The Power of Colour
Writing Art Series by Al Gord
“With the brush we merely tint, while the imagination alone produces colour.”
~ Theodore Gericault ~
One of the most intentional and important choices I make as an artist is the colour palette choice for a painting. The choice of colour impacts the emotion a viewer feels. It can enhance or detract from a work of art. The very essence of colour unto itself is a tool for communication. What is it about this simple concept that makes it quite complex in actuality?
Research has shown that the use of colour can directly impact our mood. Think about the choices we make in our daily lives with regards to colour. The choice of clothing combinations – what does it say about one’s personality, the statement they are trying to make or how one is feeling on a given day? What about other colour choices? Consider the last time you decided to paint a room in your house? Why did you choose the colour that you did? Think about how the colour of food affects one’s appetite and how it can add to the appeal of trying a new dish.
As an artist I strategically consider how the colours will support both the title of the work and the imagery in the piece. My series on mental health, “Walk a Mile in my Head” combines blacks, greys and blues for every painting. Often we associate the shades (blacks), tones (greys) and colours such as blue as being sombre – a way to depict sadness and loneliness. I chose these colours for this series, not because people impacted by mental illness always feel this way – they don’t. Rather I chose these colours to elicit a strong emotional connection for those viewing the pieces.
The incredible thing about colour is that it can have multiple purposes. In a recently completed painting of John Lennon “Saying I’m a Dreamer, but I’m not the Only One” I use the colour blue to create a sense of calmness. When combined with other colours in the piece, most notably yellow (warmth and optimism) and pink (love) I am trying to create a mood, a message of hope and positivity.
The beauty of colour choice is that on the canvas there is no right or wrong. Some combinations may be more pleasing, some may seem to be more balanced, but all colour choices have a purpose. The wonderful thing is that there are as many perspectives and interpretations of a painting as there are colour combinations. Whether the colour choices are pleasing I leave up to you; however, next time you view a work of art consider how the colours are impacting your feelings about the piece.
Al Gord is an up and coming artist who has been a featured artist twice in Niji Magazine. He has sold paintings in shows from Toronto, Canada to the United Kingdom. He combines abstract techniques with figurativism to create Iconic Rock Portraitures. Other series of works include Modern Romantic (Uninhibited), Expressionist pieces and pieces which focus on mental health awareness and advocacy. Regardless of the subject matter, his signature style is clearly recognizable. His work is showcased on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where he welcomes inquiries, questions, and feedback.
Recently I was contacted by Jackie who shared with us that her husband’s mom had passed away, and as they went through the probate process, she began to feel like her husband and she hadn’t done enough to plan for the future.
She further shared, “Sure, we have a retirement plan and a will. But I worried that we hadn’t done enough to ensure our child on the autism spectrum would have a caregiver into adulthood. I realized I wasn’t clear on whether our home could be passed on to our children if something were to happen to us. And these concerns spun into others.”
So, she did tons of research, and with every new thing she learned, she began to feel better. Here is the piece she wrote for us to help bring more awareness to proper financial planning. Thank you Jackie for your insight.
It’s a tough subject to tackle, but I hope hearing about it from someone who until just recently felt equally overwhelmed will be helpful to those who just don’t know quite where to start.
“Financial planning” sounds a lot scarier and more complicated than it actually is—and in fact, putting it off could ultimately land you in an even more frightening and complicated situation. The sooner you get organized and prepared for the future, the better. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Establish Your Goals
It’s true that you can’t predict everything the future will bring, but you can start planning for the things you hope will happen. Sit down (with your spouse, if you have one) and lay out your goals and a tentative life plan. Perhaps you’re hoping to move up in your company within the next five years, or you hope to move to a new city as soon as it’s feasible. If you have children, consider how much you’ll need to put aside for their college education. For children with special needs, account for any home modifications they’ll need: both in the near-future and far. You should also include vacations you want to take or family events you’ll need to travel for like weddings and reunions.
Account for the Unexpected
Cars break down. Natural disasters strike. Illness and disease occur without warning. The fact is, there are a lot of variables in life, and it’s important to consider odds you might be up against. If you have an older home, it may need updates to ensure it’s a place where you can age in place safely and comfortably. Or if Alzheimer’s runs in your partner’s family, you’ll want to be sure you have funds set aside to cover the care they may need in the future. Even if your worries turn out to be wrong, it’s better to account for them in case they’re right.
Think about your own circumstances, as well. What would happen to your family if you passed away suddenly? Would they have a financial cushion? What would happen to your property? In addition to a will, some states offer a special kind of deed that automatically transfers control of your property upon your death. If you’re a single parent, this can be especially important because it can allow you to ensure your child will have a home should anything happen to you. Be sure to go through all your options of what’s available and legally sound in your area, and choose what’s best for your family’s needs.
