Sunday, 29 November 2015


It was routine on hot, summer nights. The two and a half block teen parade began at about 7 pm on Fridays at the north end of Main Street until one could see City Hall.  Most stopped about a half a block before reaching the light gray building and performed a quick about face ahead of the others to speed up the return saunter. 

The best part of the walk (other than fulfilling the main objective described below) was passing in front of the Auditorium and Roxy Movie Theatres. The facades were far from fresh.  Depraved yellow or beige, they seemed raunchy, forbidding, yet somehow strangely inviting.  Roxy in particular was foxy for a building.

The ambulatory loop went on for hours until all hungry eyes dematerialized.

It was the only way to evaluate the availability and quality of young males. Our discriminating female minds quickly scanned the face and body of one, then another, until each half-grown hunk had been tallied, meticulously recorded on an imaginary spreadsheet, and put through fanciful data analysis.  Within thirty minutes, the sort was completed and possible prospects were catalogued from hot to cool.  It didn’t take long.  It was a very small town.

The process was reciprocal.  Boys undertook a similar audit although I suspect their criteria were not quite as stringent.  

Regular analysis never amounted to much.  I had to be home by nine, ten at the latest.  We were too young to fully understand why we were participating in the procession.  

After a while, a problem became evident.  The boys were short, in fact I had a foot over most of them.  I lived in a city of small men!  In the name of femininity, I had to leave or else I would forever feel like a football player or worse, a refrigerator, the largest appliance in the kitchen! 

I wasn't that tall, just a tad above average at around 5' 7", but I was predisposed genetically to stand a head above the crowd like my grandfather.  This is part of my mom and dad's wedding picture.  Tall Grandpa Joseph towers above everyone behind my mom.

Imagine my joy when at 17, I moved to Montreal and discovered that some men were actually taller than me. It all sounds terribly superficial but seemed important at the time.  I'm still writing about it for Pete's sake. (Who the heck is Pete?)  The experience obviously scarred me for life.

Years later I returned home for a couple of high school reunions.  I was shocked to find that some small men had grown and conversations could now take place at eye level.

Memories of this perambulatory ritual remain fond ones despite my adolescent frustrations. The sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of youth are astonishingly powerful.  I recall my dad telling me that flashbacks and dreams of his childhood became increasingly frequent and vivid as he aged.  He could barely walk but during his nighttime reveries, his legs sped across honeyed fields to fire up his body.  

The inner child sneaks out at night to make things bearable.  How wonderful is that?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Artists typically exhibit at art fairs and in galleries (public and private), but every once in a while, interesting opportunities in alternative venues crop up.  

I was recently invited to show in a space that is really off the beaten path.  It has character and the people who run it are interesting, energetic, innovative and kind.  Coeur de Village Bistro Culturel is located in Saint Isidore.   

Like in many of Québec's villages, the most impressive building in this tiny municipality is its Catholic church.  Tall beacons of worship are generally located on main streets, (which in rural areas also tend to be secondary highways).  

An aside:  Some years ago, I went for a short vacation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia with my best buddy Mart.  We drove through various west coast villages towards Ucluelet and Tofino.  The countryside reminded me of the mountains that surround my hometown of Shawinigan, but naturally, on a much larger scale.  The villages felt a bit bland and initially, I couldn't quite figure out why.  Then it finally it hit me!  No big Catholic churches. They are iconic here in Québec.  A village without a soaring church seems naked.

Diagonally across from Saint Isidore's church is a non-profit organization known as the Bistro culturel.  The deep rectangular space is divided into three sections.  The back has an administrative office/store that sells recycled goods such as dinnerware, vases and more. The middle section has an area (with piano) for musical performances as well as a walled-off kitchen known for its "cuisine familiale" (home cooked meals). The bistro/restaurant is in front and its walls are for art exhibits.  Unusual mix and it works!

Art openings are usually on Thursday nights as are performances by musicians, poets and storytellers (conteurs).  There is a long tradition of storytelling in Québec.  

I'm exhibiting at the Bistro until December 18th, 2015.  The vernissage is on November 12th at 5:00 pm.  I invite you to come and enjoy the show.  Bring your own wine!

