Living in the Dash – Sharing the Story

Living in the dash sharing stories

Our life happens in the dash.

It is the journey between birth and death. It is the “and”. It is everything we experience for good or ill. It is what determines our beliefs and interactions. It is the pause between the start and the stop. It is what happens between each breath.

This is a project for an exhibition, ultimately about sharing, growth, compassion and understanding.

As a part time job, I transcribe statements for a public service agency. People telling their stories and besides the person in that agency, I am the first witness to their experience. As I listen to these people, describing their trust, their betrayals, their cynicism, their strength, their hopelessness, I think because I listen with compassion and empathy, some healing has occurred in my own life.

The one thing I can tell you for sure is never listen to anyone who says “oh get over it” or “stop living in the past”. Those kinds of statements are insensitive and ignorant. They indicate a lack of understanding of you and your experiences. Don’t listen to them.

This is a project that surrounds people and their lives.  People sharing their story. You can tell whatever story you want. All anonymous. You can talk about it, you can write it.  You can tell your story as you lived it, or as you wish to have lived it.  It’s not all about the bad stuff you did, or such, it is whatever you want to talk about. Your biography, your hurts, your joys, whatever. It is open to your interpretation. It can be as long as you wish or as short as you wish. It can be your entire life, or it can be what happened yesterday. Whatever is important to you.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

Part Two – What I Will Do and the Show

Living in the Dash – Writing the Story

Part two:  What I will do

Writing the Story

I will transcribe your story and become your second witness. The recording, whether audio or written, is the first and the act of recording validates whatever it is you say.  When you record or write, consciously think about this as you go through the process.

If you choose to do an audio recording, I will be transcribing – writing the story for you.  Your name is not important unless you choose it to be, but your story is. I feel that there is healing in this process and there will be a healing and compassion in the process of my transcribing. There is healing in telling the story and healing in writing the story. When I do any transcribing, I always say a little prayer for each person regardless of what was done or received.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

So how will the show look?

The show itself would look like this. Part one would be the visual: Everyone’s story, printed out, papers, 8 1/2 x 11 would cover the walls of the art gallery, all through the art gallery, everywhere. You wouldn’t be able to get away from it. All of your stories. All double spaced stories. Part two would be the recorded audio: Stories would be told on continuous loop, all stories one after the other, different people talking, in various places throughout the gallery. Part three would be recordable audio: There would be places for people to record their own stories if they have not already or to add if they already have. Part four would be tactile: there would be a place for them to write their own stories. Part five, and the most important: the people who come in to the gallery become the witnesses, the validations of all these stories. That validation creates connection, understanding, empathy and compassion. There might be a part six, which would be people in the gallery telling their stories in person.

I believe that there are many in the community who share the same experiences. Maybe in others seeing and hearing what is said, there will be healing in them too.

This is all anonymous. No identification.  You would need to give permission to have your stories used in a public setting, but this would be implied by the very fact of submitting it. I am thinking that a book could also come out of this, because there is something empowering by seeing your words in print. This I can tell you for sure.

It’s about healing, partnerships and compassion. We can do this together. I believe it is the only way.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

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.

Workshop at Opus Kelowna

Art Money Julia Trops Kelowna Canadian Artist

Demystifying Self Publishing

Sat, December 7, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Julia will discuss the various platforms for self publishing and show how to format your content with Word into an ebook for Kindle or a printable book for Amazon.

There will be a discussion of various platforms, marketing challenges, budgeting for the project, making a website for the book itself and title.


Laptop, ipad or other notebook type device.

As part of the Venus is Rising project, this workshop is given to help artists take control of their career.

Can Serrat Artist Residency


Since moving to Kelowna in 2002, Julia Trops has taught drawing, trained life drawing models, and was the sole founding organizer of the weekly Life Drawing sessions at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. These sessions began the development of the non profit life drawing group, incorporated two years later in 2005 as Livessence Society of Figurative Artists and Models. Heavily involved in the arts community, a Kelowna Museums board director for the past seven years, a founder of Okanagan Erotic Art Show, co-founder of Okanagan Arts Awards (as part of the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan). Encouraging other artists to get their name in print, 2009 onwards, Julia has compiled the Okanagan Erotic Art Show Catalog and the Simplicity in Mind for Livessence. In 2011, Julia was shortlisted for the City of Kelowna’s Honour in the Arts.

Julia keeps pretty busy in her studio, having sold over 1000 works worldwide since 2004 and shows at Gallery Odin at Silver Star Mountain Ski Resort.

Julia Trops at Can Serrat
photo by Nancy Hendrickson

Statement: I came to Can Serrat without any constraints or preconceived ideas about the direction my work would take. I was looking forward to letting inspiration guide the expression. Montserrat became the primary source of ideas pertaining to place and identity.

