Monday, January 07, 2013

Mirrorless Self-Portrait, Sketch 1 final



Mirrorless Self-Portrait Series, sketch 1, final, 28.5cm x 42cm, 11 1/4" x 16 1/2", graphite, watercolour pencils, Cretacolor aquastics, copper leaf in a Moleskine A3 Sketchbook.

I wonder if hanging a monopod over the drawing lit with daylight bulbs in clamp lamps softened with white paper towels clipped on with clothes pegs (homemade lightboxes) produces a more true-to-life image?

That copper is quite dark, or quite glittery, depending on the angle of the light glancing on it.



Ok, so first, it was that my 'imagined' self-portrait wasn't realistic enough - I look younger, so I tried to correct it and simply made myself look sadder. Then it was that it was an attempt at an actual representation, so, therefore, too realistic. Sheez. Give me a break. I did this using my memory of myself, that's all. Then my daughter phones and says the eyes look so sad she can't bear it, that the sadness upsets her. So now we are in the emotive representation of the self, at last.

Yes, this sadness, determination, stick-to-it-ness is what I see in the mirror when I look at myself without any of the patinas I present to others. Sorry. It's real. My mother died 4 1/2 months ago, my kids mostly moved out (my daughter not fully but she works part-time in another city now), and I was sick with chills and a raging fever when I drew it. So what if it's sad. That's how I was feeling. 

Whether it's an accurate self-portrait, vis-a-vis anatomy and so on, I don't know. No-one who knows me has commented on this aspect. It does resemble me, yes, my daughter said. It's recognizable. But so sad! The unbearable weight of sadness.

The sadness that overwhelms, or is the core of a life's expression. My Dad had it too, that sadness. When I see the eyes here, I see my Dad's eyes.

Yet we persist.

It's a sad world in many ways. What can you do.

Maybe the next Mirrorless Self-Portrait will reveal another side, who knows.

I continue with the exercise.

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To find out what this series is about, and the constraints I set, check out the very first post.


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 brendaclews.com

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Mirrorless Self-Portrait Series, Sketch #1 con't...



Where this Mirrorless Self-Portrait is now. It is better to take a photograph in daylight for clarity of focus and the colours, and this is with daylight bulbs. I think it's coming along... that copper leaf is very hard to work with, but makes nice effects.

Mirrorless Self-Portrait Series, sketch 1c, 28.5cm x 42cm, 11 1/4" x 16 1/2", graphite, watercolour pencils, Cretacolor aquastics, copper leaf in a Moleskine A3 Sketchbook.



This one was taken with more sunlight than the first one. It is hard to photograph copper leaf! I'm thinking some copper grasses lower left.

A dear friend thought I made myself look younger, or at least remarked that this is how we appear in our memory of our physical self. I need to say I am not a camera; I cannot reproduce what my mind's eye 'sees'; I struggle to draw something I can live with, that's all. So of course I went back and tried to age the face, but still with the constraint of not looking in a mirror. And actually, I do recognize myself in this image, even if it's not 'perfect.' There's definitely something of the feeling of what I see when I look into a mirror, the sadness in the eyes, and an intensity.

To find out more about this series and the particular constraints I have set myself, read the first post.

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 brendaclews.com

Mirrorless Self-Portrait Series, Sketch #1

I have an idea for an art series: The Mirrorless Self-Portrait. Recently I listened to an interesting podcast on CBC radio's Ideas program called, "Silver and Exact", an hour long show in which "Karen Virag explores the history and cultural significance of the mirror."

In the show, a woman described her experience of living a whole year without looking into a mirror. She described intense loneliness. Of becoming obsessed with her shadow to know she existed. It changed her; she undertook the odyssey because she wanted to look outwards more than inwards. I was fascinated.

My idea for this series is to draw or paint a portrait of myself without looking in a mirror or at a photograph.

I bought a new Moleskine A3 Sketchbook with a gift certificate my dear brother gave me. So today I began...







A sketch in the first of my 'Mirrorless Self-Portraits' Series. Not sure where I'll take it next.

... this, without looking into a mirror or at a photo. I'm intrigued by the idea of what will emerge in such a 'self-portrait.' I reminded myself, 'you wash this face every day, apply moisturizers, sometimes eyeliner, lip colour, surely you can remember the contours of your own face...' But I found myself feeling my face as I drew the way a sculptor might. It was odd, that. I tried to get the wrinkles in, I did.

Mirrorless Self-Portrait Series, sketch 1 (and detail), 28.5cm x 42cm, 11 1/4" x 16 1/2", graphite, watercolour pencils, Cretacolor aquastics, copper leaf in a Moleskine A3 Sketchbook.
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 brendaclews.com

Friday, January 04, 2013

Ice-Gripping Tread Covers

I wore ice-gripping tread covers on my boots into the subway. It was like wearing tap dancing shoes with the embedded metal studs, noisy but with a rhythm. However, the cleats slipped this way and that, turning the stone floors into sheets of slippery ice. Clinging to railings on the stairs got me to the station platform. On the train I pulled them off the soles of my boots. Other passengers, unsure what I was doing, trying not to appear to be looking, watched them flop, beached fish from a hole in a frozen lake as I threw them wet and salty with slush onto newspaper.



Image: 'STABILicers Lite Cleat Traction Device' pulled over mustard boots.
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*They're new; I bought them for dog walks to help prevent falls.
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 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013 begins...

