Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sketch from Shab-e She'r (Poetry Night)

A little sketch of Dionne Samuels, aka The Bird of Paradise, while she was performing last night (Jan 27th) at Shab-e She'r (Poetry Night). Fabulous performance; fabulous evening!

While I am satisfied with the drawing, it looks like her and she liked it and signed it last night, there wasn't enough time for me to properly draw that arm, which, as an animated performer, she kept moving anyhow. I do not take reference photos when I sketch at poetry readings ever. Then, I'd become obsessed and continue to work on them, wouldn't I.

©Brenda Clews, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2015, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, graphite.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Butterfly Men, underdrawing (in-process)

One of the small canvases I am currently working on. This is drawn in charcoal and then fixed with Golden's sizer, Gak100, which is very tricky to do without smearing everything. My plan is to add two more butterflies and lightly colour the painting in oils - I'd like to leave the underdrawing visible through colour washes.

The Butterfly Men, underdrawing (in process), ©BrendaClews, 16" x 20", charcoal fixed with Gak100 on 1.5" stretched gallery canvas. Two more butterflies are coming.

Monday, January 26, 2015


It really is "I WILL! I WON'T!" Look at the body language of the two poses. Amazing.

There are a couple of gesture sketches from a January drop-in life-drawing session, and I am working on a 16" x 20" canvas of two of the poses I drew that day. I guess photographing is becoming more of a 'task.' Finally I took this drawing outside and snapped it.

I WILL; I WON'T. Sketch at Bampot Bohemian Tea House life-drawing, 11 Jan 2015. ©Brenda Clews. 18" x 22" Permanent inks on archival drawing paper.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Poetry Salon at Urban Gallery next Saturday, Jan 31st

Please do come out on January 31st, 3-5pm, to Urban Gallery where I will be hosting another beautiful Poetry Salon if you are in Toronto. Yummy hot apple cider and mineral water on the house. Pass-the-hat. Open mic. After we go to a nearby restaurant to have a drink, snacks or dinner, chat. It's a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Toronto's KAREN SHENFELD has three books of poetry to her credit, published by Guernica Editions: The Law of Return, (1999), The Fertile Crescent (2005) and My Father’s Hands Spoke in Yiddish (2010). Her poetry has been published in numerous poetry journals in the USA, UK, South Africa, Bangladesh and Canada. She won the 2001 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry and was long-listed for the Relit Award in 2005. Along with being a poet, Karen is a widely published magazine journalist, editor (both print and screen) and filmmaker. Her indie documentary, Il Giardino, The Gardens of Little Italy, screened at several film festivals, including Planet in Focus. Karen is currently working on her fourth book of poetry, two documentary films, and a screenplay for a feature, which has been optioned by Canadian director Bruce McDonald.

Writer, translator, teacher, and poetry organizer, BÄNOO ZAN, landed in Canada in 2010. She has over 80 publications. As managing editor, she doubled the number of submissions and made Voices 2012 anthology financially solvent. She hosts Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry series in Toronto bringing together people from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), sexual orientations, ages and poetic voices, visions and styles. She believes her politics is her poetry.

MOesch is a most unique dynamic artist. You never know what will come from him next. He has a back ground in blues and folk. And is one of a few musical artist who have toured across Canada on foot. In 2002 and 2005 MOesch walked over 11,000 km traveling through every province and even venturing into Labrador. "14 month on the road felt like 50 years, I'm ready to settle down." Even Though MOesch has settled back in Toronto he has not settled, his musical output has expanded into trance, electronic and he has started a Celtic band and plays in a rhythm and blues band, but more than anything MOesch loves to just sit back and play his lap steel guitar.

Author SASKIA VAN TETERING is a lifelong lover of words, especially poetry. In 2008, Saskia fulfilled a lifelong dream by self-publishing her first book, life unmasked, comprising poems and short stories. Swimming to the surface, her second collection of poetry was published in 2009 by In Our Words, Inc., and in January 2012, bojit press in Toronto, Ontario, published After Philosophy. Saskia is currently working on her fourth book of poetry and short stories, River of Ghosts. She describes herself as a Renaissance woman, balancing her own business, the anticipated completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree after a 30-year hiatus, with finding time to write, volunteer, and to travel with her soul mate and husband, Michael. Saskia is a member of the Canadian Federation of Poets, of The Ontario Poetry Society, and of the Peel Chapter, CFP. She resides near the Beaches in Toronto, Ontario, with Michael and their fluffle of bunnies.

