Sunday, October 31, 2010

Peace is… (Definitions From Around The World)

Story III

It’s been a real joy for me to witness all of the positive feedback and comments that people have been sending in regarding my latest ‘Global Art Attack’!!! Over the last week, I have received five more ‘PEACE’ definitions/poems/stories/statements that I will be sharing with you today. Like, right now!!!

This creative poem came from Washington in the US of A! Diana and I cross paths, occasionally, on Facebook and I always enjoy her positivity. Diana also participated in my first global art attack “Peaceflowers From Around The World” .

One of my fellow Canadians, Rick Beneteau, has been a peace activist for some time. He sent me this poem that he also uses to promote his website Please, check it out!

To date, I’ve received definitions/poems from many places in Southern Ontario and across Canada, as well as a number of the states. I’ve been waiting to see if anyone from a different continent would join in so that I could say that this art attack has gone global… and it just did!

Ivonne Petrovich sent in this definition for the word peace… or paz, as it is said in Puerto Rico. I asked a librarian how I could translate this definition and she told me about a special website that will translate any language into any language – not perfectly, of course, but within reason. Ivonne’s definition (loosely translated) means – Peace is the projection of the pure interior results of your work.

When Trisha sent me her poem about peace, relationships and understanding I was very grateful. When I was selecting an image to use for the background for her words I thought that this ‘super-mass-consciousness’ dude would work well. It makes it seem that the poem is being spoken by humanity to the Earth and this connection made me feel that I had made the right choice.

Shelley’s simple yet profound statement really struck a chord with me. I became inspired to use this opportunity to focus viewer’s attention on a subject of great importance in today’s world. 35 000 children under the age of five die of starvation and malnutrition every single day the Earth completes a 24 hour rotation. This enormous problem could become a defining characteristic of our global civilization… but I’m hoping that with more ‘peace and understanding’ that our ability to change in response to this crisis will be what we become known for, instead!

Thanks to all those who have participated with this project, to date. I’m looking forward to see what else you all have to say about the word ‘PEACE’ in the near future. Submissions can me emailed to me via


PS – And don’t forget about my featured surprises. While supplies last, I’m offering a collectors Peacebus button to all participants!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cry or Laugh – Your Choice!

If a person was on a mission to become depressed, they would have a very easy time doing so in today’s world… just pick a topic! Racism and Violence, Water Pollution, Child Pornography, Toxic Waste Sludge Floods, Political Wars, Melting Ice Caps… “Throw a rock in the air and you’ll hit someone guilty.”

Issues such as these become a mirror that enables humankind to see more clearly what we have become. These realities are important tools that help us define who we are so that we can search for ways to change and evolve… as we are designed to do.

But, how do we do this? How do we learn about our wicked ways so that we can learn not to be wicked anymore? How do we present these ideas to ourselves in a way that doesn’t make us want to give up hope?

I’ve always found that a little bit of humour helps…

:) Jim

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spirit Of The Land

While I was writing my last blog story, a song that I haven’t listened to in a while began echoing in my head. It is a song that I have used as a teaching tool in a few of my art classes for children because it has many thoughts concerning the future of mankind… and our responsibility in the creation of it!

For today’s story I thought that it would be fun to share the lyrics of this great Rock’N’Roll tune as well as a few more artworks created for me and the world, this spring, by the students who rode The Peacebus.

Spirit Of The Land

Have you been touched by the spirit of the land

From a far away call into the palm of your hand

It’s inside every woman and it’s inside every man

It’s time to look and listen to know and understand

The news is getting further and the word is getting ‘round

We will end another people if we keep taking from the ground

You’ll see it in the symbols and the songs with ancient sounds

You’ll find it all connected it you take time to look around

Look around

There’s a gathering of races and a gathering of souls

There’ll be a choosing of direction and a distribution of roles

Earth is turtle island

And air is isle of green

Water is in India

Fire is Aborigine

Hothouse Flowers – 1993 – from the album ‘Songs From The Rain’

This whole album is a truly inspirational work of art and I would recommend any and all songs to you… for your listening pleasure -


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spirit Never Dies

During the winter of 2004, my wife and I were living in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The coming summer was being prepared to celebrate the history of the first settlers of this province. “Acadie 300” was the name of the celebration to recognize the Acadians and their 300 year history.

A neighbouring village was completing the construction of a brand new museum for this reason. They organized a National art contest to award the winner the opportunity to paint a large mural within the museum. When I heard about this event I became very excited and immediately I began to sketch ideas for my submission. Soon enough, I learned that I would not be a finalist in this competition.

