Valérie Butters is a Canadian artist who is from Ottawa, Ontario and studied at the Ottawa School of Art graduating in 2005. She currently lives and works in Pemberton, British Columbia.
Her paintings are referred to as -
"Fearlessly feminine" (British Vogue) and "Interestingly gaudy and exuberantly messy" (Montreal Gazette).
I see a lot of freedom in her paintings. Her art has freedom in practice that I would like to adopt in my work. I love the feel of it.
She sometimes paints with the brush at the end of a bamboo pole to help her gain the freedom and expression she wants to achieve.
I enjoy watching the short videos she posts on Instagram. You can also find her at these excellent internet venues.
Silk Art Gallery
There's a great interview with Valérie at Create Magazine .
Down For The Count
Life is supposed to be easy, isn't it? In reality, what happens is often completely the opposite of easy. And that makes all the difference.
Last weekend was going to be fantastic. We went over to St John on Saturday to get our island retail and chill fix. I visited the Bajo El Sol Art Gallery, bought a shirt at another shop at Mongoose Junction, then headed to the Sun Dog Cafe for a couple of beers and some lunch.
We polished off a pain killer or two, had a bit of lunch/dinner, and walked on down to Cruz Bay to watch the water pass drift by with the passing hours.
A great start.
Sunday, we planned another lazy day. That's what Sundays are for, aren't they? They are for me.
After an expected slow, easy start, we headed down the bumpy road in our jalopy for a bit of beach time. We love to walk on Magens Bay Beach. It's somewhere between about three-quarters and seven-eights of a mile long. You can stroll up and down the beach, watch people playing in the water, smell the grills, feel the thrills, and generally "smooth' off dem edges."
I usually make fun of Andrea for wearing her flip-flops walking on what has to be some of the softest sand in the world. She has a good reason though. A few years ago a bee got in the way of her foot and the dreamy soft sand and deposited its stinger in her foot. It morphed smiling, happy Andrea into frowning, grumpy Andrea in less than a second.
This particular Sunday, I noticed and commented that she decided to go barefoot for the first time in a very long time.
We were well into our second length on the beach. Andrea was keeping a proper lookout for bees, and I said I would keep an eye peeled too. We wouldn't want grumpy Andrea to show up again. It was such a beautiful day.
Things change so quickly.
I guess I was paying too much attention to the reggae music, or the sun on the water, or, maybe, I was just bouncing around in my own head. Our little walk was interrupted when I felt like I stepped on a piece of glass, or a needle, or something else sharp. We often find small chunks of this or that on the beach. We do our duty to keep the beach clean, but apparently, some people aren't as diligent.
This time it wasn't a misplaced pop-top, chard of glass, or sharp piece of coral. What I stepped on, was one a pesky little black and yellow buzzer. Those little beggars hurt. My only consolation was watching it writhe on the ground, unable to sting anybody else.
I managed to get the stinger out and hobbled down the beach. I'm pretty lucky. I'm not allergic to bees, and the sting wasn't all that bad. There was no swelling, and the pain went away relatively quickly. Before too long, I was skipping down the beach like a teenager. Well, perhaps not skipping but at least I was walking without a limp.
I kept my eye peeled as we walked up and down the beach four times and I did not see another bee in the sand. According to my Fitbit, I took 6,338 barefoot steps on Magens Bay, and I did not see one other bee on the ground. The one I stepped on just happened to be the only bee I saw on the beach that day and that unfortunate soul ended up under my foot.
I guess I just bee-lucky.
Having recovered quite well from the great bee-tastrophy, we continued our pleasant Sunday stroll. I waited three and a half miles for my post-walk relaxation libation. So, I was a bit giddy when we stopped at the beach bar for a couple of painkillers before meandering down the beach to set up shop with our chairs, cooler, snacks, limes, rum-n-mixers.
I was sauntering down the beach, painkiller in hand, I must have had my head down. I was probably looking for bees.
Out of nowhere, a football (American football not English football) ended up connecting with my left eye socket from about twenty or thirty yards away. SMACK!
The first thing I felt was a rocketing pain that reached from my left eye socket to the back right quadrant of my head. The synapses must have had a good jostle because the next thing I felt was a complete numbness starting at my knees and traveling back up my spine. The earth started spinning, and my legs nowhere to be found. I collapsed like 245 pounds of slightly set jello into, what turned out to be, a lump on not so soft sand.
When everything stopped spinning, and I was able to get off of that ride, people were gathering around my sprawled beach body. My sunglasses were askew and falling off my head. The only thing left, of my once near full painkiller were little cubelets of ice next to my phone in the sand dangerously close to the next wave coming in.
