Old Phone juxtaposed next to Iphone
digital divide, Essay's, Psychology, technology, Transgender artist

I Want to Talk About the Digital Divide: Old School vs. New School, Ageism, Inequality and Social Injustice.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the Digital Divide and Old School vs. New School, and my struggles to stay afloat as I get older.

primate-ape-thinking-mimic

I wonder if Apes ponder these life questions, after-all, we descended from them, right? Apes do look so human, just sayin’. 

So, at this point, we all know the digital divide, but I feel I must weigh in on this, and throw my opinion into the mix. However, for me it isn’t the digital divide alone. No. It’s much larger and been plaguing humans for millennium (not millennials, haha kidding). In my world , my mind, my experience – it is that point I’ve reached in my life –  where I’m either choosing to evolve or decline. Simple yet profound. But reality.

So my experience , as is many people’s experience,  is aging and the digital divide. The digital divide is the discussion of the age-old-social-injusticesinequality, the have’s and have not’s, the socioeconomic divisions, ageism, gender inequality etc. –  that have plagued us humans for eons. In the animal world (like my Ape friend above) it’s ‘survival of the fittest’. My son (a millennial) and I,  feel passionate about changing the digital divide –  this Ted Talk sums it up the best.

Adrian (my son) is a classic tech nerd, he is getting ready to graduate with a degree in computer science. Some day he may work for one of those ‘mega-lithic-tech’ corporation’s. We’ve talked at length on digital responsibility and the collective accountability the developed world has. The responsibility the Tech industry has. We feel passionate toward creating digital equality.

The responsibility to address this digital inequality we face today and bridge the enormous gap we have as a society, is our social responsiblity to the world. And, it is democratically sustainable, and frankly, long overdue. It is a real problem for older folks who have little, none, zilch, zero, nada tech skills (or desire) to learn new skills. Yet, if they live ‘tight to the belt’ with minimal resources and need to work, instead of retire.   Or are older and still of working age, having to adjust to this new-school-tech world, to float above the water, or else sink to the bottom. Their world is spinning fast and they must learn to play this new techie game in life, to make end’s meet. This is wrong. Life should be easier for them. Why make it harder?

I find myself (at fifty-three) cursed by the digital divide, in my opinion too soon. Shameful, because many, many folks are trying to wrangle with this problem, and believe me, it’s a problem. But the other side of this, is the resource question, or shall I call it what it is…the poor people. ‘The divide’ is nothing new to them, they’ve lived this reality for years. Add to this, the current and longstanding, social-economic injustice problem, of the digital divide, and you’ve compounded the injustice. This is detrimental to solving poverty, here and worldwide.

Artist’s (such as myself) experience this phenomena, if they choose to stick with their hand to mouth art practice(s), and live the starving artist’s (dream) which can be a (nightmare) economically. Oddly, this is what I aspired to as a young artist. In Art School (at that time in my life) this was the norm. We snubbed technology, we were trained to live with a paintbrush and palette in our hands, not a computer. I know, some chose to embrace the digital revolution and joined the ranks of digital artist’s, illustrator’s, and photographer’s, but, seriously, a great many didn’t. They built their dreams based on the old school, old world artist lifestyle. And when many artists returned to school to learn desktop publishing and web design, many other artists, who loved the act of working with their hands, doubled down and rejected this new art form. I am one of them. The rugged, starving artist, romantic, but broke.

Today, I feel I have sputtered along over the years, patching together my techie skill set on my own. I have done pretty well, considering I did it alone. Still, it is an exhaustive process for me to keep it up at times. Let’s be real, I grew up different from today. We didn’t have a computer in tow –  everywhere we wentThat isn’t the world I lived in. I am a baby born at the beginning of the Generation Xers. Today, it has become ever-present that I must keep treading water, with computer in tow, or I will sink. Having the computer skills I have taught myself, and continue to learn and peck at, has been invaluable. A new and emerging, dare I say, LOVE of digital design and digital art – which I have poo-pooed for decades now – has gotten me riled up, excited again. I am becoming ‘the sponge’ I was in Art School, wanting to learn every technique available. Of course, it comes down to resources. What is realistic and what is folly. That’s what us artist’s do best though, dream.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the HRT, maybe it’s the getting older thing, but I love making art without getting paint all over me (well, honestly, it’s the clean-up I loathe). Haha, I guess with my transition, I’m changing. I love painting, don’t get me wrong. I’m still a painter at heart, BUT,  I feel I’ve grown and opened myself to all artistic tools now. Whereas in the past I was stoic and rigid, rejecting of the ‘new school’. Evolving from the ‘old school’ isn’t as bad as I feared. Challenging? Yes. But that’s okay, I’m up for the challenge.

As far as the divide, I do feel it is imperative that the digital divide become eradicated from the face of the earth immediately. Humans can do better than this. In order for the world to thrive, we must care for others. Division and greed must die off, and social responsibility, social justice, must prevail. It must prevail – not because it’s trendy, not because we are greedy, creating wealth off a shallow trendy idea of ‘Digital Equality’ –  but because literally – we should want better as loving human beings.

