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

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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 ask…

The Lady and Her Skeleton

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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 …

'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace

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Ink Ocean: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

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 …

Photos from HOWL at Q Space last Sunday

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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'…

Charcoal Poems still-in-progress

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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.
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Performing Ink Ocean Sunday Night at Q Space

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The poem that emerged from this drawing, Ink Ocean, is the one I will be performing Sunday night. Today, for the first time, slowly, halteringly, I recited it from end to end, so there's hope that I will be performing rather than reading it.

I attended Norman Cristofoli's chap book launch last weekend, The Fall from Eden, "a book about the transformation of humankind, the manifest destiny of our failure as a species to live in harmony with our environment, or even with ourselves." The Open Mic was called the “Apocalyptic Open Stage,” and he asked us to "bring a poem about the Apocalypse, the Mayan Calendar, The End of Days, Revelations, Nostradamus or any other end of this calamity of humanity."

On Open Mic, I performed the first section of Ink Ocean, on the Gulf oil spill, and reciting it from memory went over very well. So I was inspired to make the effort to memorize the whole poem, which will fill 8-10 minutes.

My son and niece, Tara, are coming, and I…

A Feature at a Toronto Poetry Reading on Sun Evening, Nov 25

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I will be one of four hot featured poets next Sun evening, from 7 - 9pm, at Q Space, 382 College Street, College and Borden, just east of Bathurst, along with Jennifer Hosein, Penelope J. Smith and Josh Smith at Nik Beat's Gaddist Poetry and Music event. There is also an Open Mic after our readings.

If you're in Toronto, or vicinity, do come out. We'd love to see you! Q Space is a cafe, bookstore, hosts literary events and also art shows - at the front end, behind are the publishers, Quattro Books and LyricalMyrical Press. A fabulous little treasure in the heart of Toronto.

I'm honoured to be reading there.

Here is a little charcoal sketch I did of Stedmond Pardy reading at the last Gaddist Poetry Event.




Last night I took a quick iPhone pic when I was down there. The whited-out sign says, 'Quattro Books.' It extends quite far back inside and can accommodate up to 50 people. (Take a look at blogTO's pics, way better!) Do come out for an evening of poetry a…

'White Wedding' at The Keyhole Sessions

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Finally just did a photo shoot of this series. The Keyhole Sessions, 13 November 2012, and the theme was, 'White Wedding.' The Madame herself posed, and wore her wedding dress or various undresses of it. I had to leave early to be on Nik Beat's radio show, HOWL, to promote our poetry reading the following Sunday, so did the final drawing in a few quick minutes. Some of them (1, 6, 7) have had a bit of work; most are as is from that evening.


1- Women and Paper Lanterns, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, coloured conte crayons, archival art paper.


2- The Madame I, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.


3- White Wedding, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.


4- The Madame II, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov…

Another Drawing from the last Keyhole Life Drawing Session

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Another drawing from the Keyhole Sessions 'White Wedding' on Nov 13, 2012. Untouched (I may tinker later on), charcoal, 11" x 15", archival paper. A 10 minute sketch. Click to see larger size.



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Scraping Paint Off

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Remnants of the purple paint that I have just rubbed off my large painting. No idea why the iPhone camera is reading some blue - it's pure purple, through and through.

'Two Women': life drawing at The Keyhole Sessions

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I forgot to set my computer to record the radio show I was on, along with Jen Hosein and Pen Smith, to promote our poetry reading on the 25th. Oh well. It was a busy day. The show was truly wonderful, though, and I will share it as soon as I get a copy.

But I did go to the 2nd last Keyhole Sessions life drawing event and have a few drawings to show. Rather than filling one post with them, as usual, because they're coming to an end (only one more session), I'll post one at a time.

These are the raw sketches, before I do anything to them. Of course, I'll post any that do get worked on as well.

'Two Women,' 2012, 15" x 12", charcoal, water-soluble wax crayons and oil pastels, India ink on canvas sheet.

The pose was quite complicated and time ran out, as it always does. While it was a 25 min pose, I chose not to work on the correctness of the drawing itself; rather, I drew something general and then spent most of the time colouring it with water-soluble oil p…

On CIUT.FM for a short poetry reading tonight

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I'll be on the radio tonight - Nik Beat's HOWL - for a short spot, a poem or so, a little yak (10 min), along with two other lovely ladies, Jennifer Hosein (who writes great stories and does wild paintings) and Penelope J. Smith (fluffy the cat's Mommy, also, as you'll hear, a Dali Lama approved lady) as we promote a poetry reading on Nov 25th in the Beaches in Toronto. It's going to be a bit of a rush for me - the 2nd last Keyhole session ever is tonight. That ends at 10pm, so a cab to CIUT 89.5 FM for Nik's show, which runs live from 10 - 11pm. Hope it all folds together seamlessly, that we have a great show, and that I do some interesting drawings too!

You can listen live on-line: http://www.ciut.fm/shows/spoken-word/howl/

I'll also set my computer on a timer to record our portion of the show; if it works, hopefully upload that tomorrow.

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Pat Stanley: 'Convergence' at the Propeller Centre

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by Brenda Clews
In the back room of the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts, after the bright colours of Jane Murdoch Adams' Boat Series, her joyful abstract paintings, you are greeted with, surprisingly, unexpectedly, the massive universe. Its stars bear down on you.

I stood in awe, gazing. Then I decided to get a glass of shiraz and stay to gaze, to talk, to ruminate, to appreciate, to allow myself to be transformed in the myriad ways we are when we encounter art that speaks to us in the language of our dreams.

Do I mean soul touching? Yes.


'Spiral Galaxy M101 : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley

For what else is the magnificent universe of stars that we miraculously are alive in?

Pat Stanley's latest series of paintings, Convergence, are striking, ethereal, monumental in a deep philosophic way, mystical, Surreal, and yet they are also realist works.

She uses high resolution photographs from the Hubble Observatory as inspiration and guides f…