Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Browsing Art

For an artist, the best inspiration and motivation comes from looking at other artists' work. This is one of the big reasons why creative people love to travel and soak in the creativity that other countries have to offer. After my trip to New York and seeing the vast amount of artwork I did, I was exploding with inspiration and the first thing I wanted to do was hurry home and let it all out in my sketchbook.

There are other ways to be exposed to other artists' work without having to spend hundreds of dollars to travel to another country. There are so many websites designed specifically for artists to exhibit their work and this way you can browse other peoples' artwork as well.

Sometimes I'll spend hours at night browsing these websites. Looking at other artwork will help you cook up ideas for your own. I definitely think every artist should be constantly exposed to other artists. It is why my four years at MTA were as successful as they were. Working in a studio environment with other artists really helped trigger inspiration for my own ideas. Professors constantly encouraged us to get up and look at everyone else's work.

One website that many MTA Fine Arts students participate in is www.feelsgood.ca/ which states it's "for anyone who loves the emerging artwork and underground music scene."

Another website is www.stumbleupon.com/ which I've blogged about before. All you have to do is check off "art" in the category section and you'll be browsing through fantastic artworks/

Here are a few websites that I've bookmarked that you should check out (click on the name to redirect to the website and click on the picture to enlarge):

Claire Morgan Installations

Sam Jinks

Moolf Street Illusions

I've discovered just these few of many websites on Stumbleupon.  If you sign up (for free) you can save which websites are your favorite.  It's such a great website to browse art.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Prince of the Dolls.

We all have certain "things" that remind us of the holidays.  Some people say clementines taste like Christmas.  Some people may say that ginger bread cookies fresh from the oven smell like Christmas.  We've been gathering memories for years associated with this time of the year.  There is something that, for me, is Christmas.  

The Nutcracker Prince.  The cartoon from 1990.  I became completed obsessed with this movie and have watched it countless numbers of times.  When I was little, I wanted so much to be Clara and to fall in love with The Nutcracker Prince, like her.  I had my very own wooden Nutcracker Prince doll that I envisioned coming to life as soon as I fell asleep.  I treated him with as much care and love as Clara did.  

I remember the Christmas when I was nine years old.  All I wanted was ballet slippers - just like the ones Clara unwrapped on Christmas Eve.  I was never so excited when I unwrapped them.  I ran into my parents' room - waking them up - showing them what Santa had brought me.  I slipped my feet into them and danced to The Nutcracker Prince soundtrack. I wore them everywhere; Eventually, through the years, they turned rugged and torn and were much too small for me, but I still tried to squeeze my feet into them.  I was terribly sad when my pink ballet slippers were thrown out.

Sometimes, it's hard to get into the Christmas mood for whatever reason.  I remember the year my sister couldn't come home for the holidays - it didn't feel like Christmas at all.  Sometimes, all you have to do is take a bite of a clementine, smell cookies baking, or watch an old movie to snap you back into the spirit again,

I only wish I had pink ballet slippers to dance in.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas is for Children

Do you remember when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?  Did the magic of Christmas fade a little bit?  Christmas Eve was your most favorite memory where you would anxiously lay in bed, hurrying to sleep so you could wake to a tree full of presents; however, the more you thought about it, the farther from sleep you traveled.  Did that excitement and anticipation grow dull as you got older?

I don't think it did for me and my family.  My sister is 34, my brother is 27, and I am 22 (well, almost).  We still go through the same Christmas routine like we did when we were fifteen years younger.  My sister and I stay up Christmas Eve, watching Christmas specials that are taped on a video cassette tape.  Then we watch The Nutcracker Prince while sipping on hot chocolate.  Mum, busily wrapping presents, hands them off to us to Jenga-style stack them under the tree.  We write a letter for Santa and leave him a snack.  My sister and I have a sleepover in her room where we brush eachother's hair and play card games.  We say our prayers and eventually fall into a sleepless dream.  

I wake up and go out in the living room to see the tree exploding with presents, the stockings filled and Santa's responding letter.  I'm allowed to open one gift... but it has to be from Santa.  I do, but not before I grab my stocking and empty its contents on the floor.  My sister wakes up and comes out after me.  She looks through her stocking and opens up her one gift.  We're anxiously waiting for our parents to wake up so we can finish destroying the tree's contents.  My brother wakes up and joins us.  After three or four trips into Mum's and Dad's room, they finally come out.  Dad starts making breakfast.  I can smell and hear the sizzle of the bacon from the kitchen as my mother points out "the bow bag", "the wrapping paper bag" and "the tissue bag", instructing us to put the reusable goods in its proper bag.

It's mostly the same today - only slightly different now that my sister is married and has a baby.  We've still been writing Santa letters for years, and the gifts still aren't put under the tree until my sister, my brother and me are asleep.  We caught Mum once... with a massive garbage bag, emptying presents that were tagged "Love Santa".  It was early in the evening and we weren't close to being tired.  My brother and I snapped at Mum.  She laughed and took the presents back in her room.  

We still did the Santa routine, long after the belief of Santa was gone.  But that magic is more vivid than ever now that my two and a half year old little nephew will be waking up with us on Christmas morning.  It's not even close to Christmas eve but I'm so excited.  I feel like I'm six years old again and I can't wait for Santa to come.  I'm most looking forward to my nephew's reaction and getting excited with him.  

I'm excited because Christmas is when my family and I are together once again - and it's that magic of Santa that makes us all feel like children again.  It's that magic of Santa that makes us all feel so close.  It's that magic of Santa that makes us forget the stress of the world and makes us believe that nothing else matters but being together.

In a way, we never stopped believing in Santa... and I don't think we ever will.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lack of Sleep

It's after two in the morning and I just finished chowing down a bowl of delicious Kraft Dinner. Ah, yes... it's that time of the season for all-nighters, powered by Redbull, consisting of non-stop studying and note-writing (and/or painting).

At the end of every semester, my body is triggered off schedule; I find it almost impossible to sleep comfortably... or at all. I lay in bed, for hours, tossing and turning, thinking of all the work I could be doing. It's not that I don't want to sleep. I love sleep and if I could sleep I most certainly would. But I just can't. I've tried, trust me. I'm physically and mentally exhausted but as soon as my head hits the pillow I immediately transform into the Energizer Bunny, hungry for activity.

So, I can either lay in bed - restless - for the majority of the night... or I can stay up and be productive.

Exam period, for me, is like every night is Christmas Eve and no matter what I can't do, I CANNOT sleep. I'm certainly not excited for anything. Wait. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm just so excited for my work to be finished, for me to travel home and for Santa to come.

I can almost see the finish line... it's just buried in a mountain of notes and half painted canvases. Oh yes, that's what it's like. Alright, let me put it another way:

You're asleep and dreaming. You're trying to get to the end of the hallway to exit the door. You're walking and the door keeps getting farther away. You run, but you can't fun fast enough. It feels as though a massive thousand-pound weight is holding you back. Why?

You're asleep and dreaming. Someone is chasing you. You try to fly. You usually succeed in flying for leisurely purposes; However, the one time you actually need to get away... you lack your flying abilities. They've diminished. You can only float up a few feet off the ground before the bottoms of your feet pitter-patter against the gravel again. Why?

