Thursday, November 22, 2012

Performing Ink Ocean Sunday Night at Q Space

The poem that emerged from this drawing, Ink Ocean, is the one I will be performing Sunday night. Today, for the first time, slowly, halteringly, I recited it from end to end, so there's hope that I will be performing rather than reading it.

I attended Norman Cristofoli's chap book launch last weekend, The Fall from Eden, "a book about the transformation of humankind, the manifest destiny of our failure as a species to live in harmony with our environment, or even with ourselves." The Open Mic was called the “Apocalyptic Open Stage,” and he asked us to "bring a poem about the Apocalypse, the Mayan Calendar, The End of Days, Revelations, Nostradamus or any other end of this calamity of humanity."

On Open Mic, I performed the first section of Ink Ocean, on the Gulf oil spill, and reciting it from memory went over very well. So I was inspired to make the effort to memorize the whole poem, which will fill 8-10 minutes.

My son and niece, Tara, are coming, and I'll get him to babysit a video camera on a tripod, and Tara is a kick-ass photographer, so I've asked her to take photographs.

I'm one of four featured poets at HOWL at Q Space, 382 College Street, this Sunday evening, Nov 25th from 7-9pm. Q Space is a bookstore, cafe, and hosts literary readings and art shows. It's also the home of the publishers, Quattro Books and LyricalMyrical Press. Do come out, have a tea and a slice of cake, and enjoy some wonderful readings and songs by the features and on Open Mic.

 Google Maps:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Feature at a Toronto Poetry Reading on Sun Evening, Nov 25

I will be one of four hot featured poets next Sun evening, from 7 - 9pm, at Q Space, 382 College Street, College and Borden, just east of Bathurst, along with Jennifer Hosein, Penelope J. Smith and Josh Smith at Nik Beat's Gaddist Poetry and Music event. There is also an Open Mic after our readings.

If you're in Toronto, or vicinity, do come out. We'd love to see you! Q Space is a cafe, bookstore, hosts literary events and also art shows - at the front end, behind are the publishers, Quattro Books and LyricalMyrical Press. A fabulous little treasure in the heart of Toronto.

I'm honoured to be reading there.

Here is a little charcoal sketch I did of Stedmond Pardy reading at the last Gaddist Poetry Event.

Last night I took a quick iPhone pic when I was down there. The whited-out sign says, 'Quattro Books.' It extends quite far back inside and can accommodate up to 50 people. (Take a look at blogTO's pics, way better!) Do come out for an evening of poetry and music, enjoy a tea or coffee and a slice of cake. We'd love to see you!!

Location on Google Maps:

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'White Wedding' at The Keyhole Sessions

Finally just did a photo shoot of this series. The Keyhole Sessions, 13 November 2012, and the theme was, 'White Wedding.' The Madame herself posed, and wore her wedding dress or various undresses of it. I had to leave early to be on Nik Beat's radio show, HOWL, to promote our poetry reading the following Sunday, so did the final drawing in a few quick minutes. Some of them (1, 6, 7) have had a bit of work; most are as is from that evening.

1- Women and Paper Lanterns, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, coloured conte crayons, archival art paper.

2- The Madame I, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.

3- White Wedding, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.

4- The Madame II, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 11" x 15", charcoal on primed cotton canvas sheet.

5- Woman, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, archival art paper.

6- Women of the Ocean, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, coloured conte crayons, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, archival art paper.

7- Two Women, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 15" x 11", charcoal, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, India ink, primed cotton canvas sheet.

8- Three Women, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 15" x 11", charcoal, India Ink on primed cotton canvas sheet. I was rushing out to be on Nik Beat's radio show to promote an upcoming poetry reading and stopped at the back of the room, threw a canvas sheet onto the bar, and drew as quickly as I could. Painting this one might be fun.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Drawing from the last Keyhole Life Drawing Session

Another drawing from the Keyhole Sessions 'White Wedding' on Nov 13, 2012. Untouched (I may tinker later on), charcoal, 11" x 15", archival paper. A 10 minute sketch. Click to see larger size.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Scraping Paint Off

Remnants of the purple paint that I have just rubbed off my large painting. No idea why the iPhone camera is reading some blue - it's pure purple, through and through.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

'Two Women': life drawing at The Keyhole Sessions

I forgot to set my computer to record the radio show I was on, along with Jen Hosein and Pen Smith, to promote our poetry reading on the 25th. Oh well. It was a busy day. The show was truly wonderful, though, and I will share it as soon as I get a copy.

