Thelonious Monk & Franks'n'beans

That's what we had for dinner. Apparently an inspired combination, since I find myself with (weee!!!) enough time to post a quickie.

" you can come out now"... © F. Barrage, 2008

I've been hiding behind the daisies in my new garden, but some kids found me the other day. Oh, well...

Almost finished unpacking (I've moved house, in case you haven't heard). Found my laptop too. Yay me. Just in the nick of time too, now I need to pack a couple of suitcases and go check on what Ms. Cut'n'Paste has been up to in the Land of the Neverendum Conundrum.


If Mothers Ruled The World...

( digitized from Dover - will acknowledge properly later)

... instead of the mother....s who dominate this mad hatter's universe, we would put our children first - not hatred, greed and big-dog rules.

Happy Mother's Day for all the moms in Lebanon, Burma, Zimbabwe and everywhere else...
I think


Isabella's Syndrome

Botticelli's Ghost, Digital Something - © R. Koleilat, 2008
Do you know the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston? It’s one of the many pleasurable finds in that amazing city. Gardner was an avid art collector, and she bequeathed her vast treasure of works by the Old Masters for all of Boston (and the world) to enjoy – with strings attached: The precious collection was to be housed in her mansion, also part of the legacy, and no object in the collection or the mansion could ever be moved or removed; or else the whole kit and caboodle would be sold and the proceeds would go to Harvard University.

I recently came across dear Isabella again in a book that had nothing to do with art but everything to do with transition and change. The authors*, both eager de-clutterers, use what they delightfully term the “The Isabella Gardner Syndrome” as a parable for (the sometimes irrational but still perfectly understandable) fear of change. In a cheeky aside to a chapter about "finding a good home" for no-longer-relevant belongings, they talk about Isabella’s obsession thusly: “Needless to say, everything in the [museum] has remained unchanged, even to the blank space on the wall where a Vermeer painting hung before it was stolen. In her final years, she would sometimes rear up in her bed and cry out, “You there! Don’t touch!” to imaginary strangers. Her ghost is said to return to the museum once a month to make sure everything is exactly as she left it.”

Don’t we all have a little bit of Isabella in us? When faced with the unfamiliar, when a new path has to be taken, we often wish we could be as imperious as her and decree that nothing shall ever change. Luckily for me, I’ve learned that change is almost always for the better – or at the very least, I can will it to be so.
And now, a profound profundity to end this post: if things never changed, all we'd have would be caterpillars and not even one butterfly. So there.

*Culbertson, J. and Decker, M. – “Scaling Down”


My Feelings Exactly

See? I'm not the only one who thinks he's the cat's meow - check this blog, then go and visit Zan the Man here and here


Random Thoughts, As Gilda Gets a Pink Martini

I love Rita Hayworth. She embodies the ineluctable allure, fragility and tragedy of mythical figures. Behind the indelible, flaming-haired beauty, there was the customary compromise of Old Hollywood, a complex life and enormous sadness. That's not her singing above, btw - it's China Forbes of Pink Martini, who performed in Massey Hall last week.

Rita Hayworth is the mother of Princess Yasmine Aly Agha Khan, President of the Alzheimer's Disease International foundation, and a board member of the
Aga Khan Foundation.

On a dreary, wet afternoon in Ras-Beirut - the spiritual Manhattan of Lebanon - I found a small exhibit of one (European? American?) artist's hommage to Hayworth. This was more decorative art than anything else, a series of huge paintings of her stunning face, à la Warhol. I tend to forget a lot of things, but I remember how shy and anxious I was that afternoon, when all I wanted was to sit there and look, and how both the elegant, pretty-blonde of a gallery owner and the smiling moustached artist thought it was all too cute - an awkward kid in love with the idea of art. Haha. What I was in love with then was Old Hollywood and chimerical creatures. I was a teenager who spoke and thought mostly in French and Arabic, and was imbibing the French's love affair with all things mythically American - jazz, musicals, diners and Edward Hopper.

