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!



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.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Solstice Greetings

direct link:

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.

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!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

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

direct link:

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.

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.

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.

"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.

Your theatricality is impressive. Your voice is a skillful instrument. You demonstrate your ire and sadness and yet do not succumb to it.

I like the way you undulate, 'anchored in the swell." The panoply of images you present is stark, and yet vast.

Great finish. So gladdening to see you get such enthusiastic applause.

(Dec 3, 2012)


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.


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

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.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

What makes one tremble? On the privacy of the creative process.

Many years ago I attempted a little plein air; my then husband and I drove to parks outside the city and I set up my easel and painted for upwards of six hours. It was rather fun, except for the people who would walk over and look at my work and make comments that made me cringe - people who aren't visual artists often don't seem to understand that an artist isn't composing a photograph of the scene in paint. I've always been a very private painter and writer. I don't even like my children around when I'm working. After a few tries, I gave up plein air. Painting and writing are secret acts of the soul.

An art class, or being in a group where a couple of people are drawing (like the contingent of artists at poetry readings here in Toronto), is okay - these on-site sketches are rough notes that can be completed in the privacy of the home.

Last Thursday a friend of mine was posing at the Art Gallery of Ontario - the AGO does this every month, and he's been asked to pose for 3 months now. I was determined, really determined. It makes a difference to him to have a friend come, and I understand this.

My bag full of my favourite supplies, good paper, compressed charcoal, Cretacolor oil pastels, I trudged from the streetcar stop up to the Gallery, but swerved, and stopped a snack. And then I sat in a food court across the street for an hour. An hour! I had some delicious spring rolls from a Vietnamese take-out. I couldn't bring myself to go in to the gallery. Another friend who had gone last month said thousands of people walk by and look at your drawing and make comments like you're not even sitting there. She said wear ear buds, listen to music, ignore them. Yet I just couldn't go in. The trembling was greater than. So I sent my friend who was bravely posing a text and a photo of the Vietnamese take-out with apologies. He was really touched I had made it that far and tried for an hour to make myself cross the street and join in with the crowds.

Maybe another time.


Friday, December 07, 2012

The Lady and Her Skeleton

A little explosion of ink and pastel at 3am before an early day. Probably shouldn't have. (Before me is a small plastic skeleton, and so I am actually drawing a figure, that skeleton 'fleshed out,' dimly reminiscent of a Kokoschka style (maybe)).

While I was photographing the oil pastel and India ink sketch, I heard my 6lb kitten going for a box with dog treats, over and over, and then one fell to the ground and eventually I went into the kitchen to see. Sure enough, she had a 'dental-type' dog treat on the floor, in splinters, and was nibbling on some small bits. No wonder doggie isn't barking as much when I go out, and has, according to the Vet, put on weight. Lol. They are in cahoots, have become a team!!!

I just took a pic of the figure I drew/painted in the early hours of today (3am-ish) and her skeleton, who clearly is gonna morph into more enfleshed beings in drawings and paintings, I can feel it. Lol!

Hope it shows in this photo - she's inclined at the same angle as the skeleton who inspired her. Those are candles in front of his right leg, I should have moved them.

And I must arrange him differently from time to time; obviously, him standing there like that affects my vision. Last night it was time to give him a body. Listen to me! Due to the bad influence of my children, I now am hooked on vampire and zombie shows, and it's beginning to show isn't it? :)) ::laughing:: 

'The Lady and Her Skeleton,' 2012, 15" x 11", charcoal, Cretacolor water-soluble oil pastels, India ink on Pentalic archival 25% cotton 130lb paper. (A gorgeous pale cream paper, percentage of sale donated to the American Wildlife Foundation.)


Friday, November 30, 2012

'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace

Ink Ocean:

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

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. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.

Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photos from HOWL at Q Space last Sunday

The Nov 25th Howl at Q Space readings went very well. Here are a few pics taken by my beautiful niece, Tara Clews. We did set up a video camera, and I'll likely upload the clip.

The arduous task of memorizing what I was going to read seemed to work. I was lucky - my son, brother and niece came. And a couple of friends. We had a larger turn-out than expected on Grey Cup night.

Many thanks to Nik Beat for creating and hosting this series, 'Howl at Q Space,' and to Luciano Iacobelli for offering the space and serving us delicious coffees and other treats. My fellow readers and singers, Jennifer Hosein, Penelope J. Smith and Josh Smith, and Laura Rock and others, were terrific! A wonderful night, all in all.

I've never seen that look in my eyes before. ::smiles:: To the left, J.D. Kruger on his very smart Android superphone; the back of beautiful Tara Clews, and Nik Beat sitting to the right. Of course I pick a frame in the video where I don't look my age and aren't making weird expressions of grief and passion and tormented love and so on. Lol. Rather, the mad poet look. Surely that's it.

"...all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise."

Ok, not quite Coleridge's Kubla Khan, but hey! Poetry in Toronto. It's HOT.

Come to the next 'Howl at Q Space' the last Sunday in January and see for yourself.

Sometimes I can't resist playing in Photoshop; it's one of the few ways I relax. Not sure what filters, or what order I did whatever to arrive at this point.

Nik Beat at Q Space Nov 25, 2012, hosting his poetry and music series, Howl at Q Space, held on the last Sunday of every month from 7-9pm in Toronto, Canada.

Jennifer Hosein reading at Q Space. It's quite an incredible shot. You can see so much in her eyes. So much passion, really from the centre out.

The beautiful Jennifer Hosein, a featured poet at Howl at Q Space Nov 2012.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charcoal Poems still-in-progress

Whew, this is a much better image of my painting. Still not quite there, but I'm working on it.

Charcoal Poems, work-in-progress, 2012, 5' x 5', charcoal and oils. 

I think this was shot at 40mm on my niece's macro lens with f-stop 3.5, some cloudy daylight coming in from a window on the right and daylight bulbs on clamp lamps with paper towels clipped to them to light the painting - and it looks like the top wasn't lit too well. The colour seems quite good - and you can well see here why I need to downplay that lilac by painting over it in whatever ways work to my eye (a beautiful colour but it does not fit the palette of this painting) - the upper part, what was left after I rubbed off all the purple paint, and the two lower sections had white scrubbed into them to dim the lilac.


Archeology of Water

This began with an image of memory scrawled in a notebook in April 2019 that I knew I would work with, either in a poem, or perhaps video. ...