Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Due to anxiety over those who fly by and swipe a line, an image, a concept, an approach, a theme and use it to build their own little poetry nests elsewhere on the NET without referencing their source or giving credit to me or my work, which happened constantly when I used to openly post my writing, I simply cannot post poetry here. As I move through the block caused by this behaviour of seemingly well-educated and ethical writers, and on the advice of my analyst, who I discussed the issue at length with, including names, sites, specific examples when I was still seeing him, I find I'd like to continue writing on-line.

So I will have to do it in a private blog.

I have, of course, been writing throughout but in bursts and then reading the poems in Open Mics around the city where, I know, no-one really listens - because it's too hard to and with say three featured poets and 10 Open Mics one can't place a single poem in a context to analyze its value and what can potentially be taken from it (if poets in Toronto did such a thing - my experience has been that those living in America do this frequently, Canadians tend to be more original) - and so that felt safe.

What I had hoped to do this month, the month of 'poetry,' is to take a photo or do a drawing every day and write a line or a stanza or a whole poem to accompany it.

So I might share the pictures here, and perhaps a little of the intent.

___

 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April is poetry month

Besides a (for me, heartbreaking) issue with Picasa albums and Blogger, which has kept me from posting, and may drive me from this blog ultimately, who knows,

I had wanted to write something every day for the month of April for poetry month, which I've never done before.

With other stuff going on in my life, I forgot entirely.

So I found something I scribbled on the 14th of March, which really encapsulates so very much and yet which, of course, maintaining the silence on my personal life that I have mostly adhered to in this blog, I will not speak about.


The world couldn't open up when I was being held under a viewpoint like that.

It's not much, I know. But it appears to be part of a growing series of poems that, in their entirety, give forth more meaning than I could offer here.

Oh, I am being opaque, and no apologies, and I may continue to post whatever here or in another totally private blog during this month.

I just hope the poetry nest-builders who fly by and grab lines or ideas or approaches and add them to their own writing with nary a credit leave me alone - now and/or in 6 months, when my stuff used to re-surface in theirs! One whiff of it, and I won't post anything substantial here.

___

 brendaclews.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ink Ocean featured at Art and Earth

Ann Marcaida featured my performance videopoem, Ink Ocean, at Art and Earth yesterday.


Responses to Ink Ocean:

  • "Wow, what a trip. You've made something passionate out of this collision of many technologies and layers. Thank you." John Oughton (who jammed the über cool inky ocean music) 
  • "GREAT WORK Brenda, really great. I enjoyed every minute of it, choreography, words, music, background video. WOW." Pierre-Marie Cœdès 
  • "You did a fine job of editing, regardless of the circumstances. The surrounding imagery works very effectively, together with your combined dance and spoken word performance and the music. You prevailed over the lighting limitation and static camera. The result is indeed moving, as well as imaginative." Allan Briesmaster
  • "Outstanding video effects, excellent message and a perfect musical accompaniment. I especially enjoyed the golden orange segment which you had earlier shared a preview of. Another great piece of artistic work." Bill Sprague
  • "Gorgeous! ....the poem, performance, and choice of costume are spectacular." Ann Marcaida

It's been called "an awesome video poem" (Stephen Sinclair); "very impressive" (Hana Barak Engel); "glimmer of gold at sunset...love is the twine that binds our bones....beautiful contrasts to the chaos" (Jennifer W); "I love it"(Poonam Chandrika Tyagi); "Ocean ink is fantastic. Bravo!" (Mawar Marzuki);

Ink Ocean is a poem on the Gulf Oil Spill -we hear the lament of the wild through the birds, fish, plants- a poem on us and our ways and on loving in an increasingly polluted world.