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Reblogs, technology, writing

SEO Basics: To Grow Your Site’s Traffic, Make It More Visible

This is really helpful for new bloggers and anyone trying to understand SEO

Discover

At its core, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of helping search engines know exactly what your website is about. If you have a WordPress.com Business site, be sure to access the SEO tools in your Traffic settings. They will help you share your site’s information directly with search engines. Ready to get a solid start on your SEO strategy? Dive in with these steps.


What is SEO?

Some of the tools mentioned are available only to WordPress.com Business plan subscribers, but we’ve also included a few tips for everyone.

SEO is the practice of translating content that’s written and formatted for human eyes to something search engines can clearly understand. Doing this helps search engines know exactly how to surface your site in search results — and can lead to your site ranking higher and attracting more visitors. You can achieve this with metadata: the extra descriptions…

View original post 758 more words

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Cartoon drawing of fear and panic
abundance, art as therapy, Artist, clarity, Psychology, writer

Fear and Panic are the Enemy!

Don’t Panic, Instead, Live a Life of Truth, Clarity and Calm – and Abundance Will Prevail.

I believe in the cliche’, if you build it they will come — gasping? I know…wretched, but true. I believe in this overused term, of course, until my own panic sets in and fear leeches into my psyche!

I battle this most everyday. Artists and writers everywhere face this demon.

I recall one of my favorite cartoon characters, The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. Gazoo represents this emotional, spiritual, crises of the conscience. A little space alien, appears above Fred’s shoulder. He’s lecturing him on — what’s right and wrong/good and evil — evoking fear and panic in Fred’s mind, playing upon his guilty conscience.

Abundance comes in many forms. One thing is certain, if you panic, abundance becomes restricted, delayed, suppressed. If you start the day with clarity of purpose and faith in your ability to remain calm, things begin to manifest. Abundance presents — not as money (however, it can and many times does) but as flow.

What is Flow?

It is the excitement and expectation that what you create today is good, purposeful, beautiful, delicious, charming, in fact —  it’s great!

Haven’t you had this experience?

When you paint, write, sing, cook and everything you create is amazing!

That’s flow –that’s abundance — that’s money!

Photo by David McBee from Pexels

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Abundance shows up as a peaceful knowing that your spirit is free. Creativity is purpose and innovation. You will have gratitude for your clarity, joy in your creation — that’s the ultimate reward!

When the juices are flowing you feel the most alive. I do.

Panic, worry, doubt and fear — these feelings present as a spiritual crises of your soul. Your flow stops, sputters, chokes, and your creativity/abundance — stifled.

These feelings happen to me on a regular basis. Anxiety sets in — am I wrong? Should I, would I, could I? — blah, blah, blah. This is the look on Fred Flintstones face, the anxiety and panic. He thinks, am I making good decisions? Struggling to regain his sense of clarity, his sense of spiritual truth.

Truth is… making art/writing/being creative, sets my personal point of reference back ‘True North’. I wrestle with my anxiety by creating my art. If I surrender to the flow, the spirit, the force, the magic — however you want to label it — abundance prevails. Making art/writing/being creative, has been the ‘set point’ in my life. Without this clarity, this purpose, I would fail miserably in life.

I struggle with this strange notion that if I’m not working a job, bringing in lots of money, then, what I do isn’t legitimate. After all, society perpetuates and rewards this ideology. This truth has been hard to digest at times. However, by seeking calm and clarity (and most important) by keep building and tending to the garden of my creativity — I know the fruits of my flow is the reward. 

Like Fred, The Great Gazoo is with me. As good spiritual leaders do (okay, okay he’s a cartoon character) but I like him, whatever it takes… Gazoo is with me, helping me to find clarity, calm and truth. I won’t surrender to panic and fear, rather, I will use it to forge a path to greatness, a path to abundance.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexelscolorful-colourful-outdoors-830829.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Career, Reblogs

Finding Ways to Progress your Writing Career — Nicholas C. Rossis

I recently came across an excellent resource for freelance writers by Laura Yates of blogging.com. Laura is a writer, coach, and podcaster who has been blogging and writing in the niches of fashion, beauty, relationships, and personal development since 2009. You Won’t Get Anywhere by Standing Still – Finding Ways to Progress your Writing Career As Tom […]

via Finding Ways to Progress your Writing Career — Nicholas C. Rossis

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family, Memories, Poetry, Transgender artist

Poetry about my beloved grandmother, Tateh.

Poetry reblog from 2012 about my grandmother

The Artist From The Inside Out

Tateh and CeDe ( my grandfather) circa 1937

Our Storyteller

Upon the landscape of your face

tumbling from the folds of your laughing brow

and between the creases of your weathered jowl

I see the history of Palestine.

I see children playing under olive trees, and goats

grazing on grass. Your eyes sparkle and sing, as though

you were still a child running through the dusty

rock strewn roads of Ramallah.

You are laughing with your little sister, escaping

from the neighborhood boys you were teasing; taunting.

Perhaps one of them a young Hanna Shihadeh, our grandfather;

at least these are the stories you told us.

I delighted, relished every word you spoke

of your life. I saw magic in your eyes

when you enchanted our hearts

with your stories of Palestine.

