There’s a Big Love Out There

big love dining room

Big Love

There’s a Big Love out there
Expanding and expanding
Like the Universe
No one has seen its edges
Not even come close
Expanding beyond stars
Beyond galaxies
Beyond bounds

That Big Love out there
Keeps moving, growing
That’s how it stays alive
It never sits still, never waits
Always pushing further
Beyond you
Beyond dreams
Beyond me

The Big Love vibe out there
Can you feel it?
Close your eyes, open up
Can you feel it now?
Expanding inside, expanding
Pushing against your walls
Beyond prejudice
Beyond self
Beyond I

It’s a Big Love thing, you know
Vast and beyond reach
But in you, in me
In that tree, in song and story
A dog’s smile, a cat’s eyes
Sunshine and Autumn’s smell
Beyond sense
Beyond senses
Beyond seeing

There’s nothing beyond Big Love
But nothing outside it
Our attempts to contain
Failures of our smallness
Small minds, small hearts
Our rules can’t rule it
Beyond religion
Beyond law
Beyond isms

Big Love defies definition
As definitions have borders
How do you hold
Beyond in a box?
Why even try?
We can’t handle its Bigness
Beyond thought
Beyond science
Beyond us

But Big Love defines us
The definition of definitions
The One unity, shared
By all despite all differences
Despite borders, despite spite
Uncontained contains all
Beyond tribe
Beyond kin
Beyond us

Big Love is expanding ever
We can’t stop it
It will not be conquered
Or caged, or labelled
By those it contains
Those it embraces
Beyond fear
Beyond hatred
Beyond me

There’s a Big Love out there
Meant for you and me
A Gift beyond all giving
A Hope beyond all hope
You can’t run from it
It’s too Big
Beyond
Beyond
Beyond

 

Ronald Kok, January 21, 2018

The Tenacity of Hope

Ronald Kok, The Tenacity of Hope, Markers on paper, 2018

If you’re like me, Hope is something you may have in short supply these days. But with that in mind I want to point out the almost-obvious: You still have a supply.

That’s the funny thing about Hope, there seems to always be some, even in the darkest of times and places. I know that depression and circumstances have driven people to complete despair, but, amazingly, this is not the rule.  It is astounding how much human beings can endure and still cling to Hope. Really, Hope is what has given people the strength to press on, to keep going, to shake off the awful stuff and get on their feet.

Hope is tenacious. I looked up “tenacious” in Webster’s dictionary. The first definition given was “not easily pulled apart: COHESIVE, TOUGH”. A synonym given was “STRONG”.  Hope is not easily broken. Hope is like super glue that way: A tiny drop of it can adhere to your heart and mind and soul so strongly that almost nothing can tear you apart.

Hope, really, is a testament to the human spirit. What is the source of Hope? We place it in many things – God, other people, our circumstances, our money – but when you think of it, Hope finds its source in us. If Hope was just external, it wouldn’t have the strength or cohesion we need to endure hardship. The truth is, we are the main authors of the Hope that sustains us. This is the true miracle – We have within us the tenacity we need to keep our heads above water even in the worst of storms.

The artwork posted here is my first finished piece for 2018. It came from an idea given to me by someone who saw my artwork on line. She envisioned a woman drowning, yet drowning in her own tears, and those “waters” were things like shame, abuse, depression, etc.; above her was a hand coming down, “Hope”, just out of reach. I took that idea and put my own spin on some things. Overall, the image is more melodramatic than I prefer, but that in and of itself is not a bad thing – Sometimes we need images to point directly to our internal battles. Artists can get a little too cute with making things obscure and I have certainly been guilty of that.

Hope soars down in the form of an eagle, a symbol of the Divine. To me, that can be God and/or the Image of God in all of us.

Ultimately, I have the hope that an image like this helps you see that there is always Hope. It is tenacious – strong, resilient – and so are you.

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 365: Ring In the Common Love of Good

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“Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.”

This year has come to an end, and so has my goal of posting something each day for 365 days having to do with creativity. I wasn’t sure how to end a year like that but then I came upon this Old Year/New Year poem by Tennyson that states things so well and connects so strongly with my own frame of mind as I move into 2018.

May you sense the creativity around you in this coming year, may you have many opportunities to create and enjoy the creativity of others, and may you be blessed by an outpouring of truly good things.

