Author Archives: justydennis

About justydennis

Product of amazing hippys, artist, furrrrygodmother to many doggies, avid yarnbomber, living a passion driven life. Love, peace and chicken grease baby!

Who Who ?

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I’m not really sure how I feel about these four tiny paintings. They are 6″x6″, acrylic and paper clay. Help me out…what do yall think? Any and all feedback is appreciated. I’m really trying to force myself to be more active in the studio but most of my time and focus has been on my health.

I’ve been working very hard at getting fit and I absolutely will reach my goal. What is my goal you may ask? Next year at this time I will either be running, walking or biking in a marathon with my buddies Alex and Maria. I am determined to reach that goal and help out a worthy cause at the same time. I suspect my winter will be pretty full of “art and fitness”. Aren’t we all so very accustomed to seeing “health and fitness”.  Dare to be different has always been one of my mottos!

ART AND FITNESS TALLY HO!!

So here’s who who and updated pics of my fitness progress. It actually helps me a lot to see the progress too.

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NOTHING TO DO WITH ART POST TEE HEE

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So I’ve taken on a new lifestyle that I know will improve my health situation. Let’s face it, no, it’s time I faced it…I’m obese. I pounded on those inches since I quit smoking 4 years ago and I’m pretty sure that I would probably keep going if I wasn’t introduced to the documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” It opened my eyes and made me see how much crap I’ve been feeding my one and only body.

Last weekend I visited with the friends who introduced me to this new way of fueling my body. I juiced with them, we talked all day and I learned so much. I Two days later I owned a juicer, top of the line juicer too. I swear the universe is aligning  for me to accept this challenge. I’m not getting younger and I’m not getting healthier either. It’s time to stop the insanity.

My buddy Alex sold me his Breville, multispeed juicer and I love it. I remember I was juicing 20 years ago on Bay Street because I thought it was the cool thing to do. The prep and clean up soon diminished my need to be with the in crowd. It was a bitch. But, this new machine is smooth, quiet and super easy to clean up.

So, I know a lot of people will say that I’ve bought into yet another fad. That this Joe guy who made the documentary is now a billionaire and I’m just another sucker. But it wasn’t really Joe who inspired me. It was Phil the super obese truck driver who not only saved his life by juicing but saved his brother’s life too. You have to watch the documentary just to see the amazing transformation of Phil. That is what inspired me. I know I can do this. I quit smoking and I can quit eating garbage too.

So here is my plan, not Joe’s plan, but my plan.

First week, juice for breakfast. So far I’ve consumed three different recipes.

  • Cucumber, Kale, green apples, ginger, lemon and celery (Joe’s Mean Green)
  • Grapefruit, fennel, orange and basil ( Tuscan Summer)
  • Carrots, apples and ginger ( Carrot Apple Ginger)

So far the Carrot Apple Ginger is my favorite.

Second week I intend to have juice for breakfast and lunch.

Third week I intend to have only juice for 15 days.

This is my plan and I am determined to succeed. As determined as I was to quit smoking. It’s time to piss or get off the pot (one of my father’s most common phrases, so appropriate)

I’m so very tired of being fat, unable to move like I used to, I hate the triple chins I have and I most of all hate that I don’t pamper myself or primp and preen anymore. I used to be quite a looker you know. Hell I used to be a size 7.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not just about vanity. I’ll admit with no shame that vanity does play a good role because I’ve not even had one single date in 4 years. And don’t hand me that old line that it’s the inside that counts. My insides are fabulous and I still haven’t had a freeking romp in four years. Now is the time when I finally admit that I’ve really let myself go. And I feel terrible. I’m always tired, I’m huffing and puffing despite not smoking , little things like getting up from the floor is a huge production with grunts and groans, I sleep with a CPAP machine which is probably one more reason I haven’t dated. Who wants to sleep next to Darth Vader! Nope, that’s not how I want to live.

So wish me luck and help support me while I fight to regain my health. I’m certain that I will be able to do a lot more acitivities in about 6 months and then the pounds are really going to start coming off. In the meantime, juice is my new addiction and not an addiction that will harm me. It’s a glass full of micronutrients…how can that be bad for you?