I still love myths. More precisely, I love the exploration of myths - the various myths that provide the self-delusion that drives our lives. Self-delusion is pervasive, individual and collective. Sometimes, it's a good thing (a spoonful of Nutella eaten directly from the jar has zero calories), sometimes not so much (war equals liberty, and the "greed -for lack of a better word- is good" school of ethics).

One myth I never want to see dissipate is this one, which blends (a little) fantasy with reality. Blogging has brought out some of my self-delusions to the surface as well as a lot of self-actualization. Wait, don't go yet, I'm not diving into (a shallow pool of) psychobabble with this. Be patient, this is entitled Random Thoughts after all. Blogging as a path to self-discovery - a tired exposé that we've read and written about ad nauseum. But it's true. I like to pretend I can do this blogging thing with impunity, but I can't. There's a price to pay - can't hide from my own self-created myths.

Ms. High-Falutin' Intellectual once told me, "If you write it, they will come. If you don't ramble on, they will come back (or stay - I forget which)". So I will stop right here, and get back to intransingent realities like peanut butter sandwiches that need to be whipped up and tears of frustration that need to be kissed away.


Nepotistic Announcement

Publicity Shot for Nadine's Exhibition

Was I complaining about the snow in Ontario? It's much worse in Québec. I know because I'm spending the week in Montréal, and this city, usually able to weather (hah!) winter storms without batting an eye, is now impossible to navigate - on foot (normally a great pleasure), by bus (always running and on time) or on four wheels (a nightmare at any given time). It's aggravating, really. I was so looking forward to walk-abouts in my beloved downtown streets, but it's too much of a hassle with the kids and, strangely, shopping underground is not their idea of fun. Darn. Now we just have to luxuriate indoors until we head out to the museum to catch the sizzling hot exhibition there. More on that tomorrow.

I've received this email from my friend Nadine who now lives and takes pretty pictures in the UAE:
"Dear Friend,
B21 Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the second Creek Art Fair at Bastakiya from the 15th to the 31st of March. B21’s house will feature photography, video and an installation by Lebanese artist Nadine Kanso, and the work of Belgian sculptor Arnaud Rivieren.
In her exhibition, ‘Fi al Qalb’ (In the Heart), Kanso seeks to expose the troubled character of her cherished Beirut - often masked today by the cosmopolitan buzz of the city - through a presentation of her own black and white photography, accompanied by the lyrical musings of poet Nizar Qabbani*.
Rivieren’s three giant stainless steel pears on display in the courtyard of XVA reflect the artists unique approach to the rough medium of steel, which he recovers from the scrap heaps and steelyards of the UAE and transforms into elegant interpretations of the everyday objects.
Please join us for the Creek Art Fair vernissage on Saturday, the 15th, from 7pm. E-Flyers containing additional information can be found below.
B21 Team"

* celebrated poet and my mother's cousin


Hug An International Woman Today

Women's Day 2008, Mixed Media - © R. Koleilat

(photo source: WetCanvas)

The Canadian motto for Internation Women's Day this year is "Strong Women, Strong World".

Ya think?


Mama's got a brand new bag?

Baggy Tag, Digital Drawing - © R. Koleilat, 2008

A handbag meme from Andi's new blog where I have to list the contents of my handbag (this is what happens when you're felled by a bum knee, you dream up more blogs and memes).

Since Andi was a good sport on the book meme, I will be one too - even though I really should be working instead.