You're asleep and dreaming. You meet someone famous. You're excited. You can't believe it. You try to find a pen to get an autograph. The pen is ink-less. You reach for your camera only to realize you'd left it in your dresser drawer. You run back to your house to find it, knowing for a fact that that the camera is there. It's not there. Why?

Now, combine all of those feelings into one and it's exactly what I'm experiencing right now. I'm awake and not happy about it. I'm trying to get work done. Nothing is going my way. I can see the finish line, but no matter what I do I can't get closer to it. I'd love to sleep it all away... but I can't.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guys Hate Twilight.

People, mostly men, are complaining about Twilight/New Moon... saying that it's demeaning to men.  It's obvious from the hollers in the mostly-female theatre audience that the men are being objectified.  For most of the movie, Jacob and his gang are shirtless, showing off their chiseled bodies.  Bella, the main character, is the one who drives the plot forward.  And, as physically powerful as Jacob and Edward are, they fall weak to Bella whom they love.  She is the one who holds the control and decided who she wants to be with, therefore, she's the one that drives the plot forwards.

I know several guys that these movies actually infuriate.  They claim Twilight/New Moon sets fantasized expectations that real guys feel they could never live up to.  Many guys are pissed that Stephanie Meyer is projecting these fake men who are highly sexualized.  These guys sit, uncomfortable, in the movie theatre while girls shriek when Jacob whips off his shirt.

I'm curious as to why men are uncomfortable with their own objectification while women are basically numb to theirs;  Women are expected to say nothing when Megan Fox's ass is plastered all over the Hollywood screen.  It's because it is the norm.  Since the production of old Hollywood films, females have been objectified on the screen in order to satisfy the male gaze.  The protagonist has usually been the male, withholding the qualities that make him ideal:  strong, powerful, handsome, wealthy, while the female is a representation of a sexual fantasy from a male point of view: sexualized, beautiful, isolated, weak.  This is the way it has been throughout the years and, unfortunately, will continue to be.  The female character performs for the male.  In Laura Mulvey's essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, she states that "as the narrative progresses [the female] falls in love with the main male protagonist and becomes his property, losing her outward glamorous characteristics."

So, again... why is it that men feel uncomfortable with their own objectification?  I commend Stephanie Meyer for switching it around and objectifying men on screen.  It's really one of the first movies produced purely for the female gaze and I'm not complaining... and I really think guys shouldn't either.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome December

Wow.  December, already. 
This is the last week of classes for this semester.  CRAZY.  I've been buckling down in the studio painting as many portraits as I can.  My ideas for my 4th year project has shifted a bit.  I'm cropping out the diary dates and making it primarily about the people.  I don't think the portraits I've painted need any more information.  I think they're enough as it is.  

I'm working primarily in watercolour paints.  I've definitely feel like I've mastered the medium and I feel most comfortable working this way.  The portraits are fairly large... about 2ft x 3ft.  They're fairly loose in structure... I like them that way.  I like the "incomplete" look to them.  It's definitely the body of work that I'm most proud of.  I enjoy painting them.  Portraits used to be such a chore.  If you remember some of my previous entries, I've ranted about how much I loathe painting portraits... but it's so therapeutic to me now.  Maybe it's because I know can relate to the people I'm painting.

I've been looking at options overseas for next year.  The majority of applications are due in January and February which means I'm going to need a decent amount of work to document for a submission portfolio.  There are many MFA programs all over the world... so I've been looking into them.  I've been looking at one in New York, London and one in Ireland.  My other options are NSCAD in Halifax for a Visual Arts Certificate in Studio (a sort of prep for MFA)... or Cape Breton University for Bachelor of Education to teach art in high schools.

There are so many options and I'm glad I'm not narrowing my search to one one or two options.  This is a big decision in my life and I really have to weigh all of the possibilities.  Remember that when it comes time for you to take that next big step after graduation (high school or university), that you really think about all the possibilities.  This is the rest of your life that you're dealing with!  

Dream big and don't limit yourself.  Don't give up on what you want to do.  Have faith in yourself.  The only thing that's stopping you from reaching that dream is yourself.  Remember that!  Nothing is standing in your way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Home Away From Home

You're in high school.  You're graduating this year and weighing your potential options for next year.  You know one thing for sure - you want to leave home.  The thought of being free from your parents' supervision and rules is exciting.  You're swaying towards that acceptance letter from the university a few hours away from home.

Are you ready to move away from home?

You really have to think about this before deciding because if you're not ready than it can completely ruin your university experience.  You don't want to end up living on your own, and then being anxious to visit home every possible weekend that you can.  I know people that have done this... people who weren't ready to move away from home... and it inevitably interfered with their university experience.  Let me tell you one thing right now:  The more you go home, the more you want to go home.  And that can not only interfere with your university experience, but also your grades.  

Mount Allison is my home away from home, and it's very seldom that I travel the ten hour bus ride home.  It's been this way since first year.  I, definitely, was ready to move away from home after graduating high school.  The years after high school are the best years of your life
 and you shouldn't dread them.  You should want to be away.  You should want to actively participate in your home away from home

Sometimes we end up in ruts and we want to travel home to be in a comfortable place surrounded by our family.  I've been in this boat before too.  Last year, I traveled home a lot for various reasons because I was in that rut.  I was anything but motivated.  However, the more I traveled home, the less connected I felt to my home at university... and the less I wanted to get back on track.  Sometimes it's easier to hide at home, but I'm here to tell you (since I've been on both side of the fence) that the best thing you can do is not to hide.  The more you hide the less likely you want to be found.

If you come to Mount Allison, you don't want it to be just a place where you come for an education.  Don't hesitate to really settle in and make it your home.  Learn to love it and be comfortable within it.  There's so much more to do than just go to classes.  Use the weekends, instead of traveling hours on the road to go home, to explore Sackville - your town away from your town.  There's so much to be seen and to be done.  Do not hide.  The more you hide, the less likely you want to be found.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I dream a dream

I ordered my grad ring today... it's 10K white gold, size 7, has the Flying A symbol, BFA on one side, my graduating year on other, my initials "BMBM" to be engraved on the inside... and it's four hundred bucks.  $405.67 to be exact.  

But, it's something that I'm going to wear with pride for the rest of my life.  It's really sinking in that I'm graduating.  I'm so excited but so stressed at the same time.  I've spent the last few days weighing my options for next year and filling out applications for various schools.  It would be a lot easier if I knew what I wanted to do... but I really haven't the slightest clue.  If only this decision about life was as easy as it was when we were in preschool;  We always knew exactly what we wanted to be when we grew up as we excitedly scribbled it in pictures on construction paper with crayon.  It's funny because that's essentially what I do everyday... "scribble pictures on construction paper with crayon" but it still isn't clear.  I always wanted to be an artist.  That was what I envisioned myself as when I was in preschool; However, I never knew the complexities revolved around wanting to be an artist... and the lack of stability that may or may not accompany it.

So, I'm in school striving to reach that dream that I always imagined for myself... but I'm not entirely sure where to go from here.  I've gone to school, high school, university - all along avoiding the questions I constantly bombard myself with, "Well, Beth... where do you go now? What is it that you want to do?"  I've been plummeting money towards a dream that I already accomplished when I was 6 years old, scribbling drawings on construction paper with crayon.  I am an artist.  I've always been an artist.  Am I more of an artist now than I was then?  If someone gave me a piece of paper and crayon and asked me to draw what I wanted to do with my life would I come up with the same answer?

