Monday, September 22

My First Commission

I'm working on a painting of some branches for a co-worker and so far it's going well. I thought I'd post photos of my progress...

These are some of my initial sketches.

This one is the sketch we decided to go with.

Off to the art store to buy some warm colours and fancy papers. I decided that the base of this painting will be a paper collage. This will add texture to the piece. Also, I don't like painting on canvas.

Some experimentation with paint and paper before I went to work on the canvas. I'm adding green to compliment the red berries.

This is what I have so far... there is still lots to be done. I think I'll have time to work on it this week a bit because school has briefly quieted down. I can't wait to paint the berries!

Sunday, August 31

Ironically, I forget to smoke pot...

The man and I just moved to a beautiful apartment. I couldn't be happier about it... really. It has everything we need... lots of light, a balcony, even a washer and dryer. Not to mention hard wood floors! I'll be taking some photos soon, cause it's that exciting for me. We came from a dismal, carpeted basement.

Nevertheless, moving is a stressful event. I'm finding myself very irritable and on edge. I had to come out to a public cafe to get online, and finally, as I'm sitting here goofing off, it occurs to me... why the hell haven't I smoked any weed for the past week? It's like I got so distracted by the move, by all the stuff I needed to do, I forgot that there was a nice easy way to chill the fuck out. I can avoid becoming a neurotic stressball. Forgetting about weed and its awesomeness has happened to me before. I always laugh at myself, because for me, weed is kind of like vitamins. Taking it regularily has a positive effect, but I will still foget to take it, especially it seems, when I need it the most. This essentially makes me an aspiring pothead. Hilarious.

As soon as I'm finished this coffee, I'm heading home for a nice plump bowl of pot and some Radiohead.

Tuesday, August 26

Into The Wild?

I watched Into The Wild the other day. Ok, so this Chris McCandless guy seemed like a bit of a pompous prick, at least based on the way he was portrayed in the movie. Where does he get off preaching to everyone he meets? But I digress. The film got me thinking about the whole fleeing civilization method of "enlightenment". Hermit in a cave, wanderer on the road, monk in a monastery, whatever. I totally see the appeal. It's difficult to live in the modern world and not feel disgusted and disillusioned a lot of the time. "I'm not in love with the modern world, it just brings me down", (thank you Wolf Parade). Freedom in this day and age, also seems allusive. I think that many people are becoming more aware that all the comforts of modern life do not bestow freedom, but rather that they potentially thwart freedom. Yet, we feel almost powerless to avoid consumerism, our dependence on material things, our dependence on other people and on our own self-image. In Eastern philosophy, all these things are referred to as attachments. People, places, things, ideas about yourself and about the world... all of these can be attachments. And when we are attached to something, we are entangled, we are not free. They literally tie us down to suffering.

So, ok. We can completely fuck off and go on the road or into the wild. No more possessions or committed relationships. No job, no family. Perhaps in some cases, no more ego. (Although this clearly was not the case with our friend Chris). And let's be fair, giving all this up is a hard fucking thing to do. Brutal I imagine. And maybe it's the most efficient way to dissolve the desire which the Buddha identified as the root of all suffering. Yet, I question it. I question whether or not it is a short cut, whether or not it is genuine. In some respects could it be seen as avoidance? Isn't it much harder to let go of our attachments while still living in the modern world? Isn't that the true challenge? Avoiding something with a stoic austerity or asceticism does not mean you've truly let it go. Yoga teaches that we can be in the world, but not of the world, meaning that we can participate in and enjoy life, but not become entangled in it. Not an easy achievement of course. But what a beautiful state it would be!

