How to be Happy?

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How to be Happy can be Easy

A question that we often asks ourselves is how to be happy? What makes us feel satisfied that we are doing the things in life that makes us feel fulfilled. Is it service to others that makes us happy? Is it having a work life that is challenging and filled with purpose? Do you do things that answer your passions?

Recently I had someone say that what I do is the main reason for my happiness. But we all have down days. The goal is to combat these down days. Fight against it by creating an environment that is beautiful, comfortable and an escape.

Happiness and your Space

As Aristotle stated  “Happiness depends upon ourselves”     This is so very true. The intention to create a space that has atmosphere and beauty is dependent upon You. The question becomes how. How can you create a place that is inviting and full of engagement? In the piece highlighted titled Blooming Lightness, the use of the flowers and the soft colours combine to create a happy space. Hanging this piece in your home can only bring happiness to you.

Being Happy is a State of Mind

The country that has the highest rating of happiness is Denmark. The term “hugge” has been used in this country to describe a lifestyle and state of mind that is comfortable.

It is defined as “a quality of cosiness (feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.”

Such a simple thing to live for and do. To create a place of cosiness. To create a story of love and comfort. So where does Art play a role in this? I would say that in creation of my work, I often think of the warmth and safety that the painting conveys. What is the story? How does the narrative play out? What kind of feeling does the piece give? The use of warm colours, the inviting places to be, the nostalgic themed work all play to the state “hugge”.


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Weed and Art- What do they Have in Common?

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Does Pot make you more of an artist?

Can you be more creative when you smoke pot? Today is a monumental day in Canada. Consuming marijuana has become legal.  A major cultural shift in this country. One that inspired my 14 year old to ask me if I would now be smoking a joint in the house before I go to the studio. This brings up an interesting point. Is creativity enhanced by smoking weed? In the article “Does Smoking Pot Make You More Creative?, the author notes that it all depends on the individual.

Creativity makes for more opportunities.

As I sit here and write this I have a sense of disbelief. For so many years I have preached just say “no’ to drugs to my kids. I have not touched the stuff since high school and have always seen it as a danger drug. The consumption of something that we don’t know what is in it has made me be wary. However, this has changed and now with regulation, the drug is like alcohol. Amazing how this shift has happened.

Personally, I don’t consume marijuana. I have no shortage of ideas when creating my work. Each piece is a puzzle and somehow the ideas still keep coming.  I have created a process whereby the work seems to make itself. Step by step the building of each piece comes together. Of course, this is not the case for many artists. Many need a bit of escape to let the ideas flow. It is a good thing to know that I live in a place that looks to this drug as a tool. Who knows- maybe the cultural industry will have a boom time with all the ideas exploding from the True North. Time will tell if there is a difference.

One thing that makes me laugh are the business opportunities that seem to be on the horizon. In an article from Business Insider, an artist created a “puff pass paint” class. If anything this unique art class takes art therapy into an entire new direction. This article touches on the concept that the use of weed enables a freedom from judgement. There is an allowance for exploration. A good thing for all of us.




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Choose to bring the Joy in your Life

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It is Your Choice to be Happy

Choosing the joy in life can come in many ways. It can come from walking your dog in the morning as the sun comes up. It can come from just sitting at a cafe and enjoying the last few moments of warmth and sunshine before the winter descends upon us.  It can come from having dinner with your partner after a tough day.  Or similarly, it can come from going to the Theatre and absorbing a moment of beautiful classical music by the symphony. Most importantly,  it can come from looking at beautiful piece of art in your home that impresses upon you the celebration of the moment.  Art reminds us of the beauty- the moments that last briefly but can imprint upon our minds indefinitely.

Art reminds us of the Joy

Many who look at my work are engaged with the celebration of the Joy.  This is due to the fact that people walk into my booth at an art fair and remark on the stories that I create as part of my work. Yet every story is about the positive. The looking toward the brightness of the day. The place you can walk into and revel in the colour, the patterns and the beauty. In the piece highlighted titled “She Walks on Pink Roses” a story is created about a cool day watching the world go by. The flowers are embedded in the figure and give the story a place of softness and comfort. A place to remind us to be in the moment and enjoy the day.

