Death and solitude justify art

Excerpted from Word for Word:  A Prairie Voice, 1996:

Venerated Prairie author W.O. Mitchell, 82, left a hospital bed in Calgary, where he is being treated for prostate cancer, and traveled to Winnipeg last week to address the annual meeting of the Writer’s Union of Canada.  Some highlights:

“Death and solitude justify art, which draws human aliens together in a mortal family, uniting them against the heart of darkness.  Humans must comfort each other, defend each other against the terror of being human.”

“All artists make or create, and the result is an important ingredient in the receipe for culture, for they are the bridges and patterns which connect us, which create human solidarity.”

“Artists, philosophers, historians know that man is a finite, warm sack of vulnerability and because of this knowledge they do have an unfair advantage over politicians and generals and quarterbacks.”

I was given these quotes from a gentleman who came to the Summerland Art Gallery Philosopher’s Cafe, where I was presenting with David Korinetz and Linda Lovisa.  It struck some amazing chords within  and it says everything about arts and the humanities and being human.  Those who are in business should take note that they can not fail by championing the humanities, because it is what makes us who we are.

No More Styx and Stones at Penticton Art Gallery

Acrylic Painting Bullying

Artist Statement for No More

Like many others, I have been the recipient of physical, mental and emotional bullying all my life. So many times I wished those watching would stand up for me and say “hey, wait a minute…”, but no one ever did. Even now, in the Okanagan, I have first hand experience of how loyalty to one’s friends supersedes what is morally right, or kindness to another. Over the years, through processing my own experiences and exploring my identity, I became aware of patterns of behavior, not only in myself as victim, but others, both the aggressors and the bystanders. In becoming aware of my own personal triggers of perceiving myself as a victim, I have developed thought processes to re-route my
previously traditional response. I re-vision scenarios where I am no longer the just recipient, but instead, I am a witness trying to understand the source of anger or sadness or lack of education that provoked that aggressor’s hate. Hate is an expression of pain or anger or being threatened, and I understand now that hate directed outwards is not personal, but symbolic. This understanding has made me aware of what a gift it is to both myself and to that aggressor, in witnessing and acknowledging their pain along with my own, and this act of witnessing is transformative and powerful.

In any action, positive or negative, there are two types of people: the bystander, who witnesses, and the participants. Witnessing can occur before, during or after a situation. Even those bystanders who choose not to participate cannot avoid becoming part of the scenario. By making that choice, bystanders become the witness, and they stand by and share in what they see and hear. I believe that bystanders can choose to be the people who say “no more”, and these are the people who become heroes, who stand up and effect change for both the aggressor and the victim. I don’t think anyone is determined to be a hero. I believe heroes are reluctantly so.

What if Charron, the ferryman across the River Styx, said “No more”? What if he, the bystander, decided he was not going to participate in his traditional role of taking those condemned over to Hades over the river of hate?

I have always had sympathy for Charron. I’ve always imagined Charron takes up the mantle of pain for each person who uses his ferry, and that he can see through to their pain, the pain and anger that caused these people to be evil, but can do nothing about it.

He is a witness to both their crime and their past. Instead of traveling the river of hate, what if he were to examine it? What if he employed empathy and he, as a witness, was the cause of their transformation? The ferryman Charron, a bystander, a witness, previously thought to be powerless, a victim in and of his role, becomes the most powerful of all.

Acrylic Painting Bullying
No More 9×36 Mixed Media Julia Trops

Artists for AlleyCats Alliance – Penticton Western News Aug 2012

Original story here:

By Steve Waldner – Penticton Western News
Published: August 30, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: August 30, 2012 3:38 PM

Cats sleeping, cats jumping at laser-pointers on the wall, even cats staring adorably at the viewer — as anyone who’s been to the website Reddit will tell you, these images are gold mines for attention.

One local group is taking this mentality and putting an artistic spin on it, in hopes to raise awareness, generate funds for local feline friends and create support for their cause.

The AlleyCATS Alliance, a cat support group has opened a call for artists to submit electronic images of some of their cat-based artwork, which will then be voted on online. The top 12 will be put into the 2013 AlleyCATS calender.

The cause has garnered the support of a number of artists in the Okanagan region who have already submitted to the calender. One such artist is wildlife artist Terry Isaac, who has been painting professionally for 25 years.

“I’ve always loved animals since I was a little kid, and I’ve had several pet cats along the years,” said Terry Isaac, one of the contributors to the calender.