Up to eight Open Mic spots of 5 min each are also offered - sign-up at 3pm.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rough draft of a small painting

Because I would like to participate in group shows more often, I need some smaller canvases. So I have decided to begin a 16" x 20" canvas (on a 1.5" Gallery stretcher) during the final 40 minute pose at Bampot's drop-in life-drawing sessions. I am working on filling in the details on this one, of Amanda, that I began on Dec. 21, 2014. I also did a sketch of Paris a week or so back and, again, I put the 40 min pose, and a 20 min one, on the same canvas. I guess doubles and dopplegängers are my thing anyway. :) I took some photos of Amanda's (when I began charcoaling in some anatomical detail in the face and neck, it stopped looking like her) inside in sunlight from the window. Since I've hardly been sharing what I've been up to, I thought it was time to post something, even if it has a ways to go to completion (I turned the canvas, the foreground Amanda was sideways, lying down).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Travel as Interior Journey: Photographs by Lyndon Wiebe at Urban Gallery

Lyndon Wiebe: Travel as Interior Journey

by Brenda Clews

Lydon Wiebe, ‘Masai Tribesman, Tanzania’ (gallery photo)

Lydon’s first photography show is currently at Urban Gallery: LYNDON WIEBE: Lost in Travels: Solitary Confinement, from Jan 15 - Feb 28, 2015. He is the Head Chef at UrbanSource Catering, and while his hor d’oeuvres at the Opening were a visual and gustatory art, his photographs are not of food, but of people and animals and scenes in warm earth tones and bright colours from Asia, Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

Wiebe’s photographs are often meditative, sometimes humorous. He describes his photographic aesthetic as capturing a moment, and framing it in way that it might resonate with the viewer. His photographs are not cluttered. There is sparing but good use of bright colour in his figures and scenes. We gaze at a stillness, a moment of a person or animal or place in the world engraved simply and strikingly.

Wiebe photographs never show a subject looking at the camera; rather, the camera gazes on those gazing into their own worlds. As we walk and look at the exhibition, we find ourselves wondering about the daily lives of the people he photographed and of their thoughts.

Wiebe says that when you travel, you travel alone even if you are with other people. Each journey is a solitary one. In his show, he offers travel as an interior journey of discovery of the world.

Among my favourites in the show are two photographs of men in trance dancing in a festival in Malaysia of over a million people. The powdery red of ‘Red Right Hand’ is vivid, the angle of the photograph striking, the sweat, feel of the air bring the scene alive and yet the man is withdrawn into his inner world and, as with its companion piece, ‘Deep in Trance,’ we slip into the mystery of those moments, gazing at the photographs.

Another favourite is ‘Scenes from a Boardwalk,’ taken in New Plymouth, New Zealand. It is black and white. Are the tracks underwater? We see ocean on either side. The lines converge like a Renaissance perspective to a faint truck in the distance. Weibe was in New Zealand in 2007 and took a road trip by himself for 4 days. He came across a beach that was literally 90 miles long. It was 15°C, a cold day in New Zealand, and he was the only person on the beach — no-one in front of him or behind him as far as he could see. He says while they look like tire tracks underwater, they are on the sand. The tide was coming in, which you can see in the distance.

‘Shihan Elder,’ an old woman in Borneo with tattooed forearms, fingers and feet sits working, gazing at the objects in her fingers. The earth tones, the woman sitting, concentrating on her finger work — the camera is unobtrusive and the photograph of the scene almost seems a part of the scene itself.

At Wiebe’s show I found myself considering what inspires someone to take the photo beyond a snapshot of memory to a way to describe the world and further to develop interpretations of scenes that become art? While art maintains its notation of what, where, when, certainly, there is also a quality in the image that transcends locale and can speak across borders, languages, cultures.

I spoke to Wiebe briefly at the Opening of his show and include that interview below. The transition from snapshot to art photograph clearly happened to the Winnipeg-born chef Lyndon Wiebe. After completing culinary school in Calgary, he drove across Canada in a $50. car. He began travelling abroad working as a chef for 7 years before filming a travel-based food series in 40 countries world-wide with two chef friends that became the commissioned series, Chefs Run Wild, aired by APTN and Escape Network in Canada, and on National Geographic. During the 2-year run of Chefs Run Wild, it was not just the elevation of food into art that Lyndon continued to discover, but increasingly he found striking moments in his travels could be captured in photographs.

5 min impromptu interview with Wiebe
on the Opening Night of his show

 ‘LOST IN TRAVELS: SOLITARY CONFINEMENT,” photographs by Lyndon Wiebe, runs from January 15, 2015 to February 28, 2015 at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Monday-Saturday 11AM - 5PM, Thursdays 11AM - 8PM. Do phone as the doors are sometimes not open during Gallery hours: 647-460-1278.

From Urban Gallery’s website

Artist’s Statement: Lost In Travels: Solitary Confinement looks at feelings of isolation in the world around us. Even in a group we are still alone in our thoughts. Nature can make us feel isolated when it opens itself up to us -the more surreal and beautiful the moment, the more removed from our surroundings we become, lost in thoughts of awe and wonder.

