Mosaic Portraits by Allan Rosales

Emerging Artist, Art Therapist, University Instructor and Yoga Teacher, Allan Rosales announced this evening that he took the step to ‘BE’ an artist in 2015. This evening, on the fourth floor of the new Central Branch of the Calgary Public Library, a lovely group of supportive friends and family members gathered to enjoy the second Solo Exhibit of Allan’s Mosaic Portraits, four mothers.

Allan B. Rosales is a Calgarian born and raised. He completed his Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Fine Art from the University of Calgary in 2000. Subsequently, Allan went on to complete a Masters in Art Therapy from Concordia University in 2005. In 2015 Allan began showing his artwork in group shows in and around Calgary. His most recent work is an unexpected departure from his paintings and drawings of the past.

For those of you who work in the core, this is an exhibit that you might wish to take in before it’s Friday close.  The four portraits are large in scale and their palette brings in a sense of connection with nurturing, growth and birth.  Using an interesting process of layering multiple images, Allan creates a sense of continuity and evolution. In my mind, the work elevates the mother figure to a place of importance, if not celebrity, and while each mother is rooted in Allan’s own narrative, we can all relate.

Tonight, Allan provided a time of reflection and exchange.  He reminded me very much of our friend and mentor, Mark Vazquez-Mackay in his generous manner.  Through his talk he evoked, in us, warm remembrances of our own mothers,  I enjoyed Allan’s recollections of his own mother’s lemon meringue pie-making and the description of every feast table enjoyed in the traditions of his home.

Thank you, CPL and thank you to Allan Rosales for a lovely reception…sharing food, based on Canadian/Filipino culture.

Thanks to James, my son, for staying with Max.  Thanks to Linda and Wendy for sharing the event.


If I look exhausted, it is because I am!!  But this hug made me feel a lot better!  Allan Rosales is one of the kindest people you could ever meet.

Below, my friend, Wendy Lees took the Central Branch’s first year anniversary by storm and created the transparent and delightful window segments you see displayed below, with some where around 200 Calgarians.


This afternoon, People’s Portrait Prize came down.  Yesterday, I was pleased to be able to immerse myself in all of the different pieces created by so many artists, all on my own.  As artistic subject matter goes, I especially enjoy portraiture.  Each artist relies on a subject/reference/idea, but puts down very personal marks during the process of painting, sculpting or drawing.  It was a fantastic exhibit, so varied and was demonstrative of the vision and effort of many people.  Congratulations to all of you!

I enjoyed the wander-about, as well.  It was a wonder I could wander out of the stairwells because I became captivated, as I always do, by Katie Green and daniel j. kirk’s Imaginarium, 2017.  I hope that they won’t mind that I did my point and shoot with my phone as I walked backwards up the stairs.  Amazing and surprisingly restful!



Imaginarium by Katie Green and daniel j. kirk 2017


Imaginarium by Katie Green and daniel j. kirk 2017


Imaginarium by Katie Green and daniel j. kirk 2017


Imaginarium by Katie Green and daniel j. kirk 2017

I stepped in and chatted with the gentleman at reception for Alliance Francaise (don’t know how to get that accent under that ‘c’).  I was smitten by the remarkable library and the impressive line up of activities that are handy for people who want to access resources or up their game as French-speaking Canadians.  A wonderful and welcoming spot!


I was carried away by a variety of venues, all housed in cSPACE with a deliberate and tasteful aesthetic.  The Alberta Craft Gallery, as part of the Alberta Craft Council, was a really ‘happening’ place yesterday.  I loved the surprising and ephemeral works created by Dena Seiferling and Stefanie Staples.  Participating in an exhibit titled PERCH, is it any wonder I love this stuff?

Allison Tunis’s embroideries for Acceptable Bodies are flippin’ amazing!  Wowsah!

I guess I stopped wandering and started starting and stopping for the next longest while, completely swept up by the wonderful efforts by so many artists.  The portraits were next.   I couldn’t possibly grab a photo of all of the portraits that moved me.  My readers will get the gist…


I’ve been following a portrait series by Chris Flodberg as he’s been posting bits here and there on social media, so it was really, with fondness, that I had opportunity to enjoy these ‘in the flesh’ so-to-speak.  These photos stink…but, I’m hoping you will follow the link that I’ve provided.  Chris is represented by the Masters Art Gallery, here in town.



Portrait with Candles and Belt by Chris Flodberg Technique: oil on board Dimensions: 27×16 in.

I apologize…I didn’t even take note of the artist…but, had to photograph this one as I engaged it.  If you can help me out with the documentation, that would be great.


