Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Batman and Simba, an update, for catlovers only

Yep, I still have cats on the mind. These were going to be throwaway bookmarks, but now I’m trying to figure out how to compose them into one, or several linocuts.
I was asked for an update on Batman and Simba (their previous owners do care about their welfare) and I enthusiastically obliged. Why waste words on one person? So I’m sharing the update below.
To Batman and Simba’s previous owners:
Batman is coming around. He
and Simba sleep together all day on the top bunk bed (unfortunately,
too dark for pics) but it is lovely to see they are cuddle buddies,
and knowing that Batman has somebody to get him through the
transition.  I'm pretty sure they've been having a great time without
us overnights, as there is much rearrangement of soft furniture.
Somebody (Simba?) likes to drag blankets and pillows great distances.
On Friday, Batman played with Simba while we watched tv, with our dog
in the room. Dynamo, the dog, is being very good.  On Saturday, I had
both Simba and Batman chasing my Super Toy (a stick, a string, with
cardboard tied to the end; makes me think of all the money I ever
wasted on purchasing cat toys). Simba is NUTS about this, and I guess
Batman couldn't resist forever.  Last night, Randy and I played Cat
Fishing. We each had a super toy, and so had Batman & Simba going
after one, and Riker, our old cat going after the other. That's
progress from all three.  Oh, and Dynamo is in the room the whole
time, and Batman also took the opportunity to check out Dynamo from
All this takes place in the basement where we eat dinners and watch tv
so no pictures (we don't have great lighting).
This morning, I decided to give Simba some one on one time (no Dynamo
or Riker), and he was very enthusiastic in his affections. Batman
watched out in the open, circled me around, checked out my slippers,
checked out my hand, took lots of good long stares and walked about
doing normal cat things. So I think he's doing great, everyday getting
braver. He is such a gorgeous exotic looking cat.  I am very glad you
re-homed them together.
I think everything is progressing well. Introducing cats to multi-pet
households always takes longer. So many new things to negotiate.  New
environment, new people, big dog, big cat.  Taking it slowly is well
worth the wait.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I Have Basement Cats

9x12 inch Pastel/Coloured Pencil: Basement Window
Obviously, I have cats on the mind.
Simba has made great progress. He is friendly, he loves to play, both with absconded furry and large dog toys, and chasing madly after a toilet tissue roll I tied to a string (he loves that one).  He has explored his space in the presence of our dog, and even played about in front of her and not freaked out when she follows him around. I don’t see any issues there.
Unfortunately, our resident old-timer, Riker (cat) is Not Pleased, Seriously Not Pleased, and so has decided that the solution is to maintain his lordship over the upper story of our home, and ceded the basement to the newbies. So that's why I currently have Basement Cats, hopefully not a permanent situation. I’ll be bringing out the big guns to fix this—TUNA.  Will try some mutual treating sessions to build some positive associations up.
So still no good photo’s of the newbies. Oh yes, Batman is still in the batcave. He’s still hiding, but not so much, and I caught him watching Simba play. So that’s progress. Now I just need to worry about Riker. 
Nothing is ever simple.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Two Invisible Diva's, or, Three Cats I have once again

Once upon a time, I had three cats.  Time passed, and I lost one, and then another, until only Riker was left. I thought I would be happy with that, the old-timer is looking good, and all I need in catness, right?  He's friendly, cuddly, fluffy, and cute, and he LOVES the dog. I do mean LOVES, or, well, he uses the dog. Is that the same thing?  When I say loves, and or uses, I mean that he walks up to her, bumps her muzzle to solicit a spa session. He won't quit until until the dog complies with an ear wash, lick lick lick. One ear, his head, and then the other. So that's Riker.
But I and husband both felt there was room in our little house for more cats, and we wanted more cats, and why shouldn't we have more cats, so in January, we started checking the listings, and on Tuesday, the we brought home two gorgeous cats, and I do mean gorgeous. I would love to show you photo's, but they won't let me. Batman (yes, they came with names), has wedged his body behind the fridge. I thought he was stuck, but my husband has seen him, in brief flashes, in other places, so he's okay.  Simba is hiding under the couch. So I'm typing this in their invisible presence hoping they will make an appearance any time soon. Please.
I have tuna!
Actually, the tuna has been somewhat effective, so I've managed to see Simba today. Simba is a Lynx point colorpoint shorthair, but most of us would call him a tabby siamese.  So he's slinky, silvery and has wide blue eyes.
Batman is black.  He's shaped exactly the same, because he is an oriental shorthair, which looks just like a siamese of another colour. Simba is 8 months old, and Batman is just over a year. Until tuesday, they lived with an elderly couple and a bothersome dog. Well, that's as much story as I got.  So maybe they are used to hiding, and they don't yet know that our dog is old and gentle.
Ooooh! Simba just popped up. Wow! I can't wait to share pictures. Not today, but someday. For today, art will have to do. I started this on a day I was anticipating taking these cats home. This is where I start my pastels, with ochre pencils, followed by layers of yellow.  It's as close as you'll get to seeing my invisible cats, for now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Question of Identity

