she took to her bed with a terrible illness, 2 untitled pieces, 4 eggs, and woman with red straps

she took to her bed with a terrible illness, 22″ x 30″, charcoal with pastel.

inspired by Hollyhock Flats, across the river from where I walk and live
playing around with a piece I did in drawing class this past winter by adding coloured lines
4 eggs.

I’m taking a drawing course through the Banff Centre this spring, a course which focuses on drawing with pencils, something I avoided doing in my college drawing classes by always opting for charcoal. But, I felt that I wanted to dedicate some time to drawing with graphite, and this course popped up in my FB feed. We are drawing eggs. Day 1, I drew one egg. Day 2, two eggs, and so on. These are the four eggs I drew on day four. I’m not getting better at drawing eggs yet, but the great thing about drawing is that I can SEE what I am doing better or not doing better. Doing something “better” doesn’t necessarily result in a better drawing, though.

woman with red straps, 22″ x 30″, charcoal and pastel.

Woman with Pink Scarf PLUS Too Soon PLUS Woman with Blue Scarf PLUS Softly, Softly

Trying to draw self-portraits seems to be important to me. I’ve never known what I look like, so drawing focuses my attention on the details that I can’t see on my own. I sit at my easel and look into a mirror propped up to the right, so it feels as if I’m always looking back at myself. I don’t feel as haunted as these self-portraits suggest. I like looking back at self-portraits I tried when I first started art school, and will continue to do self-portraits from time to time as a way to gauge what is important to me at any given time.

There’s something else I like about drawing real people, including but not limited to my self. When I take a photograph of someone, a photograph of my self, I have captured the image at a particular point in time. The picture is taken, and then it is over. When I draw myself, I do this over an extended period of time, making observations of my face, which may be affected in microcosmic ways by what I may be thinking about throughout the drawing process, so I feel as if, unlike a photograph, a drawing is a reflection of the changes that can impact a face over the time of the sitting.

Different micro expressions show up in different parts of the face at different times. So the drawing of a face is a composite of those expressions over the time that the face was observed, not a “moment in time” expression of a photograph. It might be interesting to animate a drawn portrait.

Here is a link to a website that discusses micro expressions. https://www.paulekman.com/resources/micro-expressions/

Woman With Pink Scarf (S.P. #13); 22″ x 30″ charcoal, pastel.

After sitting with the self-portrait #13 for a day, I made some changes, reflected below. It still doesn’t really look like me, but I’m keeping both up here so I have a record on my blog, and a reminder not to jump the gun, so to speak, but to let things settle in for a while before I declare them finished. In the next iteration, I fixed the jaw line; toned down the ear by making it smaller and lighter; added some light blue in the background; darkened the sweater collar and shoulders.

Woman With Pink Scarf, s.p. #13 (revised); 22″ x 30″, charcoal and pastel.

Next, I want to try a self-portrait using only shades of blue. And in the next version, I’ll work on getting the eyes smaller and farther apart.

Woman with Blue Scarf, s.p. #14, 22″ x 30″. Pastel. Version 1
Woman With Blue Scarf (revised). S.P. # 14. 22 x 30. Pastel.
Softly, Softly. S.P. #15. 24″ x 28″. Pastel and charcoal on brown paper.

Drawing with colour…

…and pastel…

I have a number of “projects” that I’m working on, or planned, for the next few months. Right now, while I’m gearing up for the other things I am doing, I’m focusing on drawing with pastels. I also have a small air-dry clay sculpture on the go, but I have ordered a back-iron, a contraption that will help me to make sculptures without having them collapse from the weight.

In my last blog post I included an earlier version of this drawing, not realizing that it wasn’t complete.

I Really Love Your Outfit is a 22 x 30 inch drawing I started working on while seeing outfits from the Met Gala appear on social media. I always find the disconnect between environmental degradation and the “follies” of star culture to be jarring. To the left of this figure is Comox Lake, the local source of water for the communities in the watershed, which has been damaged by logging, especially around Comox Lake but also around the whole watershed. For several years, water advisories were necessary because of increased silt levels in the water supply.

Final Sunset, another 22 x 30 piece, is inspired by my sense of present and impending cataclysm, both political and environmental.

I find it impossible to draw anything that does not include some sort of comment on how humans inhabit a dying planet. I am astounded by and curious about my own willingness to continue to turn over my van’s engine, to turn up the heat in my apartment, to run water from a tap. My own contradictions bother me and I try to turn my face away from the contradictions of others, at least until I can get my own under control.

