Art Tricks, Money Traps (Work-Life Balance)

We did it dear readers. We finally got through it.

We made it to the end of my series on the Wellness Factors of Life, AKA addressing the OECD index, or if you prefer, the Postconsumers series. What started out as a wild bid on my part in considering how to live a life with less and yet fuller than you could ever imagine, is now closing out with a topic more then fitting – work-life balance. The last factor that can directly effect your over-all state of being in this world of ours.

Because let’s face it, the average global citizen doesn’t even realize they have a creative component of who they are. Creativity that should be nurtured like all of the other things.

Your creative spark absolutely needs to be considered, and it connects quite well with areas of health, spirit, work, family/friends, environment, and personal fulfilment. When all of these things come together, your life will sing with excellence. Or maybe it’ll all fall apart if you ignore any one of those things for too long.

Yikes, that is a depressing thought to fathom. But I’ve been there creative cuties, and yes I may share that story in full one day. The story which led to one of my greatest theories on the importance of pursuing your purpose, it could be a campfire theory even, but not today is not that day friends.

I’ve got a different kind of wisdom to impart.

But first, let’s put a cap on that pen, and bring out the fundamental of life once more.

The Bare Knuckle Necessities

I’m going to make a bold statement.

You cannot achieve the perfect balance of life:
career (work),
spirituality (spirit, creativity),
space (home, studio, environment),
relationships (romantic, family, friends),
health (exercise, meditation, reading),
and fulfillment (hobbies, recreation)

All of these are noble pursuits, and completely attainable, but most definitely not all at once, and never more then two or three at a time. I know you’ve tried to accomplish this on your own, and you may have even fought against the theory because you wanted to disprove it. But like many idioms, adages, and metaphors of life, life hits back, over and over.

It’s not about besting life friends, it’s about taking it all in, giving it your best shot at a few areas at a time, and then continuing onward.

So for you that might mean getting a grip on health, and career for quite a while. At least until you’ve seen some positive gains and have set up some new healthy habits for yourself. I’m not going to devolve this post into going over theories I’ve discussed before on health, productivity and habit setting, but those topics do exist on This is about you being okay with striving for progress in certain areas, and then moving into progress in other areas.

Automation Station

Effectively you are creating rhythms and routines for yourself that your body, mind, and soul will be grateful for. Think about it for a minute, we are so comfortable falling into the same shitty habits every day after work? Ever wonder why we do that? Hint: it’s not because we want to.

Instead of beating yourself up because you didn’t do everything on your list today, focus on a few things to accomplish each day and follow through on them. Once the systems are in place to make those good decisions a reality every day (usually after a 90 day commitment), you will eventually create your own ideal, and balance will now have a new meaning.

It becomes less about having everything in equal measure, and more about shifting attentions on these areas of wellness as needed. So put the time in, build your lists, schedule tasks, and make one concrete action towards your area of focus each day. As Rocky says, that’s how winning’s done.

For me, what that means right now is making art every week, and marketing my business. Those are two simple things, but I’ve been neglecting them for relationships, work, and health. It’s time to focus back on the art and my own purpose.

theories Summarized

Artists of all stripes have to face the same pressures of work-life balance as do those that ignore the creative path. There is nothing wrong with going one way or the other, but when you make art, never assume your failings at balance are due to the pursuit of creativity – we all struggle with this. Skill, determination and a commitment to improvement are essential in moving towards success within the arts, as is true of any field.

The difference is that your path is not set in stone, therefore the risks and rewards are much greater. But I have a theory that you already know what you need to chase.


I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face (Logan review)

And if I am crying, it’s not because of you
It’s because I’m thinking about a friend of mine
You don’t know who is dying, that’s right, dying
These aren’t tears of sadness because you’re leaving me
I’ve just been cutting onions, I’m making a lasagna for one
Oh, I’m not crying, no

That’s all I could think of before I watched this movie for the second time. The first time being in theatres, and the second at home. And I cried both times.

Like a well adjusted man in touch with his emotions, and okay with them.

Logan (2017)

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Director: James Mangold
re-released on blu-ray May 23, 2017
********** 10/10

IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 91%
The Guardian: ****/*****

James Mangold is an American director, screenwriter and producer. He’s been responsible for some great films like Heavy, Copland, Walk the Line, the 3:10 to Yuma remake, and The Wolverine. He’s also directed Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, Identity, and Knight & Day. Which means that over the course of a 30+ year career, he has refined his ability to craft gritty, masculine films about relationships, loss, and character development. I’m glad to share that I’ve been there with him in good films and bad, and when the times are good with Mangold, the times are really quite good.

