Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

When I'm not fidgeting with infinity, I'm just fidgeting."
— Brett Whiteley

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Tooth Report

That was an amazing trip to the Orthodontist.

The whole event took the talents of three people. First they took my wires off to give them complete access to everything. Then they had all kinds of filing going on: drill-bit-style, disc-style, plastic tape with very fine tooth and a thin steel sheet that simply vibrates. Surprisingly, there was no pain. The result was horizontal and vertical edging to make my teeth look like they've never been worn!

Then they repositioned one bracket to raise my bottom-left eye tooth a tiny bit. Once that was glued in place, they put my wires back on but this time put a new, thicker wire around the bottom jaw to really pull on that eye tooth. And lastly, they inserted two new hooks for elastics to go around my molars to refine my bite at the back of my mouth.

That's 4 kinds of filing, 3 people hovering, 2 new hooks and 1 new wire. Wow.

And, bonus, since the wires were off, I got to do a real flossing!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Google Goats help keep company 'Green'

In Google's continuous effort to be 'green', they've introduced goats to replace lawnmowers at their various facilities.

I'd rather my mower's motor sound like "baaaa" any day!

TechCrunch full article

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

IEBGreen Challenge: Clothes Dryer Balls

Mark said..."My wife and I use our clothesline constantly in the summer too, but this winter we bought a pair of dryer balls to replace the dozens of sheets we'd normally go through. We ordered them through Nellie's All-Natural. They're inexpensive and last for years, and drying times are reduced as well. Perfect!"

Thanks so much for the suggestion, Mark. And, congratulations on saving the world from so many dryer sheets! At three loads per week x 52 weeks in the year x 50 years (don't worry, I'm not assigning an expiry date to you), that's a savings of 7,800 sheets from just one household!

Keep the suggestions rolling in. Everything you contribute helps others go Green.

To learn more about the Challenge, view my original It's Easy Being Green article. And, to see what things I'm adding to my list regularly, check out the "Green things done to date" in the right-hand column.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even."
— Claude Monet

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tuesday Tooth Report

I'm doubling-up on the elastics these days. I want my teeth to have moved as much as possible before my appointment next week. They'll be shaving down some of the odd-angled edges so I want my teeth to be as aligned as possible.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Visiting Artist at Cape Jourimain's Eco-Arts Festival

Last Fall I was fortunate to be selected as a Visiting Artist at the Eco-Arts Festival at Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. The Centre is located in a 675-hectare National Wildlife Area at the base of the Confederation Bridge in New Brunswick and celebrates the link between natural and human environments. So it’s no surprise that they hold an annual festival that marries art and nature.

On arrival, the Artists were encouraged to walk the trails and select a location for their “studio”. Like a fish caught in an eddy, I was continually drawn back to the beach. I envisioned numerous artworks all based on the use of the naturally-occurring wrack line of dried eelgrass. As the tide continually reshapes the shore, my intention was to continually reshape the eelgrass during the course of the festival. A rake would be my paintbrush, the seaweed would be my paint, and the beach would be my canvas.

My first artwork was this 18-foot long fish which I entitled Beached. As part of the natural process, animals get beached with the tide. This fish suffered the same fate but at the hands of the artist.

On day two, I breathed life back into that fish and adapted it for a second artwork: a fish that is sneaking up and about to swallow me! I was looking for a way to redefine the wrack line. The natural line of the eelgrass became the waterline of the Northumberland straight. With me swimming along the waterline, half above water and half below, the fish comes up behind me for a chomp.

To photograph the artwork, I needed to get to high ground. The Centre built an Observation Tower for just such viewing.

Peye in the Sky Idea
The Observation Tower’s vantage point gave me a pie (or eye) in the sky idea.

Could these artworks be visible from the satellites used by Google Earth or Google Maps? Their big eye in the sky is a technology whose omnipresence is being exploited for marketing purposes the world over. So, I attempted to write large enough to be captured by Google Earth. This URL not only names the land but identifies it as Canadian (.ca) and lets people know where to go to find out more information about it. I put a bird, an eel and a snail around the web address to indicate that it's an area rich with wildlife spanning earth, air and water habitats.

