.

A little over a week ago, I decided to take Molly back to the lake for a swim; she liked to walk the logs in an attempt to catch a big fish living under the dock. Imagine my surprise upon arrival to see two men (who I soon found out where from the CVRD) in separate boats removing the last log from the beach... and the dock was no where to be found. Why? Insurance. Because too many people were suing the CVRD if their kid happened to fall off a log and knock out a tooth or break something. Why? Because today there are no accidents and no one is responsible for their own actions. Back in my day (I am that old!) if anyone hurt themselves jumping off cliffs, walking logs, diving off docks other than their own, no one was responsible but themselves. The excitement was worth the risk. Now we have people suing their friends if they get a splinter in their butt from a hot tub...and why not, the friends don't pay, the insurance company does. And don't even get me going on the vandals, which is another reason the dock had to go. For many years not a single board went missing in action, but recently the ripping, smashing and general mayhem is increasing at a ridiculous rate. So, don't call the CVRD to whine about the loss of yet another Shawnigan pastime (no more right of passage walking the logs... oh and bye bye Quarry, too).

It was serendipitous that I just happened to have my camera with me that day and I am not ashamed to admit I actually got a tear in my eye as I photographed the last log sailing out of sight.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RSP: Our Life Savings

I would have you talk
to my father if I could
dead at 53 — an expert
on early retirement

or to my mother
left alone with all
their plans, the means
now available

but she no longer has
the right combination
to access these
two lives saved up for later.

© Kristine Paton

Freedom 55 — The Real Deal

I wrote that poem years ago; it explains why I don't have the conventional retirement savings plan. This Friday, June 12, I will celebrate my 55th birthday which is two years older than my father when he died. Who knew he was so young!

I'm pushing 60 and perhaps some buttons but, hey, it wouldn't be the first time and it won't be the last. Finally, I am entering my crone phase, fully embracing the title and what it means to be a crone, both good and bad. It is only in our culture that the word 'crone' is seen as detrimental and more representative of the 'witch' or 'hag' (well... if the shoe fits). In most cultures other than our materialistic, image conscious, American influenced, westernized culture, the crone is also revered as a wise woman, often mystical, having earned her status as such by surviving whatever life has thrown at her and thereby gaining knowledge and wisdom — not to confuse the two.

So, what does Freedom 55 mean to me? I am overcoming past heartbreaks, both given and received; forgiven myself and anyone else. I have downsized and am debt free and hold a 5 acre clear title chunk of raw land in my back pocket. What do I know? That it could all change in the blink of an eye. What does the future hold? Who knows, who cares? And so, I have learned to trust God not money, live in the 'now' (not because of Mr. Eckhart Tolle) and to take each day's assault of fears as they come.

Give me the simple life. Coffee (yes, COFFEE not decaf) in the morning, fresh duck eggs, true grains bread, free range chicken and local farm produce, fresh water not bottled, local wine & cheese, a good book, walks with Molly and just enough work to make it all possible. You can keep your Blackberries, your 80 hour work week, the Yummy Mummy Club, the spinning class (unless it's a good yarn), the hot yoga and, definitely, most definitely, the stock market
... and forget Facebook. You need family, whether their yours or someone elses, a few really close flesh and blood friends, and good neighbours.

That's it — my Freedom 55. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a nice cup of Dilmah (the best black tea ever) and a good book waiting for me in the back yard. And look, there's an extra chair.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Show Opens May 7

2934 South Pandosy, Kelowna, BC
Sheila Norgate, Bill Gingles and Me!
Exhibit continues to June 2

Swine Flu or Hog Wash?

"Identification of influenza subtypes became possible in the mid-20th century."

Sigh... before that, we all just got "the flu". We went to bed, missed school (yay!), took Bayer aspirin, threw up in the bucket beside the bed, ran to the bathroom (a lot), drank ginger ale and ate soda crackers. Ah, the good old days. I'd never heard of the World Health Organization... WHO? who are throwing around the word "pandemic" like Chicken Little on a good day. Personally, I'd much rather listen to the World Organization for Animal Health... which could be the World Health Organization for Animals ... or WHOA! A command given to reign in a galloping horse. They report, "This strain can be transmitted from human to human, and causes the normal symptoms of influenza." Ahhhh, sanity restored.

