My new friend, Chrissy Davey (aka @craftyfatalist) recently connected with me on Instagram about my embroidered drawings. Serendipitously, she had taken pictures of a street art wall (in the lane behind 119 East Cordova in Vancouver) a few years back- which amazingly turns out to be the wall I worked on with my youth program. She sent me some photos that take my breath away. The wall may be gone. But the ghosts live on.
Photos by Chrissy Davey:
That is why I love the creative process- especially street art. You create, you share, you let go. It deteriorates but leaves a mark in the heart.
Photos of the wall from my archives:
With fondness, I look back through some of my blog posts about the wall. What I love so much about that is the connections made with the artists and with the community…
The month may feel more unstable than it really is. Just remember that it is all driving us to where we need to be. So, take it all in stride and do not resist the energy of change whether it is your inspired idea or someone else initiating a change that affects you.
The biggest area of value reflection is related to things of the earth plane and the physical possessions you have collected over this lifetime. How do you value them? Do you put too much value on something that is not truly important? Do you not value something in your life enough? What have you created in your life that you really would rather not have at this time? Are you cluttered and burdened by too many “things” in your life that you now need to take care of and keep track of?
Regarding my creative process, I welcome the conversations my inner critic instigates. [This is not the same voice that picks at my skull with negative self-judgment. That’s another thing all together].
I have learned how to dance with the inner critic in my art process, welcoming its critique versus criticism, allowing mistakes, experimenting, allowing editing, willing the throwing away of crap. It’s not about silencing the inner critic and pretending EVERYTHING I MAKE IS GREAT. It’s about allowing its presence as a natural part of being a creative human.
The participants in my art sessions have ranged in age from 2 to 105. And depending on the age group, the specific program, the vulnerabilities, the style of the students- the inner critics become vocal in varying ways.
Some inner critics are happy and healthy. There is nothing quite like working on your own art beside a 5 year old who so naturally dances with their inner critic as they work– joyously creating while making decisions on color, shape, style. Happily sharing techniques, insights, asking questions.
But some inner critics are negative, detrimentally vocal and hurting. When do some of us lose this joyous ability to dance with the inner critic? When does it become an inhibiting monster as opposed to an ally? How do we tame it?
Adults in particular struggle with perfectionism during my drawing classes. That is why I don’t hand out erasers (the eraser can become a crutch, and the participant may spend too much time “fixing” as opposed to diving in to the process). That is why I do a follow me technique so that we are all literally on the same page.
I have found an easy and magical way to create joy and surprise in my art classes that in turn surprises our inner critics– collecting and collaging the class’s drawing.
For example, last Monday, I facilitated my third session with older adults in Burnaby. The group bravely dove in to the session. My students quickly realize my exclamations of delight at what they draw are authentic- I get SO EXCITED about the way people make marks on paper.
There is a lot of laughter, a lot of concentration and dialogue, a lot of self-judgment and some express disgust at their drawings. So how do we tame that inner critic so as to not wallow in self-judgment and crumple up our work and throw it into the recycling bin?! How do I lift my students?
The real magic happens with we let go of our work, cut them out and create collages. TOGETHER- the drawings become MAGICAL. The class expresses surprise and delight and take ownership in the most delightful way. One participant expressed her delight- “I thought my drawing was so bad compared to yours and everybody else’s. But when I see it up there now in the midst of the rest of them, it looks so wonderful.” On Monday, we created 4 panels (which will be embellished with feathers and embroidery and exhibited at the residence).
Session 1: OWLS
Session 2: Bunnies
Session 3: Hummingbirds, Ladybugs
It has become a theme in my art teachings- collaging work as a group- be it on the streets or onto boards. I just love it.
Our inner critic is surprised. Our work as a group looks amazing. And we are building CONNECTION. By letting go of our work, by sharing it, combining it, we become a COMMUNITY.
