Monday, January 31, 2011

The Color of Words

Searching around yesterday for words, phrases and sentences to use in a piece I'm working on, and feeling a bit like a would be William Burroughs with my love of cut up text, I came across this beautiful work by Wosene Worke Kosrof on one of my favorite blogs I Love Typography. [which led me to the amazing site called Inscribing MeaningWriting and Graphic Systems in African Art] Drawing upon Ethiopian graphic systems, liturgical symbols and architectural forms as well as pan-African motifs, the artist produces richly colored and detailed canvases. Wosene's fascination with words and the seductive forms of written signs are contemplated alongside other investigations of language and identity within modern histories of Africa. In his Color of Words series, Wosene blends color and shapes, the verbal and the visual, into lively compositions that celebrate the richness of language. Wosene Worke Kosrof considers his recent works to be investigations into a new alphabet, one that employs a vocabulary of signs and symbols to link past with present, and Africa with the diaspora in which he works and lives.
The Color of Words IX 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Across The Road

It's a quiet world today, snowing, which muffles sound and always feels somehow expectant. January is almost over, the days are getting longer and I am longing for the freedom of spring. Of being able to walk easily outside, not bundled up in layers with big clunking boots. Probably an apt metaphor for how the studio work is going. Very slowly, start, stop, to much pushing, back off, look, wait, leave it alone, look again, ponder. For now I am in the looking and pondering place, waiting for some clarity, an unveiling you could say. Meanwhile I watch the horses across the road having breakfast and paying absolutely no attention to the weather.
Horses across the road

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Frost On The Old Windows

Well we had had a pretty easy time of it this winter but all that came to an end with wicked cold on Monday and Tuesday. Friends had pipes freeze, peoples cars wouldn't start and Zoe really didn't want to go outside. Can't say I blame her, neither did I. Living in an old house means you learn to take certain percausions when the temperature drops. We leave the heat on higher at night so the basement stays warm or warmer. We really don't want any frozen pipes and the basement is not well insulated [another job on the list]. In the living room most of the windows are still the orginal windows built in 1862 and there is still a good amount of the orginal glass, full of bubbles and imperfections. John figures at least 10 generations of owners have spent time scrapping, repairing and repainting these old beauties and although we know we should replace them we are loath to do so. It's the extreme cold which brings up the debate again, as they are covered with frost when we come down in the morning. Beautiful, but someday they will have to go. But not yet. I can still enjoy the patterns and textures of the frost and the lovely bubbles in the glass.
Frost on the old windows

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adam and Eve

While gathering the images [from my very tidy files] for yesterdays post, I went off on a detour when I came across the image of the open hand. Years ago I had used that photo, actually the much photocopied photo, when I did a series with the 3 Graces eating apples [they were loving it!]. Being reminded led me to do some cursory research into the images of Adam and Eve from the Renaissance. While this myth is told in every culture, in some form or another, a few things struck me about these paintings that I had never noticed before. Eve is always on the right, Adam on the left [does that make Eve always right?] and Adam is often perplexed and scratching his head. Putting these small snippets of paintings together also made me very aware of the glorious use of color, the luminosity of the flesh tones, and the power of the dark backgrounds. They really are gorgeous aren't they?
Adam and Eve

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Body parts

Still filing. And discovering old loves. During the 80's  when I was making One of A Kind women's and children's clothes I discovered the magic of photocopy machines. The more often you copy something the more the image breaks down. It was watching generations pass in front of your eyes; there were no shades of gray just black and white and the process reminded me of the Ortho film that I had first loved as an art student. So you will see some black and white images that were photocopied and enlarged to life size then reshot with the camera, and there are images that started life as video that I then took stills from. And you will see some, that I hope are the beginning of a new series.
photocopies, video stills and photos of bodies

Friday, January 21, 2011


The new hard drives are slowly filling up and even better, they are getting organized. What is really fun about this job is categorizing the images, that and seeing so clearly what ones preoccupations are and have been: bodies, trees, textures, lines, houses, skies, water, light and shadow. Finding things I have not yet finished or have not yet figured out quite how to do or use, is another major benefit. A while after "The Forest Vessels" I made some containers or vessels out of packing tape, and while I loved their shape I disliked how they felt, [the tape has a slithery feeling] and how they reacted to light. However they photographed beautifully.
Packing tape bowls or vessels
Packing tape has been used by a lot of artists over the years but the most fun and brillant use is by Numen/For Use. These spiderweb-like installations by Austrian-Croatian design firm Numen/For Use involved wrapping between 70-45 km of tape and 4-7 days, depending on their location. This installation will soon travel to Melbourne, Buenos Aires and other cities. I love the artery/vein feel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Forest Vessels

Here are how the "scribbles" ended up. Not quite so rambunctious, contained one could say, but I hoped the energy of the drawn line would sing through. One of the problems I have of working digitally is the lack of life in completely digital work and while I love working with my computer, I need to have the quality and feeling of my hands and body. The other big problem working on paper is framing. So, often I glue the paper to a hard support and then coat the the surface with encaustic. Using encaustic to seal the surface has another advantage, it seems to bring back the color  and luminosity that I seem to lose in the printing process. You can see larger images of each work, and in fact the whole series, on my web site; where, if you wish just click on any image and the large one will pop up in a new window.
Barely There, 10 x 10 in

Dark Night,  26 x 18 in

1st Light in the Forest,  20 x 28 in 

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Layers

While I was working on the "Scribbles", I took a lot of photos and using Photoshop, started to layer them, taking bits and pieces from one and adding them to another, all the while not knowing where this was going or quite what I was doing, trying to pay attention to what was happening as I layered line upon line. Soon they were demanding more color than what was in the drawings, even thought an amazing amount of color presents itself when you photograph drawings. So back to my files of color and textures. You can see why I really need to get these files in some sort of order. It's a very instinctual process of feeling my way, of trying to find or see the light or follow the line or thread, of trying to bring forth what I sense is there. 
The in between place

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Carolyn Wren / Remembrances with Toby Anderson at University of Sherbrooke Art Gallery

I was strangely moved by this show of Carolyn Wren. These 3 Graces were an imposing height at 9 feet, insisting you look up at them, so that there was a quality, in me at least, of Alice in Wonderland and Bread and Puppet. One of the friends we were with told us that her husband, as had all the other servicemen, had been given one of these maps in case they were shot down, which gave such an immediacy and poignancy to these works. 