The guy who threw the football ran up and was very apologetic. He first asked if I was okay - which I thought I was. But the cobwebs must have still been clouding my thoughts because when he asked if he could buy me another drink, I can only plead that I had a concussion on this one, I said, "No, I'm alright." I must not have been very alright. Turn down a free drink! How sad is that! I must have been out of my head delirious!!!!
As it turns out, that was the last physical assault on my body for the day. God had stopped having fun at my expense. We sat down and watched a magnificent sunset from an idyllic spot on a beautiful beach.
Just in case you thought I'd escaped the insult after my day of injury, when we got home and sat down to relax and watch a movie, the power cut out, and we decided it was time to call it a day.
Fast forward several days to Tuesday, I woke up and couldn't move my head. My skull seemed to have situated itself on the top of a very painful stick. My neck was stiff, and I couldn't turn to the right or the left. I was just short of going to the pharmacy and buying a neck brace.
Luckily, I stockpile painkillers (of the pharmaceutical type this time). Okay - Ibuprophen, Tylenol/Paracetamol, and Voltarol. Although I wish I had had a bit stronger stuff, in the end, it wasn't necessary.
Wednesday, stiff neck and all, we went for a nice walk with Marty, Girly, and Bob. I really got attached to Marty when he was found on Martin Luther Kings Jr.'s birthday (thus the name) several years ago. Now that we're leaving the island, I'll miss that ole fella. He's such a sweet soul. Girly is another foundling of the canine variety and an excellent walker, as long as you don't mind a bit of tugging. Bob, is not a dog, but sometimes, just sometimes, we do catch him barking at the moon. - just kidding.
That evening, God must have been bored because he showed up and started poking again in the form of a set of stairs, a cactus, and a clumsy oaf (me). Andrea was walking up the stairs in front of me from The Shoreline Restaurant when I tripped over one of the steps. I claim that the earth jumped up just enough to tip me off balance.
Poor Andrea. Her backside ended up snuggling up to a very prickly cactus. I tried to help, so she didn't fall entirely, but as it turned out I just pushed her more into the weeds.
When the dust settled, her shorts were full of hundreds of tiny cactus spines. It was so irritating, the poor woman had to remove her shorts and travel home from the restaurant in her knickers.
Yes, you're right, that did not make me her favorite person that night. We even had to stop for gas at which point she put my hat in her lap to disguise her lack of clothing.
I know the great cactus fall was all my fault. I can only plead clumsiness in my part. As Andrea says, "Scott, you don't tread lightly on this earth." I guess she's right.
So, my friends, this week has shall we say, been eventful.
As I lick my wounds and pack for our final departure from St Thomas, I wish you happiness, health, and good fortune. But most of all, I wish you peace.
Layne Johnson - Artist Of The Week
This week I bring you, Layne Johnson.
I first spotted this talented creator from Texas on Instagram. He's quite a prolific Instagrammer.
He believes art isn't something he "does" it's who he is. I like that.
He says on his website, "I want my art to be a break from all the chaos and negativity."
Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly. We all need a respite from the vitriol that is so prevalent today. That's part of the reason I have this website.
Though Layne produces some great portraiture, I get the feeling his heart is really with the landscape, and it shows. He wants to take his medium and transport you to a beautiful place, and for me, he does.
His cloud paintings are phenomenal. His paintings give you a real sense of their overwhelming size and grandeur on the landscape.
Clouds are pretty much made from the same stuff, but they can be dramatically different. Some are wispy as a breath of air, and some have such heft you wonder how they stay aloft.
Clouds are constantly evolving. If you watch them long enough, you can see them changing before your eyes. They grow, evaporate, shade you from the sun, and pour down rain. They can morph from one shape to another before you know it.
I love how different parts of the cloud reflect and filter light differently. Layne captures the whole spectrum of color from nature on his canvas.
He is, like many artists, a teacher. It's no good to just hold on to your talents or techniques. It's much better to spread the wealth around. If you want to learn his techniques and make beautiful art as well, you can order his online course or attend one of his in-person workshops.
But, don't take my word for it. Check out Layne Johnson's work for yourself. Here's where you can find him on the interweb. I'm sure he would appreciate a visit and a like or two on social media.
Facebook Instagram Twitter Website
No go out and make some art!
I did this painting of Latitude 18 when it was up and running. Latitude was our local hangout when we lived in Red Hook, and it was a hopping place back then with live music every night.
I spent some time today gazing listlessly out the window. I was taking in the fabulous colors and watching people frolicking in the bay.
Every once in a while I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of the ocean around here. The waters run from deep blue to the most tantalizing turquoise and aquamarine. When the sun shines, and the breezes blow off the sea, it's bright, beautiful, and most of the time it's serenely peaceful.
Sure, there is the occasional hiccup, but I don't mind most of the time. Most of the time, I've been pretty content and grateful to be here.
As we're planning to leave the island in a couple of weeks, I'm getting a bit panicky because I want to redo some of my favorite things before we go.
We want to visit St John and our favorite little haunt there like The Sun Dog Cafe, where lots of people gather to tip a few and have some laughs. I want to have a Pain Killer at the Beach Bar on Cruz Bay. I've heard its open for business now, so we've got to check it out.
It's time for one last round of our favorite bays and beaches.
We want to dip our toes in Honeymoon Bay on Water Island and perhaps relax to the smooth vibes of a local band.
We can't leave out Hull Bay, Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, and I can't forget Sunset Beach.
I'm looking forward to visiting some of the many restaurants we've come to love: The Coconut Cove at the Ritz, The Twisted Cork in Frenchtown, Gladys' Restaurant in Charlotte Amalie, and Fresh Bistro at Yacht Haven Grande.
Unfortunately, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devoured a couple of our favorite haunts.
We've had to bid a fond farewell to Latitude 18 (painting above) on Vessup Beach and Epernay in Frenchtown. They have shuttered their doors permanently or quasi-permanently because of storm damage.
Mahogany Run, a once picturesque golf course, was ruined by the hurricane. What was once a beautifully maintained track of land is now, well, not. Trees grow out of the bunkers and bushes are sprouting out of the greens.
Yes, it's time to say goodbye to all our favorite places. On April 30th we're off on new adventures.
I can't wait to see what's next.
I'll be writing my last post from St Thomas for quite some time next week. I hope I'm able to report success on our final days in paradise.
Until next week, I wish you peace!
Not many of the artists I recommend in this newsletter come with a warning.
David Goodsell is a scientist. He's a "structural biologist." He studies the structures of cells and in particular, viruses. From his studies of these cellular structures, he creates his artwork.
He makes up the colors in his painting because the proteins he's represents have no real color. So he makes up the colors to help distinguish between the different functions each of the proteins have.
I think the representations are fantastic.
The reason I think Goodsell should come with a warning is not that he represents things like HIV, the Zika Virus, and other extremely hazardous cells in his paintings. It's because the subject he's representing makes you want to dig. You can lose yourself for hours in his work.
His artwork makes some very complex functions a little more understandable and accessible.
If you want to find David on the internet, you can find him at Molecular Art | Molecular Science. You'll find out all about him there.
Now go out and make some art!
I just swooped back into St Thomas. Carnival parade is coming up in the next couple of weeks. So I thought I would include this painting from Carnival. I noticed a lady watching the parade and festivities from her balcony. I thought it would be nice to include the painting I did at that time here. It will be our last Carnival this year. I'm looking forward to it.
You’ve probably wondered if the dog ate my homework this week. I’m afraid to say the dog did not eat my homework, but it’s been a hectic week. It started with scrambling to get the house in Phoenix closed down, flying to Philadelphia, and closing out my term on the board of AIIP.
AIIP is the Association of Independent Information Professionals and this last week was the association’s annual conference. We’re folks who have small or medium-sized businesses in the information industry.
I love going to the conference. It’s a place to learn about new things and to network with people who actually “get it.”
It’s dangerous for me to try to explain what I do to put rice, beans, and rum on the table. So I don’t try to explain it very often.
I’m in big trouble as soon as a few details spill from my inner geek. The person I'm talking to starts developing an impenetrable haze over their eyes. Their eyes look like my bathroom mirrors after a long hot shower.
Everybody reacts a bit differently, I might see their eyelids start to flutter (kinda like a lovestruck teenager or maybe me when I’m scrolling through cute little puppy pics on Pinterest).
I try to shut up I get to the point where their breathing gets noticeably shallow and slightly erratic.
Eventually, their eyeballs begin to roll like a one-armed bandit. I think they lodge somewhere north of the eyebrows and perhaps even close to the back of their head.
The next thing you know their lips are trembling, they’re heading toward the bar, and I’m in danger of losing a potential friend.
So I don’t talk about my work too much. It’s tough to get your life work into a 30-second statement. But that’s what we do. Everybody at the conference takes a turn introducing themselves and telling everyone what they do at the beginning of the meeting. It's a great way to get to know the people at the conference. I love putting a name to a face and listening to how my the members describe their business.