Set and Stick to a Budget
You might be a pro at handling money without a set financial plan, but a budget allows you to actually look at how much you’re spending on what and where you should shift priorities. For instance, if your family eats out twice a week, sitting down and evaluating that total monthly cost is nearly identical to what you should be putting into your retirement fund. Once you’ve established how your money should be handled, make the commitment to stick to your budget each and every month. Don’t let yourself skip putting money in savings because of an unanticipated large purchase—perhaps you had to replace your vacuum this month, for example—and instead always make your contributions for the future a priority. Only pull from savings for emergencies and designated goals.
Check In and Reevaluate Your Budget Often
Though it’s important to stick to your budget as much as possible, that isn’t to say that you should never change it. Your needs and situation will change multiple times throughout your life, as well as your goals and needs for the future. Evaluate your budget quarterly, if not monthly, and assess how you’re doing on making progress toward your goals. If you get a promotion and begin making a higher salary, plan carefully for how you’ll spend your extra money each month. Perhaps you’re no longer interested in relocating your family, or you’re looking to enroll your child in a more academically-challenging private school. Talk to your partner about any changes you think should be made in your budget, and make sure the decision is one you are both comfortable with.
Don’t put off planning for the future. Keep these tips in mind for your financial planning and never forget: it’s better to be safe than sorry!
It takes courage to speak openly about our personal struggles, to invite the world into our private space. But sometimes, those brave words are just what another silent warrior might need; to feel that they are not alone, their experiences are not crazy, they are not just imagining things. They too, matter.
Thank you Julie, for your candidness and willingness to share your story. I hope your New Normal will empower another woman struggling with Endometriosis, to redefine Hers. You are one strong, beautiful, remarkable woman!
Anyone who has ever spent a day in mommy-mode, knows just what a demanding role it can be. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing, after-school activities, laundry, homework, you name it, the list is endless. But for many of us, our day’s work doesn’t begin and end there. Add a full-time career into the mix, and you’ve barely got time for yourself.
Here to give us some tips on keeping it all together is Jennifer Raskin. Jennifer is an internationally-published writer and blogger. She and her husband have two darling daughters. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, wine tasting, dining, shopping, and weightlifting at the gym.
Feel free to share your thoughts, or a tip or two, on what best works for you, in the comment section below. Have a fabulous week working moms (and dads)!
Six Tips to Balance Work and Home without Completely Losing Your Mind
Working moms are the hardest working people on the planet. Not only must we go into our jobs and give it our all, but when we get home we’re clocking into our other job as Mom. It’s exhausting but rewarding, however no matter how rewarding, it can be draining. If you feel like you’re being ripped apart at the seams, here are some tips to help you bring a little more balance into your life so you can do your best in every role you play.
1. Get organized and prioritized
In both work and at home, make sure you’re organizing everything that needs to be done and prioritizing those things. Does it need to be done immediately? If so, put it on your daily list and handle it like a boss. If not, add to your weekly list so you can handle it when the more important things are finished. By managing your time effectively, you’ll find you have more time to do what you want and less stress.
2. Leave office work at the office
Don’t take work home with you. Leave the drama at your desk and start fresh each day. You owe it to yourself as well as the people you love at home to focus on them instead.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
So the kids made a mess in the living room. Just chill. It’s not the end of the world. Enlist their help in picking up. If they resist, maybe it’s time to offer an allowance for doing chores.
4. Delegate whenever possible
You might be Super Mom, but no one likes a martyr. Both at work and at home, make sure you’re delegating tasks that someone else can handle, leaving you to take care of the bigger things that only you can do.
5. Take some shortcuts
No one says you need to come home from a busy day at the office to make a 5-course dinner. Make it a taco night, or better yet, use your slow cooker to have dinner waiting when you get home. It will give you extra time to relax.
6. Make time for yourself
It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Not at all. You need time to yourself to refresh and recharge so you can be your very best. Running yourself ragged and overlooking your own needs is not good. Whether it’s curling up with a book, taking a nap, soaking in the tub, going for a run, or gabbing with a friend, make that time to unwind each and every day, even if it’s only 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll feel so much better!
If you’ve been feeling like a circus clown trying to juggle everything in your life, take these tips and incorporate them so you feel more fulfilled. Everyone will thank you, especially yourself!
The Underlying Role of Art and the Artist
Writing Art by Al Gord
“Politicians don’t bring people together. Artists do.”
The role an artist plays varies, based on subject matter, audience and intent of the work. Whether the artist intends to inspire, raise awareness or even provoke – artists also need to actively make a positive difference. Sometimes that is achieved merely by the subject matter and how it moves and connects others. On a more intentional level it is about giving back to society and supporting important causes.