“I just think cats are particularly beautiful. I’m inspired by their beauty and I think they’re intriguing,” he added.

Isaac has high hopes that the support of artists will bring attention to the AlleyCATS’ cause.

“I think more people need t be aware that cats need to be neutered and spayed, and every cat needs to have a nice home,” he said, adding that feral cats in the area are likely to fall prey to various predators in the region, like coyotes.

The calenders will be on sale throughout the area, with all funds going to help with the care of the strays the alliance brings in.

With spaying or neutering costing between $50 and $100, plus the cost of vaccinations and deworming, taking care of these cats can be costly.

December Foster, the president of the AlleyCATS Alliance, which started last month, said while the funds raised by the calender are important, building a foundation for her newly-founded organization is another key goal of the project.

‘What we’re trying to do is get the support of a network of amazing artists behind us and create this calender of not only cute cats but beautiful art by well-known artists and some not-so-well-known that should be, and use that as a way to support our group.”

Artists for AlleyCats Alliance December Foster Julia Trops
Artists for AlleyCats Alliance

Sketched Out Studio Sale

Sketched Out Studio Sale
Sketched Out Studio Sale

Three artists are joining forces to try to get their works out to the community. We are making room for new projects, new beginnings, and it is your chance to own an original artwork.

Trying to make the situation a win win for all involved, and fully aware that Christmas is coming, too,  Julia Trops, Trina Ganson and Angela Bonten will be at Studio 113 from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday December 10th offering their work at hugely discounted prices.

For a preview of what I will be offering, please see the Facebook Album for works that are presently available. Or you can go to and see if there is anything else that appeals to you.

From my latest newsletter:

The next step in my artist career:

I am going to Italy for a residency in June 2012.  The port town of Otranto will be my studio for the month where I will be researching and creating works based on the myths  and stories of the female.

In order to raise funds for the residency,  I am holding two specials:

The first way is through works from 2010 to present.

Some of these are available in person  at my studio in the Rotary Centre for the Arts, and  others are available to be viewed and purchased online at my Ruby Lane shop:

Venus is Rising

Or you can come and see me at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Saturday November 26th, 9 to 3 pm during the Sketched Out studio sale, for the second special.  You can see most of these works on Facebook:

Look for the painting called Blueberry Bliss. These works are a whopping 66% off. I mean business!

If you see anything you like, send me a note. Or if you have seen the work already and you want to reserve it, then paypal is just fine, please send to, and indicate which work you want. It’s a great time to support an artist’s career, a Christmas gift for you or your loved ones, or a CyberMonday purchase…. once the $5000 is raised, all prices return to normal and your investment has just increased!

Thank you for helping me reach one of my goals. I have a ten year business plan, and the residencies are one of the things on my check list. Cross your fingers!

New work – Lahaina bound

Chris and I spent some time last year on Oahu, mostly at Honolulu, but we took the time to travel around the island itself. Most impactful was the trip to the Bishop Museum in the city.

This year, we went back to Hawaii, but this time to Maui. It was our first trip since we were married, with no children. We had a really nice time, and would love to go back. We will one day, I am sure.

Hawaii has had a profound impact upon me, and my artmaking. The colour goes without saying, though I am feeling that much of what I was painting already was in those bivrant jewel tones of the islands. I am thinking more along the lines of the expression, the dignity and the supreme gentleness of the Hawaiian people. This is what I would like to see grow in my work.

One of the towns we stayed in, Lahaina, has a poster contest every year. This year I am entering, with the three works below. Wish me luck. It is a juried show, and I hope I get in…

The Lahaina Lost
The Lahaina Lost, Oil on board, 24x30, 2011
Along Front Street, Oil on canvas, 12x20, 2011
Along Front Street, Oil on canvas, 12x20, 2011
The Guardian, Oil on board, 30x24, 2011
The Guardian, Oil on board, 30x24, 2011

Spent time in Hawaii last year and this year.

Influence of the islands.