The last time the area was photographed by Google seems to have been in 2006 so I was hoping that Cape Jourimain was due for another shoot! I made sure that the web address was above the high tide mark so that it would remain on the beach for a while. I tracked Google Earth for the 3 weeks that the URL survived the elements but it never showed up. If Google did photograph it, it hasn’t appeared on their web site yet.

The web address ended up being about 96 feet long and 12 feet tall. To give you an idea of size, I've included a photo with people in it.

Everyone’s an Art Critic
One of the most interesting things that happened was when a group of shore birds flocked to my upturned seaweed — it must be a source of food for them. By bizarre coincidence, they seemed to prefer the “drawing” of the bird to pick at. I’ve worried about critics tearing apart my art but never birds!

The Challenges of an Outdoor Studio
Producing the works had its challenges. Creating something so large (for example, the largest letters in were 8 feet by 12 feet) introduced the problem of perspective. Viewing it from high above and from different angles stretched and warped it. I had to run back and forth to the platform of the beach's stairs between forming each letter to see what tweaking it needed. The letter that was furthest away ended up being extremely warped from the beach but looked perfect from the tower.

Photographing the work was interesting, too. I photographed it from the tower but to get a closer view of it, I ended up borrowing a huge ladder from the facility. Not only was it difficult to find sure footing in loose sand but the wind took the ladder out several times in the attempt! After several tries and with the help of fellow artists and the festival coordinator, I got the shot that I was hoping for.

And then there was the shear physical aspect of it. For example, using a rake all day is nothing like using a paint brush all day. I quickly learned that gloves, rubber boots and a strong garden rake were essential and that flipping seaweed to air-dry overnight meant much lighter work the next day. My arms got a workout that weekend!

A Thoroughly Enjoyable Experience
The Cape Jourimain staff were super. Their leadership and assistance was wonderful and the food was amazing; much of it organic, all of it local.

Working all morning and all afternoon in our own "environment", then breaking for coffee or lunch to bring the artists and staff together allowed us to talk about the day's accomplishments and the impact that working outside had on our approach to art-making. This wall-less studio takes down many barriers; the fear of people seeing my work mid-production was a big one for me.

During the festival, visitors were really engaged. We talked about the act of creating art since most visitors were finding the artists part way through the creation of an artwork rather than with finished works. It was more like a studio tour than a gallery tour... the world's largest and most freeing studio! A few asked me if my communication on the beach was a sort of S.O.S. By the end of the weekend, I'd perfected an answer "Yes, a form of communication but the exact opposite of an S.O.S. in that I DON'T want to be found!"

My CJNC Eco-Arts Visiting Artist profile page

IEBGreen Challenge: Today's Triumph

Got out the reel mower this week! Worked beautifully. No noise, no exhaust, no guilt. Check my complete list of "Green things done to date" in the right-hand column.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

I constantly have to negotiate with my doubts."
— Peter Doig

For me, negotiating with myself is key to moving ahead. But it takes a lot of willpower that can be difficult to muster at times. Eventually I will be confident enough to not need negotiating any more; at least that's the hope!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuesday Tooth Report

I was recently invited to a wine tasting to test a number of dinner and dessert wines for a local U-Vint store. I noticed that one of the red wines I tried left my cheeks and lips clinging to my braces! I don't know what made that wine different from the others but it seemed to have affected the metal in my mouth. I checked around; I was the only one with braces and the only one experiencing this effect. Still, a very enjoyable evening!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A message from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Show your love for our oceans and team up with the David Suzuki Foundation this month to organize a World Oceans Day (June 8, 2009) event in your community!

Here’s how it works: You gather a group of people who love oceans for a celebration. We provide you with the ideas and tools to organize an event in your area. Mix and match activities to create your own special Oceans Day event – at home, school, work, or elsewhere in your community.

We have activities for the young and the old, the landlocked and the waterlogged, including a sustainable seafood feast, sea-themed movie night and a shore cleanup. Whether you live near the ocean or not, there's a suite of celebrations for you to choose from!

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting."
— Jackson Pollock

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tuesday Tooth Report

One thing I've noticed about braces is how annoying it is now to eat stringy things. Pineapple, oranges and celery are particularly difficult to clean out of my braces because their strings get wrapped around my brackets! I'm not giving any of those up so I'll just have to spend an extra 10 minutes cleaning tonight.