Inspiration Salvation

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As discussed in my previous posts I’ve been out of sorts with my studio as of late. Well this weekend my grandaughter renewed my faith in the power of paint, the power of creativity. We spent the entire day in my studio. She painted, I played with paper clay and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. She makes me smile and I love teaching her the techniques that I know. She sometimes teaches me something I didn’t know. For instance, she learned on you tube to glue gun crayons to a canvas and then use a blow dryer to melt them. The potential of this art form is immense. I think I will try it with her next time we are in studio together! In the meantime..here are some more pics of her hard at work on her creations and a little tease of what belongs in trees that I worked on.

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Anxiously Seeking Significance

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andy-goldsworthy-2art by Andy Goldsworthy

 

I find my life has become mundane. Where my most exciting moments are about my crazy cat or my aging mother. I don’t often talk about the office because, let’s face it, it’s just another office. I love the people I work with I really do. If I had a magic wand I would be making a living in art. I just haven’t had the balls to do that yet.

I have this empty space in my mind, heart and soul right now and I am looking for something significant to fill it up with. I’m still single so it could be that I’m seeking companionship. I’ve really been neglecting my studio so maybe I need to immerse myself for an entire week. I miss my son but I won’t see him for quite some time yet. I’ve started working on my health and have lost 8 pounds in 4 weeks. All of these things are not that inspiring to me. There is something else missing.

I need a cause, perhaps a higher purpose. I need some depth in my life because at the moment I feel I could be blown away by the slightest breeze. I don’t feel like I am contributing anything meaningful.

This void, this void, what is this void?

Taming another beast

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As many of you already know and for those who don’t, I quit smoking a few years back. December 8, 2010 to be exact. It was a birthday present to my son who begged me for years to quit. In December I will have been smoke free for four years. In those four years I have been through my mother moving in with me, tons of stress at work and my son getting married and leaving the province. As you can see, it’s been a chaotic four years. But I managed to keep myself from reaching for my bestest friend, the cigarette. I feel so much better lung wise but I’ve gained a ton of weight and that is the next beast to tame.

Three weeks ago I signed up for Sparkpeople.com. My friend Mimma turned me onto this amazing website that supports a healthy lifestyle FOR FREE! I am committed to loosing weight but I am not committed to spending a load of money to do so. I’m not even joining a gym this time. I know I can accomplish this goal with only minor expenses such as higher food bills (quality costs more) and perhaps a scale and some weights. That is all I am putting out. I have a bike and two feet that can do the rest.

It’s pretty ironic that I quit smoking to save my life. I wanted to breath better and stop coughing. Here’s the ironic part, now I cough because of acid reflux and I breath heavy because I’m obese. Helluva trade off there isn’t it? Well, NO MORE. I’m taking my life in my hands once more and the next health problem I want to have is muscle strain or exhaustion from a marathon or ..well, you get the point.

Which brings me to my art. It’s suffering because I’m taking so long adjusting to this new lifestyle. I’m trying to find the balance of workouts, work, chores and life in general. I work out before I make dinner but I’ve also promised my sister that I would start eating my dinner earlier than 8pm so I’m finding a conflict here. I think the sacrifice I’m going to have to make is getting up a half hour earlier and working out before breakfast. UGH…..I’ve actually never done this in my life so it might be a new GREAT HABIT to develop. That way I can take off from work to the studio and not have to worry about working out. I just need to get home at a decent hour and/or pack a dinner for the studio while I paint. Oh, and I’m also getting in a second workout by biking to and from the studio and climbing five flights of stairs to get to my studio. Ya! That sounds doable right?

One thing about healthy eating…it takes a lot of prep! So, Sunday afternoons, after my weekly group sesh with the O-Town Bombers, will be committed to prepping food for the week. This means more menu planning etc.

