Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Stone Voices of the Land

There is a saying in Brome County that you can harvest 3 crops of stones a year. Perhaps one of the reasons for the stone walls that once marked the country side and are now disappearing into the land. Our forebears were patient and sturdy folk clearing this land again and again. John and I have taken a different approach and left the largest stones where they were, and where they have become the stone people. Sometimes I think they are out there as our guardians or sentinels, sometimes they are just having fun, talking and laughing among themselves. After watching the wedding yesterday, I was reminded again of the power of stone. The voices rising in the descants of the hymns, the vaulted stone ceiling holding the sound, then the sound slipping down the walls. The spoken words, so clear and powerful, voice using the rhythms and cadence of the words in all their integrity. And the stone which made it all possible.
The stone voices of the land.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A very fine friend gave us a most beautiful bouquet of tulips. Long stemmed, yellow and red parrot tulips, vibrant and extravagant as only tulip nature can be. So of course I took a zillion photos figuring I would use them for the blog, which, of course I am doing, just not in the way I would have thought. [ Good Friday and All About Music ] These vibrant beauties wanted to be seen in all their glory in black and white. Mind you after a couple of days of working with them a bit of color began to creep in. Love when things have their own mind and if I am smart, I follow    
The Beauty of the Leaf

Tulip 9

Tulip 3.a

Tulip 12

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I've Been Logging

Well that is a bit of an exaggeration, more like I was hauling brush, a lot of brush. In our ongoing drama with poplars we decided to have 15 cut down. They seem to have a natural affiliation for the pond so that every time we have a big wind storm more of them dive into the pond and let me tell you it's expensive getting them winched out. Friday the man came with 2 chain saws and by the end of the day the area near the pond looked like a war zone, so guess what we have spent the last few days doing. Rain is forecast and my body is grateful. Must say it has been a real pleasure to work in the woods again, the lichen are wearing their finest spring colors, the frogs are singing, and a couple more days should see that job finished.

view towards the logging,

View looking back at the house and studios, still lots to clean up

My impressive pile of brush

Sunday, April 24, 2011

All about Music

When I was growing up Easter Sunday was all joyous triumphal music, chocolate and lilies. Took me years of gardening to come back to and love the smell of lilies; and not understanding the symbolism of the lily I always wondered why the church wasn't full of tulips. While I loved singing the Easter service [it was really fun to belt out the old chestnuts] it never gave me quite what I wanted. What I wanted was for the choir to sing Tallis' amazing 40 part motet "Spem in Alium". You may know this work from the Janet Cardif/George Bures Miller piece 'The 40 Part Motet" which we were lucky enough to see at the National Gallery in Ottawa, where it played magnificently in the Rideau Chapel. It is a work for 8 choirs of 5 voices and is very demanding to perform, [perhaps that's why we never performed it despite my years of nagging]. I have never had the pleasure of hearing it live, but it remains the most sublime piece of choral music I have ever heard. I have a link here for the Kings College Choir version, [my all time favorite] and a link here to watch the King Singers, a group of 6 men preform it. They are wonderful to watch as they build the motet in front of your eyes. Voices change their parts until you have, thanks to the layering of the audio, the glorious 40 part motet. Have fun, eat lots of chocolate and Happy Easter.

Tulips for Easter

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

When I was growing up Good Friday meant a day filled with anticipation. It was the culmination of months of rehearsals and that night was "The Concert". I was incredibly lucky to belong to a choir where the director loved the music of the Baroque and Renaissance and so here was a great opportunity for him to teach and us to learn this amazing repertoire. Lots of Bach and Handel and the music of the High Anglican liturgy. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and haunting works that he introduced me to was was the Allegri's setting of Psalm 51, Miserere Mei Deus. It starts off sounding like a regular singing of the psalm and then a treble voice soars higher and higher. You can't quite believe what you have heard as the choir goes back to the psalm but then it happens again and again. Gives me goose bumps even to think of it. If you would like to listen to it here is the link to a performance by Kings College Choir.
Tulips unfurling

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To The Garden

Yesterday was my idea of heaven. The ice went out of the pond, the frogs started to sing and I spent the day in the garden, the whole day. Every year I tell myself to start slowly and every year I ignore my own advice. Pruned some shrubs and roses, rebuilt some sections of stone walls that Zoe, the wonder dog, had dismantled trying to get at the squirrels and chipmunks. We both blamed the moles. Spent a fair bit of time in my big clomping boots stomping on their tunnels especially along the stone walls. How can such a tiny critter move so much earth? They must be in training for the World Mole Moving Earth Championship. I think I have the winners.