This past winter I did a sketch in my drawing class which I called The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I decided that I wanted to try to turn the drawing into a small sculpture; unfortunately I didn’t plan well enough, and the weight of the air-dry clay on the armature has caused knee-collapse. I’ve got a back-iron on the way, and although I still plan to finish this one, I will make another one using the back-iron, which will provide stability to the armature while I am working on the piece, and until the clay dries.

Another mistake I made while creating the armature was starting with one of the hands. I really wanted the hand to be large, I wanted it to look a certain way, and was impatient to get the first hand made. I wouldn’t advise this as a good strategy (driven, as it is, by impatience); much better to get the torso and legs created and then add the hands, feet, and head afterwards, but there it is. That’s what I did and the whole process made me feel unbalanced as I made this piece in an unbalanced way. I do, however, like the hands, and am looking forward to finishing this piece.

This is a 20 minute sketch from a drawing class.

The 20-minute sketch turned into The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I prefer the original sketch to the one I ended up with after I took it home and kept adding colour, but this is the sketch I used to develop the sculpture.

Round-up

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a few months because I’ve been busy, but here are some photographs of some of the work I did in school and out of school since February. My focus this semester was ceramics and drawing, and I’m trying to use materials that are as natural as possible. My question is: how do I make things while at the same time thinking that there are enough things in the world already? I liked working with clay because that’s like working with the earth: some people love gardening, and I love getting my hands into the clay. I didn’t think I would. And what do I draw? I tried to draw with charcoal and pastel, avoiding plastics. Do we need more plastic? No. And I tried to draw things that I am concerned about: the impacts of climate change on water, air, animals (including people).

The Promise. 22 x 30, charcoal and conte.
The Promise 2, 22 x 30, charcoal, conte, graphite.
Three clay cylinders. ~30 inches high.
Existential Threat, 33 x 40 inches. Charcoal, graphite, pastel.
The Way of Things. Installation with Chinook salmon made from local clay that cracked in the process. Photographs represent location where I would have installed the completed clay salmon had it not cracked (bottom) and site directly across the river from the proposed installation site (top). From NIC end of year student art show.
Chinook salmon maquette with comments compiled as people watched me making the (unsuccessful) Chinook salmon for installation with local clay.
The Procession (Cassandra Players) from NIC year end student art show.
The Entities Who Visit at the Time of Death (Cassandra Players) from NIC end of year student art show.
Installing The Promise 2, NIC year end student art show.

The series of ceramics sculptures entitled Open 1, Open 2, Open 3, and Open 3.2 (immediately below) are pieces through which I was trying to express the ways in which my relationships nurture me. I used a different glaze for each of the pieces, and tried two different firing processes, Raku and Cone 10.

Sculptural ceramics pieces: Open 3 (raku) and Open 2 (cone 10 reduction) (from NIC end of year student art show)
Sculptural Ceramics: Open 2 close up (cone 10 reduction)
Sculptural ceramics: Open 3.2 (from NIC end of year student art show)
Sculptural ceramics: Open 3.2 close-up
Sculptural ceramics: Open 1. Cone 10 reduction.

This next series of drawings have been embarked upon since school ended in early April. My relationship with colour in my drawings has been tentative, so my first project for the intersession is to push myself into adding colour to drawings, while also staying with the theme of environmental degradation.

River Folk, 22 x 30, charcoal and pastel.
Mixed Memories, 22 x 30 inches; charcoal and pastel. I have lived most of my adult life in Alberta and British Columbia, and lived the early part of my life in Quebec and Ontario, and a small amount of time in New Brunswick. I particularly loved Alberta sunsets and blue skies, and am nostalgic for Alberta days. It’s impossible for me to know which part of this drawing represents which province or which season as water and various types of farming are everywhere; I will never forget the first time I saw the Rockies pop up on the horizon from behind the foothills as I drove across western Alberta.
currently working on “I Really Love Your Outfit”, 22 x 30.

First, some Bach. Then, “The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect”; “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”; “One”, and “Two”, and “Three”; Student Incubator at CVAG

Today’s music: Bach, The Art of Fugue

The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect
insect closeup
insect closer-up
Existential Crisis 1
Existential Crisis 2
Existential Recovery
Existential Stability
The Genesis of “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”
New Year Baby, January 1, 2022, 7:03 pm. (aka Incipient Variant)
“Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”

One, Two, Three

These next three, just playing around. I wanted to see if I could create expression with very simple elements, no internal interpretive cues. I’m currently reading a book called “Asemic: The Art of Writing”; I am being influenced by the idea of asemics, markmaking that looks like some sort of writing, calls the viewer to attempt to interpret the marks/lines by trying to “read” them, but of course they are not representative of any particular language, but merely representative of the “act” of writing and in that way these lines tend to foreground the “art” of writing.