It’s more than just dieting, I am changing my entire lifestyle. I want to live to see my grandchild and maybe even a great grandchild or two. I want to be able to run, jump and skip like I did 10 years ago. I want to have a great sex life again, something that is very difficult when you can’t  bend for a friend. I tried Pilates last night and was horrified how locked up my body is by all this fat. I used to be able to sit in the lotus position, now I look like a lotus pad!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter or pointing the finger of blame at anyone but myself. I got me into this and I can get me out. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m not miserable but I am lonely. I haven’t felt good about myself for years so I haven’t even dated in the past three years. I don’t want to get into a position and not be able to get out of it, literally. I don’t like my body like this. I know what I have to do and I am clearly on the right path to getting er done! With Mimma and Sparkpeople I know I can nail this demon too.

And when I am at a healthy weight and feeling good….O-Town boys better get to steppin cuz I just might morph into a little cougar! meow!

Neglect? No more!

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I’ve actually stayed away from the studio for 2 entire weeks. In those two weeks I basically ate, slept and crocheted. Oh, had to work my day job as well. Yes, I still have the day job. I’m pretty grateful for it ….most days.

So I forced myself to hit the studio last Saturday. I had every intention of getting an early start in the morning but I stalled all the way to noon. I’m very good at stalling. But I kicked my butt into gear, packed a picnic, strapped my saddle bags to the bike and made it to the studio with only two stops along the way. One was at this wonderful new little place on Gladstone right beside Detroit Soul Food. It’s called From Seed to Sausage and if I was a little more flush with cash I would have purchased something. It was a tad pricey but it’s all hand made products. You can get anything from jam to sausage to cheese and crackers and homemade extra hot horseradish. Very cool set up, like a small deli and the smells were great too. I will be stopping in again when I have moe monay. The second stop was at Cardamom and Cloves. I promised myself after I purchased all those wonderful herbs and spices for my father on Father’s Day that I would treat myself next time I went to the studio. And I did. I bought Baharat spice blend (good for grilled veggies and lamb), Long Pepper (looks like tiny black pinecones that you crush in your pestle and mortar), Thai Spice Blend (freeking amazing on shrimp and veggies in a wok, then simmer with some coconut milk..nummmm), and finally I bought some Garlic Granules (much better than powder or salt). My saddle bags smelled heavenly for days!

At the studio I struggled with where to begin. I have this huge easel to work on but no big canvases yet. I haven’t quite figured out how to get them to the studio after I purchase them. Oh yeah, I also have to budget myself to purchase them. It’s all a bit daunting at the moment but I will get there. I found these four tiny little 6″x6″ canvases that I had already primed in black. I was going to paint something else on them but I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet so I went with another idea I had two days ago. I started to put the canvas on my giant easel and giggled how stupid it looked. It didn’t even stay it place because it was so small. No, these paintings were going to be done sitting at my table because anything else would be ludicrous!

So here is what I came up with. It’s just the beginning but it will be built upon to create a 3-D effect. Some glow in the dark paint and yarn will be added and then I’ll share more with you! Weeeee heee….Felt good to spend the day in the studio again. I went home when it was dark out. I almost did not want to leave.

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Oh and as a post script…..I purchased my domain on WordPress today so now you can find me just by hitting the ole justydennis.com! Wooooooooohoooooooo

Until we meet again Marie Carter

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Today I am struggling with the death of a colleague. She was my age and lost her battle with breast cancer last night. I am so very, very sad that she is gone but I know she would be the first to tell me to suck it up buttercup and move forward because that was just the very essence of Marie. I’m also very angry at the unfairness of her losing a battle she fought valiantly, with grace and quite comically as well.

She was the toughest chick you ever met and she could be the softest and most understanding woman all in the same breath. She took on her first battle of breast cancer with the force of an Amazon Warrior. She laughed in the face of cancer, literally, and she beat the odds by removing both her breasts. All of her sisters had breast cancer and they beat it. I was sure Marie was going to beat it too. But life is cruel and she was diagnosed with her second round with cancer late last year, 2013. The doctors told her it was terminal but I refused to believe she couldn’t beat it again. She was Marie, Cancer should be scared of HER. But Marie took her leave from our company and went home to be with her husband, step-children and her many animals on her quaint hobby farm. I sure missed those organic eggs when she left and I missed her terribly too. We emailed weekly but it’s just not the same as seeing her smiling face every day.