Sunday, August 24

No Edge on Etsy

I'm just gonna say it... I am getting fed up with Etsy. It is overwhelming and discouraging sometimes. I spent loads of cash on silkscreens and shirts and prints, and haven't sold much of anything through Etsy. It makes me depressed sometimes. I thought that stationery and shirts would have a better chance of selling on Etsy than art prints, but my silk screened stuff is getting almost no views! Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes I just need to let it out. My patience is waning. Needless to say, I appreciate the hell out of all the awesome people who have purchased something from me. Without you how would I persevere? Anyways, I'm not giving up. I just needed to vent. I'm reading "The Tipping Point" right now... it's an interesting book about how trends, ideas, and diseases spread among populations. Hush Puppies for example, became a nation-wide craze all because a few hipsters in an isolated community of New York decided they were cool and started wearing them. Hopefully my Etsy shop will reach its tipping point and plummet into success. Or something like that.

Art on the Street

Yes, it's more than one month later, but here is my booth at Art on the Street! I had a very sucessful and hot day, and even sold an original painting! Thanks to everyone who supported me... my friends, my family and my patrons. I look forward to doing it all again next year!

Wednesday, July 30

My Very Own Doll Face Dress!

This doll face was a doodle that my partner did. I thought it would look sweet on t-shirts, so I made a silkscreen of it. I decided to put it on this black dress and I'm quite pleased with the results. There are also doll face tees for sale in my Etsy shop.

Friday, July 25

Dominic Besner

Could this guy be any more incredible? His work makes me feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under me. These things speak for themselves.

Monday, June 30

If you want to silkscreen with florescent pink...

I've been making loads of t-shirts this past week, and have learned yet another valuable lesson about silk screening. I thought hot pink would look fab on black t-shirts. So I bought the Speedball florescent pink ink. To my dismay, it barely made a mark on the black cotton. I kept doing more and more layers, but to no avail. The design remained so faint as to almost be invisible.

I was close to giving up in exasperation, when I had a brainwave. What if I added some white to make the pink more opaque? The result was good. It made the pink a little more bubblegum and a little less florescent, but I'm happy. And the various layers effect turned out pretty cool as well.

These shirts and many more will be for sale at Art on the Street, July 19th downtown Guelph.

Wednesday, June 18

The Zen of Silk Screening

After my long hiatus of doing nothing, I have come out of a two-week silk screening haze with 450 adorned pieces of paper and 450 matching envelopes, making approximately 30 sets of stationary. If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is a lot. Yet despite the mass quantities, I didn't find myself procrastinating or getting bored. Once you get going with silk screening, once all the kinks are ironed out, it's quite soothing. You get into the zone, you feel the Zen. My armpits did get pretty tired though.

The stationary designs were inspired by the ocean. Pictured above is my favourite, the Blue whale. It is part of a trio that comes on gray paper, which also includes Killer whales and Sperm whales. The other set of stationary is on ivory paper, decorated with Sea Stars. Brittle Stars, spotted stars, and pointy stars. All sets come with colour co-ordinated sea kelp envelopes. There are many colour combinations to choose from. They come in packs of 12, (envelopes included). They will be for sale at my booth at Art on the Street, (July 19th). Any extras will be sold in my Etsy shop.

Friday, June 13

Hallucinogens as Healers

I watched a documentary yesterday about hallucinogenic plants, always a fascinating subject. (It was called 'From Peyote to LSD'). The documentary dealt largely with indiginous tribes of North and South America and their use of hallucinogenic plants in healing rituals. Peyote for example, is often used to treat alcoholism. At first, I couldn't really conceive of hallucingens having healing powers, aside from perhaps increasing spiritual growth and thus overall well-being. But then some of the healers/shamans spoke of the specifics of the guided visionary experience.

First of all, the experience is surrounded with sacred rituals, such as purification, incense burning, chanting, etc. This alone would set up the state of mind for a very intense experience. Anyone who's done hallucinogens understands the extent to which your environment plays a role in the quality of your trip. Then both the healer, the sufferer and any other participants ingest the hallucinogenic plant(s), and the healer serves as a guide on the ensuing journey. From this point on, the participants have entered the "spirit world", which I believe can also be understood as the psyche or the realm of archetypes. In our minds, concepts such as fear or courage are represented by archetypal images, such as a wolf or a lion. During a hallucinogenic journey, these images can be directly confronted and experienced.

