Tag Archives: arts

Good News: Rebuilding Haiti, One Sale at a Time « Repeating Islands

Every now and then a company does something that I didn’t expect.  In this post on Repeating Islands I found something encouraging and heartening.  Macey’s, working with the non-profit group Fair Winds Trading, has found a way to help artists and craftspeople in Haiti.  They placed an order for goods to be sold at Christmas, to be supplied by artists and craftspeople in Haiti.  Then they took delivery of the articles produced, and paid those who produced them right away.

Simply by buying their goods and paying them up-front before the goods are sold Macey’s have done something very important for the Haitians whose work they have bought.  They have acknowledged the quality of those people’s work and the dignity of their lives as well as giving them a way to earn money now to meet their own needs.  This is a kind of help that benefits everyone involved.

You can read more about it on Repeating Islands:

Heart of Haiti: Rebuilding the Country, One Sale at a Time « Repeating Islands.

Thank you, Macey’s and Fair Winds Trading.

The Value of Shared Art vs. Owned Art

Some art is clearly meant for sharing.  It’s found on building walls, along roadways, in public parks and gardens, even in places it was never meant to be, like tunnel walls and the sides of train cars.

Some art is created to be owned.  It’s meant to be sold, because that’s how the person who creates it sustains themselves.  Whoever pays for that art helps buy the artist who created it food and shelter and the tools to keep making art – and sometimes a lot more besides (how and why that money gets shared with others is a different discussion, I think).

Some shared art is paid for – by building owners, by governments, by funding groups, by business groups.  Sometimes the intent is clearly to help an artist share their work; other times the reputation of the artist is a large part of the motivation.

Art in museums might be considered shared art.  It has the disadvantage that it will be seen by fewer people than art outdoors or in public places, but at least it is there for those who want to and choose to see it.  Art is shared with those when artists exhibit in shows and private galleries, usually for a short time and with the hope that it will find an owner.  And whoever owns it will have a say in who else will get to see it.

The internet is another place where many share their art – or rather the best representation they can produce of the complexity, depth of color and texture of the original piece.  Some share freely; others with the stipulation that the image be used only for personal enjoyment.

I enjoy shared art.  I visit museums and galleries when I can.  I browse the internet to see what others are doing.  When I am out and about, I like to take the time to see the art around me – officially sanctioned or otherwise.  Sometimes when I stop to look, someone else will as well.  I notice that most of the time I don’t see many others doing the same thing (though I suppose if someone identified a Banksy creation that would be different).

Which makes me wonder about how most people see shared art (when they see it).   Is shared art seen as less valuable than owned art, simply because it is shared and accessible?

Does a work of art become perceived as more valuable because fewer people have access to it?

Dartmouth Walkway Shared_Public Art

Shared art on the harbour walk in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Who Cares About the Title?

A couple of days ago I came across a very interesting post (on the WordPress front page – to see it click here).  In it David introduced me to the work of two artists, who together create under the name Guerra de la Paz.  An interesting name, which combines their last names into one in a way that makes a statement all on its own.

Even more interesting were the responses to the post.  They got me thinking about where viewers perception and artists intentions meet, and the role that a painting’s title plays in that.

I started with the idea that an artist (usually) creates with intention – based on an idea, a concept, a scene, a message they want to share – and the title they give their work is one way of communicating what their intention is.

The responses I read were thoughtful and interesting, but not everyone paid attention to the titles.

I know that each person sees and thinks differently; each person brings their own experiences to looking at art.  Not only that – at different times in their lives, changes in ideas and knowledge make people look at work they have seen before in new ways.  The same way that when we re-read favorite books when we are older we find ourselves approaching them from the different perspectives.

To me, now, a title is a part of the context of a piece of art work.  So the fact that not everyone paid attention to them interested me.  Maybe they simply didn’t notice them?  Maybe the work and the title did not seem to fit together?  As an artist, is there something I should learn from this?  At some point, at some stage, does viewer perception trump artists intention?

And if so, does it matter?



Beyond Words: Art’s Language

Art has a language which reaches across national and linguistic borders and transcends place and time. Artists use their art to speak of beauty and destruction, life and death, hope and despair, war and peace, anger and calm, fear and openness, love and forgiveness. The language uses colour, form, light, shade, composition and abstraction to communicate with many people on many different levels. At its best a piece of art carries within itself the ability to speak directly to each person who sees it.

The image the artist creates reflects who they are, what they see and how they see and react to it. It is both a conscious reflection of the world they live in and a reflection of unconscious and undefined thoughts and feelings which creep into the work unnoticed, to be recognised later. At its best it touches the heart, perhaps tickles the funny-bone, nudges the conscience, yields more meaning the closer you look.

Each artist develops their own variation on art’s common language and uses it to reflect their own way of seeing and understanding the world they live in. These variations take root in knowledge and grow through experimentation to flower into expressions of great individuality, some of which are uncommonly beautiful, all of which take on a life of their own.

