Uprising Up North

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Today I’m simply sharing a photo, a song and some lyrics.

I went to see the Sam Roberts Band at the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival last night. Sam Roberts is the kind of artist that inspires you to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight”, to quote another Canadian musician (Bruce Cockburn).

He chose to honor Indigenous Day by singing his song “Uprising Down Under”. Below is posted a link to that song, with lyrics.

I hope, if the darkness threatens to swallow up the light you have left, these words and music can be an encouragement, and a reminder that you are never alone.

Making Sunshine Out of Night

Anniversary painting

Making Sunshine, Ronald Kok, 2018, Acrylic on canvas

28 years seems like a long time to be with one person. But 28 years also goes by in a beat of the heart.

It is my 28th Anniversary today. On May 26, 1990 we were two young people who didn’t have a clue what was ahead, as is the case with every other couple walking to that altar and saying their “I Do’s”. Those years have sped by but they are also jammed packed with memories, many good ones, some painful ones, others that need some reflection to draw back into the mind. At present, Monique and I are in a season that can seem dark on certain days. Yet it is amazing how often light continues to peek through.

Monique is an avid gardener and fills our house all  year ’round with plants and flowers. So much of who she is in my mind is green and growing, colorful and alive. So it was fitting that I give her the above painting as an anniversary gift. It is a tulip as seen from above. Those of you who know flowers know that tulips do this in the late stages of their blooming. In the traditional view of the tulip, not the best time for a photo opp. But seen from above, like the angle of this painting, there is an entirely fresh and new perspective on the beauty of this flower.

There was something so apropos about that image as related to our marriage after 28 years. It inspired a small poem that I wrote on the back of the above canvas. I share it with you here with the hope that you’ll see some beauty in your own life from a new perspective; perhaps that will help create sunshine to dispel your particular night as well.

 

Making Sunshine out of Night

 

Over time we’ve opened up

More and more to the light

As one we are displaying

A myriad of colors bright

 

The years extract their toll

Day-to-Day can take all our might

But you and I we’re a fire

Making sunshine out of night

 

– Ronald Kok, May 25, 2018

Fowl Fotos

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During lunch time on the banks of the Rideau River in Ottawa in Springtime, you find out who your friends are. In my case today, my friends were fowl; waterfowl to be exact. These “friends” were of the mooching variety, of course, floating around waiting for a hand-out. But instead of taking offense at their self-serving attention, I took photos instead. Then I arted them up to share on my blog!

Here are my fotos most (water) fowl from a beautiful May day:

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Divinity with Talons

eagle

Divinity With Talons, Ronald Kok, pen and pencil crayons, 2018

The Eagle: Symbol of courage, strength, and immortality; “the kind of the skies”; symbol of Rome; connected with Zeus, Odin and the God of the Jewish-Christian scriptures; in Gospel symbolism, the image of Jesus as God from the gospel written by John the Revelator.

A few months ago I did a commissioned work of art for someone in which an eagle-like bird was descending on a female figure drowning in abstract waters, reaching out its talons to grab her hand pushed just above the waves. At the time, I was using the eagle as a symbol of God. The image I drew from for the eagle was fascinating and I wanted to explore it further. Recently I finished the above sketch as a study for a potential mosaic I have in mind. It got me thinking of the eagle again, and the many and varied ways it could be connected with the divine. So, between sitting on a city bus for my commute and hanging out at a coffee shop soaking up some sun, I composed the following poem:

Divinity with Talons

Divinity with talons
Grace with bite
Soaring
Hunting
Among the clouds angelic
You bring pain to earth

Wings spread wide
Awe follows your flight
Swooping
Gazing
Vision piercing disguise
None can hide from you

Fierce and beautiful in One
You fly above all of us
Waiting
Enduring
Wild King of the Wild Blue
Dive into our flesh

From soil to stratified air
You lift up, up and away
Striving
Rising
Rending blood, skin and bone
Piercing hearts, minds, eyes

Your wings uphold all things
All love, all death, all life, all
Gripping
Carrying
Your aerie fouled with our mess
Earth taints Heaven, your home

Powerful, fast, truly free
Peerless majesty on the wing
Stooping
Bending
Choosing the worst on purpose
Everything becoming nothing

Divinity with talons
Grace with bite
Rising
Rising
You take us along in flight
And take our breath away

 

Ronald Kok, April 27-28, 2018

 

Silvia’s Sunflowers

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Ronald Kok, “Silvia’s Sunflowers”, mixed media mosaic on board, 2018

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, my latest artwork isn’t so much imitation as it is edification in the purest sense of the word. I took another artist’s work and built my own work on top of it, quite literally.

Over the last year I’ve stumbled upon a mosaic style that has resonated with me. Most of my mosaic creations have been done on what I call “Wal-Mart art” canvases; that is, I purchase an art print that I find at a second-hand store, something originally sold via a store like Wal-Mart or Ikea or Homesense, gesso over it and resuse it as the base for a new mosaic. The “original” print disappears and my new creation appears.

I had purchased an art print on a board at my local Value Village a few months ago. It was an interesting work of sunflowers in a vase:

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I really liked the image on this print and had intended to somehow incorporate another artwork into it. However, it ended up setting around in my basement until some inspiration struck: Why not use the image as a template and build a mosaic over top? So that’s what I did.

In the process, I discovered that the artist of the original is Silvia Vassileva, a Bulgarian-born painter who has been incredibly prolific in her lifetime. I scrolled through literally thousands of art prints of hers on sale online, searching for these sunflowers. Finally, I just searched “Vassileva sunflowers” and got the image immediately. It is titled “Sunflowers in a Bronze Vase”. My title? I thought “Silvia’s Sunflowers” was appropriate, considering what I owe her in my edification of her work.  If you want to see more of what Silvia Vassileva has done, check out her work on Art.com.

Below are images of the process the artwork went through to go from Siliva’s print to my mosaic: