The Beltline Urban Murals Project provided several offerings over the past few days.  My friend, Pat, and I participated in a tour that introduced us to the murals in east locations of the Beltline. We will have to see the murals to the west on our own. The weather was cooperative at the outset, but then we just got really hit with rain.  It’s interesting though, Pat and I never really get hung up about things when we are taking in an event of interest.  We just have fun.

Click on the blue links for artist biographies.  This is the third annual BUMP event to be held in Calgary.

Our meet-up was at the historic McHugh House.

First stop was Luke Ramsey’s work at Alpha House.  Luke is out of Powell River, B.C.

 Next stop was Lacey and Layla’s work.  They are out of Edmonton and Montreal.  I like the focus of their work.

Pat can be seen jay walking in the next photograph.  She is going to let me know (again) that she doesn’t like her photo taken.

This mural was a new addition to the line up and it was a really fun stop as two artists were working on this alley mural as we approached.  I believe the gentleman is RUNT. It can’t be easy painting that rough stucco surface with brushes.  I’m also guessing that this wall was in bad shape upon the outset!

As we left, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old ad. art work on the adjacent building.

This piece is going to be amazing and will cover the expanse of this wall.  It is based on a study done of buffalo hides and is connected with research at Blackfoot Crossing.  Typically, Guido Van Helten produces works that include large monochrome portraits, so this is a little different.  I’m excited to see this one finished.  

At this point, the rain was coming down.  Kevin Ledo’s work will take your breath away.  It is truly amazing.

The work of FATS is about freedom.  I like the vertical format of this one.  By this time, I was getting wet.  My umbrella was sitting in the back seat of my car, quite some distance away by this time.

From this point forward, I lost track of the artist’s work and will have to spend some time researching a wee bit.  I’m thinking that this one was completed by an ol’ Gorilla House friend of mine, Adam Zhu.  In fact, I own one of his pieces as commissioned in the day.  I’ll go take a look at his website.  Yuppers!  Congratulations, Adam!  Beautiful work!!

Mateusz Naperialski created a mural in close proximity to several others.  This little section was absolutely beautiful and the art was like eye candy.  I was really feeling for the organizers and events folks, as well as the DJs who were closing out the event.  What a time to have so much rain!

Labrona’s work created a beautiful welcome into the celebration area, fixed with fire pits, strung lights and spray paint demonstrations and participation.  So fun!  Food trucks are down there and I’m sure that the music is still playing.

Reza Nik’s bright yellow created a brilliant conclusion to our BUMP experience.  This is an event that is now on my radar and I will be attending in future.  Congratulations to all participants.  I’m thrilled that our city is energizing the visual.  It’s so important to all of us.

Pat, that was a good one, right??

Now, to curl up with some Netflix.

Painting With Kids Outdoors on a Windy Day!

As I continue with my “My Life Falls Out of Order” series of posts…I still find little nuggets in my archives about teaching, music, nature and art moments that I wish to put in some form of reflection.

Not much to say about this one that the photographs won’t explain, but, it all began with good intentions.  When the weather is nice and the year is grinding to a close, it’s nice to get students outdoors as much as is possible.  These experiences can be based on curriculum; you just need to think it through.

So, of course, I head outside to paint.  There is a tradition of painting landscape called en plein air…if good for the Impressionists, why not for children?  Any grade…

When painting a mural, it is the teacher’s greatest responsibility to share with students the idea behind collaboration and elevation of the group’s efforts over the familiar experience of elevating the self.  Well before a project such as a group mural, lessons need to focus on the personality of line quality and the very specialization of mark making.  In a group mural, it is explained, it is important to share your marks in a variety of locations.  This will lead to a more successful piece, in that Unity will be accomplished through the weaving of many personal approaches to colour, design and line.

And…when the wind blows, just revise the initial plan.  Don’t get sad about a splatter, enjoy the impact of elements upon the collective result.

Art-Based Games

Recently, I had opportunity to be a guest teacher in a junior high Social Studies class where the teacher is using an Art Arena Game to teach concepts around the colonization of land.  There are three art games going on, one for each of his grade seven classes.  I won’t speak directly to his process, just write as an observer and to share some of my past experiences with this type of learning.

Art-Based Games by Don Pavey


The use of the term, handicapped, on the back cover of the book is merely a reflection of the time…published in 1979.

