Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Breathing Space: French Beach -- west coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia

Every summer Ruthie and I go camping for a week and have a wonderful time just being in nature and doing a few things such as:

rock collecting
sending out a message in a bottle
rock art
beach days
sand castles
writing in the sand
wave jumping
ocean swimming

Here are some photos of our Breathing Space week in nature at French Beach, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia last July 2012. 

 Ruthie took this photo looking up a Douglas Fir tree. Always love adding her photos into this 'Breathing Space' blog. :)
 The trail from out campside down to the beach.

 Wonderful contrast of a leaf floating in a dark stream.

 We could not just sit and be with these rocks. We had to stack them and make art with them!!!

 God always makes the best art and inspires me every time. 

 Huge sea  anenomies (sp?) and barnacles the size of a child's hand - huge! So much richness of sea life on the west coast to see in the tide pools. Hours of looking into these worlds!

 We decied to make a line of rocks from the top of the beach to the shore this day.

 Endless fun by the fire. Especially on the last night when we burned all the remaining fire wood! The park ranger stopped by to make sure "everything was OK". !!! Everything was fine. We just had a super big fire!!!!

My current fav picture of us! We took five pictures to get this. All of the first five, I held the camera and half of my face is cut out of all of them, then Ruthie told me she could do it better and took this one first try!!!
 Beach art, making inukshucks on logs. Little stone status. Can be challenging balancing them!

 Ruthie joined forces with another familiy and made the sand casttle of a a life time. Here she is with the little boy building a barrier to stop the ocean from coming in and destroying their wonderful creation!

 Sand Casttle extravaganza closer up!

 OK, we got a bit obsessed with the rock art! What can I say. I had to make some art that week!!!

 Just in love with how the west coast rainforest meets the beach. So much beauty in the details.

 I love how when yoiu are in nature and camping you don't have to do  anything.  Just be there and the earth, air, water, nature around  you supports you, embraces you, calms you, heals you, gives you exactly what you need just by being there.

 These last two pictures are  from a day trip we took a little further north up the west coast from French beach. It's called Mystic beach and for about a 40 minute hike we got there and enjoyed amazing weather, sand, a rope swing, picnic by the sea and...

this beautiful fresh water waterfall falling straight from above onto the beach and then flowing into the ocean. Yes we stood under it and had a shower! wonderful!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Yoga, Ayurveda, and Creativity

Yoga, Ayurveda, and Creativity

Based on the new book Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi ©2012 by Brian Leaf.  Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com

I’m thinking of new ideas all the time. So much so that sometimes I can get spun out and exhausted. My wife, on the other hand, has a much easier time staying grounded and pacing her energy.  Though she’s not quite as quick with new ideas.

Ayurveda, the 5000-year-old medical system from India, often called the sister science of yoga, has a lot to say about my wife and me. According to Ayurveda, there are different types of people, and these different types have different strengths, challenges, and needs.

Ayurveda identifies three primary tendencies within people, called vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata is the energy of air; pitta is the energy of fire; and kapha is the energy of water and earth.

A person, like me, with a constitution dominant in vata will have airy qualities (creative, quick, possibly anxious). A person with a constitution dominant in pitta will have fiery qualities (intense, focused, possibly overly critical). A person, like my wife, with a constitution dominant in kapha will have earthy qualities (steadfast, grounded, possibly stuck).

A vata person will be well endowed in the creativity department. New ideas and creative solutions flow freely for such a person. Their challenge, like mine, is to stay grounded and not get spun-out and exhausted from too many creative ideas. We have to make sure to see our ideas through and not lose steam half way through a project. By calming our vata, we can be wildly creative but also focused and steadfast.

A pitta person will be incisive and intelligent, often set on a fixed course of action and less open to creativity and new ideas. Surgeons are usually pitta individuals. They are confident, focused, and intense. A pitta person can retain their great focus, but bring in more creativity and tolerance of new ideas by soothing their pitta.