Open from Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 4 pm. Thursdays from 10 am to 10 pm. (Tel: 450-992-0633).

Sunday, 8 November 2015


Twig and ink?  Why not?

Primitive drawing tools such as reed pens and twigs yield fascinating results.  They are gesture's best friend. The key is to stay loose and to work quickly.  

Twigs often have rough ends, which can cause lines to double or become (for lack of a better word), hairy. For those like myself who value contrast, nature's tools are gifts from the deities.

The important thing is to keep playing with whatever is at hand.  Basic materials cost nothing.  One can reconnect historically (and perhaps empathize) with art's origins.  Our primitive ancestors had little to work with, yet managed to create mysterious, powerful masterpieces in caverns.

Twig and India ink on rice paper

I used various tools (a combo experiment) for the ink drawing on rice paper (left) including twigs, reed pens, brushes and archival markers.  I then opted for some digital fun.

If weather permits, I'll be raking up more leaves tomorrow (about 30 bags and counting thus far), but I'm also going to be on the lookout for another magical twig.  Some of the drawings in my head need a blast from the past.


Saturday, 24 October 2015


Sculpted Twins

I am one of 8 artists participating in the Collector's Fair at the Galerie de la Ville in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.  To learn more, visit the gallery website.  I invite you to come and see the show which runs until Sunday November 15th, 2015.


Renaissance Man:  Not 'moi' for a number of reasons, gender being the first one that comes to mind.

While many in society have a more or less linear career path, artists often meander from one employment opportunity to another in order to make a buck.  Flexibility is the nature of the beast and we are inevitably enriched by everything we learn to do.  Cross-fertilization happens, which in turn, feeds innovation. 

I took a hiatus from teaching art for the last ten years.  Instead, I provided employment search counselling and training services in a business environment. Some might say "whoa, that's different" but it's not really.  Teaching and training are similar, the complicated part is adapting to different audiences/participants.  

I remember how I felt during a former transition from teaching in a leisure community setting to an academic environment.  My new students were highly motivated and excited about their futures.  They loved to experiment, exchange ideas, try new things.  Their enthusiasm was energizing, contagious and appreciated. I found myself continuously researching concepts, materials, and techniques to feed their ravenous appetites.

These types of teaching positions depended on enrolment, which meant that during the Fall sessions, profs worked especially hard.  Winter meant a lighter load and summer, extra light.  Hard to budget, which led to my decision to find a more stable revenue stream.

I redesigned my CV to emphasize the Management Training experience I had acquired as a young adult at the phone company and luckily, got the job as an Employment Search Counsellor.  I still had a few weeks left in my teaching contract so my new employer agreed to have me work 4 1/2 days a week at the new job and one afternoon a week at the old one until my obligations were met.  

In the mornings, I addressed a group of over forty management professionals in suits, ties, or dresses and heels, and in the afternoon, I taught a group of young, eager faces, beautified with personally designed tattoos and piercings.  It was surreal.

Full circle:  

Resigning from my day job last January has given me more time to create, but new opportunities have also come my way.  I am again teaching art part time in a community setting and have given a couple of workshops in seniors residences.  The elderly have entirely different needs and expectations. 

I learn so much from the people I interact with. The seniors opened a new door in my psyche.  Some at the workshop could barely hold their drawing tool (oil pastel) but they came nonetheless to participate. I had them create masks that expressed how they felt inside. To my surprise, they were a very happy bunch but then again, perhaps only cheerful seniors come to art workshops.  

I intend to find their strength of character and courage if ever I find myself imprisoned by slippers and a wheelchair.  Reciprocal learning at its best. 

Friday, 9 October 2015


He dumped the world into an old rusty bucket.  Brimming with oils, fungus, and reeking of poisons, it had to go, and fast.

“His Heaviness” was a gigantic immortal who weighed more than all the immortals combined. The latter were infinitesimal beings woven together like fabric to become the surface on which “His Heaviness” walked during his occasional jaunts. They let out collective whimpers as they sank under his sauntering mass.  

Always considerate, he tried to compress different individuals as he made his way.  He understood that each entity took a long time to recover its shape after he had trod upon them.  Some were doomed to remain forever misshapened, but they took it all in stride.  His travels were infrequent and always for a good cause.

