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Saturday, 30 January 2016

BLACK WATER




Maybe she was going blind. 

The water was crystalline at the start of her journey.  Vibrant hues flittered around her.  She was tempted to stay but forced to move on.  She was on a mission.  

Consumed with compulsive fire, she torqued and leapt as high as she could.  Hmmm…no problem in air.  From up here she could see just fine.  Darn!  Why wasn’t she favoured with flamboyant wings like those who tried to eat her?

Things worsened as she advanced.  Colours turned gray as black pools claimed the water’s surface.  She ascended once more for reconnaissance purposes.  Yes, the trees were still green at the top and brown at the bottom!  The stones were silvery but darkened near the edge of the stream.  She dove back in but no matter how much she stretched her eyes she still couldn’t see.  

Follow the scent! 

Home had a special smell, but the perfume of her origins evaporated as the water became increasingly opaque.  A revolting, sickening odour lassoed her face, burned her mouth and tasted strange.  

She attempted a “leap and turn” but was quickly carried forward by a multitude pushing furiously behind her.  These followers, unable to think for themselves, were also heading home.

Blinded, smelly and fouled, she surged upwards once more to scan the region.  A pond bordered the looming rapids.  Risky!  Serious flapping across six feet of land would be required to reach it.

Her belly was engorged.  She felt hopelessly clumsy but had to try.  She wriggled as best she could through the salmon congregation and inched towards the embankment.  A final leap should do it.  

She soared avoiding sharp jutting rocks before landing on fallen leaves.  Violent thrashing ensued.  She flipped, flopped, banged, mostly in circles but eventually in the right direction.  Success!  

Her eyes felt it first, “cool, clear water… water…water…” but she had no time to revel in its clarity.  She found a crevice and lay her eggs.  Spent, she slowly drifted to the surface.   

Claws and infinite darkness were waiting.   Pain pierced her neck.  

Saturday, 9 January 2016

ADRIFT


A floating feeling, loss of focus happens every once in a while and I'm not sure what brings it on.  There is extreme societal pressure in the new year to start anew, to come up with fresh ideas, concepts, projects, but I'm pooped, still recuperating from a very busy 2015!

Detail of a work in progress - pen, ink and watercolour

I have a slew of "started" drawings and paintings. My aim for 2016 WAS to get up-to-date on this backlog, but what did I do?  I completed a small painting from scratch and I added to the "started pile" by 
  1. applying a colourful background on a relatively large canvas, 
  2. pursuing a very complex pen and ink drawing, and 
  3. blocking out a couple of digital works.  

While last year I might finish a digital piece within three days, I now sketch initial shapes or characters and wait weeks before I attack them again.  This is most likely happening because I have a theme that I want to work on.  Whenever I do something seemingly unrelated, it feels as though I am procrastinating.

Love in the Grotto
Frustrating, because I know from experience that the important thing is to keep working no matter what.  Every new piece or sketch feeds another. Non-artists think that making art is a purely pleasurable activity but it also involves continuous problem solving.  It's work!  I obviously do what I love but it isn't always easy.

must spawn some "outrageous" drawings or paintings to vacuum out the cobwebs in my psyche...in other words, make work that I'll most likely never show.  (Outrageous tends to offend).

Then again, perhaps more stalling is needed.  I keep having dreams that I am in a huge warehouse studio with way too much room.  Something is simmering.  Once I get going, I'll turn into a freight train. 

In the spirit of incubation, I'm off to make a batch of cookies, then again, I may take a nap. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

GET OUT THE X-RAY

Reflective light technology might reveal another painting by Leonardo underneath the Mona Lisa.  Not exactly news.  Many artists make major changes to design elements as they paint.

An artist friend of mine recently began painting over old works.  The reasons were threefold:  
  1. Some paintings which seemed satisfactory at the time were now perceived as unsuccessful;
  2. Recycling old paintings saved money (no financial outlay for new stretchers or canvas);
  3. It helped resolved the never-ending storage problem.
I used to think that it was a good idea to keep all work, even bad work as a testament to personal growth, but now storage is an issue.  I find myself holding back from drawing on a large scale because I have no clue where to file away the work.  I need to undertake a thorough inventory but in the meantime, I will follow in my friend's footsteps.  Destroy in order to create.  


Detail of old painting
I recently pulled out an old painting done in the eighties. I remember building the stretcher myself.  It's a solid sucker.  No way this beauty is ever going to warp.  I took a picture of the work for posterity because for some peculiar reason, I didn't choose my most devastatingly horrible painting. It was initially difficult to start covering the image but there was no going back.  No pain, no gain.

I left some parts visible and rapidly discovered that the old fed the new. Novel colour combinations, differing textures and surfaces led to unexpected results.  