You – solid, sturdy and present.

You – soft, strong and pliant.

You –…

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Artist, Career, Psychology

The Pivotal Moment I Followed My Passion And Became An Artist

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexelsadult-alone-black-and-white-551588.jpg

That pivotal moment came – after personal tragedy

I was Twenty years old – lost, depressed, and confused after my cousin Billy committed suicide. We were close growing up as children. Billy’s suicide was the dark storm that wrecked me. As a child of the 1970’s and 80’s, drug use was commonplace with teenagers. Billy became an addict and succumbed to the effects of this lifestyle at a young age. He shot himself in the temple. A common (and preferred method) for men. Billy was twenty-one years of age. And, as I said, I was twenty. I was no angel either, however, I wasn’t an addict. Instead I was in danger of becoming an alcoholic. At the time of Billy’s suicide, I was in the process of getting my act together. Daunting at best, as I had little (to no) resources or support. I proclaimed to myself – I would avoid going down that same path ever, ever, EVER.

Kicked-outta’ the house and living on my own (after graduating high school) life was difficult for me.

Photo by Min An from Pexelsadult-alone-concrete-720362

I found a single room (in a Boarding House). The Glenside Inn, located in the town I grew up, was a restaurant and bar with single rooms upstairs and a shared bath. The Inn became my home for a bit. I found full-time work in a print shop – an old vintage print shop. The shop, in operation since the 1940’s, was still (at that time) using those old typeset letters and burning metal plates for the printers. 

Photo by Wendelin Jacober from Pexelsbusiness-close-up-equipment-1440504.jpg

Available today as collectibles on ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/250-Vintage-Lead-Typeset-Letterpress-Block-Letters-In-Drawer-1-4-3-8-/113272846465 .

Ha! No secrets here, I’m an OLD man! Okay – I might be overdoing things a bit… however, millennials such as my son might agree with this.

But – I digress.

My job at the print shop was to shoot the mock-up’s, develop the film and burn the metal plates that attached to the large Heidelberg printing presses. Of course, back then, the graphic artist did all the mock-up’s by hand – cut and paste (pre-digital) – an acquired skill and tedious to boot.

What got me jazzed was the grit and grind of the shop

The cool-looking, large plate burners – the graphic artist, angry and stressed – cutting/pasting/smoking – the piles and piles of cut up papers and magazines, stacked messy and high on the drafting board. Yellow dingy windows – the dark and dirty factory atmosphere – the frenzied pace of deadlines – the photography – the typesetting – the wooden print shop relics – and the humongous LOUD printing machines. All this chaos, captured my fascination. I became transported back in time.

After working all day, alone and depressed in my room, I started to draw again. With weekly trips to the library I found art books to study, copying Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s – determined to learn more. I developed a love for abstract art, and began experimenting. I drew my little sister’s elementary school pictures, dogs, abstracts and strange, distorted self-portraits.

No matter what – I wanted to BECOME an artist

This was a bold awakening for somebody that had NO real direction in life. My parents education level – both of them high school dropouts – struggled to raise us kids. Unspoken yet expected – the norm had been – you would somehow GET A JOB when you graduate.

J-O-B’s – weren’t enough

So…I enrolled in night school at Penn State University’s satellite campus. I had no idea what I was doing. I muddled through the process. I spent time planning and studying financial aid (still mystified) I pressed on. Attending part-time at night, while working full-time to pay rent. Art classes during the day and Liberal Art classes at night, I succeeded in bringing my grades up. The daytime art classes were my favorite. My art teacher mentored me, showing me how to get a portfolio together. This was invaluable.

Ultimately –  I transferred full-time to an amazing art school

The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I couldn’t believe I was there. The whole experience was super exciting and new. Considering, at first, I snubbed the idea, I wasn’t sure I wanted to earn a degree. I believed I would find an artist community and be self-taught. However, that idea folded quick. And without this experience, I might have ended up with my own personal tragedy. Following my passion saved me. Four years later, I graduated, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a certificate in Art Therapy. Eager to conquer the art world and live my ARTIST life, I succeeded.

The after artist’s life (so to speak) is a whole other story…

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Memories, Poetry, writer

Here I Stand On Torrid Land

 