Self-Portrait: Full of Lies, 8x10inch oil pastel, pen, coloured pencil
It occurs to me that artists do self-portraits. It’s just a thing that artists do, probably when they can’t come up with a more compelling subject matter, or is that what still life bowls of fruit are for?  Digressing. I have not done many, and not for years (self-portraits, I mean, although, I don’t do much bowls of fruit art either).  This, however, is Not a Self Portrait.  It is full of lies. It doesn’t look at all like me, and it doesn’t even look the way I think I look, but oddly enough, it is what landed on the page while I was thinking of doing a self-portrait.
Cats on the other hand, have no problems at all with identity. A cat always knows exactly what he or she is. A cat is a cat, and if a cat where to consider it’s own identity. I am absolutely sure the cat would be thinking “I am cat” and be both accurate and done with the matter.
I envy cats.
People, on the other hand, struggle with identity. I always felt pretty sure of myself, with absolute certainty, I considered myself uniquely me. As if that was something solid and real and immutable. But it’s not.  We change, moment by moment, day to day, and only our internal narratives keep us feeling that we remain the same; break the narrative, and it all breaks down. So many things can break that narrative, stress, pressure, illness, brain damage, experience. Sometimes we change for the better, learning, growing and moving on. Sometimes for the worse, in denial of reality, all sorts of weird things happen. Obviously, there is not much that can be done about the physical assaults to the mind, but I do feel that in facing fears and unwelcome realities head on, we become better people, more capable, more compassionate, more open to new experiences.
I suppose, until now, I’ve been speaking in code. Here’s the big unpleasant reality that completely turned my psychic worldview upside down.  It is dementia, specifically, watching my mother in law change from a real person, to a shell of one long before death took her. I won’t sugar coat that.  Not all dementia patients loose themselves so completely, but the mere fact that it can happen shook me to the core. Prior to that, I thought we had some sciencey version of soul.  Now I know, without a shadow of a doubt that our identities are the result of a functioning organ we call a brain that relies heavily on a community of other functioning organs, a community of living cells we call the body. 
The joy of it is, once I got my head wrapped around that fact of life, I can not only take it, but revel in it, that we are who we are, and sing and think and paint and draw, love and hate, go running down the street, or lie dreaming in our beds and are just filled with so much, a series of moments in time, moments in thought, that becomes the narrative of our souls, fragile as it all might be.
Note on the art: it’s oil pastel, pen ink and coloured pencil. Lately I’ve been cruising Etsy and admiring other artists.  Most of the art that I love is semi-abstract, expressionistic and rough edged, often tagged naive art, raw art, art brut, primitive art.  Looking at my own art, especially that which I post on Etsy, I wonder if I am holding back, being too tight, too careful, too busy proving that ‘yes, I can draw'' vs being expressive. Those of you who follow on instagram may have already noticed.  This is turning into another blogpost, so I’ll leave it at ‘more later….’

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Grackles are Back, The Squirrels are Always Here

Grackles, a sure sign of spring, Grackles plastering the page, second sign of spring. I think these birds invade my art yearly, just about now. We are still locked in snow and ice. It’s still pretty if you don’t look at all the frozen and thawing mud at the side of the road.
Winter was good. I did a lot of x-country skiing, which is super fun.  I love speeding down hills, and for the last hurrah, we had some fearsomely fast conditions, wind in my hair, no one got injured (excluding a scraped knuckle). Now it’s rubber boot weather.
I have, for some time, been battling with oil pastels, feeling coloured pencils are a little too fiddly, but then the oil pastels are a little too brut, so I have been reluctant to share my life drawing, and onward.  I am starting to mix the oils with the pencils and see what happens, hoping to re-discover my style. I really like the super saturation of colour that one can achieve with heavy burnishing (using a stump).  For this one, I started in pencil, very loose, and then sketched until images formed on the page. Of course the grackle muscled in pretty quick and completely dominated the composition in just the same way they dominate the bird feeder. Squirrel—ditto.  As abstract as it is, I still tell it as I see it.
I love close-ups.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