Another artist I know chopped up older drawings and created a most unusual and beautiful series of collages.  Maybe after 35 years of practice it's the way to go.  Artists are notorious hoarders.  We amass an abundance of interesting and beautiful things to use as references for future inspiration.

I doubt anyone will ever bother to discover the hidden layers under my paintings via x-rays or reflective light technology.  That only happens to the Mona Lisa.  

I'm not going to show anyone what was under my latest painting except for this little cropped bit on the left.  The photograph of the destroyed painting is for my journal and perhaps a new digital work.   The old will continue feeding the new.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

'TIS THE SEASON OF CONFUSION

La la la la la la la la la la la la...she thinks she's in control!

Her eyes are dry.
Her brain is mush.
Her lists are long.

Sample:  

  1. Make "sucre à la crème" for everybody and their brother.  (Secondary List 2:  Buy butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, evaporated milk).  Wreck the first couple of batches.  Have partner lick up pan of hard toffee.  Start again.  Rub stirring arm with anti-pain gel that evening.
  2. Make shortbread cookies (Secondary List 3:  Buy more butter, icing sugar, maraschino cherries, flour (white, unbleached).  Rub kneading arms with anti-pain gel that evening.
  3. Find tree/decorations in crawl space. Put up and decorate tree.  Rub crawling muscles with anti-pain gel the next day.
  4. Find and hang the friggin' wreath.  
  5. Try to decide which works to hang for show in government building next week.
  6. Prepare list of tags and bio for exhibit.  Decide on other works.  Change and retype the tag list. Decide on other works.  Retype the stupid list.  Email to organization.
  7. Hang exhibit.  Rub sore arms and upper back with anti-pain gel that evening.
  8. Finish small painting required for show in February.  Repaint small painting.
  9. Take down show at another space.  Unpack works from hatchback.  Wrap works for storage.  Buy more masking tape.
  10. Make a mix of various varnishes to obtain a perfect result.  Varnish three paintings.  Hate the result.
  11. Dye roots.  Make holiday streaks.  Contemplate having a pink one and forget about it.
  12. Reflect on what to eat at holiday gatherings.  Fall back on Mexican favourite, Mazatlan Madness. Turkey?  What turkey? 
  13. Reflect on wine, beer and other unhealthy beverages.  Buy the usual.
  14. Attend various holiday gatherings and secretly reflect on lists.
  15. Advance large pen and ink drawing which will take weeks to finish.  (What WAS I thinking?)
  16. Create and email e-Holiday card that will end up in everyone's spam folder.
  17. Write blog entry before Christmas.  This is it!
  18. Finish Pig Pub painting. Almost done!  Why is there always a last bit that begs for another solution? (Part of work in progress below).


Accomplished this week:


  • Made my first "sucre à la crème" last night.  It's ready to cut into bite sized pieces.  I didn't wreck the first batch.  YAY!  
  • Wrapped and put away some paintings from a previous show.  Had to take everything out from the heated storage space first.  Kitchen reappeared.
  • My partner painted my office walls but trim still needs doing. Other rooms will reappear after the job is finished.




  • Went to a holiday party and actually managed to forget my list.
  • Prepared video on my creative process for Creative Mondays. This is the result.  Enjoy!  


video

I'm off to retype my list of tags!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A CITY OF SMALL MEN

It was routine on hot, summer nights. The two and a half block teen parade began at about 7 pm on Fridays at the north end of Main Street until one could see City Hall.  Most stopped about a half a block before reaching the light gray building and performed a quick about face ahead of the others to speed up the return saunter. 

The best part of the walk (other than fulfilling the main objective described below) was passing in front of the Auditorium and Roxy Movie Theatres. The facades were far from fresh.  Depraved yellow or beige, they seemed raunchy, forbidding, yet somehow strangely inviting.  Roxy in particular was foxy for a building.

The ambulatory loop went on for hours until all hungry eyes dematerialized.

It was the only way to evaluate the availability and quality of young males. Our discriminating female minds quickly scanned the face and body of one, then another, until each half-grown hunk had been tallied, meticulously recorded on an imaginary spreadsheet, and put through fanciful data analysis.  Within thirty minutes, the sort was completed and possible prospects were catalogued from hot to cool.  It didn’t take long.  It was a very small town.

The process was reciprocal.  Boys undertook a similar audit although I suspect their criteria were not quite as stringent.  

Regular analysis never amounted to much.  I had to be home by nine, ten at the latest.  We were too young to fully understand why we were participating in the procession.  

After a while, a problem became evident.  The boys were short, in fact I had a foot over most of them.  I lived in a city of small men!  In the name of femininity, I had to leave or else I would forever feel like a football player or worse, a refrigerator, the largest appliance in the kitchen! 