Although known to everyone as “His Heaviness”, his real name was Erroneous.  How he came by this name was a mystery because Erroneous, the greatest of higher powers, was rarely wrong.

Rarely of course means that he occasionally made mistakes but they tended to be minor i.e. accidentally squishing someone’s face or baby toe en route to his destination.

Despite his remarkable track record of successful decisions, Erroneous still worried about those he had yet to make.  He wondered for instance, if it had been wise to dump the world into an old rusty bucket. 

Legend had it that a pink deity with a penchant for cleanliness lived at the edge of his sagging cosmos.  Everyone knows that legends are sometimes untrue, but Erroneous had a feeling that this one was plausible.  He decided to investigate.

The journey was long and extremely painful for those who were flattened during his explorations.  After many days and nights, he caught sight of a finespun veil of pink and orange hovering in the distance.  Sadly, in rushing towards the pastel outpost, Erroneous destroyed the few excess limbs that the tightly woven web of immortals had kept aside as replacement parts.  

Without warning, a powerful wash of colour enveloped him.  He began to float like a feather in a draft.  Never had he felt so light.  The bucket barely hung from his fingertips.  Erroneous tried to speak but his voice was muffled.  He mouthed "the bucket, the bucket" over and again. 

Suddenly he saw her.  
She was magnificent, massive just like him yet as light as a snowflake.  She gently snared the bucket and poured the filthy, oily sludge into a monumental washing machine. The vibrations of its motor echoed throughout the cosmos.  

As the contents in the machine brightened, “Her Ponderous Pinkness” (as she was known), began to transform.  Tender shoots, leaves and moss sprouted up her right shoulder and long, slender neck.  Vibrant sun-tinted flowers burgeoned on other parts of her body. 

The fog blushed a deeper rose.  

Erroneous wanted to stay with her.  He even thought of changing his name to Erogenous.  He was tired of being lead-footed and unwittingly hurtful to the magnanimous members of his community. 

“Could I stay and help with the laundry?” he whispered.

“Sure!  Please!  Make my day!” she replied.

They became close friends. Erroneous loved washing dirty, smelly things!  He felt useful and no longer needed to walk on others, make decisions, or live with the heaviness of his body.  He read "The Sacred Book of Immaculateness" and mastered "The Art of Laundry".  Over time, everything he touched turned lily white including “Her Ponderous Pinkness”.  

She eventually changed her name to Blanche.

The End

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


away from all the talking,
I conceive.

The egg grows
and I give birth.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Restrict!  Sanitize!  Suppress!  These are words that artists hear in one way or another throughout their careers.

My  initial reaction is generally one of shock.  I mostly make humorous work, (naturally it's funny to me), but as I discovered while writing my masters thesis years ago, what is laughable to one person may not be laughable to another.  Sometimes people just don't get the joke.

Whenever something bugs me, 
I play it over and over on the little record player 
stored deep within the recesses of my mind.  
The grooves get deeper and deeper.  
I don't stream.

Some, (generally administrators), feel it is their duty protect 
the sensibilities of the public at large.  (I sense that they are merely safeguarding 
their inculpable butts from potential criticism, but hey, what do I know?)  
God forbid that viewers be forced to reflect on what they see, 
or react with passion.

Life is beyond absurd at times and I have the soul of a visual ironicist/satirist.  I point out absurdities, find character, layer observations, and disguise emotions.

I decided years ago to look for the positive in any situation.  It's not always easy but well worth the effort. Life's too short to get upset over small-mindedness.

Go ahead!  
Remove my pictures from your wall!  
 Little old me has just kindled a reaction. 
I've done my job. 
It will give you something to talk about at the water cooler.

Sunday, 30 August 2015


Children's feet are things of beauty.  Smooth skin without lumps, bumps, or callouses; underlying bones strong and flexible, arches high.  

Sometimes boys in high school talked about having flat feet.  I thought they were mutants.  If only my mind hadn't gone there...those kinds of thoughts come back to haunt you.  

25 or 30 years ago, my son, as usual, was late for school.

