Sunday, November 16, 2014


   It has been said that a picture speaks a thousand words. That is so true. My watercolour of an owl that I painted back in 1987 did not just speak a thousand words  . . .  it delivered a heartfelt speech!

    "Look at my chest, my belly and my wings. They have no definition. My tail is half rendered and the details are missing. If not for my head that you managed to fill in before you put your brush away, it would have been difficult to tell if I were a confused bird or a feathered cat. At least with my fully dilated eyes, everyone will know that I am The Unfinished Owl.

     I get tickles from the title you have given me. You sure have a good sense of humour. For the 27 dormant years you made me wait, there is no doubt, Procrastination is the perfect name. It is quite amusing. It makes people laugh. But arguably, procrastinator - you are not. You are simply a man who knows his priorities; giving importance to what matters the most.

    From the day you walked away, in every year that passed, I watched you balance your precious time. Between your two other passions: photography and writing, you chose to put your family first. And what amazed me more than anything else, in the midst of your busy life, you always have time to say a prayer and be grateful to your God, each day.

     After all those years, you have grown so much older. The youthful looks have vanished. But beyond this ageing artist standing before me, I see a self-fulfilled man who has lived a simple, yet meaningful life.

    Look at you now. A grandfather to four adorable grandchildren and still happily married to the same woman you love. You must be proud. All the Christian values you taught your three daughters are exemplified in the persons they have become; inspired and driven by their father's positive outlook in life.

   With your unyielding perseverance, you challenged your own limitations. Unafraid to push boundaries that stood on your way, eventually validating yourself as an accomplished photographer and a published writer.

    The underlying message in your photography as well as the spirituality in your writings have brightened one's gloomy day, touched some hearts and have inspired many others.

    True to your words that good things happen only at the right place and at the right time, you proved that it was worth the long wait. The day you returned and had me framed, I had a feeling that something good was about to unfold. And with the stamp of approval from an art juror, my hunch was reaffirmed. I knew then, there was no turning back. Nothing could stop us. You and I were on our way . . . heading in full speed to our first ever -- Art Exhibition!

   There, at the 2014 Art Guild of Scarborough Fall Art Show and Sale, you made me feel like the most valuable painting in the world. The hefty tag price you had put on me was flattering, and your hope that no one else could afford to take me home was even more endearing. Your wicked style made me stand out above the rest. In the midst of the art exhibits, I was one of a kind. Whimsically unfinished, unique and so original; worthy of recognition and award.

     Finally, I am happy that the waiting is over. Now is my time to rise and shine. It feels good that after 27 years, I am not incomplete after all. In the next two decades, I may out-live you. But as I continue to exist, my big nocturnal eyes will forever reflect your brilliance, artistry, originality and your story.

    To you my dear friend and my creator, thank you for keeping me in your family. I am deeply honoured to be a part of a legacy that your children, grandchildren and future generations will remember you by."

                                                                 -The Great Horned Owl

The 2014 Art Guild of Scarborough Fall Art Show and Sale

Warm reactions from fellow procrastinators.
The Procrastination Team: The Owl and The Artist
showing off the Honourable Mention Award

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Who is Sarah Sheard?

Write On! instructor, Sarah Sheard
   It was the first day of Write On! I could not afford to miss it. Meeting a seasoned novelist doesn't happen everyday. I was looking forward to get inspired by Sarah Sheard. Her writing credentials just blew me away.

  Three days earlier, I asked myself, "Who is Sarah Sheard?"

  Thanks to Google, it provided me all the answers to my query. Now, I know why she got chosen to be the Write On! creative writing instructor.

  Sarah Sheard is a psychotherapist and the author of four published books: Almost Japanese (1985) The Swing Era (1993) The Hypnotist (1999) and Krank: Love in the New Dark Times (2012)
    Sarah also comes from a well-known family. She is the sister of pop singer Mia Sheard and pianist John Sheard, and the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Sheard, a former mayor of Toronto.

   Oh, did I forget to mention that she loves horses? Yes she does. There is no denying. The video she posted on Vimeo shows the other exciting side of this amazing writer.

   In the morning of the first session, I told my daughter I could only babysit the three grandchildren until noon. The creative writing workshop hosted by Bendale Library, was scheduled to start at 1:30 pm. So, at around 12:30 in the afternoon, I was already driving along McCowan Road on my way to join the group.

   I had never been to Bendale Library before. I was a little lost when I entered the building, but the voices coming from the basement pointed me to the plight of stairs leading down to the library’s meeting room where the preparation for the first day was in progress.

    As I peeked through the glass door, there she was, in denim jacket and jeans.With her sporty look, she could easily be mistaken as a model for Levi Strauss rather than a writer. The matching cowgirl belt suited her too. In fact, she looked so good in the outfit, she reminded me of the legendary Calamity Jane of the Old West. If Scarborough Arts decided to produce a movie about the famous lady gun-slinger, Sarah Sheard could easily play the part. She has the right poise and charisma that Wild Bill Hicock would have easily approved.

The youthful side of Sarah Sheard

   In the last nine weeks, every Thursday in the echoic Bendale meeting room, Sarah met with us for a two-hour session of creative writing - fiction and memoirs. She was witty, patient and accommodating. Sarah made us feel at ease, and  her presence outweighed  the poor acoustics of the room.

  I personally enjoyed her brilliant  video presentations. I found them to be thought-provoking. And with her cool animated style of teaching, she made the art of writing – so much fun and painless.