Biography: Born in Winnipeg, Lyndon moved to Calgary at 16, and after high school drove across Canada in a $50 car -and discovered his love of travel. After graduating culinary school in Calgary, he spent almost 7 years working and travelling as a chef abroad. In 2009 he and 2 chef friends filmed the travel-based web series Without Borders, commissioned as the series Chefs Run Wild on APTN and Travel and Escape Network in Canada, and 40 countries worldwide on National Geographic. On this two-year trip he discovered his love of photography. The photos in this exhibit were taken over several years of travel in Asia, Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

Lyndon is the Head Chef at UrbanSource Catering in Toronto, and brings his wealth of food knowledge from his travels to the dishes he prepares for their clients.

Brenda Clews is a Toronto poet and artist who hosts monthly Poetry Salons at Urban Gallery. She may be contacted through her website,

With the exception of the gallery photo of Masai Tribesmen, all photos were snapped by Brenda at the Opening Reception of Wiebe's show.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Drawing & Some Thoughts on Bill Douglas' 'My Childhood (1972)'

'My Childhood (1972)', directed by Douglas, on Mubi, which I watched last night, and then way too late in the wee hours thought I'd pause and draw... wrote some thoughts on the film into the image... (runs from today's date for maybe another 28 days)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Wishing y'all a safe and happy New Year's and a special, wondrous and exciting 2015!

Many blessings and good wishes,

Brenda xoxo

(photo from Nuit Blanche this year)

Monday, December 15, 2014


auricfields, 2012-14, ©Brenda Clews, 16" x 20", graphite, permanent inks on stretch canvas.

This began as a pencil sketch of a young man posing at a life-painting session at the Toronto School of Art, at the old location in March 2012. Early 2014 I dripped, splashed and brushed inks over the canvas and gave his defining shadow a bit of darkening colour. In the last few weeks I have added more layers with a dip pen and words, Spring words, fertile words, words of resilience, opulences that rise and burst with joy. He is visionary man embedded in an ecology where vegetative Nature and human Nature share an imagination that can be actualized in a coherence, a stability.

And the auras.... biofields ecofields of energy. Photons dance.

Monday, December 08, 2014

An Artistic Dialogue on Inner Cultural Borders: Paintings by Erik Chong at Urban Gallery

An Artistic Dialogue on Inner Cultural Borders: Paintings by Erik Chong at Urban Gallery

by Brenda Clews
December 8, 2014

Erik Chong, in his show at Urban Gallery, 'Shifting Borders: Seen and Unseen,' uses Chinese calligraphy techniques on rice paper to create minimalist modern urban paintings. Many are imbued
with geometries of the city that remind one of rhythms of a Mondrian filtered through a colour field sensibility that has the presence of an Olitski. They also echo Chinese tradition in their colours and simplified geometric landscapes. ‘Sunset On The Roof (Cityscape Series)’ shows both of these elements along with Chong’s signature brushstroke, a grid painted painstakingly by hand with a bamboo brush and Sumi ink. While his paintings have a stark purity, the blacks and vermillions and golds are sumptuous and rich, and the grids that form many of the paintings are nuanced, like threads interweaving in a loose burlap material through which light shines and in which we find
various sheens of washes, greys, muted vermillion, faded yellows. These grids are organic, drawn by hand, and yet are set within rigid geometries and the stark square and rectangular borders of the frames. The sense of cloth, another echo of a strong Chinese tradition, is also found in paintings like, ‘Emperor’s Cloth,’ a large textured painting of gold gouache where Chong worked the paper with the wet brush until he achieved a type of repetition not unlike a grid in the way the paper shrank and expanded in puckers until it became a chromatic field of texture. Many of the paintings remind me of the city at night and in fact one carries that title, ‘City at Night,’ and it was interesting to overhear that the rhythms of the city in Chong’s paintings are drawn in part from his experience as a driving instructor. Buildings and their
lights subtlety imbue the room of Sumi blacks and bright Chinese reds, of sunsets and dreamscapes, of a natural landscape of light and dark, of the sun and skies of lucid darkness amid cityscapes alive with their own grid patterns of electrical inner light.
‘Shifting Borders: Seen and Unseen,' paintings by Toronto artist, Erik Chong, runs from December 4, 2014 to January 10, 2015 at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Monday-Saturday 11AM - 5PM, Thursdays 11AM - 8PM. Do phone as the doors are sometimes not open during Gallery hours: 647-460-1278.

From Urban Gallery’s website:

SHIFTING BORDERS: SEEN AND UNSEEN: Abstract paintings with hidden images somewhat resembling architectural blueprints, which experiment with geometric and chromatic patterns. The artist’s intention is to force the viewers to question perspective as well as the creative process itself.

