Tag Archives: art

Art Vs Dark


Why is it when you fall out of a habit, it’s so damned hard to get back into it? I was shocked to see how long I let this blog lay fallow. But it’s a new year, and I’m determined to try to dust off this habit and write something useful—well that is to be determined by you—but after a year like 2016, let’s try and do this together. Meet here once in a while? Sure. If you’re willing, I’m willing.

I’ve been on a zero news diet for the past week and lo and behold I find myself spontaneously dancing to Spotify, whistling through hallways and making small joyous pirouettes across my floors. What is going on? What is this feeling? So unusual after months of clenched worry, tightened throat and disbelief at the daily news cycle that obliterated logic and ushered in a new era of post-truth. I realized that the constant streaming of bad news from all media channels was creating a kind of tension fog in my brain. Once cleared, I was able to feel and sense the world around me and voila! The immediate world was a beautiful place I had forgotten still existed.

Look, as a Canadian I won’t lie, the situation south of the border is unnerving. Disturbing. Nightmarish in fact. But what use are we if we’re addled with worry and crouched in a position of terrorized protection?

Having to not go to the day job certainly plays a part in this newfound joyous feeling as does sleeping lots and reading essays by Joan Didion in the middle of the day. Also, how do we forget the healing power of snacks? Triscuits and Baba Ganoush are an old time favourite set on my grandma’s china beside my lap as I thumb through the soft feathery pages of a novel. The wide openness of these days feels like a tide that is not relentless as it comes in but rather like a pool being filled for summer. Inside, I clap and dive in with the joy of having time to just swim to where I want to go and not to where someone tells me.

But with a year passing behind, there’s no denying that I’m getting older. Well, we all are I’m afraid. I know some of you with tighter skin and dazzlingly impervious triceps may not yet know this, but mortality is the polite person at our elevator waiting for the cue to close the doors. As the ice obstinately circles my apartment sidewalks and coats the street with defiance that it can, yes it can, bring us West Coast wusses to our proverbial knees, there is a blue sky above, food in my fridge and a warm radiator. My son has grown a thicker beard and is, like me, gearing up for January courses that will have us pulling our hair our by mid-term. But luckily we have marvelously thick hair so I know we’ll survive.

The point is, instead of going back to the daily news museum of horrors, I’m going to strengthen my outpost here on earth. I am going to shore up supplies like compassion and empathy. I’m going to stock the larder with patience, contemplation, and a tich of keep-my-mouth-shut. I will fortify my defenses with sweet, rational boundaries that are forgiving but infinitely healthy. I will let family in and welcome them with soup and honesty. They can come or go if they don’t find the recipe to their liking. At night I will imagine throwing fistfuls of star light to children dying from the darkness, in whatever form, by bomb, by slap, by word, by starvation, by humiliation. I will love the child I was given, and try to stop from telling, do more showing and be there if he falls off whatever log he’s using to cross the river.

I’m going to dance on my slippery floors in the face of annihilating headlines and ALL CAPS tweets from a deranged president. Because my defiant joy is better than my coiled, quiet fear.

Our creativity needs to stay sharp in 2017. I hope you will join me and create art against the dark.

Here’s to your healthy happy love-filled 2017. I will see you here more often, I promise.

*I will be using the hashtag #artvsdark to tag my writing, collaborations and artwork this year. Feel free to use this to strengthen our collective light in the world.

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Digital transience and the importance of purging our fear

January has undone me and not in a good way. It was like a guest that shows up to find you just stepped out of the shower. I wasn’t ready. It took me along in a sea of to-do’s not listening to my early morning groans from beneath the covers. I’ve valiantly fought my way back into the normal flow of day-to-day but made a silent oath to myself to see more theatre, music, and hear poets and storytellers–live and in person in 2014.