Lots of folks say that speaking in front of a group is one of the most stressful things they have ever done. It doesn't bother me too much, except at last year's conference in Minneapolis.
I was standing in front of the audience waiting for my turn to talk. I took a couple of deep breaths, and I was almost ready to go. Then I found my zipper was wide open.
Yes, the zipper on my trousers. And it wasn't slightly open; it was all the way down.
I was about third in line. There were several options here.
1. Just zip up my trousers in front of the audience. Sometimes admitting your mistake and fixing it is the best route but I wanted another way.
2. I could politely excuse myself and walk out of the room - fix things and walk back in. That was probably the best way to do it. But stepping out of line would alert the crowd that there was something wrong. I didn't do that either.
I gave my schpiel and confidently walked back to the relative anonymity of the crowd where I sat down, did up my zipper, and breathed a sigh of relief.
My colleague at AIIP, Mark Goldstein, takes pictures of everybody presenting and sends them out to the membership, I scrolled through the photos to see if there was one with me during the presentation.
Last year all I asked him was, "Please take at least one photo of me where it might look like I know what I'm doing."
I think this photo was it. But this is the photo where my zipper was down. I guess I just exuded so much confidence that nobody noticed.
I'm happy to say that, without a doubt, I carried it off like a pro. I was the only one sweating it.
This is the photo of that moment.
The good news is, it was unnoticeable, and I've got proof. I'm sure glad things worked out the way they did.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I can't believe I've not included David Hockney before this. Did you know we share a birthday? He was celebrating his 21st birthday when I was born. No wonder he's such a cool dude.
A few years ago I was watching a BBC program highlighting the work of David Hockney. The BBC Program called The Art Of Seeing.
Andrew Marr was the host of the show. Andrew starts the program looking over the North Sea sketching the sunrise on his iPad. In the introduction, he said David Hockney, at the time in his 70s, did a sketch on his iPad every morning and sent it to his friends. That's such a great idea. Apparently, at the time, Hockey got up at 5 am every morning to do these little sketches and send them to his friends.
When I first saw this program, I thought of starting my blog and doing a sketch a day and posting it to my blog. I kept it up for a couple of months. It was exhausting.
That kind of work ethic is impressive in my book, and if you keep a book, I'm sure it would be impressive in yours as well.
He's from Yorkshire but lived a lot of his life in New York and California. He was an acquaintance of Andy Warhol's crew and hung out for a while with them too. Most of his time was spent in Southern California.
I love that he's 81 years old and is still making stuff and using new technologies. He says painters are workers. You can't create unless you work and he says he works every day.
Hockney's paintings sell for prices in the millions. Last November, one of his paintings sold for $90 million. At the time it is the most expensive work of a living artist sold at auction. It broke the previous record of $58 million set in 2013.
If you want to learn more about that painting and the sale you can visit the Christies Website.
You should check him out. Especially the interviews with him on YouTube. He's just an easy going relaxed kind of a person, comfortable in his skin. I like that kind of person.
You can learn more about him on Wikipedia and at the David Hockey Foundation Website.
Today I'm sharing a colorful painting I did recently. I may have shared this one before, but I love its vivid colors. And just like week's artist of the week, I love colors.
I'm also a bit fascinated with beta fish. The color, their enigmatic look, and flowing fins are mysterious and mesmerizing. What, you say, they're only fish.
I'm intrigued by new and unusual things. I'm even a bit adventurous sometimes. When I was in college, I kept a couple of pet snakes and some other reptiles because I was somewhat skittish around them and I didn't want to be. I got used to it though I'm still not a fan.
When it comes to new technology, I'm not so adventurous. I've never been an early adopter. You won't find me standing in line to buy the latest gadget. I might admire it from afar until it's proven itself, but I'm not sticking my neck in that door until then. I wouldn't say I'm an early adopter.
I find it hilarious that people who look like they can't afford dinner tomorrow will stand in line and go into debt to buy the next Apple iPhone 36 Delta Force Satellite Handheld or the Samsung SkyMaster Communicator 8600 Splash with the non-flammable battery upgrade.
I hear those new "phones" can anticipate your every need. They'll start and unlock your car, or turn the lights on at home if you're afraid of the dark. You can have them order you dinner if you're too lazy to dial, buy you a drink when you need one most, or cut you off and call an Uber/Lyft when you've had too much.
