Sunday, December 30, 2012


I have spent the last 4 days in sloth and torpor; and I love it. After Christmas and before New Years has to be one of my favourite times; with luck I spend it reading, on the sofa, in front of the fire. This year was a feast and some lovely coincidences. I started with a lovely and charming book by Donia Bijan, "Maman's Homesick Pie" followed by a short typescript by my mother in law, "A Trip To Persia" [1971].  My mother in law happens to be an amazing woman who turned 100 years old last fall and so it was great fun to then read "The 100 Year Old Man, who climbed out the window and disappeared", [Jonas Jonasson] one of the funniest murder mysteries I have read. And I keep dipping in and out of "Paintings on Paper, Josef Albers in America". So many friends have talked about this book and it is gorgeous. Then I might do an essay from "Madness, Rack, and Honey" [Mary Ruffle], then a few more liquorice allsorts,[ discretely hidden behind the stack of books].

A lovely stack of christmas reading

Monday, December 24, 2012

Deep Silence

There is a profound silence in my world when it snows; a deep blanket of snow has wrapped the earth and outlined the trees and branches. That lovely silence always brings peace to me, a sense of quiet joy. That is what I wish for us all, as the days start to lengthen and the New Year approaches.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dreaming City Lights

We spent 24 hours in the city and I deliberately left the camera at home. Time out. I just wanted to walk, and look; and be. And not look with the eye towards the next shot, and not worry about leaving the camera somewhere. The energy was great; everyone was happy, cheerful, laughing, bantering and I loved the city lights at night. Add in all the Christmas lights and I really began to doubt my decision. Back in the studio visions were dancing, comets streaking across the skies, giant pinwheels exploding in color. The journey back to the light has started.

The journey has started

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Blue Day

Woke up yesterday to snow and a blue world. Beautiful light and I am needing all the beautiful light there is, probably a lot of us are. And only another day to my favourite day of the year, the winter solstice. That's the true start of the new year for me. Every day more light.

branches wearing downy snow

St. Francis hiding behind the rhododendrons

a crab apple my Mum gave me looking as fine as she does in the spring wearing her halo of blossoms

An old pine who keeps loosing her head, still so beautiful

Looking over the roses, through the arch to my Mums crabapple

I love the shapes of the shrubs

The old apple trees at the front of the house

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's That Time Of The Year

I love black and white and I love pattern, so years ago when we rebuilt the studios and then had to rebuild the kitchen, we chose black and white tile. All I could dream of was living in a Dutch painting. The first "real" paintings I ever saw, at the AGO as a teen, were the Dutch masters who made an incredible impression upon me. It's such a strong graphic this floor and while I love it I am not to fond of the maintenance. And every year, before Christmas it's my ritual to take of the old wax and reseal the floor. Not the most spiritually up lifting job; I'd rather be in the studio. But I love the result.

Love the strong graphic of the floor
Clean and shinny and ready for Christmas

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Can One Do

I am in shock from Friday's tragedy in Connecticut. Here in Quebec, we just marked the 23rd anniversary of what has come to be called, The Montreal Massacre [Dec 6.1998]. I have written about it here [Link] and here [Link]. At that time, Ed Bantey wrote a wise and moving piece for the Montreal Gazette.

"In so many ways, each and everyone of us is responsible for what happened at the polytecnique. We are the one who allow guns to be sold or placed in the hands of unstable people. We do a lot of talking about mental health but turn our backs - as do the politicians, when it's time to put up the money to help the victims. We buy and rent video games and toys for our kids that glorify violence. We make it profitable for cinemas and television stations to run films that render violence and aggression banal. We allow breweries to push their products on the young and render lip service to the fight against drugs. We sit by while society breaks down and poverty and unemployment are mere statistics. Then when the monsters of dis-integration wreak havoc, we wonder why."