Be grateful that I am sparing you details on lint and cookie crumbs, and list only objects larger that a chocolate chip:
  • A bottle of Tylenol Quick Release
  • A pair of tiny scissors
  • An empty gum wrapper (not mine)
  • A toy from an unidentified fast food joint
  • A tube of lipstick (a tube of lipstick? when did I buy this one? what a weird colour...)
  • A pen, a pencil, 2 permanent markers, half a silver ballpoint pen with a logo on it
  • A $5-off coupon for a Cranium game (ah, goodie - activity idea for tonight)
  • The other part of the toy from the unidentified etc..
  • An empty zippered pencil bag
  • A tiny sewing kit (almost intact)
  • A button (mine)
  • 2 silver rings (from before I had to wear gloves to step outside)
  • An American penny
  • My huge and ugly black wallet (hint to hubby: let the kids choose my mother's day present this year)
  • An empty bottle of hand sanitizer
  • A receipt from the chiropractor (first session last Friday - apparently, I have a very unstable spine. Now that would explain the excruciating pain between the back of my head and my knees)
  • My dead cell phone
  • A green "green" zippered bag ( I usually forget to put it back and end up going home with plastic bags anyway)

I feel like tagging .... you! If you want me to, that is.




On the way there, I had to stop and show you* this

because Julie does it much better than anyone else.
*you is SuperHarry mostly (aka Apothecarian of Thorts)


Gone Fishing

Fishing, Digital Collage - © R. Koleilat, 2008

Every once & again, I feel obligated to take a break from blogging/blurfing to do some serious housekeeping (both figuratively and in the alternate universe we know as real life). Be back soon.


Book? What Book?

Thank you , dear Frances for tagging me. Here are the rules for this not-a-meme-book-meme.
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.Find the first 5 sentences.Post the next 3 sentences.Tag 5 people.

I wish I had cheated, because this is what I have for you today, honest to goodness:

"What am I going to do?
'I expect you'll whip through these in no time!' she says gaily. 'The ironing board's just there', she adds with a nod."
from Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess.
What? Did you actually expect me to have A Dissertation on the Dialectic of Neo-Hegelian Nihilism? Don't worry, I didn't pay for it - I picked up a copy at the library because it was on display near the check-out. I haven't started this faschinating book yet, but it was the nearest 123-plus-page book underfoot. Literally. See picture. I am sure Martine ballerine or Junie B. Jones, First Grader would have been considerably more interesting. But rules are rules. And so, I hereby tag Andi, Brian, Fawzan, Joy, and Mazen.

Random Thoughts And Things To Build On

Dreaming of a Love Bird in Paradise, Digital Collage - ©R. Koleilat, 2008

In a column entitled "Be the Change: Living the Me to We philosophy" in Canadian Living Magazine (Feb. 2008), Craig and Mark Kielburger, two very amazing young Canadian humanitarian activists and authors of Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World write:

"... how should we define success?... researchers compared Forbes' 400 richest Americans with the Maasai of East Africa - traditional herding communities with no electricity or running water, who live in huts made largely of mud and dung. The two groups were found to be almost equally satisfied with their lives."

So, for all you thousandaires out there (or in my case, pennyaires), take heart: money really does not buy happiness.

I urge you to find out more about Craig Kielburger - he's the kid who made headlines a few years ago, when he was all of twelve years old, by organizing other children to fight child labour world-wide. He founded Free the Children in 1995 and hasn't looked back since. I love Canada.

Illustration: This is my contribution to this week's 2 Things Challenge, Love/bird. Not only did I actually manage an entry, I also got inspired by Frances' entry, who in turn was inspired by Sue O'Kieffe and John (copyright-dude) Mora, and their fun puzzle-play. If you visited earlier today, you saw a different picture. I had to fix it because Ms. Know-it-all said it could be better. And of course, she was right.

Image Sources: WetCanvas, Gimp-Savvy, my own photographs.