Montserrat's Village Acrylic Painting on canvas, 80x40 Julia Trops

The mountain is ever changing. Standing tall in the landscape, unashamedly evolving, dissolving, renewing and creating, it is made of disparate materials, conglomerate rocks. It is a refuge and a home for many animals, including man. It reaches to the sky, tantalizing climbers. It´s a tower of babel, a place of many languages, all striving to be understood. Rock climbers and pilgrims alike find a sense of self within the landscape, one of the human spirit and the earth mother, an answer to “where am I, who am I,” and a sense of relevance to the world.

The colours, bold reds and blues are the same palette I am known for at home in Canada. Though until now my work has been dominated by the human form, here it is the naturally occurring figures in the mountain that inspire me. Having completed some works, and named them, it came as a surprise and yet not really a surprise, that the mountain peaks actually have names. There are “Monks”, “Angels”, and even “a Giant”.

Can Serrat artworks Julia Trops

My process is tactile. I paint with my hands, – I like the immediacy, the intimacy, the direct contact with paint, feeling it between my fingers, seeing each stroke on the canvas, shaping with light and colour. I layer colour upon colour, creating vibrations and relationships, some jarring and some in harmony, just like human interactions.

One day I was so full of the mountain, I had to recreate it in stones that I found along the path to Vinya Nova,(a beautiful restaurant snug at the base of the mountain). This piece is an assemblage of slate and quartzite mounted on tile from the nearby tile factory, which I also passed along the way. I called it Little Montserrat and is about 24 inches long by 8 inches high.

Little Montserrat Graphite and Slate mounted on Tile Julia Trops
Little Montserrat Graphite and Slate mounted on Tile

Like other mountain ranges, created from the clashing of tectonic plates, Montserrat symbolizes strength over adversity, the subconscious brought to the surface, the recognition of buried treasures, brought in to the warm friendship of the Catalan sun, shaped by the whipping criticism of the wind and the gentle pressing of falling rain.

For all the artwork from this residency, here is the album:

The journey continues.

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

CBC Radio Interview North by Northwest – Italy/Otranto

February 11, 2012

From the CBC page description: “Kelowna artist Julia Trops is working on a project that will take her to Italy in the early summer as part of a residency program with the Bau Institute, in Otranto, Italy.”

The image is of the Castle of Otranto, where my studio will be.

Interview with Alya Ramadan

Artist Interviews – challenging, for the artist and the interviewer

I was recently featured in an artist interview, and am going to be doing a series on other artists as well.

Apart from being valuable SEO tools and information, they help the interviewer and the interviewee consider their own work. And that is always invaluable!

Thank you to Miriam Schulman, also a figurative artist, for the interview and for opening this door for me.  I appreciate the vote of confidence, not only in my work, but knowing and understanding that I will try to help others, as she has done.

To read the interview Miriam has done, follow this link, it will open a new window.

Be sure to check out Miriam’s work available on Etsy, and her facebook page.

Miriam Schulman New York Artist

Artist Interview – some insights into this Canadian Artist

About a month ago, a UBCO fine arts university student asked me via email for an interview. The following are her questions and my answers….

Have you been living in Kelowna for long? since Dec 2001.

Where were you living before now?
In Medicine Hat area, Alberta for a short time, in the military before that where I have lived all over Canada and did a peacekeeping tour of the middle east.

Because of your studio in the Rotary Arts Centre, you must spend most of your time there. Do you like being in the middle of downtown Kelowna?
When the studio was just mine (for eight years) I did spend a lot of my time there. I liked the studio, but too many people came in and interrupted my work – I would be painting, and they would just walk in and start talking like I was not doing anything. That was frustrating.  Yes, I like being in the middle of Kelowna, but I would be fine anywhere. It is 10 minutes from my home, and I live on the other side of the lake.

What influences your work? What inspires you?

Whatever I am going through at the moment. I do a lot of compression and expansion poses (crouching and then the opposite, arms flung wide). New colour relationships, or rather, new relationships to me. Sometimes what I read – I read a lot of Joseph Campbell, and he has cultural concepts that I really enjoy. I don’t like orange and I don’t like yellow. I don’t know why. I’ve used the same palette pretty much since 2005.

Do you like to work in your studio all the time or do you enjoy working outside in more spontaneous areas?
I like in the studio most – I don’t do bugs. Sometimes I will do small paintings while listening to the tv – it distracts my left brain so my right one can work.

Whats your favourite medium?
Absolute favourite is charcoal and then graphite and pastel. Then oil, sculpture is still pretty new, but I enjoy that too. Acrylic is okay, but I don’t like the plastic-y look that it can have without the mediums.

What is your favourite thing to focus on in your art?
Drama and mystery, joy and laughter. I get that by the attitude and placement of body and colours and lines. Formal elements are still a big part of my work.

