Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Untitled2, 3rd wash, with poem

Really I am not sure what is happening to me. I am kind of falling apart.

For days in angst, torturing myself inwardly, trying to get myself to paint (show is in just over 2 weeks now), meditating, etc., and then today it was attack the damn canvas time. So I did. With permanent inks, oils, and so on. Hours of struggle bending over the painting, doing this, that. It's too pretty, no, now it is far less pretty and simply over-worked. Or maybe it's ok. I simply can't stand this state of mind. Tomorrow hopefully more work on it, at least re-doing the lettering of the poem, which got kind of mussed in this afternoon's trauma, the face, the arms, the shawl, the background, whatever I can do for the magic.



Untitled2, 3rd wash with poem, daylight photo, Brenda Clews, 2013, 24" x 30", ink and oils on stretched canvas.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Untitled4, 1st wash


I must be running a temperature! This is so not like my normal style. A poem fragment will be written into this when it's closer to finished. Probably into the white spaces in the towel. Don't think I'll do much but darken the torso when the paint is dry. I'm kind of liking the simplicity here. 'Untitled4,' 1st wash, nighttime shot (colours are a bit brighter than they appear here), 2013. 24" x 30", oil on stretched canvas.

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Untitled2, 2nd wash with lettering

Still not happy with it, but now I get where it is going.


Untitled2, 2nd wash with lettering, daylight photo, 2013, 24" x 30", ink and oils on stretched canvas.

As ever, the colour has faded out as the painting dries. So that has to be worked on. Probably, because of the poem fragment that I chose (from my Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems), which I had forgotten about but which my 'text edit' file reminded me of this morning, she will have to remain quite whitish, almost transparent.

Painting is like dreaming. You dream without really knowing where the images come from, or how they are created by your mind. Likewise with painting - you know you're doing it, but you don't often know what it's about while you are doing it. The painting arises as if from a dream.

I am only now dimly aware of what I am doing with this painting. It's too pretty. But then again, it is a kind of Circe image of the Botticelli Venus type, and that's not pretty at all.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Untitled2, drawing and 1st wash

This is the 2nd poempainting. It is most challenging. Doing the drawing took nigh of a day, and I rubbed out so much I gessoed in the figure and painted ochre into the surrounding before gessoing that. It has sat propped on the floor for days. Pressure and deadlines drove me to throw it on the floor and begin painting this evening. While it is only the first wash, that does set the direction of the painting. I hope as I continue to work on it over the next few days, I like what emerges better than I do presently.


Untitled2, 2nd wash, nighttime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" oil on stretched canvas.

I sat with the drawn canvas all day, didn't go out into the sunshine, didn't eat, refused to do anything until I painted, finally did early evening, actually enjoyed the brushstrokes at the beginning, painting is usually torment for me, an inner struggle, such terrible intensity mingled with insecurity that only finally finishing brings exhausted relief, but painting this was light and fun, until I began to see what I was doing, oh, I can't stand this painting, anaemic and whispy, everything I don't want this series to be, and so I must drag myself back to the canvas and throw dark passion into the paint. And if it doesn't produce something I can live with, into the dank dungeon of the basement with ye, canvas!



Untitled2, drawing, daytime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" graphite on stretched canvas.



Untitled2, drawing, nighttime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" graphite on stretched canvas.


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Untitled1 poempainting in progress


If this painting had stayed the way it was when first painted, I wouldn't have touched it. But it faded out as it dried. It's still wet here - I finished it at 11pm last night - but the colour is much stronger.

Among other thoughts and associations, we are approaching Spring and she's my tulip lady.


Untitled1, 3rd wash, Brenda Clews, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas 
(daytime shot, colours good, but still wet)




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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Untitled3 poempainting in-progress

I thought the colour would get washed out as it dried, but so far, it's holding. I painted last night and it does need a bit a work still, but I'm happy with this one.


Untitled3, 2nd wash, sunlight photo while still quite wet, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas


Untitled3, 1st wash, very wet, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas


Untitled1, 2 and 3, all 24" x 30", graphite, oils on stretched canvas

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A little telephone message from John F. Walter on 'the luminist poems'



John left this message last February after he had read the manuscript and before he sent a small blurb. I've clearly edited this little clip. At the end I think he's saying something about 'the personal,' that despite the science and metaphysics these prose poems are lyrical and intimate.

What he ultimately sent, and which is in the book: Brenda Clews offers us a pellucid voice that presents and interprets so clearly, it is almost as if light is shining through each one of the magnificent images in these mysterious poems.’

I've dedicated the book to him, along with a number of other beloved and inspiring people:

"for John Walter, his light, inspiring and guiding,
and for Luigi Bianchi, a ‘Professor of light,’ and for
Jeff, who re-appeared when I was writing these
poems and became a part of them, and, always, for
my two children, Adrian and Kyra, their resilience
and support, and for Luciano Iacobelli, with thanks"

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

1st washes of an untitled painting



You wouldn't think that so many brushes would be necessary to such a simple painting, huh?! Crazy how many get used. I intend to write part of a poem into this painting, so it's not finished. Also, this is all washes, and yet, and yet... it kind of works. What I don't want is to overwork it. 'Untitled,' 2nd wash, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas (daylight shot, colours good).

Poem fragment (from my book, still a manuscript with an excellent publisher currently considering it):


Do we fall into what dissembles us?
A whirlpool, its swirling torpor,
undressing us,
naked against the onrush.