But I did go to the 2nd last Keyhole Sessions life drawing event and have a few drawings to show. Rather than filling one post with them, as usual, because they're coming to an end (only one more session), I'll post one at a time.

These are the raw sketches, before I do anything to them. Of course, I'll post any that do get worked on as well.

'Two Women,' 2012, 15" x 12", charcoal, water-soluble wax crayons and oil pastels, India ink on canvas sheet.

The pose was quite complicated and time ran out, as it always does. While it was a 25 min pose, I chose not to work on the correctness of the drawing itself; rather, I drew something general and then spent most of the time colouring it with water-soluble oil pastels. While I tend to think that I can do colouring at home, really I can't. It's best done on-site. Luckily, the painting had a half hour to dry before I grabbed a cab to get to Nik's radio show, HOWL. Later that night, at home, I added some ink lines. Sometimes I wish we could take reference photos at life drawing sessions. Here the cross-over of limbs and intertwining of figures in 3D space was hard to translate into a 2D sketch, and I can see that spending more time on the basic sketch itself would have helped. Adding colour in the time allotted for the pose meant I had to move on before feeling that the drawing was as good as I could do. Meaning, the figures are a little abstract - expressions of feeling, I guess. Still, I feel it's an okay piece in the style of colouring developing in these figure drawings from life-drawing sessions.

The photograph was taken in direct sunlight to get the best white balance, and you are also seeing all the detail; on the wall, however, it is a little darker, more solidified.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On CIUT.FM for a short poetry reading tonight

I'll be on the radio tonight - Nik Beat's HOWL - for a short spot, a poem or so, a little yak (10 min), along with two other lovely ladies, Jennifer Hosein (who writes great stories and does wild paintings) and Penelope J. Smith (fluffy the cat's Mommy, also, as you'll hear, a Dali Lama approved lady) as we promote a poetry reading on Nov 25th in the Beaches in Toronto. It's going to be a bit of a rush for me - the 2nd last Keyhole session ever is tonight. That ends at 10pm, so a cab to CIUT 89.5 FM for Nik's show, which runs live from 10 - 11pm. Hope it all folds together seamlessly, that we have a great show, and that I do some interesting drawings too!

You can listen live on-line:

I'll also set my computer on a timer to record our portion of the show; if it works, hopefully upload that tomorrow.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Pat Stanley: 'Convergence' at the Propeller Centre

In the back room of the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts, after the bright colours of Jane Murdoch Adams' Boat Series, her joyful abstract paintings, you are greeted with, surprisingly, unexpectedly, the massive universe. Its stars bear down on you.

I stood in awe, gazing. Then I decided to get a glass of shiraz and stay to gaze, to talk, to ruminate, to appreciate, to allow myself to be transformed in the myriad ways we are when we encounter art that speaks to us in the language of our dreams.

Do I mean soul touching? Yes.

'Spiral Galaxy M101 : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley

For what else is the magnificent universe of stars that we miraculously are alive in?

Pat Stanley's latest series of paintings, Convergence, are striking, ethereal, monumental in a deep philosophic way, mystical, Surreal, and yet they are also realist works.

She uses high resolution photographs from the Hubble Observatory as inspiration and guides for the imagery that she paints: galaxies, nebulas. She also has photographed the abandoned houses in whose skeletons she paints massive star bursts of light and energy, of mystical grace.

In this series of paintings, there are no people. In this series of paintings, our domiciles, our shells are abandoned, empty. Does she paint a post-apocalyptic world? I asked Pat this, and she said, "Perhaps..." But I could tell this was not her intent. She paints the dream of us in our emptiness in a universe bearing in on our memories.

When we are empty of the twitter of our lives, spiritual forces can sweep in with vision.

How can you speak in this room of silent ghostly houses and massive sweeping star systems? Gaze. Let the stars enter.

Her artist's statement:
CONVERGENCE is a meditation on space, time and memory. Hubble telescope images and abandoned structures are used as reference points to examine the tensions between phenomena in distant parts (and times) of the Universe to the remnants of our manufactured environment. Vivid renderings of galaxies and nebulae are interlaced with monochromatic images of deserted buildings and neglected spaces. The work is at once engaging and disturbing; immediate and evocative.

'Serenity Nebula : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.

She described her process to me, and it is the opposite of what you would assume. She does not begin with a black background; rather, she starts by painting the galaxy or nebula on a white gessoed canvas. Then she adds the black background around it, the clusters and dots of stars. The whitened ghostly remnants of the houses and furniture are painted last. Yet the electricity and light and energy of the stars are what sweep out of the canvases at you standing before the edges of the starry night they portray.