In the case of healing, it appears to me that with the guidance of the shaman or healer, the illness of the sufferer is personified by an archetypal image, such as a wolf. In the documentary, one helaer spoke of "confronting and defeating the wolf". I expect you yourself are personified as an image as well, such as your spirit animal. (Animals are the most common symbols for these rituals). Then with the help of the healer, who directs you and guides you, a journey unfolds, a quest inside of your own body and mind. The end result is the defeat of the wolf, the illness.

You have to ask yourself, what sort of effect would experiencing this intense scenario have on a person? My personal belief is that it would be a very effective method of healing. It is like affirmations and visulizations, but it is far superior. The body does have the ability to heal itself. There have been cases of people curing themselves of cancer without any western medicine using visulization. One woman who had breast cancer constantly visualized white blood cells enteing her tumor, which did in fact disappear. Similarly, a man with a brain tumor visulaized his white blood cells as star wars x-wing fighters attacking the tumor. His tumor disappeared as well. Incredible, obviously. So going through this intense visionary experience, where you literally do battle with the illness that is living inside you, and you defeat it... that's got to have an incredible effect on the body and the mind. Fucking intense!

Tuesday, April 8

A Postmodernist All Along...

I've been reading "Postmodernism for Beginners" and finding much comradery with Postmodern theorists and artists. I think anyone living in this day and age already has an intuitive understanding of the situation that Postmodernists have observed in their theories, even if we haven't written complex discourses on the subject.

The basic idea is that globalization of our culture has caused a type groundlessness in our society. Because there are so many traditions existing side by side, they lose some, if not all of their meaning. Lyotard called these larger traditions Metanarratives. A familiar example of a Metanarrative would be the Christian worldview that used to utterly dominate European society. When an entire society ascribes to the same Metanarrative, then all the smaller ideas stories, and customs, (Micronarratives), fit into the structure of the Metanarrative. But an overriding Metanarrative is something we definitely lack in today's world. And what is the result? A huge gaping void of course.

Another issue raised by Postmodernism is what theorist Baudrillard termed 'the death of the real'. It seems to me that this situation is a symptom of the void left behind by the dilution of Metanaratives. The death of the real is a condition brought on by mass production, television, pop art, and other forms of media. Our reality in the modern world revolves around commercial goods and entertainment, none of which have any substance in and of themselves. One could even argue that Capitalism has become the new Metanarrative. But what does such a Metanarrative teach us? What does it have to say for the individual? Is it helpful?

Even though Capitalism may be a narrative that snakes its way all throughout our society, we can't ignore the fact that existing alongside it are hundreds of other subcultures and micronarratives. We also can't forget that it is made up of non-real parts, mass produced copies which are inherently meaningless. And this situation is fairly unique in terms of our history. Certainly metropolises existed in ancient times, like Alexandria for example, but the synthesis of cultures doesn't compare to today's world. Not to mention our current level of mass production and commercialism, which is unprecedented. These days you can pick and choose from whichever religion you feel like. You can buy copies of a buddha statue at Zellers. You can eat any kind of food, quesadillas in an Irish pub even. You can study whatever you want, read books written by Caucasian Buddhists. The choices are endless and they are for the most part, shitty copies of the originals, or simulacra, as Baudrillard would say.

And in some ways, this is appealing isn't it? It sounds like more options equals more freedom. Mass productions means Buddha statues for everyone. But I think within all this choice lies a catch. I read an article called "The Paradox of Choice", (there is a book as well with that title), and it illustrated this catch fairly clearly. There are two major elements to it. The first is the groundlessness. The second is the responsibility and increased chance of regret.