The world the artist reflects is multi-textured, multilayered, full of multiple meanings. The reflection each artist creates echoes back those textures, layers and meanings filtered through their own eyes and mind. The eyes that see that work bring their own layers of meaning to it. It all comes together in an ongoing dance of intent and perception involving artist, image and audience.

The dance between artist and audience does not end with the artist’s death, but continues down the years as long as their creation is there for others’ eyes to see and other minds to comprehend.

Picasso’s Guernica – an image of multiple meanings.

Picasso’s Guernica: Some thoughts about it’s meaning, from the Treasures of the World Series on PBS.

Golden Boy Crop

How Can Arts Teach?

The Right to Education

The Right to Education

The most important thing about the arts as a way of teaching is that they reach past the barrier of the written word to touch a much wider audience.

No-one need be left out, if they have ears to hear or eyes to see or, as Evelyn Glennie said in a TEDTalk, a body to experience with.

Here, we place a great deal of value on literacy – how would we live if we could not read? Yet there are many places where going to school long enough to learn to read is a challenge in itself. Children have a family to help support, or must care for themselves or other children, get caught up in war or struggle to survive poverty. Learning to read takes a poor second to survival.

But illiteracy does not equal stupidity. In many countries the arts can teach what otherwise would remain hidden, start a dialogue that creates deeper understanding and enhances knowledge, help people become actively involved in learning and teaching and create the circumstances that make literacy possible.

That is the thing that draws me to FUNARTE. The artists who created the organisation did so to use their knowledge and skills to give people a way to move past that written-word barrier, and to learn in and from the process of making art. They use art to give the gift of knowledge and to encourage children and adults to explore and understand the world they live in.

I hope you’ll help me support FUNARTE’s work, however you choose. One way would be by buying one of the prints or the new e-book in my store – all images are from the paintings in my last show. The e-book has been created under a Creative Commons license, so you are also free to enjoy it and share it without payment. You can find in the sidebar.

For more information on FUNARTE, Nicaragua and Pueblito Canada, go here.

To visit my store, go here.

Many thanks to all who’ve helped so far. Now I’d love to be able to let everyone know we’ve raised another $800!

Where Art and Science Meet.

Art and science are normally thought of as being very separate entities.  Yet there are many areas in which art and science come together, and visualization is one of them.  This past week I came across two separate things that showed how important visualization can be – from understanding our hominid ancestors to seeing sound.

In an article on Wired Science, Brandon Keim writes about the 3D renderings of  hominids created by paleoartist Viktor Deak, with pictures of the very lifelike creatures he creates and a little bit about the way he uses computers and animation to help him.

On TEDtalks Evan Grant demonstrates cynatics, a process for making sound waves visible in patterns that seem to be already present in nature, and in work much older than our own era.  It is interesting the think about where and how these sound created patterns already entered our consciousness, and the way they might have been created.

Whose Shoulders Do We Stand On?


“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton.

Newton acknowledged that his revolutionary theories found their roots in the work of others. Building knowledge is a cumulative process, and the results, for better or for worse, accumulate around us. As knowledge becomes accepted more widely then human ideas lead to human creations that become objects and concepts we integrate into our lives.

It’s a good thing we never have to start from scratch. Consider the difficulties – we would have no home, no clothes, no farming, no way of cooking – nothing we did not create ourselves. Should we find time for creating images, we artists would have to make our colours from earth and clay and plants, and paint on rocks or other natural surfaces. Writers would have to tell stories instead of write them, carry their stories with them to share with one or two or a few instead being able to send their words in books or files around the world. Because every one of these things and many, many others we take for granted were created by someone else who developed them based on knowledge developed by someone else before them, starting at a time so long ago and in a place so far from here that we find it hard to imagine a world in which such knowledge and skills did not exist. We stand and build our lives on the shoulders of many, many who have gone before, whether or not we acknowledge it.

Why would I bring this up? Because we so often ignore the fact that we are nothing without all the things that those who came before us learned and passed on. We would not even be able to read this if someone else had not invented the alphabet we use – never mind enjoy the benefits of printing, books, computers. Counting would be pretty difficult too, if others had not figured out how to do it and then how to write down numbers. Someone had to figure out how to measure things, draw maps and charts to guide others, make the wheel – never mind engines. The list goes on and on.

What kind of people created the many things we take for granted? We will never know about the lives of many of the early inventors and explorers, but we can be sure that they were people who observed, learned, explored, analysed, created. Perhaps they had to create new things to survive; perhaps they invented new things to meet a need; perhaps they simply enjoyed the pleasure of achieving a new understanding, finding new way of doing things.

In the end, I’m not sure that their motivation matters. But I do think we owe it to all who have struggled to understand and to create to treat the gifts of knowledge they have left us with respect, to acknowledge them, use them well and add, if we can, our own little bit to the store. For those who will stand on our shoulders.