Monday, November 19, 2018

Two Recent Sketches

Two recent drawings.

This one was done at a life drawing session. Graphite, watercolour paper. A pose of maybe an hour and a half or a so. Getting proportions takes the longest and I think one arm is not quite. Otherwise, ok. I had thought to darken the highlights and shadows from memory, but, as it's on watercolour paper, to leave it lightly done in case I get inspired to paint it. 

This one is in my 'new' Daily Sketchbook, which is not really about drawing so much as doing something every day, or most days. I worked long enough on it for a quick sketch from a YouTube site but in the photo can see that one arm, oh ballpoint, you are so unforgiving and so un-erasable, and one hand especially could have been drawn with more care. 

Is it only the artist who sees these things, or does everybody?



Thursday, November 01, 2018

Interview on The Artis with Ivy Reiss

direct link:

"The Raging Muse": My interview with the delightful, smart and beautiful Ivy Reiss, editor-in-chief of Artis Mag Nineofive, on on October 19th. As you chat on air, you feel Ivy's interest, compassion and skill and find yourself opening up.

We begin with my book, Tidal Fury, and a performance of my poem, 'The Medusa' (with green fog). I talk about creativity and a muse who is as dangerous as lightning.

We then move onto my novella, Fugue in Green. I reveal things I have not revealed before. We explore questions on what constitutes memoir and autobiography and I stress the importance of having some experience of what you are writing about, 'core elements,’ that give the writing authenticity but which do not necessarily constitute life writing. I read a key scene from Fugue in Green. We finish with mention of writing aids, like NaNoWriMo.

Ivy guided the interview beautifully and I am happy with it. It was an honour to be on Ivy's The Artis television show.

For more information on these books, go to my website:


Friday, September 28, 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Progressing, bit by bit...

This is drawn, I think, with a 2B in a .9mm technical pencil. It's on it's way to becoming, I hope, a watercolour. Quite large - 14" x 20" or 36cm x 51cm, Aquarelle Arches, 100% cotton, 300g/m or 140lb. I've done the shadows and the beautiful wrinkles in the skin lightly in the drawing - knowing that soft graphite will bleed into the water and paint.

Not sure whether to make it a very detailed, more realistic watercolour, or allow the paint to run freely for a more suggestive rendering.


Sunday, August 05, 2018

Couple of Ink Sketches

Some test ink drawings with Franklin-Christoph flex (top image that I half rubbed out) and fude nibs (bottom two figures) with a F-C chocolate ink on Strathmore cold press Watercolour paper, 9”x12”.

A poet, drawn today.

I dare not name him in case he doesn't like the beginnings of this ink sketch.

A beautiful black woman on the subway - I didn't feel like trying to darken the skin tone with ink lines, too finicky and easy to overdo (and, anyway, I'd have to do it from memory). She didn't see me drawing her, and I hope she forgives me.


Thursday, August 02, 2018

Could be a preparatory sketch, who knows

A preliminary sketch or maybe this is all I'll do, who knows. It's in the small pocket sketchbook, 5.5"x3.5". I finally got a Franklin-Christoph flex nib and Marietta #20 pen and had to try it out right away. On a more absorbent paper, I can get very fine lines, as well as thicker, but not on this paper. It's a Franklin-Christoph chocolate ink, too. So there's a 6H pencil - this paper cannot do anything lightly and that graphite hardness offers the lightest lines so far. And a Pilot gold gel pen. I haven't put in the shadows yet. I don't think the paper will allow the extra fine nib on the F-C pen to draw delicately enough, and more gel pens is very hard to do. I could pencil it in, but that seems boring. Oh, yeah, the eyes - well I am deeply into podcasts on Greek literature (Homer's Illiad currently) and so their sculptural aesthetic must have influenced. I'm almost afraid to ink in the eyes since there is no option for delicacy or mistake. We'll see. I haven't drawn in so long!

This is an iPhone pic and probably the scanner is better, or a DSLR with direct sunlight. But, ya know, snap it, post. Neva look back!


Friday, April 20, 2018

Video: Bren Clews @ the Art Bar 2018

Direct link: Bren @ the Art Bar

It is always a privilege to read at the Art Bar, Toronto's longest running poetry series, begun in 1990. My novella, Fugue in Green (Quattro Books, Dec 2017), while it has a narrative, is written in a prose poetry. A hybrid style. I begin this reading with a section on how poetry is the vector between the concrete world and the world of the imagination, and end with lovemaking, and what could be more poetic than that? Carl Jung would say to his mistress, 'Let's go and make poetry.'

In the editorial process, the copy editor turned all the sentence fragments in the original manuscript into proper sentences, and combined the one sentence paragraphs into larger paragraphs, removing much of the obvious poetry, but the flow and imagery remained, and I liked the decisive grammar, and so I okayed her suggestions.

But Fugue in Green remains, to me, a book grounded in poetry.

The Art Bar Poetry Series at the Free Times Café in Toronto on April 17th, 2018, hosted by John Oughton.

The original clip was over-exposed with the bright lights, and so I used FCPX's colour vectors and many colour masks to balance the light and skin and colour tones, and did what I could with the sound (which is from the camera).

Praise for my little book, and a number of reviews, and links to all major booksellers may be found at my website.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Praise for 'Fugue in Green'

Amazon is now selling Fugue in Green for its real price, and not over-charging. Indigo is a great place to get it. Also, you can get a signed one tonight at the Art Bar, where I'm featuring. (Free Times Café on College, 8:30pm start) xoxo (see my website for links)

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone's who's read Fugue and written a review or a few sentences - SO appreciate. Love you all!!!