Carolyn Wren was inspired by the ingenuity of Christopher Clayton Hutton, who, during World War II, created silk maps for the British Royal Air Force. The pilots were given these military maps, which showed the layout of the land to facilitate their movements and ensure their safety. Lightweight and durable, these objects were easy to conceal. After the war, Hutton's ingenuity and the scarcity of silk inspired women to be creative as well: they collected the silk maps and made dresses out of them. Carolyn Wren redrew the map in the shapes of her patterns, carved these into pieces of linoleum, then hand-printed them onto Dupont silk. With this printed fabric, the artist made 3 nine-foot map dresses. When viewed in this manner, waterways look like intestines, roads resemble veins or arteries, and the print image becomes a map of the body. Surrounded by models of World War II bombers and fighter aircraft, these map dresses create the theatrical space conducive to the recollection of the soldiers' journeys and the anxiety of their loved ones. We find ourselves in the middle of an experiment on the borderline between the territories of the land and those of the mind. [Suzanne Pressé, curator, Art Gallery of the University of Sherbrooke]

I really enjoyed this show and following my own internal lines and threads found this link, just posted this morning, to another kind of dream dress. [You will need to scroll down a bit]
Carolyn Wren / Rememberances

Saturday, January 15, 2011


As you can see I am still filling images away. These are ones I found yesterday and seem to follow the idea of Gathering Lines, the last post. A few years ago I did a series of drawings which I called the scribble drawings. At first all I wanted was to make marks [hugely pleasurable in itself] on the paper [in this case vellum] that would make visible the essence of the stroke of the pencil or the crayon or the charcoal. I wanted or rather hoped that the energy of my hand and pencil; the way my body moved in the gestures, and repetition of the stroke of the pencil on the surface; all that would be visible, and that in the very "act" of making marks something, or some new understanding would emerge.
From the Scribble Drawings

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gathering Lines

Still organizing my files [I have a feeling I could be at this for a while] and while I was walking around outside, realized I was watching the play of light on the paths we have made through the snow, and that got me to thinking about paths = a road = a line, and the power of a line. Whether we are writing, or drawing or making gestures or walking so many things have a line quality to them. As so often happens, a friend sent me this link to a show at MOMA, called ON LINE, a really terrific exhibition that I urge you to visit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Love My Grid [and my dictionary]

(grid) n 1 a framework of parallel iron bars; grating; gridiron. 2 Military. the numbered squares drawn on maps and used for map references. 3 Surveying. a the system of survey lines running parallel to lines of latitude and longitude, used in the division of an area into countries, sections, lots, ect. b one of those lines. 4 the lead plate in a storage battery. 5 an electrode in a vacuum tube that controls the flow of current between the filament and the plate. 6 a network of electrical lines and connections. 7 Theatre. a framework above the stage, from which the scenery, light, ect. are hung and manipulated. [shortened form of gridiron] 

from "Gage Canadian Dictionary"


Monday, January 10, 2011

A Portrait of an Artist Eating an Apple

Finished. Well I think it's finished, I will probably take most of the day to look and ponder, then pop it in the mail. Still not sure about the title, am thinking of using the blog post title, but will decide later. It is a interesting project organized by the Brooklyn Art Library called The Sketchbook Project, 2011 and has 28,835 artists from 94 countries  each filling a sketchbook. The project travels around the U.S. stopping in Portland, Maine, Atlanta, Washington, Winter Park, Austin, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. I love road trips so I hope it has a good time. 
Different views of the sketchbook

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sketch Book Project

I am almost finished my book for the Sketch Book Project, just need to re-glue the pages to the cover, re-glue the cover and see what else it wants. It's a fun project and I am learning a lot. Actually it's a lot like sewing with all the planing ahead and visualizing how it will go together. The book is 80 pages which I printed in groups of 8, cut and folded and glued the next 8 pages ect.ect., so that I have ended up with a  400 inches long accordion style book. Will post images of the book as soon as it is finished but meanwhile here are some images from the pages.

Portrait of an Artist Eating an Apple

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I have a clean desk top, which is almost as good as a clean floor. Bought 2 new hard drives for my computer and am slowly getting all my images and photos sorted and filed. It's a remarkably fun job as I really need to know my images and I really, really need to be able to find them easily. Most of my work is built using layers; color, texture and image, so my filing system needs to be up to date and with these new drives I have lots of room.
Circle file

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Light Leaving

Well we are back to the cold with the snow frozen hard so that as you walk on top there is a crunching sound. Wandering round the garden yesterday afternoon I watched the dusk hover and take hold. Always surprised by the tenderness of the sky colors and the feeling of peace that comes over me as I watch this not always nightly ritual.
Twilight in the garden

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Thaw

Just in time to be called a January thaw, we have had 2 day of balmy temperatures and some rain and fog. The land comes in and out of focus, the rivers and streams are gurgling and the snow is almost all off the roof. Have spent much of the holidays in my dressing gown, reading and grazing on all the lovely goodies that one only eats at Christmas. It's been wonderful week and now I am ready leave this dreamy time and put some structure back in my life. Wishing you all the very best for 2011.
Dream time