Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What did your parents get for Christmas?

Dear world,
Okay, this has little to nothing to do with art but, what the heck, be generous with me:
So much to think about, so little time to post - and no computer of my own from which to post - boo-hoo! The closest thing I have to a laptop is a vintage etch-a-sketch. They work so much better than the new ones.
I digress.....
Back to the title of this missive to the populus.
Did you ever ask your parents what kind of stuff they got for Christmas. I'm guessing it was simpler fare than that on the letters to Santa in this day and age:
Today: an Apple (not the fruit, the laptop)
Yesterday: an orange (yeah, just the fruit)
I guess what I'm thinking is: if you asked your folks what their hopes and dreams were around the holidays, they wouldn't have expected what kids do today - and yeah, I know, they also used to hike 10 miles to school and back in a blizzard backwards with no shoes while carrying their younger siblings...
...and had to chip the ice off their slates to take their notes in class.
Before you laugh the folks off and snuggle into your electric-heated house with your laptop and/or your ipod and your full belly and yawn with the boredom of it all,
take a moment.
Remember that it wasn't always this easy - even in your own family - and that it still isn't easy at all for the majority of the world's population.
Be grateful for what you have and maybe consider asking for something really simple for Christmas
OR really think about how far that orange came that you're eating and who picked it.
Use your imagination. Be thoughtful. Interact with someone ...without a keyboard - you know, face to face, on the street.
Draw someone a Christmas card and tell them your life would be less rich without them.
Play a game.
Use your imagination.
of course - DRAW!
I'm going outside....
Happy holidays and a huge hug to all the people that made sure I was still standing after the hard, hard year gone by.
Love to you all!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Just for the Joy

Well, Gumby gets around - that's for sure.
He and Pokey have been with me to Salt Lake City to study the Mormon phenomenon.
They've travelled with me to Hawaii and all over British Columbia.
Next year, I expect to photograph them in Europe.
It's a quirky hobby but it makes people smile.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"I Wish I Had a River..."

Those of you familiar with Joni Mitchell's music or art or both will likely reocgnize the title of this post. It's one of my favourite songs by her. In listening to the song, you are given to feel the bite of winter, both in its icy solitude and in its hope for warmth and comfort. Myself, I move closer to the holidays with both a sense of excitement and trepidation. Such a delightful time of twinkly fairy lights and warm, cozy scenes set against a juxtaposition of madcap overspending and commercialization. It seems with every passing year I tell myself, "I will not buy in, I will not buy in!" ....but I do. I wish I could move the earth for the people I love if that's what they need and want but the fact is, my friends, all I have to offer you during the festive season is the same thing that's coming at you every other day of the year: My love for you, my support, and my wish that we all can create peace and joy for ourselves and our fellow planetary inhabitants. I wish you gentleness and thought for others and yourselves and I offer my self to you to the best of my ability. I also wish that in 2006, everyone tries to create something from their soul without worrying that it isn't good enough.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Everyone Can Draw

I can't even begin to count the number of times I have heard the phrase"I can't draw!" I would like to remark that I have never heard this from a child. At what point does the switch flip in our heads that makes us believe that the instant we try something new, it needs to be perfect. Why is it that so many adults are afraid to do something new, to be on the brink of discovery, and ready to make "mistakes" along the road.

When I was teaching drawing, I would always hear "but I can't even draw a straight line!"
Why do you think we have rulers? A straight line is not a very interesting line - all it speaks is"I have a ruler" or "I can behave as a ruler" ...yawn.
So stretch yourself, be alone if you have to, draw a wobbly line. Look at it. Open your imagination. What have you started? Perhaps you are looking at the edge of a distant forest in that line. Perhaps it is as fine as the grain in an old oak table. It is potential. It is a starting point. It is the wandering of your mind.

Of course, with any art, work and study improves our skill. There are many elements to consider with each fresh sheet of paper: colour, line quality, use of media, negative space, composition. I'll stop there.
So grown-ups, I hate to break it to you but "can't" just don't cut it. You may want to rephrase:
"I don't want to draw."
"I'm afraid someone will laugh at me if I try" (so, do it anyway)
"I don't want to put the time in to learn something new."
Rest assured, if you want to, you can, and it could bring you so much satisfaction. Remember how it feels to do something just for you - something that relaxes you, gives you a break from the work-a-day monotony, brings you a little joy.

Take a class if you want or just sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil.
Of course, at first, everybody wants to draw something and reproduce that something exactly as they see it. You can get there when you learn to see. It takes time. It takes practice but you can get there. The really great thing is, once you learn to draw one thing and grasp the basic skills that it took to draw that one thing, it won't be too long before you can draw anything. After that you can bend the rules if you want - play with it. I recommend "playing" all along the way. You'll learn more and it will be more fun. Play with your materials. Play with your imagination. Don't be afraid to crumple up your page and start again. Keep your work and look back at it. Look for change. Experiment. Be a scientist. It doesn't matter if you "mess up". Do it again. Whatever you created, you can do again - maybe different, maybe better.

Do it for you. It will change your perspective. You will find that you see things differently. You will simply see more. The imagination is a gift, the drawing is a desire, the brilliance of it is practice and skill.

Have fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Autumn Pictures

I don't enjoy cold weather but I do enjoy Autumn for all the beauty and bounty and watching the kids get so geared up for Halloween. Boo! Have fun! Enjoy the pics!

The Usual Suspects at the Market
Chicken Jail
Crazy Gourds

Autumn Sumach in

The House at
Oldfield Orchards

at LeCoteau Farm

Monday, October 17, 2005


I have added a link at the side of the page for any locals from Victoria, Vancouver Island to explore. It's a private contemporary art school here in town with some very good instructors and very interesting courses outside of the normal fare. Please check the site and see if anything interests you!