Praise for 'Fugue in Green'

-❊ Erotic and sensual, extraordinarily vivid and imaginative, Fugue in Green is a magical treat indeed. -@Lisa de Nikolits, author of No Fury Like That and 6 earlier novels

-❊ Fugue in Green…is a tale of monsters, imperfect sunsets and waifs who were born of cats and “speak the language of birds”. Its haunting prose, as sharp and perfect as a diamond and as delicate as a spider’s web, is a prayer cried out loud: a prayer for freedom. -@Heather Babcock, author of Being Underground and Moving Backwards

-❊ This deceptively small book is a blockbuster. You start reading, slowly entering the mysterious pool of Clews' writing, unaware that its spell is creeping upon you and into your ears, eyes and nostrils until you are one with the liquid thoughts and dreams of these interwoven characters. I highly recommend this surreal - but very true - life's tale. -@Stirling Davenport, an artist and author of The Nightwing's Quest, and two earlier books.

-❊ Fugue in Green is one of those mythic books that one feels compelled to read in one sitting. And if you buy only one book this year, make sure it is this one. -@Charles Taylor, author of The Stupidity of Fuck

-❊ A gothic fairytale of spiritual connections, mystical protectors & escaping the clutches of a monster in Brenda Clews’ gripping, mesmerizing, magical Fugue in Green....Magical, sensuous and seductive, Clews’ words swirl around you and draw you in; mesmerizing with evocative colours and haunting, ethereal—and sometimes disturbing—images. A short, gripping modern fairy tale, it’s perfect for curling up for an afternoon or evening read, easily finished in one sitting. -@Cate McKim, published short story and creative non-fiction writer, actor, singer, playwright, scenic artist, bartender, newsletter columnist, company blogger and editorial consultant.

-❊ This beautifully written story disturbed me with all the cruelty and grimness of a real-life totally believable 'fairy tale,' yet I felt uplifted by Steig's growing ability to find refuge and healing in both nature and her own creativity. I loved the strands of the different narratives woven into a fugue of luxuriant greenery, both dark and light. [Fugue in Green] was a gripping read! -@Donna Langevin, author of The Laundress of Time and 5 earlier books.

-❊ Fugue in Green is largely about the creative process itself, which is skilfully woven into the narrative, blurring the boundaries between the creative imagination and the reality of everyday life. -@Irena Nikolova, author of Complementary Modes of Representation in Keats, Novalis, and Shelley

-❊ Fugue in Green is a 'gothic fairy tale'… but also a story of intuition, of a sadly dysfunctional family and a mentally ill, abusive mother, an evocation of the power of creative thought, a ghost story and a voyage of recovery….The overall effect is a hallucinatory, highly poetic kind of fiction….I recommend you read it. -John Oughton author of Mata Hari's Lost Words and 6 earlier books

-❊ What an amazing story! Very spiritual and at the same time mystical. It touched on good and evil, Heaven and Hell. -Marjorie Babcock

-❊ Fugue in Green courageously guides the reader through dark waters that many fear and few have successfully navigated. –Dr. Tom Gannon Hamilton, author of forthcoming chapbook, El Marillo, and 2 earlier poetry collections.

-❊ I was… impressed with… [Brenda's] ability to forge a very readable “down-to-earth” mix of prose and narrative, a hybrid of brilliantly flighty dreamscape imagery and gosh-darned-gut-gripping suspense. -Roman Romaniuk, author of Roman's Notes on DNA



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sixteen Recent Sketches

After my brother died, I developed a block and could not draw or paint. Almost half a year later, I began tentatively doing "subway" sketches - simple, fast, and doesn't matter if it 'looks like' or not -  no pressure - just do it - as a way to break through the block. First, I used a pen with a fude nib, which I liked, and am waiting for a new pen barrel to come into stock. Then, with a gift certificate to a local art store that a lovely friend gave me for my birthday, I bought a set of Bic coloured ballpoint pens. Love them! Only, they are not lightfast*[see note below], and already folks want to buy some of these. So I bought a set of 36 Pilot Juice Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens and have been using them solely (I found very little on these pens researching, but think they are gel ink with a rolling ballpoint tip, and are pigment-based rather than dye-based as ballpoint pens are). The Pilot pens were used in the first three drawings you see here - the colourful lady completed last night.

Most of these drawings are tiny - 3.5"x5.5" - done in a Pocket Portrait sketchbook made by Hand-Book Journal Co. It is heavyweight buff drawing paper, 130gsm/90lbs, that is acid-free and very nice to draw on. The book is hardcover with an elastic closure and easy to slip into your pocket or purse. The pens are .5mm and really too large to work at this size - but, eh, the size means more chance of drawing.

Each drawing has inscription - please go to my Instagram to see:
I have to disconnect Instagram to this blog since it sends the commentary through as a title! And I must do all the resizing and start double posting here. But, so busy - at least I will try do this kind of round up every now and then.


The last three sketches, of H.D. Doolittle, are preparatory sketches for a commissioned painting.

*Good ballpoint pens, like Bic Crystal, only lose colour in light. If you keep drawings in a drawer or closed in a sketchbook, they are fine. What ballpoint pen artists do is scan or photograph a drawing when it is finished and use the image to print them for showing. I think the gel pens are likely similar - I bought them for the range of colours in the set.


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. ...