Counter the Negative

For a long time I thought that this type of work was too sentimental. That it had a shallowness that we see in our pop culture. Well I no longer feel this. In fact, I see my art as a counter point to the negative. We seem to now live in a culture full of the negative. Certainly there is an overwhelming amount of combative and the critical debate. Of course for social change to happen we need the critical.  We need the empowered and the fearless to step forward. I am the first to support these actions. Yet what are the effects on our psyche?  How do you insulate yourself from this?

Choose the Joy! I know this may sound trite. In fact, it is not. Most noteworthy, surrounding yourself, and engaging with art that is beautiful,  makes us happier. In fact, studies have found  “that looking at a work of art can actually have the same psychological effect as the euphoric experience of romantic love.” Now don’t we all want to feel that romantic high? Above all we want the sense that “joy” is part of our daily life. It may comes at less of an impact with a piece of art that you look at daily. Or it may remind you, when you least expect it, that life is  good. 

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Home is a Place of Renewal

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Renewal of the Home and Feng Shui

Your home should be a place or renewal and regeneration. The question becomes how? How does the design and flow of your home take you into a place of the positive. The theory of Feng Shui delves into this theory through the use of colour, symbols and placement of the interior elements to make a healthy happy place.

Creating Balance through art and colour.

In the article about the Feng Shui Use of Art, the author delves into the themes of imagery and symbols that creates and enhance the story of the room. For example, the introduction of feminine elements through the use of light colours, light fabrics and patterns.  The theory creates an outlook that emphasizes a happy energy into our space. It is all about health, balance and harmony.

There are five elements in the Feng Shui theory- fire, earth, water, wood and metal. Colours that range from the blue/ green delve into serenity of water to the red/yellows that bring in the theme of love. Symbols, colour and placement of furniture creates a flow of a home. The framework helps guide you to select the pieces of Art, furniture, colours and approach to creating a space that renews us.

Art is the Story and the Symbol of visualizing.

In the piece highlighted titled Life is Like a Song, the theme of the piece is about love and the colours emanate the celebration and intensity of the story of the piece. This piece, if hanging in your home, would attract love and celebrates the connections you either have or would like to have in your home. In fact, this piece was recently sold to a client who wanted Love in her life. She only had images of single women in her home. So by introducing the story of Love and the actual representation of this couple, enabled her to visualize how she would like to change her life.

How does Art play a role in this theory of Feng Shui? Choosing art can be challenging, but if you have a few decision guiding principles, then the final choice can be easier. Check out my Online Store  and see the options!

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Commission a Painting and Preserve a Memory

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Commissioning a painting creates a family heirloom.

Commissioning a painting from me preserves a special memory. The client often realizes the importance of their family, and the experiences they had as they were growing up. The question becomes how do they represent these past moments?  Of course, a wall of photos or a mantel piece with special images recalls memories. But does this give them an emotional sensation that can be read by those who haven’t been there?

By selecting special photos clients are being proactive in preserving fleeting moments of their past. The result? Anyone who was not part of the “memory” can experience the identity and moment cherished by the one who commissioned it. A family hierloom is created and can be passed down through the generations.

Memory recall is also a “creative re-imagination”

Summer has always been my favourite time of year because of its preciousness. Since being a child I have celebrated this season and tried to create memories that will be with me for a lifetime. I am an avid sailor, as is my family,  and our time on the water are moments that I try to imprint upon my mind. In fact, through my life I have taken moments and consciously imprinted them. So I can revisit them. But this isn’t enough.

In fact, studies have shown that every time a memory is recalled the event changes. In the article titled The Human Memory, the act of remembering changes the event. Different contexts are added to the memory and new information gets incorporated into the original memory. One way to register the fleeting moments is by commissioning a piece of art that uses materials and images from family experiences and adventures.

