This post is dedicated to a loyal reader who recently admonished me for laughing at a recent other post.
Our Prime Ministers - Oil - 36" x 72" - 2006
In 2006 I painted a portrait of all the Liberal Prime Ministers who had, in their own styles, touched our lives since the beginning of Canada. Was 2006 the end of an era? . . . Not likely.
Our Prime Ministers - Oil - 36" x 72" - 2016
Following the electoral event of 2015, I completed the painting by adding the symbol of a Liberal renewal, of an encouraged youth cohort, of a dedication to an enriched 21st century vision for all. Onward and forward.
Prints available : $74.99. (includes tax and shipping) : Go to : PURCHASE
Discouragement Is At An All Time High. By "encouraging" Submission And Fear, It Kills Creativity And Makes Us Invisible - Oct 10, 2015Read Now
Discouragement is real. It is strong. A subtle controller of individuals, families and the larger community, its quest is to render invisible, to homogenize, to eliminate unique identities - to stop forward movement. Discouragement strangles. It holds us back - until we are no more. Encouragement, on the other hand, caresses, providing a tension respite, affording us time and space to strengthen resolve.
To be or not to be invisible. . . That is the question every parent must ask when it comes to not only themselves but more especially to their children. As adults we have become used to - and our economy even seems to thrive upon our being a totally integrated and invisible part of the whole. We are, each one of us, like ants on an ant hill - working, striving, reaching up but never out - always returning to the same core tunnels, doing the same work, seeing the same faces day in and day out and doing the same things as all of the other ants. And that, or so it is said, creates reassurance, safety. . . In an ant colony this may be true. But in human realities, it simply maintains a “colony’s” status quo. And that is not the same thing as safety or security.
In the ant world, being different from your cohorts is not an option. The colony is everything. The survival of the community depends fully on the submission of ants to do their respective jobs. This is not to say that if the usual way is blocked, an individual ant doesn’t have the wherewithal to get a job done in a different manner. No, ants are resourceful in the realization of their communal tasks and responsibilities. But if, in the running of their everyday lives, a few ants choose to stray, i.e. become creative for creativity’s sake, all of the ants could suffer - and some if not all of the ants could die. Where ants are concerned creativity, as a divergence from the homogeneous norm, occurs exclusively to (1) achieve the goals of the particular ant’s designated job which, in turn, (2) protects the colony’s integrity.
Ant creativity has a collective calling whereas human creativity must diverge from an all encompassing communal consideration if it and the “colony” are to survive. Within a community, the spiritual health of a human individual must be maintained if the whole of that community is to remain healthy. And whereas each ant within a colony is intellectually and genetically entrenched in a caste environment (based on a clone-style modus operandi) human communities depend on their individual members to live communally but think uniquely.
Without creativity, without the encouragement of individuals to be creative, human communities will and do suffer from the diminishing capacities of individual members whose unique perceptions and talents eventually erode through lack of use.
In the human world, as in the ant realm, communities are formed by like-minded individuals. BUT human societies survive, thrive and evolve only when the unique creative spirits of each member are allowed free (not licensed) reign within that collective environment. Healthy communities are never threatened by the creative elements in their midst as it is only through creative mind sets that evolving societies, as a whole, stay mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy.
On the other hand, "un-encouraged" creativity is a recipe for individual and communal disasters. Creativity diminishes in strength and eventually disappears when there is no room in a society for it to be recognized and respected.
The ability of a community to battle, to fend off threat of a physical emotional or mental nature, is proportional to the relative strengths of its individual members.
No society is immune to threat and total destruction (from within or without) when individual egos within its membership are in a weakened state. - 00
In essence, if a community of like-minded individuals banned or failed to encourage creativity, the possibility of that society’s long term survival would be compromised. This is so as the creative potential required for its survival would no longer be available to that community. In such a situation, there would be no one who would have the capability of thinking outside the box or of seeing things differently in order to bring about solutions to new or odd community problems AND/OR a collective’s diminishing strengths.
Creativity, therefore, is a crucial requirement if the world’s communities, states and countries are to survive the onslaught of nature and/or man’s own self-serving and/or destructive tendencies.
When the worst enemy of a community is itself, creativity is the real victim. And any and all enemies at the gate need do nothing but wait for that community’s increasing vulnerability to show - as time inflicts an ultimate demise. - 00
But, acknowledging and taking on discouragement - i.e. turning it on its ear to reintegrate encouragement, isn’t simply a question of generic change for change’s sake. Encouragement has as much an individual mental, emotional, spiritual and artistic health component as it does a communal health component.
As previously stated, if individuals in a community are less than they can be, the community as a whole suffers. It deteriorates and its soul gradually fades. Therefore eliminating discouragement and re-introducing encouragement must not only be an individual’s project. It must become a collective enterprise whose specific goal is to take back that which is individually ours - that which belongs to our children and their futures - and that which not only enhances but protects from harm our communal way of life.
(excerpt from the book : Beyond Discouragement - Creativity)
In 2008 I created this computer composition as a social commentary "homage" to Barbie. Through it I recognize that beauty is nothing but ephemeral - and yet it is this "limited package" - this perception of what is acceptably beautiful that we have been selling to our daughters for more than 50 years. (2009 being Barbie's 50th) I entitle it : Venus Reborn. I would hope that Botticelli would not be offended in this telling truth.
It's always interesting to retrieve paintings from the racks in the storage area of the studio - especially years after they were created. This particular piece “Return Of The Vietnam Vets” has never been exhibited. It was painted as a physical reminder of what was going through my mind at the time regarding a war the US soldiers had been fighting despite being vilified by their own countrymen. I worried about those soldiers returning from a horrid experience only to be met with derision and shaming. As I had no experience other than the newspaper clippings and news reports on the topic, I was more interested in the emotional and mental scars created by the whole situation of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Traumatized by what they experienced in war and Vilified as they were by their own citizenry how would they ever adjust in such a way that they could begin anew a life of peace and productivity? All the guilt of that ill-advised and ill-run war was being heaved unto their shoulders because those who had managed the war and those who were at home looking at it on TV felt shameless. Oddly, it is this painting which encouraged me to paint, 34 years later, my black on black painting “An Intelligent Soldier Is a Dangerous Soldier”. In that I wanted to show that if ever a soldier, of any country, was asked whether a war they were being sent off to fight was necessary - maybe there would never be a war to ever be fought again. Has anyone dared ask a soldier what he or she thinks - before a decision is made to go to war? For whom would their answer be dangerous?
Above : Return Of The Vietnam Vets - Oil - 18" x 24" - 1976
Below : An Intelligent Soldier. . . - Oil - 40" x 60" - 2010
I am a painter and writer who's whole life has been influenced by one precept : "thinking each our own thoughts makes us relevant and relevance makes us powerful."