I am attracted to this, and have been for a long time. So far, I’ve tried to work with a depiction of eyelashes, and maybe a way to go with eyelashes is to make them look “asemic”, as if the printed eyelashes are some sort of language that refers to the inexpressible. The more I engage with visual expression in the form of image-making, both 2D and 3D, the more I recognize that like language, both oral and written, there is an interstices that can’t be breached, can’t be expressed. The idea, the feeling, the emotion, lies somewhere beyond words, beyond mark-making, beyond line. Maybe it is somewhat like the extremes of grief and ecstasy.

So, I shall begin more consciously to explore this beyond place, this ineffable and mutable truth.

“One”
“Two”
“Three”

Today, January 8, our 3D design class installed our projects at the CVAG. Here are a couple of photographs of my part.

The day was bright and there are too many reflections on the window to adequately see.
The entities related to the moment of death have converged/are converging

Wire and Rawhide

I’ve been experimenting with rawhide for the past couple of weeks, but took a break for four days, more or less, over Christmas. I bought some pieces of rawhide “seconds”, and had wanted to see how they would look wrapped around some wires, so I constructed a few wire armatures and started wrapped the hydrated rawhide around the wires. I tried sewing some pieces together while wet, but that proved to be difficult, so I bought a leather punch, which made things much easier.

However, I also made a couple of pieces without any rawhide, and they are much cleaner to look at.

Here are some photographs of five different wire sculptures, three with rawhide and two without.

#1 in window with Le Petit chat. These rawhide pieces look like insects to me.
#1 (base)
Figure #2. This is what the rawhide looks like while its drying. I have to clip it onto the wire.
Figure #2. A few additions to the figure, and it looks “noisy” to me. But it feels like a noisy entity. The hips, the knees, and the insect body on the back of the figure are all made with airdry clay. This figure doesn’t yet have a head, and I’m not sure if I’m going to add one.
Figure #3. This was the first iteration of the figure, but after this dried, I added a few more elements. The hands are made with airdry clay.
Figure #3.
Figure #4 The Dancer. I would like to do more of this minimal type of wire sculpture. I love how I can made wire look like a figure.
Figure # 4. The Dancer.
Figure #4. The Dancer.
Figure #5. Insect Woman.
Figure #5. Insect Woman. legs.

And, finally, some photographs of cloth (painting tarp, actually)

Christmas “break”

I realize that I’ve been silent for the past month, and that is because I didn’t really have much that is shareable. I’ve finished my courses for the fall semester, and am moving into Christmas break. Here are a few images of what I’ve been working on.

This is my 21st century representation of Euterpe, the Greek muse of lyric poetry and song. Traditionally, representations of Euterpe have been of a wistful-faced female carrying a harp, a lute, or an aulos, her long hair falling over her shoulders or tied up around her head and held by a wreath. She looks vulnerable, as if herself waiting for inspiration. I wanted to make a muse that is more “practical” looking, more chthonic than ethereal. Originally I was going to have this non-binary figure playing a bass guitar, but the guitar evolved into a bicycle, meant to represent the urgency I feel that we (dwellers on the earth) must change our actions, change our minds, change how we experience the world and act within it.
But we shoot the messenger, don’t we? I was aware, am aware, that this figure is quite repulsive. They are made from a wire armature covered with tissue paper taken from old dress patterns, and then covered with photocopied sheet music from a book of music by Chopin, papier mached around the figure. I have used yellow because yellow is both an attractive and repulsive colour; I believe that for the most part people want to engage in “right action”, and/or they want to stop engaging in actions that continue to harm the earth. At the same time, we want to continue to do the things that we have come to love; we are attracted by calls to action (we love the earth), and we are repulsed by those calls to action because if we heed them we will need to stop doing many of the things we love.
Although I have largely left behind the work I was doing on the Apocalypse Theatre for the past few months, I realized upon making this figure of Euterpe that I need to return to the theatre and the Cassandra Players. There is so much more to do, and I think now that I have a slightly better idea about how to “plan”, I can return and make a better plan and will have a sense of where I need to go and how to get there with this project, which has been sleeping.

Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone camera. I seem to be attracted to photographing these monochromatic scenes, where grey disappears into grey. I love this type of weather, this type of light.

Sometimes I can’t help myself from taking more photographs of these entities that live on the shelves and window sills around me. As the light behind them changes, so they change too.

Book binding and poetry

Finally, I’m teaching myself some basic bookbinding techniques, including Japanese bookbinding. I have a basic plan to make a small book with two of my own poems in it, and I’m thinking of making the pages out of watercolour paper and then typing the poems and printing them out on high quality computer paper; I’ll attach the poems to the watercolour paper and draw/paint small watercolour illustrations around the poems, and bind it all together with a Japanese binding technique.

Here is a link to one of the videos I’ve watched. I think this technique looks repeatable, and I plan to use it for this first small book. I haven’t yet decided on a cover.

Me and my drill, More Baby Bodies, A Final morphed cat body, a new armature for Cornucopia Woman, and Squash in a Dark, Cool, Dry Place…so they turn into gourds that can become musical instruments…

Smokin’ hot…
“Mother and Children”
Morphed Cat Body
Morphed Cat Body in a piece of rusty metal
Cornucopia Woman armature

Squash in a dark, cool, dry place wherein they will become gourds by the end of April, 2022.

Some Music, Baby Body, Cat Body, More Entities in the Studio for second photo shoot…

As I frequently do, I’ll start with the music. Jerusalem in my Heart is a group out of Montreal. Just when I think I’ve found the music that I love the most, I come across something that bumps it out of the way. “that’s the sound I’ve been looking for”, I think to myself, when the new music arrives. And I live, breathe, obsess about the new music until something else arrives out of nowhere.

Here is a link to Jerusalem in my Heart, including a whole bunch of information about the group, and some music samples.

Baby Body

After spending another few hours in the photography studio photographing the entities again, but this time in groupings of two, three, or four (or more), a process during which I became more intimate with each of their personalities, I came away with a concept that will, in a large format that I won’t share here (yet) include the wooden figures I made last year, the white skeletal entities I made in the summer, and the current figures that I’m working on and sharing here now. As part of this concept where I’m starting to see how the figures are “related”, I decided it was time to make a baby. Here is the first baby, and it is called “Before I Was Born”; it’s not really supposed to be me, but that’s the title that popped into my head, so there you go.

Before I Was Born LaDoll air dry stone clay, two inches by one inch. View #1.

I also finished Cat Body since my last post. Baby Body (before I was born) and Cat Body, as well as being part of the larger work I creating, are also part of my assignment for 3D design and integrated studies at the college.

Here is Cat Body.

Cat Body. Six inches high at the head, and ~8 inches from ear to tip of tail. This is the first time I’ve used water colour on one of these figures, and I think this figure might be the transitional figure as I move away from using acrylic (plastic) paint to the more environmentally friendly watercolours. I was really intrigued to watch as the watercolour paint filled the cracks and imperfections of the cat’s head, feet, and tail, and I think there might be some great opportunities to explore in that relationship between the paint and the clay.

Entities in studio for second photoshoot

I have the studio booked again for photoshoots on November 9 and 10. Each time I go into the studio I’m adding the new entities and learning more about their interrelationships.

It takes a really long time to upload each photograph to WP, so I’m only including a small handful of the 200 or so that I took last week. Also, most of them are kind of crappy, so I’ll try to include only those that I think capture some of what I’m trying to express. I have annotated the photographs, as all the entities are “named” now, and it will provide a sense of the narrative.

The Empath is sitting next to The Dreamer, who is in the final hours of life. An entity looks on from behind. The Empath is present during the limen, as the ailing dreamer is about to pass through.
Opera Singer, consoled by her earthly consort, The Cowpoke, expresses deep sorrow.

The Receiver/The Dreamed (the figure on the left has two names) sits with the Opera Singer next to The Dreamer.
The Opera Singer and The Receiver/The Dreamed recede as The Dreamer prepares to leave.
Two unnamed entities watch over the moment when the breath stops moving in and out of The Dreamer.
Time arrives to claim the breath.
The Empath attempts to intercede, but Time will not be stopped.
The veil is thin.
Time claims breath, The Dreamer ceases to dream.
Dog Body accompanies Time as it backs away.
Gold Fallen From the Hem of Her Dress embraces the departed Dreamer.