Preciousness of memories can be preserved with a commission.

As an artist, I have the ability to create, interpret and preserve a memory of a precious time. As our children, or alternatively our parents age, there is a loss of what was.   Collecting old photos of my young children takes me into the time when their world was full of discovery and adventure. Compiling these pieces I look back at these memories and remind my self of the moment.

Collage of photos can recreate a special memory of family.

In the piece highlighted, Fun Adventures, there is a collage of old photos found in a family albums. The placement of these images together with a focus point upon one image of the two sisters puts the life of these girls in a context. A piece that reminds us of their journey together. The found photos are of children posing and the car reminds us of the family vacations. Each piece of this painting puts together a story that was momentary and beautiful.

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Remember to experience art

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Experience art.

How to experience art can be a challenge. We have to remind ourselves that art is a gentle reminder of escape to another psychic place. Many say that the “millennial” generation is all about experiences. So buying a product is just not part of their priority. This maybe the case but the experience of art, the looking, the absorbing, the escaping into another place is as much an experience. Although more of a an inner place of response this appreciation of looking at something, on a daily basis, puts us in a calmer more connected state. In fact, the experience of art can be an antidote to materialism.

The theory of how art is not a material thing.

This was expressed by Wassily Kandinsky Concerning the Spiritual in Art In this writing, Kandinsky wrote of how art, its use of colour and form. With the popularity of meditation and the goal to reduce stress in our busy lives, art is seen as a way to focus on the deeper places in our souls and minds. As Susan Sontage wrote in 1964 “Art is a form of nourishment (of consciousness, the spirit)”. 

Art is about the story.

Many say that art is a precious product. A piece of investment that decorates our walls. It matches the couch and puts some colour in our lives. This is the least it can do. In my work, I try to find a way to move beyond this. To capture the moment of the story that takes us into another place and time. In the piece featured “She’s About to Launch”,the image works on a couple of levels. It reminds us of the vacations we may have taken as children with our families. Piling into the car, and going on an adventure. Along the way the goal is to find the hotel with the pool which can be used as an escape from being cooped up in a vehicle for hours. Aside from the story of memory, there is a presence of light and excitement from the colour and animated composition. A place to be from the past, but still a place that exists in the present.

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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Finding a Place of Happy

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How to Be Happy?

Being happy can be a challenge. How do you remind yourself that life is good and there is warmth and sunshine just around the corner. As the cold wraps itself around us and the grey colours seem to permeate into our psyche, there is a sense that life is drab, boring and empty. Yes it is the January blues that we are confronted by. So the question becomes how to snap ourselves out of this paralysis? Do you go out to the theatre? Or to the art Galleries? Or perhaps to a great concert? Some place to escape to.

For me, watching old movies provides a perfect story of escape. These films are little stories that wrap up nicely and gives me the inspiration  I need for my work. Films like Singing in the Rain, Casablanca, or An American in Paris,  transports me into another place and time and gives me the moment of drama and elegance. I look towards these films for the story but also for images and stories to replicate in my work.

How Nostalgia Helps Us to be Happy

What does this appropriation of classic image do for me as a viewer? In the article What Does Nostalgia Do? by Art Markman, the main purpose of of looking back at the past is to make us more optimistic. To be more “optimistic about the future”. This is a remarkable turn of psychology. There is a connection to others that boosts a positive view of ourselves. By increasing our own self esteem, there is an increase to optimism. By focusing upon the past there is a renewed hope for the future.

It has been said that old films, or art about the past does not have a modernist view. It is not contemporary or edgy. Yet the purpose of my work is to capture a moment of joy. One that reminds us of another time and place. By doing this, the psychological impact of my work brings it to another level. It reminds us to be positive. To be happy.

Art and its View

In the piece featured, Birds on a Wire, the painting brings together the words of the song At Last by Etta James with the image of a couple walking in Paris. There are birds hanging around and watching- similar to the couple taking there time and enjoying life. A moment to remember. A moment to think of a happy place.


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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?




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