A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 151: Silence the Voice


“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

I came across this quote by Vincent van Gogh today. For so many of us, especially those with that drive to create, there is that voice within. It is not a kind voice. It is judgmental. It is negative. It is cynical. And it is always spoken with our tone, our inflections, because it is always our voice.  It is very rarely the people around us who discourage and deflate; almost always it is us, snidely dismissing our own desires to paint, draw, dance, sing, act, write… create.

Of course, we will exercise confirmation bias when it comes to the feedback of others. If we don’t receive the enthusiastic response we were hoping for, or we get critique, or we get very little input at all, the voice chimes in immediately, “You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. Give it up. You’re just fooling yourself.” Artists crave a response partly because we create to share with others but also because we are so desperately insecure about our art.

I’m sure Vincent felt this way. In fact, I’m convinced of it. He received very little in the way of support for his art in his lifetime. No one bought his stuff, as hard as that is to believe today. His style was seen as undisciplined, manic, childish, messy, unskilled. Yet today we venerate Vincent, as we should, as the genius he was. Thank God he would not let the inner voice or those outer voices stop him. Thank God he picked up the brush and attacked those canvases in order to silence those voices.

If you are a creative, it is almost a guarantee that you know exactly what your inner voice sounds like. I certainly do. You and I need to heed Vincent’s advice. What am I telling myself I can’t do? What are you telling yourself you can’t do? We’ve just got to go do it, and prove ourselves wrong!

I came across this quote among 25 quotes from artists about art on mymodernmet.com. Here is the link below. Keep creatin’, y’all.




A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 150: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

I picked up a volume of poetry at Value Village yesterday because… well, because.

Poetry is not for everyone, I realize. And often I, too, have no clue what they are writing about.  But then there are those moments when poetry is transcendent, when the use of language is so powerful you feel like the words are leaping off the page. I was reminded of this as I paged through the book and came across my favorite Dylan Thomas poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.

For some reason, this poem emboldens me to live, even when my own mortality and frailty stares me in the face. Maybe it will do that for you, too. Enjoy.

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.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 149: Angel Heart Toilet Art


If you were a song writer, how would you feel about the lyrics of one of your songs illustrating an entire wall above a public toilet?

A secondary question: Is it sexist, in a unisex bathroom, to make that artwork much more visible to male patrons than to female patrons?

This past weekend my wife and I celebrated our anniversary by spending a couple of days in one of Ottawa’s most creative neighbourhoods: the Glebe.  We went for coffee at the Wild Oat, a wonderful bakery/cafe that serves up gluten-free options for my celiac-suffering honey bunch. I had indulged in a couple of coffees already that day so nature called. I went into the washroom, stood in front of the commode, and saw this:


It was a nice long pee so I could read through it twice. Frankly, I thought it was awesome. So much so that I went back to our table, grabbed my phone, and returned to the washroom just so I could take these pictures. You’re welcome.

I was amused by it all but also thankful for the creative types who even think of something like this. Why not have inspiration above a public toilet? Why not share your creativity in a space we so often view as completely utilitarian? The lyrics were uplifting but the impulse to put them there in that washroom of the Wild Oat was even more  so to me. And I’m sure no sexism was intended.


I had to look up these lyrics to find out the author: Nick Barber, an English musician who goes by the stage name of Doof. I have no idea if Nick knows that his song lyrics are in that public toilet, but I have a funny feeling that he would have no problem with it at all… though he might like some credit for it on that wall!

Below are the lyrics to his song “Angel Heart”; below that, a link to a recording of the song. Here’s to all you creatives out there who are unafraid to make art, share art, be art in even the strangest of places! To me, you are all Angel Hearts.

Angel heart
Is this another ending or a start?
Is there any way that they could be apart?
In the end
We come full circle again

Gentle soul
You know each daily trouble takes it’s toll
But every silver lining hides a seam of gold
In the end
We come full circle again

Angel heart
Never be afraid to face the dark
If you are you’ll never let the healing start
In the end
We come full circle again

Gentle soul
Never be afraid to face the goal
Don’t you know the light you see is your own soul?
In the end
We come full circle again

Special One
Set your ship to sail into the sun
And when you finally get there you’ll have just begun
In the end
We come full circle again





A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 147: Saturday Life Quotes – Dylan

dylan (1)

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”

My week started with completing a mosaic portrait of Bob Dylan. It ends with me sharing some of his words of wisdom for the Saturday Life Quotes. In between,  on May 24, the Bob celebrated his 76th birthday.  I, for one, am thankful that he has always been busy “being born”, as he once sang.

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

“There is nothing so stable as change.”

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

“I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.”

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.”

“Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.”

“I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.”

“If I wasn’t Bob Dylan, I’d probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself.”

“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.”

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 146: Here’s Looking at You

So 27 years ago today this happened…

Here's Looking at You

Here’s to 27 more years with my adorable best friend.


Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me around
I feel numb, born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

Oh! I got plenty of time
Oh! You got light in your eyes
And you’re standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight

Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place

I can’t tell one from the other
I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I’ll be, where I’ll be oh!

We drift in and out
Oh! Sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view

I’m just an animal looking for a home and
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I’m dead

Eyes that light up
Eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head I got ooh!

-Naive Melody (This Must be the Place) by Talking Heads


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 145: Get to Know USS


“Don’t try to paint my rainbow grey
I’m feeling fine, fine, fine”

When you find out one of the band members calls himself Human Kebab…

When you read about the title of one of their tours: “Highway to Health”…

When you learn that they once made smoothies in a concert to give to fans…

When one of the band members describes their style this way: “We like to call what we do the campfire after-party. It’s like you’re at Nirvana Unplugged but there’s a drum and bass party and glow sticks all around you.”…

When you discover why they titled an EP Approved: “Approved, because it seems like everyone has issues of self-worth. YOU’RE ALL GOOD ENOUGH! Most of life is just overcompensation for not feeling like you are good enough. APPROVED!”…

When you first hear their name, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, and learn that it came from the title above a band member’s life-plan…

After all that, you listen to their music – an eclectic, danceable, hodge podge of numerous musical influences delivered by two guys from the suburbs of Toronto…

When you get to know USS, you get hooked on their hooks…

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 144: Words of Peace

“Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”
In the aftermath of yet another abhorrent and pointless terrorist attack, I was in need of some words of peace. Here are a few from English poet and artist William Blake, originally published in 1789.

The Divine Image 

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 143: Bob Dylan Dream

Bob Dylan Dream

“Bob Dylan Dream”, Craft foam and colored burlap mosaic, 2017

Continuing on in my mosaic theme of late…

I had purchased more craft foam and some sheets of colored burlap from the dollar store. I had a canvas covered in black gesso all ready to go. I had a new jar of Modge Podge. All I needed was an idea.

And nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing came to me. Nothing for about two or three weeks.

It’s like that sometimes for me. Maybe it’s that way for you, too – whatever your form of expression may be.  I’ll wait for that elusive muse. Often the wait drives me crazy. But I know better than to force something. When I do, my heart’s not in it.

This time around, as I was waiting, all it took was a glance at the Bob Dylan book of lyrics setting next to my favorite chair in the living room. I had been paging through it, using it as a reference for last Sunday’s God Quote (Day 141). I put it down and looked at the iconic photo of the 1965/66 Dylan from the Highway 61-era.

Boom! There it was. I had my inspiration. I was hoping to create a painting per month in 2017 in honor of the artists who have inspired me. We’re five months in and I’ve only done two. Sigh… But here was my chance to do up some artwork in honor of one of my favorite musicians all time. Not a painting, however, but what the hell? Art is about breaking your own rules too.

I wanted it to be more than a portrait; something that reflected the artist and his art. Dylan has always been an enigma. I can’t remember who said it but my favorite quote about him goes something like, “Dylan has so many sides to him, he’s round.” It should be something that reflects his status as the most frustratingly impossible-to-pin-down singer-songwriter in rock history. I also wanted to include some words because, well, Dylan without words is like Ansel Adams without film for his camera.

But what words? The man has written thousands and thousands of words. I didn’t want it to be the cliche Dylan lyric. Nothing from “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Tangled Up in Blue”. So I started paging through that book of lyrics to find inspiration.

It didn’t take me long to come across a line that seemed to work well with what I knew was going to be a trippy portrait. It comes at the end of one of his “talking blues” songs from early on in his career, from his 1962 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The song is “Talkin’ World War III Blues” and it is freakin’ hilarious. Here is the section of lyrics from that song where I found my quote for the mosaic:

Well, now time passed and now it seems/ Everybody’s having them dreams/Everybody sees themselves/Walkin’ around with no one else/Half of the people can be part right all of the time/Some of the people can be all right part of the time/But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time/I think Abraham Lincoln said that/”I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”/I said that

So I had it all now. The materials, the inspiration, the image, the words. Below are a few photos of the process. At the end, I had a wildly colorful, puzzle-like portrait befitting the complicated man simply known as Bob.


Bob Dylan Dream

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 142: Too Many Zooz

too many zooz

You can have too many of a lot of things but you can never have Too Many Zooz.

On my bucket list is a chance to be a busker, playing live music on the street. I have always been fascinated by the musicians who stake out a corner or some grimy little strategic spot and fill the smoggy, noisy air of a city with music.  These days, thanks to the ease of sharing a video around the world in seconds, we all get to enjoy so many of these performers. I was reminded of this by seeing, again, the marvelous video of Too Many Zooz in Union Square station in New York. If you’ve never watched it, here it is. It will be the best two minutes and change of your day, believe me:

Check out Too Many Zooz on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/toomanyzooz/