Although her birth certificate says she was born on July 6, 1907, Frida Kahlo told people her date of birth was July 7, 1910. She allegedly did so not to seem younger but simply because she loved her home country, according to The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo filmmaker Amy Stechler. Kahlo adopted a 1910 birthday so that her birth would coincide with the Mexican Revolution and the start of a modern Mexico. [source]
Today’s Frida Study:
(2005) The Diary of Frida Kahlo- an intimate self-portrait. Abrams, New York, in association with La Vaca Independiente S.A. de C.V.
Thank you LAURA MACK for this profound and beautiful gift. It means the world to me.
Journal entry re: Frida:
Frida and the 7 chakras
Seventh Chakra CROWN:Spiritual Centre, Enlightenment– central nervous system, muscular system, skin. I am; I understand.
Sixth Chakra THIRD EYE:Wisdom, intuition, visualization– brain, neurological system, eyes, ears, nose. I know; I think.
Fifth Chakra THROAT:Communication, inner voice, truth, creativity- thyroid, esophagus, trachea, mouth, jaw, teeth, neck, vertebrae. I speak; I express.
I have so much I could write about the two days. But for now I will list just a sample of words I scratched furiously into my SKiP sketchbook…
Radical imaginations, weaving process, verbal to visual, resist, politics of care, intersectional framework, history can be a weapon/tool, mutate change, visible thinking, metaphorical typography, critical creativity, Gutenberg Parenthesis, porous pedestrian, kennings, serendipidoodle, fringed oddity,spurned desire, Sanburgian synthesis, scheduled creativity, the way out of the box is the shackles, pareidolia, storytelling ethics, mark making…
I am so excited to build on the connections made at the symposium.
Some photo highlights from my two days:
A huge thank you to Jason Toal and the entire team for including me!
I’m so excited and honored to be hosting two sessions at SKETCHING IN PRACTICE (SKiP) 2017 June 23-24, 2017 at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre!
SKETCHING IN PRACTICE (SKiP) is a two-day symposium that explores the construction of meanings through sketching. In 2016 we brought in scholars and practitioners from diverse backgrounds to explore the question, What happens when we draw? Last year we looked inward. This year we peer outward, asking Where does sketching lead to action? This year we are focusing on the HOW and WHY particular visual strategies are used to achieve a goal.
Keynote Topic: The average person reads and interprets thousands of images per day–not surprisingly doing most of it with little more than a glance. According to Dr. Andrew Causey, the cost of this massive amount of processing is that we end up missing the deep content and context of the world around us. At the 2nd Annual 2017 Sketching In Practice Conference, Causey will share insights from his recently published book, Drawn to See: Drawing as an Ethnographic Method, on how line drawing can be used to build a more attentive, and deeper form of perception.
Remember | Resist | Redraw: Creating Radical Graphic History Posters with Kara Sievewright and Robin Folvik
Workshop overview: The Graphic History Collective (GCH) is a group of activists, artists, writers, and researchers passionate about comics, history, and social change. In 2017, we launched a collaborative project called Remember | Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Project to critically intervene in the Canada 150 conversation. With this project, the GHC hopes to encourage people to critically examine history in ways that can fuel our radical imaginations and support struggles for radical change in 2017 and beyond.
Workshop overview: Sketching Off the Page takes drawing into the 3-dimensional realm and into a full body physical expression of the elements of visual art as they intersect with the elements of movement. As an experiential learning workshop, participants are taken through a full body warm up that introduces the elements of dance and warms up the mind to creative possibilities linking the visual page to embodied representations. The act of solo and co-operative sketching on paper weaves its way into remarkable ‘sketchings off the page’ : sketchings that invite a sense of presence that moves from the connection of pencil to paper, into body-to-body connections through dance, which further invite the connections of heart and mind. These connections are revealed as complex and profound as they challenge and broaden the perception of what sketching is and what it can be.
Live sketching demonstration / performance: “I practice “nomadic creativity” on a daily basis. I carry a portable studio (backpack filled with drawing & sketching materials) and a sketchbook, looking for hidden corners in coffee shops, where I sketch and draw my ideas. Over time, this ritual has evolved into a large body of works (containing more than thousand drawings). My presentation involves setting up a pop-up studio and performing my sketching rituals. Additionally, I will present my sketchbooks and engage in a conversation with SKIP’s participants. This project/presentation aspires to stimulate creativity and promote sketching as the most versatile and engaging creative strategy.”