Three cases of swine flu have now been reported in BC, bringing the total number of Canadian cases to 13. CTV Reports as of 18:00 GMT, 4 May 2009, 21 countries have officially reported 1085 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. But another source has that number at 236. Yes folks, 236 confirmed cases world wide amongst a world population of 6,000,000,000+.

The first time I heard the term "swine flu" was back in 1976. At that time, some "genius" in the US came up with an immunization programme which resulted in " Overall, about 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people, which, according to Dr. P. Haber, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 vaccine. Other influenza vaccines have not been linked to GBS, though caution is advised for certain individuals, particularly those with a history of GBS. Still, as observed by a participant in the immunization program, the vaccine killed more Americans than the disease did."

Wow, that gives the expression "pig in a poke" a whole new meaning!

Now, this scares the crap out of me. Remember the strong arming of the level headed nurses who refused to get a flu shot: lose their sick leave benefits if they happened to get the flu? Now we have Stephen Harper reminding people "to comply with health orders because the illness is a serious issue". Other than washing my hands, etc., what are those "health orders"? Could it involve all those lovely antiviral drugs out there? The ones that might actually kill me!

But, thank God, I don't live in the U.S. On April 27th, the FDA issued "Emergency Use Authorization" to make available certain antiviral drugs to treat the swine influenza virus in cases for which they are currently unapproved. The agency issued these EUAs to allow treatment of patients younger than the current approval allows and to allow the widespread distribution of the drugs, including by non-licensed volunteers.

And what about those poor maligned swine? People are actually afraid of eating pork, even though you can't get swine flu from eating pork. Wait. That could be a good thing as far as the pigs are concerned. (Don't tell them about the 250,000 'offed' in Europe, and especially don't tell them we may actually have given the flu to them sometime around 1918).

EVERY YEAR, there are about 250 million malaria cases resulting in nearly one million deaths… EVERY YEAR!

Why is this not on the news every hour of every day? Because people living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable …and that's not us.

So, let's have a little perspective people.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Activated by BC Rivers Threat

No one could call me a political activist (ok...I do subject my friends to the occasional rant now and again) but the following information has come on the heels of my having just watched Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy on the Knowledge Network, which has me fired up.

Some of you may already be aware and for that I commend you. I have had my head buried in the proverbial sand of the riverbank. If you have children, if you enjoy rivers, streams, forests, if you eat fresh fish, if you steward wildlife, if you can still afford electricity, if you like having a say in what happens where you live... if you nod to any of these, you should take a minute to read on, about what is happening to your power without your permission (even if you are not in BC; it could happen, or may be happening, wherever you are).

This information is regarding the big corporate privatization of our electrical power and loss of river access. The following websites are, of course, biased, but the discerning mind will uncover the underlying threat — their power/our loss. I had no idea this was going on behind my back on such a large scale. What you do with the information, ignore or pass on, is up to you. I decided to watch (especially The Theft of BC's Rivers) and pass on the sites below:

I am as concerned over our provincial government's brutish misuse of its empowerment, as I am about the impact on BC rivers, for example:

Bill 30 "The Ashlu Bill": Squamish/Lillooet Municipality said NO to zoning for this project on the Ashlu River and thought the matter was closed. Our provincial government passed Bill 30 which "stripped local municipalities of their zoning authority over private river power projects, leaving BC's communities [meaning YOU] without a voice [choice] in this process."

WHISTLER QUESTION,Squamish News: Ledcor’s run-of-river project on Ashlu Creek moved forward despite local and SLRD opposition in 2006 when the provincial government passed Bill 30, which removes the decision-making process for Independent Power Projects out of the regional government’s hands...

and this

Boychuck [for Ledcor] also said fears over negative impact on wildlife were unfounded,“They [critics] would say that there would be a negative effect on grizzly bears and wildlife, it’s actually been just the opposite. We’ve had grizzly bears and black bears wandering through our site, sometimes watching us.”

BAH HA HA HA HA!!!!! Yeah, they're watching and they're thinking... What the f...?