Aristotle said that purging an audience of pity and fear is in essence a critical duty of the theatre to keep a society civil. What he meant was, purge the big emotions in the theatre and they’re less likely to be re-enacted out in the streets.  I agree with him but add that it is not only a functional purpose but a spiritual one. Not in the sense of religion but in the sense of one’s soul, nourishment of one’s own silent place, contemplative moment, solace. In a world of digital transience, it is important we don’t lose touch with literature, theatre and music performed in real-time in front of us. Sometimes these things are more work to attend. We might have to put on our coats and buy tickets, pay for parking and find a seat and pay attention–wait for it–without checking our iPhones for several hours.

We have to listen.

I saw a lovely production on Saturday of Chekhov’s The Seagull put on by the UBC Theatre and throughout the performance I was struck at the words and the timelessness of the messages subtly woven into the play. Great artists tap into universal truths that never really go away. In a world moving as fast as it is, listening to a piano concerto or seeing a play sharpens our senses, ignites our imaginations and demands we stop our own inner daily chatter and open ourselves up to the artists’ story world. Therein we are changed.

This is a unique experience I think specific to the performing arts. Cherish your performing arts in your community;  I truly believe they are even more important now then when Aristotle lived.



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On the dangers of an uncreative life and why code can save you from it

Detail of an illustration by Brendan Doyle. Genius artist.

Detail of an illustration by Brendan Doyle.

I keep telling my son ‘the great golden era of creativity is coming’. I have told him since he did his first watercolour at 15 months he’s a genius. I’ve cried at every picture he’s ever drawn for they are wonders of beauty. I’ve sat across from him at the dinner table and debated brand stories, slagged off ads, argued the value of a tagline, discussed why certain fonts shouldn’t be allowed the light of day. He’s always my go-to with any creative idea for my business. He’s just 18 but knows more than most creative directors I’ve met.

But I wonder, without coding skills, if he can make money in the new economy?

The magic bullet is design + code + strategic mindset. If you can develop concepts and actually know how to execute them online then you have some leverage. He tells me he doesn’t want a lot of money, he just wants to be happy. I look at the bills in Vancouver and the cost of living and wonder when the shine will fall off his innocence and the reality of living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world will bite him. Hard.

I truly believe that the era of creativity is here and will continue to grow and artistic skills will become a commodity that is worth  more than business skills because to register online, to break through, you have to have remarkable creativity. Because it is competitive out there. Cutthroat even. Creativity is the only certain differentiator. But it needs code to grow.

I hope my son will not settle for a regular job. I can’t tell him what to do but if there were a wizard career wand, I’d equip him with magical coding powers so he could fully emancipate himself from the dangers of an uncreative life.

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In the feverish pursuit of creativity, things will get messy

Lately I’ve noticed my house has gone to hell in a handbasket. On the living room floor are huge sheets of paper with multiple story visuals, storyboards, magazine clippings, glue, tape, pens, pencils, story architecture diagrams, website wire frame sketches, props for a shoot, photography books, and old Vogue’s.  On the dining room table: pencils, architecture pens, long white sheets of paper with careful fonts drawn with maniacal precision in pens, pencils, sharpies. Stacks of design books create shadows across the white table.

Our house is a hive of creative pursuits these days but a total mess. I’m in start-up mode which doesn’t make me a bad mother but it does make me a crappy housekeeper. I know I have to carve out time for it but when you are on deadline with a website to launch, a Transmedia campaign to finish, pending client deliverables, and well, a few thousand words of fiction to hammer out, it can get a bit hairy.

Guilt creeps in. Man, I have to wash that floor! I forgot I had a cat! Are those plants??

I was turning out the lights last night after a 16 hour day (a great day, but a long one) and saw this picture on the table. My son had an assignment to re-create fonts that had made an impression on him in his life and this was one of his drawings. I looked past the mess he’d left behind and just counted myself lucky I get to live with an artist. What an inspiration he is to me.

Copyright Brendan Doyle 2012


I’m working today but tomorrow, no really, for sure this time, I’m getting on my hands and knees and paying homage to Cinderella and cleaning my damn house.

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