Finding what I need to start in the garden

Monday, April 18, 2011

Web Site

Finally, I have finished up dating my web site and while I love puzzles and figuring things out, this has been a struggle. The biggest hurdle has been the videos which I almost decided not to include, but couldn't give up on the challenge of making them play. They were a huge part of my work from '95 to 2002 when I needed my images to move; to be able to project images larger that I could create, and to work with sound and image. Some of the work was created before I had a computer and using analog equipment, which makes for a very degraded image, especially as I layered line upon line and mixed in real time. I miss that excitement. Now it feels that the web site has become a static on-line portfolio, and by this point large and unwieldy, while the bog is more of the day to day life, which updates easily, and FB more of short messages on the answering machine. So with the web site finished I'm off to do my taxes, the last of jobs on my 'DO NOW" list.
Revised edition of my web site

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tunnels, Veins, Arteries

Moles are amazing little creatures with their star nose and webbed feet. That being said, I have a love/hate relationship with them, as I may have mentioned. This year they have been ferociously busy tunnelling about the garden. There are mounds of dirt and exposed tunnels everywhere. The patterns of the tunnels keeps reminding me of the wonderful series "Cold Mountain" by Brice Marden, with their beautiful fluid lines, which have always to me had references of veins and arteries, a sense of life pulsing just under the skin.

Mole tunnels
Catalogue cover from the exhibition "Brice Marden, Cold Mountain"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Does Anybody Know?

These strange formations appeared on the pond yesterday. About the size of hockey pucks and dotted around the perimeter of the pond. Another friend noticed the same thing on his pond and we are stymied as to what caused our polka-dotted ponds. Any ideas?
Polka dotted pond

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What a Difference

Spring is rushing in and winter is in full retreat. The difference in the landscape in the past 2 day is amazing. The table outside the studio is emerging and have the moles/voles ever been busy. The lawn that is exposed has tunnels and mounds of earth everywhere. Looks like a Brice Marden painting from that wonderful  Attendant series. The moles and I have a love/hate relationship. I try to convince myself that they are aerating the soil but when I step into their holes in the garden the air turns blue. They love to tunnel along the edges of the stone walls.  I march after them stomping the earth back. We have been lucky with the snow melt, the rivers and streams are high, but no flooding. Only in the spring and sometimes after very heavy rain do we see water rushing through the garden gate to the pond.

Water rushing to the pond

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Encouraging Signs

Outside the studio doors there is still 2.5 feet of snow but elsewhere around the garden there are encouraging sign of spring. Ten crocus are now in bloom over the septic tank and more and more snow drops bloom every day. I can hear the sound of the stream running high and the edges of the pond are showing. Water from the small hill behind the pond is making its way home and making beautiful patterns on it way.

Water running to the pond

Friday, April 8, 2011

Signs of Spring

I think Winter finally got my letter as today there are encouraging signs of spring. Patches of bare grass, a crocus flowering over the septic tank, my granny's snowdrops peeking out here and there, and perhaps most tender of all are the beech leaves beginning to dot the snow. The beech trees hold on to their leaves all winter providing a soft rust color to our white landscape and when the new buds are ready in the spring they push the old leaves off. Although I can't hear it, JB tells me the the sound of the beech's rustling leaves on winter walks is a treat.

Signs of Spring

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waste Paper

While I was cutting the 44in wide pages for the book down to their 8 inch width, I saved all the off cuts, and now that it's time to clean up the studio; again, I started to play with them. I know I need to clean up as I am a messy worker but I would much rather play with the paper. Love the feel of it, love how light plays with it, love it's memory. Made me think of a poem of Margaret Atwood's called "Resurrection"  where she talks about the great circle of life and how in the end we will all be trees. For me the great circle will continue and we will become paper then books and so on and so on.

Lovely off cuts

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Why I Paint" is a Blurb

A Blurb book that is, and this with this neat gaget below you can read through the whole book. In the bottom right hand corner [with all the little arrows] you can click on it and the book will appear on your whole computer screen which might make it easier to read,  or you can click on the squares in the middle and see thumbnails. Use the left and right arrows to scroll forwards and backwards through the book. Enjoy. I sure had fun making it. To see more of James Lourie's work, fellow artist and writer of the words, check out his website.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Figuring out the layout for 'Why I Paint" was a fascinating challenge. Every version taught me something, usually that less is better. Lots of space, not only around the images but also the words. In fact spacing between the letters of the words became crucial. The more space equaled more presence, so that the words sat well on the page. And because I had made the original books in accordion style I could play with the images and how they led one to another over the fold, some grouped together, some on their own, always with a band of paper top and bottom. Because I knew that I would print in 44 inch spreads, gluing the 10 spreads together, I soon learned to pay BIG attention to where the folds would be. Below you can see how the spreads looked, hopefully showing the rhythm of the book.
44 inch spreads for 'Why I paint"