Category Archives: art


Teddy has been a lot of things over the years including left behind and lost in Southern California. He made it back home to Halifax that time only to have to hop into a car and drive to Montreal to be reunited with his buddy Noah.

Now, Teddy is a sports star. Not just any sport but the glorious game of hockey. He’s also one of the many inspirations Noah calls upon to practice his writing, spelling and alphabeting. The other morning, maman got the spelling out call – “how do you write awesome?” Noah shouted. Maman thought this was a great chance to use the dictionary but Noah couldn’t wait so he went out on his own.

Maman could hear him voicing out the sounds – “aw, o, aw, o, ssss, ssss, mmmm, mmmm. aw sss mmmm. Maman, come see, come see, I’ve got it.” This is what he came up with – awesome = osm. And how does Teddy fit into all this? Well, he scored seven goals in a hockey game and he was, you guessed it, awesome!


A Palette of Fun

I recently took in Nocturne – art a night. It was a great show with happenings throughout the city. Maybe we’ll see Noah there in a future edition.

He is seeing differently now and capturing it in his paintings. It’s a whole new creative groove for him. I love the jaunty feel of his self portrait, bright and smiling with all 10 fingers. This reproduction doesn’t do the work justice as it truncates his feet.

He loves colour, colours – bright and broad. He knocked off sunrise morning with great satisfaction earlier today.

That’s our car in the foreground ready to drive along the black, black road right into the sunrise.

That’s it for this edition of digital art. Nellie’s coming soon. Her style is going through a great leap also.

Time for an exhibition

Noah’s been heavy at the art today and with great results. First up is his most complex piece to date, There are figures, accompanying accessories and printing. It’s a thank you card for friends who brought each of our kids presents when they came for a visit earlier in the day.


The referee if you can’t make him out is in the lower right hand corner with two orange pucks affixed to his arms. Above the ref and to the left is the hockey player with his stick and helmet. It’s awesome.

The second drawing is simpler and titled by Noah. It is a present from him to me.


This is a tour de force, the dominant green washing across the page blocking out almost everything else. I am not sure what inspired this drawing. We played out on the lawn yesterday but most of it was under a thin coating of iced snow. Perhaps it is foreshadowing next summer’s lawnmower games. The object in the upper left hand corner is a tank. I am going to have to ask what it is doing there. Tanks are not in his general machinery vocabulary. I am little surprised to see it.

Nellie is in a strong abstract period. There’s none of that representational stuff for her. Her approach can be summarized as, ‘paper please, markers please and let me get at it’.


It will be like the art factory here over the next few years. Maybe some of it will rub off on me and I’ll be able to move on from my anemic stick figures, or let myself go on a walkabout away from representational reality. I’m not holding my breath though. But we should have lots of the kids’ stuff on hand. Digital cameras and scanners make it possible to capture virtually all the kids’ work. With digital memory as inexpensive as it is, the only real challenge is documenting the work – taking those photos and firing up the scanner. This generation of kids will be documented like no other.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has some great kids’ work on line as well as suggestions for art projects.

There are also a lot of ideas at Art Attack. On your mark, get set, draw………

Full body scans and other pre-school art

Mé is the one in our house who has all the arts and crafts type talent. She’s got a gift for getting the kids excited about projects they’ll create with their own hands – with a little help from maman. Really though, what’s not to be excited about when you’re let loose, after a fashion, with markers, glue, scissors, paint and a variety of mixed media materials.

Nellie and Noah both got going at a young age. Whenever Mé asks if they want to gather around the table for some bricolage, the response is always squeals of delight. For Nellie I’m sure it’s more than the crafts. It’s also the opportunities that might present themselves. Just once she’s hoping to make a clean getaway with markers, or glue that she can apply with abandon in the most inappropriate places.

Her full body scan’s earth tone swirling spirals are created with random élan. She does not brook outlines that demarcate where and where not to colour. As Queen of the Markers, Nellie is not bound by any conventions at all save the recurring messaging from both Mé and I asking her to limit her colouring to paper surfaces. Even in this she will slip, if not closely supervised, as we found earlier this week when we discovered some unmistakable Nellie markings on the family room’s cork floor.

Noah is building up quite a portfolio. A number of pieces are on loan to me for display in my office. They have a great aura about them and bring a warm smile to my face. As I was preparing for parental leave, he admonished me to ensure that I would not forget any of his bricolages in the office when I temporarily vacated. I made sure to pack them all and bring them safely home.

One of them has a particular hold one me. It’s a mixed media bird in its nest. I had this piece perched on a window ledge ready to fly away over the downtown traffic when freedom and adventure beckoned. This is my favourite work to date from his young art period. It’s an endearing sculpture that I hope to keep for ever as a reminder of his encounters with beauty, his touch of grace.

His full body scan is no slouch either, an impressive use of colour and stickers as the close up of the head depicts. This is a happy boy out under the sun. His green pants are form fitting as is everything else.

It’s no secret that most kids love this kind of creative expression, especially if it also provides them with a chance to get all messy. Why do so few carry the art bug through into their adult lives?

Kisses for K – Noah-David, 2010
Everyone in Noah’s class was exploring the art of the kiss a couple of days ago.

Nellie has just started with a toddler play group that meets twice a week. There’s something artsy or craftsy at each session.

There is plenty more art coming our way over the months and years ahead. Such is the magic of digital that we’ll be able to capture and keep files of the best creations by all the kids.

It’s a shame I didn’t have this for Kyla and Alexa. I was able to keep a few paper and ceramic treasures that may be featured here some day. I’ll have to get permission from the respective artists first.I’ll take advantage of today’s technology to create a digital archives of their best work so they’ll be able to enjoy down the road.

Thanks to Mé and all the other parents and teachers who make the time for their kids to explore and play with art materials.