Although David Suzuki isn't against run-of-river power entirely, he does have this to say about it:

"It’s ludicrous to think that we must sacrifice all environmental considerations to get green energy onto the grid. It’s not green if it causes negative ecological impacts. In British Columbia, B.C. Hydro and the B.C. Transmission Corporation have identified more than 8,200 potential sites for run-of-river hydro projects in B.C.’s 291,000 watersheds. That should give us plenty of choice, and surely we don’t have to harness all of them. What we need, in B.C. and elsewhere, is to guide development toward areas that have high energy potential but are less susceptible to environmental damage. Governments must also act quickly to ensure that renewable energy options are considered as a whole rather than in isolation.

An individual project may appear to be environmentally benign, but the cumulative impact of many could be detrimental. We also need a better system for water licences and Crown land licences to avoid the gold-rush mentality that is leading numerous private interests to stake claims on rivers for power projects. And we need strong environmental regulations, along with monitoring and enforcement, to ensure impacts are minimized. It’s in our best interests to act quickly to get as much renewable energy into play as possible. As well as getting us off fossil fuels and combating global warming, renewable energy is also one way to dig ourselves out of the economic mess we’re facing. It’s good for business. But that doesn’t mean environmental safeguards should be relaxed in the name of green energy. Global warming is, without a doubt, the most critical environmental issue we face. Clearly, there’s no time to waste, but unless we tie our shoelaces before we race out the door, we’re guaranteed to trip ourselves up long before we get to our destination. We need to ensure that our solutions don’t lead to the destruction of the very thing we're trying to protect." DS

If it happened there, it can happen here. If it happened once, it can happen again. This time rivers, next time ????? When the governing french monarch Marie Antoinette said of her starving people, "Let them eat cake.", the people cut off her head. Too bad we're not in France.

Before we are completely left in the dark and out in the cold, turn off their power ... VOTE.

PS - Have you heard the one about Bill 15?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Celebrating Jimmy at the AGGV

Yesterday I attended a memorial service at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria held for James Dee (Jimmy) Wright. Needless to say it was standing room only.

Although I had once worked with Jimmy in his Yates Street studio
, our lives had long since gone in different directions. Sadly, I was among many it seems who did not even know he was ill. If you did spend time with "Victoria artist" Jimmy, you may think you knew him...but after listening to his daughter, Treece, speak so lovingly of her father and the life they had shared, and then Jimmy's two close buddies each with their own memories, it was clear I did not know him at all. I am grateful to his wife, Pat, for inviting me to witness Jimmy, the man, and not just Jimmy, the artist.

Not a day passes in which I don't think of Jimmy: how could I not, a 4 ft by 5 ft bear (above) hangs in my living room. My brother-in-law, who does not appreciate Jimmy's love it or leave it painting style, calls it my molar bear. Personally I love it and will not leave it, or rather, it will not leave me unless by some act of God. Not long after news of Jimmy's death became public, a visitor to my home, upon entering my living room, took one look at this painting and said, "That will be worth a lot more now." I almost slapped her, however, the comment simply reflects a sad truth about our smoke and mirrors art world.

Treece graciously shared many thoughts about her father, one in particular still resonates with me today, and which he obviously felt very deeply. How else would you explain his choice of iconic imagery from which to create his "cash cow"?

"I'd rather meet one bear a week than one hundred people a day."
James Dee Wright 1937-2008

My "Spirit Bear" NFS

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Works On Paper

It has been quite some time since I painted on paper rather than canvas; these are two mixed media pieces I just sent to Sopa for February's "Works on Paper", a group exhibit of just that... works on paper.

Primordial Landscape

Early Warning System

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Way We Were... December 2008

Yes, it did look quite peaceful back then. Shawnigan's first snowfall was digitally captured by budding photographer Jesse Leech — thanks, Jesse, for sending me this reminder of how beautiful it actually was. Now all we have is slush, dirty plowed roads and fog. And I have an appointment with my chiropractor. Shoveling sidewalks once a year does not keep one in shape!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This Just In ... at Sopa

My Ancient Traces (sold) is bottom right photo above.
See more from the recent exhibit at Sopa Fine Arts

Oil & Water in Acrylic!

In a previous post (see August's Painting Nature & the Sublime) I included a photo of the small 8" x 8" study for my painting to be titled Oil & Water. Featured above is the finished 40" x 40" acrylic on canvas which exhibited in Anatomy of Greys at the Slide Room Gallery in Victoria. A larger photo is available on my web site under people, places & things.