Torrid land

Photo by FAICAL Zaramod from Pexel

here i stand on torrid land

my spirit wandering the dusty sand

of fig trees, khubz (bread) and floured hands

i stand just

foot driven deep

in the earth’s crust

sure-footed grip of rocks and mortar

my soul ripped in two

by grief’s torture

small hands grasped lightly

by the remembrance of her

soft dough-baked grip of salt, of land

ancient yet present her cherub eyes danced

table-side love she spoon-fed her clan

with grape leaves and olives

and (not so dainty) meat pastries

prepared from the vines toiled by cede’s hand

his backyard bounty, his dreams — their dreams

of their homeland and my dreams of

hot cement days and barefooted children

pretending the dawali (stuffed grape leaves) are stacks of cigars

stuffed, rolled, stacked high on big plates

the dawali grows high

creating bigger heaps of make-believe

fun time with cousins

longing for the smells of dusty left behind relics

that bespeak of them, their belongings

the hookah, the 8 track tapes belting out loud arabic music

the robe and headscarf my grandfather wore

in ramallah, the curious one that later became a halloween costume

worn by a childhood friend

and that old oriental rug beaten by history

splayed across the living-room floor, adding an air of the exotic

to their mundane – colonial – suburban sofa

the lamb and garlic stained air smelt early at daybreak

seemed always there lingering about

oiled hot pots full brimming with tomato broth baths

and grown ups lamenting the evening news, the war, the fight

for the return of their land, usurped by foreign man

those that had suffered atrocities of their own

have turned ugly heaping nails, spitting bulldozers

claiming god has promised this to them

easily they slipped between tongues

english and arabic at once

they were here/there simultaneously

they had created a new language, one easily understood by us

and me, absorbing all this with my round brown eyes

unaware of my future task

silently inhaling the smoke of my

family’s lingering rage, the kind of rage

that clings to the walls, to the curtains, to the furniture, to me

to my stuffed pink panther

the one i loved so much for its unique shape and color

the color of bubble gum and pink lemonade — but the rage!  

the rage had to be scrubbed off the walls, scrubbed off the furniture

scrubbed off my clothes, scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed!

and i –  inherited this task unknowingly.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Artist, clarity, Psychology, writer

AHHHHHHH — Frustration is Frustrating!

 

adult-athlete-concert-763219

Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Frustration is an unsettling feeling, undoubtedly.

For years I’ve dappled in poetry and blogging. I’ve been skirting the edges of this craft (this art form) since my early days in Art School. Today I feel a calling, a force within, a palpable frustration in my need to write. Why?

Perhaps it is the voice in my head shouting at me to speak! Periodically afraid to voice my opinion in written format has been directly linked to my fear of commitment. AHA!

I literally was just informed of this by that voice in my head again. LOL! I perplex myself at the same time as finding myself quite brilliant. Seriously, I fear committing to an opinion or “story” as I might have to act on something. Well, at least that is the silliness I tell myself. I want to remain open I think, as an artist I should be open. This is the battle, the battle for clarity and fair-mindedness that stalks my psyche. Strange? I know. Stranger things there are though, ’cause people are their own worst critics.

And storytelling (by the way) is an ancient art form that has been handed down through our bloodlines, our bones. It’s a natural human condition (in my belief) that relay’s messages from within. To seek and tell one’s story, or to be sought out by our inner voice to tell one’s story. Poetry grabbed a hold of me the same way. I heard voices in my head (over and over) that wouldn’t shut up. I felt compelled to grab a notebook and pencil. Lo’ and behold —  poetry spilled out. I felt possessed. Mesmerized, I didn’t stop for several years. Same as my urge to pick up a brush and paint suddenly — telling a story visually, expressing an emotion, depicting a scene. No different.

adult-athlete-concert-763219

Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Back to Frustration. Frustration about pivoting my art form. Where do I start? I know other artist’s and writer’s have the same problem. Painter’s stare at blank canvasses, as writer’s stare at blank pages. So it goes. To pivot or not to pivot? That is my question.

I want to master my pivoting. If I can master the pivot, I can effortlessly succeed. Right?

Frustration will cease to exist if I just pivot from it — Ha! (In fantasy world) Frustration is key to understanding my story — understanding the road to take, the story to tell. Pivoting is part of creating. Sometimes tackling the beast of frustration to the ground is how I proceed with creation. Frustration/Creation. Sounds good to me. I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head. So, I forge forward. I write. I paint. I pontificate. And I frustrate. But I create, and that is what I live for. Now…what should I write?

©Jay Mora-Shihadeh

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gender, Memories, Psychology, Transgender artist

I Cracked the Outer Shell and Touched the Inside of my Soul

selfieA vision struck me one day, that little bubble that appears in newspaper comics popped inside my head: “The Artist From The Inside Out”. In that moment, clarity washed over me. I said – “What a great premise for my blog”. Lay everything out, bare naked and in the open. Being an artist who is going through transition is simultaneously exciting and exposing; sometimes leaving me in a raw emotional state. After all, I didn’t plan on being transgender, nevertheless this is who I am. I spent my life hiding inside a shell. In mere seconds, I cracked that outer shell and touched the inside of my soul for the first time. A shell created to protect me from our society’s hate, ignorance and judgement. This coping mechanism – I honed –  from the outside in.

Realizing that I had defaulted to my shortcomings and created a suitable safe existence, became shocking to me. This idea of “The Artist From The Inside Out” reversed that dialogue with myself. Critical that I live unrestricted, free from hate and judgement, my quest is to get re-acquainted with the boy I abandoned years ago. Reclaiming ones’ self-identity is vital to transition. Being transgender, and an artist, means visiting the places I forgot, the uncharted experiences of my life that I desperately desired.

When I was a child, I assumed I was a boy, however, society rejected this and rendered me female – that was devastating. Life became hard when that reality sank in. As people challenged my identity, seething anger replaced innocence. The outer shell of self-protection began to form, but with consequences. My life became sad, depressing and scary. Confusion twisted my little soul in two, and I split my world to somehow fit this “new reality”. To become whole as a man, and as an artist, is my end goal. That’s happening with ease now, but with moments of grief. Normal human behavior is to look back and mourn the years we lost. However, grief purges the soul and opens your heart.