I read Don Pavey’s Art-Based Games a zillion years ago and in my practice, incorporated role playing and key concepts that are outlined in the book, but sometimes with a spin.  That’s the point to Art-Based games.  I have no archive of the completed murals created by my students, but will post an image of a completed mural from Art Arena Games UK. info@artarenagames.co.uk

Energy Art Arena Games

From the UK site, this…

Art Arena is a team game format designed to develop social interaction and group skills.  The game process creates large works of art such as paintings, drawings, wall murals and  composite prints.

While there are all sorts of art games, beginning with simple group games like the Exquisite Corpse, tessellation games and fractal games, for the purpose of this post, I’m writing solely about those leading to the creation of large gridded murals, no matter the media produced through role play.  (these may also be produced as three dimensional or relief sculptures).  I have taken some digital photos of images in my Art-Based Games book…likely a huge infringement of copyright.  They just help me to explain this process…and yes, eventually, I will post images of the Social Studies project.

??????????The process of creating an art game and then producing the resulting art involves productive communication and requires a variety of skills.  Some might call the process a group drama as participants go into role as master planner, production line managers, communicators, colour mixers and artists.  The art game might take place in a single afternoon, but my students typically worked on their arena over a period of a month, sometimes longer.

????????????????????The largest mural project created during one of my Art Arena Games was the creation of a huge bridge down the entire length of a hallway at St. John Fine Art’s School here in Calgary.  This was a great game because it expanded from one space to another and involved journeying between those spaces.  The master planner did not have visual access to the large project (in fact he was seated, like the REAL Wizard of Oz, behind a tri fold that contained a window where instructions were passed in and out to the department managers).  In fact, the managers of the project and the master planner did not see the physical art until after each day’s class had ended and they were using the hallway to move to the next scheduled class. I think that the young man who was in role as the master planner was the son of an architect here in town who was, in part, responsible for the design of the 10th St and Memorial Drive pedestrian and LRT bridge, very cutting edge for the time.

?????????? ??????????Wh ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????When these experiences happen, it is amazing.  It is empowering to students and also teaches a huge responsibility to ones own vision and contribution to a community.  It requires risk from educators to leave a traditional approach and to allow for a more grand learning experience.  These can be fashioned to each particular classroom culture, space, size and can be used in order to teach any number of concepts, whether that be in math, social studies, science, pure art, drama or any traditional ‘subject’.  The greatest fear that most teachers have is a loss of control or management.  These scenarios, once designed, place that management on the learners.

The following is a series of photographs I took of the social studies game that is happening in grade seven.  It involves trading up and colonizing a physical space, much as Europeans would have experienced.  Included here…farming and grain, flora and fauna, trapping and hides.  It was easy for me, as a guest teacher, to step in and watch the game happen.  Each class was broken into three clans…the Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee and Mi’kmaq.  Each of the clans had three clan leaders.  There were three Trustworthy People in each class.  Each participant in the game had their own personal icon and avatar and contributed to the game through their trading.  A conference was shared in each clan as clan members made decisions amongst themselves regarding their moves on the game and the trades that they would make.  Absolutely amazing to watch!  I hope to visit to see the final outcome.  The blue spaces on each board represent the water bodies…lakes…rivers.  These were determined on the boards before the games commenced.

DSC_1152 DSC_1151 DSC_1150 DSC_1149 DSC_1148 DSC_1147 DSC_1145 DSC_1144DSC_1141 DSC_1140 DSC_1139 DSC_1138 DSC_1137 DSC_1136 DSC_1135 DSC_1134


Stepping into a Kurelek Painting

I think that the last time I feasted my eyes upon William Kurelek work was when I entered the St. Thomas More College chapel on campus in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  I was so overwhelmed by the exquisite detail and the content of the work that I could do nothing but stand still and take it all in.  Because of lighting, photography wasn’t an option…but, I will do my best to locate other writers/visitors who might have succeeded.  In the end, I located an image here.

Brigid More writes… William Kurelek was struck with inspiration by the chapel itself. “He walked in and said: ‘I’d like to paint that wall,’ ” says Sanche. The Basilian Fathers had raised funds to commission an artwork from the painter, but had not enough to pay for a mural of those proportions. Kurelek offered instead to paint as a donation, provided that the funds raised be sent to a mission in India. At that time, the Basilian Fathers lived at the college, and Kurelek, through the two weeks that he worked on the mural, stayed as their guest, fasting and attending mass every morning.