After the somewhat moderate success of The Wolverine, I was excited to learn that when Mangold was signed on to do Logan, he went to the fanbase to get insights on how to develop the story. Much like Hugh Jackman has done throughout his tenure as James Howlett, Mangold really took stock of the material and worked it over with proper attention.

Taking elements from the Old Man Logan run and The Death of Wolverine run (spoiler alert), this film gives Jackman room to breathe, much like Tim Miller did with Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, he focused on the nuances of him.

In the year 2029, mutants are almost extinct. An aging and limited Logan (Hugh Jackman) lives with mutant tracker Caliban (Stephan Merchant) and cares for nonagenarian Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has Alzheimer’s disease, which is effecting his telepathic abilities.

When a lady asks Logan to escort her and eleven-year-old girl Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota called “Eden”, he dismisses her at first. He then reluctantly accepts when money is offered, money that would get him and Charles onto open water away from people. But the Transigen corporation is looking for Laura, and they murder the lady, with Laura hiding in Logan’s vehicle.

Cyborg Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) heads up a team of Reavers to find Laura, but not before Logan and Charles learn that Transigen was breeding mutant children under project X-23, and when they moved onto project X-24, the children were to be euthanized. Laura is a clone of Wolverine, AKA Logan. Caliban is captured, but the other three escape.

On the way to North Dakota, Charles experiences another seizure, but it happens when the Reavers have closed in, allowing Laura and Logan to dispatch them. At one point on the journey the X-family stay with a farmer and his family after helping to wrangle their horses away from a busy highway. During the evenings events Logan helps the father fix the water pipes, and deal with the encroaching corporate farmers and their goons. While Logan is away Charles remembers another seizure he had as Westchester, one which claimed the lives of many of the X-men and several civilians. But he doesn’t reveal this to Logan, it is X-24 a feral clone of Logan with limited healing factor.

X-24 murders Charles and the farmers family, and abducts Laura for the Reavers and the man behind it all, Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant)

Caliban sacrifices himself by setting off grenades, but fails to kill Rice and Pierce. Logan barely stops X-24, but the farmer is injured and blames Logan for his families deaths, succumbing to his wounds.

The pair bury Xavier and find their way to Eden, where the remaining children have all escaped. But the Reavers have caught up to them once again. This time Logan uses a Transigen serum to temporarily restore his healing factor, and he takes out many of the men. Laura and other children get away, but Logan is stopped by Pierce and Rice. We learn that Logan killed Rice’s father while escaping from the Weapon X program, and that the destruction of mutantkind was designed by adding a genetic dampener to the water and laced into the food supply. Without no hesitation Logan shoots Rice dead, but Pierce releases a renewed X-24, who impales Logan on a tree. The children wipe out Pierce with their powers and Laura shoots X-24 with an adamantium bullet before it can finish Logan off.

Before dying, Logan calls Laura his daughter, compels her to not be a weapon like him, and accepts the feeling of death. Laura and the other children bury him and head towards Canada, but Laura repositions the cross in the shape of an X before walking away.

A fitting send off for the man who would be Wolverine. Logan doesn’t necessarily fit into the Fox X-verse proper, but it doesn’t earn him his movie death, and it puts some great rose-coloured glasses over the seven films he starred in (nine if you include cameos).

Also what a great way to send off Patrick Stewart as well. The legacy left by these two characters/actors will likely be analyzed by movie geeks in the decades to come.

Pros: This movie takes what is now a common genre in filmmaking, the superhero, strips it off it’s special effects and adrenaline soaked pacing, and allows a real story to happen over its run time. The R-rating was almost necessary to allow Mangold the space to do Wolverine Justice. Jackman, Stewart, and newcomer Keen are all enthralling to watch.

Cons: That we had to experience nine films and a great darkness over the Fox X-verse before we could get to excellent depictions of two X-men characters. Three if you count Deadpool. And man is it dark. Where will Laura go from here?

Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes

Points of Interest: James Mangold set the film in 2029 to give it distance from the rest of the film continuity and create a separate film with almost no requirements or expectations to carry into more sequels. The film relies very little on CGI and green screens. Also the debut film role of Dafne Keen.

Logan definitely earns its R-rating, and while there has been much speculation over whether Deadpool forced that direction, I’m glad for it either way. It pulls some influences from comic books like Old Man Logan and The Death of Wolverine without emulating the self-referential stuff too much. Heck at once point Logan even chides Laura by saying “…we’ve got ourselves an X-Men fan… Maybe a quarter of it happened — but not like this. In the real world people die! And no self-promoting asshole in a fucking leotard can stop it!”

