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Facebook Artist

“Be curious about everything in the world. Travel. Work all the time and don’t stop. Get the work out to the world in any way you can, both the physical and web worlds. Meet, talk to, and develop relationships with the right people.” – Carole Freeman

carole-freemanBy Dorothy Dobbie

How do we choose our Facebook profile images and why? What does it reveal about us? Is there an essence of truth in the choosing that an artist can capture and reflect in an intrinsic way that can’t be reflected in a mere photograph?

These were some of the goals that Carole Freeman set out, perhaps unconsciously, to explore when she began searching the faces of her 2,000 Facebook “friends”, for personalities that spoke to her.

Not that she went to the Internet with this idea in mind. Scrabble and her mother’s illness brought her to Facebook.

“When my mother was in the hospital after emergency surgery in Winnipeg, we started playing family Scrabble games,” said Carole. “We continued when she returned home until she no longer had the energy to play.”

Carole had no other use for Facebook until she met American artist, Eric Fischl. Later, she looked him up on Facebook and had a Eureka moment. Soon she had almost 2,000 ‘friends” and she began to realize that here was an almost endless supply of faces, her favourite subject, to paint.

She began with the faces that intrigued her until she had painted over 200 images, some of them famous, some of them obscure, but each with a quality that drew the artist to explore more. She contacted the subjects, told them what she was doing and proceeded from there. Often, the painted image ended up replacing the previous photo portrait, so now Carole Freeman was virtually all over the ‘Net.

In 2011, Carole had an exhibition at Toronto’s Edward Day Gallery at which Facebook Canada’s managing director, Jordan Banks, said that Carole’s exhibit was a “unique expression” of the fact that Facebook “fosters socialization”.
Be that as it may, Carole herself is not yet convinced that the Internet and social media is the only road to stardom in the arts world, but it has brought her work to the attention of some very helpful people and has been instrumental in getting commissions and selling her paintings. It certainly brought her to the attention of the Canadian Arts Summit held at Banff this year, where she was able to expose her work to Canada’s 40 largest Arts organizations – many of them galleries and museums. “Social media has fast-tracked my work and given it a platform,” said Carole in a recent interview, “and on bad days, it has given me the support to keep going.”

Bad days in the life of an artist are not at all unusual, but for Carole they occurred with some frequency due to health issues. “My art career seems to have been tempered by death and illness,” she remarked. Her father died when she was seven which sent her ‘inside herself’ and then, as a teen, she was out of school for a year, due to a physical condition. “That was when I began painting,” she said.

Perhaps all art is born out of internalization and a desire to express a profound experience in a meaningful way. The creative gene has to be in place and Carole’s showed up early.

“My mother told a story from my childhood of the drawing I did of a girl with red eyes (children typically make eyes blue). When she asked me why the eyes were red, I answered that she was crying. Of course my mother thought this was brilliant and I was destined to be an artist,” says Carole. “She took me to a Van Gogh exhibition when I was about four or five. I remember being struck by Van Gogh’s paintings and my eyes being opened to a different way of seeing the world and people. My mother bought the catalogue, which she kept in her night table. I would sneak into her room to look at it on a fairly regular basis. It was the only art book we had in the house.”

It was an early indication of where Carole’s future lay, but not the only one. She won a prize in elementary school for a poster contest on how to prevent forest fires and she still remembers her pride. Later, in art school at the University of Manitoba, where she studied for some time under Ivan Eyre, her work was included in juried exhibitions. She graduated with a Master of Arts degree from the School of Painting at the Royal College of Art in London, England, and never came back to Winnipeg to live. Carole went back and forth between Montreal and Toronto a few times before settling in Toronto.

Carole started selling her art right out of school.

“The first corporate purchase was from the Continental Oil Company in London, England. I was pretty psyched and I remain excited about every purchase even today.”

Artists have to eat, so for a number of years, Carole tried to combine her career with a job. She taught art in a variety of venues including, Concordia University, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery until, illness interrupted the road she was on, forcing her back to art on a full time basis.

“I believe I painted my way back,” she says. She painted a series about her health and her pain which included about 30 portraits of doctors and health care workers. She says perhaps some day the series will be published.

A major break was when Carole had an exhibition of showbiz portraits during Toronto’s 2010 International Film Festival.

“I had a solo exhibition at a smaller Toronto gallery in tandem with work installed, at The Hyatt Regency Hotel, during the Toronto International film festival,” she explained. “Both of them received press and media.”

That helped her approach the Edward Day Gallery with several bodies of her work and they chose to exhibit the Facebook portraits. The exhibit was entitled “Friend Me, Portraits of Facebook” and it received wide media attention.

Along the way, Carole has had several group exhibitions and sold paintings now hanging in public and private collections in England, Canada, Italy, Ireland and the United States. She was commissioned by producer Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? The Greatest Movie Ever Sold) to do a large painting of his production and writing partner, Jeremy Chilnick. She has also been commissioned to do a painting of gallery owner Leslie Sacks in Los Angeles. The painting will be included in a book he is writing about his African and Contemporary Art collection. Her work will be included this November to December in a group exhibition, Women’s Art Now, at Leslie Sacks Fine Art in L.A..

Carole’s advice to aspiring young artists is “Be curious about everything in the world. Travel. Work all the time and don’t stop. Get the work out to the world in any way you can, both the physical and web worlds. Meet, talk to and develop relationships with the right people.”

Hey, nobody said it was easy.

“Being an artist can be very lonely,” Carole concedes. “There are approximately six million working artists in the world so there is a lot of competition in a very large, though challenging, international market, “ she says. “It is a lot of hard and constant work with no guarantee of recognition and success. It never stops, even when you do have success.”