“The Artist From The Inside Out” was the light switch moment; the flipping of my life story. As an artist, authenticity is my mantra – what I strive to live by. Living by this code is what I need to feel connected. That authenticity is unraveling for me everyday as I learn something profound (or not) in becoming connected again to my true self. Funny, but the experiences I find profound are the simple memories of a carefree boyhood and joys of unfettered play. The simple love of my Matchbox and Hot Wheels , my purple Nerf football and my reckless tree climbing were true bliss.

However, as a small child I had awareness that I was different. My mother shared the other day a memory of me, at five years old, punching the little boy next door for calling me a girl! I consider myself a Robin Hood type, but a bully – no! My nature is to come to the rescue of the victim, the underdog. I suppose I was the victim of that little boy – and the five-year old me – didn’t accept this! Mom verified to myself (and to herself) that even at five years old, I understood I was a boy.

I strive to express love, passion and the human spirit as an artist. I want to express this crazy need I have to say something in my life. Art is a reminder of the inner light us humans hold. The brighter the light the bigger the impact. Self-expression is one of the biggest needs humans have, but at times forgotten. What higher form of democratic-expression is there but the human right to self-expression, self-determination. Therefore, my self-discovery of being transgender and going through this transition has been the ultimate in self-expression.

A critical and larger part of a healthy democracy is all equal parts are thriving. Artists are here to remind us of the commonality we all experience, because art by nature allows for human connection. As an introvert – as an artist – albeit late in life; my shell cracked open and the man within – exposed from the inside out.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Art, Artist

The Chameleon Effect and My Shifting Color Palettes.

 

Living in Florida has greatly affected my work as an artist. Years ago my artwork coming from Philadelphia, PA., a blue-collar and gritty Northeast city,  was much darker with a heavy vibe to it. My palette was full and rich with Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Blues, Yellow Ochre, Pthalo Green, all very rich robust oil paints heavily influenced by my city life. Shortly after moving to Florida I noticed “The Chameleon Effect”  influencing my color palette. The chameleon is the artist of the forest. Scientists believe chameleons change color to express their mood as stated in this article from wonderpolis.org. My work began to morph into a vibrant and  lighter color palette as I adjusted to my new coastal life here in Florida. It seemed very sudden that my work began to change color. I guess my mood began to shift quicker than I thought, matching to the new environment I was living in. It was an emotional response to the nature, the unique landscape and the big blue endless sky of Florida. I felt transported to an exotic Island. For me it was an almost surreal experience as I lived my entire life near a big gritty city. At first, I rejected it thinking it was not my style. Above you can see my two paintings juxtaposed to illustrate this. “Cocoon #2” on the left, is an early painting I did in my last year of art school and the oil pastel “Radiance” on the right is my current work.  Nature themes are present in both of these pieces. However, “Cocoon #2” was a very internal response to my yearning for nature and for solitude. Surrounded daily by concrete buildings, crowded streets and dark colors  the city was claustrophobic at times.  Whereas, “Radiance” was an outward response to the nature and bright sunny colors of the Florida landscape. My palettes have shifted, as I have shifted since first arriving here in Florida many years ago. Uniquely expressing my moods through changing colors, I as well have adopted the innate traits of the chameleon.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Art, Artist, gender, Transgender artist

Gender Identity and the Dreaded Self Portait; At Least I Didn’t Cut My Ear Off

 

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Vincent Van Gogh “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear” (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Vincent Van Gogh cut his ear off. They claim he had mental Illness. Maybe he did – maybe he didn’t, I don’t know. Artists have demons. His demons caused him such distress that he physically harmed himself. He was emotional, passionate and intense; yet out of his element in that century. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. I related to him as an artist. Perhaps he struggled with his identity? He may have even hated his self-portraits. I dreaded mine. Self-portraits exposed me. I didn’t like being exposed. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right inside me. I never felt comfortable with my image. But at least I didn’t cut my ear off.