If I knew what I wanted to be, would this graduating process be a whole lot easier?  I'm not entirely sure that it would be.  Maybe it's not knowing the makes this process and life more interesting.  

How boring life would be if we knew exactly how it was going to play out.  Life can get pretty boring when it's all routine.  It's not knowing that keeps us on the edge of our seats.  When we're watching a movie for the first time it is interesting and captivating because we don't know what's going to happen;  However, a movie becomes less intriguing when you know exactly when you're going to jump and when your emotions are going to be triggered.

Once upon a time I wanted a plan.  I would become reliant on plans that I'd establish for myself.  However, if we have plans and they don't work out the way we want it leads to nothing but disappointment.  So, maybe I should just embrace not knowing and pop some popcorn.  Our life is our own movie and we are the ones creating the script as we go.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick Update: NYC

I found in New York what I was hoping to find in San Francisco... a whole lot of motivation.
NYC was imploding with creativity and being in the presence of such fascinating contemporary artwork was inspiring.

We saw a lot of prodigious museums including The Metropolitan, MOMA, The New Museum, Whitney, and The Guggenheim but what really sparked my interest was the Chelsea Galleries.  Chelsea, where we were staying in NY consisted of several streets full of warehouses made into galleries, showcasing contemporary artwork.  It was all new so it captured me in a way that a Degas painting couldn't.  

Elizabeth Peyton is definitely one of my favorite artists, and now: Hope Gangloff.  Peyton does amazing watercolour portraits.  Her artwork is something I keep in mind when I make my own watercolour portraits.  After being introduced to the intense pen marks that make up Gangloff's portraits, I'm motivated to capture that same energy in my own art.

The trip consisted of mostly doing what we wanted on our own time.  We had a lot of time to explore the city and do whatever we wanted.  We explored China town, Little Italy, trekked to the top of the Rockefeller Centre, journeyed through Times Square and shopped on Fifth Avenue.

While eating at The Half King in Chelsea, we noticed that Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl) was eating in the booth behind us.  I approached him with my napkin and pen while my friends hid in their seats and asked him for his autograph.  It was exciting.  I fought every urge to throw up, faint, and salivate in front of him.  I succeeded.  He signed my napkin.  I was happy.  I was on celebrity watch for the rest of the week but all else I saw was The Naked Cowboy, haha.

It was a fantastic trip but certainly exhausting.  I'm glad to be back so I can catch up on all the work I missed.  I can't believe there are only three weeks left in the semester!  THREE WEEKS.  It makes me so excited but I also want to vomit, haha.  I have so much to do before Christmas break comes.

Alright folks,
I better get ready for class!

Take care until next time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Illusionist

I sat in the stadium chair, my hands gripping my knees trying to stop them from quivering.  I'd been waiting for this moment since I was eight years old.  The never ending smile was plastered across my face as I watched the titles on the big screen in front of me. "World's Best Illusionist!" "20 Emmy Awards!" "A Living Legend!"

I'd been a fan of David Copperfield's for longer than I can remember.  I used to watch his tricks and illusions we'd taped off of TV over and over again, the same captivation and excitement overtaking me each time.  He was always someone I had longed to see but never thought I'd actually get to.  So, when I found out he was coming to Cape Breton I thought it was a joke.  I never ever thought that I'd actually get a chance to see the magician of our lifetime.

So, I sat in the stadium chair... awaiting his arrival.  I'm going to relate it to Johnny Depp's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I felt like one of the golden ticket winners, anxiously waiting to see if Willy Wonka would live up to the expectations that have been built up over the years.  There was a grand introduction, just like in the movie... which built up my expectations even more.  David Copperfield eventually appeared on a motorcycle... which came out of nowhere... which was incredibly fascinating.  The box was empty... then it wasn't.  

I sat, like the golden ticket winner, peering up at the stage thinking, "You're Willy Wonka?"
I think I was expecting the same David Copperfield that was present in the tapes I'd watch at home.  He was lacking ambience... charm; He wasn't as suave as I was hoping he'd still be.  I was expecting him to be... tall and handsome, but there was something very disproportional about him.  

Nonetheless, the show blew me away.  My only complaint was that I wish it was longer than an hour.  I think, in some ways, I was disappointed because I was expecting someone phenomenal... while for the most part, it was all the same tricks I've already seen.  I was hoping to see some favorites that he didn't perform.  I'm sure he puts on a very different show in Las Vegas.  Cape Breton is a small area and the tickets were less than a hundred bucks - so, the show was a hundred dollar show.  I'm sure in places where there's more money, he can afford to put on a more extravagant show.

He did this trick... which was pretty incredible, haha.

I was heartbroken to find out David Copperfield is old, decrepit and mullet-less.  However, if you ever get the chance to see him, I definitely recommend it.  I assure you you'll be blown away by his illusions and magic.  He's more than just a magician... he's a performer.  He builds a relationship with the audience... though, I do agree with other reviews that his show is a little "mechanic" now.  But, I guess... maybe that's inevitable since he's been doing it repeatedly for so long.

What I was expecting:

What I got:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paranormal Activity Review

I’m a particularly strict critic when it comes to horror films and I’m not especially attracted to films under such genre; However, something about Paranormal Activity’s theatrical trailer and growth in hype captivated me.  Paranormal Activity, a film written and directed by Oren Peli was originally released in 2007, however, didn’t make it to big screens until two years later in 2009.  There was much alteration made to the film, including recuts, editing and alternate endings, in attempt to make it on the big screen.  I’ve seen the original film that was released in 2007 which has a very different ending from what I’ve researched in the version that’s in theaters today.

The seemingly legit documentary centers around a young couple, Micah and Katie who have been together for three years.  Micah purchases a camera in hopes of recording the paranormal phenomena that Katie claims has been haunting her for years. Micah is more fascinated with the technology of the camera than with what’s actually going on with his girlfriend, which shows he is skeptical of her complaints. The “shaky-cam” technique reflects a feeling of intimacy, allowing the viewer to take advantage of the permission authorized to intrude on the couple’s life.  This technique inevitably allows the viewer to relax, familiarly relating the film to their own personal connections with home videos.  Throughout the film, the paranormal activity and strange occurrences seem to heighten as the hand-held camera documents what is going on.

The film successfully builds up anticipation and suspense.  There is an interesting push and pull that I was experiencing while watching the film;  I felt relaxed with the home-video feel and fell in love with the characters, but I was on edge being consciously aware that spine-chilling events would eventually corrupt this feeling of comfortability.  

This film delivers terror triumphantly.  Micah and Katie are an average couple whom most can relate to which makes it easy to emphasize, getting caught up within their situation.  The actors who depict the couple are extremely believable and do anything but come off as a cheap imitation like the characters in the 1999 mockumentary film, The Blair Witch Project.  I was fearful that Paranormal Activity was just to be a knockoff of TBWP.  However, I was anything but disappointed.