Is it that we are always approaching what we can never give ourselves to?





2nd wash, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas (nighttime shot, not so good for whiteness or colour)


untitled, 1st wash, 24" x 30", oil on stretched canvas (taken in shade of sun, better colour)

The photos are not very good. The canvas where there isn't paint is white. But these are simply a tracking.

Beginning this piece was a challenge. The kitten was sleeping. I chanced putting a canvas down and doing a quick paint sketch. Then the dog walked right on it! Impossible!

I know what I'd like to do, and do hope it works out.

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Picking Cigarette Butts

A man and a woman are sweeping the grass in the park. He with a broom; she with a whisk broom and dustpan. They are slowly filling a garbage bag. Who are they? Kindly, concerned neighbours? On a Sunday? But, why sweep the grass?

Following my meandering dog, I make my way over to say hi, and to joking ask, after remarking that the weather today is wonderful after that snow squall and heavy north wind of yesterday, "Why are you sweeping the grass?"

She says, squatting, filling her dust pan, "Cigarette butts."

"My goodness," I say, looking around. "The grass is filled with butts." And then a speel, "I hate how people throw live butts. My dog has almost stepped on lit cigarettes a few times, I really have to watch. And my neighbours threw a lit butt a few summers ago over the fence into dried sticks and leaves - we were in a drought." (I didn't say that that day I yelled back over the fence, 'Please put your butts out first - that hit dried sticks here, and good thing I was here to put it out for you.' And that the people in that backyard behind the very high very enclosed fence didn't say a word but went inside immediately.)

"Community work," she says. "We have to do so many hours cleaning cigarette butts in all the parks. There's people doing this all over the city."

"Wow. Well, it's healthy and good, and hope you're not too sore tomorrow!" (She is squat walking sweeping close to the ground.)

"Me too! Thanks." "Enjoy the rest of the day!" "You too."

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poets Series: Brandon Pitts @ Lizzie Violet's Cabaret Noir

Beginning to think that plain pencil works best for these short sketches of poets that I find myself doing - I now take art supplies since even though I think I'd like to sit and enjoy the readings with a glass of wine, I always end up grabbing a pencil or pen because something interesting happens, a costumed reader, or the challenge of drawing a performing poet like Brandon Pitts... This is the 3rd time I've tried to draw him... and I wasn't going to. I only had my writing Moleskine notebook with me, determined to either write or simply listen. Ha! Let's start with that shape of head and shoulder (which I didn't get - after I'd finished his face and came back to the particular slope of suited shoulder, he'd finished and had sat down). He has a very distinctive face, especially his dark eyes, and yet his features are, well, he is good looking, nothing too accentuated that would make it easier to offer enough of a 'recognizable' visual notation for someone to say, 'Yeah, that's Brandon.' I never take reference photos, btw. Never. What you see is what you get, and if I tinker later, it's from memory. Anyhow... sharing Sunday night's sketch. Brandon Pitts at Lizzie Violet's Cabaret Noir at Q Space in Toronto on 14 Apr 2013. 6" x 7", graphite, Moleskine notebook.



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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poets Series: Two Musicians at Portobello



Two Musicians at Linda Stitt's poetry and music afternoon at Portobello Restaurant in Toronto on April 13, 2013. 8.5" x 11", graphite and conte on 130% archival art paper.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

An Ice-Storm in April

Pellets of snow ice fall on the roof tiles sticking to them in gullies, bands, slats. The tiles, buckled, laying over each other for the run-off. Wet, rough, sandpapery.

There are no legions of souls. Only empty air.

The rough peck of ice falling from the sky.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Poets Series: Rishma Dunlop @ The Art Bar




Rishma Dunlop, a poetry reading sketch at the Art Bar at Q Space on April 2, 2013. 4" x 6", Aquarelle graphite on 130% archival art paper. This drawing was done with a water-soluble 6B pencil, and so can be wetted and then it will change, and may lose the likeness here, so I thought to post the original sketch before seeing what a wet paintbrush produces.

(Unfortunately, once again, I forgot my 'distance/close-up' glasses, and so she was fuzzy in the distance and likely the likeness is too. Lol.)

Rishma was on my thesis committee for a thesis I didn't finish at York U about a decade ago. She's a fabulous poet, essayist, literary editor and teacher. I bought her book, 'Lover Through Departure,' and look forward to reading the poems. It was wonderful to see her again.


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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Poets Series: Joani Paige @ HOWL


Joani Paige at Nik Beat's HOWL at Q Space on March 24, 2013. A little sketch that I turned into an ink painting. 8.5" x 11", graphite, India and acrylic permanent inks on 130lb archival art paper.

(Was trying to recall how I did my ink paintings last year...). Original pencil sketch here, and a video of Joani singing that I did in 2011.
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Monday, April 01, 2013

Poets Series: Gabrielle at HOWL



Charcoal sketch of Gabrielle B. [it is nigh impossible to find images of her on the NET, and she's a published author, and so I think that is a deliberate choice, and therefore naming her is not, I suspect, apropos] at Nik Beat's HOWL at Q Space on March 24th, 2013. To the left, the untouched original sketch done there, and, to the right, finished in various colours of conte. I had to rely entirely on memory for the colour, which perhaps I oughtn't to have done since to my eye the finished drawing loses the spontaneity of the sketch, but I wanted to attempt the rich skin tones. 8.5" x 11", 130lb archival art paper.

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