Nick Rooney…an artist I met during my committed period at Gorilla House and then Rumble House, just always amazes me with his technical considerations, his hands-on approach to materiality and his connection with pigments as a traditional practice.


Nick Rooney

Dawn Escobar…just a dear and beautiful human being.  This is a portrait she did of her mother.  I find it interesting that I migrated to this piece, took a photograph of it and this morning, I read the following message on social media.

“You enter with hopes of winning some thing knowing that the chances are small. Congratulations to those who did win 🎉. The second hope is that someone saw your piece and you touched them. 😊. Thank you for having the contest. See you if not soon, next year. 💐💐💐💐💐. P.s. mom enjoyed herself

Your work touched me, Dawn.


I didn’t leave cSPACE without first stepping into Assemble Work/Shop and spoke with Anne Kirsten.  What a very exciting space.  I’m going to let me daughters know about this!  cSPACE is a bit of a wormhole…a person could disappear and not resurface for a very long time.  I just got a taste yesterday, but I’ll be back.

It was time to rush off in time to view Humans as presented by TheatreCalgary.  A nice light lunch was served and the Director, Vanessa Porteous, had opportunity to speak to us about her process, the play and future projects.

The day grew legs of its own.


March 25, 2015: Rumble House

I thought I’d attempt a sketch of a British Home Child on Wednesday night.  Given my connection to this story through my Great Grandfather John Moors and two of his sisters, Grace and Alice, I thought that this might be a subject I would like to explore sooner than later.  I have become very fond of a group of descendants through social media and through connection with people here in Calgary.

I decided to choose as a reference, the face of a boy that appeared as a vintage photograph on the Families of British Home Children / British Child Migrants page.  I chose Edward Seery. Edward Seery was sent out of Liverpool to Canada in 1909.  It seems his brother took the same journey in 1898.  These children were indentured servants in Canada and worked very difficult hours.  Most stories, especially the idea of being separated from all loved ones and finding yourself in an alien culture, were very sad.

I arrived at Rumble House at 7:30 (late again), but finished this first sketch in an hour.  I’ve got no history on Edward Seery and the sketch is not accurate in terms of its LIKENESS, so I brought the piece home and will try another more accurate portrait and post it here.  The facial features in this present sketch are all wrong.

BHC Edward Seery 2  His brother James Christopher Seery came in 1898I’m interested in contacting descendants who are interested in allowing an artist to explore their family narratives from this difficult time in history.  I would like to begin with Edward.  I’m still thinking about the media that I will be using, especially the type of surface I will paint/collage, but I wish to create a body of work that somehow addresses this potent moment in Canadian history.  My opinion only…but, I don’t think enough has been said about this and art DOES speak.  I would like the surface of the paintings to somehow mimic the subject matter.  I will be incorporating text into all of the pieces.

British Home Child March 25 2015 Edward Seery

Photo Credit: Andrea Llewellyn

I was feeling pretty mellow/tired on Wednesday night, but my heart was warmed by the presence of so many artists who I have grown to know and love.  One day, Aaron, I will snapple a piece!

DSC_3239 DSC_3238 DSC_3236 DSC_3233 DSC_3232 DSC_3230 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_3210 DSC_3208 ?????????? DSC_3206 DSC_3205 DSC_3203 DSC_3202 DSC_3199 DSC_3198 ?????????? DSC_3196

Historical ‘Rumblings’: Kyaiyi-stamik Sketch on January 28, 2015

Another beautiful evening at the Rumble House!

Big highlight for me was seeing the positivity in our ‘regular’, Enriquito.  Having slipped on ice last week, he suffers from two fractures, a wrist on one arm and an elbow on the other.  But, instead of complaining or being despondent, Enriquito was out to the Rumble and being very supportive of everyone.  I can’t even believe he offered to carry my stuff four blocks to my car for me.  We paused…facing one another at the time, and then both broke out laughing.  I asked, “Do you see yourself? Good Night, Enriquito!”

From Enriquito's Archives

From Enriquito’s Archives

I like the Rumble because of the diversity of the people who attend.  I encourage you, if you haven’t been out yet, to come down to the Rumble House on Wednesday evenings.  Something about this experience feeds your heart.  I really like it.

Last night, Jess Szabo won my painting at auction.  She’s always been encouraging and has often bid on my work, but never won…last night, finally, she did.  Thanks, Jess!