Paper Girl Kelowna and West Kelowna

From my friend Sarah….
Hello Dear Artist Friends…:O)…

I am excited to announce that, Papergirl Kelowna 2011, will be happening mid October, with the event itself being held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna.
Papergirl Kelowna is an art project which involves artists donating artwork to be given freely away to members of the public. The Papergirl aspect involves riders on bicycles cycling out into the community and giving several rolled up pieces of art to random members of the community for free. It offers the opportunity for people to be exposed to and experience art in a very unique and personal way. As a participant last year I witnessed first hand the happiness and exhilaration that was experienced by this generosity.
Before the actual donation takes place we exhibit the art and host an event party showcasing local musicians.
In sending this to you, we hope you will support us with an art donation. We ask for rollable art, prints or originals, photographs, written word, art cards, or rollable textiles. The quantity is not limited as the more art we recieve, the more we can give.
As a participant, we will promote you on our website and display your work at the event. You may also include your artist statement and photograph. We also encourage you to write a message to the recipient on the back of your art.
We are really looking forward to this year, we collected over 600 pieces of art last year and hope to raise at least 1000 this time around. We were also happy to welcome art from people throughout the globe.
We have 2 submission locations…
The New Moon Gallery, 1B-2525 Dobbin Rd, West Kelowna, BC, V4T 2GI
and Studio 113, The Rotary Centre for the Arts, Cawston Ave, Kelowna, BC V1Y 621.
Please protect your packages (flat works best) and address to Papergirl Kelowna. Closing date October the 7th.
We appreciate early donations..:O).
Visit our website for more information, photographs, and videos of last years event.
Please feel free to share with other artists, and art groups.
Please contact Sarah at if you have any questions.
Thank You.
An invitation to the event will be forwarded in the near future.

What makes someone an artist?

From Seth Godin’s Linchpin

What makes someone an artist?

I don’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists.

On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an
artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work 
with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about
intent and communication, not substances.

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.

That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer.

That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artist, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.

Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artist, even though his readers are business people. He’s an artist because he takes a stand, he takes the work 
personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him,
 and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter.

The intent does.

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.

If Jackson Pollock is art and Andy Warhol is art and performance art is art . . . then what is art? It’s not about the craft, certainly.

If Shakespeare is art and Sam Shepard is art, and Eric Bogosian is art, then Jerry Seinfeld must be art, too, right?

Is it art when Harvard scientist Jill Bolte Taylor holds us spellbound for eighteen minutes talking about her near-fatal stroke? Certainly.

And I think it’s art when a great customer service person uses a conversation to convert an angry person into a raving fan. And it’s art when Craig Newmark invents a new business model that uses the Internet to revolutionize the classifieds. Or when Ed Sutt invents a better nail, one that saves lives and money.

The semantics matter here, because we’re going to explore what it is to make art, and we need to decide what art is before we can determine if that’s useful to you. So, back to my definition:

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.

An artist is an individual who creates art. The more people you change, the more you change them, the more effective your art is.

Art is not related to craft, except to the extent that the craft helps deliver the change. Technical skill might be a helpful component in making art, but it’s certainly not required. Art doesn’t have to be decorative; it can be useful as long as the use causes change.

Art is certainly not limited to painting or sculpture or songwriting. If there is no change, there is no art. If no one experiences it, there can be no change.

By definition, art is human. A machine can’t create art, because the intent matters. It’s much more likely to be art if you do it on purpose.

A cook is not an artist. A cook follows a recipe, and he’s a good cook if he follows the recipe correctly. A chef is an artist. She’s an artist when she invents a new way of cooking or a new type of dish that creates surprise or joy or pleasure for the person she created it for.

Art is original. Marcel Duchamp was an artist when he pioneered Dadaism and installed a urinal in a museum. The second person to install a urinal wasn’t an artist, he was a plumber.

Art is the product of emotional labor. If it’s easy and risk free, it’s unlikely that it’s art.

The last element that makes it art is that it’s a gift. You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art. There’s always a gift intent on the part of the artist.

Organizations use human-created art all the time. The design of the iPhone is
art. It changes the way some people feel. It changes the way they use the 
device. It changes the way they communicate. And there is a gift as well.

People who see the iPhone but don’t buy one still receive the gift. An ugly iPhone would cost as much as the beautiful one. The beautiful part is the free prize inside, the bonus, the gift to us from the artist who designed it.

Okanagan Arts Awards Visual Artist Showcase

I am on the Okanagan Arts Awards committee, working on getting the awards underway with fellow volunteer board members Sharon McCoubrey, Sharon Lancaster, Daneen Agecoutay, Angela Bonten, James Avery, Sarah Parsons and Janet Anderson.