A kapha person, like my wife, usually has terrific endurance and resolve. She easily stays grounded, but creativity does not flow as freely. She may sometimes feel stuck and blocked up. By soothing her kapha and increasing her vata, she can harness her tremendous strength and resolve, while also tapping her latent creativity.

So how can you effect this change in yourself? First you must identify your Ayurvedic constitution. To determine whether vata, pitta, or kapha predominates your constitution, take the following short quiz.

1. Under stress, I become __________.
A. scattered and anxious         B. focused and angry              C. stuck

2. When I’m hungry, I get __________.
A. scattered and anxious         B. angry                                  C. depressed

3. I hate to feel _________.
A. too cold                              B. too hot                                C. too wet

4. My biggest psychological struggles involve __________.
A. anxiety                   B. being judgmental, irritation, anger C. feeling stuck

5. When I have digestive problems, they involve ___________.
A. intestinal gas and bloating  B. heartburn
C. slow digestion, feeling stuck

6. When I get sick, I feel ___________.
A. Worried, fried, constipated.           B. Fevers, skin rashes, diarrhea.        
C. Congested, stagnant, blocked up.

Count the number of As, Bs, and C’s in your answers.
Mostly A’s indicate vata, mostly B’s pitta, and mostly C’s kapha.
Now to bring balance and increased creativity. For your particular predominance (vata, pitta, or kapha), choose three of the six items listed below and follow them for at least a week and see what happens. You’ll probably feel a whole new level of health, vitality, and creativity. Let us know how it goes at BrianLeafMA@gmail.com.

If the six question survey shows a predominance of Vata:

1. Keep warm, and wear soft, comfortable clothing. Make your bed into a soft, comfy haven.

2. Eat mostly cooked foods and use a bit of spice. Eat at a table, in a relaxed setting, not on the go or at your desk.

3. Keep a regular routine, and look over your schedule at the beginning of each day, so your mind can relax and know what’s coming.

4. Practice gentle forms of exercise.

5. Spend quiet time in nature, ideally near a lake or gently flowing stream. Sit under a tree.

6. Avoid or cut back on caffeine, wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

 If the six question survey shows a predominance of Pitta:

1. Keep cool. Get lots of fresh air, but avoid too much direct sun. Take evening walks in the moonlight. The moon is very soothing to pitta.

2. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Avoid very spicy, very salty, and very oily foods.

4. Watch your tendency toward perfectionism, competition, and intensity. Bring in softness and love.

5. Express your feelings in constructive ways. Be gentle on yourself and others.

6. Avoid or cut back on caffeine, wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

 If the six question survey shows a predominance of Kapha:

1. Get lots of vigorous exercise, everyday.

2. Avoid fatty and fried foods. Eat lots of veggies and cook with a bit of spice.

3. Eat less bread.

4. Avoid getting in a rut. Try new things, take challenges, travel.

5. Practice expressing your voice and your feelings and spend some time creating every day. Draw, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, play an instrument, imagine.

6. Avoid or dramatically cut back on wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

Printed with Permission ©2012 by Brian Leaf 

Brian Leaf, M.A. is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. He draws upon twenty-one years of intensive study, practice, and teaching of yoga, meditation, and holistic health. Visit him online at http://www.Misadventures-of-a-Yogi.com.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Turning your painting practice pieces into sellable art

This blog is dedicated to every single one of my students who  have taken my foundation workshop in abstract painting in acrylics and mixed media, particularly those of you who were with me this last month - thank you. Thank you for having the courage to show up. Thank you for having the courage to take risks and play. And most of all, thank you for trusting me and allowing yourself to make crap art. To allow yourself to practice, to play, to make shit art and be OK with is. Knowing that getting in the painting groove, into your own process, and re-igniting your creative fire - for this weekend experience at least - was  more important than coming out with  perfectly finished art pieces.

So, here's a few ideas of what you can do with some of those little paintings you might have done on canvas pads or thick water color paper or acrylic mixed media paper. The paintings that perhaps didn't turn out, the ones that you've lost interest in, the pieces whose composition fell short but who you do no feel like going back to and working and re-working. We all have them. Now it's time to turn them into something functional and have fun doing it!

