seasonal break…

…is over tomorrow…and I return to the classroom, this time to take three classes. I had registered in five classes, in part in an attempt to bring my “schooling” to a close, and to focus on drawing/sculpting, whatever, outside of an academic setting. At some point I really need to stop going to a school, although I’ve come to wonder if there is some sort of astrological arrangement that condemns me to formal classrooms into infinity.

This winter I’ll be taking the second half of a second year drawing class, a first year art history class that I’ve been avoiding, and a philosophy of art class, which I’ve been looking forward to. Kind of. After this year, I think I’ll have one or two more credits to complete before I can get my diploma, and the two year diploma will have taken me four years. Next year I’ll take a couple of printmaking classes and the second half of the required first year painting class.

WRITTEN IN EARLY DECEMBER:

…as soon as school ends, I experience a burst of new creativity; I feel as if I must draw something that is undefined by an assignment but which comes from inside of me. I’d like to get at least ten drawings completed, six of them on 8ft x 3ft paper.

This drawing, which started out being an anti-red piece, eventually morphed into an “ode to the release of colour”. Elements of red-dislike remain in the drawing, so clearly there is something to figure out in there. The following drawings begin with the finished piece and then show a few close-ups.

This first one feels like a warm-up, a precursor to the much larger ones that follow.

the following drawing is entitled: “the girls loved their mother but they did not understand her” (8 ft x 3 ft; pastel and charcoal on heavy duty flooring paper)

some day I may say more about this drawing, or I may draw more on this theme. I am attracted to representing women at the many stages of their lives.

Solstice drawing (completed December 21, 2022)

“the returning light brings its own new darkness”

8 ft x 3 ft; pastel and charcoal on heavy duty flooring paper.

this drawing expresses the human condition as I see it: that our light embraces the darkness within. I suppose another drawing might express the opposite. I am a fan of the dark side of being human.

“Nashville Cats”, 8ft x 3ft, pastel on brown paper.

This drawing is based on a photograph of her two cats posted on IG by a friend. With permission. The cats remind me of the cats I painted for “Lola’s Blue Cats”. I like their playfulness.

I had hoped to draw six very large (8 feet by 3 feet) drawings over the break, but I found the sheer amount of pastel I was consuming to make the drawings to be financially prohibitive. And raised the question for me…why draw these very large drawings using very expensive materials for no particular purpose other than to draw them?

These three are rolled up on a shelf, and will likely remain that way until some person in the future decides they must be recycled. This thought raises questions of meaning…and purpose.

Anyway, I decided to draw the next few drawings on a much smaller scale, which is less fun but more economical. I do like those very large drawings; I like the feeling of drawing big, and as I draw big, I feel like I’m emphasizing the importance of whatever it is I think I’m saying in the drawing that goes beyond just the drawing itself…kind of the energy that informs the drawing. I think that having titles for my drawings that are a snippet of the stories I’m telling myself while I’m drawing are part of that impulse to express something that I think is important.

The following drawing, completed on December 26, entitled “Peter with red umbrella”. I consider this one to be a “study” for a more complex drawing that I will need to do a few different studies for. I won’t get them all done during this break, but this starter piece has given me some ideas that I’ll work with for subsequent pieces; I think it might take me a while to “get it right”.

35″ x 23″, pastel.

“Thinking by a window”. 35″ x 23″, pastel.

I spend time with my granddaughter, Lola. While she is active, I try to make quick sketches of her. Here are two drawings that came about as a result of some sketches, and then the sketches follow.

The next drawing is called “Girls in Dresses, Part I”. I’m not sure if there will ever be any other parts, but my intention had been to make several parts over the break. But I got to the point where I needed a break from drawing, and instead of continuing with the series, I rested quite a bit.

“Girls in Dresses, Part I” is based on my granddaughter’s love of dresses and of movement. I am also inspired by Rumer Godden’s 1955 book called “Impunity Jane, the story of a pocket doll”, my favorite book for most of my life.

This drawing is really a study, and my intention had been to make the subsequent drawings more detailed. I have no idea if I will return to this series, or if it will end at part 1, or merely pause for months or years.

sketches of my muse:

the muse:

Semester round up.