Ink Ocean was shot at a live performance at Urban Gallery (where my poempaintings show was - those are mine hanging on the walls) in January 2014. Sick with the flu afterwards, I spent days researching open domain photos and video of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and was often in tears at what I saw (like we all were that year). John, who jammed on his guitar to produce a kind of oceanic sonar soundtrack while I performed, said, of an earlier draft version of the video, that he thought I should try to keep the performance/movement the main focus. I decided not to bombard the viewer with graphic images of the oil spill and used various filters to present the photos and video I used so that (hopefully) they became part of the dance itself. We are immersed in the realities we create. Ink Ocean is an activist poem - but not stridently so - rather helping people to hear the cry of the wild and to care and to keep loving ourselves, each other, the world, so that we may all survive. I hope the poem and performance and video open channels of hope, that there are ways through what we are being told by scientists is the world's sixth mass extinction.

John Oughton jams on his electric guitar with his magic box of sounds as a musical accompaniment to the performance: http://library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/oughton/index.htm

___

 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First attempts at digital drawing...

Because I like to draw at poetry readings and many of them are in dark bars where there is not enough room to spread art supplies and there is not enough light to see your page, I started, this weekend, to explore drawing and painting apps on my (smallest, cheapest, non-retina, 2013) iPad Mini (purchased to show Gallery owners my work and it did get me the show at Urban Gallery almost immediately).

All of these sketches were done in each of the apps without looking at, let alone reading, the manuals, instructions or anything else. While I've never used any paint programs, I have used Photoshop for years and so it wasn't hard to figure out an instrument (pencil, pen, crayon, brush), a thickness, a colour. Of all of the programs, Brushes proved to be too hard to figure out - and will require a thorough reading of the manual at some point. I liked the animation video Brushes created of the drawing though I was not able to export it. They are all powerful programs that offer the artist a vast range of drawing and painting options instantly - just open your device, aim your stylus, and go!


The first one. Entitled Resurrection Man. Drawn in layers in Sketchbook Pro and assembled in Photoshop.

          

This was done in ArtRage. I like the first two filtered versions, a Noir and a Transfer, better than the original, in which too much blue predominates.

                       

Sketchbook Pro again. Only lines this time (orig to left, separated layers in the final version on the right). Trying to see how best to sketch - there is a short lag, and even then the lines don't always appear on cue. This drawing is a bit wispy for some reason (it wasn't on the device) and easily took three times as long as it would have with pen and paper. Flippantly called, 'Womans In Crinolines.' Digital drawing, any town, any size.



This one is done in Brushes. Now I know Brushes is a powerful paint program but I could hardly get it to work and am thinking it wasn't recognizing my Sensu brush stylus and simply going by pressure. I wasn't, for instance, able to get it to do detailed eyes - it just ignored my repeatedly laying down lines. While I like Brushes, I realize it's going to be (another, sigh) learning curve.



Not my best one so far, and it definitely looks 'digital' - no variations in line thickness, etc. -sort of like a marker drawing. Done in Sketchbook Pro with a stylus with a nib, the Adonit Jot Pro, which was much more responsive than the Sensu brush. My doggy after her walk today. Snooze time! :)]


This one was done in ProCreate with the Adonit Jot Pro stylus. The original is on the right, and the splitting of the layers was done in Photoshop on my Macbook Pro. (Yes, these programs will export a .psd file.) When I shifted the layers, 'he' went from being a man to a 'woman.' Intersex. Transgender. In and out of drag. Or 'she' is a woman who becomes a 'man.'  Intermeshed. Fluidities of gender.

Last night at our Ren Rev poetry workshop I tried to draw Norman Bethune and my lines were so hesitant and wispy, I see I have a long way to go. He was very sweet, and said he liked the sketch but learning how to draw digitally - at least 200 hours he estimated. And the final layer I drew, without which the sketch is pointless, has simply disappeared. It was there when I showed him last night; it's entirely gone this morning. I thought closing the app meant an automatic save (there are no save buttons anyhow). Apparently not. Can't get an answer Googling the issue either. Time to read the manual, I guess.

Having been at it only a few days, I'm not doing too badly (except for Norman's sweater and eyebrows, which disappeared).

___

 brendaclews.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

I sold a painting!! Gone to a good home! I'm so happy!


Every Angel is terror' (Rilke), 2011, 18” x 22” x 1", charcoal, acrylic and oil on canvas in a drop mount birch frame.

