Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is Handwriting Obsolete?

Here is the letter "A"
A is for anachronism, it's written out in longform, aka handwriting.

I'm using a keyboard to type this post, and in fact, most of my longform writing is done via keyboard. I used to write letters in pen, back in the days that a postage stamp costs less then 50 cents, but now I speak via email and blog.  I've heard on the news that school boards are thinking of dropping hand-writing from the curriculum. Poor sprogs, the theory goes, are simply overwhelmed with having to learn both the anachronistic task of handwriting with a pen AND keyboarding skills. Oddly enough, I had no such difficulty, and am equally at home with both a keyboard and a pen. Likely because I bothered to learn the equally anachronistic task of touch-typing on a typewriter. Now I truly do sound like a grumpy old fart (and am loving the moment too).  As a non-parent, I've never had to go out and buy bubblewrap for children, and I don't envy those who do.  I really do think children are quite up to the challenge of learning handwriting, and it's loss if they don't.

As a child, I spent far less time drawing and doodling than I should have, but at least there was always a pen in my hand, and whether I was finishing up homework, or writing a short (perpetually unfinished) story, at least I was also brushing up on hand-eye coordination, and getting various curves and lines to look the way they should.  I'm pretty sure this was part of my future training as an artist.  And I'm absolutely certain that all hand-writing practice did not in the least impede my future keyboarding prowess (yes, thanks to those typing classes, I'm pretty goshed darn fast on the plastic ivories too).  Mostly, it's about knuckling down, and putting in the time, and ignoring distractions like the 'instagram' push notification that just flashed on my screen, which I will NOT look at until I am done this blog post. And that bit of modern self-control is what we really need to learn to get things done.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Letter to a Friend

I have friends who don't read blogs, so I write them letters. Sometimes I get to busy, and last week I was too busy to blog, but today, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I thought it would be fun to sit outdoors and type a letter, and now share that letter with all of you, in lieu of a blog post.
For those of you who want more art, I've signed up to instagram and am particularly noisy there, showing off works in progress, sketches and random photos whenever I'm feeling lonely but too busy for actual writing. As everywhere else, I am kaslkaos.

Here's the letter to a friend:
I know, after your last email I promised you "more later" and more has finally come. Sometimes the news from this overly populated lake is just not so interesting to tell, so I wait until until something more word-worthy has happened. Worthy, of course, is purely subjective, but yesterday, on my walk around the lake, I saw a silent loon cruising by. This was my reminder that, even on the grey drizzly days, one should never leave home without a pair of binoculars. At least the loon was easilly recognized without visual aide. I believe, but cannot confirm, that I also saw a pair of bufflehead ducks on an artificial estate lot. Spring migration is upon us, finally.
Today, I rode my bicycle into town. I've been doing a lot of that, thanks to the fair sunny weather we've been having. The forest trails, while finally mostly clear of ice and muck do not yet have much appeal. The trees are still as bare as winter, and the only green growth in the understory are perrenial leaves and grasses that went into the winter green, and thanks to the vast amounts of snow, are revealed just as green now in spring. A few days more should show us a changed landscape.
I am trying to make the most of the outdoors. It seems a shame to be indoors on a sunny sunday, but it is cool! Randy gave up napping on the deck and has gone below to darkness and central heating and upholstered couch to continue what he started. I am outdoors wrapped in several layers of protection, including hand-warmers and a sun hat. Dynamo, old dog that she is, has been given a bed of cushions to lie on. I have had my finger mutilated by my lawn-chair. As I was opening it, my ring finger got pinched in the mechanism. I've already poked, pressed, disinfected and bandaged the huge blood-blister that popped up upon impact and hope with all that doctoring that it will remain a minor event. The neighbours ashes are raining down on me. While I love the scent of clean wood burning in a fireplace, I am less than fond of the yard waste fires people in this neighbourhood have. They produce smoke that is both thick and foul.
But I digress. There is the business of bicycles, and my trip into town via my own strength and two wheels. I browsed Walmart, bought black yarn and green onions, moved on to Staples to buy a Staedler 0.1 fine liner pen, and then made my way home. While passing by an open water-filled pit dug for some future industrial complex I was stopped in my tracks by two white birds. My vision is no longer twenty twenty, so things at a great distance can be a bit of blur, but I was already thinking of wandering birds, so I thought these 'seagulls' just might be worthy of a second look--and, thanks that lone loon, I had brought binoculars. And oh, they were worth a second look, as they turned out to be two squat and elegantly attired black and white caspian terns on their way, I suppose, to more fertile waters.
Spring is here, the birds are on the move, and singing, and tapping, and being coy with one another, and I am enjoying another Sunday, however chilly, in the garden.
Is there more news, yes probably, but letters where never meant to be itemized lists, and this one leaves plenty of room for future conversations.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ocean Horse, the 3rd Horse, 8x8 show