I know she would not want me to be sad so I will try my hardest to be brave. I’ll think of her as I watch the fireworks from my rooftop tomorrow night, I’ll raise a glass of beer to her as I wish for her a happy and safe journey to her next destination. I adopted one of her barn cats. His name is Marshall. As I sit at my desk trying to keep back the tears, I know once I go home and kiss that little ginger cat, I’ll let the tears flow freely.

My emotions are pretty raw right now but through the pain I can clearly say that Marie is my hero. I often wondered when I would be called to run for the cure. Marie, I’ll run for you. I will try to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer and I will do it for you because you have done so very much for me. Everyone at the office knows that I’m the one to make everyone smile and laugh on a daily basis. You were that for me. I loved listening to you tell stories and each one of them made me giggle. Your light will be a constant missing for me. If there is a God, you’re already entertaining and challenging her!

I love you Marie. I never told you cuz you know…you never were a mushy muffin. I’ll sign this blog off the way we signed off all of our emails since you left the office….HUGS AND STUFF

Breaking out of a cocoon

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As some of you already know I’ve been heavily involved in yarn bombing for the past two years. Slowly but surely my team, the O-Town Bombers have dwindled from 21 member to about 6 regular members and we are not doing as many yarn bombs as we used to. We still love the art form but our numbers are so low that we can only pull off tiny projects. I’m a little sad about this and I’m a little relieved. I love my team and we have a lot of fun together. I also love my studio, which gets neglected while I’m sat crocheting for days, sometimes weeks at a time. So I think a balance is something that was missing and is being put into place through universal forces. I actually spoke to a few people in January about how tired I was of crochet and that I wanted to spend more time painting. Crochet always excites me and I tend to jump into a project before I weigh all the logistics and level of commitment needed.

This is what happened with the Nuit Blanche project this year. I got excited by an idea that one of the bombers pitched and I dove right in. Before too long I realized that I was not truly committed to the project. I hemmed and hawed at the amount of time I would have to spend away from the studio again. I remembered the many hours and days it took to round people up, put together submissions, find funding etc. and I knew that a team of three or four people was not going to be sufficient. I want my team to be honest about whether they can or cannot commit to a project so I had to give that same honesty back to them. I resigned from the project after we had submitted to Nuit Blanche. I gave my team the option to stay in and for someone else to take the lead on the project. Alas, it was all too obvious that even if we had one or two more members able to give their time and jump on board, the project is bigger than our team is. We sadly withdrew. What’s really ironic is a week later I received a wedding invitation from two of my favorite artists and its the same day as Nuit Blanche! I would have had to miss their wedding if we stayed in and that would not have been cool in my books. So I think, nae, deeply suspect, that the universe has aligned with my thinking and my words.

I feel like I’m emerging from a cocoon and hopefully I become a butterfly and not a big furry moth. I will keep the cocoon close to me because I put so much love and effort into it, but it has a big hole in it and it will take a lot of energy and dedication to repair it. In the meantime, I’m going to spread my wings and paint till my new easel is covered in drips.

I’m not saying this is the end of O-Town Bombers, not at all. What is happening is a shift and we shall have to wait and see where that shift takes us. I wouldn’t trade my bombers for anything and I love our Sunday sessions. A major recruit is needed and we shall see when and where that will be. I need to teach a whole new generation of hookers but maybe closer to the fall. I think I need to put my hook down and enjoy my summer by just working on personal projects. Studio, Health, Garden and then crochet in that order.

This painting was actually 95% finished a few weeks ago but the Bombers had the Chinatown Remixed commitment to put the wall up every weekend. That lasted three weeks before interest completely fizzled out. We spent our last weekend in Dundonald Park just crocheting and chatting and seeing our old pal Kenny Ingram!!

Last weekend I finally took two days to get back to the studio and complete “Drip Interuptus”.  Enriched Bread Artists were taking part in Doors Open Ottawa and one of my studio mates had left our studio door open to the public. It was a good feeling to have people come and go and ask questions and see my art. I’m looking forward to the next official Open House at The Loft and I’m determined to have many more paintings finished by then.

I even have time for my rooftop garden now as well so as much as I regret the stillness of the Bombers, I’m appreciating the spare time for personal projects.