Can't think of a New Year's where I had as much fun as last night. We had Paris Black all to ourselves, a small private party at the Epique Lounge in Yorkville, the way it worked out, Paris singing with a band in top form, powerful and simply gorgeous, freedom on the dance floor. I was a bit crazy with dancing - my knees are so sore today! swollen, and now I remember why I had to stop dancing some years ago lol - and I drank more than I have in years. Got up briefly at 9 am, put sweats and a down jacket over my jammies, took the dog out, decided I was still a bit drunk, went back to bed and slept till 3 pm. Unheard of! But I feel released of many issues and tensions, and a deep healing within. Dancing is the way.




I wore the lace dress my dear daughter gave me for Christmas, and I've included some Christmas Day photos of it. The first one is my daughter's photograph; the second two were taken by my niece. Thank you you beauties!!! I have a thing about showing too much of my personal life, so no family pics. My living room is half studio, a bit crowded but that made it so much more fun! Not. But everyone was good spirited about it. Hope everyone had a lovely holiday, however you celebrated it, and many good wishes for 2013. Sending love and best wishes to all. xo






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 brendaclews.com

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I must not let this blog go. It is an archive where I can come and quickly look for things. With Facebook and G+, though, I am finding it hard to post in triplicate so that I have a copy here. Sorry, dear readers! Blog comes first, the other stuff, which disappears nearly instantly anyhow, is definitely secondary. So shall be my New Year's resolution. Promise!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxooxxo

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 brendaclews.com

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Editing Complexity

I can't believe how complex the structures of these prose poems that I'm editing are, and how much work it is to organize some of them, their patterns of imagery and the other thought processes lying beneath the delicately engraved metaphors. They're my pieces, but geez. Every read through brings up more knots, which I gently massage with verbal acuity (let's hope!) until it doesn't ache anymore.

I'm preparing a manuscript for a potential chap book.

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 brendaclews.com

Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice Greetings



direct link: http://youtu.be/IS8fq256b84

A Solsticean video poem to celebrate Solstice and to wish you a fine and elegant year ahead. It's the end of an eon, apparently - may you embark on the new era with vigor and brilliance.
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 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Little Fir Tree to Brighten the Season

It's not much, and the decorations are still in their boxes. You understand, I have a kitten. A kitten! Nothing is safe. Especially not dangly tree decorations. But no tree? Oh no! So a $12. little tree that doesn't fit into the tree stand and is already shedding needles like it was January. I wrapped the tiny trunk in styrofoam held together with elastic bands, scotch tape and love and made sure it was in the water under the red felt and it sort of stands up, when it's not falling over. My son, who bought it, and I strung it with little white lights. Honestly, it's beautiful. A bright little spot that I know seems so homely but which I wanted to share anyhow. The smell of fir is divine!



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 brendaclews.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Notes by John Walter on video of 'Ink Ocean' poetry performance



direct link: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

Honoured, I share notes my dear friend John Walter (poet, playwright, novelist, teacher, intellectual, polymath) wrote while watching me perform Ink Ocean (as recorded in this video clip):

"Where plumes drag through the ocean's gloom" "Salt water on fire!" This poem is a wakeup call if I've ever heard one.  "Burning despair of illusion"--waw. Your response to the black ocean with words is powerful and moves from despair to love, Brenda. Your performance of Ink Ocean is powerful and rhetorically dramatic. It was so great to see you in front of a live audience.
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You get across the massive destruction, the complete wiping out of the entire environment, with the voice of a jeremiad poet who does not let herself lose herself in woe.
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I like the image of being 'fishermen of words' , the way you blend the ocean of ink and the blackened ocean, contaminated by the oil spill.
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"Let cold salt water wash our eyes until we swim in vision." So many great lines in this poem. I felt I was right there, in front of you, watching you perform.
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Your theatricality is impressive. Your voice is a skillful instrument. You demonstrate your ire and sadness and yet do not succumb to it.
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I like the way you undulate, 'anchored in the swell." The panoply of images you present is stark, and yet vast.
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Great finish. So gladdening to see you get such enthusiastic applause.

(Dec 3, 2012)


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 brendaclews.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Fight Club' at the Keyhole Sessions

Because I like to keep a record, and also to show you, I've uploaded my untouched drawings from The Keyhole Session last night, the last life-drawing session of its kind ever.

They're all charcoal drawings, some with watercolour crayons, some with Cretacolor Aquarelle oil pastels. The first eight are approximately 15" x 11" and on 130lb archival art paper; the last is 16" x 12" and on triple-primed cotton canvas sheet.

The theme was The Fight Club and there were about 20 models arrayed around the room. The Madame's sense of performance, dramatic poses and grand spectacle shone spectacularly in the spacious Mod Club in Toronto.

Below, there was still time after drawing the first image, so I began on the 2nd, for which I had only a minute or two left - it's much more gestural. Except for that one, they are 15 minute sketches, with the final group one being 45 minutes.

All in all, I'm fairly happy with my work last night. My artist friends, Jen Hosein and Jacques Albert, also came and the camaraderie was nice.












Sonia Barnett, the mastermind and Madame behind these sessions, took the photo below and posted it on Facebook while the session was in-progress. You can see me bottom centre, and the model directly in front of me is who the first drawing posted above is of. It was quite an event, as you can see from this terrific photograph.



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 brendaclews.com

A few late night snaps from the very last Keyhole Session

drawings photographed the next morning in bright sun for correct colour and white balance and posted in the next post
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 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paper Lanterns and the Women Who Are One Woman

Last Keyhole life-drawing session tonight - though I do hope she continues the Nuit Blanche extravaganzas. This charcoal and coloured conte crayon sketch from the last session, Nov 13th, three 1 minute poses on the same page. 17" x 14", archival paper. I do have to run over to the art store to get a pad of primed cotton canvas sheets. Twenty models tonight, it's going to be a blow-out.



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 brendaclews.com