This movie deserves to at the top of the comic book movie heap, it does all the kinds of things that The Dark Knight did, but it has infinitely more heart.

theories Summarized

What else can I tell you about this movie? You should expect a longer more thoughtful take on the Wolverine, with character development being central to the plot. I think it deserves to win movie awards, and it’s a contender with Get Out for my favourite movie of 2017. Seriously that good. A fitting end for a guy who is the best at what he does. Only what he does isn’t very nice.

And that’s not a theory either, it’s well documented.


Time Enough To Pass (Joan Shelley, Joan Shelley review)

An age-old problem of music, if it’s a shorter album, we’ll complain that it feels weak, and it comes in over sixty minutes we can’t believe what a slog it is.

Is forty minutes the sweet spot though?


Joan Shelley – Joan Shelley

released April 28, 2017
******** 8/10

Joan Shelley is a Kentucky based American singer-songwriter who has been making professional music since at least 2014, as that was when she released her first full-length album Electric Ursa.

Her fourth album is self-titled as Joan Shelley, and that’s usually a sign of intent on the behalf of a recording artist, a demonstrable shift in tone, content and genre(s). This album is no exception to that rule, at all. Joan Shelley is an intimate record, chalk full of dense material and featuring production efforts from Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a more complex album with tons of instrumentation and production value. No, it manages to tells it’s story with considerably less – vocals, guitars, ukulele, piano, organ, bass, and drums. The staples of folk music and this album most definitely has a folk feel to it. Just listen to Wild Indifference over a couple of listens and you’ll be at the heart of it.

Acoustic fingerpicking is a key element opening every track up and spreading the message out either simple and sweet or with a whiskey tinged bitter accommodation. Isn’t That Enough is a great example of that pull, especially since we experience both innocence and finality in it’s notes.

Where we best see the contributions of Jeff Tweedy come through are on I Got What I Wanted, Where I’ll Find You and If The Storms Never Came, but Shelley’s vocals almost come through, demonstrating the wisdom of Mr. Tweedy.

There is a great deal of beauty too to be found in these songs. And that all starts with track number one We’d Be Home, and quickly followed up by Even Though in the space following the second, third and fourth songs on the record. And man does the piano ever bring the attention on Pull Me Up One More Time, thanks be to James Elkington for that.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention my favourite song on the album – I Got What I Wanted. It must be the lingering outlaw country flourishes of Willie Nelson, but I cannot stop tapping my toe and feeling remorseful for Shelley.

Pros: The vocals of course. Joan Shelley has all the makings of a great country artist, and The Push and Pull demonstrates this well. And while this is a shorter album, the length suits the ideas perfectly.

Cons: At the great risk of being a contrived self-referential mess, Shelley manages to avoid this for the most part, but sometimes it feels blah. Go Wild I’m looking directly at you.

Runtime: 34 minutes

Points of Interest: This self-titled album began with a fiddle, of all instruments. Though Joan Shelley wasn’t able to articulate herself well with the fiddle, she took the direction of that instrument and applied it to the guitar. And it is indeed self-titled because it features her most assured and complete thoughts so far.

It’s difficult to add something new to folk music, but with some help (or should we say non-help help?) Joan Shelley has managed to craft a well-worn album from the bare minimum of instruments. And her ability to spread ideas across moments in time comes across quite well.

theories Summarized

All that considered, I think that Joan Shelley is a master of her chosen form, and we should be happy to have her work out there on display. It never manages to overstay it’s welcome and it sounds amazing both in your car and at home. At least, that’s my theory.


Creative Parenting (Amanda Wall interview)

Last Sunday I shared a preview of an interview with an illustrator and graphic designer who I’ve known for a quite a few years. She is one of my personal inspirations and she regularly sets a high standard for commitment to her craft.

When I become a parent one day, I can only hope to be as gracious and dedicated to parenting, married life, and art making as this lady does. And she’s a few years my junior to boot.

That’s right, with an exclusive shoot, I’m ready to share the full length and well documented official interview with Amanda Wall.

In case you missed it last week, I wrote about a specific example of Amanda’s skill, which benefits greatly her ability to delegate regularly. No matter what she’s in the midst of this lady is committed – Amanda is a full-time freelance designer, who also stays at home with her son. She is passionate about life. That might seem super vague, but let me explain in greater detail; Amanda loves to produce work related to health and wellness, life events, social issues and the eclectic. She services clients from home, whether a business or an individual.