The groundlessness is the knowledge, whether conscious or not, that whatever beliefs you ascribe to, there are so many other options. Whatever you choose to do with your life, there are so many other options. This can only plant seeds of doubt. Or maybe you don't choose much at all, because you see all these options for the facades that they are. None of them are real or true independently. The only way to make them true is to believe them, and how can you do that when you know they aren't really true? Just imagine how much simpler it would be if you were born in an isolated society, where there was only one worldview, which you could choose to either embrace or reject. Limiting maybe, but so so much simpler. I sometimes imagine what this would be like with longing. As it stands, I feel paralyzed by the groundlessness and emptiness of the choices which lay before me. So much so that I feel my life is in stasis. Sylvia Plath's image of the fig tree from The Bell Jar illustrates this point beautifully. The figs are choices, potentialities. While she watches the tree, paralyzed, not knowing which fig to pick, each piece of fruit shrivels and dies.

The other problem with choice is the liklihood of regret. As human consciousness allows, we are aware that when we make a choice, we ultimately erase any other options we may have had. Thus each choice can also seem like a loss. Even when we pick a fig, it inevitably means that the other figs will die without us experiencing them. We cannot help but reflect on the past, thinking 'I should have'. And we naturally blame ourselves. The article I read gave a good example of how this works. Imagine you are going to buy a bottle of wine. If you go to a huge LCBO, where there are hundreds of types of wine, you are going to be overwhelmed with choices, and will probably have high expectations for the bottle you choose. If there are this many choices, one of them must be perfect. If you're disppointed with your bottle wine, it will likely be because you feel that you should have chose something different. On the other hand, if you go to a liquor store which sells only five types of wine, you are going to have much lower expectations. Thus you are less likely to feel disappointed and regret your choice.

The end result of all this fakeness and lack of cohesion and cofusedness, is ultimately a void, much like the void that the Existentialists purport. Depressing? I'm not going to lie and say that this never gets me down. It does. But like anything else in life, we have a choice about how we react to this situation. It is a unique challenge that human beings have never had to face before. So we don't have a cultural Metanarrative to make sense of the world for us. So we are surrounded by simulcra. So we have an infinite amount of choice. What can we do with that? That is our challenge. Postmodern artists are rising to it. More on them perhaps in my next blog...

Friday, March 21

Juicy Crayons

A friend of mine recommended Sark to me. Unfortunately, the library only has one of her books, but it inspired me to bring out my inner child with some crayons. Since these are the only creative objects I've made in over a month, I thought I'd post them for good measure.

Saturday, March 8

Honestly, Art is Hard

No blogs in over a month? Random chance? Coincidence? I think not. Here is the reality of me and art. It's the longest on again off again relationship in my life. Some would say it's flat out dysfuntional. Me and art, we've got the love-hate, co-dependant, fear of intimacy, lack of trust, based mostly on sex kind of thing going. Like a fuck buddy, I do art only when I feel like it or when I have something to gain. This leads me to wonder, is this love or merely infatuation? Can I take this to the next level or should I break up with art once and for all?
Since I had an interview at OCAD only two weeks ago, these are questions I'm going to have to face. Sure, art school will give me that concrete purpose I'm craving, (i.e. something to gain from making art), but what about when art shool is over? Then what? Will it be back to avoiding my sometimes lover, avoiding a real relationship with it?

Friday, February 1


These are just some pages from my sketchbook for the next Shadow installment. This painting is going to be underwater... the figure and some ominous jellyfish. I've been sketching aquatic items for years now, so I'm really excited to be using them in a finished piece. I'm having a lot of trouble with the colour scheme... but it's always hard to plan with pencil crayons because the colours are way too bright. Progress is slow, but it's coming!

The Birds

The Birds is the second piece in the Shadow Series. This painting sat half finished for over a month, but I finally completed it a couple weeks ago. The Shadow of course, is ever-looming, hovering around us, waiting to swoop in and entangle us.

The Twins

This is the first piece in my Shadow series. In my experience, the Shadow has been a paralyzing influence, at times rendering me as incapacitated as these twins.

Shadow Series

Before I began this blog I started a series of work inspired by Jung's Shadow archetype. Simply put, the Shadow is all the aspects of ourselves that yet remain unconscious. These elements are not necessarily negative, but either way, if they are not uncovered and integrated by the ego, they can manifest in damaging ways. For most people this means a distortion in perception and in thought patterns. All or nothing thinking, projection, focusing on the negative, and expecting failure are all example of such distortions.

