Reading: Part 1: Extreme You – Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat.

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Well 20 minutes of deleting spam and I can finally settle down to writing this blog post. Part 1 of a 4 part series inspired by Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s lively contribution to the swift kick in the butt genre of self-help literature.

Before I begin, I will let you know that this is not my main read of the summer, even if a four part series would suggest that. In my studies on the subject of money for my currency paintings I have read some great books including:

  • The Undercover Economist Strikes Back – Tim Harford
  • Money: The Unauthorized Biography – Felix Martin
  • Financial Fir$t Aid for Canadian Investors – Mike Graham
  • Money Rules – Gail Vaz-Oxlade
  • Smart Women Love Money – Alice Finn
  • Rich Dad series (4) –  Robert T. Kiyosaki

I haven’t formulated my thoughts on these ideas yet. I am just looking at the range of thinking at this point, but sooner or later I will revisit those of most interest. Art will emerge, and possibly some reviews as well.

So why, with all of this to choose from, am I doing a four part series on Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s book?

Well, because even though there is nothing particularly ground breaking in her book, some times we all need a good kick in the pants. We need a reminder of what our passions are, why we got into our particular game, and some encouragement to find new avenues to explore that game.

Each Post will cover my take aways from her book, or what I found spoke to me (you may find something else speaks to you), rather than being an official review:

  1. Ignite Your Magic Drive
  2. Get Out of Line
  3. Play Your Specialist Game
  4. Break Yourself To Make Yourself

So without further ado:

PART 1: Ignite Your Magic Drive


Of all the advice from this chapter, such as starting with a doable challenge and building your momentum up to reach the big goal, choosing your own challenges and doing what you love… for me the most inspiring piece of advice about developing drive had to do with the topic of support.

Support, of course, is the support you have from your family, friends, community and larger society in the accomplishment of your goals.

This is a topic that strikes home for me as a visual artist, because as an artist, who studied fine art at the post secondary level, and who continues to pursue a fine art career, I deal with a lot of “D” words from most of the people in my non-art world. Disbelief, Dubiousness, even Derision. Jokes about art majors serving french fries float freely about our culture, and the official statistics on incomes in the industry are not encouraging. At some family gatherings people avoid talking work with me, make snide comments about people who work vs. those who don’t (because they don’t understand the nature of my work it is easier for them to assume I don’t work I guess), or offer ‘helpful’ suggestions about employment (despite having no knowledge about my situation in the first place). Their assumptions and criticisms pain me and piss me off by turns.

Rather than becoming demoralized and giving in to a world view I believe is wrong (or wrong for me), O’Hagan advises using that pain and that anger as the flame to ‘ignite my magic drive’, pushing through obstacles to reach my goals.

So thank-you Sarah, I may even post the next ‘joke’ in my studio as a reminder of what is at stake as I continue to shake the trees for new and interesting opportunities and set new goals for myself.


Coming to VASA! Mystical Magical Fantasy.

Upcoming Show:

I am happy to announce that I will have three artworks in an upcoming group show, Mystical Magical Fantasy, at the Visual Arts Studio Association in St. Albert Alberta.

The show runs Tuesday October 3rd to Saturday October 28th 2017. Opening reception Thursday October 5th, 6-9pm. Visit the VASA website for address and other details as they become available.

Artist Statement:

The Fun Money Series of paintings are part of an exploration of the cultural significance of money and the ways that we learn in childhood to think about money through fantasy, play, and story.

I incorporate coin shaped foil candy wrappers into the paintings to create fantasy worlds in which the main actors, represented by plastic figurines, interact with the coins in different ways.

Much like the foil wrappers themselves, the innocent, shiny prettiness of the paintings belie messages that are being delivered to the individuals consuming them. The wrappers are interesting devices that teach children about money, being attractive containers representing the potential for pleasurable experiences contained within.

Life Line
12 x 12 A/C
Castle in the Sky
12 x 12 A/C

Fun Money: Castle in the Sky and Fun Money: Life Line represent the ways in which money can function, or be seen to function, in adult life, through enabling one to realize their fantasies, or to stay afloat while reaching for goals and building dreams.