Turning your painting practice pieces into sellable art, a few ideas, but really the only limit is YOUR creativity:

NOTE: For all the following craft projects use YES! Paste because it's made to dry flat. Put a layer of plastic over it once you've glued it down and then put a brick or a few heavy books to glue it down nice and flat.
  1. Art cards ( buy the blank ones at a craft store such as Michael's and then glue on covers from your practice piece. Ahhh yes, now you know why I had the paper cutter at the back of the workshop room! I was cutting up my practice pieces and making gift cards while you were painting yours!!!)
  2. Book marks ( cut the art piece in a long rectangle and get it laminited)
  3. Artist trading cards ( I wrote a blog about that last year or the year before, check it out for all the details)
  4. Blank notepads with your art on the cover ( Last year I took all the old programs from the Culture Crawl and had them bound at a printer into little blank recycled paper note pads and then used my old art canvas pieces make excellent covers - especially when you use Kroma Crackle Paste, it looks like leather!!! Use a view finder on the art piece you're done with and find the sweet spot for the art on the cover of your card.  People Love to buy these that want a piece of art but are not ready to commit to a big piece)
  5. Collage - cut up the old art and collage it into other new paintings (recycle!)
  6. Magnets (cut the canvas pad piece into any shape. Re-in force it with cardboard. Glue a magnet to the back of it. Optional: Pour resin over it to give it gloss and depth!! On  a personal note I was soooo wanting to do this and make a bunch of magnets for the upcoming culture crawl open studio show but at this point I just don't think I"ll have time :-( )
  7. Homemade journals (cut out the best picture from the practice art piece on loose canvas and glue it to a blank journal. I like to put a sticker or my biz card on the back to give it a signature feel.)

Hate reading? Yeah, I have those days...Wanna see me talk about this live and see some pictures of what I'm talking about? 

Here you go... YouTube video link:

Turning your painting practice pieces into sellable art

This is a short video from a workshop whereby I am showing my practice art pieces and the things I 
have made from them and sold at art shows and fairs:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Artist Interview with Dana Dion

This month I'd like to introduce you to award winning Australian artist Dana DionDana and I met via The Beaumont Studios here in Vancouver where I was giving a talk about the "3 WOW's" and the secrets behind what makes some abstract paintings sell while others sit in the studio collecting dust. Dana brought her ipad with her to share her portfolio and I became entranced with her work and wanted to know more about her and her process.... 

Dana, I have to admit I was intrigued by your accent when you spoke. Personally I grew up in Canada with a South African mother and Australian father so I've had my own small exposure to various accents, but the way you spoke I could not peg it! Could you share with us your childhood and how you came to live in so many places?

I was born in Israel. When I was two years old, my family moved back and forth between Kenya, Tanzania and Israel. We eventually settled in Vancouver when I was 14. My husband is Dutch, also with an accent. We have been living in Sydney Australia for the past 12 years, and before that, we spent three years in London. Maybe this is why Deb, you could not "peg it" I think it is a "mish mash" of accents. I call it: my own special brew. 

Generous Morning (c) Dana Dion
It also seems from reading your biography on your website that you were first more focussed on fitness - teaching pilates, yoga and personal training - before you came into the artistic portion of your life. How did art come into your life and please do tell us about this transition from tri-athlete and beauty pageant persona to working artist....

I see myself as a creative person. I always try and find a creative aspect in what I do, and believe that creativity can be executed in many ways: As an artist, as a creator and inventor, as a business owner, and as a Pilates yoga and Fitness teacher etc.... It is all creative to me. And with that comes a creative journey.  This journey is where you explore different ways to express. 

Unbounded (c) Dana Dion
Looking at your portfolio online I can see that you do work in a number of styles - still life, abstracts, landscape, etc. Is there one particular style that you enjoy the most. Why?