 

Absent but not idle

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I haven’t managed to get into my studio for almost three weeks now and I’m jonesing for it I swear! I am going three or four times this week if it kills me ! I’ve just completed weekend installations for Chintatown Remixed and the end is in sight. One more project with the O-Town Bombers is in the works but after that I’m taking a much needed break from textiles. I’m missing my studio, my paints, my sexy mannequin and the ambiance of fellow artists surrounding me.

I’m going get back into art walks again. I’ve missed going from gallery to gallery and there are so many new ones lately. It’s blatantly obvious that summer is here now!

I have a bucket list of things I need to do this summer:

1. Visit the new Gallery 101

2. Visit Central Art Garage

3. Attend as many Vernisage as possible

4. Go back to House of Targ for more pinball and badass perogies

5. Have my art weekend with little Miss Shyanne in July

6. Have my own art retreat outdoors ( I used to do this every year, its been about 4 years that I haven’t) .

7. Visit my sisters in Toronto for a weekend.

 

 

I’m not just another pretty painter you know!

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I’m also a yarnbomber (aka textile artist, aka crocheter, aka hooker) ! And this is the installation my team, The O-Town Bombers whipped up for Chinatown Remixed 2014. 

It is titled “Take it or Leave it”. A wall of flourescent generosity. People are encouraged to take something and/or leave something in the various pockets along the wall.

For me, there are many great moments of observation in human nature. Many people did not want to take anything because they didn’t have anything to leave in return. Even after being assured that they didn’t HAVE to leave something behind, many refused to take something for nothing. Then there were people who wanted to leave the entire contents of their purse and many parents who guided their children that they must find something to leave behind in the pocket before they take anything. There were also unsupervised children who came back a few times to the wall and who had to be stopped from removing everything from the pockets. They were being very sneaky about it and they had to be told to move along and leave something for other people to enjoy. There were many artists who latched onto the idea right away and many couples who giggled secretly as they peeked into the pockets. . My favorite was the young mother lugging around several children who put a condom into a pocket. Subliminal messaging perhaps?

I would like to officially thank my awesome team for coming out and whipping the panels to the fence in lightning speed and precision and for sticking around the entire Vernissage and Sunday. I would also like to thank Lisa Knight for her brilliant design and idea for this wall and for pushing through the chronic pain that she has to live with on a daily basis. You are a trooper Lisa and a great example of not letting anything stop you.

I also have to give a huge thank you to my mother and fellow Bomber who has been by my side crocheting little dolls to put in the pockets since February. You are the best hooker I’ve ever known woman!

Chinatown Remixed is an amazing adventure for all local artists in Canada’s Capital City and I’m so honoured to be part of it for the second year in a row. I love the support and dignity that is given to all artists. I am grateful for businesses throughout Chinatown that support and show off their talented neighbors. A huge thank you to the generosity of those neighbors as well in helping us support The Door Youth Centre in Chinatown by leaving donations in our fundraising box.

O-Town Bombers will continue to exhibit Take it or Leave It until June 17th but only on weekends. The unfortunate thing about public art (especially warm and fuzzy public art) is that it gets stolen. We will be setting up every Saturday and Sunday until the end of the Remix. Hope you come down and Take Something and/or Leave Something. It’s a great chance to go home with an O-Town Bomber original work of art.

 

Anne-Marie and Amanda hard at work sewing pockets on the wall.

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My amazing mother, Olga…our oldest and most prolific hooker proudly showing off her wall.

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The designer of our wall, Lisa Knight smiling as her idea becomes reality.

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If she’s not planking she’s dancing…our fun gal Amanda!

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The wind was cool but the sun was bright. The weather was actually quite cooperative all weekend! Yaaa!

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These girls were absolutely thrilled with the idea of picking pockets and not getting arrested !

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Ottawa is such a generous city !

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The wall could be seen from quite a distance.

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Our loveable goofball 🙂

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This little girl investigated every pocket. She found this little doll and put it right back in the pocket. For her, the prize was getting to look in each pocket. I finally convinced her to take the doll and then her and her father had a 10 minute photo shoot in front of the wall and the Chinatown Archway. She was the highlight of my Sunday!

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