Reclaiming Writing – Adapting Writing Systems as an Expression of Cultural Autonomy with Gabe Wong
Workshop overview: Writing is a visual act. How we write is an expression of our culture. Through different orthographies, the form of our writing is loaded with meaning, creating references to a culture’s history and relationships. Often, a writing system can be seen as a product and tool of colonization and assimilation, and once it exists, it cannot be taken away. By reclaiming the way we write and taking ownership of our own writing system, we can also take ownership of our own culture and identity. Even a subtle change in the way we write can be an expression of our individual and cultural autonomy. In this workshop, participants will sketch and develop alternative ways of writing that best represent their culture or history. Culture in this workshop is wide ranging, it can refer to a nation, but can also refer to groups with shared experiences, e.g. second-generation or queer culture. Participants can draw and develop new glyphs, draw new calligraphic approaches or explore different ways to writing. They will then share their developments, through their novel writing, with their peers.
How smooth is a mountain? Exploring the texture of lived space with Suk Kyoung Choi
Workshop overview: We attempt to communicate when we draw, but how do we connect conceptual form with the marks we make? Does this connection suggest we live in similar or very different visual worlds?This workshop explores the use of drawing to explore the textural geometry of embodied space. The workshop will take the form of a mediated experiment where participants sketch their interpretation of an automatically generated inspirational phrase describing a scene. Starting from a brief presentation of my research interest in the conceptual metaphors of texture and their relationship to environmental frequency, we will explore our individually embodied understandings of the space – time we inhabit. This exercise offers an increased awareness of how meaning is wrapped up in embodied (personal) metaphor, and a deeper understanding of how we may access previously hidden dimensions of experience. Come to experiment, explore, reflect, and engage in imaginative play! Drawing reaches into the subconscious: If you can feel you can draw. All levels of drawing welcome.
Peripatetic lines: on reading (and ‘writing’) wordless stories with Stef Lenk
Workshop overview: The intent of this workshop is to introduce the skill of ‘reading images’ without language as a crutch. I will present two self-created wordless graphic narratives; participants will ‘read’ and then write their interpretations down. We will then share and compare these interpretations, discussing what does and doesn’t work (relative to the initial goals of the narratives), how visual stories differ from text narratives in terms of reading experience, and how visual metaphor can open up a story to create more universal significance to audiences.
Workshop overview: Facilitating learners with clients in meetings and ideation sessions in a project-based learning environment is a complicated yet rewarding teaching and learning opportunity. Participants will learn a vocabulary of strategic maps that learners at the MDM Program draw from to organize sessions, rapidly generate ideas visibly, align stakeholders on prioritized needs, identify problems to solve, propel projects forward within limited time-frames and more. Participants will also be exposed to specific use-cases where strategic maps were used in addition to trigger phrases that led teams to draw from specific visual tools and maps during ideation sessions with clients.
Workshop overview: How can we illustrate an idea when all of the actors are not visible or even tangible? We’re familiar with the idea of systems through ecosystems, which manifest themselves in observable natural events. Donella Meadows of MIT applied ecosystems toward human communities, coining the term “systems thinking.” A system is greater than its constituent parts, which interrelate for a natural function or human purpose. Today, systems thinking drives many innovative initiatives in science and economics. Whether the system is natural or human, we can identify common qualities. Patterns of behavior that change over time can be identified, creating surface events. Structures create these patterns, and we can even draw the deeper mystery of how a function or purpose activates these structures. In a system, sketchers can create portraits of actors, contain them in hierarchical frames, and draw relationships with arrows. These parts can then be organized meaningfully in space. In a virtual Realtime Board, we’ll sketch a system that connects seemingly unrelated events—dark matter, the demise of the dinosaurs, and the rise of mammals. We’ll discuss how this exercise applies in practical contexts.