This past July I was recruited to do an “Ask Me Anything!” (AMA) event after being “found” on an illustrators group. I’d never heard of it before but after researching it, I was intrigued. I immediately signed up and soon after was hosting my first event.  The experience really touched me personally. It was this event that spawned the idea of  revamping my old blog. If you haven’t heard of AMA events, I urge you to check them out amafeed.com . I want to expound a bit on my answers to some very insightful questions I got from people during my event. One of the questions I was asked was, did I think hating my self-portraits had anything to do with my gender identity crises? To that I said, “I absolutely do!”  In fact as good as others thought my art was, I often felt it was not good enough or worse yet, they are lying (just to make me feel better) weird right? The imposter syndrome was always with me. Sure I liked my art. Sometimes I even loved my art. BUT it definitely brought out my self-hatred too, especially when I had to look in the mirror and do a self-portrait. I guess it was not the usual self-loathing that most people experience. It was a fear to portray myself as female. I thought to myself, is it okay that I looked and felt kinda like a guy anyhow? Gender identity was my Achilles heel . I was always trying to walk an imaginary line of androgyny. After all, androgyny was cool I thought, I’m an artist right? Also, I was struggling with never feeling quite right with being a “lesbian”. In fact, I never really self-identified that way, preferring instead to say that I was gay. This way I could avoid the female connotation, it was an easy and more accepted identity for me. I am very comfortable and relieved now that I’m not a lesbian. I never was. I am a male who is binary and straight. I was born transgender not cis-gender. This has been a huge relief because I harbored feelings that I might be homophobic or hated lesbians and felt extremely guilty about that. I haven’t picked up and explored self-portraits since transitioning. I suspect when I do it will be a better experience. I like how I look and feel now. I am not saying I won’t struggle at all, that would be absurd. However, I don’t have to agonize over my female features anymore. I can look in the mirror with confidence and ease. I finally like they way I look. Self-portaits aside, having transitioned to male and feeling my gender dysphoria slowly dissolve has been a sheer joy. This artistic journey, this human journey leaves me to wonder, what if Van Gogh lived today? Would it be different for him. Maybe he wouldn’t have cut off his ear?

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Artist, gender, Psychology, Transgender artist

I’m Back After A Long Hiatus

C8F3D0F4-771B-4108-8D7F-440CCB22D07F Updated Life: I am resurrecting and re-tuning my blog to catch you up on my life after several years of blog abandonment. As you will discover, I have had a whole lot of change over the years since starting this blog. Formerly my blog was about food, art and poetry. It was pretty “themed”. This time around I’m re-tuning it to a more serious (at times) raw, revealing blog on my artist’s life and mind. As I state in my profile, “The Artist From the Inside Out”. My story goes like this. I began making art as a child (like many artists) it was my escape into my own world. Then suddenly hit by adolescence life became very painful and confusing. I found myself in constant turmoil unable to sustain art making. After years of self-inflicted dysfunction in my teenage years, I once again turned to art to heal my pain. I began to gain some inner strength and decided to go to art school earning a BFA in painting and drawing; taking self healing a step further I also obtained a certificate in Art Therapy. However, upon graduation, my road quickly became disjointed once again. I suddenly found myself in a whirlwind. I was in a relationship, we had a baby to support, I was an activist hitting the streets protesting and chanting, I was donating my art skills and basically heading for burnout. I was lost. I had been running from myself and my art. Instead of the art building me up, it clearly was breaking me down. It just became too painful and tormenting for me to continue. I was having an all-out identity crisis as an artist. I was never clear on my identity, my voice. I would create, then run, create then run, etc. There was an art therapy joke my peers and I would often say to each other, “You know what they say? Every painting you make is a self- portrait!” (I hated my self-portraits). So I quit making my art. I ran from myself.

Years later I sat alone in my living room deeply wounded from a job loss. I was determined to start making art again but this time it would be different. I was insistent on tackling my blocks. I had been listening to a podcast from “The Artists Entrepreneur Network” it was discussing finding your identity as an artist. Then Boom! Just like that my wall came crashing down and I jumped up, slapped myself on the head and said “no wonder you can’t find your identity as an artist! You’ve had GENDER identity crises your entire life!” I admitted to myself at that moment that I was transgender. It was HUGE in my understanding of why I kept running and dodging myself as an artist, (hell as a human being) all these years. Today, I truly believe this is how art built me into what I claim for myself as the man-made artist.

Going through this life changing transition and claiming my true identity means I am not afraid to look at who I am anymore. I’m making great art in different new ways. I’m happily married. I have a great and successful son. The weight of self-hatred and extreme self-judgement lifted off me when I realized my true identity and began my transition to freedom. It has allowed me to create freely and explore ALL of me as an artist. I have opened myself to the business of making art, an avenue I had shut down previously due to my constant instability. Sure I’m a work in progress, but who isn’t. I don’t need to manipulate my self-identity to suit my fictional idea of self anymore. I created a “way” of existing in order to securely live, and that has been very eye-opening. Everyday I’m excited at the myriad of interests and self-discovery I have now as a man, yet at the same time I deeply mourn the years lost to my fears.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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I am thoroughly enjoying making, baking and eating khubz with a variety of dishes. I have created a pan-fried tofu sandwich on homemade khubz using the fresh tatsoi greens I purchased from the Weavers Way farm. I seasoned my tofu with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and some tamari soy sauce.

I pan-fried it in oil until it became nice and crispy then threw in some onions to saute’ a bit.

After the onions cooked down I added the tatsoi greens sautéing until they became wilted just enough to keep  the delicate flavor of the greens.

I took the khubz and charred it on the stove top over an open flame set to low.

I then constructed a very tasty pan-fried tofu sandwich on khubz and my little friend suddenly showed up!

The tofu had a wonderful smoked and slightly spicy flavor from the cayenne and smoked paprika. The tofu itself was hot, crispy, moist and packed a big punch of flavor that held up nice to the charred hefty texture of the khubz. The tatsoi was delicate yet hearty like spinach and helped take this sandwich to the next level!  mmm mmm good!