I haven’t posted anything since early October, and that’s because I’ve been going to art school and working on assignments that look like…assignments. But I have done a few things and I’ll post them here.

The Birth of Colour

Some raku

Scorpion Eater

Versions of my self looking back at me

Woman with many arms

Self (unbearable weight of being)

untitled drawing (6 feet by 8 feet)

After the end of semester…

I feel compelled to draw things that I really want to draw, that aren’t assignments. Here are three drawings that come from that sense of relief I feel once a semester (and assignments) are complete. Pastel and charcoal, model studies of live model.

back at school, fall 2022: reconstructing a self; drawing with ice; melting glaciers; environmental concerns; self-portrait; greyscale

sorry about all the words…

I’m back at school, working on the second year of a two year diploma program, and although I hadn’t originally intended to be a full time art student thinking about my “art future”, I do find myself in the odd place of doing just that.

At the beginning of the summer break, I asked myself what it would be like to put my “self” as the subject of a design brief, a planning document that could guide my work, my material investigations, my material practice. So I created an extensive document that laid out what might well be a life’s work; or at least work for the next several years.

I spent the summer launching myself into the project, and as I’m working on my coursework, I am attempting to both meet the criteria of the course requirements and the goal of my self-oriented design brief.

In the design brief, I ask the question: how can a person deliberately change the self, as if the self were a living sculpture that is open to, or vulnerable to, deliberate change. I lay out several categories that comprise a self: physical, emotional, psychological, political, environmental, familial, cultural, and spiritual. My intention and plan is to take unflinching look at my self as it manifests each of those areas, and while taking this unflinching look and possible unflinching responses to changes that I see I would like to make, I will document how I see and experience my changing self through writing, drawing, photography, and painting.

The pastel drawings I did this summer were the beginning of that, a way to keep myself focused on the project, but before I began in earnest.

The following pieces are a subset of what I am working on in the classes I am taking, first and second year college courses in which I’m still learning.

Having lost thirty pounds, I am able to fit into the $6 rain suit I found at Dollarama because my hips are less intrusive. I need a rainsuit so that I can continue to ride my bicycle throughout the winter.
In painting, we are working with greyscale and painting self-portraits without using brushes. These four here are studies in which I am experimenting with grey tones and using mostly my fingers and rags to make marks. The next step is to paint a self portrait in greyscale.
This is the photograph I’m using to paint the greyscale self-portrait.

On October 1, I spent the morning at the studio at the college, where I prefer painting, especially with acrylics. I’m a pretty messy painter (well, I’m pretty messy at just about everything). Below is where I left off at the end of the session. Total hours = 5. So much further to go until I no longer look like a ghost.

Self portrait in greyscale (unfinished)
In drawing, we are working with melting ice. Through the material investigations both in the studio at school and at home, I came to see my self as melting, just as glaciers are melting, and the frame of my larger project helped me to conceptualize the shrinking self as a metaphor for the shrinking glaciers. This is one of 9 drawings that I did in class using a block of ice, charcoal powder, and burnt umber charcoal stick to make a melting ice field seen from a distance, where the fact of its melting is not immediately obvious.
In this photograph, a block of ice into which I have frozen a small doll, is melting onto a sheet of watercolor paper onto which I have sprinkled some powdered charcoal. The intention is to see the patterns the water creates in and with the charcoal.
The patterns change as the water becomes heavier and pushes across the paper, carrying the charcoal powder with it. The purpose of this practice is to get a close up view of melting ice. This close up view is created by the melting block of ice into which the doll has been frozen. As the layers of ice melt away from the doll, she is released from that prison.
This is one of my selves, emerging as the ice melts. I think she must be responsible for all the messiness.

and here are some photographs from the second ice melt session:

I wrapped the block of ice in string and suspended it over a sheet of watercolour paper sprinkled with powdered charcoal.
I set up a video camera so I could capture some of the action; the cat watched, too. I haven’t processed the video yet.
Out of the hundreds of photographs I took, occasionally I managed to capture something interesting. This shows a string a water falling from the bottom of the melting ice block.
Sometimes I managed to capture the surface of the water as it responded to a new drip.
This photograph shows the rounded edge of the water as it advances across the paper.
downloading a couple of hundred photos at a time. I went through them later and deleted most of the duplicates.
many of the photographs look like landscapes. barren landscapes. which is appropriate, seeing as how I’m trying to capture something of the feeling of melting glaciers…

cutting down the melting ice block. it eventually became too dark and the video camera battery was down to 5% and the memory card was full.