You are an organizer of Livessence. Was this your idea?

Yes. I was in an FCA meeting one night and overheard some people talking about having a life drawing session downtown, because the university was so far away (OUC at the time). Since I was missing life drawing too, I decided to create the class, and see who was interested. I initiated and managed two classes a week by myself  (about 15 attendees each time) for about two years, and then asked if any of the attendees would be interested in incorporating as a non-profit. The answer was yes, and here we are. (Livessence Website which I also manage)

Do you like the artistic community in the Okanagan?

It’s okay. Lots of little clicks in the community but I suspect it is like that anywhere. I am fairly involved with the community because I feel that there are a few people here that could do really good things if they only believed in themselves more. I know what that is like, not believing in oneself, so I try to help out when I can. I don’t look for anything in return, because my reward is seeing them expand and grow, this is not something that can be hidden. That’s good enough for me, and means I am making a difference.

Do you enjoy working with nudes?

Yes, I see the figurative form as a way to communicate life, experience and energy in a visual sense.

Have you been creating art to sustain your living or do you have something else to support you?

I have a goal each month to bring in x amount of $. Sometimes I reach it sometimes I don’t. My husband also works, but we need my income too.

Do you make art for a gallery or for public to make your profits?  Do you find that your creative ideas suffer because of the production of art to earn money?
I have always made work for myself. If someone else likes it too, enough to buy it, then I consider myself lucky. Because I have been self-driven, I’ve done almost 4000 works in the past 8 years – over 1000 I have sold. I feel that if I do work for myself without the taint of being done for money, it will always be pure. That is important to me. The same reason why I will not do reproductions, to keep the art unique and itself.

Do you have your own private collection of your work?
Yes, I have some favourite pieces that I will not offer for sale or for tremendously high amounts.

Do you travel at all for inspiration?
If I had more $$ I would. All travels are inspirational, though the farther away, the more inspiration can be found. 😉

Did you go to school to learn skills in the arts or did you learn them on your own throughout the years?
I went to life school for life skills first before going to university for the degree. Let me explain: Kicked out of U of C when I was 17, tried a number of low mind jobs, then joined the military. Best thing I ever did. Was trained, got to travel around the world, learned some tremendous things, including time management and self discipline. That 20 years made me grow as a person, and this translates, I believe, in to my work. University in 98 part time when I left the military. Went thru a nervous breakdown due to the loss of identity, a severe depression and I truly believe it was the drawing class that pulled me back to some small sense of sanity. In late 2009, I felt I was out of it.

When did you begin to look into the artistic field and when did you decide to persue being a professional artist?
I closed the door after being kicked out of U of C. My gpa was .5 and I felt I was a failure in terms of being an artist, and that it would never happen. Joined the military. Always did some sort of painting during that time, whether with thread in cross stitch, or pottery. In 91, I took a night course in Ottawa in oil painting. I still have the works, they are quite bad. In 95, my husband and I went to Hawaii, and when we came back I was compelled to do a drawing of a postcard I bought. One of the Captains saw it on my desk and said “what are you doing here?” That made me start to think again. Two years later, events lined up to allow me to leave and pursue art in university full time. Graduated in 2001 with BFA Great Distinction, I think my gpa was 3.97 or something like that. Moved to Kelowna, applied for a studio at the RCA within three months of getting here. The RCA was not built yet, but was close, and I was in the office every week asking if they had made up their minds yet, and if I made the cut. I think they said yes just so I would stop bugging them. Eight years later, here we are.

When were you established as a professional artist?
2004 when I decided to take the leap from a job at the 9-1-1 Call Centre to pursue my art career full time. That was scarey but I did it. Within two years I was making more than 60K. Still paying off the student loan though.

Have you had many exhibits?
Yes, many. Most have been at the RCA or in coffee shops, some have been in commercial galleries or shows that I have made up myself. The thing with exhibits, is that you can control how much you do or don’t do. If there is a show idea that you would like to do, but isn’t happening, then put it on yourself. That’s what happened with the Okanagan Erotic Art Show. Three of us got together and said we wanted to do it, so we did.

Do you enjoy working with university students?

I never really have.

If you had one piece of wisdom to pass on to students struggling with art and the “real world”, what would you tell them?
Learn self-discipline, time management, and tell anyone who says you can’t do “something” to screw off. Don’t take no for an answer. If you can think it, you can do it. Find your own solutions to problems. Make your own rules. Take responsibility for your life, your work and your thoughts. Read (really read with comprehension!) Sir Ralf Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance. Do not avoid struggling as there is nothing wrong with it, it is the heart of creative thinking. Face your shadow and your demons, they are a rich treasure of understanding and inspiration. Okay I guess that’s more than one.

Comments and or questions are always welcome.