Tag Archives: artists

Back from Africa

Art Building Children’s Dreams is an organization that provides financial assistance to schools and families at risk, by using children’s art to raise funds for their education and community development.

As part of the twelve volunteer Canadian team, I went to Tanzania to be an art teacher. I designed a mandala for the students to paint. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘lotus blossom’ and cultures from all over the world draw them. As well as an art form, the mandala is about the process of healing.

The Tanzania Mandala was designed with images that would be easily recognizable by the children and for their specific meaning. The torch is Tanzania’s symbol for freedom. The butterfly personifies transformation and willingness to change. The elephant represents strength and patience. The Baobab tree exemplifies shelter, food, water and fire.

Amedusi wants to be a doctor. He is 13 years old. He lives alone, sleeps in the home of his deceased parents and goes to his grandmothers for food. It is difficult for me to fathom this type of life and imagine his dream as a reality.

Working with these children taught me to be with what is. Limiting my thinking of a situation as difficult is grounded in a belief that promotes judgement. This belief system requires something to be ‘ugly’ for us to recognize beauty.

The giraffe doesn’t think that that rhino is more beautiful or uglier than it is. They are devoid of judgement. The children of Tanzania taught me to be more aware of compartmentalizing everything as good or bad; right or wrong.

I became the student, and with this new perception, I can view John as the healer he wants to be and offer encouragement without attaching an outcome.

Artcures Inc. will soon have prints of painted mandalas available suitable for framing with proceeds donated to ABCD.

Visit www.artcures.ca for more information.
Herbert Pryke is founder of Artcures Inc. an Aurora based non profit organization that believes in the power of art to restore, repair and renew.



Mentorship in Motion

I’m honoured to be asked to participate in the 2nd annual Arts Exposed York Region Arts and Culture Conference, November 2 and 3rd at Seneca College, Markham.

I will be on a panel sharing my views of the importance of collaboration.


noun 1. the action of working with someone to create something.

Mentorship in Motion is a collaboration of professional artists and young people living with a challenge. It’s happening here in York Region.

I am one of the artists in this 1st annual six team project. It has been a humbling experience.

At first introductions, Michael and I shared one thing. We were both diagnosed with cancer. The difference between us is Michael is going into Grade 11. My trek with cancer is finished; Michael is still on his journey. We have been working together on a 36 by 36 inch wooden panel.

The artwork from each team is complete. Each artwork is completely different; each very special. This exhibit will open at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts on October 26th at a special event; The Power of Art. The original artwork will be unveiled, the artists present to speak about their experience and to sell signed limited edition prints of their artwork. Proceeds from the sale of these prints will be donated to a charity of each teams choice. These include: Dramaway, SickKids, Geneva Centre for Autism, KC’s Cancer Cushion Fund, Bereaved Families of Ontario – York Region and the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.

When motives are authentic enthusiasm builds. Artists from across York Region have been donating their original artwork as door prizes for this opening event. Imagine, for the cost of a $50 ticket, you view the exhibit, be entertained by Joanna Grace on piano, Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra Flute trio, Steppin’Out Theatrical Productions and then take home an original artwork.

The collaboration continues. During the event Anna Stanisz, Programs and Education Curator for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will have an announcement.

The Mentorship Exhibit will on tour for three months. To purchase tickets to the opening event, read about our mentorship teams and view the tour schedule, visit www.artcures.ca

No doubt I’ll be talking about the consequence of collaboration to reach more people in our community and share the importance art has to restore, repair and renew.

Artists Start Your Engines

As I get older, I find it takes allot longer for me to get excited. What a great opening line; I bet I have your attention now.

It has been a long time since I have organized a solo show of my art. If fact, it was in 2006. Stuff happened that took the front seat and needed to be addressed. I promised myself that once I had recovered my my wake up call called cancer, I would show again. The time has come. I got my ‘all clear’ last fall. So my new years resolution was to create 100 artworks by June. I booked the Mill Pond Gallery in Richmond Hill for the weekend of June 9/10 to secure my commitment.

I used to steal an hour, grab a brush and go at it. My spontaneity has disappeared. Now before I plan my escape, I need to make sure all the house chores are done, commitments are resolved, turn off the computer and unplug the phone. I’m best if I get up at 5:30am, forgo the coffee and straight to the studio. I put on some soft music like York Region artist David Rankine’s ‘Healing Space’ cd and begin to lay out the paint.

If I eat or drink I lose the momentum. I concede to bathroom breaks. A good day is if I can stay in my hole for about 9 hours. Then I’ll come up for air and take a look around. On days like this I can finished half a dozen paintings. I put them away where I can’t look at them and pull out the previous six I did on my previous session. This way I can look at these pieces with new eyes and tweak the little details I missed on round one.

My time between sessions is 5 to 10 days. If you can do math, I think I’m in trouble to reach my 100 by June goal.

I’m looking for other artists suggestions how they get their engines roaring. But to apply to this question, you have to be over 30.


Herbert Pryke | www.herbertpryke.com

Artists Giving Back

We’ve just finished a month of festivities and now life resumes it’s normal pace.

No more wishing strangers well, shaking hands, and holding the door for little O’Ladies.