I’m excited to get to the video editing to see if the camera captured anything not captured by the camera or by my eyes.

So, yeah, I go into the zone when I do these multiple hour sessions, and for now I think I'll take these photographs of myself to see if I can capture the zoned-out look.
So, yeah, I go into the zone when I do these multiple hour sessions, and for now I think I’ll take these photographs of myself to see if I can capture the zoned-out look. Maybe I’ll start to think I’m being too narcissistic, but for now it feels okay.

Keep Your Sisters Close, when you shed that stuff where does it go?, Blue Balm, untitled, The Open Door, So Many Words, unflinching glimmer of a smile

This post closes off the summer of 2022, a time during which I spent making adjustments to my “self” and which culminated in learning that I had received a BC Arts Council scholarship, an award that requires that I study art full time this coming academic year. This means that I will be entering new territories, both in terms of the challenges that my courses offer me and in terms of continuing to grow personally, the deeper I get into the third act. As a friend pointed out to me, I am a “free agent”, and free agency means, for me, being able to explore my humanity as deeply as my imagination can take me. At this point in my life, this exploration is enabled through visual art and to a lesser extent, through writing.

Keep Your Sisters Close, 20″ x 26″; charcoal and pastel
“when you shed that stuff where does it go?”, 22″ x 26″, pastel, India ink, and charcoal.
“Blue Balm”, 22″ x 26″, pastel and charcoal.
Untitled; 26″ x 22″; pastel and acrylic ink.
The Open Door, 22″ x 26″, pastel.
So Many Words, 22″ x 26″, pastel.
unflinching glimmer of a smile, 22 x 26, pastel.

self-portrait # 20, Bitumen Shower, Unfinished Finished (people on a ferry); Only a Matter of Time; Sources

S.P. #20, 20″ x 24″, charcoal and pastel.
Bitumen Shower, 20″ x 24″, charcoal and a soupcon of pastel.
Unfinished Finished (people on the ferry), 20″ x 26″, pastel.
Only a Matter of Time, 20″ X 26″, pastel and charcoal.
Sources, 20″ x 26″; pastel and charcoal.

Heat Map, Legs, A Slightly Damaged Fence, Wingspan, Broken Glass, Bamboo, That’s Some Dance!

Heat Map, 54″ x 24″. Charcoal and Pastel.

I see this male figure as both arising from and sinking into a hot, melting landscape. The cool areas are an illusion. The creator is the destroyer.

Legs. 18″ x 24″. Charcoal and pastel on vellum.

I love the angularity of these legs.

A Slightly Damaged Fence. Charcoal and pastel on vellum. 18″ x 24″.

In the writing I’ve been doing recently, I’ve been drilling down to identify my passions, and one of the things that I’m exploring is a love of pattern. This fence is the first exploration of this.

Wingspan, charcoal and pastel, 18″ x 24″

This particular drawing has several layers as I kept trying to get to where I thought I was going; I never quite got there, and I’m dissatisfied with where it sits at this point. I’m going to let it sit for a while, and get back to it after a few days of hanging it on the line where I can look at it casually from time to time.

When I photograph the sketches as they “cure” on the line, other pieces I’ve made show up beside it, behind it, and shadows sometimes fall across the paper. I’m enjoying this accumulation of figures, both 2D and 3D, as they inhabit the space in whatever ways that they will.
Bamboo. 18″ x 24″. charcoal and pastel.
That’s Some Dance, pastel. 18″ x 24″

Tardigrades and other stuff including the cowpoke, the horse, and the opera singer

I don’t actually have much new to add this week. I started school AND I was really tired so I took too many naps.

But, I did “finish” the cowpoke, and here are some photographs of the cowpoke, and then some with the cowpoke and opera singer.