The audience is casted as the camera holder, allowing the viewer to easily and unavoidably experience the paranormal activity up close and personal. Paranormal Activity is honest and not exaggerated in a sense that it portrays what I always secretly wanted to encounter:  the evidence of a ghostly presence.  Most horror films consist of inflated, fabricated nightmares with monsters, and unrealistic but horrifying events.  The typical horror film leaves nothing to the imagination while it’s the suspense and the terror of “not knowing” that is evident in Paranormal Activity.  It leaves a lot for the viewer to interpret and imagine, which can be as terrifying as we want it to be.  Even with being scared with the average horror films like, Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th, there’s still the realization that these horror films we watch are at a safe distance from reality.  However, Paranormal Activity is the opposite in the sense that we’re put into the shoes of the camera holder and entrapped within the film itself.  The film ends with the caption, “Dedicated to Micah and Katie” reflecting the feel of an actual documentary which allows the viewer to believe this “mockumentary” is actual recorded evidence of paranormal activity.  The typical horror movie will release its grasp on the viewer, letting them escape and head back into the comfort of reality, while Paranormal Activity doesn’t necessarily give the viewer this safe closure.

I can confidently say that Paranormal Activity is the best horror/thriller film I have seen because it escapes the cliche one would associate with this particular genre and brings to the table a whole new meaning of being scared.  I guarantee you’ll have difficulty sleeping after watching this thriller of a film.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

once upon a time

I'm laying on the floor with my sister.  We're on our bellies, pencil crayons in our hands... colouring the pages of my Beauty and the Beast colouring book.  She's watching Matlock.  I hate this show, but I don't care because I'm spending time with my sister. I'm watching her colour the page, envious of her ability to stay inside the lines.  I try to copy her artistic approach.  

It's a Monday night.  My parents are at a meeting; so, my sister is watching me.  After we colour, she does my hair, paints my nails and puts makeup on me.  It's not actually makeup.  She has one of my storybooks on her lap and she uses her makeup brushes to "dip" into the colours displayed on the cover and then pretends to splash the paint onto my face.  I love the way the soft bristles dance against my face and I laugh as she tickles me with the brush.

My parents come home.  I'm anxious at this point because they promised to bring me home a surprise.  They always brought me home a surprise.  It's a surprise, but at the same time I know exactly what it is.  They burst through the door and I run up and hug them.  They hand me a brown paper bag.  I open it up and smile.  Cream Soda and Sour Cream and Onion chips.  The usual.  I love it.  It was such a treat.


I had an unbelievably rough day.  Murphy's law was definitely slapping me in the face today with the "everything that can go wrong, will" theory.  After class, I stopped by the store on the way home and bought Cream Soda and SC&O chips.  I don't think I've tasted either since before I was ten years old.  Nostalgia is bouncing against my lips.  All my favourite memories are coming back to me now, swamping out the bad day I just had.  

I think we all get overwhelmed every once in awhile, and sometimes not even venting to people will help.  No matter what, they never say exactly what you want them to say.  I think that we can only strive for relief within our selves. We can achieve this by resorting back to a moment in our lives when we were happiest... and reliving those memories, grasping onto those once-felt feelings.  If you grasp hard enough, you can pull them out into your current situation.  And eventually, those feelings you've grasped from your memories will dilute the stress that's trying so hard to weigh you down.

Monday, October 19, 2009

'Cause everyone's your friend in NYC

I signed up for my critique today.  It's at 2:40pm in the crit room in the Fine Arts building on November 2nd.  So, if you want to show up - feel free!

You may be asking what exactly a crit is.  Well, it's a term very familiar to the Fine Arts world.  It's a pretty big deal come fourth year.  In our first three years, we often "critique" eachothers' works to get us comfortable with offering feedback and talking about our own work.

So, each fourth year student signs up for a time slot.  Fine Arts classes are canceled because the faculty attends these critiques.  In the crit room, I will be exhibiting work that I've been working on independently so far.  People, students and staff, will be invited to look around at the artwork and then be seated.  I'll talk about my purpose and methods.  Questions will be asked.  That sort of thing.  If you find yourself bored at 2:40pm on November 2nd, please show up and take a gander at what I've been working on this year!  It's only an "in progress" crit so none of my work is actually complete.  But you'll get a good feel of where I'm going with it all.  I'd love some extra eyes to view and feel free to offer me your feedback.  I'd certainly appreciate how you feel about it!

It's going to be a busy week with preparing for the 2nd.  Here are the events I have to look forward to/stress over:

October 29th
Leave Sackville
Bus to Halifax
Flight to Newfoundland

October 29th-31st
Halloween festivities spent in St. John's

November 1st
Fly back to Halifax
Bus to Sackville

November 2nd

November 3rd
Bus to Cape Breton

November 4th
David Copperfield

November 7th
This trip is "mandatory" to graduate, however, we have to pay for it ourselves.  I'm not complaining about it.  I'm actually really excited;  It'd be much more expensive under any other circumstances like if I decided to go on my own.  I'm... just... broke.  I'm not quite excited about my lack of money.

Ahhhhh.... you can see I have a lot on my plate for the next few weeks.  I have to have everything ready for my critique before I go away to Newfoundland and I'm going to be pretty much nonstop until I get back from NYC.  

I'm so much closer to graduating and I absolutely cannot wait!  I've been thinking a lot about possible options for next year.  I'm almost certain I'm going to be moving to Halifax in May.  I'm more likely to find a summer job there than at home in the Cape.  I'm going to apply to NSCAD.  There are some graduate programs there that I was looking into.  I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with my degree and how exactly deep I want to dig into the fine arts world... but I'm going to use next year to find out.  Eventually, I think I want to get my bED to fall back on.  That way, I'll be able to teach if I wanted to.  But I'm definitely going to strive for something much bigger...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inside my studio

As you may or may not know, I've been writing in diaries and journals since I was eight years old.  It is something I've always loved doing and I've always been passionate about writing.  It's very personal to me; So, I wanted to bring this into my artwork.  I'm making several bodies of work all around the same theme: my diaries.

I've written in my diaries about many different people - some who have impacted my life in a tremendous way.  These people have shaped me into the person I am today; I wouldn't be who I am without the memories I've made with these people and the influence that they've had on me.  

So, I'm doing big watercolour portraits of these people and the title of the work will be a date of a diary entry in which I wrote about them, as well as a line from the specific diary.  The title will become just as significant and meaningful as the artwork itself.  My initial idea was to have my numerous diaries and journals displayed to invite people to flip to the date that's the title of a portrait and read the full entry.  I'm still playing around with ideas and what exactly I want to do.  I've been making color photocopies of my diary entries... I figured I could do something with them.  Perhaps I can make a sculptural book out of them.

Also, I have a bunch of 1ft x 1ft canvases; So, I've been scanning and printing out diary entries onto iron-on transfer paper and ironing them onto material.  I plan on stitching them to the canvases and painting/collage-ing  around them.  That's basically my idea for my fourth year project for this semester.  It's very personal but, to me, that's what artwork is about.

Below are pictures I took of my studio!  Sneak a peek at what I've been working on and where I work at.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Put down the cookie

Ok, so it's Sunday night and you're thinking to yourself, "I'm starting tomorrow!"

I've been there before, too.  Many many times.  The thought sets in, more than likely, after you've stuffed your face with countless calories and sat on your ass all day.  So, you want to start eating healthy and exercising.  It lasts maybe a day or two, and then it rains.  You're sitting at the table peering out the window and say to yourself, "Well, I can't go for a walk or run today... so I'll just take a day off."  Then you think, "Well, if I'm taking a day off I may as well eat that cookie that's sitting on the counter calling my name."