The spirit of giving ends for many people, but not for artists.

Artists, through the generosity of spirit give their inspiration visually in every brushstroke.

Artists love to give; need to give; and in this pleasure of giving become stronger people.

Art gives hope and inspiration – in children’s hospitals; school walls; cancer research clinics; and in your own home.

A gift that happens to be personally crafted by the giver is most likely to be a treasure to the receiver. All the more reason to make a New Years resolution to open your creativity. Break out some brushes and give.

Don’t think your an artist? Hum Bug. Creativity lies within each of us. All we need to do is eliminate any expectations and ‘just do it’.

A healthier lifestyle is a New Years resolution for many, so here is another reason to be creative. Put simply; art makes you feel good and happy people are healthier people.

On a more scientific note, when anyone practices an exercise that involves using their imagination, an amino acid is released in the brain. It is the same protein that regulates our sleep; encourages proper appetite and builds our immune system.

Being an artist is a big sack of abundance. Presents come down the chimney every time we squeeze a tube of paint.

It takes some courage to begin and resilience to continue; but soon your patience will be rewarded with joy when you’re signing your name on the canvas.


Herbert Pryke teaches acrylic painting classes for the Town of Richmond Hill.

Herbert Pryke is founder of Artcures Inc. an organization that engages the community into exploring the healing power of art.

Stream of Consciousness: Forget Professionalism, Remember Writing

Arts Admin and fellow Blogger, Samantha Rodin, and I got around to talking about art recently (of course!). My favourite part of hanging out with Sam is being able to meet with another artist that is so inspired and incorporates art into every waking moment of her life. When I speak with her about art, I can speak to her candidly as both an artist and a friend. Recently I was talking with her about my recent views on art in everyday life when she said, “What you’re talking about now sounds like a good idea for a YorkScene blog post.”

“Well, sure,” I said, but hesitantly. I haven’t written a blog post in a really long time. Actually, I haven’t written much of anything in a really long time. I am ashamed to admit this in the face of other, more prolific writers, but a blog post of 500 words often takes me at the very least three days to complete. One day to draft and edit, a second day to edit again, and then another day to edit… and then usually I sit on it for about a week thinking: Is this really what I want to say? I don’t want to put anything out there that I’d be ashamed of tomorrow. I want pieces that are concise and well written – as perfect and professional as I can possibly make them. The result of trying to create a perfect piece every time? Hardly any pieces are completed.

No more of that. After much discussion, I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to let go of concerns with perfection, portfolios, and professionalism, and instead just write. To be honest, the thought of writing freely had never dawned on me, and likely wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been able to discuss my fears with Sam. I was too busy thinking: Oh dear, whatever I send out will be out there forever. Once it’s on the Internet, no matter how ashamed I am of it later, I will never be able to take it back or take it away.

Perhaps this is the big problem with art these days: This worry of art as though it’s a business, where each piece you put out is a measure of your worth in a pool of other artists – another thing to add to your portfolio and therefore something that must reflect well on you as a professional. I never entertained any ideas of having an audience when I first started blogging, so I wrote prolifically about everything that came to mind. The result? Often a bunch of garbage. But sometimes, rarely, gems that I would look back on later and think: Wow. Did I write this? Was that me? The reason for these gems is clear. When you produce more, you increase the odds of producing something good. When you only write a little, your chances of happening upon gold become much less.

The problem with looking at writing as a business – a platform, a voice that will echo and echo and follow you for all online eternity – is the fact that you become too worried about being professional to write freely, to take risks, and to say what you want to say. I realize now that it’s not good for me creatively. It’s definitely not good for the publications I write for either, which often have to wait for a long time before I send out anything new.

From now on, I’ll try harder to supress this need for perfection and professionalism and instead say what I’d like to say honestly and frankly. I want to try harder to get back to the basics – to write for writing’s sake.

To be honest, artists like Sam and I who are green and young and are just starting their artistic “careers” (again, that word “career”! I hope to address this idea of real life (careers) vs art in a future post) are at one of the most exciting and frightening points in our lives. Everything is up in the air. Every day we have moments where we think, “Oh my, what am I doing? And why am I doing it? And how will I sustain myself for the rest of my life off of love and passion alone?” Usually when I find a blog that is honest about these fears, I like it and relate to it, though I would never have thought of writing about it myself. Is it professional to confess fear on the Internet? I’m not too sure. But at this point, I’m tossing that question away. Perhaps there is another writer out there who shares these concerns and would find a post about it interesting too. That’s the person I’ll be writing for now.

I find nothing more inspiring than meeting with other artists, whether literary, visual, or musical. Meeting other artists gives me a sense of belonging and reassures me that I am NOT crazy listening to those voices in my head and trying to articulate them in the world somehow. Arts councils thrive on the idea of sharing that most vulnerable part of you, of embracing what you love, and of seeing others embrace what they love too. That is what is most beneficial about them. YorkScene is just another extension of this meeting of minds, and somewhere along the way I forgot about that. I started looking at it as a platform – a place where ideas were stated rather than shared and fostered.

Come back to my artistic roots with me! Somehow I lost myself, but hopefully I’ll find myself again soon. And I look forward to getting feedback from you too.