You can just see one of the spurs in front of the green. I had to embed the cowpoke’s feet into a bed of stones, all held together with glue gun glue. The boots feel apart at one point, so I also had to rebuild them. The belt buckle has an “A” on it, put there not to stand for my name, but because the capital letter “A” is so fun to paint.

I modelled the hat on a stetson that I saw on the Stetson webpage. I like how I managed to keep the ears sticking out of the hat. Everything is really rough, lots of cracks, uneven coloration. I’m torn between thinking its not good enough and thinking that I love the imperfections, that anyone playing with this cowpoke will not only be in relationship with the “toy”, but also will be aware that there was a “maker”, also with imperfections.

I have a thing about “perfect” toys, mass produced or not.

Here the cowpoke is about to lasso themselves an opera singer.
shadows and reflections…
After I put the cowpoke and the opera singer on the shelf to marinate, I started to make a little wire dog. Under the wire dog are two paint brushes marinating in coloured water. Bad bad.
I also pulled out an armature I had made a couple of weeks ago. I had planned to return to this AFTER making the horse, but apparently I’m stalling on the horse (haha, unintended pun).
I added a skipping rope to the blue figure and hung it from a lamp. I’m really drawn to those “ropes” and hanging figures…because they move, or have the potential to.
As soon as I picked up the clay for this figure, my fingers immediately started to work differently as they applied the clay to the body. I wasn’t as focused on defining the limbs; rather, I started by creating clothes on the figure. It felt really different, and maybe that’s why I needed to sleep for a few days before returning to the figures.
I embedded a tiny stone in the figure’s chest.
Well, um, I really like doing this. Glad I found a retirement hobby…but I also have another hobby in retirement:

DIGRESSION in which I received the following TM:

LATER:

Interesting to note in the above screen-shot that all but one of my crypto choices are (were) in the red. Also interesting to note is my total investment is just over $200. I know my limit!

BACK TO THE MAIN STORY:

ART SCHOOL STUFF:

So, I went to my first class in FIN 140 this past week; our first assignment is an assemblage. Here is what I have done so far to get ready. We are to gather up 4 – 5 non-precious objects, do an object analysis, and then bring them to class with various connecting devices such as string, tape, glue.

(I’m taking two classes this fall, and I suspect there may be some competition between what I WANT to do and what I HAVE to do for my assignments. Lots of naps.)

Object #1. Found in a ditch, and is apparently a connector piece to hold together sections of temporary fencing. I love my ditch finds.
Object #2: A doll I bought at a thrift store several years ago. I have a box of such thrifty dolls, and I pulled her out for this project because she has a very weird face.
Object #3. I don’t know what this is really, but I think its for gas lines. Or maybe water? I like it because those two black things move. And because it has the word “no” on it…heh, or likely that’s the word “on”.
object #4: this is a tiny bottle I found on a beach. It may be too small for this project.
Object #5. A thrift store find several years ago, I like this because it still works. It too might be too small for the project.
Object #6: the top of a much longer bottle. I forgot to take a photograph of the whole bottle because I got distracted…as I will demonstrate below.
Doll looking through bottle #1
Doll looking through bottle #2
Doll looking through bottle #3

And then, because I was into taking photographs of the doll, I kept going…

Poor thing is merely a repro.
But she has a great face and doesn’t seem to mind her status as a repro. I detect a slight smile on her lips, although her eyes look a little deadened.

I wonder what is in the light in the middle of her eye?

Okay, enough with the doll already. But I’m putting these pictures in here to remind myself (if I ever read this again) that I tend to get carried away with figures, especially human (doll) figures. Because yeah, I had a lot of fun on Friday night taking those photos.

RESEARCH

Tardigrade Research

A New Type of Tardigrade (2018)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-new-type-of-tardigrade-just-turned-up-in-a-parking-lot/

DOLL MAKING RESEARCH

WIG MAKING:

Because I have quite a bit of human hair, and because I’m currently working on model figures, some of which have hair, I’ve been curious about how to best add the hair to the figures. Last week I made the opera singer, who has long grey hair, but I just fumbled around with attaching hair to their head. I thought it might be a good idea to find out a better way (better ways?) to work with hair. The following video is a start in that direction. It actually looks really easy.

https://www.adelepo.com/blog/2017/07/make-a-wig-for-a-doll