Peace,

ron

In Memorium (Ring Out, Wild Bells) by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 364: A Creation Story

Creation Story 2017

Ronald Kok, Creation Story, Mixed media mosaic on canvas, 2017

“I want to do my part to be proactive and creative in 2017. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and bitch and cry. I want to take on the world in the way that I am wired: As an artist. And I want to inspire you and give you hope. I really do. If just one person can be moved to do what is right and good despite all the ugliness around them, I will know that it was all worth it.” – From January 1, 2017, the first “Year of Creating Dangerously” post

Was it worth it? When I set myself the task of posting daily to this blog, I had an inkling that it would be a big undertaking. I was going to make this blog be all about creativity, either creativity of my own or creativity that inspired me, challenged me, made me laugh or think or give me a different perspective on things. As an artist, I figured that a focus on creativity would give me the vibrant foundation that I would need to keep on keepin’ on in this blog, daily, all year long.

Well, here I am. I’m almost at the end of it. And I ask again: Was it worth it?

Through this year I gave myself a renewed art education. I read about, studied and researched visual artists, poets, writers, actors, musicians and many others. I learned about artistic movements in history, picked up little bits of trivia I didn’t know before, and discovered new artists and new ways of creating that blew my mind. I got in touch with a few young artists who are making art for their generation. I linked in to artists from hundreds of years ago whose vision remains contemporary and engaging. In reality, I likely packed in about as much learning in a year as I had picked up in all my years of college working on my bachelor of fine arts degree.

And I created, too. I did drawings and paintings, I became a mosaic maker in the process, I dabbled in different media, tried things I’ve never tried before, and looked for new ways to push myself as an artist.

But was it worth it?

Here’s the thing for me – an important thing to understand about me – if all that learning and creating was only to my benefit, then I have a hard time saying it was worth it.  After almost 365 days of this journey, in the end it doesn’t matter if I have arrived with new knowledge and experiences – not really. Ultimately, what matters to me and makes things worth it is if I have reached someone out there, influenced you in a positive way, given you inspiration and hope, helped you find within yourself something crucial that kept you going.

Please understand – I am not trying to make myself sound super-altruistic. I really, really loved spending time learning and researching and exposing myself to so much art. And I really, really loved the excuse to make art, to write, to compose poems and all the other things I dabbled in this year. But I have discovered after all of that something very important: You matter to me. You matter so much, in fact, that this year would seem a waste of my time without you being a part of it. I tried telling myself over and over again that this blog was about me and not to worry about who (if anyone) was visiting this site. That didn’t work. After all of it, I remained dependent on connecting with you, somehow, some way.

So, first of all, my thanks to you who did take time from your day(s) to spend time on this site. It is humbling to me to know that there were people who made a regular habit of it. And secondly, my thanks to you who gave me feedback, who encouraged me, who told me how something I had posted had effected you or inspired you. As I look back over the year, there was great satisfaction in putting my artwork out there, publicly, dangerously – in discovering that my own vulnerability could help others in their lives. Really, what made my year was the connection I could make with you.

So was it worth it? Yes. A thousand times, Yes. A creation story of any kind is always a story of community, of relationships, of a coming together to give birth to something greater. And the contribution I made through the past year is simply another small part of the ongoing creation story we are all a part of as humankind, as creators knit together crafting a vast artwork that none of us can see fully because we are, each of us, a part of that artwork.

The message, then, is this: You matter, you contribute, you are a crucial part of a great masterpiece. You and I, all of us together, are woven into this creation story.

Thank you.

Peace and Love

ron

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 363: Ron’s 2017 Gallery, Part 3

I Have Seen the Light

As I wrap up this creatively momentous year for me, I have been sharing examples of the artwork I did in 2017. The past two days I have shown artwork that pointed to a development in style leading me to work on mosaics but also a lot of experimentation as I tried to stretch myself in different ways. Those themes continued on for me, though the burst of energy into mosaics abated somewhat (until I hit my Christmas holidays… more on that later).

This is part 3 of my gallery from 2017 – A lot of illustrated quotes and spontaneous drawing and painting, in reality a lot of disconnected things that ultimately become connected. Here we go…

In August my family and I spent a few days in one of our favorite places – a lovely cottage in Quebec. My wife and I, in particular, love to take this time to do art. For me, it meant trying my hand at plein air painting. I have done precious little of this over the years. Plein air simply means painting in the “open air”, outside in the elements, and creating what you see in front of you. It is its own form of challenging as things don’t sit still for you, the earth rotates and the sun moves, light and shadow shifts, clouds roll and change. In the end, you don’t so much “take a picture” of a scene as record an interesting mix of elements that give the scene a unique quality. Painter and subject get intimately acquainted.