In spite of these things, art is a compulsion and if it’s yours, go for it!

fb-profile-paintings2 fb-profile-paintings

Keeping watch on Hackers

hackerBy Scott Best

With roughly 3.5 million Canadians using mobile banking apps, mobile security company McAfee says the amount of malicious software threatening mobile platforms is growing, too. But smartphone users in Canada aren’t that vulnerable to attack . . . yet.

“In the first quarter of 2012, we had already detected eight million new PC malware samples, showing that malware authors are continuing their unrelenting development of new malware,” says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “The same skills and techniques that were sharpened on the PC platform are increasingly being extended to other platforms, such as mobile and Mac; as more homes and businesses use these platforms the attacks will spread, which is why all users, no matter what their platforms, should take security and online safety precautions.”

According to the Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, less than 10 per cent of the population was using a smartphone in 2007. Thanks to the iPhone’s rise in popularity, there are now over 10 million smartphone users in Canada.

Doug Cooke, director of sales engineering for McAfee Canada, says because smartphones and other mobile devices are still so new, users aren’t thinking about security.

“With new toys, you’re mainly concerned with playing with that new toy, not thinking about security,” says Cooke. “Security is something you think about down the road.”

McAfee researchers collected 8,000 new mobile malware samples in the first quarter of 2012, compared to a year ago when there was almost no malware targeting mobile devices. In that period, they colleted nearly 7,000 samples of malware meant for the android platform, a 1,200 per cent increase from the number collected by December of last year.
“The primary reason is that Apple is doing a much better job in terms of monitoring the applications that get into their world,” says Cooke. “The marketplace in the android environment, it’s a little bit more of the wild west. There’s numerous places where you can get apps for the android.”

Mechanisms used by mobile hackers are nowhere near as sophisticated as those targeting PCs, but as the number of users increase, so will the amount of malware. Mobile banking is also on the rise, and Cooke says hackers particularly seek out opportunities to access financial information.

“So much of what the malware writers are trying to do is to be on your system but stealth, so they can gather information about your mobile device and send it out to the Internet so someone can use it.”

Cooke says the main thing hackers are able to accomplish with mobile devices is keystroke logging. If a financial transaction is being completed on a mobile device, the user often enters a personal information number to validate it. A hacker can log the user’s keystrokes, send the pin number to a command and control server, and gain access to the user’s mobile banking account.  Cooke says, however, he’s not aware of any Canadian mobile banking apps being attacked in that way.

“There’s a lot of this activity in Asia, a little bit in the United States, but not much in Canada because we don’t have the same level of transaction activity happening through mobile devices…yet.”

Looming start of post-secondary studies puts young people under STRESS


By Scott Best

No matter what your age or the kind of school and work experiences you’ve had, stress has probably been a part of your life at some point. For students, stress can come from many sources — planning for post-secondary education, parents’ expectations, school projects, grades or exams, just to name a few. However, stress is not impossible to conquer.

Last spring, education and career-planning website, myblueprint.ca, surveyed over 500 middle and high school students to find their key sources of stress. They published the results in the MyBluePrint Canadian Student Stress Index.

“What we found is 81 per cent of students said they had a moderate to high amount of stress resulting from planning for post-secondary,” says Gil Silberstein, president and co-founder of myBlueprint. “We did believe that ‘teens thinking about their future’ would be a number one stressor, and it was interesting to have that verified.”

Carmela Giardini, head of guidance and counseling for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, says students feel this kind of anxiety because they feel they’re facing an uncertain future. “They’re thinking in terms of, What’s out there, what’s the post-secondary experience going to be like?  Will I get in? Will my marks be good enough to get in? Will I like it when I’m there? To some degree it’s the unknown that’s potentially stressful to them.”

Giardini adds the expectations students place on themselves and the need to have the approval of parents, teachers and peers can also be a stressor in their lives.

When asked about their top source of pressure, 75 per cent of the students surveyed on myblueprint.ca cited their own expectations. Parents’/guardians’ expectations came in at 71 per cent, teachers at 66 per cent, friends at 39 per cent and siblings at 22 per cent.

The survey was open to all users of myblueprint.ca across Canada, and the sample was split equally between male and female students.

Myblueprint.ca is an education and career planning website that can be customized to help individual students plan for their future. Students can set goals, plan their courses interactively, track their progress towards graduation, and browse post-secondary options across Canada that match their interests and high school courses.

The survey also asked students  about digital devices and social networking. It found only 43 per cent of teen participants saw the rapid growth of communication channels as a source of pressure, ranking lower than family, post-secondary education and exams.

“Those that think [communication tools] make their lives less stressful are learning to use them judiciously and be in control of them, rather than have the tools control them,” says Giardini. “The more control we have over something, the better able we are in handling the stress.”

Giardini says identifying where stress is coming from, breaking problems and goals down into bite-sized pieces and creating a calendar to help manage deadlines are all effective ways of coping with stress.

A Passion for Fashion

Vanessa Heron’s talent and training make her a successful designer.

By Norah Myers

Vanessa Heron was born to be a fashion designer. The granddaughter of an Italian tailor and a seamstress, she grew up sketching, creating and cultivating a love for fashion, particularly evening wear and haute couture. Her family provided her with a basic foundation in drafting and tailoring. Vanessa further studied pattern making, sewing, and fashion illustration while still in high school. After graduating from Balmoral Hall School for Girls in 2004, she was accepted to Ryerson’s fashion design program in Toronto.

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