Snow Dragons, Digital Collage - © R. Koleilat, 2008
I've been trying to dig myself out from under the snow in my driveway since last Wednesday. My neighbours, who all seem to own very un-PC snowblowers, zoom by, wave and smile at me as if I'm having a good time futilely waving that stupid shovel around. That face I had on wasn't me having fun, folks, it was me crying!
I had fun creating these "snowflakes" on this very cute website* (they let you save and download your creations, so you earn extra points with your kids). I used a copyright-free photo from Gimp-Savvy for the background and played with it on photoshop.
And speaking of playing, go check out this fun party that Julie told me about. While you're at it, also check out Julie's icy beauty too (hmmm, our last two posts have dealt with the same themes. Coincidence? twilight-zoney... ♫toodoodoodoo♪... )
* There are lots of sites that let you create really sophisticated flakes (fractals, anyone?), just google snowflake generator to find them.



Lily in the Snow, Digitized - © R. Koleilat, 2008


Diane's Big HeArt and Sue's Joy of Play

Sue & John Soup (Images used by permission) - © R. Koleilat, 2008

Digital Artitsts/Prestigidators Diane Clancy and Sue O'Kieffe are both prolific and generous. But you knew that already. This week, they each wrote two great posts I would like to highlight here.
First, Sue O'Kieffe is extending an invitation to play with her - very exciting. I can't wait to see what comes out of it. Her collaborations with other artists (not all of them digital artwork) have been jaw-droppingly beautiful. Sue has an incredible eye and the end result is always synergetic.

Diane Clancy , besides being indefatigable and inspired, is always on the lookout for worthy causes, and she's pointing the way towards the One World, One HeArt Giveaway.

Last, but certainly not least, Diane is also collaborating with art marketing expert Chris O'Byrne (a man with impeccable taste )to create a fantastic resource for artists and wanna-bes: It's called YourArtMarketing.com and is a website/forum/information hub. This repository will incorporate all the information they both have been working so hard to put forth on their own sites, to make it much more easily accessible to all. Isn't absolutely brilliant? I think it's the beginning of something very exciting. I haven't had time to add my 2 cents there, but I will as soon as I read all that there is already there.
Now, if only someone could give me a hand to finish up the work on my own website (hint, hint, Ms. Paper&Scissors)...


Yay For Scrapbookers (And The Retailers Who Love Them)

I am not a scrapbooker. You have to be way too organized, focused and mature to get into it and do it properly, and for some unfathomable reason, I am one or two of those things from time to time, but never all three at the same time. So, even though I, like, totally dig a bunch of talented scrapbookers, this is not exactly my cup of tea*.

But scrapbooking tools are! Now that entire sections of stores are devoted to paper arts and equipment, there are many, many delightful discoveries to be made for those of us who straddle the creative divide of art/hobby/kids' crafty hour. And this year, I have three new favourite tools (sorry, no links, it's really hard to find any additional info about the first 2 online, just take my word for it):

  • First, this ergonomic cutter (x-acto knife), above, made by Fiskar, which works like an extension of my finger, brilliantly precise

  • Even better, these glue dots and glue tape dispensers (above and right) - well, not both dispensers actually. I only really like the UHU tape roller, works great for me and my 4-year old equally. The Elmer contraption which is supposed to pump out glue dots turned out to be a complete dud. It's quite clunky and as you can see, it ended up disemboweled because it's so much easier to just pick up the individual glue dots by hand. Still, I love the idea of the glue dots: no more mess and everything lays absolutely flat.

  • And last, but not least, my trusty microfiber cloth: this, I didn't find at the art supply store, but rather at the grocery or dollar store. Microfiber cloths are amazing, they clean everything - everything - with just a tiny bit of elbow grease, or a few drops of water. What does a housecleaning rag have to do with an art supply list? While playing with gel medium transfers, I discovered that rubbing the outer paper layer with a microfiber cloth to expose the print underneath saved me from all those painful blisters I was about to get. It does a great job of that annoying rubbing chore with much less effort and much neater results: just wrap a slightly damp cloth around your fingertip and rub. There are many more uses for this miracle cloth in the studio, but I need material for other posts so stay tuned.

