Amanda Todd and Bullying:
Does a person have to be deceased to get media attention?
This is not about artists being recognized after they die. Certainly my career speaks otherwise. This is about what the media deems newsworthy.
I recall many years ago having a burger with my kids north of Toronto. Outside of the pinball establishment next door a truck pulled up and four big nasty looking guys got out and went into the pinball place. Something told me is wasn’t for a game or two of pinball.
Moments later they came out with this guy in tow and began pounding him to bits in the parking lot! Then they dropped him half conscious on the pavement and left.
I always carried a camera with me and I had the presence of mind to shoot on motor drive the whole incident.
That same afternoon I dropped my kids off at home and took my roll of film to the local police department where they obtained copies and sent me on my way. Then I went to the Newspapers, all three major Toronto dailies. All three asked me if the pictures were bloody and gory. I said no. Only blood in the pic’s was the guys face which wasn’t much cause they laid their beating all over his ribs and stomach. So not much gore.
The papers, all three were not interested. They said it had to be really bloody or no one would pay any attention.
That was the last time I ever tried to submit to a paper.
This past week we have been flooded with news about Amanda Todd. We know that this is a very tragic and terribly sad story. My heart pains for her and this torn family. They did everything they could for her. We also know that teen suicide, or just suicide in general is a terrible thing to encounter, to say the least. We know that suicides are happening every single day all over this land. What made this one stand out and hit the airwaves was the plea for help Amanda posted on Youtube. Ripped my heart to pieces seeing it. I have a daughter who is 14 and it is horrible to imagine. Had to block it out as quickly as possible.
The fact remains that if Amanda had not posted that YouTube video she probably would have become just another statistic. Unknown, untold, passed over by the mass media. This is of course not what happened. Thankfully the media did tell her story. Continues to tell her story. But I sincerely question why. Do they do it for the sparing of other lives? For the possibility of raising awareness about teen suicide and bullying? Or do they tell the story as long as it attracts viewers to the news cast or the papers mages? I’m a skeptic on this one. Experience tells me it is the later and that saddens me as much.
Do you have cats? Then you know about kitty litter issues. Yes, Kitty Litter Issues! You know what I mean. If you have kitties, or let's just call them what they are, Cat's, you have issues.
Let it be said that when you visit cat owners homes you generally only see the cat. Sometimes you see the cat food dispenser, sometimes even the litter box. Have you ever heard cat owners talk about how miserable litter maintenance can be? Bet not.
I'm here to save you from Cat Litter ignorance. Why? Cause I just know you are like me and in your initial "I think I 'd like to have a cat" emotional attraction, you will be sorely unaware of the downside of having a new living breathing being in your home.
Cat hair, you might ask? No, that's no biggie. Fur balls? No, that's manageable too. Ok, you asked, here it is: Cat Pee.
Once again, if you have cats you know what I'm talking about. One whiff of the stuff and man, you better get a grip on something solid pretty fast because you are possibly going to faint. I sure almost did. On the hottest day of the summer I opened the door of my bedroom and nearly dropped on the floor from the wave of smell that instantly overwhelmed me. One of the cats had soaked a nice neat little pool right up there on our cozy duvet.
First thing you do after you overcome the nasty first impression is to close the door and panic over how you are going to get that mess cleaned up. But that is really the secondary issue at hand. What you need to do is figure out why she did it in the first place and provided she doesn't have a UTI (Urinary Track Infection) you probably have a simple matter of litter management.
In our house we have tried the litter trays, then the enclosed litter tray (apparently Cat's like privacy) but the daily cleaning of these trays is nasty. This just means that whoever is assigned the duty for today is probably going to conveniently forget to do it as often as possible.
Neglecting to clean the litter daily can cause it to smell and be very discouraging to your cat from entering it. After all, what if you...Naw, forget it, I won't go there.
Cat’s are very clean animals. Heck, they spend every waking hour of their day cleaning themselves, they better be! They also don’t like being in smelly environment’s, what’s more, they don’t like climbing over their previous disposal. So the litter has to be kept clean.
This led me on a worldwide search for the most effective automatic litter box.
I found a few good ones. Rakes, auto scoopers, etc. But these two seem coolest and best. Stay tuned for my update and review once we have tried one.
Have you noticed your kids seem spaced? Clued out? You know their not drunk, you know their not stoned, you know their friends are a decent bunch of well raised kids. So, whats the problem?
In our house the problem was the overwhelming use of devices. Cell phones, ipods, ipads, DS's, PS3, XBOX, etc, etc, etc, etc.
We would be talking to our kids and notice they are only half paying attention to our words. Instructions given to do chores but it takes forever to get it done. Homework is getting forgotten. Friends seem to know our kids more than we do.
The answer in my eyes was obvious. After we tried dealing with behaviour, attitudes, sluggishness, we came to realize that there was a common denominator. That was the internet and it's proliferation in our home.
I know if you found your kid sniffing glue, or smoking pot, or hiding contraband around your house you would probably turn the place upside down to clear the whole house of the threat. But what about the internet? You use too. Right? So what's a parent supposed to do?
We decided that cold turkey for our kids was the only route available. Cold Turkey? You'd think we had a major drug issue in the house, but we didn't. We had a major internet issue in our house and the only available remedy was cold turkey. Taking all the devices away from our kids, changing all the passwords including our personal computers and only allowing their use at specified times and then only if homework and chores were up to date.
I realize that we are probably the last parents on earth to get with the program on this but the results in our kids have woken up. Happier. Brighter. More cheerful. Still argumentative but hey, that's life with teenagers. I can handle that to an extent.