There’s an immediacy about painting in this setting. Over their shoulders, artists feel the gaze of wandering ‘audience’ members.  Now and then, a question comes out…or a comment made.  Connections are quick, but treasured.  Tonight, my friend, Georgie, from the East Village showed up and like a flash, she was gone again.  Georgie was a little sparkle of magic as I dug deep to find the lines I was searching for. In two hours, something of some substance and creativity needs to be completed and then, like a whirl, that piece of art, swooshes out of your hands…no longer a composition to consider, a problem to resolve, a technique not completely explored or an answer discovered.  It is a swirling whirling lit up moment.

Whenever I have opportunity, I like to share a bit of the history of our First Nations.  I also like to explore the subject in my sketches and paintings.  We can all benefit from learning more about historical references.  It’s a difficult thing to enter into a conversation when you haven’t any knowledge on a subject. I think it’s good for Albertans and Canadians to learn the difference between what is called the Blackfoot Confederacy and the “Blackfoot” People/Siksika Nation.  The following information comes from here.

“The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi (meaning “original people;” c.f. Ojibwe: Anishinaabeg and Quinnipiac: Eansketambawg) is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana. The Blackfoot Confederacy consists of the North Peigan (Aapátohsipikàni), the Blackfeet or South Piegan (Aamsskáápipikani), the Kainai Nation (Káínaa: “Blood”), and the Siksika Nation (“Blackfoot”) or more correctly Siksikáwa (“Blackfoot people”). The South Peigan are located in Montana, and the other three are located in Alberta. Together they call themselves the Niitsítapi (the “Original People”). These groups shared a common language and culture, had treaties of mutual defense, and freely intermarried”

I am first to acknowledge that this is not my narrative to share, but I am filled with a deep sense of reverence for the history of our First Nations.  I think that things, at so many points along our communal time line, went so very wrong.  I abhor every situation that led /leads to injustice cast upon other human beings.

Last evening, I wanted to capture a depiction of Chief Bear Bull or Kyaiyi-stamik.  Unlike many other photographs of the same time period, Edward S. Curtis left the background of this particular photograph; warm and understated.  The photographer’s motives and art leave one steeped in a form of controversy, as do, I suppose, my own sketches, drawings and paintings of these beloved ancestors of our First Nations.  My interest lies, mostly, in the fact that photographers of the day had an insatiable appetite for taking photographs of ceremoniously dressed men, women and children, set before a romanticized back drop of a painted forest landscape including such natural elements as the waterfall and soft light bathing dappled foliage.  I feel a sadness as I consider this. With colonization, home was taken from these peoples, in this case, living on the plains…in the archival efforts of the times, it seems an irony to me that the natural landscape was perversely returned for the purpose of a ‘sitting’.  I’m wondering what my readers think.  While it is a wonderful thing to have these references in existence, I wonder the initial motivation for the production of such an archive.  Much to consider.

A very short audio tape can be accessed here, speaking, in short, about a member of this confederacy, Kayne-ina Bear Bull.  I am left wondering more about Chief Bear Bull as I discover small parts of his personal story through my reading. Such a great man, he must have been, given that he was a carrier of a Medicine Bundle.

While I did not capture the power of the photographic image…I did get a sense of the noble figure.  The piece of wood was 1/2 inch thick.  This made a difference for me.  There were beautiful markings in the wood itself that informed the piece.  To the left of the profile, I included the words from the book, The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler


Jess's Photo

Jess’s Photo

DSC_2073“When Imagination walks, she writes letters to the earth . When she runs, her feet trace postcards to the sun. And when she dances, when she dances, she sends love letters to the stars.”

Photo below of nice guy taking photos…never caught his name, but grateful that he bid on my work.

DSC_2057Thanks, Louise and Elena!  You know I’m excited!

Thanks to Andy…and get better, Jenn.

Some day, Aaron!

Georgie…such a beautiful person!

Paula!!  Finally we meet and I’m gettin’ me one of those caddies!


Final Stop: The Studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay

Margy and I got caught up chatting with Phillip and bid Anna and him good-bye with hugs before heading over to Weeds Cafe for a Montreal spiced meat sandwich and Italian soda.  It was a pretty nice feeling.  When you go out on a Love Art in Calgary tour, your brain goes “ZING” and you find yourself processing so much great insight…sometimes it’s a good decision to punctuate!  On we raced to the studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay.

P1150856Mark’s studio was magical, but how can it not be when he has such a beautiful way of seeing life and his world.  I think that he is extremely generous and very community centered.  His hands and mind are engaged a lot in terms of visual arts in Calgary and we need to be grateful for people like him.  He generates a lot of chatter.  I really do treasure the fact that we got a window into just a small part of what he does and accomplishes.