I work with passion and feeling. I am not precious about subject matter or technique.
It is the process and the act of creating that I am interested in.
I just want to express,and feed back into the image as it develops, allowing the result to dictate where I take it next.

Sometimes my work alludes to landscapes, sometimes to figurative, or abstracts.

The theme is of secondary importance to me, and I like to paint whatever comes to mind. Lately, I have made landscape paintings. I have a lot of fun with topics and styles, that sometimes do not matter at all, and sometimes they may be personal.

Dana, please tell us about your painting process. In particular I loved the process you shared with me when we spoke at the Beaumont about how sometimes you paint a surface and then stamp or lift another canvas onto that and then use this to inspire a painting... I've never heard of this before!  

My works are drawing and  paintings, as they represent both working methods. 
The canvas or paper serves as the basis of the work, I apply many layers of paint and build up paint quality. I then start introducing my mark makings, drawing lines and motifs I collect in my memory, developing my own language. I keep going until I am satisfied With what I see.

Other working methods include drawing using pastel, charcoal, ink, pen and pencil on paper. I also like the Intimacy of working on paper as it lends itself to  personal imagery.

Drawing allows for integration of my acquired language of mark making and vocabulary of semiotics, and for the freedom to let the paper play a large part in the finished work.

The process I mentioned previously, is a simple printmaking technique which gives exciting results. It is a method which produces a single print from a smooth sheet of metal, glass or acetate. which is used as the printing plate. 
I use a big sheet of perspex.
I apply paint (mixed with retarder) and ink and create shapes, or rub off some of the paint, and just have fun on the plate. Then I place un-stretched canvas or paper onto the plate, and use a roller to apply pressure and lift the image from the plate onto the support. I do this multiple times (allow to dry between layers) until I am happy with the image. I then stretch the canvas onto a frame, (don't need to do that with paper) and start to work on "resolving" the composition. 
That could be by adding more paint in areas, defining certain areas, push back some areas, etc....
I love working this way method. It is a great way to "start" a piece.

What's your favorite all time favorite art piece of yours and why? Your favourite art piece of another artist?

Usually when I paint family members, those works become my favourite. I get attached to them. They are created with lots of though, feelings and memories of moments with them. Reminding me of how important they are to me. Those pieces become important and I end up keeping them.

The Professor (c) Dana Dion
What are you working on currently ( a new series, a calendar,other) and please tell us about it...

my current work consists of landscapes examining different places. The landscapes aim to define or locate a place where I belong. I chase the feelings of belonging and look for a reaction to the feeling. The landscapes do not depict a specific place, but rather a memory or recording of the many places I have lived in: no borders, boundaries or identified area. 

For you, What the best thing about being and artist?

Being an artist makes me look and see. I am never bored. I am always searching for images and symbols to add to my visual language and I try to notice everything. I find it a great challenge to create an image on blank surface that can give people pleasure and ability to see whatever their minds want to see or needs to see.
its the greatest feeling to "Catch" someone looking, really looking, at your work. I think this is great. 

Fishing and Thinking (c) Dana Dion

For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist? 

Resolving works is the challenge. Making it all come together. And making the time to do it.
Telling Stories (c) Dana Dion

How would you define success  for yourself as an artist? What are some success you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

I guess what defines it for me is the validation of my efforts by being included in selective art shows and receiving awards. 
I know the awards are subjective and they do depend on the judges, but for my work to be noticed and singled out from hundreds of works, is a great feeling.
I started exhibiting my work in 2006, and since then have won over 25 awards, I guess that defines achieving success to me.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists -- specifically to other painters, perhaps younger than yourselves looking for advice and inspiration?

The more you paint, the better you get. you need to spend lots of time in the studio. It does pay off.

Misty Voyage (c) Dana Dion

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

In August I had a solo show in Sydney Australia, where I live, showcasing my recent landscapes.  It was called Without Borders. It would be great to have a show in Vancouver. As my landscapes have Vancouver in them.

Dana, Thank you for taking the time to partake in this interview!