1976 Photograph of Mural in St. Thomas More/ Saskatoon

I retrieved a photograph of this Kurelek self-portrait from Archbishop Terry’s blog.  I am particularly fond of this one because of my own interest in ephemera.  Kurelek is surrounded by some of the bits that meant something to him in life. 


This past weekend I decided to drive up to Forestburg to spend time with my dear friend, Bill Webb.  Heading up, I wandered north and east for miles on various Range roads and enjoyed the serendipitous events that took place along those roads.  For example, I stopped the van and watched a rancher’s wife chase a skipping brown calf the entire length of a fence, in order to return it to its mother who was bawling on the other side of the fence.  A three hour drive easily transformed into five hours.  I had a plate of homemade liver and onions in the small hamlet of Trochu and explored an extensive collection in their historical museum.  What a tremendous resource.  Their archives are exquisite!  So, doddle, I DID!  And what fun! Arriving at the W.H.Webb studio, just outside of Forestburg, I then took in the beauty of air and light, friendship and conversation.  There is nothing better than sipping a glass of french wine…or a morning coffee…while gazing out at the horizon.  The only sounds; frogs in the creek…birds…and the seeders driving up and down their long rows for miles.  I felt as though I had stepped into a Kurelek painting.


I am so grateful for the time away from the city…reading, reflecting, sketching and playing with Max.  He definitely loved being on the farm!


The following image was collected from the Salt and Light blog.  The author explores connections between the scripture found in Matthew 14:13-21 and what life must have been like for the missionaries out on the open Canadian prairies.  It is definitely an interesting comparison.


Whimsy on a Monday Afternoon: The Tree of Life

Because I teach today, I went into the church to paint yesterday afternoon.  Marilyn joined me again and together, we shared stories of faith and immersed ourselves in the whimsy of the angels on the wall.  It’s rewarding to see the layers building and from a distance, a rich surface is coming to life.  Ajay is one of the grade six students who will be confirmed by the Bishop next week.  I keep him in my prayers as he makes his journey of faith.

Tuesday’s Collage:Resurrection Tree

I’m back to work on the wall in the St. Anne’s Room of St. Albert the Great Church.  This is the space where mothers bring their babies to nurse them or to comfort them when they are crying.

Inscribed on the wall will be over a thousand names of the baptized.  Presently, that process is on hold while I apply, in collage, the three complete cycles of the liturgical readings.

Angels in Branches

The readings represent the stories of our faith and so I had a sense that they needed to be in the piece.

Cycle B

I hope that my readers will enjoy following the process of this mural to its completion

Chapel Time: Day Twenty-Six

I didn’t take photos in the Chapel today after teaching…but it was a pretty special pre-supper hour event.  My stories seem to be just stacking up inside me…I’m not really telling any of them.
A former student of mine agreed to come and paint with me in the Chapel, so I picked her up after teaching. I’ve invited her to work on the vineyard, while I continue on with my flying from one portion of the wall to another. She is a very special lady and I have many memories of working with her in art classes grades seven to nine.  It was a pleasure to have her work alongside me.  I have not had anyone else share this sort of time with me.
Three of us went on a short walk and looked at the other banners I have painted in the church.  It was good to share this work in such a quiet atmosphere, with no other people around.  I realized again, how special it is to have the privilege of painting for God.
Back in the Chapel,  I needed to deal with the direction of the light on the vessels on the right hand side.  I remembered making a note somewhere along the way that I wanted to have the light moving from the center of the interior (the Tabernacle) onto the objects left and right.  I had painted a consistent light source from the left on Saturday…and so this needed to be changed.
I wrote onto the bottom right of the wall from the Old Testament reading in Samuel that describes that a horn carried the oil for anointing.  I wrote in gilt script again, just prior to painting the translucent alabaster jar to the very right. 
This small alabaster vessel may not have been captured by my dear photographer-friend because he left prior to that time.  I hope to load some of those photographs onto my blog when they are transferred over to me.  It was special to be included as a part of the subject of the wall project, along with my friend and a very nice thing to be hearing a shutter going off again and again. I am a huge fan of this man’s work!  I have to admit also that, given a chocolate smoothy, I slurped on my very first beverage since deciding to refrain from drinking or eating at all while painting.  It was such a treat.  Delicious!

The Chapel: Day 27