P1150816I liked learning about his use of ivory black to mix colour.  I liked that he had a Lucien Freud book perched against a wall. (I am nuts over Lucien Freud’s figurative works.)  I was excited to have him demonstrate his exploration of camera obscura, his connection with Vermeer, his insights after reading David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.  I felt so excited about his vision around public art and his open concept of public art everywhere.  I had a warm heart as he spoke of his son, the innovative and driven musician who worked alongside his Dad to paint his mother’s eyes on his front yard fence. Generally speaking, his time spent with us was jam-packed and invaluable!

P1150832Mark, impacted personally by the spring flood of last year in Calgary, appears to have not missed a heartbeat, but, with determination and resilience, rebuilt and then some.  He is a hero to our arts community.  A good person.

I’ve written sometimes about the objects of our affection…about how our objects hold memory and such.  In Mark’s studio, I felt that I was surrounded in a blanket of so much love, perception and imagination.  Truly remarkable!  Thank you.

P1150818 P1150821 P1150822 P1150823 P1150824 P1150826 P1150828 P1150830 P1150833 P1150840 P1150841 P1150842 P1150844 P1150846 P1150847 P1150848 P1150849 P1150850 P1150851 P1150852 P1150853 P1150854 P1150855

The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul

I enjoyed another wonderful opportunity facilitating with Wendy Lee’s create! program.  When I arrived, somewhat flustered because of a whole series of misadventures, Wendy had the coffee burbling and welcomed me with open arms.  So good to see friends down at the East Village!

Eyes…the windows to our soul?

The origin of this profound thought is attributed to different writers and great thinkers…not precisely as it appears in my title, but in one way or another.  Here are just a few, appearing on the site and shared by the moderator.

The quote originated with Cicero, but in a different form.

The eies. . . are called the windowes of the heart by which love enters into the same.~Stefano Guazzo, Civile Conversation, bk IV (1584)

These lovely lamps, these windowes of the soule~Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weekes and Workes (1591)

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs records the Latin “vultus est index animi (also occulus animi index, the face (also, eye) is the index of the mind” and “The eyes…are the wyndowes of the mynde.” (1545)

Today, inspired by a North Park University community art project, we painted eyes. Participants of the North Park University made images of fellow North Park students (or in a couple cases, faculty). 67 blocks using various media, mounted on a gold-leafed tondo. It is now installed in the vestibule of the chapel at North Park University.

Eye ArtI decided to begin create’s! portrait series at the Golden Age Club in the East Village with a look at the basic structure of frontal view eyes.

To begin with, one of the participants arrived, sporting an AWESOME fashion statement and gave me permission to photograph him.  AWESOME!  Yellow lenses?  Are you kidding?  More AWESOME!

P1150556While everyone was tentative, we began…analyzing the eye…exploring its complexities and having some fun along the way.  Newsprint sketches began as small detailed miniatures and gradually grew to be confident explorations of the subject.  More fun!  More laughs!  Quiet concentration!

At create! we modify our projects and expectations as need be…some artists are still dabbling in landscapes of our last sessions…some require assistance due to special needs.  We can adjust!  We want everyone to be in full participation to the degree that they are able!

I had a wonderful time and as we offered as our intention at the beginning of class…building…building nests…building community…I am pleased to say that the resulting experience was a warm and loving experience.  We really looked into one anothers’ eyes!


Professor Plum Takes on a New Look!

P1150557 P1150558 P1150562 P1150563 P1150564 P1150566 P1150567 P1150568 P1150569 P1150570 P1150571 P1150572 P1150573P1150574 P1150575 P1150576 P1150577 P1150578

Snow Reflections

The wet snow is falling and accumulating fast on the ground.  Max is curled at the front door on his Bambi blanket, wasted after a good workout.  I stomped and he shook as we stepped inside our warm home; a day of rest and nesting awaiting!  One or two birds eat at the feeder.  The porridge, sprinkled with raisins, is cooking on the stove top.  And I am filled with a giddy recollection of last evening, spent with two good friends.

We met at the Hyatt, where I finally heard jazz musician,  Simon Fisk and keyboardist, Sheldon Zandboer.  What an opportunity.

P1140004 P1130998

Over a glass of wine, Wendy, Lauraine and I enjoyed lively conversation and then headed out to view the MOCA  Día de los Muertos altars.  It just happened to be that my artist-friend, Katherine Lakeman, had built an altar to the memory of her father, a military man who had passed away 17 years ago.  It was so good to talk to Katherine as we hadn’t seen one another in years.  Artist and writer, John Clinock, of Vancouver, does an exceptional job of covering some of the tradition of these festivities and the visual art on his current blog post here.