Again, it's time to do something, the question is always what; and how. First step, sigh the petition at Avaaz. [link here]

Stars and moon pour their healing light upon you [from a Gaelic Blessing]

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Oops

I seem to be taking a lot of out of focus photos these days, and while most go directly into the garbage, there are a few that whisper in my ear or nudge me. In the Black Notebook series, I have been trying to incorporate a circle; unsuccessfully. Except for the double exposure / out of focus shot which has the sensibility I was looking for. Not sure where the blue came from as all the lines are white, maybe it was thinking of Martin's work. [Link here]

an oops photo that better than the original work

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Playing With Light

I can't resist. The out door lights are up and it's dark so early that I might as well have some fun and play with the camera and the lights. Not sure the camera likes what I want it to do, but so far I'm winning that battle. Who ever gets to control the on / off button wins this one.

Square Lights 1

Square Lights 8

Square Lights 5

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Black Notebook

The lines are mutating, cloudiness has set in. Keep it simple, this is about the line. Oops, falling in love with the masking tape, well it's another line.

#16, Black Notebook, 2012
#1, Black Notebook, 2012
#23, Black Notebook, 2012
#24, Black Notebook, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What is It About Blue?

So I am intrigued. What is it about the color blue that makes it so loved and admired?  I've been noticing on the blog and FB that everytime I post something blue it gets more likes and comments; and every time I see something blue I'm more inclined to "Like" it. What is it's magic? The frequency of the wavelength; the association with heaven, peace, calm.? Here is a work of a friend, Martin Scholte [link here] who works with a minimalistic approach, where the power of the work defies it's apparent simplicity.

Martin Scholte [Link here to see more of Martin's work]

International Klein Blue (or IKB as it is known in art circles) was developed by French artist Yves Klein as part of his search for colors which best represented the concepts he wished to convey as an artist. [He was fascinated by mystical ideas, by notions of the infinite, the undefinable, the absolute.] He patented this color in 1960. IKB was developed by Klein and chemists to have the same color brightness and intensity as dry pigments, which it achieves by suspending dry pigment in polyvinyl acetate, a synthetic resin.

Yves Klien

In 2008, the artist Roger Hiorns filled an abandoned waterproofed council flat in London with 75,000 liters of copper sulfate solution. The solution was left to crystallize for several weeks before the flat was drained, leaving crystal-covered walls, floors and ceilings. The work is titled Seizure. He went on to win the Turner prize that year.

 Roger Hiorns, Seizure, 2009

Copper sulfate is also used to test blood for anemia; it is is also used to etch zinc plates for intaglio printmaking.

Copper Sulphate

Maybe our love affair with blue is as easy to understand as our love for the blue skies of day light and the deep blue of a starlit night. Bayer's Uranometria, is one of the most important celestial atlases of the 17th Century.

Johann Bayer: [ Pegasus ]

On Wednesday night, at dusk, the light on the pond was a soft, deep, immense blue; which started this conversation in my head.

The pond at dusk

And the next day I found this. About to put it in the garbage, I looked and saw, Rothko meets Diebenkorn. It's now on my wall.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Slanting Towards The Solstice

Every day the angle of the sun reaches farther into the kitchen, reminding me that we are getting closer to the shortest day of our year. Less than 2 weeks to go before we start the journey to longer day light. I say Hallelujah.

Sunlight through the moon window

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Spent the last couple of days cutting up work into fragments for a couple of mail art projects that I am involved in. If you don't know about mail art here is what Wikipedia has to say, "Mail art is a worldwide cultural movementt that began in the early 1960s and involves sending visual art (but also music, sound art, poetry, etc.) through the international postal system. "[You can read more here] One project is organized by David Sandrum [link here], and called #twitterartexhibit, [link here]. Their mandate is "Through art we can change the world."We help charities and nonprofits with postcard-sized, handmade original artwork." I like what they do so I am pleased to support them. The other is called Fragments; it's more of an exchange between artists. Basically you are exchanging fragments of works. If you would like to to get involved contact; Carl Heyward, via Face book  for the ONGOING MAIL ART PROJECT. Must say it's been fun cutting up work and seeing new emerge. Things that have not worked, now work; and as an extra bonus I used the leftovers for some new business cards. Another thing I've been meaning to do.