   I don't know about the other seniors, but throughout the writing exercises, I put myself in the shoes of a different senior -- a senior kindergarten, hungry to learn new things. I allowed the motherly soft spoken words of Sarah to bring out the budding writer in me. I absorbed every bit of her positive energy.

   Last Thursday was our final day. In the span of two months, I must say, it was a great experience knowing Sarah. Likewise, it was fun listening to my fellow seniors’ stories. Some tickled my funny bones, and some  touched my inner soul.

   Now, I look forward to see my two pieces in the soon-to-be published Reflections Anthology. It is such an honour to be a part of this creative group of seniors who share my passion in writing.

   Surely, I will be missing the Thursday afternoons at Bendale Library. But it also comforting to know that next year, on Valentine’s day, all these fond memories will be re-lived once more. A reminder from me to my dear self will be coming by mail, via Sarah Sheard. (a.k.a. the modern day Calamity Jane.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Art Guild of Scarborough

   I truly needed something to awaken the hibernating artist in me. It has been too long. The unfinished watercolour Horned Owl that I started back in 1987 is still the same as it was when the last stroke of my brush touched it.
     Yes, 27 years of procrastination! And what better place to find inspiration than at the Art Guild of Scarborough Spring Art Show and Sale? 

  Joy MacFadyen greets visitors at the  Art Guild of Scarborough
 2014  Spring Art  Show and Sale.

Volunteer and AGS member, Erin Eggleton
    Everything about the show was precisely as I hoped for. Thanks to Edie Bergl who I met at Rick's framing shop the week before. If not for the invitation she handed me, I would have easily missed the great opportunity to meet the talented artists whose creativity infused me with desire to reconnect with my long lost love for painting. Just by listening to them talk got me all motivated. These gifted people have given me the jolt I needed to stimulate my nerves and pick up my idle paint brushes.
      Oil painters, Yushing He and Ouyang Ling, the husband and wife team at the show may never know how much I enjoyed their infectious smiles as they answered my queries. Their enthusiasm surely made me think why I drifted away from painting. Is it because of photography? 
    Perhaps the ease of producing a desired image at the speed of a camera shutter has spoiled me after all these years. The magic of digital photography instantly manipulating lights and colours are great artistic expressions, but no modern technology can ever compare to a hand-painted masterpiece. I am confident that my two heroes Michelangelo and Norman Rockwell would agree.

Carol Robitaille holds one of her paintings on exhibit.
    Carole Robitaille's creative hand is a good example. She was one of the super talented artists whose amazing work caught my eye. Her framed oil pastel “Dance in Motion” was quite engaging. The way she applied the lines, made the dancing figures come to life. I could almost hear the music!

Jolanta Omari stands between her two originals.
    Jolanta Omari was equally impressive. This amazing 72-year old artist started painting only four years ago, but her interesting style is so catchy and undeniably pleasing. Her original marker rendition of the vibrant “Colourful Crowd” did not escape my attention. And neither did it surprise me that it won the Lila Patton award. It sure deserved the recognition.

Usha proudly stands next to her impressive two-piece
    48in x 60in  acrylic painting of Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe.

        The Art Guild of Scarborough president, Garry Herridge
         next to his beautiful watercolour painting.

   It was a delight meeting these creative people standing next to their masterpieces. One of them was Garry Herridge, the current president of The Art Guild of Scarborough. He led me to his beautiful framed watercolour paintings and even gave me the honour to photograph him.

Well known portrait artist and AGS long member, Joy MacFadyen

    Moving on, in the maze of paintings from one to the next, I met a seasoned artist in the person of Joy MacFadyen who is also a long time member of The Art Guild of Scarborough for forty two years. When she agreed to pose in front of my camera, I couldn't believe that I was shooting the portrait of a well-known portrait artist whose remarkable achievements included eighteen paintings for the Lipton Soup Family Pride many years ago.

Art lovers from all walks of life and of all ages came to see the exhibits.

  There was a great variation of themes and techniques at the AGS Art Show. The good turn out on its first day proved the old saying that there is always an eye for every painting, no matter in what medium and what style it is presented. True to this belief, a loyal supporter of AGS Art Show in the last ten years spoke freely about his feelings toward a painting of Hal Bilz that he purchased at the show. He openly expressed his fondness of the artist, “Hal’s paintings of outdoors and nature connect to me emotionally. I just love his work. This is my fifth of Hal Bilz’s paintings.”  Unsolicited comment such as this outweighs any tag price placed by an artist on his/her work. 

                There is always an eye for every painting
                 no matter what style  and medium it is presented.

   There is no question, I learned so much at the AGS Spring Art Show. The artists and their heart-felt creations fired me up and re-ignited my passion to paint. The show also reminded me of the long forgotten joy of sharing the beauty of one’s art. My art is not complete until unbound of chains that are holding it back. It needs to be seen by the eye that deserves to see it.

                                HEAD and TAIL
                      The Art of Procrastination
   Before leaving the show, I made a resolution to continue where I left off. To keep that compulsion burning, I thought I should join the Art Guild of Scarborough. And so, I signed up. There is a waiting period, but that’s okay. It's not a problem. I can wait. I waited 27 years to get back to my long delayed watercolour painting. Another year or so won’t make much of a difference now. 

  In the meantime, I will work on my unfinished piece of art and frame it with a fitting inscription . . . 

   The Art of Procrastination!