Bear – crayon and
cotton ball appliqué – Nellie-Rose, 2010

Birthdays and Passings

Our small family got together recently to celebrate my dad’s 75th. It was a quiet brunch at a favourite restaurant followed by a decadent chocolate cake. He’s vibrant, hale and hearty but we’ve had a couple of scares.

Nearly 10 years ago he was hospitalized for over a month after wiping out on a snowboard. The jury is still out on the cause of that accident. What is sure is that his determination, focus and commitment to rehabilitation reversed the paralysis which was the most debilitating result of the injury. I believe that a streak of Scottish stubbornness as wide as the Clyde helped to will his recovery.

Five years later over a period of two months, he went from daily 5K runs to barely being able to walk 100 metres from his car to the grocery store entrance. Bypass surgery ensued. All went well with the procedure and recovery. It was terrible though to see him post-op. His pallor and the intricate whorl of tubes connecting him to monitoring devices was reminiscent of Star Trek TNG’s borgs.

He was discharged from the hospital on his 70th birthday, the same day I finally quit smoking. He bounced back. When I called on this most recent birthday morning, he had just finished a 30 minute run. He’s been at the running since his early 40s. He calls it his cheap insurance policy. It seems to be working well for him.

My dad has always been there for me. He got me to the early morning hockey games, the rain or shine soccer matches and stepped in to assume Akela’s mantle and lead a pack of Cubs when the incumbent suddenly died. He organized bottle drives, camping trips, the best birthday parties with a small coterie of friends and showed me how to do things.

In short, both he and my mom were present. They were there for my brother and I. They had moments of despair through my teenage and early adult years and with good reason. They’re in for the long haul though and toughed out the difficult times. It’s the being present, the love, the constancy that makes all the difference. I’ve always felt that if I can do half the job my parents have done, I’ll be on the right path. Thanks again to you both.

On the same day my dad was celebrating his 75th, the people of Québec were mourning the passing of a cultural icon. Gilles Carle was getting a send off in style, a state funeral to honour his contributions to the world of cinema and Québec’s cultural tapestry.

I’m not a total philistine when it comes to the arts. Thanks to my love Mé I know a thing or two about Québec music, literature and film. Years ago I even worked at a film festival and once did a brief and enjoyable stint at the Canada Council for the Arts. All this to say that prior to his death, I had no awareness of Gilles Carle. I’m sure that I was not alone in my ignorance and that a majority of the population across the rest of Canada, cinema lovers included, were in the same boat.

The ‘two solitudes’ are still alive and well in our country. We’ve got a long way to go to bridge the gaps. Actions that foster a better understanding and awareness of our respective popular culture and arts scenes will help move us along in the right direction.

The National Film Board has made several Carle films available on line. I’m not sure how representative they are of his oeuvre but it’s a starting point. I enjoyed Patinoire’s quintessential winter playfulness and the breezy portrayal of a singular landscape in Percé on the Rocks. Both are shorts. There is also a selection of longer documentary and fiction films.

It’s never too late to celebrate what we have, or what we’ve lost. A breath of story can keep us moving sweet and preserves our memories of those who have danced their last waltz.

Is that a boa or a marsupial?

No need to ask Noah about the goings on at pre-school today. He came skipping out the door with his surprise. It’s a gorgeous mixed media piece, unmistakably a Christmas tree. The inverted ice cream cone provides the familiar shape. The fruit loops of many colours and the icing are decorative pièces de résistance. This is a Noel creation sans pareil. Even though each of his classmates had one, no two were the same. The application and colour of the icing and the placement of the fruit loops made each edible sculpture unique. Check the Hungry Housewife for an ice cream cone Christmas tree recipe and other fun treats for the kids.

Noah placed his work, complete with protective saran wrap covering, in the empty co-pilot seat. He wanted to ensure that it arrived home safely. When I asked what his plans were for the Christmas tree, his response was quite emphatic, “I’m going to keep it forever and ever and ever on top of my bureau.” No chance then of getting a taste of this delectable art. We’ll have to make sure to monitor its decomposition, or would that be deconstruction? It will undoubtedly adorn his bedroom beyond Epiphany but likely not have the molecular stamina to stick in until Easter.

Nellie-Rose was making art in parallel with big brother Noah. While he was at school, she had free rein with many coloured strips of plasticine. Mé and I got her underway with a standard three ball snowman then got fancy and popped a hat on top and stuck a couple of spindly arms on the middle ball. This is about as good as it gets for me with the plastic arts – just a basic no talent. Nellie added her own touch by slapping on a mouth that was just slightly larger than the head. This toying with scale, the playful manipulation of the materials are perhaps the forerunner of a budding cubist.

Older daughter Alexa has just concluded her first semester in the foundation year program at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I was thinking of her earlier in the day and sent her a link to an article about Canadian artist Michael Snow from Saturday’s Globe and Mail. Michael sounds like a man who is still playful in the execution of his work, has fun and perhaps does not take himself too seriously.

Alexa is having fun of a sort too I’m sure. She’s working her little toosh off at school and then pulling shifts at a local cinema. She’s been happy with her school work and has been getting good grades. Recent projects include a materials assignment where she was trying to make clear bracelets out of a resin. No luck on the clear part – some learning though about the properties of various resins for hardening and colouring. She also recreated an 80s punk fashion photo shoot with the help of friends as models and stand-in tech folk. Lastly, a strike for public art when she spray bombed a marsupial on a school wall with the slogan ‘legalize eucalyptus’.

It’s certainly one way of making sense of the world, creating your own narrative and putting it out for display and interpretation. As you can see from the photos above our species has a knack for getting at this kind of thing from a young age. The adult world can just suck the ability to see, play and make correspondences right out of a person. Remember Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince and his boa constrictor that swallowed an elephant…