Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Messages from the Deeps

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Messages from the Deeps: gelatin monoprint on 8”x10” stonehenge paper and coloured pencil.
Every gelatin print turns out different, and often I let random elements dictate the path. This particular piece took it's time making a suggestion, but final I received its message from the deeps, and with coloured pencils in hand, a face peered back at me.
When I do these primitive type images, I wonder how much, as a society, we have forgotten. While I don’t believe that we all should be running barefoot on the plains hurling flint-tipped spears at passing herds of antelope, I do believe it’s important to understand as much as possible where we came from in our collective past, because without memory, we loose continuity. In a single human-being, lost memory results in the dissolution of self; what does it mean if collectively, as a society, we forget our ancestry?
In my life, I walk barefoot in the grass, I walk through the forest, feel the wind on my face, biting in winter, and the heat of the summer that bathes my body in sweat. I don’t want to be shielded from the elements in cocoons of concrete and electronic entertainments. I want to experience life raw and real, and then explore what that brings forward.  I wonder what, but don’t really want to know, what life is like who only experiences the hot days of summer when they step out of their air-conditioned door to their air-conditioned car. I can guess, that they don’t care much about things like climate change or the environment.  What thoughts do people have who are eternally connected to cell-phones, and text messages, and movies, and games, where fabricated reality is the ONLY reality; theirs must be different from mine, where I’m left with spaces and silences to fill with my own words, concepts and images. I believe that only when we stand suspended between the earth and the sky, without barriers and distractions, can we ever hope to truly know who we are, and to stand a chance, however remotely, to have a glimpse at who we were, as humans, as a species, as that peculiar naked ape with the very big brain.
In my art, I search for these memories, buried far beneath the surface of the logical mind, but already, I suspect they are garbled and indistinct, a melange of influences, from popular culture, books, essays, artworks, but hopefully somewhere dug up from real experience, out and under the elements with the wind in my hair, and the smell of damp earth in my nostrils.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Midnight Stag

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Midnight Stag: 10.5x10.5 inches, coloured pencil on paper.  For details, click image, and click again on picture to get extreme close-ups. 
This one and Raven and Sun was done for submission to AWOL Gallery’s Square Foot Show.  I found working in square format led me to a more mythic/primitive subject matter.
When I began Midnight Stag, I had no particular colour scheme in mind, just a quick sketch on the page. Recent events happened when I was still forming my opinion, and Midnight Stag it became as I allowed darker elements to take over.
Both will be available and on display at the Square Foot Show from August 4th to 19th in Toronto. I hope to make it down to the gallery myself, as this is an open show (not curated) and therefore a VERY eclectic collection. I’ve seen previous shows on-line, and it seems to bring in an eye-searing variety—and that’s a compliment.  It looks to me like all artists use it to show off who they are and what they are about rather than try to ‘impress’ an audience, judge or jury.  So I want to see it just to observe the million different directions artists will take when not strapped to an agenda.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Ravens, Crows, Global Warming and a Pretty Blue T

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Another Raven and Sun. This one is a  10.5” square coloured pencil, done for entry in a square foot show. I just keep doing them. I’m beginning to understand how some artists can become obsessed with one re-occurring theme. I’m certainly not done with ravens yet, as they continue to fascinate me, and here at home where ravens are a rare sight (whoot, once this year I heard and saw one soaring over Musselman’s Lake-YAY!), I’ll settle for crows. We’ve had crow visitors to our home for the first year ever in spring.  And up close, like on our veranda railing, they are really big impressive birds too. And in the way that sentient creatures recognize each other, they also have a huge amount of presence.
The crows at home, I discovered, where initially attracted to the pet fur cage that I have hanging up with the bird feeders. That is a suet cage (wire basket) that I fill with collected dog and cat fur, and sometimes yarn scraps and my own hair. Goldfinches love the fluffy kitty fur best, and chickadees work very hard to pull tiny tufts of dense german shepherd dog fur, but my own hair, alas, is not much loved by them.  In spring, a pair of crows found the hair cage, and I swear I could see the thrill on finders face. Look, soft, warm, nesting material! They practically emptied it, those two, although there is always more fur on hand, mostly in my carpet.  And while I’m not sure if they are responsible for emptying the cage this week, it was quickly replenished by an obliging dog (Dynamo) and domestic long-hair cat (Riker).
On Sunday, we had more global warming is slapping me in the face weather and by the afternoon I was sweating lying in the shade. Under those circumstances, I decided the best use of my time was to engage in some suburban bird-watching, sometimes with my eyes closed. Which worked out just fine, as when I heard an unusually large clatter of feathers, I opened them, and there was a huge black crow roosting in the neighbours pine tree, panting in the heat, and generally looking around. I got to observe him or her (they know the difference, and that’s all that’s important) for a good twenty minutes,  and then my eyes closed. Later, that crow provided a major distraction to my guitar practice, as he landed on the veranda railing, although  he mysteriously passed on the offered peanuts and the cooling water from out fountain. So my guitar playing, mistakes and all, is crow approved at least.
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And here’s me in my garden, the tiny hosta nook that I refer to as my ‘secret’ garden.  If you click on the pic, you can see a bigger me (bug bites and all) and the Ravens at Play t-shirt as posted at my Etsy shop. It’s a carve I did last winter, but never got around to posting.  Also, the me pic shows you what the results of smart mowing “smowing” (<—yes, made that term up). The summer has been hot and dry excepting the occasional thunderstorm and there is many a burnt brown lawn in the neighbourhood. We do NOT water our lawn, but my husband checks the forecast, and only mows if rain is expected for the next day. So far his timing is excellent, and also, he mows high. I’m standing in a freshly mowed section and you can’t see my feet. AND, not only do we have a cordless electric mower, but one of our neighbours has been inspired to do the same. Maybe you can change the world one person at a time.
And for those of you who can’t understand why this warm weather has me really freaked out read Bill McKibbens wickedly sarcastic article, The Global Warming Hoax. How all this seems to go unnoticed, or in the Canadian case, actually CELEBRATED, I have no clue. I guess folks up here dream of growing palm trees in Kenora.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flower Power