I sat down at the dock by the lake and made this painting on an increasingly overcast August day:

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Clouds Over Lac Joly, Acylic on canvas, 2017

I ended up leaving the painting at the cottage as a thank-you to the friends who allow us to spend time there. Looking at this painting again, as we endure -30 weather now in Ottawa, makes me long to be back at the place.


After those few days off I was back at work. I help to run an art studio at a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. One of the things I try to do is come up with fresh and interesting ways of making art, perhaps coming up with ideas or media that will click with the clients at the program. I came back from a shopping trip one day with a pack of color diffusing paper. I had never used it before and so I did some experimenting with it. Below are some of those results including a self-portrait:

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Self portrait, pen and markers on color diffusing paper, 2017


For 2017 in this blog I used a lot of quotes. I found inspiration in the words of other people often throughout the year. It is probably no surprise that I would join the words with some of my own images eventually.

As I sat in a cafe one evening, waiting to pick my daughter up from her college class, I drew the following quote buy Marilyn Monroe:

Imperfection is Beauty quote

I had a lot of fun with my art markers in creating this piece. It put me in the frame of mind to work on others. The next one was considerably darker in tone as the quote was a heavy one:

To be wounded quote

If you’ve been following my blog, the image above will look familiar. I used a similar take on a profile of a Christ with crown of thorns motif I had painted earlier in the year. Again, I was enjoying the bright colors and possibilities of my pack of art markers.

That got me going on a series, likely inspired by my time in Quebec at the cottage, hiking trails and enjoying nature as I do. Below is that series of five quote/drawings I completed, all based on my love of trees and lakes and all things outdoors:

Today I Have Grown TallerPerhaps Truth Depends on a WalkI Drank the Silence of GodAnd into the woods I goAdopt the pace of nature

I think the last one of this series, pictured above, was my personal favorite. I was remembering sitting in a kayak on the lake, seeing those amazing trees that grip the stone and grow out of a seemingly impossible place to grow.


During the summer months I was not feeling inspired to start any new mosaics. I had a canvas primed and ready but didn’t have a muse. However, I saw a posting in the Ottawa Artists Facebook page about an annual Cock Show art exhibition happening in October. The Atomic Rooster, a pub in downtown Ottawa, puts on this show every year and invites artists to submit pieces with rooster theme. Well, I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity. So I created a mosaic rooster for the show, using a quote (big surprise), this time from the incomparable Muhammad Ali:

I Have Seen the Light

I Have Seen the Light, Craft foam mosaic on canvas, 2017

I was great fun to see this artwork up on the wall at the Atomic Rooster, along with so many other creative, funny, profound and odd creations of roosters. I sold this piece within the first couple of days of the show. I was very happy with how this one turned out. Yes, I’m crowing a bit, aren’t I?

There would be no more mosaics forthcoming for a couple of months. Instead, I did a lot more drawing and some simple painting. I decided to try and loosen up a bit again and draw some expressionistic human figures. I ended up with a series of figures drawn over water color abstracts, each with a quote regarding creativity. I called this series Creative Spirits:

Comfort the disturbed disturb the comfortableBuild confidence in the creative spiritevery set of eyes has a right to the truthbetween the desire to communicate and the desire to hidewho we are and what we do is lifeTake your broken heart turn it into art

These were just okay in my estimation, not anything outstanding, but they did help push me along in an expressionist direction, one that would lead to my final mosaic of the year. More on that after…

Peter Pumpkinhead – From a song by XTC that was clearly based on Jesus Christ, I did a water color pencil and pen artwork of a crucified scarecrow. It was around Halloween time so this drawing confused some people. I didn’t mean it as something fun but as something provocative. Perhaps the cartoonish look of it detracted from any deep sort of meaning:

Peter Pumpkinhead

Peter Pumpkinhead, Water color and pen on paper, 2017

The combination of the Creative Spirits drawings and the tree idea of the above led me to grab my oil pastels and sketch the following:

creation story drawing

Creation Story, Oil pastels on paper, 2017

I realized after I had drawn this that a few things were coming together: The expressive sketches I had done, some spiritual themes, themes of mortality and divinity, and the personal study I had done this year of a few Canadian indigenous artists. In many ways, I had never done a drawing quite like this. It became an inspiration for me for the last mosaic I would make for 2017, one that I have just completed, only a couple of days before 2018. But before I show you that one, here is the second-to-last mosaic of my year, completed just before Christmas:

Horse

Horse, Craft foam and burlap paper on canvas, 2017

Why a horse? I’m not really sure. The beauty of the animal? The sense of freedom, of joyful spirit? Who knows. What I do know is that I used leftover scraps of colored foam that I had purchased to make Christmas decorations at the day program. I loved the colors and patterns so much that I went out and bought my own versions of this foam at a local dollar store, primed and painted a large canvas, and set out recreating the Creation Story drawing into a mosaic. In many ways, I now realize that this piece is a great way to cap off this year:

Creation Story 2017

Creation Story, Mixed media mosaic on canvas, 2017

I spent many of my holiday hours on this piece, a Creation Story indeed. This past year has been all about creation and about discovering the creator in myself. It was certainly apropos for me to invest my time and energy into an artwork that encompassed many thoughts and themes from my 2017.

So there you have it. Not a complete gallery of my 2017 but certainly the highlights. Of course I took photos and wrote poems and essays as well in this past year. But the truth is that the visual arts are most deeply rooted in me, from the first time I picked up a crayon to a day or two ago when I glued that last piece of craft foam on the artwork above.

I believe we are all made in the image of the Creator. After this year I am more thankful than ever that the Creator gave me the ability to do some minor creating of my own.

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 362: Ron’s 2017 Gallery, part 2

Bob Dylan Dream

As my Year of Creativity draws to a close, I have decided to take a couple of days dedicated to a small gallery of the artwork I did in 2017. Yesterday, in part 1, I described (and displayed) how I became, through a series of different art experiments, a mosaic maker. Today, here are some of those first true mosaics. Of course, no artist ever dabbles in just one thing so there are some drawings and a neglected painting finally finished in today’s post, as well.

Here we go…

As I began to realize that the experiments I had been doing in colored foam on paper were mosaics, I was, of course, drawn to things mosaic. It so happened that a site I follow on Facebook posted a story about a wonderfully intact mosaic from the third century that had been discovered in Turkey. It showed a reclining skeleton, enjoying wine and bread, with the words (in Greek): “Be cheerful and live your life”. I was so struck by the juxtaposition and humor of the happy bones encouraging me to enjoy my life that I decided to recreate it as my own mosaic:

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Be Cheerful and Live Your Life, Craft foam mosaic on canvas, 2017

I had purchased craft foam at my local dollar store which had animal print designs on it (zebra stripes, leopard spots, etc). I cut these up into mostly squares to create the above. My skeleton enjoys a pizza, be it a blue spotted pizza. This artwork was fun to make and I enjoyed the result so much that, well, I was determined to try this mosaic thing again.

The next thing I tried was a portrait of an artist that inspired me. My wife had bought me a book of all of Bob Dylan’s lyrics for my birthday. The book has an iconic photo of  Dylan from the mid-1960’s on the cover. I decided to try and recreate that portrait in mosaic form:

Bob Dylan Dream

Bob Dylan Dream, Craft foam and burlap paper mosaic on canvas, 2017

There was something about rendering Bob in colorful mosaic that made sense, and it made sense to me to include a phrase from one of his quirkier songs. It was meant to be provocative and a bit out there, much like the enigmatic songwriter himself. I think I succeeded.

After this portrait of Dylan I became interested in the work of the man he named himself after, Dylan Thomas. I began work on a very large mosaic, the biggest one I had tried so far, based on a line from a Thomas poem. However, it took me a long time to put that one together so in the meantime, some other artistic experiments were underway…

I had seen an article online about an artist that made single line portraits. I decided to have a go at it, not drawing anyone in particular, but using a black art pen, putting it to paper, and not taking it off the paper until a portrait was “done”. I filled up a couple of sketchbooks doing this. Below are some highlights from that experiment:

 

These were fun and challenging. I consider myself very loose and spontaneous in my drawing to begin with but this style stretched me more than I expected. I found that if I thought too much about it they didn’t turn out so well. But if I just went with the flow I ended up with more satisfying results.

I decide to expand this experiment, this time sketching particular individuals and doing so in 18 different lines each. Why 18? Because I had a pack of 18 colored markers on hand, fine point. This proved to be far more difficult because (1) the introduction of color and (2) attempting to draw the person as that person looks! Below is a self portrait and three portraits I made of individuals in my art studio at the day program where I work:

18 single lines self portraitNolaSophiaAlison

As I mentioned, these were a lot harder than they look. But it was another good way of pushing myself outside my own artistic comfort zones.


