Saturday, March 30, 2013

Navigational Aids

After J. reminded me the other day that in ship navigation 3 black balls mean you've run aground, and we had howled with laughter, I thought it might be prudent to do a bit of research on navigational aids. This is what Wikipedia has to say.  

"A navigational aid is any sort of marker which aids the traveler in navigation; the term is most commonly used to refer to nautical or aviation travel. Common types of such aids include lighthouses, buoys, fog signals, and day beacons.
According to the glossary of terms in the United States Coast Guard Light list, an Aid to Navigation is any device external to a vessel or aircraft specifically intended to assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation."

All that laughter released something and the studio became a joyous place after a few grim days. I began to see again. And then I ran out of charcoal, so off to the Studio Store to buy more, and some more paper. 

The bow of the ship that went aground, 18 x 48 in, charcoal on paper, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

More Seeds

I keep reminding myself to keep it simple; line and shape, that's all. And I keep forgetting. I am finding it very hard to do. I keep adding things, folds in the paper, some color, maybe lots of color. More black, more drama. More stuff.  They look very bare these seeds.

bare seeds

bare seeds get some color

bare seeds find another seed and get lots more color

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sowing Seeds

Well so much for the grid, it seems to be on the back burner while the seeds have demanded all my attention. Not sure that they don't looks more like eggs but it doesn't really matter. I couldn't wait to try this out, this being take Black Seeds [see previous post, link here] and see what happens when you try to extend the seeds, this is very rough and I can see that I will try to get rid of the strong diagonal, probably by changing the size of some of the seeds. I wondered where all the straight then wavy lines, that I had been working with for the last few months had gone; realized that the line had joined ends and become quasi circles. Filled with charcoal of course.

Lots of seeds

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wanting / Forcing

It has taken a few more days to realize what was happening in the studio. Maybe the best way to say it is a wanting / forcing for spring. We are still a white, cold and windy world here and I thought I would just create what I wanted in the studio. Using that forcing energy usually leads to lousy results in all areas of my life, not just the studio. I like the plain grid of tape, so will go back to that, but I really wanted some color, some growth, so drew some seed like shapes and called it Green Trying to Grow.

Green Trying to Grow

Then played some more.  Black seeds.

Black Seeds

Friday, March 22, 2013


In past few days I have had some time to try out some ideas that have been swimming about my head. In the pursuit of the perfect tape to mask the drawings with I picked up a roll of bookbinders mending tape and laid down a grid on some Japanese paper.

laying down the grid

Laying down some charcoal lines, I was unsatisfied. Color is want I was wanting, luscious color, color hinting of growth, of warmth of spring. Added some color.  Still not right, so started to cut out the inside areas of the grid. The wall is full of drawings so I lay the grid on different drawings.

Experiment 2

Well I have a colored grid but still not what I am sensing. Change the colors on the computer....better, but not there.

Experiment 4

Experiment 5
More experimenting needed. Time to try some soft pastels, to see if they will react like the charcoal with my hands and fingers. Maybe loose the grid?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Equinox

Dear Diary,

You may have noticed that I am rather cranky these days. Well today is the 1st day of spring, and it's still snowing. It's an act of faith to believe that under all that snow is a garden, full of green and scent, growth and beauty. This white world has beauty; spare, elegant and minimal. But I must say, some lush exuberance would be very welcome.

My boot treads in the snow, or more wavy lines

Monday, March 18, 2013

Putting Away

There was a stack of drawings in the corner of the studio that I needed to go through. What stays, what goes, what gets cut up, what's garbage and what might be useful for collage. Final decision, theses stay. And because I have been needing to make some grids, I thought I'd see how the keepers worked in a grid.

Winter drawings, mixed media

As I was making the grid I wondered how just one drawing would work, would there be enough in each square to work. I will need to play with this more.

One drawing in a grid

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some Love Affairs Start Early

I really wanted to finish 3 things in the studio yesterday so I could get back to charcoal. Seemed reasonable but as things sometimes go, doing the final cleanup on my edition of Elegy to Betty took way longer. Lots of the finishing up on these books is very quiet almost meditative work, checking each page for pencil marks, [for the folds] making sure each glued section didn't need a final trim. So as I worked away I started to think about this great love of books, of not just reading them but also making them. Of the number of books around the house and the need for more bookshelves. Of how some books are like friends and have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. How hard it is to get rid of books [they usually end up in the studio to find a new life]. Then I remembered an old photo of my Mum reading to me as I cuddled Teddy. Couldn't find that photo but I still have Teddy, rather mangled now from all the love showered on him by Zoe and I. She adored him as a puppy and I feared he might not make it through her kind of loving. Lovely day.