    * I know I'm going to be eating my words soon, because I'm preparing another post about a great scrapbooking/digital art resource


Sunday Funnies

Julia Cameron: How to Avoid Making Art (or Anything Else You Enjoy),
illust. by Elizabeth Cameron © 2005 - Tarcher (Penguin Books) paperback.
Aaaahhh, Sunday mornings.... leisurely brunch, brainy-enlightened weekend newspaper, adorable cherubs with freshly scrubbed faces ensconced in quiet but creative play, kitties fed, groomed and satisfied, curled up on the comfiest armchair.... sighhh....

YEAH, RIGHT!! Not at MY house this morning, or like, ever! Consequently, no artwork, no updates for you today. How about some funnies, though?

Here are some edited quotes from this cute little book pictured above by Julia Cameron, famed author of "The Artist's Way" tomes. I'm not crazy about her writings, but I found some of these little thoughts funny and pointed enough to be worthy of repeating here.

So, how do you actively avoid making art or anything else you enjoy? Among other brilliant (and oh-so-recognizable) ploys:

  • by telling yourself you can only work in absolute quiet
  • by going for the royal family's official portrait in your first year
  • by throttling your joie-de-vivre every time it crows,
  • by talking about it so you don't have to do it
  • by considering the odds of selling your book/artwork/whatever you're making
  • by demanding that what you do be absolutely original and totally brilliant
  • by telling yourself your job prevents you from doing art and then working overtime to prove it
  • by demanding fifteen free hours to create and ignoring the 15 minutes you've got
  • by deciding you can't afford a drawing class, and buying new jeans to console yourself
  • by telling yourself you don't want to be typecast, and turning down that acting job

Are you laughing or crying? What do you do to yourself to hold yourself back? Care to share and get it out of your system? Want to shine a light on one of these self-sabotaging schemes and bannish it from your life forever? No time like the present, my friends.


"Hold On To Your Children and Your Cat"

Rima's Snowday, circa 1969?

That's what the weatherman told me today on the radio - and boy, was that ever good advice! Boreas (wind dude with serious anger issues) has been huffing and puffing and blowing real hard all day. Kind of reminding Ontarians that this is still Canada, eh?

Well, anyway... NO, I have not been abducted by aliens or joined an internet-free commune. I've just had a bunch of hard-pressing issues to deal with, and could not juggle things fast enough to get back to blogging. Apologies all around for not following up quickly on the Glass Apple challenge. That's why I put a picture of me on a snowday somewhere in Lebanon about 40 years ago, 'cause who can stay mad at such a cutie pie, huh? huh?

Special groveling also to some newcomers to our Digital Re-Imaginings* - like the very wonderful bmtyson of Creative Cogitations, a really good graphic artist/collagist who just started blogging. Go take a peek and stay for a visit - he doesn't have a lot of entries yet, so you can catch up on his musings in one sitting. I love his style and look forward to seeing more of his work.

Another cogitative newcomer is an apothecarian of thought, an old friend of our dear Hala** who has sent me a funny and kind-of-sardonic entry. He's also just started blogging, and thinks aloud about the meaning of life, bikini veils and undo buttons. Not in that order, necessarily.

Magic Apple, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2008

Soooo... what now? Well, all I can do at this point is to promise not to disappear without a word again - and to make up for my rudeness, I will definitely accept any new Apple entries (if you're still interested, Irene!). Not good enough, you say? Well... I would have offered that you pick my punishment, but like the man said - I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding)!

Oh, did I mention how lovely all the entries were? You guys never cease to amaze... Thanks for putting up with my unevenness. I'll give proper credit and link-backs on the "wall" at Maraya. ASAP.

PS: Thanks, Bobbie and Debi - you were the only ones who got it right!
* I'll come up with a proper title for this series one of these days. In fact, I think I'll put up a poll to see which would be everyone's favourite.
** Another friend of Hala wrote a rant/poem I liked here


Salade d'Apples

One of these was made by me, one by Fawzan and one by Neda. Can you match the names to the artwork?