"Hurry up!  You'll miss the bus!" I hollered.

Hot steam rose from my freshly made International almond coffee. Cup in hand, I slowly made my way down from the second floor on plush, gray-carpeted stairs.  

Let it be known that I've disproved the theory that carpeting helps to prevent falls.  While it might decrease the odds of unwanted slips, it does not compensate for weak ankles. 

The left one suddenly twisted on the third to last step.  I heard a loud crack from inside my leg as I tumbled unceremoniously onto the ceramic floor.  A siren-less ambulance drove me to the nearest hospital where upon arrival, I was quickly whisked to the radiology department.  The technician was in a nasty mood.  She ordered me to turn my leg this way and that, but try as I might, I just couldn't.  

Grumpy morphed into Miss Sweetie Pie after viewing my X-rays.  (Too late! I really didn't like her much.) My left tibia and fibula had spiral fractures.  I would have been hard pressed to name these bones prior to the "event", but after 8 weeks in a full leg cast and 4 months in a knee to ankle orthotic device, the nomenclature became part of my medical terminology repertoire.  

Although the left ankle itself was not damaged, it remained swollen in perpetuity and grew as if subjected to a warp function in graphic software.  My legs were no longer symmetrical.  I adjusted to a new, lopsided body.


My left foot used to sport an arch worthy of any at the Roman Colosseum.  But no longer.  

It is F-L-A-T and my ankle is F-A-T!  Arthritis has kicked in (yes bad pun).  However, in the spirit of artistic creativity and adaptability, I've adhered to my philosophy, "if life hands you lemons, make art." Let's face it, in comparison to other people's lemons, my challenges are minor.

I decided to make footprints of my swollen, flat foot using paint from tube watercolours and had heaps of fun!  I wouldn't recommend doing this on a daily basis because it's probably not a healthy thing to do, especially when using cadmium red.  I assumed, wrongly, that I would have no difficulty washing off the paint. T'was not to be. Magnetically attracted to the crevasses of my foot, it took a week of brushing in the bath to finally get the colour completely out.

Even without an arch, the shapes were interesting.  They resembled groups of black ghosts who sometimes partied, sometimes held children.  

The first print was kind of standard. Two left feet. Ummm...this one looks like two right feet but that's because I accidentally flipped the image in my software. The one below too!  Oops. 

tried different kinds of paper...


 Less paint equals more texture.

This goofing around happened in the privacy of my studio.  I liked the prints but was flabbergasted when I saw my foot.  It had morphed into an exquisite three-dimensional sculpture!

I zoomed in to examine the wondrous interplay of colour and texture...

...and created interesting abstract compositions.

Possibilities?  Endless.

I integrated some footprints into this digital work.  No title yet, but I'm leaning towards "Fat Foot Lemonade".

Thursday, 13 August 2015


The two art happenings that I had squeezed into one week are now over.  Time to rest, revive, and start again.

Funny how events occur within a short timespan, and then there's nothing, nada, kaput, for a long stretch. I've learned over the years to be patient.  Puzzle pieces eventually fall into place.

In the 1980's, I subscribed to a wonderful publication called Parallelogramme.  Printed on cheap paper, it listed "call for entries" for non-profit galleries and disseminated other important information to artists.  I'd curl up on the sofa, slowly peruse this practical resource, and enjoy it like a fine meal.  

Finding opportunities today involves search engines and social media.  At times, I come upon so much material in one sitting that I have to park myself at the computer for an entire day in order to identify where my work might fit.  My left shoulder throbs at the mere thought of staring at my monitor for hours, and hours, and hours.  

Filtering and determining who isn't trying to siphon money out of me also takes a lot of time. Application fees run riot. If I were to pay (usually in U.S. funds) for every interesting possibility, I would be flat broke in a heartbeat. 

I'm one in a million people on the globe applying right?  It's exhausting.

Every once in a while I give it a go, spend hours if not days getting a dossier ready, all the while telling myself that "you never win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket".  In all fairness to the system, I have won on some occasions.  

But what tends to work best to grow a career is networking, making connections and building relationships within artistic communities.  

This is not easy terrain for introverts.  
It's comfy on the sofa.