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May 3, 2016 Poetry & Music Salon @ Palmerston Library Theatre

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We had an exquisite Poetry and Music Salon in the Theatre at Palmerston Library in early May! Our features, Elana Wolff and Susie Berg, who read both collaborative poetry and some solo pieces, and Jim McCuaig, who made his guitar sing extraordinarily detailed and resonant East Coast Blues, were outstanding. All of those who read or performed on open mic were terrific - Steve-Paul Simms, John Oughton, Stanley Fefferman, Cate Laurier, Stedmond Pardy, Sharon Goodier and Roman Romaniuk. Palmerston Library is a wonderful place. I have received much support from the librarian, Iana Georgieva-Kaluba, and the branch manager, Misuk Hedman, for these Salons that I am still quite star-struck with the amazing space and the beauty of everyone. George, the sound technician, was so knowledgeable that I can’t imagine the new system of sound recording for the videos that I am embarked on without his help. Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy the Salon. You all made the evening marvellous! Much …

Detail of 3rd Iteration of a Portrait

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The painting is no further ahead, but I like this moment of beginning, with a backwash, some quick block-in of paint on the features and yet with the pencil sketch still visible. So I re-photographed in bright sunlight. The detail is clearer.
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3rd Iteration of a Portrait (w-i-p)

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Are we the way we look in photos? Are there other iterations? Other resemblances?

This is the 3rd iteration of a painting-in-progress. The figure is nearly life-size, the painting's size is 40" x 39.5", and he is one of the loves of my life, my son.

It is a bit risky to post paintings-in-progress because people often think it's finished. On the other hand, posting can be part of the process of showing the way you work, for inspiration, for teaching. And a bit clairvoyantly perhaps, I often get sense, a 'crowd-chat,' of energy back focused on the painting, indistinct mingled voices, perceptions, that might guide the direction of the piece even if no-one says anything.

Also, painting portraits in this style, without a firm guarantee of photo-resemblance, is an area of current exploration, and I may ....be open to commissions.
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Three On The Scene: Upcoming Art Show

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Next month, an upcoming show: Three On The Scene, paintings by Philip Cairns, David Bateman and moi, June 4-19th. Reception Sunday June 5th, 1-6pm. Arcadia Art Gallery, 680 Queen's Quay West, Toronto. I have done some new pieces for this show, and am sharing them with you. They may all be in the show, or not, depending on space.

Mark your calendars! Philip and David are accomplished artists, poets, writers, directors, actors, and I am delighted and honoured to be invited to show with them. My theme is celebrating the masculine.
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'Split Mask' videopoem published in CrossBridge

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Split Mask is a political poem. It is an interlaced, layered, multi-media piece that took 3 years to complete. It is about dictators and refugees, about the masks we wear, what the torn mask hides and reveals. It is about what I hear on inside of the mask.

My performance videopoem has been published in the inaugural issue of CrossBridge, an International Journal of Multidisciplinaryand Progressive Research. It's on page 21. The journal looks wonderful, and I'm honoured to be included. (The link will open a free PDF of the journal on-line; there is also a print version that can be purchased.)


direct link: Split Mask

Dr. Robert Caine sent an email responding to my submission to their journal, CrossBridge:
Your creative and artistic video is layered with powerful and thought-provoking messages that truly gives your viewers much to contemplate regarding an array of global issues....Again, thank you for your accomplished work. Another comment that I received that I thought offere…

I'm a 'Wonder Woman Artist' tomorrow night LOL!

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Here is a drool-worthy detail of one of the pieces I'll be exhibiting tomorrow night at Arlene Paculan's 'Wonder Women.' If you'd like to get a sneak peak of what will be in the group show at Arcadia in June (with Philip Cairns and David Bateman, two accomplished artists, writers, playwrights, actors), come to Hirut Restaurant Friday night! I'm the Wonder Woman Artist of the night supporting Super Wonder Women musicians, Arlene Paculan, Cheryl Beatty, Cindy Bray and Kel Alex with a colourful background.

8PM, 2050 Danforth Ave, Toronto, by Woodbine Sbwy Stn and lots of street parking.
Facebook event page.
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Arabesque, spiraling, undulating men

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Arabesque, spiraling, undulating men, © Brenda Clews, 2016, Windsor and Newton professional watercolours, some Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolours, a little mixed media, all permanent pigments, 5'5" x 2', on Canson archival 140lb watercolour paper.

While still untitled, this painting is finished. It took about 2 weeks. I photographed the painting in direct sunlight to get the colour as accurate as possible. I prefer a photo taken in full spectrum light, of course, even if a watercolour painting should not ever be in direct sunlight. Out of direct light or in artificial light, the colours are deeper. This painting has 5 layers of various archival varnishes that are recommended by Golden to protect the pigment and which also help provide some UV protection for the painting.