'Universe in a Grain of Sand,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.

"The Universe in a Grain of Sand," which was meant to be in the Propeller show, has 'been awarded "Best Acrylic or Oil Painting" in the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington’s 32nd Annual Juried Art Show in Bowmanville, Ontario, where it remains on view' her website informs us.

Its title is a riff on a famous poem by the 18thc poet, William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence":
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Which is a perfect poem for Pat Stanley's Convergence series.

Screen Capture of Pat Stanley's Convergence series at her website; most of these paintings are on view at Propeller right now.

If you are in Toronto, or close enough, do make your way to the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts on Queen St W. to see this show before November 17th, when it closes. Between Jane Murdoch Adams' bright and beautiful paintings, and Pat Stanley's vision and realist talent, you will leave richer than when you arrived.


'Charcoal Poems' painting-in-progress

Charcoal Poems, in-process, 2012, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, oils on double primed canvas.

These paintings are like writing. In the way that characters come to an author, I find myself getting to know the figures who have emerged and understanding what they are doing, what they are conveying, and how they are part of the visual imagination.

Written in the painting, The Charcoal Poems, which runs through the blue man who is floating, and by the ferris wheels, MAMA TOTO, and DISH in the STARS.

In the painting, to the right of the woman, some lines from Paul Celan's, 'In Prague':

The half death,
suckled plump on our life,
lay ash-image-true all around us -

we too
went on drinking, soul-crossed, two daggers,
sewn onto heavenstones, wornblood-born

My mother died in the middle of September this year, and I began this painting a few weeks later. There are references, I think. See the little woman the larger woman is attached by a red chord to? Like a mini-version, an inner child perhaps. I don't fully know what all the images are about, though, like remembering a dream, I am understanding them.

This painting is like working in a dream. Nothing at all like my usual process. I think it's almost finished, except for working on the white areas, which I'm thinking to paint with tinted pastel whites from the palette here.

Assaad Chehade, a masterful Surrealist painter who lives in France, wrote, in a comment of an earlier stage of this painting:
I don’t see - there - Marc Chagall or Frida Kahlo or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
I clearly see Brenda Clews with its artistic preoccupations (colors, Charcoal, canvas, and other elements) and its concern language, and even its musical relationships. A set (colors, words, music) can be influenced at a time - As they say the apostles of art.- but it has - already - exceeds any influence. Even if idolatry was introduced with writing, I don’t see any aspect of "icon" in your work. But I will go - without hesitation - to the narrative form. Which we call a sense, and not defend sense. Something that belongs to all visual cultures of the world.
Brenda, you are in the process of promoting the spirit of intellectual vision of the idea. You are currently working on a wonderful thing, it is not internal to the painted surface, but between the canvas and the viewer. Good continuations.
An update on Sunday, Nov 11th:

Worked on this all day yesterday, thought it was essentially finished. I was rather shocked this morning - the purple is not so bright under daylight bulbs at night. Not a great pic, but I don't have access to a better camera today. When it dries a bit, I'll apply a grey wash over the purple to tone it down somewhat - adding some Payne's Grey to the Dioxazine Purple wouldn't have worked, I don't think. A later wash will be better, but, with oils, you have to wait, and wait, and wait.....

(Although I have had the bright idea to put some fans in front of it and to leave them running all night - since I use water-soluble oil paints, which dry faster than traditional oils (at least for working, they still need 6  months to fully set), I may be able to finish this painting tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I'd like to start a new one - having discovered that my favourite size is 5' x 5, it will also be large.)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Jane Murdoch Adams: 'Life Boats' at the Propeller Centre

I went to see the Jane Murdoch Adams art show, 'Life Boats' at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts on Queen W. in Toronto tonight. It was a lovely show.

Here are two of her boat paintings.

'Life Boat, Toronto Harbour 2, MR Kane,' Jane Murdoch Adams, 2012

'1 Skyboat,' Jane Murdoch Adams, 2012

Jane Murdoch Adams is a woman who, "on the sea-crashing Malin Head, County Donegal, on the most northern tip of Ireland in 2001" discovered she had to paint, and has been painting ever since. Her work is vibrant and bright and bordering-on the almost-fully abstract. She works with pure colour, striking yet simple forms, and symbolic subject matter.