Workshop overview: How students used a comic book app, Blackboard blog and ticking clock to co-create course content and demonstrate social justice action: An example of upstanding to sexism and homophobia. Our learning challenge was to have students generate their own scenarios, stop wrongful behaviour and bring everyone back into right relationships — a process using students own social construction of knowledge. Rather than lecture, we challenged students to dramatize best practice via a series of comic book panels. Teams of students were given an iPad with a comic book app to create the photo-based comic representations of the witnessed scenarios. Then each team contributed its comic book page to our collaborative, “Upstander’s Comic Book” (a.k.a. – a Blackboard blog). Then everyone engaged in rich feedback on each teams comics using the blog comments option. There was one catch — the comics had to be storyboarded, created and posted in less than 10 minutes! Come and join us for this fast and fun session. And yes, there will be a ticking clock!
Participants will learn about Katarina’s 14+ year involvement in Canada’s most important unsolved cold case- The Babes in the Wood (as profiler, researcher, now writer/illustrator) and how she now uses an online weekly serial format (Jan 15-Nov 19 2017) to present her work.
Participants will learn:
• about the case and how Katarina got involved
• how her relationship with the case evolved over time
• how drawing is essential to the work
• how the decision to go online came about
• the importance of visual storytelling and the use of music to enhance the experience
• simple visual techniques to tell their own story
Katarina will share openly about her passion project/life’s work through audiovisual and take the participants through a Lynda Barry inspired story project.
Session 2 JUNE 24, 2017 1:30-2:30 PM:
Drawn Together Wheatpaste/Street Art Project [WORKSHOP]
• learn how creative engagement builds connections, creates safe space and fosters dialogue
• learn about the use of street art techniques to engage community
• experience hands on drawing and introduction to wheatpaste techniques and group will create a temporary mural.
Kat uses a friendly “follow me” approach that takes the participants through in depths drawing techniques. The resulting drawings are cut out and used in a group mural.
No previous drawing experience necessary!
Project tools will be supplied!
This event is held in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s, Faculty of Communication Art and Technology; School of Interactive Art and Technology; Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences; and the Teaching and Learning Center.
Cost for the two days is $35.00, is non-refundable and is a flat rate for both days. We have made every effort to keep the cost of the symposium down and part of this is managing administrative costs, we thank-you for understanding.
Despite living in Canada most of my life, I had never been to Toronto before this year and now I am on my third visit in just a few months! Sitting at the table in my suite in Etobicoke [early morning preparing to co-facilitate with Beverley Pomeroy 3 days of engagement work with managers- work that includes mindmapping, personal coaching, team building, mindfulness, restorative practices, communication, problem solving, empathy, collaborative healing, circle dialogue], I look over notes I wrote on the plane regarding my impressions of Toronto. These thoughts have been stewing for a few days and though in my head the words seem to unfold lyrically and effortlessly, and I am able to put into words what these visits have meant to me- when I try to type them out, they feel stilted, underwhelming and insufficient.
I was “warned” before coming to Toronto the first time (by quite a few people actually) that my facilitation style and creative engagement methods would likely not be met with enthusiasm or warmth. That there are no trees, that the weather is shit, that it is flat and grey and fast, and angry.
I was also “warned” I would love it, relish in the speed, adore the culture and neighbourhoods, feel the buzz. And told repeatedly, please don’t move there.
There seems to be a metaphor to these Toronto trips that go beyond just travel, work, socializing.
I was lucky enough, blessed beyond words, to be hosted with immense generosity by Beverley and Catherine and staff, excited to work when visiting (which gives such in authentic experience and enriching vibe to the trips), to meet amazing people and also to be shown the magic of (what I can only call ) literary Toronto by my dear friends Matt and Owen.