Around this same time I picked up a neglected canvas that had been lying around for about two years. A co-worker of mine had mentioned that she liked the half-finished painting that it was. I was a bit appalled that she’d like the monstrosity that it was and told her I needed to finish it. This same co-worker was injured at work and wasn’t able to return. Missing her at work, I believe, was the impetus to finish the painting. I had a background but then, using textures and acrylic paint, added the five birch which became the foreground and title of the painting:

Five Birch

Five Birch, Acrylic on canvas, 2015-2017

I gave this painting to her as an early wedding gift.

Around this time I had finally finished the large mosaic based on a line from a Dylan Thomas poem. The line:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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Rage, Rage…, Craft foam and burlap paper mosaic, 2017

There was something about this raging against inevitable mortality that struck a chord with me. I decided, instead of trying to come up with an image to go with the words, to illustrate the powerful words themselves.

This theme of mortality and the drive to live life to the utmost, to pursue dreams and use your talents, to love people and explore and take risks in the face of that dying of the light was no doubt a huge motivator for me this year. It was a great contributing factor in the creation of the next mosaic to follow this one, another large work, this time based on a character whose delusion is heroic and relatable:

Until Death It Is All Life

Until Death It is All Life, Craft foam mosaic on canvas, 2017

As I get older the character of Don Quixote becomes more real to me. He is deluded, surely, but also full of imagination, so full that it becomes reality to him. He is a tragic-hero in some ways, comical in a pathetic way, but also honorable and, in some odd way, a role model of sorts. Having had a great experience living in Spain back when I was 21, this work became a bit of an homage too. The background colors are meant to imitate the colors of the Spanish flag. The tiled lines flowing across the painting (which also wrap around the outside edges) were meant to be evocative of a Spanish artist like Gaudi as well as their penchant for great ceramic work. And, of course, Cervantes’ great comic-hero Quixote is the pinnacle of Spanish classical literature.

There would be more mosaics before 2017 was through but also more artwork in general. Tomorrow for part 3 of my gallery I will share more with you.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 361: Ron’s 2017 Gallery, part 1

Self Portrait, Chagall-style

My 2017 of daily creative exploration is almost at an end. Frankly, I can hardly believe it. I set out on January 1, 2017 with the goal of posting in this blog each day, hoping to offset the negativity in the world and in my own spirit with art and artists and various expressions of creativity. Along the way I have discovered so many things, been inspired, and in many ways rewired my own brain to better take in all the good things around me. I also found the time to do a lot of art, perhaps more than I have ever done since I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Over the next three days, I’ve decided to use this space as a sort of gallery. Though I am not very good at exact dating of things, I will attempt to show you examples of my artwork from this year, semi-chronologically. It was a year that I thought would involve more painting but, as it turned out, I did a lot more “painting” with craft foam, burlap and Modge Podge in the form of some mosaics. It was also a year where I tried to push myself into new directions and challenge my own established way of viewing and things.

Without further ado, here is part one of my 2017 Gallery:

Punk Rock Warlord (Joe Strummer Vs The Void)

Punk Rock Warlord (Joe Strummer Vs. the Void), Mixed media on canvas, 2016

Technically, this painting of Joe Strummer was finished right at the end of 2016 (I think on December 30 or 31, to be exact). However, it was done in the spirit that led me to my Year of Creating Dangerously, so I include it here as a very important jumping-off point for me.

Joe is a great hero of mine because of his own spirit and willingness to put himself out there in a vulnerable but powerful way. Instead of a traditional portrait, I chose to picture him battling the forces of brutality and banality (what I called the Void) with his chosen weapons: his voice, his words and his guitar slung around his neck. I intended it to just be an acrylic painting but the addition of shredded newspaper with Joe’s lyrics on them became a harbinger of things to come for me in 2017.


I had a difficult time completely shaking my disgust at the political reality in the world at the beginning of 2017, particularly as it played out south of the border. That led me to creating this next piece that appeared on my blog on inauguration day:

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Divisible, Mixed media on canvas, 2017

My roots are in the United States so I couldn’t help but be distressed watching my former country from my vantage point in Canada. I had drawn a number of expressionist-type American flags with oil pastels. I tore those up to create this collage, Old Glory shattered and in disarray. It was very cathartic for me to make this artwork which I called “Divisible” as a counter-point to the “Indivisible” claim of the Pledge of Allegiance I used to give before the start of my school days.