Elegy for Betty, finished and waiting for her slip cases

Teddy on the book shelves

Liz and Teddy

Sorry to be so late posting this morning, I had to finish reading Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, a harrowing, true story of one family from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A  scathing indictment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Evidence of Spring

The sump pump stopped working yesterday and when J. went down to the basement to investigate, he found this spotted salamander swimming about the drainage hole. Not to sure who was more surprised. During the winter they hibernate underground, usually not seen until breeding season. So we put him/her near the open stream [the pond is still frozen] hoping she/he will be OK. And of course all we can talk about is how the salamander got in and did it hibernate all winter in the basement. I look at it as a lovely signal of the spring to come, the time of growth and renewal, of green; of all the great regenerative qualities I so long for. 

Spotted salamander

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lovely Signs of Spring

The snow is almost off the roof, there is a wonderful puddle of water sitting on top of the pond ice, the snow on the ground is down to a foot, and when I walked around the car, I saw the drive way had rivulets of running water, making the most beautiful scored lines in our icy driveway.

signs of spring 1

signs of spring 2

signs of spring 3

signs of spring 4

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Layout for Elegy to Betty

One of my favourite parts of making a book is designing the layout. With Elegy to Betty, I knew the sequence of the images, but not how they would fall on a page, or over several pages. So you play; try this, try that and then I do a trial print. That always teaches me that there are things to change. Usually I need more white space, and sometimes the font size. That's maybe the biggest difference between working on the computer screen and having the printed book in your hand.  For Betty I made 5 trial mock-ups of the book before I was satisfied. Each row, or spread, in the photo is 40 in. wide by 10 in. high and there are 5 pages in each row. I print one spread at a time, trim it top and bottom, then do the folding and glueing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Their Way

Three of my books are on their way to Calgary to be part of the Art of the Book 2013 exhibition to be held at  the Museum of Contemporary Art this summer. I am so pleased, and so pleased to get them packed and shipped. I over pack like crazy, actually I get a bit crazy packing work to ship. I suggested driving them to Calgary but that wasn't greeted with much enthusiasm! Why I Paint [link here], A Tiny A, B, C [link here] and Elegy to Betty [link here] were selected. Here are some photos of the final structure for Elegy to Betty. I am really pleased with the steel slip case, the last photo shows the steel best. Thanks especially to Olivier Burnham for a great job.

Elegy to Betty with her steel slip case

Another view of  Elegy to Betty

Elegy to Betty in her steel slip case

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New York City Holiday

Three wonderful days in New York City. Caught the Matisse exhibition at the Met. [link here] and was so excited by his use of blues and greens. We wondered if the paintings had just been cleaned or if we were just so used to seeing his work in reproduction, what ever it was they were stunning.  At the Frick [link here] we saw the Piero della Francesca exhibition, which is tiny but exquisite. There is something so other-worldly or un-worldly about his work; the pose of the figures, the glaze of the eyes, the quality of the light, they hold you spell bound. It was great fun wandering about the Frick, which I haven't been to in years, and maybe my favorite part was the Hans Holbein portraits of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More staring at each other across the fireplace [link here]. Some one has been reading Wolf Hall. And just out side the Frick snowdrops were in bloom. We stayed at a hotel near MOMA, which was a perfect as with a membership you gain entrance 1 hour before opening. What a treat to go back to the Inventing Abstraction [link here] show as I missed 2 rooms the first time around. And I loved Pollen, the Wolfgang Laib work. [Link here]. It really was wonderful to see with out any one about, and then catch glimpses of it from all the different levels. I love that new wing, such elegant and restrained architecture that really enhances the work shown. Then on to the Brooklyn Museum to see El Anatsui's exhibition Gravity and Grace [link here], which we loved. The short videos about the gallery were also great as he talked about his work and process, what a lovely man. Taking the stairs between floors of the museum I caught this lovely light.

In the stairwell of the Brooklyn Museum

Another view in the stairwell of the Brooklyn Museum