Here is Ocean, 8x8inch acrylic on hardboard. This one has the most rugged texture. It was actually a ‘rescued’ hardboard that started as a relief sculpture in paper mache. It was an ocean themed sculpture, full of peaks and swirls and waveforms. Unfortunately, whatever my concept was, it turned into failed art, and I violently (with tools) ripped all the paper mache off. I LOVE texture, so all the clinging bits where sealed with primer and painted over with sand inbedded gesso.  All those ocean thoughts must leached all the way through, because here is Ocean; it seemed inevitable.  It reminds me most of the Bay of Fundy, with all it’s silty tidal waters.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two More Horses, 8x8 Show Acrylic Paintings

140409Snakehead-and-Lightning-Horse1b Snakehead & Lightning, 8x8 inch acrylic on hardboard
My very first ever all acrylic painting. I was on a deadline to get my work ready to pack and ship to the 8x8 show and running out of time. So a slow build collage was not in the cards.  Acrylic is FAST. I couldn’t believe how FAST this was. If I did the same thing in coloured pencil, it would take me a week at least, or more, of slowly picking my way through the art, one stroke at a time, because with coloured pencil, every mark is FOREVER. 
140409Snakehead-and-Lightning-Horse1a I love crops and close-ups
Here with acrylics, I could build up an abstract background of multiple successive layers in an hour or so as the paint dries that fast. And it’s as opaque as you want it to be so that eliminates the fear factor (at least for the beginning stages); I just have never worked in a medium where mistakes could be obliterated. It’s rather exciting.  The horses went in after I had a multihued abstract in place.  After that, I slowed down a tad, to think and ‘see’ my way through the further stages, but it was still a great luxury to put in a test line drawing with a sable brush and, after a quick reconsideration, swipe it off clean with a wet rag, and do it all over again.  So this one was pure fun.
Even more fun, but now obliterated, was finding this:
The snail was a complete surprise.  Backing up a bit, I have some fine sand/silt on hand to add for texture (also makes a lovely preparation for pencils). I collected it myself, so it’s got all sorts of ‘imperfection’, organic bits.  Usually, a shake will settle these out, but I thought it would be interesting to add the chunky bits to the base layers. It was only after I started adding coloured washes that I found the snail. This is an extreme close up, it’s about a millimetre wide, and I don’t thing it’s visible in the final painting. But it does make me think of making further deliberate diminutive additions in the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Three Horses, The First Horse

Here is Night Sky Horse. Night Sky is 8x8 inches, as it is one of three submissions to the 8x8 Show at 337 Sketch Gallery in Hamilton. I never did ask for clarification about the Year of the Horse being optional or mandatory. I began with three abstract (deciding to interpret the theme as ‘optional’ but was unsatisfied with the results).  I took the one that bothered me the most for being too strident, soulless, and unfixable, and buried under 5 layers of opaque acrylic paint.  Then I strategically swiped off layers using an alcohol soaked cloth (hint, do this outdoors, it stinks).  When the original monoprint collage revealed itself again, I brought it in, sketched a horse in paint, and carried on with layers of acrylic both opaque and transparent until it declared itself finished. The wings where a surprise. They just ‘happened’ and I try not to get in the way of these ‘happenings’, and it fact, the horse ‘just happened’ too, except I admit to hoping desperately for a horse to appear on command.
The centre square is the beginning. The blue background is a gelatin monoprint pasted onto hardboard, and the torn yellow pieces are previous collage using several gelatin prints, which I tore apart for this piece.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ultimate Sketchbook for the Commitment-Phobic Artist