The most shocking thing about the results is that despite the kicking and screaming over the loss of their devices, they seem to be happy about it now. They read books like they used to when they were small. They stay at the supper table and engage in conversation for long periods of time. They voluntarily practice their instruments.
A radical change? You bet.
Just take it away!
So there are many many wonderful places I have been as an artist. I am driven and pulled by the forces of beauty. My car is manned by a magnet for which the metal is nature. From time to time though, someone sends me a photo of a place they have been and the note attached usually says something like "I thought maybe you might like to paint this..." I don't always feel it is my thing. Sometimes I do.
In the case of my friends photo of "Lake of Bays" I felt the pull immediately. I have to admit I have been in the area but never spent any reasonable time there. Seems I have missed so much.
On seeing his photo I asked him if he would allow me to paint a canvas from it and on his approval I set out to work. what started out as dark blobs on the canvas gradually morphed into big moving skies and sparkling waters. No trick really, just painted what I saw before me. Just generated my impression of what moved me about the scene. (cont'd below)
Lake of Bays
20" x 30" oil on canvas
Rendering this scene required me to stray from my usual presentation of trees. The trees in this location had to almost perfectly resemble the actual ones on location because this painting would eventually end up on the wall of the friend who provided the image in the first place. But I remained true to my own style on all other aspects.
I particularly enjoyed this experience. Painting a spot I had never been, making it my own for the moment and presenting it in my own language with brush, paint and canvas.
I think as time goes by a tradition that I inherited from my father is gradually shrinking, like the size of the bergs passing Corner Brook, NFLD on a daily basis. Each day you don't notice a difference but over months you do.
When I was a kid I loved watching television, what kid doesn't eh? (I like throwing in that Canadian "eh" for the American readers of this Blog). As I grew older I began joining my father as he watched (incredibly) first the CBC News and then The CTV National News. Barbara Frum, Then Harvey Kirk and Loyd Robertson. Even in my teens I enjoyed watching those news casts because they seemed believable, honest and unbiased. One night Barbara would grill someone from one political party then the next night she'd be having another party roasting on the BBQ of expert journalism. You never once wondered which side she was on, you knew she was relaying the story to you in a fair and unbiased manner. Harvey Kirk never resisted a good on air laugh but even in his humour he was intense and a rock to be trusted. Lloyd Robertson always took that precious national News second of time to show his compassionate eye after a tragic story.
These Anchors deserved our attention.
I'm not going to point fingers and praise one to tear down another but today we see our news anchors playing more to the fashion designers choices: "Hair by..." and "So and So's clothes provided by..." all in a more and more obvious effort to look "cool" rather than tell the stories of the day.
One of my fav news casts to watch today is a Toronto based late night national news show, but even it, while seeming to be sincere has a anchors that look like Barbie and Ken on their alternating nights. The words that come to mind are Stiff, Perfectly sculpted hair, over starched suits, etc.
I think one of the most difficult things for me to get past is the transition from a horrific story of unthinkable misery straight into a humour story.
It just isn't holding water folks.
So now in my 50's I find myself becoming less and less interested in what they have to say. Less and less interested in trying to cut through the glitz and getting to the story.
Seems to me the current trend is catering more to the sponsors rather than to you and I the viewers.
Wow, Isn't it ironic?
Am I alone on this one?
My wife Tess and I,
October 9th in Jacksons Point, Ontario
Today was a day all set up for painting. As I began to do so my mind wandered from item to item of things we have to deal with every day. Issues that dog us in good times and bad. Teen ager issues, school issues, politics, bills, taxes, etc, etc, etc.
Then my wife says to me, "Rob, let's get the kids after school and just take off for a drive".
Now I hate interrupting my painting before "quitting time" which for me is 5pm daily. It takes so long to get into the groove and focus that I just hate stopping sooner than I have too.
But the sun was shining.
The open road called.
The leaves swirled.
As soon as we could pick up the kids from school we were off on a northward drive on Lake Ridge road. Those fall colours wiped our minds free of all the stress and issues. suddenly in our little world in the van our family was alone and sharing. I cannot say enough about the importance of alone time. Not just for a husband and wife but as important for a family to take that mini vacation and get out together. Anywhere.
Go low budget, we did, and you find what really matters is the valuable time that is realized there in the car together. Turn off the devices. Look out the window, stop the car when you feel like it and go for the walk.
Alone time. Precious time.
P.s. Love to read your alone ti
Ribbons in the sky
30"x60" oil on canvas
now available for sale.
So what, I ask you is a guy supposed to do?
The tooth pick has been invented, patented and mass produced all over the world billions of times. Jeans have been invented and patented and produced all over the world billions of times.
like so many other things that you wish you had thought of but it has been done over and over. What's a guy supposed to do when he wants to paint something on canvas that has been done every which way possible? How is this artist going to render the subject in a way that will stand apart? Be remembered? Make an impression?
One thing I have learned over the years is that each artist has his own finger print. Literally and creatively. So with that in mind I set out to paint my own impression of those magnificent Northern Lights. what I needed to do was look at the lights but purposely block out all artistic renderings of them to date. In my mind I could only envision a black/blue sky with these drapes of light slicing through the night sky.
While the dark back ground was still wet I loaded my brush with colour and streaked it through the soaking wet background.
The experience was somewhat spiritual as I noticed the purity of the colour juxtaposed against the night blue. The paint blending and not blending at will! The final rendering needed only minimal touch up to refine and "clean up" the impression but there it was, lying in wait to capture me and draw me in.
Happy to finally present to you these Northern lights as
The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.