Here is the original, untouched photo - I shoot in raw. The colours captured by my Canon 60D are surprisingly good, except the blue, which, while it is ultramarine, should be more towards the cyan range …

I Am a Watercolourist

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I am a watercolourist, and have known this for years, and for years I have been trying to mimic my watercolour techniques first in acrylic for a very short while and then for years in water-soluble oil paints. Returning to watercolour for three of the four rolls that will be in the group show I am in at Arcadia Gallery in Toronto this June, I find an old joy. I bought a not-too-expensive roll of Canson Monteval watercolour paper, 140lb, and cut 4 strips of paper, 6' long and 2' wide. The drawings or paintings on each strip should be 5' long, but I have not been strict about it. I dug out Windsor & Newton watercolour paints that are 30 years old, and still going strong, and bought a few new tubes of Daniel Smith, and gave in to an old joy. This week of painting has been nerve-wracking, getting the anatomy right in my own style somewhat gruelling and requiring intense concentration (gone are the even bland colours of Conceptualism), and ultimately very satisfying. I am …

Roll 4, anacrusis #6

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They are dancers, but still no title. iPhone photo taken at night, so colour corrected and upped the exposure, right side catching a bit of light-glare, so the 'burn tool' applied to the right (@ 13%), probably giving it more contrast than the real piece... which is about 5'5" long (as tall as me) and 2' wide. Been working on this for a week, ok, really, in concept since last Fall, think it's just about 'there.'

The figures are composed from a film, Test. I saw Test on TV last November (2015) and fell in love with the dance sequences. So I ordered the film from Amazon and studied it, watching the dance sequences over and over and over. I cannot afford a model, let alone models. In a film, I can study the figures in motion and get a sense of volume in space as they twist and turn and as the camera views them from different angles. I know these figures from all sides and could paint them front or back. There was not a moment in the film where three dan…

Roll 4, anacrusis#5

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This painting is now close to completion. The guy on the right took most of the afternoon and evening. Painting with watercolour is nerve-wracking. Much easier if it was acrylic or oils – one could just wipe off any changes. This is not possible with watercolor.

You can lift watercolour paint from the paper by wetting and blotting it - not fully, but usually enough. But when you add wet paint on top of dried watercolour all the colours re-activate. I'm using a nearly drybrush technique with the whitener - and hoping to keep the colour underneath. Any mistakes and I have to wet and blot and it goes through all the layers and I get a 'hole' that is very hard to fill to look like the original layers again.

Anyway, that said, the guy on the right is currently dominating the painting. I need to do the shadows on his face and hair, and the highlights, and then see. The guy on the left has trousers on, and his hips are in deep shadow. But if I do that, all of the figures will li…

Roll 4, anacrusis #4

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Progressing slowly, slowly... took this in the bright light of late afternoon sun and a daylight bulb, so the photo may be a little paler than the painting is.

(By anacrusis I mean the poetry definition: "one or more syllables at the beginning of a line of poetry that are regarded as preliminary to and not a part of the metrical pattern." Which, I think, is from Webster's dict.)
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Roll 4, anacrusis #3

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While this painting awaits a title, I am going to number the images of its slow, incremental, and often for me somewhat torturous, development. It is 'Roll 4, anacrusis#3,' and by anacrusis I mean the poetry definition: "one or more syllables at the beginning of a line of poetry that are regarded as preliminary to and not a part of the metrical pattern." Who knows what the final iteration of this painting will be - while it is going in unexpected directions, I am on a discernable painterly path now with it now and will see what is developing through to the end. Another iPhone 6s+ photo, untouched.
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Painting continues to progress

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Was going to draw the figures in charcoal overtop the background wash, but it wasn't working. The background is not a light enough wash. So I have begun the long process of painting the figures in. This is the central figure and after I post this I will go and paint the shadows on his other hand. I don't want this painting to be too 'finished' - it has to be quite raw, and by this I mean I hope to keep the elemental quality. A painting in progress -cell photo (untouched). © Brenda Clews 2016. 5'x2', Watercolour on Canson Montval 140lb archival cold press watercolour paper.
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Painting in progress

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Falling behind in blogging again, sigh. I'll catch up - I like to store things here as my blog is a kind of archive for me - in the meantime, here is something in progress, first wash. I've been working on paintings for a show at Arcadia in June, and then a single evening called 'Wonder Women' was offered for April 22nd, one night only, and so I will show maybe 3 of the 4 pieces I am readying for the show at the one-night stand. Flyers with dates, time, location and stuff to come.

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