Months later, my wife and I were preparing to return home to London, Ontario. After we were settled I had time to listen to the nagging that I heard in the back of my mind, telling me to bring my ideas for this painting to life. My painting was created to honour the memory of the early settlers AND the memory of our two and a half year stay in Nova Scotia.

In 1755 a war broke out on the seas and land of Nova Scotia. Both the British and French wanted this beautiful land of farmfields, forests and lakes for their own. Armies were sent throughout this land to gather all the Acadian settlers onto boats to be deported to the Americas.

Families were torn apart, villages burned to the ground and many people died of disease during the harsh winters. Many years later, some survivors returned only to find that their lives had been changed into stories found in our history books. This painting tells their story…

A beautiful morning sunrise graces the Atlantic shoreline. Dark clouds of oppression are moving into this region to blot out the sun. In the foreground you will notice a pair of military boots that have been extremely exaggerated in size to symbolize the might of the armies. In the far distance a black ‘snake’ appears to slither throughout the landscape. As this black image reaches the foreground we realize that the ‘snake’ is a line of people as they are gathered and herded towards the shoreline. These are the Acadians. They are painted in black to symbolize oppression and darkness. You will also notice that the ‘snake’ is traced with orange and yellow flames. These flames represent the spirit of the Acadians. Throughout this war the Acadians were able to survive as best as they could because they never gave up hope for a better future as their spirit flames burned brightly. Although their lives were never able to return to what once was, the spirit of these people has endured and inspired life for others throughout the new Nova Scotia and into the United States reaching as far as New Orleans.

By reading this story you have proved that with the telling of any great tale the “Spirit Never Dies”.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Little Closer… A Little Closer…

I’ve been very happy with the success of my vegetable garden, this year. Since the middle of June (and for another few weeks) my dinner plate has been (and will be) served with wholesome and fresh veggies… and this brings a smile to my face!

Every once in a while, I write about the different elements that create interesting photographs. For today’s blog I thought that it would be fun to showcase some of my garden’s harvested vegetables while taking you on a step by step journey to understand some simple photographic techniques.

Step #1 – Subject

The subjects for this photo-shoot are some of my harvest veggies. It took me just a minute or two to make this interesting ‘set’ filled with a Butternut squash, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots and peppers.

Step #2 – Get Close

Have you ever noticed how many times you’ve seen a photo with the subject matter smack-dab in the middle of the frame with all sorts of wasted space surrounding the subject? By getting in closer, you can fill the frame with the entire subject of your interest.

Step #3 – Get Closer

At the beginning on any photo-shoot I like to warm up a little bit. I’m not yet focussing on the perfect composition, at this point, just simply getting comfortable behind the camera. I get closer and closer to my subject matter while slowly moving my camera around and this allows me to become a bit more intimate with what I’m taking a picture of.

Step #4 – Composition

These simple vegetables are very interesting subjects to take photos of because there are so many wonderful curves, straight lines and angles to think about. Shapes, colours, foregrounds and backgrounds exist for the sole purpose of the photographer to manipulate while composing a perfect photo.

Step #5 – Move Around The Composition

If you compare this photo to the one above you will see that they are very similar. In this photo I’ve repeated ‘Step #3’ and I’ve gotten closer to my subject. The squash now appears on the right side while, above, it appeared on the left. Notice how the lid of the sugar bowl – at the bottom of this photo – helps to ‘ground’ the image by offering stability to the base of the photo while the slight curves of brown, black and white help to bring the viewers eye ‘into’ the image.

Step #6 – See All

Sometimes it’s difficult to see all that is happening while you are setting up a great composition. In this photo, I was concentrating so hard on capturing the interest shapes of the shadows as they curve up and around the carrots at the top of the image that I forgot to pay attention to my own shadow which ended up blocking the light on the tomatoes at the bottom of the image.

Step #7 – Be Patient

Be patient and let this experience bring you into a state of happiness. Throughout this story I’ve been sharing all the photos that I took during this ‘shoot’. This is the first one that I really like. With any photo-shoot that I do, I find that out of every 4 or 5 pictures I take only 1 will tickle my fancy and make me feel that I’ve done a good job.

Step #8 – Be Rewarded

I’m lucky to see that – this time – my average has gone up cuz this is the second – out of five – photo that I would classify as a success.

So, there ya go! A couple of easy steps to think about the next time you put yourself behind the lens of a camera.

After I’ve finished taking a bunch of pics, uploaded them onto my computer where I can resize them, enhance colours and add borders, I like to have a little fun trying out some of the ‘artistic effects’ that are available for me to use…

… so that I can turn an interesting photograph into an object d’art!

Be inspired! Enjoy the creativity that is inside you! Oh yea – and grow lot of vegetables to fill your heart and mind with the life-giving energies of the universe!!!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Show Must Go On!