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Black-Eyed Susan, rudbeckia hirta, found in Uxbridge forest. The red and green bug is a candy striped leaf hopper (graphocephala coccinea).
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Feral rose, Musselman’s Lake, they grow by the roadside, thank goodness some folks are lazy about their property maintenance or all would be mown down.  These roses smell as gorgeous as they look. Rosa Rugosa, possibly. I’m not expert in rose identification. These are actually listed as invasive, but I’ve seen no such thing. They seem to pop up here and there, without crowding out other species.
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A little closer to home, my clematis, that after five years of dormancy finally chose climb up into the light and show off to the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Memoriam

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Randy’s (my husband’s) mom passed away July 9th, 2012. Randy and I were with her, along with Dynamo the dog. While the presence of a dog may seem trite to many, every story told by family and friends at her memorial service include one or more non-human creatures.  She did everything lavishly, feeding birds pounds of seeds in a multitude of pots and pans (and any other critter that came by for the buffet), feeding Rambo (now our cat) any time he asked (which was often), and before that, too many dogs, cats, chickens, a rooster, lamb?, well too much for me to name.  She was also notorious for feeding people with equal abandon, always ensuring there was one or more large pans of dessert in the house, and cooking casseroles in what I would consider a vat. Generous, doesn’t begin to describe her.

Still, I chose two photographs that reveal someone I only had the briefest glimpses of, a woman who was smart, sassy, fashionable and completely independent of spirit all at once, and they also speak of a long span of life, full of secrets that we will never come to know, her inner thoughts remain her own.  I like to think of her in these pictures and wonder who she was, and what she was like, and they are a reminder that we only ever get to know  one or two planes of a multifaceted personality. And the person we think is standing before us is only the part that reflects back at us, and there is always so much more on the other side of the mirror.

And in so saying that, I can only speak of who she was to me, and those that stood up at the service, could only speak of who she was to them, but I am so grateful to them, as in the past year I had forgotten so many aspects of her and her life as if her own lost memories eroded my own. Stories are so very important, never fail to take the opportunity to tell them, yours, others, the ones you make up, and the things you dream.  And the greatest gift you can give to someone recently bereaved are stories of you and that person, and who they were to you.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Verge-the edge of the forest

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Verge Forest Landscape Fine Art Original Coloured Pencil Painting
11"x14" original coloured pencil painting
Title: Verge
I live in the semi-rural community of Musselman's Lake. While there are forest preserves to the north of where I live, much of what I see farm country, forest edges, and from the south, encroaching suburbia. In other words, I live on the verge, the edge of the city, the transition from suburban to rural, and the edge of the forest. Lately I've been leaving the car at home, climate change is a burning (quite literally) issue, so for exercise I either walk my neighbourhood or ride my bike to town and forest. The landscape seen from this slower pace is all new to me and doesn't compare to seeing it flee across my eyes from the window of an automobile. The clumps of trees that the landowners leave behind have always been a mystery to me. Is it aesthetic value on the farmers part or are there practical reasons unknown to me? They are always far from the road, and what lies within them, and their full breadth and span is left up to my imagination.

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I've posted details on etsy, so you can see how a fully burnished work in coloured pencil shares the richness and sheen of an oil painting.  This, lately, has been the source of my renewed fascination with coloured pencil, especially once the colours become so dense that the can be moved about like paint.

In other news, I’ve joined pinterest; I thought it’s visual emphasis might be a good way to communicate on my ‘tongue-tied’ days, and so hoping you’ll join me on my ‘take action’ board, as these are the thoughts I’ve been mulling through. Of course I’ve also made boards for my art too.

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