"Every Angel is terror. And yet, ah,
knowing you, I invoke you, almost deadly
birds of the soul" from Rilke, 2nd Duino Elegy
___

 brendaclews.com

Friday, March 07, 2014

Ink Ocean: A Video of a Live Performance with Images and Videos from the Gulf Oil Spill Added.

It's my birthday, and I won't tell you how old I am, but I did get this video finished finally. The last step was subtitling it, and got that done by 11pm. I worked long and hard on this video of a performance I did at Urban Gallery on January 30th, and hope you take away something of the sadness and outrage over the Gulf Oil Spill and what we are doing to our world even as we have to continue loving in an increasingly polluted world...


direct link: Ink Ocean

Brenda Clews performs her poem, Ink Ocean, live at Urban Gallery in Toronto during a Performance Poetry Salon she organized there during her Poempaintings show in 2014. http://brendaclews.com; http://urbangallery.ca

John Oughton plays his electric guitar with his magic box of sounds: http://library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/oughton/index.htm

All the extra clips (except for the drawing, see below) are from public domain video and photographs of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill in 2010.

'Ink Ocean' is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing (included in the video, the actual drawing is pictured in the credits). It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for a reading in 2012. It is an experimental poem structurally. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of different voices, and perspective shifts. The crude oil spilling in the ocean forms words. The poem arose out of a drawing in black ink, an ink that became a central shifting, drifting, writing, spilling, seeping metaphor in the poem on the oil spill.

___

 brendaclews.com

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Our Beach

For those fun sun lovers who go south each winter, some photos: our beach; our beach with what-appears-to-be a swarm of fireflies; and a selfie in a beach cover-up that keeps all the uv rays off - if I appear a little bright-eyed it's because I took the Ray-Bans off and am blinking in the flood of sunlight. The dog also has a special beach cover-up in the first photo that protects her against harmful uv rays. You can't be too careful on the beach!



___

 brendaclews.com

Friday, February 28, 2014

Painter, Poet, Beggar, Thief - a poetry salon @ Urban Gallery, last day of my show there!

Tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my show at Urban Gallery and we are ending it with a kick-ass Poetry Salon, Poet Painter Beggar Thief, featuring five poet painters: Luciano Iacobelli, Nik Beat, Norman Bethune, Jennifer Hosein and moi. Jennifer is kindly hosting the salon. Her poster is uber cool.


I'll be reading from my Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems, and the first poem is about the scent of magnolias (flower sacred to Venus) on my tongue...



I wonder if this test recording will work? Sorry, if I remove the post because it doesn't.

Ok, it's the craziest little thing, but I'll leave it. I was testing out something for, ahem, future 'real' recordings. Lol!

___

 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another still from my edited video of the performance of Ink Ocean at Urban Gallery...


Rising to the surface for a bit. Hi everyone! How're y'all doing?

I'm still working on the video. There are very minor things that no-one else will notice and I may just leave - there wasn't enough light in the gallery and so when I boosted the light in the editing process I also gained grain and a loss of clarity - after adding a filter to remove some of the noise, it has taken about 3 days to render the video! Enough is enough. Any other changes will have to be done to a master file. Also, I think the sound needs to be entirely re-done. But is that because I am not just immersed in the editing of this performance piece but drowning in it? Lol. I hope it's ready before the last day of my show at Urban Gallery on Saturday!
___

 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Some of my crazy digital magic using FCPX...


'Find darkness; bring it in. Find light; bring it in. IN.' -from Ink Ocean.

Some digital magic from the videopoem I am working on. On screen for maybe 12 seconds including dissolves in and out. This videopoem is like that. Will have to decrease it in size and fade it out somewhat, or destroy it even more than that in the final version of the video, but I thought I'd show you its present state. It's a 're-working' of my ink drawing, Ink Ocean (from which the poem arose).

The image (and it's got a little animation too) is such a complex construction that I have saved it as a separate project and am going to make a .mov file out of it and insert that back in to the main timeline. That way I can decrease its size and fade it out as a whole.

Here is the compound clip over the main timeline a little later - it changes in colour, as well as being a little bit animated:


In the process of making this post, I decided to uploaded the clip, all 12 seconds of it! Some of it actually changes colour throughout the sequence when it is part of the main timeline, as in the image above.



