Creative inspiration

Birthday List Love #5: TV Shows, Movies & Documentaries

I'm back with some Birthday List Love!

Today’s list offers a few movies, TV shows or documentaries I’ve enjoyed so far this year. Some were sought out (The Prophet), others pleasantly discovered (The Secret of Kells), and others anxiously awaited (Outlander).

All of them come recommended.

NOTE: Most links are to trailers on Youtube, but a few are to Canadian sites like TV Ontario or the National Film Board of Canada. If you can't access the latter, maybe try your local library.


The Prophet

Starring Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson, each section in this adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s text is animated by different filmmakers. Different styles, different colours, different music... some so beautiful they made me cry.


Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm

I know, I know, I’ve mentioned these here already, maybe even twice. But I find it utterly fascinating and humbling to see how people lived in the past without the modern conveniences I take for granted today. Farming life was one of uncertainty and relentless physical demands - it probably still is. I’m not sure I’d fare very well.

Though I enjoyed them all, I especially enjoyed Wartime Farm. Set in the UK during the second world war, it offers a glimpse into the sheer courage and resourcefulness demonstrated by those living in rural areas during times of scarcity and no doubt ever-present fear. It left me filled with awe and gratitude.


Everlasting Moments

A slow-paced Swedish film about a woman who discovers joy and independence through the lens of a camera. I picked this up on a whim at the library and it was delightful surprise.



Two words: Jamie Fraser. If you’ve read the books, you know. If you haven’t read the books, I highly recommend them. Once you've read the first one I recommend checking out the TV show, starting with Season 1.


The Secret of Kells & Song of the Sea

These two animated feature films were made by the same people. Both of them left me mesmerized. I beg of you, click on these two links and let yourself be enchanted by the trailers. If you like what you see and hear, the movies shall not disappoint. D. even enjoyed these ones.


The Lost Garden: The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blaché

A fortuitous discovery on the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada’s Website that introduced me to yet another female pioneer in the creative arts. From the Website:

“This feature documentary is a portrait of Alice Guy-Blaché, one of cinema's most fearless pioneers. A filmmaker before the word even existed, Guy-Blaché made her first film at the end of the last century, when cinema was still brand-new. After directing, producing and writing more than 700 films, she slipped into oblivion. This film rescues her brave and shining memory.”

I was blown away by her foresight, her accomplishments and her creative courage in a predominantly man’s world.


Monty Don’s French Gardens

I’ll be honest, I think my enjoyment of these shows is 30% due to the actual content and 70% due to the passion its host, Monty Don, brings to the table. This man loves what he does and it shows as he walks us through not just fields and furrows, but history as expressed through our relationship to the land.

Originally aired on BBC, as I type, episodes 2 & 3 are available on TV Ontario, but for a limited amount of time (episode 1 disappeared today).

PS - If you’re an artist, you might be interested in episode 3 of this series, where Mr. Don profiles artistic gardens of France including those of Monet and Cézanne.


Et voilà, List #5.

A recap of lists posted, you say? Of course!

Birthday List Love #1: Favourite Recipes

Birthday List Love #2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Birthday List Love #3: Four Female Canadian Artists

Birthday List Love #4: 25 Books I've Enjoyed This Year (So Far)

Next up: Birthday List Love #6.

41st Birthweek Bonanza Day 2: 7 Websites for Lifelong Learners and Creative Types


I LOVE to learn about new things and I LOVE to create, so what better than a list of websites that cater to lifelong learners and creative types?

There are many, many online spaces out there just waiting to be discovered and savoured, I know. For now, I offer you seven that I am currently enjoying.


1. Open Culture

Open Culture “brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community.” There is soooo much out there for those of us who love learning. This site offers links to 250 free art books from the Getty Museum, 875 free online courses, 635 free movies including documentaries, classics, silent films, and more.

With a rich and FREE resource like that available at your fingertips, what are you waiting for? Go git some learnin' in ya!

2. Brain Pickings

I don't even know how to start describing this site chock-full of thought-provoking, engaging information so I'll just copy & paste a blurb from their About page:

“Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.”

Interested in hearing a 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompson's advice on finding your life's purpose? Or maybe you prefer Einstein's take on the secret to learning anything, or John Steinbeck's words of wisdom to his teenage son when he confessed to his father of falling in love (they made me cry). If you dig this kind of stuff, Brain Pickings is the place for you.

3. Scoutie Girl

I'm biased because I've been a contributor to Scoutie Girl for nearly two years now (shameless plug: you can see my articles here), but it's a great site offering articles that touch on many aspects of a creative – or simply a well lived – life. With how-to's, book reviews, inspiration, essays and more, there's plenty of good stuff here for you to explore. But don't take my word for it, please, check it out for yourself!

4. Abbey of the Arts

Abbey of the Arts is a relatively new online space for me and I've yet to explore it fully. Its focus on “integrating contemplative practice, creative expression and compassionate service” appeals to me. I'm intrigued by the mystical and contemplative aspects of making art and this seems like a good place for me to start exploring them.

Selfishly, I include this site here as much for me as I do for you. May we discover it together.

5. Apartment Therapy

I believe that the spaces in which we live can support the person we want to be or become. Whether you're creating a tabletop vignette, choosing colours for your walls or simply deciding where to put what, setting up a home is a creative act.

The home profiles and articles I see on Apartment Therapy make me want to hang up my art, buy fresh flowers and surround myself with things that bring me joy on a daily basis. Full of inspiration and colour, this site has become a favourite source of ideas and eye candy.

6. Artsy

This new-to-me site fell on my metaphorical lap as I was writing this post and wow, what a site. From their About page:

“Artsy’s mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. We are an online platform for discovering, learning about, and collecting art. ... Artsy hopes to foster new generations of art lovers, museum-goers, collectors, and patrons.”

I'm a little overstimulated right now having just been introduced to this treasure of a resource, so I will simply leave you with links to a) their Education site (HELLO lifelong learner!), b) their Art Genome Project (an “ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art” that appeals to that part of my brain that thrives on making connections), and c) their main site, offering a portal into their entire collection.

I may need a moment to myself to recover from this one.



7. Art Biz Blog

As you can tell by its name, this website is geared towards those exploring art as a business. If you're trying to shift your art practice from being a hobby to being a business, Art Biz Blog is a valuable resource. Whether it's inspiration you're looking for, practical, no-nonsense advice or thought-provoking questions about art and the business of art, Alyson B. Stanfield, Art Biz Coach, offers it. I enjoy her “no-excuse” approach and if that's your thing too, you'll probably get a lot out of her offerings.

As a side note, Alyson's book, I'd rather be in the studio!, is also a good resource and companion to what's on her website.


That's it for today! I hope you enjoy exploring these sites as much as I do. More good things to come on Day 3...

ps - Miss Day 1? Here it is.