Despite the fact that these habits are of no use to us, (in fact they play a major role in both anxiety and depression), we cannot seem to let them go. Our Shadows keep feeding us bad food and we swallow with little to no hesitation, largely unaware of how we are hurting ourselves. Because of the way we are taken in by the Shadow over and over, I began to see it as a seductive, entangling force. A lure with a hook.

In the artworks, I hope to capture this formidable force through images of ominous beauty. It's time for me to start revealing my Shadow.

Wednesday, January 9

Tuesday, January 8

Svadhishthana Origami

Recently I have begun work on the second Chakra, Svadhishthana. This Chakra, orange in colour, is a centre for creativity, sexuality, and desire, and is also associated with our emotions. Svadhishthana is of particular interest to me because it shares many elements with my sun sign, Cancer. Along with the emotional and sexual nature, it shares its symbols with Cancer. Its element is water, its metal silver, its planet the moon.

When it is balanced Svadhishthana fosters an exuberance for life, especially its sensuous aspects. This makes sense since its vehicles are emotions, sexuality and creativity, which are the spheres of our psyche where we experience the conscious appreciation of being alive.

Because of the comradery I feel with this Chakra, I may stay here for a bit longer than I would typically. It also seems to be an important Chakra for artists because such a large part of what we do involves being able to stop and see the hidden potential in ourselves and in the world around us.

To externalize my focus on Svadhishthana, I have decorated my meditation altar in orange, including a couple orange fish, which is an animal associated with this Chakra. I even managed to find some beautiful old Silver trays from a local thrift store to add some weight.

Thursday, January 3

Muladhara Origami

During my last yoga lesson we took a look at the Chakras. The Chakras have always intrigued me but I only had a vague knowledge of them before. Studying them appeals greatly to someone like me who likes structure, symbolism, and colour. So recently my yoga practice has been focused on the Chakras. I began at the bottom with the Root Chakra, Muladhara. This Chakra is about basic needs, security, and the survival instinct. Its colour is red. During the period I worked on this Chakra, I thought it would be fun to decorate my meditation altar to externalize the Muladhara Chakra. I used a red candle of course, but I also made some red and gold origami stars. In addition to being red, they seemed like little platforms, or foundations, which also echoed the characteristics of the Root Chakra.

I plan to continue this trend. In fact I have already begun working with the second Chakra and will be posting about that soon. Because yoga and creativity are both cornerstones of my life, I like to take any chance I have to intertwine them. The psychology of our bodies and minds finds its expression through art. Why else would each Chakra be represented by a physical symbol? (Muladhara's is a golden square). Carl Jung recognized the benefits of expressing our internal experiences through artistic expression, both on an individual and collective scale. For the individual Jung called this process Active Imagination. Today it is more popularly referred to as art therapy. I figure, why not incorporate yoga here?

My origami stars are certainly not "art". But they are a physical representation of an abstract idea. This unique human talent allows us to be midwives of expression. It's quite an honour, if you think about it.

Christmas Cards

It feels like it's been forever since I've written here! The holidays seem to slow me down. It's like I was a huge hunk of fruitcake trying to maneuver my way through a landscape also made of fruitcake. But the holidays are finally over, and I do have some things to show for it. I spent my time making gifts of course. As a result, I feel more like a crafter than an artist right now. I'm just trying to go with it...

The little Christmas cards pictured here are special because they were my very first silk screening project. It was definitely a learning experience. I tried using the "positive" drawing fluid method first, but when I added the screen filler on top the drawing fluid, the images blurred quite badly. I'm sure there's a knack to it, but I don't have it. So, I ended up just using the "negative" method with the screen filler alone. It was time consuming, (and that screen filler is a bitch to clean off the screen because you have to apply a pretty thick layer), but it worked out well enough for the cards.

Next year I hope to be a bit more ahead of schedule so I can sell some cards on Etsy.