One of my chief duties was to put together the Art Awards Sculpture competition, and now that the sculpture has been chosen, I help out with other activities. The next main activity I am involved in is the representation of the Visual Arts in Okanagan. This is called the Visual Artist Showcase, and is a slideshow presentation representing all the visual artists in the North South and Central Okanagan. Daneen Agecoutay is masterminding the slideshow based on the entries by the submitting Okanagan visual artists.

The first call I put out for the Okanagan Visual Arts Showcase resulted in nine visual artists responding. Nine? Yes, nine, from the entire Okanagan, North, South and Central. I am not sure why it is like pulling teeth to get these visual artists to respond, but it is. Maybe because there is no cost for entering their images? Maybe if we put a $10 charge on each image submitted, there would be more people submitting? I am not sure.

The goal is to have minimum 50 artists, and currently I think we are halfway there.

Some notes regarding the Okanagan Arts Awards Artist Showcase.

1. There is nothing online about the Visual Arts Showcase because we (the Arts Awards Committee) have no direct access to the website – this is why you see me posting this on my own blog and on my facebook page and the other various facebook pages such as The Okanagan Artists Group, and the Arts Council for the Central Okanagan.  The Okanagan Arts Awards is and you can go there to see info on the event itself, including nominations and sponsorships. The event itself will take place  Feb 23 2011 at KCT. Tickets are on sale NOW, available from SelectYourTickets at the RCA.

2. The Artists Showcase will be a slideshow presentation (hard to have art dancing on stage or singing) to represent the Visual Arts in the Okanagan. You do not need to be Arts Council members to be included. If you are interested in having your work included, please send two images to

3. Please do not send me images or ask me to choose for you.

4. Please do not confuse this with the actual nomination process for an award – that you would ask friends to do for you, or they would think of it themselves. Nomination Plug: If you know someone who should receive an award (in whatever category!) Why not nominate them as their Christmas gift? Deadline Jan 15.

5. 2D and 3D are acceptable! just two images, so if 3D be creative and maybe include many sides in one image.

6. If you don’t know how to do the images, get someone to help you. Just make sure they are 2000 px wide. Web images will not do. Make sure they are clear! Blurry images will not be shown.

7. This would be a great Christmas gift for your loved one who is an artist – put a note in their stocking that you have done this for them! The gift of love and respect always brings joy and tears, right?

That’s pretty much all I can tell you about the Visual Arts Showcase – two images, good quality, art only, to Elke at Questions? Post here, likely if you have them, others do too.
All the best!

ps – all sculptors, think about submitting a design for next year’s Call to Artists, it ALWAYS COMES OUT IN JUNE, WITH A DEADLINE OF AUGUST> lol.

Business interaction with Culture – Could you do this?

You know what I would like to see

is a month long event, where the local businesses buy in to the concept that all art is removed from the walls.

Let’s just start with the art, because it’s easy to administer the idea…

Remove the art from the walls for one month. Then take the temperature of the businesses and the clients/customers and the employees. Everyone who walks in to that shop, or office, or room…. ask questions like how did you feel when you walked in, did it seem friendly, if it was your first time to that office could you get a sense of their philosophy (artwork displayed is a subconscious or maybe even conscious projection of that company’s philosophy…) What other questions do you think you could ask? Use this opportunity to gain valuable insights from your clients/customers about your business. What a fascinating project that could be. Who will be the first? The first is the leader you know, the one who is in front of everyone else. What an opportunity to be an industry leader!

Cultural groups create from a space that is foreign from business. Artists and performers create from a space of (dare I say it) love. There is a greater good and return to money given with an open heart – something Kevin O’Leary probably wouldn’t agree with. Gosh I wish I could have said that on CBC! But it was such a short interview. Next time maybe.

Our Life Models Are More Than Still Life

Ink on board sold
ink on board, sold

The difference between my models and others was made clear to me today. A new potential model asked me if I was going to tell him how to pose, when to turn, how long he should stay in one pose. I said no that the model was responsible for all of this.

My models are independent thinking human beings who retain control over their person. They choose whether to be draped, semi or undraped. They are given very loose direction for the performance during the sessions.

The majority of artists in Livessence continue, in their drawing or painting, to remember and respect the models humanity. I am of the opinion that an observer would be able to tell the difference between an artist rendering of a human still life and the capturing of the human existence.

I believe that these days, there are more artists who fall in the latter category rather than the former. I think it has to do with the awareness of the artist himself for others and this sensitivity is what gives that additional consciousness to their work.