Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

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Enjoy your celebrations all.

PS. That’s not fiction, those are my old ski boots, duct-taped together for the season, and finally, finally, finally I got myself a brand spanking new pair.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scaling Up, from very tiny to…

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Something bigger.

I’ve been doing my 365 Art Card Project for many months now.  Each card, is a little artwork in it’s own right (or a practice, experiment, therapy or any and all of the above). Some of them become the body of my Itty Bitty Little Books. When I want to work out a new painting now, I use the art cards also. Unlike rough sketches and thumbnails, the fact that I consider these little guys a  finished product makes me work at the details in a serious way. But often, I just do them. Just like that, no agenda, just to see what will happen. Like the one below, done with mechanical pencil on Yupo. Which I keep going back to, looking at, thinking, hmmmm… what about a larger mixed media. I decided the fine lines would scale up nicely to 18”x24” which, for me, is REALLY REALLY BIG.  But it will give me plenty of room for line and texture and colour in and amongst the negative space. I decided, since I really felt the atc was successful, to use technology to scale up, and printed it onto 4 pages, reconstructed with cello tape, and trace onto a graphite transfer sheet (8x10 paper, thoroughly coated in pencil, by hand). I had all the tools laid out for this photograph, but by the time I fetched my camera, Dynamo had inserted herself into the picture.  So instead of moving her, I snapped away, then worked around her to do the tracing. This project should take awhile, and I will pick away at it between printmaking and watercolour and Itty Books and 365 Art Cards, and now I’m getting a head ache. No wonder I feel stressed for time.

But I thought it about time I took of the brakes and just go….I mean the atc size has really done that for me already on a tiny scale, but sometimes you just need more room.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Walking at Night

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November, December, January. These are dark times for Canadians, darker still for those who live further north than I do, and dark enough for me here in the bottom end of the sock of southern Ontario. Daylight hours are numbered, and seem darker still when in November we set our clocks back an hour resulting in even less available sunlight for anyone on a regular work day schedule. Sundown happens sometime around five o’clock, so there’s not much of it left for a pre-supper walk, and given that the season is also notorious for heavy overcast skies (not to mention rain in November hopefully snow by December) darkness falls fast.
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It has it’s perks. Darkness, like snow transforms the familiar into something else entirely. How you interpret this depends on you and the weather.  It’s hard to get a good cozy feeling out in the woods on a moonless overcast night. Try it sometime, by yourself; if you think a dog helps, go for it. Just see how you feel when that dog starts looking nervously over her hairy should every half minute or so.
On the other hand, there really is nothing better than walking at night under the light of the moon, add in some snow and it’s easy to believe in elves and fairies, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
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Or, you can just open your eyes and be in the world as it is and see that even in darkness the forest lives and breaths and glows with life, more than you will ever know.
Images: All 2.5”x3.5” cards, recycled (that means chopped up bits of aborted watercolours) paper, ink and watercolour pencils.  Top image inspired by the golden November tamaracks that fooled me into thinking the sun was still shining after sundown. The second inspired by a very dark session on an overcast moonless nights (not so much fun at all). Last, a beautiful full moon night with a gauzy overcast halo effect, and yes, there actually is a big rock in the Hollidge Tract. These are from my 365 Art Card Project.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Yes, there really is a Santa Claus

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‘Tis the Season for giving; and I haven’t even begun. Instead, I’m the recipient. I think my jaw fell to the pavement when the mail lady delivered this to my door, and I’m still experiencing the joyful sensation of shock and awe of being spoiled from afar. Just look at all this stuff! Stacks of Art Calendar, a business magazine for artists, 3 reference books on figure drawing. A big glossy book on monotype printmaking, a video on printmaking (and yes I do still own a vcr to view it on), coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, magazines with articles on framing art, cat poetry and art, and a beautiful cloth bound blank sketchbook. Sorry if I sound like a kid at Christmas who was just visited by Santa Claus, but really, my Santa came through early.  And who but Santa could possibly know me so well as to send me such perfect and timely selection?

I was not expecting this, really not expecting this. All this bounty was sent through the mail from a fellow printmaker in the states, one of those I refer to as ‘anonymous donor’ (there are a few). Last year it was a big box of coloured printers ink, a gift that changed the course of my art in a large and permanent way (re: my VERY colourful gelatin prints). And this year, well, just look. Wow! I have a lot of reading to do. I already know it’s time to work on a portfolio, as per instructions in Art Calendar, and, well more…

Sorry for blathering on, but all I can say is that this packet arrived on a day when I was feeling particularly out of sorts and it really, really, changed the course of my day.

Well, now…I think I had better start working on this years Christmas card design. The snow is falling fast and thick, and time is rushing by. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Not Just a Walk in the Park

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Hoover Park Drive, Stouffville: watercolour and graphite, 10”x 8”.

There is so much that remains untold in a landscape. Those pretty pictures of pristine forest, not  a human in sight, and I’m guilty as charged. There is so much untold in my personal story, much that I will not say. It’s lovely to present all the beauty of the forest, of stretches of woodland that thrive in the area, and I probably (and quite wilfully) present myself as surrounded continually by woodlands, a modern day Grey Owl. But like him, it’s a bit of a lie. I don’t, for instance, discuss my part-time job that takes place in the industrial bowels of Markham. The less said about that, the better, I say, but the experiences I have there are always lurking in the background. I do my best to hide them from public viewing.

And art is often like that, especially what I call living room art, the type of art that is easy on the eye, and fits in with the decor. We edit out the unsightly details, for aesthetics, we say. Because the parked car, the discarded cup, the power lines, etc. interrupt the composition, or flow, or colour scheme. The excuses are legion, but sometimes truth must be told.

There is so much of life that seems so devoid of meaning that it feels unmentionable. The mundanity of shopping, for instance. Every Saturday, or Sunday, I go shopping; how cliché. I drive down to downtown Stouffville (yes, there is such a thing), and head along Hoover Park Drive to the local Walmart (and one should never admit to shopping at Walmart, And it’s a pretty sad drive as one cruises along extra wide suburban streets, brand new yet oblivious to the looming crisis of our car culture, and the cookie cutter houses clustered around the big box stores with parking lots so vast I often park twice in one shopping session.  And along the way, a tiny beleaguered mini-forest, a last straggling stand of trees left untouched by voracious development, with a token plantation or ‘ornament’ trees, the tamaracks.  Behind the trees, there is turned earth, stripped bare awaiting more the back hoes and pile drivers for some industrial ‘park’. To the fore, a river of concrete and combustion engines and of course I’m there, driving one too. We are all complicit.

What I wonder is, what does all this do our collective souls as we cut ourselves off from nature, which could better be described as ‘the way things work’, as a forest is alive with life AND death, while concrete is a sterile space that denies everything. And even while I’m walking in the woods my view of the forest is always at a distance, comfortable or otherwise, as I am only a tourist there, not a denizen.

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