Video Games, also, often use a coin based reward system to provide benefits to players which will help them complete their game successfully. The way coins are collected, as a reward for various actions, teach children that the getting of money is a matter of faith in the system as well as skill, persistence and effort. As they put their characters through obstacle courses that challenge their dexterity and problem solving skills in repeated attempts to capture all the coins, they learn that these are the ways they will be asked to function in a competitive adult world.

Leap of Faith
12 x 12 A/C

While Fun Money (Video Games): There’s Got To Be A Way (not pictured, not in the show, but click here to see more of the Fun Money series) explores the character’s faith in their ability to make seemingly impossible aerial acrobatics to collect all of the coins, Fun Money (Video Games): Leap of Faith looks at that moment where the character can see opportunity, but not the outcome of the leap to take advantage of the opportunity. Is the landing safe? We don’t know. The child playing the game learns faith in the system (that it can be done or it wouldn’t have been placed in such a way), but that faith may not necessarily be well placed in the real world.

Final week to see I AM CANADIAN !

Hi All! It is the final week to see I am Canadian at the Edge Gallery in Calgary’s historic Inglewood neighbourhood. Make sure you check out all the fantastic work on display, and remember, it IS for sale! Gallery hours are 10 – 5:30 Tuesday through Friday and 10 – 5:00 on Saturdays.

Below I am posting my artist statement with images of the pieces in the show:

Finding a Dance Partner
16 x 20 O/C
16 x 20 O/C
The New Homeland
16 x 20 O/C
A Level Playing Field
16 x 20 O/C
Spirit Wrestlers
16 x 20 O/C
Land of Fairytale Abundance
16 x 20 O/C
A Matter of Life & Death
16 x 20 O/C

The Canada West series are paintings revisiting early 20th century Canadian immigration posters that were intended to encourage immigration to the Canadian West. Each painting interprets the source image through juxtaposition, modification, or both. Through examining the cultural artefacts of Canada’s attitudes to, and experiences with, immigration from the early part of the last century, I encourage a long range view on the impact of contemporary immigration concerns on Canada’s future culture.

The New Homeland places the figure of the original poster in front of a floating field of the flags of some of the major immigrant groups of that time to western Canada, including (in no particular order) France, Romania, Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the Ukraine, Russia and Scandinavia.

Salvation comments on the perception, versus the reality, of immigration to Canada by groups escaping poverty, oppression and famine, who then faced the challenge of homesteading unbroken land.

Finding a Dance Partner is interested in the controversy of ‘Surplus Women” in Britain. A gender imbalance if favour of females led to concerns that women unable to marry would fall into poverty. At the same time, a majority of males immigrating to Canada had officials looking for women to immigrate as domestics, hopefully to start families, thus ‘civilizing’ the west.

A Level Playing Field is based on a poster circulated in the United States of America, at about the time the board game Monopoly was invented.

The Spirit Wrestlers engages the history of the Russian religious exiles, the Doukhobors, and their (at the time) radical beliefs of communal living, pacifism and vegetarianism, in Canada.

A Matter of Life and Death challenges the racial stereotype of the white settler through altering the image to speak about immigration by Americans escaping discriminatory laws and race based violence in the United States of America.

Land of Fairytale Abundance is interested in the reasons for and cultural impact of Ukrainian immigration to Canada.


Process: Tom & Laura’s Wedding Portrait Painting

I thought it might be fun for you to see the stages of creating this modern fairytale portrait painting. I scheduled about a month, at two days per week, to work on this 16″ x 32″ acrylic painting on canvas. To learn more about commissioning a painting, click here. So without further ado:

Stage 1: Drawing using graphite and then Pitt artist pen.

Stage 2: Grisaille in Chromium Oxide Green.

Stage 3: Colour wash. Quinacridone Red, Pthalo Green and Green Gold.

Stage 4: Establish background buildings and sky.

Stage 5: Working on everything but negative space objects.

Stage 6 & 7: Work on the car.

Stage 8: Paint the figures and adjust the background to create proper recession and focus. DONE!

To see more of my portraits click here.

To learn more about commissioning a painting, click here.