I wasn't that tall, just a tad above average at around 5' 7", but I was predisposed genetically to stand a head above the crowd like my grandfather.  This is part of my mom and dad's wedding picture.  Tall Grandpa Joseph towers above everyone behind my mom.




Imagine my joy when at 17, I moved to Montreal and discovered that some men were actually taller than me. It all sounds terribly superficial but seemed important at the time.  I'm still writing about it for Pete's sake. (Who the heck is Pete?)  The experience obviously scarred me for life.



Years later I returned home for a couple of high school reunions.  I was shocked to find that some small men had grown and conversations could now take place at eye level.

Memories of this perambulatory ritual remain fond ones despite my adolescent frustrations. The sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of youth are astonishingly powerful.  I recall my dad telling me that flashbacks and dreams of his childhood became increasingly frequent and vivid as he aged.  He could barely walk but during his nighttime reveries, his legs sped across honeyed fields to fire up his body.  

The inner child sneaks out at night to make things bearable.  How wonderful is that?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

RURAL CULTURE

Artists typically exhibit at art fairs and in galleries (public and private), but every once in a while, interesting opportunities in alternative venues crop up.  

I was recently invited to show in a space that is really off the beaten path.  It has character and the people who run it are interesting, energetic, innovative and kind.  Coeur de Village Bistro Culturel is located in Saint Isidore.   

Like in many of Québec's villages, the most impressive building in this tiny municipality is its Catholic church.  Tall beacons of worship are generally located on main streets, (which in rural areas also tend to be secondary highways).  

An aside:  Some years ago, I went for a short vacation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia with my best buddy Mart.  We drove through various west coast villages towards Ucluelet and Tofino.  The countryside reminded me of the mountains that surround my hometown of Shawinigan, but naturally, on a much larger scale.  The villages felt a bit bland and initially, I couldn't quite figure out why.  Then it finally it hit me!  No big Catholic churches. They are iconic here in Québec.  A village without a soaring church seems naked.

Diagonally across from Saint Isidore's church is a non-profit organization known as the Bistro culturel.  The deep rectangular space is divided into three sections.  The back has an administrative office/store that sells recycled goods such as dinnerware, vases and more. The middle section has an area (with piano) for musical performances as well as a walled-off kitchen known for its "cuisine familiale" (home cooked meals). The bistro/restaurant is in front and its walls are for art exhibits.  Unusual mix and it works!

Art openings are usually on Thursday nights as are performances by musicians, poets and storytellers (conteurs).  There is a long tradition of storytelling in Québec.  

I'm exhibiting at the Bistro until December 18th, 2015.  The vernissage is on November 12th at 5:00 pm.  I invite you to come and enjoy the show.  Bring your own wine!

Open from Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 4 pm. Thursdays from 10 am to 10 pm. (Tel: 450-992-0633).





Sunday, 8 November 2015

A TOOL IS A TOOL IS A TOOL

Twig and ink?  Why not?

Primitive drawing tools such as reed pens and twigs yield fascinating results.  They are gesture's best friend. The key is to stay loose and to work quickly.  

Twigs often have rough ends, which can cause lines to double or become (for lack of a better word), hairy. For those like myself who value contrast, nature's tools are gifts from the deities.

The important thing is to keep playing with whatever is at hand.  Basic materials cost nothing.  One can reconnect historically (and perhaps empathize) with art's origins.  Our primitive ancestors had little to work with, yet managed to create mysterious, powerful masterpieces in caverns.

Twig and India ink on rice paper




I used various tools (a combo experiment) for the ink drawing on rice paper (left) including twigs, reed pens, brushes and archival markers.  I then opted for some digital fun.

If weather permits, I'll be raking up more leaves tomorrow (about 30 bags and counting thus far), but I'm also going to be on the lookout for another magical twig.  Some of the drawings in my head need a blast from the past.



 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

THE COLLECTOR'S FAIR

Sculpted Twins

















I am one of 8 artists participating in the Collector's Fair at the Galerie de la Ville in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.  To learn more, visit the gallery website.  I invite you to come and see the show which runs until Sunday November 15th, 2015.







IT'S DEMO TIME!

Renaissance Man:  Not 'moi' for a number of reasons, gender being the first one that comes to mind.


While many in society have a more or less linear career path, artists often meander from one employment opportunity to another in order to make a buck.  Flexibility is the nature of the beast and we are inevitably enriched by everything we learn to do.  Cross-fertilization happens, which in turn, feeds innovation. 

I took a hiatus from teaching art for the last ten years.  Instead, I provided employment search counselling and training services in a business environment. Some might say "whoa, that's different" but it's not really.  Teaching and training are similar, the complicated part is adapting to different audiences/participants.  