A graduate of Grant MacEwan University with certification in design and a diploma in illustration, she has been working in the industry for almost decade. And if you were to ask small Wall Riley, there are a set of credentials there that justify the title of Mom too.

Also, I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to try out on location interviewing for the first time ever with Amanda, so don’t be surprised at the different environment, embrace it. Her kitchen and dining room are really nice, and well lit. Don’t believe me? Hit the picture below to check it out for yourself.

Told you that was going to be a good one. Aesthetically pleasing, mentally inspiring, and otherwise entertaining, I couldn’t have asked for a better hostess my first time off campus. And Riley was very accommodating too, can’t forget to thank him for his patience.

But what did you think? Did you enjoy the theme this time around? Are you a creative professional with something to say? Hit me up for a chance to do your own interview and get your voice heard, because timotheories isn’t just about me, it’s about you too.

And special thanks for Amanda for being amazing, appropriate, and available to meet!


She Paints (Edmonton Valley Zoo)

Zoos are controversial, apparently.

Some people think that we shouldn’t cage animals, like at all. Because of a few different reasons of course.

And they just might be right.

  1. Captivity can make animals unstable. Zoochosis is a condition where some animals pace back and forth, others injure themselves, and the rest seem to move their heads from side to side or back and forth frequently.
  2. Zoos are profitable businesses. This means that baby animals are traffic drivers but older animals are not, and are often sold off.
  3. Endangered species don’t live in zoos. Lots of zoos claim to care for rare animals and breed them for longevity of the species, but not for preservation.
  4. Limited education opportunities. Signage out front of animal displays only cover the basics, animals don’t exhibit normative behaviours, and people spend little time at each display.
  5. Enclosures are dangerous. For animals anyway. They eat thrown away trash, sometimes face negligence, and are a secondary consideration in the event of natural disasters, like floods and wildfires.

Walk With The Animals

But I wanted to visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo for myself this weekend. It reminds me of my youth, its located in the heart of the river valley, and it’s open every day of the year except for Christmas day. Owned and operated by the City of Edmonton, this zoo has by accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

I know it’s weird for me to write about a zoo, which has little to do with the arts, except I’ve known an artist activist or two in my lifetime, and there is an elephant there who likes to paint sometimes. If that’s a thing, and not training.

It’s a big part of Edmonton history, just like Fort Edmonton Park. Founded back in 1959, replacing the Borden Park Zoo which was on the property that currently serves as Northlands, it was called Storyland Valley Zoo up until 2010, when it went under some major renovations. Why Storyland? Because a big section of the park featured nursery rhyme characters.

The zoo is also home to over 350 animals (both exotic and local, including hundreds of squirrels) and it houses over 100 different species.

Edmonton Valley Zoo regularly hosts events and raises funds through conservation efforts – the Makira Conservation Fund, Red Panda Network, and the Species Survival Plan to restore endangered animal populations to the wild. And things like letting children take on the role of a veterinarian of an animal hospital to see what zoo veterinarians do. After Edmonton City Council decided to inject $50 million into the zoo, we’ve seen the property expand to one and a half times its previous size. The Arctic Shores exhibit and The Wander Trail being key elements in the facelift.

Additionally the zoo is home to the Inner Zoo (formerly Storyland Valley Zoo), Makira Outpost, Carnivore Alley, Elephant House and Exhibit, Saito Center, African Veldt, Back Paddocks, and the Birds of Prey area.

So there are two sides to this story of whether captive animals are happy or not.

But let’s talk about Lucy for a minute.


Lucy is the elephant which lives in the Elephant House and Exhibit – at over 4000 kg and forty two years young.

Something of a charmer, and called a peoples elephant by her adoptive herd, she visits with the public at least few times a day and supposedly loves to spend time with her zoo family. Many people have come from all over the world to see Lucy, and we’ve seen our share of protestors ready to come and rescue her from the zoo, including Bob Barker of Price Is Right fame. Lucy was orphaned in Sri Lanka and was brought to the Edmonton Valley Zoo through partnership with the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage and Colombo Zoo when she was two years old.

theories Summarized

Do I think zoos are inherently evil? No. Do I think they are awesome? No to that too.

People have been domesticating animals since we’ve been able to, and the same can be said for eating them. I generally hold the opinion that eating meat is an acceptable way to go, but I’m not overly stoked at the prospect of it. That said, the zoo is a place to go and see beautiful creatures, living and breathing. As a visual artist, I firmly believe that seeing something in person is far better for your creative eye then on film, but I’ll let you battle that out in the comments. Theories and all.

I’m off to the zoo this weekend? How about you?