About three years ago when I was getting back into art, I tried to recreate some famous portraits using oil pastels. It was a way to train myself and fire up the creative Jones again. This year, I decided to created my own self-portraits but in the style of a famous artist. I ended up finishing four of them which I share below, side-by-side with the original:

 

 

 

 

In descending order, then, is Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Marc Chagall. I confess to having a lot of fun with these, particularly the Chagall-style self portrait as, just like the original, I added autobiographical details to the picture (e.g., Colorado in the dream bubble, a church and a bit of Spider Man on the canvas, Ottawa’s parliament hill out the window). These portraits were really great at getting me to think color and form and help me see things with a different set of eyes.


I had marvelous intentions from the beginning of the year to create a painting per month in 2017 dedicated to a favorite artist of mine. I ended up making three, none as pure paintings. The one below was finished in February, 2017:

Maya Rising

Maya Rising, Mixed media on canvas, 2017

Maya Angelou is a great inspiration to me. This work was completed with a combination of black markers and acrylic paint, over photocopied sheets from her book I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, along with the words to her poem “Still I Rise”.


I have done many portraits of people – my co-workers, some friends, and some famous folks but I have avoided drawing my family. Frankly, that scares me the most and I think I get frozen up worried about getting them right. Below is my attempt at drawing my daughter from a beautiful photo of her when she was about four or five years old:

Picking Dandelions

Picking Dandelions, Oil Pastels on paper, 2017

I ended up with something very impressionistic but I was still very dissatisfied with it. Why? Because I didn’t think it looked like my daughter!  I have come to appreciate it more over the course of the year but am bound and determined to get her right sometime in the near future.


Because this year was about creativity to me, I spent a lot of time researching different artists. At times that would lead me to attempting to recreate something they had done to stretch myself in new artistic directions. Jean Arp was a Dadaist who created some works by dropping geometric shapes onto a canvas. I tried the same thing with bits of craft foam dropped onto sheets of construction paper. The results are below:

 

Little did I know that this seemingly simple artistic lark would lead me down the road to mosaics. These geometric patterns led me to thinking about stained-glass types of artwork, with shapes bound by black lines. I started experimenting with images having to do with the crucifixion (we were nearing Good Friday and Easter) and I came up with these small paintings on paper:

 

I was trying to stretch myself again, thinking expressionist lines, solid colors, geometric shapes, and unusual glimpses of a familiar subject. From these ideas flowed the idea for a large painting, one of the few pure acrylic paintings I did this year, and the idea for a large cross to be on display at my church for Easter Sunday. Below is the painting, posted on Good Friday, and below that is me with the Easter Cross. Note the continued use of geometric shapes and solid colors:

Crucifixion Coronation

Crucifixion Coronation, Acrylic on canvas, 2017

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There was a wonderful coming-together of ideas and imagination at this time of the year for me. I was beginning to see the possibilities in this art form. As I have time in my day where I am part of running an art studio, I found I was often experimenting with things, trying things out. I found some leftover craft foam in our stores and used it to create a quick self portrait on paper:

Self portrait in craft foam 2017

Little did I know that just four months into this year I discovered the style that would define my art for 2017 more than any other. I was turning into a mosaic-maker.

Tomorrow in part 2 I’ll put a few of those artworks on display in this blog gallery.

 

 

 

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 360: Boxing Day

boxers

Happy Boxing Day! Yeah, I have no idea what that’s all about either. Having grown up in the U.S.A. we did not observe anything particularly special about the day after Christmas.  I now live in Canada, which often finds itself remaining under the sway of some particularly British traditions. One of those is Boxing Day. The origins of this term are not completely clear, but it seems to refer to the giving of a “Christmas Box” to boys or men whose job it was to deliver mail and parcels to your door. In the U.K. on December 26 it became a day to thank the people who do this work of service, in other words. It has in our day, of course, grown into another excuse to lure shoppers to stores for BARGAINS! BARGAINS! BARGAINS! At least, that is the case here in Canada.

However, for me, Boxing Day never fails to make me think of … well, boxing and that makes me think the Rock em Sock em Robots game I used to play as a kid, which in turn makes me think of one of my favorite comic bits from the Toy Story movies:

So Happy Boxing Day! Whatever that might mean to you!

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 359: Merry Christmas from Ebenezer and I

a-christmas-carol

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

As a repentant and renewed Ebenezer Scrooge said today, “A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

On this Christmas Day 2017 I want to share with you some favorite quotes from my second favorite Christmas story:

“I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man! I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon me! You have never seen the like of me before!”

“God bless us, every one!”

“In short, I should have liked to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet be man enough to know its value”

“Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years it was a splendid laugh!”

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”