With more functionality comes more complication. Phone contracts are unintelligible. I find them to be more like a deal with the Devil or the Corleone Family Olive Oil Company. I think they read something like:
"I promise to pay through the nose until my nose runs dry. If I'm no longer able to pay through my nose, I'll donate an arm, a leg, or even a kidney to satisfy my need to have the next best gadget.
If I run out of body parts, my children will be offered up as compensation.
Should I be unable to conceive or obtain a firstborn child, I will submit to a visit from a large bald man whose thoughts barely chug along one syllable at a time, sporting iron knuckles that drag on the ground leaving a trail of fireworks reminiscent of New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July.
If all collection methods fail you will self-destruct, your soul will be delivered directly to hell; you will not pass purgatory, you will not collect another phone.
We will obtain the gadget by any means possible, ship it back to the manufacturer, and ensure the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
In return, you will receive something that may not have been tested or approved. We don't even know if it will cause a deathly illness or nervous compulsion.
We do not stand by any of the apps that you use because they don't belong to us, nor do we guarantee the gadget will work a week from now unless you buy the near-obligatory service policy and insurance.
You may not return the gadget until we determine that you need an upgrade. At such time we'll stop remotely updating your software so it will become practically unusable. At that time you will be forced to return to the store, so we tempt you with new shiny flashy things."
I'm not a complete dinosaur though. I think I'm only a few versions of the iPhone behind. I've had it for hmmm - well - long enough that I don't have to pay for the phone itself anymore.
I have friends who still have their flip phones and are kind of proud of it. I can't blame them. Why change something when it works for you.
As for me, I bought my current phone when they stopped updating my iPhone 4. This phone was less than three years old, and the battery was giving me fits.
I called up the Apple Store, and a sharp young man ran through some diagnostic tests with me. He found that my battery was getting close to kaput. It had finally tipped over the edge and was past the point of no return. I had a few choices though.
1. I could buy a new phone.
I went online to see how much a new phone was. I gagged and passed out. When I came to, I remembered when you could go into Radio Shack and get a pretty cool landline for less than $15. Those were the days.
2. I could keep my phone plugged in all the time.
This option defeats the purpose of having a "mobile" phone. I'd be right back to the landline scenario. I might as well call up Ma Bell and have them wire my house again. Benefit: I could use the 15 dollar phone I still have stored in the garage — phone bill, negligible.
3. Go incommunicado.
It's not impossible. I could do it. I've been phoneless before. I could rid myself of all of the iPhonalia (iPhanalia: paraphernalia tied to the upkeep and proper care of an iDevice). I don't need a phone. Most of the calls I receive, want me to buy something I don't want and can't afford with money I don't have.
4. Get a new battery.
I opted for this one because, like a lot of folks, I've got used to the cool functions on my phone. Yeah, I'm a sucker. That, and I didn't want to mothball a phone I paid for over time and through the nose for.
So, I went down to see the folks at my local Apple store. My Lord, these kids were barely out of high school. These cherubs were all happy and perky and oh so willing to help. I'd say they were frustratingly and irritatingly ready, and able to assist.
The kids were, however, in fact, handy, and suggested I walk across the street to have a beer while they worked their magic — not a lousy waiting room. The place was called "Pies & Ales." What's not to like?
A half hour later, Presto-Chango new battery. It wasn't over the top expensive. I spent 49 bucks instead of a grand, and my phone ended up being just as perky as the Apple Junior Mafia with their trendy tattoos, and their persistently patronizing smiles.
I left with a smile though. My phone worked again. Maybe it was the beer. It could have just been gas.
I hope when you call, I'll be ready to pick up, and my phone will be serviceable, all charged up, and ready to use. I'll be so happy to hear your voice.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I ran across David Behrens on a program called "Colour In Your Life." Color in Your Life originated in Australia and was conceived by Graeme Stevenson who is an artist in his own right.
David was one of the first people I saw on that show, and his style really intrigued me. It's an expressive style with bright, bold colors set against a black background. That doesn't stop him though. Looks like he'll paint on just about anything. He is very creative.
He says he feels an affinity with ancient symbols and uses real and made up symbols in his works of art. The works are abstract but also representational and expressive. I love the detail and the systematic nature in the creation of his art. He has created his own style.
His works are collected by people all over the world from Australia, the UK, Asia, and the United States.
The Colour In Your Life program on YouTube features Behrens and his art. I think you might find it interesting; I did.
His work is unique, and I love the bright colors and symbols he uses. He says that the process he uses is intuitive and just flows while he is creating his paintings. I like the way things flow with him.
Whatever the process, I love the results he gets.
If you want, you can visit him on any of his interweb venues.