When others think about artists, they may think about creative types producing works; pieces based on personal experience or themes of personal interest. Synonymous with this is the notion that the role of the artist is to maintain a sense of culture within society. While elements of this notion may be true, the role of the artist has been and continues to be far more than just as a cultural catalyst.
Everyone has a role to play in society, to help others, to be part of a bigger cause. As an artist I feel that it is part of my social responsibility to support causes, which may not be as well known, but which help others in need. The last few years have afforded me these opportunities through art exhibits.
we Can be heroes (just for one day) by Al Gord
In the fall of 2015 I was fortunate enough to be part of the ‘Touched by Fire’ art show in Toronto supporting the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO). MDAO offers support programs for individuals throughout Ontario and their families, who are living with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. In the spring of 2016 I participated in the Twitter Art Exhibit, held in New York, to support Foster Pride, an organization supporting young women in foster care. This upcoming spring I am participating in another Twitter Art exhibit, this time in the United Kingdom, to support Molly Olly’s Wishes for children who are seriously or terminally ill.
I feel fortunate that I get to do something I love and help others in the process. While art is my vehicle for giving back, there are unlimited opportunities for individuals. I encourage everyone to look for active opportunities to make a difference. Find a way to combine your passion with a wonderful cause; the sense of satisfaction you receive will be something truly meaningful.
Al Gord is an up and coming artist who has been featured in Niji Magazine. He uses abstract techniques with figurativism to create Rock Icon Portraitures and Modern Romantic (Uninhibited) Expressionist pieces. Al also creates pieces which focus on mental health awareness and advocacy. Regardless of the subject matter, his signature style is clearly recognizable. His work is showcased on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where he welcomes inquiries, questions, and feedback.
Happy New Year! I hope 2017 has been off to a wonderful start for everyone. I’m excited to share something that has been rattling around my mind over the holiday season.
With only a day before the work week begins again, (for us teachers anyway), it struck me to reflect on the piece below about a moment in my life where a teacher made in an impact on me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mulling it over and finally putting it together.
They come to me like snapshots, images of a time long ago.
In one of them I am standing in a beautiful courtyard. The trees are tall and luscious, the grass is green and moist. Next to me is a small tub. I look down at it, eyes desolate, water slowly dripping onto my bare feet. Only moments before, the water which now trickled from my hair, belonged in the same pool. I had been playing alongside my friends, splashing, giggling, pouring water over our heads. The sun was shining. The air was warm. Life was good.
Well, at least until the Rooster appeared.
Rooster was the more-than-generous name I gave the meanest kindergarten teacher ever. Unfortunately, she also happened to be my kindergarten teacher.
“Don’t you dare go back in,” she clucked. “You know the rules. If you step out, you’re done,” bulging eyes looked down at me.
“Mr. Ducky fell out,” I began, but there was no use. The Rooster wouldn’t have it.
Just like that, the fun and games on Water Day were over. I stood there, staring at the others, envying that their stupid ducky stayed put. They looked so happy, so together. I supposed that’s how I looked not too long ago. It’s funny how in a matter of an instant I no longer belonged.
Lesson number one: It sucks being left out!
Rooster is mean!
I want my mommy!
Another snapshot lays itself atop the last, and I am five again, same place, similar time, same old Rooster.
This time I am sitting on a long wooden bench, head bowed, hands clasped rigidly on my lap. I am wearing my favourite blue dress, the one with the big colourful flowers. It seemed a shame to stare down at such beauty when everything else around me felt so ugly. The time-out bench was no place for me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone pointed their finger at me. Now I had to ‘think about it’ when I had no clue what I’d done.
Lesson number two: Life is not fair!
Kids can be cruel!
Rooster is definitely the worst teacher ever!
I still want my mommy!
So there I was, slowly climbing out of the cozy cradle that had sheltered me for the first five years of my life. This was life though, sometimes not so nice, definitely not as nice as Mommy.
Sometimes the person you become is an amalgamation of the many experiences throughout your time on earth. I found that this moment helped mold the teacher that I would one day become, or at least the teacher that I did not want to be.
Here’s a thought exercise, think of a moment of impact that helped create the You of today. If you like, tell us about it in the comments below.
Have a great week!
As a little girl, I was daddy’s little princess. Looking back at home videos, it amazes me how happy I made him, like a little kid on Christmas morning. Now that I’m older, we have a tricky relationship but when everything is pushed aside he is still my hero and I am still his baby girl. Here is a man that was once a young boy himself and grew up to have his own kids and did everything in his power to make our lives perfect with love. Father’s aren’t just born, men grow into them and it’s a very important stage of their development. As my mother always tried to protect my siblings and me from the world, my father threatened us with it as we grew up. We aren’t kids anymore he would tell us; the real world is not all rainbows and ponies. For that I thank…
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Capturing Emotion Through Art
Writing Art by Al Gord
“Artists talk to themselves on canvas, mumbling scattered colors of emotion”
One of the most powerful things about an artist’s work is the emotion captured within the piece, invoked by the art or which inspires the product. Artists focus on areas of passion, topics that move them, subjects that inspire them and experiences and feelings that remain with them. Whether explicit or implicit, every artistic work represents some part of an artist. It is through the canvas where I share my innermost feelings and where my passions come to life for others to see.