In Jane's paintings, the abstract qualities express the symbolic meanings of her work, in personal and universal ways, while also freeing themselves from these subjective associations to become Zen-like moments on the canvas. How she achieves this simultaneous 'personal'/'freed of the personal' expression is part of the magic of her art, what draws us to her vision.

Her work contains biographical-that-become-universal references while simultaneously expressing an art freed of these constraints, something that hits you straight on when you are standing before one of her canvases.

At the Propeller is a show of paintings of boats. On the wall is an old photograph of Jane's father standing in a canoe, a number of people around him, and on the wall we learn that his team represented Canada in the Commonwealth games in the 1920s, and you know that boating was very important to her family, and is full of rich memories for her. But she takes this part of her growing-up, of her memories of her father, of the paddle, of the slap and dip into the water (in the show you will find the real paddles her father used hanging on the wall), and expands her sense of 'boat' to hand-made small renditions of canoes in twigs and branches that line a wall, to abstract paintings of tug boats in the Toronto Harbour that are also a personal memento of her not-for-profit union work, and to all of Celtic Ireland. Her vision is intimate and expansive; in a word, breathtaking.

The show at Propeller is quite amazing, and well worth visiting if you are in Toronto. Listen to Jane speak in this short video of her boat series:

direct link: Jane Murdoch Adams Introduces Exhibition of LIFE BOATS Paintings, November 2012

One of the most memorable aspects of Jane's show was not just the use of colour, a palette of pale cream yellow, shiny golds, pure life-force reds, charcoal blacks and vivid greens that ran through most of the paintings and prints on the walls, unifying them as a cohesive series, but the boat imprinted in the Celtic series.

"The Broighter Gold or more correctly, the Broighter Hoard, is a hoard of gold artefacts from the Iron Age of the 1st century BC that were found in 1896 by Tom Nicholl on farmland near Limavady, Northern Ireland. The hoard includes a 7-inch-long (18 cm) gold boat..." This priceless gold boat became a talisman, a symbol imprinted in her Broighter Boats series.

This screen capture from the webpage on this series at Jane's website gives you an idea of what spans the walls at Propeller, and of that spectacular gold Iron Age boat which appears in each of the paintings of this series and which are all named after Irish women that she and her partner know in Ireland, as in the Celtic tradition of naming boats after women.

'Broighter Boats Series,' by Jane Murdoch Adams, a screen-capture of a webpage at her website - the paintings are 4' wide by 3' high.

That boat, abstracted, a symbol in paint, appears as a simple yet historical boat with oars, the eye of God as it is imaged in Medieval texts, and a fish with long gills in the ocean. When you learn that it is a representation of the exquisite Broighter Boat, which echoes and connects in deep personal ways to Jane's Irish heritage, the layering of the personal and universal, of the explicit and the abstract, that she does so adeptly in her work comes flooding in.

'The Broighter Boat: Finnoula,' acrylic/mixed media on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012. Jane Murdoch Adams.

The charcoal blacks are rich and tactile, formed as they are (in this particular piece) from manoeuvred washes of acrylic paints on the canvas lying on the floor. We see the Broighter Boat like a divine gold stamp in the middle of what is an abstract boat in charcoal blacks and vivid pinks. The sun is drawn as a child would draw it. Such is the child-like simplicity and sophistication of Jane's work. Not just in this work, but everywhere you see confidence, a mastery of line, of shape and colour. There is no hesitancy, or nervous re-working; rather, bold, bright, confident, warm, joyful and enlightened. Her paintings are as delightful and warm as Jane herself is in person.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Featured Poet at The Record Vault on Nov 25th

The Record Vault is where you go in Toronto when you are looking for vinyl music - seriously! Album city! It is also the locale for a new series of monthly poetry readings organized by Nik Beat. And coming up on Sunday November 25th, from 3 -5pm, are three featured readers, Penelope J. Smith, Jennifer Hosein and me, Brenda Clews! Inviting everyone who is in Toronto or who can make it here to come and hear us! Mark it on your calendars. Ok?!!


Friday, November 02, 2012

Keesha and Aria

The kitten, Aria, was sleeping on my lap - on a down sleeping bag beside a portable oil heater. Cat heaven, no? No. When I patted the old dog, Keesha, who was sleeping further down the couch the kitten noticed, and she immediately went and curled up with her favourite.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

AROS (A River of Stones) for Nov 1

I sit before a large painting I am ready to trash to fret about my feelings towards it. Soon I am slapping paint all over the canvas.