And this is when you usually crash into a downward spiral .  You eat like crap and laze around all week.  Then Sunday night comes and you're thinking to yourself, "I'm starting tomorrow!


I'm here to tell you to stop procrastinating and start now!  I'm going to introduce you to my friend, Leslie Sansone.  Her in-home walk program is the best program I've ever been introduced to.  It's motivating and, well, let's face it... some of us aren't physically or mentally equipped to handle the pressures of going to the gym and having to work out in the presence of unbelievably fit people.  It actually nauseates me and makes me less motivated.  So... with Leslie's program you can walk miles upon miles - rain or shine - in the very comfort and privacy of your own home.

You can purchase her DVD's mostly anywhere.  I downloaded a few of her DVD's through torrents online.  I recommend the 4 Mile Super Challenge.

In the summer during camp, my friend Donna and I would pop in the DVD and workout after the kids went to sleep.  The guy counselors would point fingers and laugh at us.  We told them not to laugh until they tried it.  So, they did... and they agreed that it was a super challenge and legit workout.  The workout DVD became something we all did every night as a team.  It felt great to be able to push ourselves to the fourth mile.  It's so rewarding and you feel so great.

Every mile is 15 minutes, so you can decide to quit whenever you want.  I usually try to push myself to go all the way.  The workout is great if you just want to keep healthy or if you're trying to reach a weight loss goal.  The benefits are: a stronger heart and lungs, conditioned muscles which give you a faster metabolism, flexibility and strength! It's so easy and easy enough for absolutely everyone to do it.  

Go to her website http://www.walkathome.com to watch some introduction videos, browse around the website, and read some success stories!  

So... put down the cookie, pop in the DVD and go walk a mile or two.  You'll feel great!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tears For Fears

I was in swimming lessons from ages five to seventeen.  Every Saturday.  When I entered the level where diving was introduced as a new requirement, panic swarmed inside my stomach.  I watched as the instructor showed us how to kneel onto the edge of the pool deck and dive into the water.  My hands clenched by my side and my stomach flopped.  I snuck into the bathroom and waited until I thought my turn to dive had passed.  I did this every and any time we had to do dives.  I managed to avoid conquering my fear for years... until it became time to be a lifeguard.  

I secretly confessed to my Nationals instructor my secret fear of diving.  There was a segment in the course where everyone lined up on the edge of the pool deck.  I watched each and every one of them dive into the water.  They motivated me and encouraged me to do it.  Friends would stand beside me, helping to position my body the correct way for entry.  Their confidence and support helped me overcome the dread associated with diving that day.  I was filled with delight when I finally vanquished what I used to think was out of reach. 

Reliving that day and realizing that it's better to not to repress what intimidates me, still doesn't relieve the pain associated with thinking about what tyrannizes me.  

When I was in Jr. High, I remember stressing to no-end about getting tests back.  My heart would pound in my chest as the teacher would call out names one by one to go up to the desk and pick up your test.  I hated this.  Sometimes I'd tell my teachers I'd rather not know.  Don't get me wrong, I never ever did poorly on a test.  I was a 90's student but it still didn't change the fact that the possibility of doing bad made my stomach ache.  My teachers would laugh, shake their heads, and shove my test in my face.  That same sense of relief I felt when I conquered diving always consumed me when I became conscious of the fact that I did good on a test.

I know it's irrational to run from your fears.  It's irrational to pretend to be happy wallowing in oblivion because we can't repress the unknown forever.  And, when asked "would you rather be hurt by the truth or be happy believing a lie" I always respond "truth" because I'd rather be faced with reality than pretending to be impervious.  

It's hard to face your fears.  But once you do, you can shove them in your past and wave goodbye.  Saying goodbye isn't pretty but it's uglier living a lie.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Studio Space

My studio is my second home.  I'm fairly certain I spend more time there than in my apartment.  I think being in a creative environment will keep the creative juices flowin' all the time.  I'm in the process of making it a little bit more cozy.  There was an old sofa chair left, abandoned, in the corner of my space; So, I bought a green blanket to drape over it.  I'm thinking about bringing my fold up foam bed/chair, so I can just crash for the night if I absolutely have to.

Our professors discourage us from sleeping in the studio, but sometimes if I'm working late nights I'd rather just crash for a few hours and walk home when it's light outside.  I wake up usually around 10am, shower, and get to the studio before noon.  I'll set up and start working, go to class or guard at the pool and then make my way back to the studio for a few more hours.  Because I don't walk the distance home on whatever short breaks I may have, I usually just go to the cafe and buy a sandwich.  The problem with that is... the bucks add up.  I was on the phone with my mother who agreed with me that a mini refrigerator would be ideal.  I can buy one at Walmart for under $100, set it up in my studio and store some food there to get me through the long days and nights.

I'm not sure I've ever been so motivated as I am this year.  The one thing that keeps me motivated is keeping active and busy.  If I break for too long I know that I'll want to keep breaking... which will inevitably lead to slacking.  I need to keep focused!    

I met with Erik, one of my fourth year advisors, yesterday and talked about my ideas for my projects this year.  He gave me a lot of great feedback which pushed my mind to bubble out even more possible ideas.  This is why it's always important to participate in critiques when you can... whether it be class critiques, talking to your professors, inviting people (even Visiting Artists) to your workspace to see what you're working on.  Hearing criticism and hearing what other creative minds have to say will motivate you to go even further with your artwork.  

I'm pretty excited about my ideas for this year and I'll let you in on them as soon as I further develop them.  I'll also take some pictures of my studio space and of what I'm working on so you can have a little peek.  I'll try to have that posted for my next blog.

Remember:  Don't hesitate to drop me a line if you want a tour of the fourth year studios!
Take care, folks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homecoming Weekend

My friend, Emily, and I.

It was quite the eventful weekend, with Homecoming and all.  I think it was my first time taking part in all the weekend's festivities since first year.  I'm definitely glad I did since it's my last year.  I purchased a Game Day shirt from the bookstore, as well as pom poms and a MTA water bottle.  My VISA took a hit but I rationalized it with the fact that it was my last year and I certainly had to represent.  So, I slapped on some face paint and away I went.

I've never seen Sackville pumpin' with so many peeps before.  There were people of all ages scattered everywhere and the traffic was nuts.  Because it was the Fall Fair in Sackville, there were many activities and fun times to be had all weekend, including farmer's markets, bands and music to be listened to, circus rides, various suppers to attend, movie showings, games and lots more fun with even prizes to be won!  It was great to see so many smiling faces.  Sackville certainly is rich with culture and there's such a great feeling when you see so many people taking part in community activities.

You may or may not know that we lost the football game against X.  But it certainly was fun to watch; You inevitably get caught up in the adrenaline rush!  The boys played great and there were so many people there, painted from head to toe, cheering on the Mounties.  It was amazing to see so much support from the community people and students.


I've decided I'm going to take part in Aerobics classes as well as Dance Society classes.  I'm going to have a pretty busy semester indeed.  I think it's easier for me to keep going when I have so much to do though.  My friend, Emily, and I decided it might be both hilarious and fun if we signed up for the Beginner Hip Hop class.  It'll be a fun way to keep fit!  I also decided I'm going to go swim laps at the pool whenever I can.  I used to swim every Saturday for fourteen years.  I miss it - that's for sure.  I never even knew the pool was open for use until the second year.  You can check out the schedule on the Mount A website when it's open for member swims and drop in's.  Just take your MTA student ID with you, and you'll get in for a swim!


