Monday, December 28, 2015

Quotes: Michael Harris

"We need daydreaming and solitude –– both products of absence –– in order to arrive at truly original thinking." –– Michael Harris, Canadian author 
Author of The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection, 2014. Winner of the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction

Source: Harris, Michael. 'The dangers of digital obesity.' The Globe and Mail, Saturday July 26, 2014, p. F3 via my book of commonplace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Quotes: Environment Canada Ontario Christmas weather report!

I can't say that I've ever quoted Environment Canada before, but this one is worth sharing:
What a difference a year makes, or two for that matter.
Two years ago, a crippling ice storm, dubbed the Nightmare Before Christmas, was affecting millions of people across portions of Southern Ontario. Last winter, the words 'polar vortex' were on many people's lips. However, this December and holiday season have been extraordinarily mild and snow-free.
A deepening low pressure system over the American Midwest this evening will track roughly towards the North Pole on Christmas Eve. As a result, balmy unseasonal breezes will allow temperatures to rise well into the mid or even high teens in many areas later tonight into early Thursday morning. Temperature records for today and Christmas Eve are expected to tumble by the sleighful. And not only will it be mild, but abundant sunshine should grace many areas on Thursday as well. Cooler conditions will work their way in during the day on the wings of quite strong southwesterly winds. Wind warnings are in place in some regions east of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. Travel conditions should be very good for everyone, except for perhaps one special person and a herd of reindeer, who probably prefer a blanket of fresh snow.
A quiet, mild Christmas Day is in store for most areas with good travel conditions for one and all.
Happy holidays from the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre!

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a mindful New Year! See you in 2016.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Quotes: Arthur Boers

"I have learned that whenever I'm tempted to say, "I don't need this," I must pause and pay close attention because that may in fact be the very thing or person that I most need. It is when I engage criticism or unpleasantness within my relationships that I have the greatest potential for growth." –– Arthur Boers, Canadian author, speaker, pastor, and avid walker

Source: Boers, Arthur. Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distraction. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, 2012; p.117 via my book of commonplace

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Feet

Chilewich mat; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Who needs sunshine when a colourful Chilewich mat graces your floor?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Quotes: Billy Collins via Austin Kleon

"What I don't like about the expression 'finding your voice' is that it's very mystifying in the minds of young people. It makes you feel ... that your voice is tied up with your authenticity, that your voice lies deep within you, at some root bottom of your soul, and that to find your voice, you need to fall into deep introspection ... you have to gaze deeply into yourself. The frustration and the anxiety is that maybe you won't find anything there. That you're on this terrible quest to nowhere.

Let me reassure you that it's not that mysterious. Your voice has an external source. It is not lying within you. It is lying in other people's poetry. It is lying on the shelves of the library. To find your voice, you need to read deeply. You need to look inside yourself, of course, for material, because poetry is something that honors subjectivity. It honors your interiority. It honors what's inside. But to find a way to express that, you have to look outside yourself.


Read widely. Read all the poetry that you can get your hands on. And in your reading, you're searching for something. Not so much your voice. Your searching for poets that make you jealous. Professors of writing call this "literary influence." It's jealousy. And it's with every art, whether you play the saxophone, or do charcoal drawings. You're looking to get influenced by people who make you furiously jealous.


Read widely. Find poets that make you envious. And copy them. Try to get like them.


You know, you read a great poem in a magazine somewhere, and you just can't stand the fact that you didn't write it. What do you do?  Well, you can't get whiteout, and blank out the poet's name and write yours in –– that's not fair. But you can say "Okay, I didn't write that poem, let me write a poem like that, that's sort of my version of that." And that's basically the way you grow...


After you find your voice, there's really only one person to imitate, and that's yourself. You do it by combining different influences. I think the first part of it is you do slavish imitations, which are almost like travesties, you know. But gradually you come under the right influences, picking and choosing, and being selective, and then maybe your voice is the combination of six or eight other voices that you have managed to blend in such a way that no one can recognize the sources. You can take intimacy from Whitman, you can learn the dash from Emily Dickinson ... you can pick a little bit from every writer and you combine them. This allows you to be authentic. That's one of the paradoxes of the writing life: that the way to originality is through imitation." –– Billy Collins (b. 1941), American poet, Poet Laureate of the United States 2001 to 2003.


Source: with thanks to Austin Kleon who transcribed this quote from a video of Billy Collins at a White House poetry workshop on May 11, 2011. The Billy Collins quote begins at the 31 minute mark.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Portland, Oregon: The Arthur

The Arthur Door; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
While walking around Portland, Oregon in August, this coral and striped door caught my eye. It's a first indication that the Arthur is a hip and happening place. Originally built as a hotel in 1912, the Arthur is now a modernized community-oriented apartment building featuring 50 micro-studios.
The Arthur; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Even the sign was given special treatment with its own font.

My tired mahogany front door needs a make-over and the punchy coral with stripes gives me ideas. I've taped paint chips to the door and have until spring to audition colours and view them in varying light conditions before it's warm enough to paint. My mail carrier is probably amused by the continuously changing constellation. I see a trip to the Benjamin Moore store in my near future: my door craves (hued) chips!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mark Byk: Beware of Gods

Beware of Gods screen print by Mark Byk; Photo © Karen Thiessen
When I saw Mark Byk's Beware of Gods screen print at You Me Gallery a few months ago, it was love at first sight. After the show, I inquired about it, but I was told it wasn't available. That's probably because my beloved hubby had bought it for me as a surprise to mark a special occasion. Beware of Gods reminds me that some things, although good, can become a god. My mark-making practice is a case in point. I've sustained the daily practice since Lent 2014 and I now realize that missing the occasional day from my 640 day habit is healthy. I'm not ready to take breaks from my 1783 day-in-a-row Lent 2011 yoga practice yet.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Quotes: John Baldessari

"Every artist should have a cheap line. It keeps art ordinary." –– John Baldessari (b. 1931), American painter and conceptual artist

Friday, December 4, 2015

Studio: collage table

Collage table; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Good things are happening in the studio. Jane Hill's love of black-and-white has rubbed off on me. I've returned to using low tech techniques to design patterns and black-and-white is the way to go. I'm a pro at turning suboptimal situations into assets. Six months ago my beloved nine-year-old Adobe Creative Suite (a legal program that I paid for) locked me out. This has worked in my favour: making patterns by hand with glue stick and scissors is fun, deeply engaging, and has fuelled my imagination in ways that working digitally doesn't.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Studio play

Bunny © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Recently I discovered the work of Sabine Timm. My bunny is an homage to Sabine, a.k.a. virgin honey. This is what happens when one is overcoming resistance!