I remember how I felt during a former transition from teaching in a leisure community setting to an academic environment.  My new students were highly motivated and excited about their futures.  They loved to experiment, exchange ideas, try new things.  Their enthusiasm was energizing, contagious and appreciated. I found myself continuously researching concepts, materials, and techniques to feed their ravenous appetites.

These types of teaching positions depended on enrolment, which meant that during the Fall sessions, profs worked especially hard.  Winter meant a lighter load and summer, extra light.  Hard to budget, which led to my decision to find a more stable revenue stream.

I redesigned my CV to emphasize the Management Training experience I had acquired as a young adult at the phone company and luckily, got the job as an Employment Search Counsellor.  I still had a few weeks left in my teaching contract so my new employer agreed to have me work 4 1/2 days a week at the new job and one afternoon a week at the old one until my obligations were met.  

In the mornings, I addressed a group of over forty management professionals in suits, ties, or dresses and heels, and in the afternoon, I taught a group of young, eager faces, beautified with personally designed tattoos and piercings.  It was surreal.

Full circle:  




Resigning from my day job last January has given me more time to create, but new opportunities have also come my way.  I am again teaching art part time in a community setting and have given a couple of workshops in seniors residences.  The elderly have entirely different needs and expectations. 

I learn so much from the people I interact with. The seniors opened a new door in my psyche.  Some at the workshop could barely hold their drawing tool (oil pastel) but they came nonetheless to participate. I had them create masks that expressed how they felt inside. To my surprise, they were a very happy bunch but then again, perhaps only cheerful seniors come to art workshops.  

I intend to find their strength of character and courage if ever I find myself imprisoned by slippers and a wheelchair.  Reciprocal learning at its best. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

A MYTH OF SORTS

He dumped the world into an old rusty bucket.  Brimming with oils, fungus, and reeking of poisons, it had to go, and fast.

“His Heaviness” was a gigantic immortal who weighed more than all the immortals combined. The latter were infinitesimal beings woven together like fabric to become the surface on which “His Heaviness” walked during his occasional jaunts. They let out collective whimpers as they sank under his sauntering mass.  

Always considerate, he tried to compress different individuals as he made his way.  He understood that each entity took a long time to recover its shape after he had trod upon them.  Some were doomed to remain forever misshapened, but they took it all in stride.  His travels were infrequent and always for a good cause.

Although known to everyone as “His Heaviness”, his real name was Erroneous.  How he came by this name was a mystery because Erroneous, the greatest of higher powers, was rarely wrong.

Rarely of course means that he occasionally made mistakes but they tended to be minor i.e. accidentally squishing someone’s face or baby toe en route to his destination.

Despite his remarkable track record of successful decisions, Erroneous still worried about those he had yet to make.  He wondered for instance, if it had been wise to dump the world into an old rusty bucket. 

Legend had it that a pink deity with a penchant for cleanliness lived at the edge of his sagging cosmos.  Everyone knows that legends are sometimes untrue, but Erroneous had a feeling that this one was plausible.  He decided to investigate.

The journey was long and extremely painful for those who were flattened during his explorations.  After many days and nights, he caught sight of a finespun veil of pink and orange hovering in the distance.  Sadly, in rushing towards the pastel outpost, Erroneous destroyed the few excess limbs that the tightly woven web of immortals had kept aside as replacement parts.  

Without warning, a powerful wash of colour enveloped him.  He began to float like a feather in a draft.  Never had he felt so light.  The bucket barely hung from his fingertips.  Erroneous tried to speak but his voice was muffled.  He mouthed "the bucket, the bucket" over and again. 

Suddenly he saw her.  
She was magnificent, massive just like him yet as light as a snowflake.  She gently snared the bucket and poured the filthy, oily sludge into a monumental washing machine. The vibrations of its motor echoed throughout the cosmos.  

As the contents in the machine brightened, “Her Ponderous Pinkness” (as she was known), began to transform.  Tender shoots, leaves and moss sprouted up her right shoulder and long, slender neck.  Vibrant sun-tinted flowers burgeoned on other parts of her body. 



The fog blushed a deeper rose.  

Erroneous wanted to stay with her.  He even thought of changing his name to Erogenous.  He was tired of being lead-footed and unwittingly hurtful to the magnanimous members of his community. 

“Could I stay and help with the laundry?” he whispered.

“Sure!  Please!  Make my day!” she replied.

They became close friends. Erroneous loved washing dirty, smelly things!  He felt useful and no longer needed to walk on others, make decisions, or live with the heaviness of his body.  He read "The Sacred Book of Immaculateness" and mastered "The Art of Laundry".  Over time, everything he touched turned lily white including “Her Ponderous Pinkness”.  

She eventually changed her name to Blanche.

The End