Alright folks, it's time for me to get organized for the day!
Take care,

Monday, September 14, 2009


Well, I've thought long and hard, coming up with three vital tips that will guide you through your years at Mount Allison.  A lot of people say you have to learn from your mistakes, but I say you should learn from others' and save yourself the trouble.  So here it goes:

Don't carry your VISA - I cannot stress this one enough.  Use your credit cards for emergency use only.  This doesn't mean taking out a twenty when you're at the Pub to buy extra drinks and ensuring you have enough for a slice of pizza on your way home. I promise you this will happen if you carry your credit card in your pocket (especially when you're at the Pub and you're not in the right state of mind)

Keep your laptop at home - Avoid the temptation of taking your laptop to classes.  This is a common mistake a lot of students make and it inevitably takes a toll on your grades.  Take a notepad and pen instead of typing your notes up on your laptop.  This way, you're forced to pay attention during lectures instead of updating your Facebook status, chatting on MSN and refreshing your Hotmail inbox every ten minutes.  I cannot even count how many times I've witnessed people paying more attention to their computer screens than the professor.  It not only distracts you, but it distracts students around you who actually want to pay attention.  It's extremely hard to concentrate on what my professor is talking about when the person in front of me is chatting about the weekend's events on MSN or playing online games.

Make lists - Lists are extremely helpful and will keep you on the right track.  Put up a whiteboard in your room and write up a list of things you have to do.  You'll feel accomplished and focused every time you scratch something off.  Lists definitely keep me motivated, especially when there's so much I have to do.  It's good to prioritize and not to let everything go until the last minute.  Set goals and makesure nothing stands in your way of achieving them.


On a lighter note, I'm going to introduce you to a pretty amazing website.  It's called, "Stumbleupon".  For those of you who know what this website is, I'm sure you agree with me on its level of awesomeness.  For Stumbleupon newbs, follow along.

Go on over to www.stumbleupon.com - it takes about 20 seconds to sign up.  With registering, you check off some of your interests.  Now, with the click of the "stumble" button at the top of the screen, it will begin to journey you through websites on the internet that (based on what you checked off) will appeal to you.  It's a pretty great website for when you're bored.  I've discovered some amazing, hilarious, entertaining, inspiring and interesting websites.  You can give websites a thumbs up or thumbs down.  It will remember the ones that you've given the thumbs up to.  You should definitely check it out.  I find it more addicting than Facebook... and it's an addiction you don't have to feel bad about it because you're discovering things more interesting than what Jane Doe's status updates.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To 1st, 2nd, 3rd Year BFA Students:

So, after the first full week, a little bit of stress and excitement are lingering in my stomach.  
So, I'll walk you through the steps of what the first week will be like in your fourth year in Fine Arts.  If you're like me, you're not going to have a clue until you actually show up.  I had a basic  understanding of how things were going to work but I wasn't completely educated on the process until this week.

  • Fourth Year Meeting - We had a fourth year meeting for the Bachelor of Fine Arts students in the Fine Arts building.  We were all given "Fourth Year Handbooks".
  • The Head Advisor - a fine arts faculty member, told us how things were going to work this year.  We were informed that he'd be meeting with us a few times throughout the year as a group.
  • Advisors - We have to pick two advisors from the F.A faculty.  These advisors are people who will be advising, assisting and evaluating us in the development of our independent work.  We will meet with these professors regularly throughout the semester.  We can have different advisors each semester.
  • Studio Space - We got assigned our individual studio spaces that will become our home for the next eight months.  Some people have to share due to a lacking number of spaces.
Course Requirements/Expectations:
  • produce a body of work plus studies/explorations relating to this body of work
  • participation/presentation in weekly or bi-weekly group/individual conferences with your advisors
  • produce a formal text addressing creative activity
  • participation in joint advisor Studio Meeting
  • participation/presentation in two formal critiques
  • complete a presentation dossier with labeled documentation of artwork, artist statement, curriculum vitae or resume each semester
  • attendance at all Visiting Artists lectures in the Visiting Artist Program
  • attendance in fourth year workshops:  Artists in a Professional Context
  • participation in New Year Open House studios
  • participation in the BFA graduating show
Overwhelmed?  Well, I certainly am.  It's going to be a tough semester;  There's no one there to hold my hand anymore and I'm working primarily on my own.  I'm the one who creates my own "syllabus", assignments and deadlines.  This year is really going to test my independence, responsibility and ability to prioritize.  On top of the stress of meeting the BFA requirements and working in my studio, I'm lifeguarding when I can at the campus pool, blogging as much as I can, taking two seminar courses, my elective and a correspondence course.

I'm looking forward to it though.  Feel free to drop me a line if you would like to stop by and see my studio space sometime!

Peace, love, art.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back in the Sack

I can't believe I didn't find out about correspondence courses until last year.  If I'd known from the beginning about them, I would've been taking them since my first year at Mount Allison.

So, in case you are in my boat and complete oblivious to correspondence courses I'm going to tell you a little bit about them.

With a wide variety of different courses to choose from, correspondence courses are an alternate way of completing courses needed to earn your degree.  You earn three credits which is equivalent to a course you'd take on campus.  The courses are held three times a year: September, January and May, so you can register for any course for any of these time periods.  You complete the course on your own time, submitting to the professor assigned tasks and essays through mail or e-mail.  

When you register, you get a packet of materials for the course.  I took Canadian Studies in the summer, so I got a booklet full of 12 lectures for the course as well as a list of books I needed to purchase.  Without the stress of due dates, I was able to complete the coursework in my own speed and with ease.  I didn't feel pressure at all and I found the course enjoyable and rewarding.  I completed the five essay assignments and then when I got back to Sackville I wrote the final exam.  

I recommend taking correspondence courses; It's a great way to ease your load in future years.  If I'd known about this, I would've been taking them during my summers off and then I would've had an easier course load in my last year at Mount Allison.

I must say I've never been so motivated to be back at school!  I think it's because I did so well in my summer course.  It has given me drive to stay on top of all my courses this year and to do the best that I can do.  I can't believe this is my last year here.  Realizing this has sent me in a whirlpool of emotions.  I'm a little sad to leave but I'm also excited and proud of myself.  I've learned a lot about myself here and this place has shaped me into a better person.  Realizing that this is my last year also fills me with fear because I'm not sure what I want to do after I graduate.  

I'm not entirely sure what to expect from this year but I know that I'm definitely excited to start the journey to the finish line, here in the sack.  I can't wait to take you along with me!

Feel free to drop me a line anytime: bmmartin@mta.ca
Take care!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Letters to a young artist

My dreams of become an artist have quickly spiraled into becoming a novelist.  It seems as though I've become less passionate about expressing myself onto canvas and have become more passionate about expressing myself through writing.  An artist is someone who expresses themselves artistically, so I suppose a novelist is an artist.  I just realized I'm not sure I want to seek a career in the visual arts as much as I once longed to do.