ARTIST STATEMENT: The ancient practice of Chinese calligraphy continues to inspire me to push the boundaries into new forms. I use a repetitive brushstroke technique that sometimes carries my paintings to the verge of
abstraction. Unlike many of my contemporaries, my appropriation of calligraphy does not simply romanticize the past – rather my creative process explores past, present and future by addressing subject matter both old and new. The purpose of my work is to offer a unique take on the evolution of cultural histories, narratives and identities -and to question these ideas both in a private, personal way and on a public scale.

-Erik Chong, November 2014

Brenda Clews is a Toronto poet and artist and may be contacted through her website, Photo of Erik taken by Brenda.

The photographs of the paintings were taken by Kaspara Albertson, a Toronto photographer and special events and wedding consultant at Urban Source Creative Catering.

Friday, December 05, 2014

'Étude: Red Sun/Babel,' ink painting in Yellow House Gallery Group Show

Étude: Red Sun/Babel. Brenda Clews, 2014. 16" x 20", permanent inks (Derwent IntTense blocks and pencils, Noodler's, Daler Rowney, Kooh-​I​-Noor, Diamine, Sailor, Sennelier) on canvas.

Babel​myth. ​H​ow languages became. ​
P​illar unitary speaking fragment letters. 
Random script​s​​ falling​. 
She, mute, meditat​e​, silen​t​.

Poem written on back of painting. Many of the paintings are around $300., very reasonably priced, including this one,

In this exhibition we feature over 20 artists with over 40 pieces being displayed. We have sourced local, regional, and international talent to mount a widely diverse show!

I'd like to invite you to our opening reception on Friday December 5th. See details below.

This exhibition runs until December 20th

See you at the gallery!


December Art Salon and Holiday Sale 
runs from December 5th until the 20th, 2014


Friday December 5th, 6:30-9:30

Join us in celebrating these artists and their work. Artists will be in attendance.

After the Reception: Some pics from the lovely Yellow House Gallery's Opening for the 'December Art Salon and Sale.' A full house. Paintings covering a wide spectrum of styles. The show is well worth seeing if you can get out to the east end.

The first pic is of Kristina, Gallery owner extraordinaire. That's me in the 2nd pic., taken when some Carollers came in and sang for a bit.  It wasn't until I was ready to leave, after chatting with a number of artists for a few hours, that I remembered to take some pics, and by then there were so many people I couldn't get a shot of me own work. It's all good. Lol!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 Poetry Salon at Urban Gallery -final one for this year!

Adam Abbas hosted my final Poetry Salon at Urban Gallery this year on Saturday Nov. 29th from 3-5 PM EST. Talented, charming and ever-generous, thank you Adam for all the hard work you put into this Salon! Featured were Anna Veprinska, Dave Hurlow, Rasiqra Revulva, Neal Alexander Shroobacca Armstrong and Nyla Matuk. Thank you for such fine poetry and readings! Norman Bethune Allan, John Oughton, Areta M., and I also read on open mic. Adam arranged for the licenses and brought beer and wine. It was truly a wonderful afternoon! Many thanks to all who came out!!! xoxoxoxo

Anna Veprinska's new poetry collection Sew with Butterflies was released by Steel Bananas in 2014. She is a poet who is currently pursuing her PhD in English at York University, researching empathy in poetry. Her writing and photography can be found in various Canadian and British publications. She also plays the mandolin in the Toronto Mandolin Orchestra.

Dave Hurlow's first collection of short fiction Hate Letters from Buddhists was released by Steel Bananas in 2014. He is a Toronto-based writer and musician. He studied literature at King’s College in Halifax, and plays bass in the Toronto band The Darcys. Their second album Warring was released by Arts and Crafts in 2013.

Neal Armstrong is an artist and performer who splits his time between Toronto and the dream world.

Rasiqra Revulva is a Toronto-based writer, multi-media artist, editor, musician, and performer. She is a founding member of the synth-punk/electro/glitch/industrial music and visual art collective The Databats. Her writing has been published by The Incongruous Quarterly, Cordite Poetry Review, ditch,, The Feminist Wire, and The Quilliad; and exhibited at the 2014 PULP: paper art party, the 2014 BIG on Bloor Festival, and IMG Forums at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts.

Nyla Matuk’s first full-length collection is Sumptuary Laws, published in 2012. A chapbook, Oneiric, appeared with Frog Hollow Press in 2009. Her poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, The Fiddlehead, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Canadian Notes and Queries, The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012 and PN Review, among others. She was a finalist for the Walrus Poetry Prize and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.

Please go to my Poetry Salons at Urban Gallery album at Picasa to see who's who - the album starts at the first salon and goes to the latest.


The photography on the walls is by KAREN SILVER, whose show, Otherworld, was up at Urban Gallery when we had our Poetry Salon there.