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Food, foodie

Pan-fried Tofu and Tatsoi on Khubz

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family, Food, Foodie memories

Dessert-ish Pizza on Khubz

You may ( or may not) recall my last post on my first time making Khubz, the Arabic flat bread my family grew up eating. If not go back and check it out. I mentioned how I would create some yummy new creations utilizing the Khubz. Well I made a delicious dessert-like pizza using peanut butter, banana and cinnamon sugar. The peanut butter was my base and I sprinkled liberal amounts of the cinnamon sugar on top of sliced banana’s and into the toaster oven/or broiler it went to carmelize the top of it and get it nice and charred. It was ah-mazing! I loved it and will put it on my recipe list to use again and again. The shape resembled the state of Florida a bit, or the continent of Africa.

Don’t be afraid to let it char so it can get gooey and carmelized. The char adds a balanced, slight bitterness to the sweetness of the sugar. So good!

I sliced it into smaller slices and devoured it with a cup of coffee.

The banana will become hot adding to the sweet flavor making it a tasty and somewhat healthier version of dessert, or a good hearty breakfast treat.

Now on to more scrumptious khubz creations!

 

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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I love bread. After all it is the staff of life, as I always say to my fiancée’ as she lovingly mocks my addiction to good fresh bread! I especially love Khubz, the bread my Tateh (grandmother) made her entire life. It is a style of bread that comes from Palestine and the Middle East. A type of Pita bread, there are several types of Khubz, this version is the Taboon style bread baked over small hot stones. My memories of my childhood and into adulthood are of her waking up in the morning getting out her trusty giant metal bowl, carefully placing it between her knee’s on a chair and vigorously kneading dough to make freshly baked khubz. She had these round river stones in her oven and she would place the fresh dough on the stones and bake the dough into a puffed, bubbly browned pillow of deliciousness! Hot fresh and stacked high for all of my large extended family to devour in one day! Well, I decided in all my years of culinary adventures to attempt to make khubz for the first time! I found a lot of stones in a nearby park. “Wild ones” as my Aunt Mary curiously noted, because the store-bought ones tend to explode more in the oven. I laughed at the thought of “wild stones”.  I washed them 3 times and then boiled them for 15 minutes to disinfect them. I then tested them in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, no explosions! I was free to bake, and excited to taste my newly created masterpieces. I think I may have a new addiction, ha!

My wok doubling as a mixing bowl.

I made 10 smaller loaves out of that big pile of dough. Six cups of flour made 8-10 loaves just depends on your preference.

My shapes were very rustic and they varied greatly, I do believe Tateh’s shapes were more round and consistent, but who’s knocking rustic!

Carefully placed 2 at a time, if I had a bigger oven it would go faster, some day.

Through the glass of my oven. A beautiful golden color developing.

Crusty, fresh and hot outta the oven, the best way to enjoy freshly baked Khubz,  yum and double yum!

Look who popped up, he couldn’t wait to take a BIG bite.

Stacked high and ready to devour.  I love rustic and these loaves live up to that, for sure. I believe Tateh would’ve loved them too. I will keep perfecting and experimenting with baking khubz (Taboon style) and look out for my future posts about the uses of this versatile and ancient style of  bread.

Costumes, characters and ceremonies, etc. Vill...

Costumes, characters and ceremonies, etc. Village oven. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Inside the Artist's Mind

Khubz! The Staff of Life.

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These are the the veggie’s I had in the fridge this time around and I also had some beautiful bright mustard greens as well.

Together with some select spices and flavorings I whipped up a bountiful dish that fed me quite well.

Allspice and cinnamon  pairs well with the apple, carrot and onion. Both of these spices are also used often in Middle Eastern dishes which I grew up eating. The apple cider vinegar enhances the apple flavor and produces a nice tangy taste that adds to the sweet spiciness of  this meal. I chopped the trio of carrot, onion and apple and sautéed with spices first, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Then I incorporated the greens into the saute’, carefully adding the cider vinegar and some Tamari.

I then put on some millet to boil to go with the veggie’s. Millet is a great grain that is quick and very good for you, it has a nutty flavor and good protein. It is also a budget friendly grain that packs a punch of nutrients instead of white rice which is cheap but lackluster in the health department. I’m not totally knocking white rice, I love me some good Jasmine and Basmati rice, but millet is healthier and delicious. I always boost my grains by adding some type of seasoning. I put in some cumin seeds, salt and white pepper.

I packed the millet in a measuring cup, 1/2 cup, and spooned the veggie saute’ around the mound of millet. Beautiful, but I didn’t hesitate to devour it!

I then had seconds, always!

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Artist, Food, writer

A Few Veggies A Meal Makes

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Food

Gourmet homestyle on the cheap

Lately I have had to tighten the budget and count my pennies, however I haven’t tightened the belt much!  Forced to create my meals with budget-minded resourcefulness lends itself to some pretty tasty and unique dishes. Pretty much it’s open the fridge,see what’s left , and then how can I create the most tasteful punch with the least amount of effort and waste. It is a challenge for sure , but an exercise in culinary cleverness that sometimes fails yet often times leaves me with a tasty new recipe! This is a flatbread recipe that I created  from a few chickpeas, tomatoe slices, a carrot and half an avocado as the base ingredients. Luckily my spice pantry never fails me!

