artist. storyteller. scamp*
I am a multidisciplinary Canadian artist who loves the arts. Born and raised in Toronto, I moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2008 for what I call a grand adventure. Here on this island at the edge of the world surrounded by the cold North Atlantic, I have resolved to follow my dreams of being a working artist. I live right downtown in an 108-year-old folk Victorian row house I affectionately call the unstitution, where I try to fill the house with laughter, music, food, friends and pets, and work on creating paintings, films, stories and theatre.
Though I’ve always worked in the arts (film, improv comedy, acting, clowning, theatre) it has only been this past year at the age of 53 that I dared picked up a brush and started to learn how to paint. And I am so glad I did. I love it. I paint in oils, soft pastels and gouache -landscapes, cityscapes, and some figures and portraits. I aim to delight the eye with bold, energetic brushstrokes and rich vibrant colour. The Newfoundland coast offers up breathtaking vistas that never cease to amaze me, and so I take my camera everywhere I go.
When I paint I feel true joy. When I’m in ‘the zone’, my paintbrush dances across the canvas, and I am usually singing at the top of my lungs to my fave Spotify playlists. You can see the rhythm and flow of motion in my paintings.
I do get a bit sad that it has taken me this long to pursue one of my first loves, visual art. As a kid I loved to draw and paint. As a teen I dreamt of being an artist and somehow pooled up all my money to go to Parsons School of Design in New York City to study illustration one summer. We painted all day long from live models and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Sadly, I was dissuaded from studying art as a career, settling on obtaining a Fine Art History degree from the University of Toronto. BUT – better late than never. I’m a happy latebloomer, and the path I took to get here wasn’t all that shabby either. Read on.
I like to write comedy. I write comedy for film, TV, songs, the web, theatre and cell phone games. I will write genres other than comedy too, and if appropriate, I will refrain from placing even one joke in the work. I have done that that.
My first short story “How Prozac Saved My Marriage” was written for the Happy Woman Magazine, which parodies women’s magazines. It was picked up and published in “The Language of Argument” a writing text book for college students. Jonathan Swift, Bill Cosby, Dave Barry, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Bob Dole were also published in it. Not sure what that means – but boy is that cool. (Revised. Except for the Bill Cosby part.)
I am also a copywriter and creative director. Until a year ago I worked at at an ad agency in St. John’s, Newfoundland for almost 6 years where I wrote TV and radio scripts, video scripts, website copy, print copy, Facebook ads, slogans etc., for big companies, non-profits and the government. I learned a lot about advertising, marketing, PR and selling.
I clown around
I love comedy – satire, improv comedy, clowning. I credit improv comedy with teaching me the principles of good storytelling. Performing in front of live audiences is a great way to get instant feedback on your work, to see if you are connecting and resonating with the audience. I was lucky to be studying in Toronto during a comedic hayday. I learned a lot from the numerous, great teachers we had at Theatresports and Second City, and from performing weekly in front of live audiences for 9 years. I also performed sketch comedy with The Rula Lenskas, and Vitriol Garden.
I went on to study the Richard Pochinko method of clowning at the Theatre Resource Centre and with Mike Kennard of Mump and Smoot fame. I learned to look for the universality in stories, to trust my instincts, and to know that that’s what we all really crave – an honest representation of the human experience. I was co-director of the clown company “The Rubber Chicken Picnic Theatre and Catering Company, and story editor for “Viva Vivi” a one-woman clown show by Diana Galligan which one the volunteers’ pick of the San Francisco Fringe fest.
As an actor I have performed in numerous productions on stage and on TV and film, most recently as the giant birdmom in Martine Blue’s short film “The Perfect Family.”
I write and direct films
This Hour Has Seven Decades stars Patrick Watson himself and is based on his memoir “This Hour Has Seven Decades.” It has screened at Toronto’s World Wide Short film festival, St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival and opened the Moving Stories Film Festival, fall 2008.
The Archetypes Trilogy screened at the “St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival” and The Expectant Mother: Freaked Out Editionwas also shown at the 60 Second film festival.
“One Bullet Away” by Nathaniel Fick has been seen over 16,000 times on Youtube.
Recently I directed 16 short interviews with Canadian authors for the writer’s union in a series called Elevator Pitch. I will let you know when they are finished – they are very cute.
I am finishing a feature script. It is very very black comedy. I am working on a feature length doc too. It will be funny too. But serious and deep. Oooh.
I taught scientific principles amidst pyromania, cryomania and laser light shows at the Ontario Science Centre. That taught me how to be entertaining while conveying high-falutin’ concepts and scientific facts for broad audiences. Over the 5 years I got to practice timing and showmanship … and fell in love with physics.
History is another passion of mine. For 6 years I taught history at Mackenzie House in Toronto where wore a corset and bonnet, and taught kids what the 1837 rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie was all about. My fave comment came from a student in the 8th grade who after a 4 hour tour asked “What? Is it over all ready?” I also learned that we teach history very, very poorly, which makes me sad because you know what they say about those who don’t know history (we are doomed to repeat it.)
I studied Fine Art History at Uof Toronto
My favourite period is the impressionist and post-impressionist periods – for all the new ways of “seeing” they embraced – and I adore Les Fauves for their use of colour.
But I’m a dada scamp* at heart – and Paris in the twenties was waaaaay more fun …
*scamp – I use the word as in Lin Yutangs’s description from “The Importance of Living”, published 1937. I picked this up at a garage sale when I was studying clown and was blown away by this description, which explains the purpose of clowns perfectly.
“In this present age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only the scamp and the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from being lost in serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient, regimented and uniformed coolies. The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered. All modern civilization depends entirely upon him.”