The original drawing, which does appear in different manifestations in the videopoem:


Monday, February 17, 2014

The timeline is becoming more complex...

Getting there, slowly... perhaps 75% done, it's hard to say ...tissues still piling up beside me -good news is it's not bronchial  because I can breathe deeply with no crackly sounds (I will visit the doc in another week or so if it doesn't let up).

The video editing timeline, as you can see, is becoming more complex, and I have made a few compound clips already. Actually, what I'm doing is a complete 'no no' in the more academic videopoetry circles because I'm illustrating. It's like I'm captioning with images - except it takes a lot longer than adding text and is if-y the whole while. Speaking of captions, I still have to subtitle, which [groan] is gonna take time too.

Good thing I'm still under with the post-flu blues. Wouldn't have the patience for this level of detail otherwise. [Bright side look.]

___

 brendaclews.com

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Work on videopoem, Ink Ocean, continues...

The mild fever and sinus headache, after 5 straight days, dissolved away yesterday. I am at the stage that is the last hurrah at the end of a bug run after which it should clear up but it might turn and dig in and descend into the bronchial passages. Since I am prone to bronchitis, I am still taking it easy. I do hope it is almost done its course and the appropriately created antibodies are now part of the inner army.

With boxes of tissues beside me, I've continued editing the video of the performance I did of Ink Ocean at Urban Gallery on Jan 29th. It's, well, you will have to wait.

Here's a teaser - a snapshot of a moment that is only a few actual seconds in the videopoem but an interesting image never-the-less.



___

 brendaclews.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The flu, a-chu!

Still around, still lots of photographs to crop, brighten a bit, and post. Had a bout of the flu (a-chu!) that seems to be hanging on. Hope everyone's doing well, and I'll be back, yes, yes.

Working on a video - first in well over a year or longer ...but then, being sick keeps you in one spot restin' - only who can do nothing all day long? So far, I have 70 video clips to add to my video - days of research and now we'll see how my sensibility and aesthetic craft this performance piece. Doing it, I realize that I really do have a 'style' that is quite unique and it seems that that sensibility and aesthetic continue to build on my 'style' and develop it. I really don't see videos like mine anywhere - probably because I use a tripod, do a performance, and work on the presentation as a visual artist creating a painting. I do it as a flat piece, without dips and dives, camera angles, scene changes, or any glitz at all. The style of my video oeuvre is a throw-back to the early days of cinema when there were no camera angles, no in-the-scene action shots. My performance poetry videos show the stage, the way cell phone vids of concerts do, but I work to make a different sort of magic in them. I like to let the poetry speak for itself, as it would if you were in the actual audience. Real film people of course don't like my video poems. They are considered boring, I suppose. But I don't think film students and practitioners are who my audience is, or the one I'm aiming for. Even without the support of the video/film/poetry community, I do quite well. I like to think it is because I am very clear on what I am doing and who I am doing it for and all I can say is I am actually quite happy with the success of my work (in relative terms - videopoetry is the least watched genre on YouTube - 200 views in a year is a successful videopoem, really, and my serious videopoems do much better than that).

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 brendaclews.com

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Three Split Masks


Split Mask painting (for sale) and me in my handmade Split Mask at Urban Gallery where I had performed my poem, Split Mask, on January 29, 2014.

Original photo by Josef Hochleitner (see below), and then I spent hours photoshopping it to bring all the masks out of the shadows since it was a night time indoor shot.


Because I thought you might be curious, here is the wonderful photograph by Josef that I started with. He took it with his Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a flash at night and indoors. You can see in my final photograph the colour corrections I did, and how I highlighted the masks themselves (all closer to the original on the wall currently at Urban Gallery).
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 brendaclews.com

Sunday, February 02, 2014

More to come...

Tons of photos, some video, and drawings to post from recent events I've organized at Urban Gallery to promote my Poempaintings show, but fatigued, been far too busy. A short note to say you will soon be inundated.

photo by Josef Hochleitner
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 brendaclews.com