This dish is a culinary call- out to the Catalonian dishes of Spain. Hearty, robust, smokey tomatoe-ee , vegetarian entrees that celebrate the unique simplicity of that region.

The Pillsbury Dough Boy gave it rave reviews (lol), my dinner companion.

I gave it two thumbs up and cleaned my plate!  I was not feeling the penny-pinching,  just  the belly busting!! Good stuff.

Recipe  :

1/2-3/4 cup cooked millet

1 garlic clove minced

1 small carrot sliced

1/4-1/3 cup cooked chick pea‘s

2-3 slices of tomatoes, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cumin seed

dash of dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

dash of cayenne (optional)

1/2 an avocado

In heavy skillet with cover, toast til fragrant cumin seeds. Saute’ garlic, carrot slices and tomatoes slices in pan until caramelized, about 10 minutes. I didn’t use oil or butter, just the liquid from the tomatoes was all it needed. add paprika, oregano and salt/pepper and cayenne (I used it) half way through the sauté process. After it gets nice and caramelized and smoky, add the chick pea’s and lower the heat a bit to a low simmer and cover for 5 minutes, then toss in the cooked millet to warm through and marry all the delicious flavors.

Take a small loaf of good flatbread ( I used whole wheat Greek style flatbread) Toast it in toaster oven or regular oven, then dump all the delicious  ingredients in the skillet on top of the flatbread to cover, like a mound. Top it off with slices of the avocado and there you have it, a fantastic meal for Pennie’s!!

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

 

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I know my posts have been few lately, as I have recently moved to a new state and have been out of touch a bit. Hope to post a bit more now. Stay tuned.

A couple of friends of mine and I went to a very interesting and cool art installation designed to bring recognition to farms and food co-ops that are rapidly growing. ( pun intended, sort of) this was held at the Weavers Way farm in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pa.   An artist by the name of  Meei- Ling Ng put together an inspirational art installation using recycled farm materials such as chicken coop wiring, irrigation tubes etc. here is the link  to her show Multi-Media Art Installation by Meei-Ling Ng and Farm Festival. Below are some pics I took on my old iphone (apologies on poor quality) it was cold and rainy and dark,  but it was still very cool to walk around and experience the art,  and the farm.

This farmer greeted us upon our entry to the farm. Everything was lit by “Jackson” the lighting designer with LED and solar lighting.

This is a Beekeeper, which brought attention to the plight of bees and their scary demise due to pesticides! Very sad. She piped in a documentary on this topic by an award-winning director ( sorry can’t remember the name) in the beekeepers head. Nice touch!

I can’t recall the name of this piece, but I do know it lit up the crops in a very cool looking way drawing attention to the field. Reminiscent of Christo‘s artwork http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo_and_Jeanne-Claude

And this is what she called “The Balloon Chicken” I loved this piece!! Great installation, and her other work included paintings and wood sculptures throughout the farm like the cool woodpecker sculptures that became suddenly exposed by the solar light that was on a motion detector!! Nice touch by Jackson the lighting designer. Kudos !!

© [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Inside the Artist's Mind

Art installation- Down on the Farm!

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This is the real deal, old school French bakery and cafe’ in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

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We had amazing dessert, a light fluffy moist and very coconutty macaroon with a homemade apricot and almond cake! Heavenly!!

Yum food!! Yum Art!!

Inside the Artist's Mind

Little French Bakery and Cafe’

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Artist, Memories, Poetry

Poetry about my beloved grandmother, Tateh.

 

Tateh and CeDe ( my grandfather) circa 1937

Our Storyteller

Upon the landscape of your face

tumbling from the folds of your laughing brow

and between the creases of your weathered jowl

I see the history of Palestine.

I see children playing under olive trees, and goats

grazing on grass. Your eyes sparkle and sing, as though

you were still a child running through the dusty

rock strewn roads of Ramallah.

You are laughing with your little sister, escaping

from the neighborhood boys you were teasing; taunting.

Perhaps one of them a young Hanna Shihadeh, our grandfather;

at least these are the stories you told us.

I delighted, relished every word you spoke

of your life. I saw magic in your eyes

when you enchanted our hearts

with your stories of Palestine.

You – solid, sturdy and present.

You – soft, strong and pliant.

You – heart, song and pleasant.

 You – Tateh, our beloved link to our history, our culture, our people.

 

You were our land, our fig tree, our grapevine, our seed.

You were our small patch of fertile earth. You fed our souls

and minds with the world, with “otherworldliness”.

You fed our spirits with story, with beauty, and with freedom.

Your solid girth seemed rooted

deep in humanity, reminding us of

the vastness of love, when we became lost;

disconnected from it.

Storyteller of our bloodlines,

of our rich hearts

and our sad people,

tell me another story.

Give me a bone,

an olive branch, or perhaps

one of your two – eyed winks

to remind my soul you were real.

And that I am part of history; of an ancient great Palestine

that seems so distant, so foreign from me now.

Tell me again how you came to be locked in the landscape

of memory, of story, of history. Tell me again.

Niemeh Grace Shihadeh

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

 

 

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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