I envy you artists that purchase or receive a gorgeous hard-cover bound sketchbook packed with creamy white but screamingly blank pages and not be induced into a panic attack.  These things scare me. 
So I came up with something else (probably not particularly an original idea, but that’s besides the point). 
1st order of the day, the paper sources must be cheap. Cream coloured card-stock that I can’t find a use for (I love and use cardstock, just not the big wad of buff that I’m stuck with) is a good start, as it was taking up space. 
2nd. the ‘sketchbook’ pages must be small in size, so their scary blankness is somewhat diminished, with a bonus of portable.  These turn out to be purse sized.
3rd, easily acquired and replenished without the need of cutting tools, scissors, knives, rulers, paper-cutters, tape, needle, thread or glue: so enter my Ultimate Sketchbook, that consists of any quarter of a4-sized paper.  Any a4 paper (a ubiquitous source) will do, fold it in half, crease in both directions and tear.  Later, if you like what you see, punch two holes un the upper corner, and string them together.
As you can see, I’m using ‘book-binder rings’. It’s easy to remove or add single sheets from any part of the sketchbook (remember, I’m commitment-phobic when it comes to sketchbooks), and I get to predetermine the location of the hole punch.
I made some pre-cut templates handy, in case I want my drawings to be within certain boundaries. That way, if something turns out exactly right, I have the option of scanning, enlarging and transferring the sketch ‘as is’ to a larger format.  So far, just have squares & and scaled down 8x10.  I keep them in an origami pocket I made that becomes part of the ‘sketchbook’.
Thus far, this is really working out for me. It is satisfyingly thick, it grows, I can hide and keep things that don’t quite work-out, I can recycling the boring and bland immediately, or later upon reflection, and, on a future rainy day, when I can’t come up with a single idea, I can mine my sketchbook for a new linocut or painting. I can even tape in little printed bits of writing (very secret) if I like, so text is good too.
And best yet, it gives me a good excuse to start every art day comfortably seated at my desk with a coffee at my side and just draw.  Warm-ups with benefits…

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Signs of Spring—not all of them welcome

Grackles, looked at with an artist’s eye, are a designers dream.  It doesn’t matter what they are up to, they look like graphic art pieces.
So it’s no surprise, that as soon as they invade my yard, and empty the birdfeeders, and frighten off every other smaller or more colourful bird, they also invade my art.  The former activities are less then welcome, but I love, love, love to draw them. What sleek silhouettes, and oil-slick colours. Their behaviours are fascinating too. They are clever, prolific, adaptable, and reproduce so successfully, they can crowd out other species, kind of reminds me our our species.
This is a gelatin print finished with clear acrylic gel, sand and acrylic paint.  The grackle bodies are mostly the original monoprint, and the sky is mostly paint.
I was fascinated when I took this outdoors, how exactly the colour blended in with the neighbourhood.
Yes, this one is available from Etsy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Geese: journalling

So today I was walking, I always walk, or bike, or ski, but never run, because running feels like the whole weight of the earth will crush my bones, so I was walking around the lake, because this is the place that I live and there is still ice on the lake, and I'm thinking of birds, and how this has been a hard winter for birds and aquatic birds can and do get their feet frozen into the ice, yet another horrific and perfectly natural way to die, and I'm thinking that even though this may be a normal thing that happens, I really don't ever want to be the one to witness it, and then I look down.
I look down the steep embankment, and there at the bottom are two geese, and one of them is standing with his legs knee deep in the ice. He is very still, and I read this as resigned.
When I walk, I have a route that if I walk consistantly fast, and take no detours, will take an exact hour to complete. This fits into my schedule.
So I see the goose standing knee deep in the ice, and thinking I will be late for supper. But something must be done, I can't just walk on by.
There is another goose, and she is resting nearby with her head curled upon her body. Geese, I hear, mate for life, and there she is, faithful.
I start making my way down, which isn't easy. The embankment is steep, and last year's grass is slick, and I'm trying not to panic them. They grunt softly. They do not sound panicked. They do not even sound perturbed.
I'm already thinking, if the goose is really stuck, what am I going to do? The misses will surely not stand idly by and will I really go out onto thawing ice on an April afternoon?
I don't want to do this, and the geese again grunt softly. They not only don't sound upset, but sound downright content making my horrid imaginings highly unlikely, but then again, it's incredibly odd for geese to be completely unbothered by a human scrambling down a bank. At this point, I just want to be sure everything's okay, so I say (and yes, I say it outloud) "I just need you to show me you're not stuck" and, now that I'm all the way down, with casual nonchalance, he lifts first one leg out of the ice, and then the other. The misses stands and stretches, and they grunt softly at each other.
I turn around and look up the embankment. It's very steep, I hope I'm not stuck.

Of course I do, with effort, get myself up the bank, and the geese are fine, and always, as the ice has turned into a transparent slurry of slush that they have no trouble negotiating but what I can't figure out is why they were so incredibly calm about both my presence and approach. As if from the moment I moved in for the "rescue" they were telling me, quite clearly, "all good, we're fine" if only I had listened.
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, April 7, 2014

That Other Place That I Work

Art is everywhere. Here are some things I noticed today.

My Jackson-Pollacked pallet wrap. I'm rather proud of this.

Things look different looking down.

Trying out a new blogging app.
posted from Bloggeroid


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