More Curtisse Park

Art, I make art, sometimes I don't know what I make, or why.
Sometimes something moves me and forces my hand, a new thing, a new place.
Right around the bend, here, at home, so close to the hub of the city, is such a place. I am afraid, very much afraid that this place will break my heart.
 It does not, yet, officially exist. But the land is there, the trees, and the hills and the grasses and somewhere, buried in the mud of the tiny sloughs that dot the properties, green frogs and leopards frogs and toads wait for their spring awakening. This land will break my heart, already I feel it. I love it, deeply, since I took my first tentative steps on the what were lush verdant grasslands. Bitter fear and trepidation to see it marred with it's first hint of scars from the cutting treads of machine tires. Just little cuts, here, and another cut there, one at a time, two at time, droves. They are coming, word gets out, not everyone's idea of a good time is a walk in the park. A section of fence has been erected, a small token of feeble protection against the onslaught. Now there is a sign, small, bright, unmistakable, ignored. Motorized vehicles prohibited, Pedestrians Permitted. It is almost poetry, and as mournful. I've seen what can happen in a single day, and I've seen the permanent destruction that can be wrought in a summer of freewheeling fun. They leave a brownland behind, brown and barren, rutts that will take decades to grow anything better than the most tenacious of weeds, and those sloughs, I don't want to think of what can happen if they get to them. So yes, this land, this place that is yet to have an official name, this place that was donated in trust for environmental stewardship may yet break my heart. My heart beats faster in fear, everytime I think of it, everytime I hear a machine speeding past, wondering, are they going there, to the edge of the fence, where they forced their way in through the shrubs, are turning and whirling, and revving and digging their wheels and treads into the soft thawing soil beneath. I hope not, I hope not, I hope that by spring, when the thaw comes, they will have the decency to leave things be, and leave the grass to be grass, and bullrush to be bullrushes and the shrubs to grow and thrive and shelter seedlings of trees and leave places for flora and fauna to flourish and leave space for this artist to breath and dream and pass through, leaving nothing behind but thoughts.
Or break my heart.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, January 26, 2015

What happened? Where did all my words go?

January 24th 2015
What happened? Where did all my words go?
Oh boy, I think I have forgotten to play. It is so very good, to open up this program, with a screen that shows a softly rendered image of a Lake Superior evening making it's grand entrance. The beach is Gargantua Harbour, and it is empty, and it is serene, the waves are long sloshing undulations, many meters across horizontal space with only inches in rise. Slop, sloop, silence, slosh.... Silence, splish, silence, silence, silence. slip, and on. Night is falling, sun peaks through a gap in a thick low ceiling of steel gray cloud, and tints all with pink, and peach and amber. Night is falling, and the chill settles down and firms it's grip, splish. The beach looks inviting, crystal clear water, countless litres of drinking water, there for the taking, silence, not even a fish to rise to the surface, not a buzz of insect wing in the air. It is September, and in Superior, September summer is abruptly over, and winter is just around a very sharp bend. Amazing what gazing at an image can bring to mind.
Remind me to continue taking photographs, remind me to take the time now and again to look at them.

About the image: this is a screenshot of my writing. I write on a tablet using something called Jota, a basic editing program. You can write novels (plural) on pocket sized devices. You can also waste alot of time if you have access to the internet. I have my wifi turned off right now. It would take a small but significant effort to turn it on again. This keeps me from distracting myself and surfing meaningless forum posts on the webs, or my 'etsy' stats, or my email, or my facebook, or did anyone heart my stuff on instagram. Destructive narcissism, that, like a corrossive acid eats creativity. So the wifi is off, and so my fingers keep typing. I have a keyboard too. I love the tippity tap the keyboard. I learned to touch type in Grade 9 highschool. I learned to touch type because I dreamed of being a writer, of novels and stories, sword and sorcery, and or, cutting, socially conscious hard hitting sci-fi. Touch typing seemed like a sensible stepping stone in that direction. No one had computers. I learned to touch type in the days when electric typewriters were a novelty. I learned to touchtype on a mechanical thing with sticky stubborn heavy steel keys. My pinky fingers where muscular and well-developed in those days. I still love to touch type. It feels good, and easy skill, and if the words are in my head, there is direct flow of them onto the screen, thought made tangible, instantaneous. Touch typing feels terrific.
posted from Bloggeroid


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