Several months ago, I received an invitation to participate in a new community festival. The event was called ‘L.O.O.K. It’s A Party!’ Local artisans and environmental organizations had joined together so that we could share our Locally Organized Organic Knowledge. Ha! This acronym still cracks me up!!!

Of course, I said that I would love to participate in this event!

It was Saturday morning on October 02 – just two weekends ago – and when I had arrived (around 8:30am) the rain was still coming down.

There was lots of activity, at this time, as everyone was setting up their tents and displays.

Like this one!

This is an artisan who creates chairs, tables, lamps and other interesting things out of old bikes. Really cool stuff!

Ha! I just love these tiny ornamental animals that were created using bicycle chains!

As well as artisan and environmental displays, people were also occupied with getting the equipment in place for all the musical performances that were another part of this day’s events. These guys are setting up a small tent to cover all the sound equipment that will be needed.

Since I didn’t have a professional tent covering, like everyone else, I had to use a little imagination. I had brought my camping tent to shelter me from the rain and my art displays were set up inside. I moved a picnic table over and I taped my beach umbrella to it to keep the rain from leaking into my tent.

Inside, I had layered the floor of the tent with some colourful Mexican blankets to create a warm inviting feeling as people checked out my Stik-ers…

… box of prints for sale and a few original paintings. The rain never let up on this day and a few hours later I had to zip my tent shut as rain was leaking in. I was a bit sad that no one had a chance to see any of my art – it was a bit of a wasted effort and all I got out of it was a pile of wet blankets and a small head cold.

I decided to focus my attention on other aspects of this festival – namely the music!

I spent a good part of the morning helping out with setting up a couple of tents that would be needed for all the musicians – myself included – who would soon be taking the stage.

The tents were needed to keep this funky looking machine – and all of its riders – dry. I’m not sure what this machine is called but its purpose was to create all the electricity that would be needed by the musicians. People would volunteer their time to sit in the chairs and pedal with their feet. There were eight seats available. As everyone pedaled, energy would be created and this energy would be converted into electrical currents that would power all the guitars, microphones, speakers and soundboards.

This was a great idea – meant to inspire people to realize that we can find more environmentally friendly ways to create the energy that our societies need. And after pedaling for a while, people came to appreciate the effort that is needed to create electricity!

There was just one problem… The sponsors who were to donate a special kind of battery that would be needed to store our energy until it was needed, backed out at the last minute. Unfortunately, we had to plug the stage and equipment into London Hydro for this event.

But… we still wanted to show the people who came to our event – and this number never exceeded 30 – that we could do something with the energy we did create. Someone came up with the idea that we could plug in a beverage warmer and fill it with apple cider!!! We all thought that this was a great idea!

I spent a bit of time on ‘the bike’ to keep warm and the other times I was hanging out on the stage, keeping the rain off my head. I was a bit surprised when the Mayor of London, Anne Marie deCicco-Best, appeared on stage to join us. I introduced myself to her, shook her hand and – of course – gave her a few of my peace Stik-ers!

The mayor was there to make the opening announcement for the event.

And as you can see the audience was all ears! Wait – that’s not the audience… it’s one of the band’s photographers.

Ahhh yes – this is a better shot of all the millions of people who attended!

Well, the show had to go on… and it did! This is a band from St. Thomas and they helped to lift everyone’s spirit with some good ‘ol Rock’N’Roll!!!

I was scheduled to take the stage after this band, and I was freezing, so I decided to hop back onto one of the bikes to warm up. The bike helped to get my blood moving again…

… and this warm apple cider helped to warm my insides!


Later, I was inspired to write this poem in honour of all the people who came out to make this day possible and in honour of my latest ‘peace poem’ efforts (see last 2 blog stories).

Now that I was warmed up, I was ready to share a few of my songs with all of the other artisans and bike pedalers!!!

I sang two songs while playing my guitar and then I decided to do something in honour of our attempts to create enjoyment without the aid of electricity, since we couldn’t make our own. I put down the microphone and stood at the edge of the stage, in the rain, and with everyone’s help…

… we were able to fill the air with song, spirit and wishes for a better future!!!

It would have been nice to have had a beautiful day for this event, but we didn’t. It would have been nice to have had the support of all our sponsors, but we didn’t. It would have been nice to share our art and our talents with the community, but no one showed up.

We did the best we could with what we had. We persevered through the rain and cold by using our imaginations. We joked, we laughed and our small communion embraced in honour of what brought us together – our attempts to inspire a brighter future for the world.

In a funny sort of way, it was better this way! We were there to show the world that we love her and I know that she was there, listening and smiling!