At first glance, the viewer may be struck by the style of the piece or the imagery of the work. Sometimes that is all that is needed to get the meaning of a piece, that is, the intent behind the artist’s work. But what of the works that are not as obvious? How does one make meaning or begin to understand what the artist might be experiencing or in my case what the painter hopes to convey?
In my work emotion is expressed through the people; their body language, the position of their figures and the expression on their faces, but the feelings intended to be conveyed are also expressed through the background. In examining the piece below I invite you to move beyond the obvious. I carefully choose the pose, the title (taken from song lyrics) and the colours to create a specific mood. I challenge you to look past the music icon himself and the intensity on his face. Instead, I invite you to reflect on the colours chosen, the layout of the background, and the use of lines and abstract techniques. What emotion does this stir up in you? What do you think I was feeling as I created this piece?
“I am the Chosen, I’m the One”
Portrait of Lenny Kravitz
Next time you have a chance to look at various works of art – look a little deeper! Consider what you think the artist is trying to say, trying to share, wanting you to feel. While he or she has an intended purpose, the connection you make with the piece influences your emotional response; something which is unique to you. That is why each individual is drawn to certain artists and to certain works; the underlying emotional connection, realized or not, that the viewer forms with the art and the artist.
Al Gord is an up and coming artist who uses abstract techniques with figurativism to create Modern Romantic (Uninhibited) Expressionist pieces and Rock Icon Portraitures. He also creates pieces which focus on mental health awareness and advocacy. Regardless of the subject matter his signature style is clearly recognizable. His work is showcased on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where he welcomes inquiries, questions, and feedback.
Art has always been an important aspect of my life, at times acting as a medium for self-expression and other times feeding a need for creative exploration. The beauty of art is the freedom it allows us to be completely ourselves, free of social constraints, insecurities, rules, etiquette; a freedom that is often not ours when communicating with words. There is a definite degree of rawness that comes with this kind of silent poetry, especially when we invite the world into this personal space.
I am excited to introduce a new Artists on a Limb writing series, Writing Art, where we explore this creative journey with my friend and very talented artist, Al Gord.
Thank you Al for sharing your work and allowing us into your world.
Painting as a Vehicle for Communication
Writing Art by Al Gord
“As communicators, artists should not just portray a subject. Their work should be a window to the thoughts and inner workings of their artist lives and minds.”
Trapped Within My Own Personal Chaos
The essence of art, in any form, is to communicate with others. From the earliest times drawings, paintings, dance, acting, song, and oral story have been used to pass down history, share monumental events, and commemorate stories of personal value. Today the past is documented in many forms and allows for easy accessibility for people to learn about the past. For current events media outlets and social media allow for instantaneous news, stories of personal interest and important breaking events. However, there is still an important role for the arts to play in society and in giving voice to others.
When I first started painting I dabbled in watercolours and oils; I tried painting nature scenes and still life. None of this resonated with me! I gained experience looking at other artists’ work and reproducing their painting purely for my own enjoyment. While I derived some pleasure from re-creating other’s work, I always felt a void upon completing the piece. People would be impressed with “my work” and the positive response, while uplifting, still did not fill my artistic void. Continued practice helped me improve my technique and allowed me to see art from a different vantage point.
Over time and after a break from art I realized why I was not getting the enjoyment out of something for which I once had a passion: the essence of art, and of any creative pursuit, is to convey a message, an idea, an emotion. Without that the final product is empty. When an artist is sharing their innermost thoughts, their most personal feelings – their passion and their message comes across in the work. It was this shift in understanding, due in part to life circumstances, which helped my transition from someone who produced art to that of an artist – two very different creative types, both in style and mindset.
Everyone has a message to share, experiences to retell, and emotions to express. Some people find that talking to a trusted person in their life or journaling their ideas are enough. For others, the creative route is a powerful and transformative way to further express their ideas. While this requires some level of comfort in letting strangers in, it is also incredibly cathartic! Not only does the support the artist, but this experience allows other people to connect with and relate to the art and the artist.
Al Gord is an up and coming artist who uses abstract techniques with figurativism to create Modern Romantic Expressionist pieces and Rock Icon Portraitures. To learn more about Al Gord and his work, visit him at the links below. He welcomes inquiries, questions and feedback.