P1140024Papier mache sponsored by….


Kath snuggles up with the big guy.

Kath snuggles up with the big guy.

Wendy and Kath share some laughs.

Wendy and Kath share some laughs.

Kat Lakeman and Angel

Kat Lakeman and Angel

P1140013 P1140015

Angel gave us the back story and tradition of Latino communities regarding these altars to honour the dead over All Saints and All Souls days.

Angel gave us the back story and tradition of Latino communities regarding these altars to honour the dead over All Saints and All Souls days.

P1140019 P1140020 P1140030

Wendy gets close up with Evan Penny's Janet.

Wendy gets close up with Evan Penny’s Janet.

From MOCA, we walked down to the Art Gallery of Calgary for Canada’s Portrait Competition, a perusal of the artRISE contributions by local artists and an entertaining visit with several people I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  It was particularly great to visit with Steve Gin, Billy McCarroll who will be enjoying an opening at Jarvis Hall Fine Art Gallery today, along with his friend, Ed Edwards.  It was a full evening and I have to say that the treasure in it all was spending time with good friends…lots of laughter.

Canada's Portrait Competition

Gorilla House LIVE ART: Return to the Battles

My living space is still in chaos, so I’ve been piecing things together since my return from Ontario.  Bit-by-bit, the little cubbies are being gleaned for what’s to save, what’s to give and what’s to pitch.  Then, before anything is put away again, a good wiping and voila!  This process is painfully slow and I certainly can’t see the impact this process is having on the large spaces…yet!

Interspersed with such activities, I’m taking hikes with Max and pouring over my summer notes related to my family history.  Next blog post will have something to do with my trip to Hamilton where my family tree has some serious roots!

I debated whether I had the energy to paint last night, but really miss my Gorilla House community, so a little late, I threw my board and materials into the van and headed down.

One amazing artist who became my friend through Gorilla House took on a 365 day self portrait project and I was inspired to paint her Shoulder: Day 218.  Belinda Fireman is an inspiring woman and I miss sharing two hours a week with her.  She keeps a blog, Drawn From the Fire and her work has been featured in a book, Journal It by Jenny Doh. So, I tossed any of the themes that were selected before my arrival at ‘the house’ and sat and painted.  Belinda paints with brilliant colour, life and line and so I tried to incorporate those elements into my quick sketch.  I did not over-think my piece, simply slathered on the colour. Thanks to Shannon for the purchase of this piece at auction.

P1120140 P1120141 P1120143

My Space

Photo Credit: Graham Richardson

Photo Credit: Graham Richardson

Clayton came over and took some photographs.  I still dream to collaborate on a project with the man…he’s pure genius, well, at least through my eyes.  I thought he was all of this when he stepped into my grade seven classroom many years ago.  A brilliant writer, a car enthusiast, photo journalist, student of the world.  It is nothing for him to head out in his treasured Lily or some other vehicle of choice and drive 900 miles straight (a number I pulled out of my head) or to be skidding about on a sheet of glassy ice.  He’s remarkable.  Recently, he had an assignment to capture someone in their environment.  He captured me.  Did I say that he is a connoisseur of music?  He is…and today is a Tom Petty sort of day!

Welcome into my studio space…a place I call “The Chapel” because the work, the conversations and the ideas shared in this space are sacred.

Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

At the feast table with Max and a cup of coffee.  Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

At the feast table with Max and a cup of coffee. Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

Being in the Goof  Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

Being in the Goof Photo Credit: Clayton Seams

David Hockney on Lucian Freud and Scale: CBC Interview Captured While Driving

Another wonderful interview on CBC radio today, David Hockney speaking of his relationship and his experience of being subject for Lucian Freud, as well as interesting views on art, life and most interesting to me today, the concept of scale and painting to scale.

David Hockney Interview

For years, Lucian Freud has been one of my top three portrait artists, the others being Alice Neel and Attila Richard Lukacs. There is something stunning about the rich combination of colours used within the flesh tones and the soulful ‘presence’ of these artists’ figurative works.

While I only caught the final twenty minutes of the interview, I’m attempting to post the entire interview from CBC with Eleanor Wachtel here, so that we might enjoy listening to it, sort of, together.

Freud’s nude subjects may be repulsive, surprising or uncomfortable for some, but one only needs work at figure drawing consistently for four years in life drawing classes to understand the nature of that activity and to be wowwed by such results as these.

I’m including a wee bit of background here.