My fragments ready to put in the mail.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Studio

I have entered the cave of winter, the transition to the studio has never been so easy. This year the seasons have been very clear in the line between fall and winter. Thank you. I'm not torn between wanting to be in the garden and in the studio.  Doing both is always a struggle for me, a balance that I never quite achieve.

my place to sit when I can get the chair cleaned off

Looking back at some of the work tables,  trial prints from the "Coffee Cantata" on east wall

Drawing wall on right [west wall] with view out the south door to the studio garden

Looking south again 

View if the long and very messy work tables [looking west]

My find of the week, hidden away, a HUGE folded, now unfolded sheet of brown paper,  stapled to the drawing wall

Looking north, another messy work table, big printer, where I sit to use J. computer to print,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Exploring Memory

Memories of my clothes making days, working with tissue paper patterns, made me think that if these hard pencils I've been using that leave groves in the paper and can be filled and smudged with graphite and chalk, why not try the old tracing wheel and transfer paper. I really like the idea of making marks using tracing paper; leaving traces behind, a faint image. An added plus, I love dots.

Experiment 1

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

And More Black

Interesting things happed where the masking tape was. I was using 5H, 3H and B pencils and when I laid down the chalk line I saw that the pencil had left indentations through the masking tape, which the chalk filled in when I smudged it. Ghost lines. Love when things like this happen, what a treat. I sense a lot of smudging coming up.

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Black

Some of the drawings have met the computer. This really helps me see what I wish I had done and what I want to do. Back to work.

On the computer

From the black notebook

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Notebook

Found a lovely square black page notebook while cleaning the studio the other day. Making these line drawings is rather like playing scales. Line carries the same resonance as sound, Even graphite lines seem to have color and body; form to them. And at the moment I'm finding the repetition so enjoyable, the scratching sound on the paper, the scribble motion, and especially the endless combinations of patterns one can play with. The only down side is how tricky they are to photograph.

You can see where this is leading

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brillant November

This is the best November I can remember. Bright, deeply slanted light, hard frost which never quite burns off during the day, wondrous clear nights filled with stars. Not the November that I have been dreading. This is  a November of dreams;  everything has been pared down to architecture; of trees, of grasses, of weeds; and light and shape and line. A minimal time. A time to give thanks for.

at the edge of the pond yesterday morning

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stacks of Lines

I keep telling myself to get organized, make lists of all the things I want to do and need to do. Make a master list and prioritize. Good intentions. The studio beckons. Where I make stacks of lines. As if it were my list. With everything crossed off.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Lines

My fascination with lines continues. Love how much a line can say. Love how it feels in my body when I make repetitive lines, like kneading bread; breathing with each stroke. Then the rhythm changes, becomes faster, the emphasis is on the out stroke of the pencil. And then it changes again. I am loving this dance.

The Black Quilt

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Path

Last week a couple of friends [thanks Fiona and Jennifer] suggested I use the list of Words for November and do a book. So while I was working on Lines and waiting for Big Blue to resolve it's problems, I started to visualize how I might approach this. The piece I was working on was perfect for sleet, the 6th word. Velum sheets for the numbers and words, paper for the image. The trick will be to find velum I can put through my printer, and that won't smear when printed.

November Rain, mixed media

page idea, number and letters on separate vellum pages

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random Bits

Some times the best part of your day happens so unexpectedly. Things just fall into place in front of your eye or beside your hands as you work. As I was laying down washes and lines, I realized my eye kept being caught by something on the table beside me. Splashes, ends of pencil line, things that had fallen off or away from the paper I was working on. These little random bits had me enthralled and somehow filled me with tenderness. And gave me some new ideas.

Random bits 1

Random bits 2