Apple Turnover

Rotten, Digital - © R. Koleilat, 2007

Bad, bad pun... but hey, it's better than my initial "apple-for-teacher" choice.

Here's my first entry, just so you know I'm working on this too. I'll be showing all the participating entries I am made aware of (hint! leave a comment! Frances!), starting in a couple of days. Four so far, and counting...

How-to: I can't even follow my own directives! I forgot some of the steps because I didn't think I would end up with anything useable - so I didn't make notes, mental or otherwise. For which I was punished by losing a really good one later that day to the memory monster that lives in my laptop - and forgetting the steps there too.
Anyway, here's some of the steps on Photoshop 6:
- I distorted the initial image with Spherize, and by Transforming parts of it (skewing/distorting I think)
- I used a couple of gradient and lighting effects in the background and the central figure (is it still an apple? dunno)
- also used painterly effects, a bunch of them... watercolour as the last touch gave it such a good light, I decided to save it and use it.


Sophomore Class (Digital Makeover)

Glass Apple - Royalty-free image from Stock.XCHNG
This is a bit of a teacher's revenge (curator's revenge?) - I'm offering you a more difficult picture to work with for this Digital Workshop (is it our 4th only?). But you guys have been resting for a while, so it's time to challenge those eyes and brain cells.
No rules, no restrictions - just flex those creative muscles. Anyone can participate, and for those of you who haven't tried this before, here is what you need to know:
  • Click on the picture and copy it to your end (this is a royalty-free image, so you don't have to worry about altering it)
  • Use any digital graphic programme to alter the image - It can be Photoshop (any version), GIMP, PainBox, anything you have. Remember to tell us what it is.
  • It would be nice if you could remember some of the steps, and share with the rest of us how you got to your end result. If you can't keep track, focus on what you feel are the interesting effects.
  • Don't forget to email me a copy of your work - but if you prefer not to or don't know how, point me to your work and I'll copy it off your site if needed. My email address is somewhere on my profile.
  • By participating in this workshop, you are implicitly allowing me to use the image here and on my gallery website, no ifs, ands or buts - and no whining.
  • I reserve the right to choose what ultimately goes on the "wall" (the page on my gallery website). No hurt feelings, ok?
Start your engine! You have until next Sunday to submit.


Trying for Democracy

Quick post/poll thingy: Would you guys prefer:

A. - A regular Photoshop/OtherMagic challenge, where I choose a picture and give guidelines for digital manipulation (as usual and more or less)


B. - A combination of Photoshop/Whatever and real-world art supplies?

Please let me know in the comments section by Sunday aft (N.Am. time), so I can set something interesting or fun or tedious up.


Tags, Labels and Stickers

fine print: ©Peacemonger.org (559) 799 9901 moveon.org internationalanswer.org truthout.org
Proceeds will benefit humanitarian non profit organizations
Happy New Year, everyone! Hope this new year brings all good things to all good people.
I've been tagged by Bobbie for this post. Speaking of tags, this great sticker above is my absolute fave holiday present this year.
Here are THE RULES:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, 1. is done. Here's 2.:
  • I can't pronounce the name "Rufus Wainright" to save my life. It always comes out "Wufus Rainright" no matter how many times I try, generally with an audience hiccuping through tears of laughter.
  • I have a really weird single black hair growing out of my arm. Every time I pluck it out, I think of Geena Davis doing the same to whatshisface in "The Fly".... shudder....
  • I love watching "How It's made" on the Discovery Channel. Also "Myth Busters". Waiting for "Lost" to come back. Hooked on "Heroes".
  • I have totalled two vans - one I was driving, and the other belonging to the lady driving on my blind side.
  • I want to retire in the South of France - but I would miss Canada way too much.

I, I, I.... now have to come up with 5 bloggers! How about Hala, Andi, Barb, Belinha and Julie.

On to 5.

Sharpen your mice and tune back in folks - photoshop challenge coming next week.