Matt and Owen drenched me in history, and neighbourhoods, and culture and literature reference. So my total of 8 day (soon to be 12) view of Toronto may either be really skewed or right on the mark. Well, no matter- it’s my version, my view and I continue to be inspired by the energy of this city. I know my short visits have not allowed me to know what it is like to LIVE and STRUGGLE and GROW here, but my experience has fuelled my personal outlook and creative process. These Torontonian days are a metaphor for new chapters, new possibilities, new uncertainties and new courage at HOME and in the WORLD and in my CREATIVE PROCESS, my HEART and my MIND.
Beware! I now know a language so beautiful and lethal
My mouth bleeds when I speak it.
– Gwendolyn MacEwen
I pulled an angel card before I left home yesterday, asking for a message from mom and dad really: what this third trip means, what to pay attention to:
Some incoherent scribbles on the plane:
Neighbourhoods like the District, Kensington Market, Danforth, the Kip
Literature of MacEwen, Attwood, Ondaatje…
The Centre for Social innovation
The ravine, the bridge, the old mill
The buses and the subway
The Ontario house
Restaurants like Ruby Watch Co
Maps, maps, maps
My own room
Cheetos and Mars bars
Shakespeare in the hotel lounge
Anxiety free airplane rides
U of T
Pasting Tobey and Gwen
Paper, felt, tape and drawings
Owls and Hugs
Raise a glass to those passed, passing and newly arrived
THIS POST DEDICATED TO MATTHEW ROY, OWEN MCEWEN, CATHERINE WALLBANK, BEVERLEY POMEROY
IN THE MIDST OF COMMUNITY CENTRE ACTIVITY, WITH KIDS PLAYING BASKETBALL AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF ALL AGES WALKING THROUGH, DRAWN TOGETHER WORKED OUT BEAUTIFULLY. WE HAD THREE TABLES SET UP IN THE HALLWAY(!) AND THERE WAS A GREAT TURNOUT! THE BUSYNESS WAS INVIGORATING AND PARTICIPANTS WERE AMAZING!
HUGE THANK YOU TO ALISON DONNELLY WHO FACILITATED THE COLLAGE PORTION!
Join me on for BIG DRAW VANCOUVER on October 1 2016 10:30 AM-12:30 PM PT at Strathcona Community Centrein Vancouver BC (601 Keefer) as I host a two hour drawing session!
My fabulous artist friend, Alison Donnelly, will be co-hosting!
Try out chinamarkers on newsprint, add to a community art project using wheatpaste, join in as I run through some simple drawing lessons! You can finish some of my pre-prepped drawings, or draw whatever you like!
As this is a wheatpaste project developed from my initial obsession (that began in 2012) with the street artist JR…
I knew the Punky Lake project had to include photo portraits. Rick was THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER for this purpose! He not only has a profound gift for the visual but also a demeanour that makes even the shyest participant at ease in front of the camera!
He also has an ability to go with the flow! It was only Day 1 and we were all just getting to know each other, but Rick managed to take EXTRAORDINARY portraits of the participants and support staff. I am BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of these faces as captured by Rick.
I will let Rick explain:
“Sarah Jackman from The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society offered me the opportunity to photograph the Journey and Mind Mapping Art Camp with Kat Thorsen. My first task was to head out to the Old Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek and take portraits of all the youth and adults involved in the camp and have 8×10 prints made. The prints would then be cut out and become part of the mural project with in the gymnasium. Once I got there Kat had already got the group to all sketch pictures of raccoons and after lunch started teaching the group how to sketch anatomical hearts. These would all get incorporated in to the mural. Everyone was great, of course you get the few shy ones but we managed to get them in front of the camera.” – Rick Magnell
“Day 3 was where I brought out the 8×10’s to be wheatpasted on the mural and documented the rest of the day. The day concluded with a closing circle where everyone shared their thoughts about the art camp. Two of the youth were presented drums along with Kat who received a drum herself as thanks. Elder Gary finished the circle with a drumming song. Gary has some incredible stories, I did approach him to see if he would be interested in my Story project. Overall it was a great group and a great experience for myself to photograph. I appreciate the opportunity and it was great to meet Kat and everyone else involved in the project.” – Rick Magnell