I e-mailed Lesley Crewe, a well known published writer from Cape Breton, seeking for advice.  So, this advice I'm going to pass onto you. "If your goal is to be published," Lesley wrote, "then you're in for a lot of misery, because getting published these days is pretty difficult." Hmm.  No... the only reason I write is because I love it.  I certainly never had dreams of being published when I was seven, writing down my heart and soul into tattered pages of my Mickey Mouse diary.  Lesley told me if that's my only goal, that I may be waiting a very long time.  This advice is good for anyone seeking fame in the arts... or anything.  Do whatever you want to do... for yourself;  Don't do it for anyone else or for any other reason than that.

"I you write because you want to, and if you write for only yourself, you'll have wonderful writing experience."

I suppose I strive to be a writer for self fulfillment and if I stumble upon success, then kudos!
"But I have a feeling, if writing is your love, then you'll do it for yourself and no one else. That is the best.  That way you're free and not encumbered by what you think others want from you."  That's excellent advice.  This is part of the reason why my love for painting and drawing has diminished into turmoil.  I was under the constant pressure of having to paint and draw what people wanted me to.  It quickly became a chore - a chore I wanted to have done and over with - a chore I wanted to bury in the past.

"Trust yourself and your talent and know that you are a writer when the writing is all that matters to you.  Getting published isn't what makes you a writer.  If you love it more than anything, then you're already a writer."

We are all writers already.  We're the authors of our own lives. We shouldn't live in accordance to other people.  We should live for ourselves and strive for self fulfillment and our own happiness.  Every day is a new page waiting to be filled... so go out and fill it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Note to Frosh:

Well well well,
it's that time again, folks!

I'm sure those of you anxiously clenching your Mount Allison acceptance letters are more than ready to finally leave the house you grew up in.  I know that I certainly was.  My three years at Mount Allison flew by but I'll try to remember back from when I was in your shoes to give you some advice for the next eight months to come.

So, here are some necessities to have packed (especially if you're in residence):
1. A whiteboard for your door. YES YES YES. This is definitely what you need.  Pick up some colorful dry-erase markers while you're at it.  Do you get excited when you get a parcel or letter in the mail? I certainly do.  This is exactly the excitement that tickles your toes when you discover a friendly message on your whiteboard.  Write on your neighbours' and they'll do the same.  It's so much better than writing on Facebook walls!

2. A floor mat to put in front of your door.  S is for Sackville and S is also for SNOW... and LOTS of it! So, it's VERY handy to have something to soak up all the slosh from your shoes when you're after trucking through mountains of snow.

3. Posters, pictures and prettifications.  Keep in mind that your room is going to be your room for the next eight months... so you're going to want to personalize it!  Your room shares the essence of a hospital room splattered with bare walls and emptiness, so be sure to bring things that will make it "you". When new friends visit your room, they'll get to know a lot more about you by its aesthetic appearance... so doll it up!

4. Sandals. Unless you're in Campbell res, you're going to be sharing communal washrooms and showers.  I cringe at the thought of my feet alone... so think about the many peoples' feets that you'll be sharing headquarters with.  Yes.  Pack a few pair of flipflops to sport in the shower.

5. Power bar with surge protection. For some safety reasons (though MANY people refuse to obey this), you're prohibited from using extension cords... so get a power bar or two to supply the source needed for all your electronic junk.

6. Stackable storage bins. These are super super handy. It's hard to keep organized in a small space, especially if you have a roommate. You can NEVER have too many stackable storage bins!  You can get ones in the dollar store in various colours!

7. A Glade plug-in. The preferred snack in residence, for some reason or another, is microwave popcorn.  Sure, it's great at first... but I'm not over exaggerating when I say you'll be walking down the hall to the scent of buttered popcorn every day/night.  You'll need something to mask the nauseating scent(it becomes nauseating after you're forced to consume it every day) so pick up one of these plug-ins and a few bottles of Febreeze.

8. ALARM CLOCK. This is pretty obvious. If you don't have a cell phone equipped with an alarm, you'll definitely need to pick up one of these.  It can be hard to haul your rear out of bed for those 8:30am classes so you'll need an alarm clock with an obnoxious crow for that extra push.

9. QUARTERS. You've probably already packed numerous rolls of quarters.  Now, times it by ten and pack the difference. You really have no idea how many quarters you'll need for laundry. And quarters you have stashed away for laundry will quickly turn into quarters for the vending machines in the lobby. Oh, those vending machines will come in handy to quench your late night cravings for munchies.

10. A ridiculous amount of warm clothes. If you haven't read my blog on Sackville winters, click here. So, don't forget to pack your scarves, mits, hats, etc. in order to survive snowy Sackville storms.

Hopefully, this blog will be of help to you while you're double checking your packing list!  Look me up when you get to town and I'll be more than happy to show you the ropes.

Take care for now!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


When the counselors go to camp, we go to camp prepared. And by prepared, I mean fully equipped with the following: saran wrap, tin foil, multiple rolls of duct tape or any kind of tape, string and rope. We are fully prepared for war. And by war, I mean a week of prankfest.

It's become a little bit harder to get away with planning pranks when we know eachother and eachother's daily schedule's in and out. We know right away when one of the guys are missing or if something fishy is going on. And they usually sense when we're up to something. Two weeks of camp have gone by with harmless pranks and we all still await for the extravagant ones that we are seemingly oblivious to.

Last summer, the female staff got up at 4am in the morning during the last day of camp. During the week at camp we'd carefully snatched the male staffs' car keys. We parked their three cars in the middle of the field and proceeded to wrap them in saran wrap, wrapping paper and post-id notes. We'd been stealing their clothes all week and froze them. So, we took their frozen clothes and placed them neatly on the designated cars. We tied their cars together with rope and just taped random objects (whatever we could find) to their cars. They didn't know what to think when they woke up in the morning and saw it. Their reactions were absolutely hilarious and they have yet to get us back for this top of the line prank.

The staff form different alliances, banding together. Last week, one of the female volunteers was "on the guys' side" but was secretly telling us everything the guys were planning. So we were one step ahead of them. However, I'll give it to the guys. They did get us good. We'd been sneakily trying to get their car keys again. For example, Morgan tossed Liam his car keys in the air and we snatched them. I announced that was too easy and we gave them back. I knew it wasn't Liam's keys. They were trying to fool us. This happened a few more times. We then found Liam's keys in the couch. Later, we saw him searching through the cushions cursing. We snickered. We set our alarms and woke up at 4am. We creeped our way up to where Liam's car was. I went to open the door... the key wouldn't work and neither did his automatic car starter. We were livid. We turned around to go back to bed when Liam rolled out from under a tree, shined a flash light at us and said, "FAIL!"

They've only been playing defense so far. But we have a feeling they're cooking up something. I head back to camp for the week again tomorrow with my necessary tools for any pranks. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Canoe Adventure

We were getting ready for a little canoing trip. Three female counselors, myself, and 7 campers. There weren't enough life jackets for everyone, so Donna and I said we'd be ok without wearing one. I asked Lana, the director, is this was ok. She replied, "Yes, you know how to swim.. and Beth, you're a lifeguard." I nodded in agreement and we headed towards the water for our canoe adventure.


