A Bit of an Artist Bio

I thought I'd write a bit about myself and what it has been like being an artist.

I have always enjoyed creative writing as long as I remember. In the seventh grade I won a writing contest put on by the Timmins School Board. In school I got into the habit of faking essays and book reports. I would even invent the titles and authors of books. Once my teacher failed me because she believed that I plagiarized my book reports from other sources. Even after I informed her that I actually created fictitious books that didn't even exist she still wouldn't believe that.

I wrote my first song in my early teens. It was a protest song. I may someday try to re-create that.
Fred Joly singing a song on stage
Canadian artist and songwriter Fred Joly

There were many years of my adulthood where creating art was not a part of my life, either I was too busy working, in prison or on the street active in addictions likely. Ironically, in was on the street in Montreal where I first come across an art studio drop-in place located at the St James Church. This is where I did my first painting. That was around ten years ago.

I stopped painting for a number of years after that but picked it up again at the CMHA in Aurora Ontario in a program they called Community Connections. They had an art studio started and I joined in. I produced probably about thirty paintings, wrote a dozen poems and shorts stories. I also used the space to write and practice six new songs. Some of them I later recorded and created videos for but they no longer exist to show you.

Last year I attended UBC's Writing course. That is a twelve week program run by the Arts & Humanities department. I was invited as writing mentor for the next term and they presented me with an award.

Six months ago I joined a couple other artists to create a new studio. Our Vancouver art gallery and studio is gaining popularity. We even have a new web site Recovery by Design.


Old Collection Recent Painting

I wanted to try out an old painting I did for my mother long time ago. I attempted this a few times but here's my latest version of the painting.
the painting Angel Guide
an acrylic on canvas painting

Why I Enjoy Painting


I have been practicing art in some form since childhood. I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and songs.

As an adult I started creating mosaic wooden jewelry boxes, coo coo clocks and crucifixes from small pieces of wood and sticks. About ten years ago while at a street art studio in Montreal and completely out of material, the studio manager slapped a canvas down in front of me and demanded that I paint.

“I don’t paint!” was my response, “They paint.” Pointing to the painters. Then I became silent for a very long time staring at this huge canvas of white space. I went for a smoke, or two. I grabbed orange, red, green and yellow acrylic, a medium sized brush and took my first dip. Gives me Goosebumps today thinking of how it made me feel. I got into a rhythm. I played a song with the drumstick and thought words in my head, my own thoughts. I wanted to cry so I painted an evening sky with trees in tears … green ones and red ones and yellow ones. I wrote a poem that went with to further describe these feelings and suddenly, a bit of weight was lifted off of me.

I started practicing what I describe as multi-dimensional art therapy. That is where I use various media (painting, stories, songs, videos, photographs … in a collection to express my inner-struggles and my inner victories. I can do this now with or without speaking a word. Creating anything is therapeutic, but there is nothing better for me then to spend an hour here and there exploring myself on the canvas. Without art, there’d be no point in living I suppose. It’s the only thing that can point me back to the light when I get down or get mixed around. I can talk to shrinks, yell at the guards or I can scream like a madman across the street; without resolve. Luckily for me I’ve discovered that I can slowly unravel the chaos, face my fears, deal with my anger, my sadness, bewilderment … I can express my awe of the universe, the wonders of love and life; that’s why I paint.

Behind His Mask

“Behind The Masks” – Testimonials of Those Marginalized by Income, got its name and was inspired by singer/songwriter Fred Joly who performed as the audit was being held, and also for those attending the audit closing dinner. Fred wrote the song Behind His Mask based on his true experiences. The playing of his song prompted Rapporteur Daisy Wai to remark that his song affected her as much as anything she'd heard that day. We have included an excerpt from the song below.




A Report on the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition
(ISARC) Social Audit in York Region on April 20, 2010

Behind His Mask




Do you see the old the old man under the bridge?


Sitting there with a suitcase in his hand.
He’s been drinking there for years and years;
And whenever he’s tired he just beds down on the sands.
 
Does anybody know him?
Can someone please tell me his name?
Because whenever I see him walking through the city;
He keeps his head down in shame.
 
He’s a refugee.
Or is he just another shipwreck of society’s.
Looks like a rebel.
Penting up the angers from the past.
Into a twisted fantasy.
The empty bottles are just escapes from his realities.
Bums around wearing a loner’s mask.
 
The morning’s sun’s an awakening misery.
No doubt another aweful day.
Cramped from the cold misty whispering night.
He doesn’t want to go but he knows that he cannot stay.
Stumbles to the ground on his hands and knees.
There’s mud dripping off of his face.
Then a tear draw a line down his wrinkled cheek;
He cries out “Lord help me please!”
 
I’m a refugee.
And I’m running from the scorns of this society.
But I’m in a lot of trouble.
‘Cause I’m drifting at sea with a broken mast.
And everybody judges me.
As I’m trying to find my own destiny.
It looks about time to put on my “keep away from me mask”.
 
When I heard about the old man from under the bridge.
Died there just the other day.
I decided to show up at his Sally Ann service.
Where the Captain tried but he didn’t know how to say.
 
That’s there a new star’s light shining in the sky.
Because another soul has been set free.
The man spent his final moments scribbling in the sands.
“I think, I see, my liberty.”
 
Look way up at the refugee.
Can’t you see the castaway of society.
No wonder he was such a rebel.
Still hurting from all the pains of his past.
Living in a fantasy.
Trying to escape his own reality.
 
From up above beams down a man.
Behind his mask.

Limitless Canadian artist Justin Trudeau

Always remember that it is the active artists who are the soul of the community.

In all of us there is a primordial need to create art in some fashion. Every Canadian, every single one of us, is an artist (although most don't pay attention to that part of them because they're caught up in more "important" things, other life pursuits.

Art can be created using practically anything around us. The types of art is boundless, new forms of art emerge daily I would think. Essentially, art has no limits and artists, also are limitless.

Justin Trudeau is an artist and he's a passionate Canadian. Those are good things to have as a leader at the federal level (rather than the corporate arse kisser we have in office now, sorry couldn't control myself).

I remember what he said in 2005 concerning the mining company's desire to extract from the  Nahanni River NWT Canada "..., "The river is an absolutely magnificent, magical place. I'm not saying mining is wrong ... but that is not the place for it. It's just the wrong thing to be doing."

If you are interested in reading more of my opinions on this then follow up with Why You Should Elect Justin Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister.

Vancouver Conference About Canada's Next Leader Today!

On that note, SFU is having an interesting free conference about the similarities between Justin and his father Pierre. I might attend it but here's the web page for more information and to register for the event:

Thursday, 28 November 2013 from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM (EST)

Trudeau 2.0: Pierre's Legacy and Justin's Future

Fletcher Challenge Theater, Harbour Centre 515 W Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1
Canada

My Heart's Empty of Your Love

Love gave me one more chance for its dance of hot romance.
For the gentle kisses in the night, for every hour to be bright.
Oh each moment with you was like a brand new memory.
Slow walks in the parks were kaleidoscopes of sensory.

Now my heart's empty of your love yet it's such a heavy weight.
Why can't light break through my dark, how long do I have to wait.
For a smile on my face. For laughter to replace my tears.
Find a happy place. My moment of sweet grace. I fear,

I don't know if I can carry our flame forever.
Hoping some day you'll come back to me.
I don't want to give up, never forget, not ever.
I'll be waiting on the shore, always looking out my door for you, my baby.
And when I'm crying in the night, it's 'cause I'm holding on to you tight. It's driving me crazy.

My heart needs a filling up. Oh ya'.
I want to smell the sea, listen to a bee, touch a buttercup.
Now's the time to come, won't see the summer sun this way.
I'm running empty on dreams. I got to find a way to scream. Please fill me up!

Will the rest of my days be spent wasting away.
Trying to get back my favourite yesterdays.
And I don't seem to have the will to get any stronger.
And I know I can't keep holding on much longer.

get over her they say, you've got to find a way.
Break through the stormy clouds and get into the rays.
Go out amongst the crowds. Move yourself along.
Suck it up and let her go 'cause it's time you sing a different song.

I don't know if I can carry our flame forever.
Hoping some day you'll come back to me.
I don't want to give up, never forget, not ever.
I'll be waiting on the shore, always looking out my door for you, my baby.
And when I'm crying in the night, it's 'cause I'm holding on to you tight. It's driving me crazy.

My heart needs a filling up. Oh ya'.
I want to smell the sea, listen to a bee, touch a buttercup.
Now's the time to come, won't see the summer sun this way.
I'm running empty on dreams. I got to find a way to scream. Please fill me up!

Nothing's the same since I'm the loser in life's game.
Everything's gone and it's such a bloody shame.
Trudging through another day, trying to drown the pain away. I'll just endure.
It won't always be this grey. My love will come again this way, I'm sure.

I don't know if I can carry our flame forever.
Hoping some day you'll come back to me.
I don't want to give up, never forget, not ever.
I'll be waiting on the shore, always looking out my door for you, my baby.
And when I'm crying in the night, it's 'cause I'm holding on to you tight. It's driving me crazy.

My heart needs a filling up. Oh ya'.
I want to smell the sea, listen to a bee, touch a buttercup.
Now's the time to come, won't see the summer sun this way.
I'm running empty on dreams. I got to find a way to scream. Please fill me up!
I'm running empty on dreams. I got to find a way to scream. Please fill me up!
I'm running empty on dreams. I got to find a way to scream. Please fill me up!