Monday, October 10, 2005


The seasons have changed. The verdant greens indicative of summer on Vancouver Island have been replaced by Autumn's paintbox of colours. The trees by the road, the forests on the rolling hills in the distance and the ground itself deny the chill in the air with their warm yellows, oranges, and reds. The winds often rise and send the fallen leaves in a frenzy. I watch them scramble as if word of disaster has spread and then they wait again on the ground for the next rumour. This is a time to go outside, rain or shine, and to walk through the woods in your favourite, cozy sweater. This is a time to go out with your favourite tools for creating art - from your sketchbook and pencils to your easel and paints. It doesn't matter what you use, just go and record this beautiful time of change and send me some comments to tell me what you found. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading.

From the ferry in the Strait of Georgia

This is a flower from Chris's garden in Vancouver
(still blooming in October)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Art and Madness

Art and madness, need they go hand in hand for greatness to exist?

Is this the question we should be asking? Is it in fact madness or is it just a vision from a different perspective?

Naturally, most people would say Vincent Van Gogh was nuts. I do not know that I would concur. I never met him. Certainly, he had behaviours that would have most of us institutionalized, even in today's society.

I often wonder if one must experience great pain in order to experience and visually articulate great beauty or bliss. Vincent, in his letters to his brother, Theo, expressed his many frustrations with society, the way of the world, and with the art community; nonetheless, he learned and progressed. As a painter, he learned to articulate volumes in the application of one stroke of ink or paint. Can a person be "crazy" yet able to capture the truth of so much through his work?

Perhaps I will offer that Vincent did everything right. He left us with a collection of some of the most wonderful paintings and drawings of the last half of the nineteenth century. If he were a different man in any regard, he would not have left us with this incomparable legacy.

If I were Vincent's friend, I would say, "Vincent, I'm concerned with your well-being. What would make you happy?" I wonder what his answer would be and if he did get what would have made him happy would his work have changed - would it have lost the singular thing that makes it great? I sure wish I knew. It does make me think of who I am and how my work is made and what forms of nature within and without me bring about my work.

Perhaps I could be a happier person, perhaps I could be more "normal" and perhaps I would not have created the works I feel have merit. I think we can only take our learned skills as artists, meld them with our natural talent and desire, and add the experience and genetics that make up who we are and then, create art. Work from who you are (your truth). Work from what you know. LEARN. I hope I will find success in this and I hope that any madness in me is just enough to render me brilliant.

Thank you, Vincent, for all you have taught me.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


"Good Art" - Here is a phrase as contentious a subject as religion or politics.
Neophytes who rant about art, having never studied it, are a source of frustration to me. Visual art, as any subject, requires extensive study to be understood and, as with any major field, it has so many branches and types that one could never 'finish' learning.
To have a base knowledge of visual art, one must study at least some of the history, gain a comprehension of the elements of design, learn a variety of media and techniques, gain a base understanding of science, physics, geometry and mathematics, and, most importantly, one must learn to take the time to see. One must view art as it exists everywhere naturally and as it is when manufactured through a unique human viewpoint.
Please remember, next time you are in front of a piece of art, contemporary or otherwise, while you may find it visually appealing or repulsive, you may benefit from learning what led to the creation of the piece before you are able to pass intelligent judgement on its validity as an art object.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Summer Images

This is a shot from my old home - Salt Spring Island, B.C.
The island is a cross between hippy and yuppie culture.
Some call it Hollywood North as many Americans from the film industry have decided to call Salt Spring home.

I took this on the way back to Victoria from Salt Spring - Jesus rays and all!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Art is Everywhere

These are a few of the moments from my walk to the beach at Mount Douglas Park this morning. I hope you can gain a sense of the sweetness of my day.

Trunk of an Arbutus tree
Beach at Mount Douglas Park

Leaf on driftwood

Rocks and Mother of Pearl
in a stream to the ocean

In the forest on the way to the beach

Art is everywhere.
In nature you needn't stand on your head to see it
...but sometimes it helps.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Beacon Hill Park Cedar Grove
Gillian Cornwall
c 2005
Oil Pastel on Paper

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Twosday - August 9, 2005 - Funny Phone?

Is being funny an art or a craft?
Depending on who's being funny it can definitely be just a small craft - a virtual peddle boat's worth of amusement. I wonder if I am in fact funny or just nuts - suppose it doesn't matter really.
Making people laugh is a form of medicine. I definitely don't need to "beak" at you on the restorative powers of laughter. Though being gorped at by someone who thinks they're funny, someone who's actually not funny at all, is pretty much like being pecked to death by a duck.
One does wonder about the physical and emotional state of the comic though. Are we really all crying on the inside or is that just because we are never getting paid for our ...Art ...Craft ...thingy?
I think walking around with a banana as a phone has become re-funny with the invention and popularity of the cell phone. I still want to get one of those Fisher Price giant plastic phones for the car - I think those phones were on wheels actually so, ahhh, who needs the car.
Let's make giant phones that you can drive instead of really small phones for giant cars.
I gotta go, my car's ringing....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

At Luminara, July 2005

This is a shot I took at Luminara a couple of weeks ago here in Victoria. Luminara is a lantern festival but I don't think there is any particular reason we have the festival except to make the lanterns and go to look at them - no spiritual conotations, no sacrifices, just good old-fashioned fun. Anyway, this one represented a floating village and I thought for sure it won out as the coolest exhibit there.