Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Art Bar last night

Photo taken at the Art Bar last night by Norman.

...I like to give credit for photos if I can... barely know Norman - he's a fellow poet and artist, and a naturopath. Seems a very nice man, a good friend of a friend. We exchanged phone numbers and he apparently always takes an identifying photo. We both did open mic - his was a sound poem; I like his work very much. I've been trying to go to the Art Bar - weekly poetry readings with an open mic - for 6 months, and made it in -20C weather last night. I love poetry! I love Q Space! :))

Below two quick charcoal sketches I did, absolutely untouched, and of course thinking prolly both women would hate them, so no names for the Internet browsers to catch. :)

Poets reading at the Art Bar at Q Space, 2013, Brenda Clews, 9" 12", 22.9cm x 30.5cm, charcoal sketches, finished drawing is mixed media, on 80lb archival Strathmore drawing paper.

And below is a little pic from the Portobello poetry reading on January 5th, the day I started coming down with the nasty influenza bug I am still recovering from. My young poet and artist friend, Jacques, was there. Bänoo Zan was one of the features, an Iranian poet, and she's terrific. And Robert Priest sang, and read one poem. It was a lovely afternoon of poetry and music.

I'm going to be a feature there in July, which will be lovely - such a nice crowd, and the host, Linda Stitt, is a really special woman.


Monday, January 21, 2013

#4 drawing from the final Keyhole Life-Drawing Session finished

This is the drawing I did last night, and that I'm not too happy with. I used conte crayons and some pastel pencils on what is really a watercolour paper, so the texture of the paper peeps through. I finished a sketch (which I included here) from the very last Keyhole Life-Drawing session whose theme was 'Fight Club.'

4-final, Keyhole Sessions, 12013, Brenda Clews, 15" x 11", charcoal, conte crayon, pastel pencils, 130lb archival paper.

I accomplished my main, really my only, New Year's Resolution yesterday, and then last night did a really bad drawing. Wonder if they're related? Lol. I'll try to fix it as best I can and post later. :)))))


Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Woman in a Sketchbook

I guess it was 3am when I finished this little 'test sketch.' I mostly used conte crayon, which is awkward to make fine lines with, and am now wondering if conte comes in pencil form. Anyone know?

A Woman in a Sketchbook, 2013, 6" x 6.5", charcoal, conte crayon in Moleskine A3 sketchbook.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

An untitled woman

So I tested the Clear Gesso, and it's not bad as far as clarity goes, though Acrylic Matte Medium seemed a bit better even with its slight gloss. The Clear Gesso has a slightly gritty surface when dry, though, making it easy to continue to work with charcoal, pencil, conte crayon. This test image is 4.5"x6", drawn inside the back cover of my Moleskine sketchbook.


Untitled sketch in-process

Tinkering, this will become another gold leaf type drawing, sharing stages and process. Wasn't enough light when I took the photo. Pencil in my large Moleskine sketchbook. And demmit, I forgot to pick up acrylic matte medium from the art store and it's closed now.


The story in a drawing

Moleskine notebook.

I did this poem drawing in October 2012. At the time, I decided not to type out the words. Frankly, I'm tired of seeing my poetry elsewhere on the NET. Bits of it, a line here or there, a title, or the substance of what I've written reworked. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment that I am somewhat influential, but truly I find it insulting to discover my verbal images being used by other writers, or the style of my work being copied. So I've stopped posting poems and prose poems here in my blog. But I do like to keep an archive, and Google has an incredible search engine for blogs, meaning I can find a poem if I remember only a phrase. So I am encrypting my writing, and have no intention of passing on the password either. Sorry, just tired of being seen as 'raw material' for other writers and not being given credit where credit is due.

Of course, you can read the prose poem in the image. I'm just not making it easy to copy.

And I'll let you know what's going on with publishing - some good things in the works. And, no, I will never self-publish.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Charter for Compassion, a TED talk by Karen Armstrong

I was given hope tonight watching this. I read her massive study, A History of God, in 3 world religions no less, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, 16 years ago and she changed my thinking. She's an amazing woman with not just compassion, love, insight, but facts at her fingertips the rest of us only dream about. I am so glad to have found her on TED Talks, and to be, once again, deeply inspired by her. I truly believe the way of compassion, the way of conscience, is the only way this crazy globe is going to survive the massive challenges of the future.

direct link: Karen Armstrong makes her TED prize wish: the Charter for Compassion


Friday, January 11, 2013


Some photographs today of 'Illuminata,' an illustration for my prose poem of the same name with some lines from the poem written into the ink painting. I have used little bits of filters to elicit certain effects because rain white cloudy daylight can be very bland when it comes to gold leaf. :)

Illuminata, 2013, Brenda Clews, 28.5cm x 42cm, 11 1/4" x 16 1/2", graphite, India ink, copper, silver and gold leaf in a Moleskine A3 Sketchbook.


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.


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


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.


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.

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.
*They're new; I bought them for dog walks to help prevent falls.

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