I sat in the canoe, paddling as hard as I could with little to no progress. I was in a forever fight with the current's waves which were pushing effortlessly against me. I tried to remain calm so the camper in my canoe would believe I knew what I was doing. I concluded that I wasn't going to win the fight. I hopped out of the canoe. The water's coldness creeped through my body and I cringed. Rocks and oysters clawed at my feet but my face remained made of stone. I hauled the canoe to the shore. Another canoe full of campers floated down with the current. I swam over to their canoe, fighting against the current, and hauled it to shore. I told them to sit tight.

The last two canoes were on there way towards us. I was yelling at them to turn around. That failed. I swam through the current once more, wondering why this day of all days was the day I was stuck without a life jacket. I hauled two of the canoes together. I tried to get everyone out of the current but it just kept getting worse and worse. I yelled to a fellow counselor that we'd have to go back and get the male staff for help. Two canoes managed to turn around and were heading back towards the camp to flag down the rest of the staff. I peered out at the canoes fighting to head back towards the camp and concluded there was no way there were going to make it back quickly; The wind was too strung now. I stood up to waist in the water with my scraped feet. I decided I'd take the road back. I ran through the woods, telling the campers and two staff that were stuck to stay put while I'd go get help.

I never ran so fast in my life. I flagged down a truck and breathlessly told them the situation. He told me to hop in while he drove me back to the camp. I ran to the main building, my shoes being kicked in the air and grabbed the airhorn. I blew it twice and proceeded to sprint towards the beach were the kids and male staff were. I ran as fast as I could. Morgan, the lifeguard, saw me with worry and question in his eyes. I collapsed to the sand, clenching my sides as I gasped for breath. "Canoes.... stuck.... current.... help," is all I managed to squeeze through each breath. I managed to explain what had happened and we all headed back to the camp. Liam, Morgan, and I headed in a car and truck to where the canoes were stuck. We drove the campers and canoes back to camp.

It certainly was an adventurous day.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm so sorry for my lack of updates lately.  I've been ridiculously busy with my art and with getting ready for CAMP CAMP CAMP!  I can't even express my excitement for camp.  Although, I'm a little worried because our little camp is fighting to survive and if we don't get an increase in registration numbers within the next two weeks before the first week of camp starts, it's not going to be good.

Sydney Presbytery Camping Program, formerly known as Mira Pines, is the same camp I've attended since I was nine years old.  When I was sixteen and seventeen, I volunteered my whole summers there and then the past two years I've worked there.  This year will be my third.  As a camper, the week I spent there was easily the best week of my summer.  Some of my most favorite memories are of the many nights I spent at the camp.  There is no greater feeling than at the end of the week you get when you hear the campers tell their parents how much of a great time they've had and that they can't wait until next summer.

There was a huge controversy so blown up into the realm of irrationality that I can't even tell you what it was about.  Something along the lines of a contract and lack of money made "them" (whoever "they" are) force us out of the campsite that held a home in our hearts for years.  We had to basically move to another campsite.  We were at two different ones the last two years, and our original campsite has been torn down to the ground.  The same bunks I slept in and chalked my name across with crayon no longer exist.  Mira Pines Campsite, which was once full of the anticipation of camp to start, has been put to rest.

"Different Site, Same Spirit" has been our slogan for the past two years but we've attended many meetings in which the existence of camp in the future was debated.  The camp registration fees for our camp have increased brutally, therefore, the registration numbers are at a standstill.  The price has risen from $150 to $360 for one camper.  We've been getting parents calling outraged by the increase (obviously).  The staff has nothing to do with it and we've done everything in our power to try to get the fee to decrease back to a rational one.  The cost is so high because the camp didn't make any profit in a very long time.  But since WHEN is it about money?  Kids have nothing these days to keep occupied and the access to drugs/alcohol is so much easier than we were kids so a lot of them are resorting to this as a means of entertainment.  Camps are one of the only things we can count on;  People don't realize how important they are... especially the people who only want to make money from them.  It's not about the money.  At all.  It's about helping kids have an unbelievable summer.  

I've tried contacting the local newspaper, radio stations and TV ad agencies to help promote the camp.  I've gotten little to no feedback, therefore, I'm very disappointed in the community who doesn't seem to want to help Mira Pines.  I've made an online website for the camp so kids can register online - a lot more convenient than in the past : www.sydneypcampingp.com and we've printed many posters to advertise.

With a campsite that holds about 35 campers, there are only 5 registered for the first week of camp.  This is unbelievably heartbreaking and it seems my only wish is lingered on the hope of winning the lottery so I can buy back the original campsite and help campers (new and old) to continue to spend their summers at their favorite place.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I left my heart in San Francisco

"So, do you think you'll go back to San Francisco again?" my mother asked me on my way out the door. I paused and looked at her, "I loved San Fran, Mum, but there's a whole world out there I've yet to see."  She smiled and asked me where I would go next year. I shrugged but my heart is set on Ireland.

San Francisco was great and I saw everything I wanted to see.  It was a little overwhelming at first and somewhat surreal.  I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight/Ashbury, The Painted Ladies (shown in the intro for Full House), Pier 39 & Fisherman's Warf, countless markets, an aquarium where I got to pet some funky underwater animals, tried sushi for the first time (and by 'tried' I mean chewed, gag, and spit it out), mastered the art of chopsticks, rode up and down the ridiculously steep hills, learned all about hookah, visited the Modern Art Museum, realized I didn't like photography, drank beer, played scrabble, grew close with old friends and met new friends.  It was overall a satisfying trip; I was surely sad to leave California but I'm sure I'll make my way back there again someday.

I was hoping the trip would shed some light on what kind of art I want to make in fourth year at MtA.  I realized that my love for photography has diminished.  Photography is so popular now because anyone can be a photographer if given a nice camera.  There is no magic to photography anymore; it used to be about the element of surprise - not knowing exactly how your pictures would turn out until you developed them yourself.  But now that everything is digital, you can delete and retake to your heart's content until you find a picture you really like.  To me, it's sort of like cheating the system.  Obviously, not everyone feels this way and a lot of people really enjoy looking at photography and enjoy taking photographs - but for me, it's different.  And once you've seen one photograph, you've seen them all.  I'll regain interest when I stumble upon a photographer who does something different than what the rest of the photography world is doing.

A few years ago, in Cape Breton, a photographer grew quickly popular - advertising his photographs all over malls, the newspapers and television.  Everyone wanted to be one John Ratchford's models who glowed in these magnificent photographs... and you could.  It was like a frenzy where everyone where I'm from grew obsessed with this photographer and it was the "cool" thing to go be photographed by him.

I was one of them.  For a ridiculously high price, I went in to his studio where he photographed my graduation picture as well as some "cover girl" shots, and he photographed me with my artwork.  

Every time you walked through the mall, you would stop to look at his photographs to see if you knew any of the people in them.  You almost always did.  A lot of other artists started adopting his photoshopped style of black and white photographs with only selected color items in them (Such as a guitar player gripping his guitar which was blue, while the rest of the photograph was in black and white).  This was new.  But now everyone with a camera can do this.  Why would you go spend thousands of dollars when you can easily just go do it yourself?

With free trials of Adobe photoshop, Youtube tutorials and other online tutorials, Facebook applications such as "Picnik" and digital cameras, it's as easy as pie to become a photographer.  People no longer slow down to see if they recognize faces in Ratchford's photographs in the mall because they can just go home, log on to Facebook and do the same.