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A Bit About This Blog

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The idea is to pursue the blog as a

 form and forum for experiencing art.

After accumulating words, journals, drawings, sculptures for over twenty years, I thought it would be interesting to reorganize my work into new patterns. But now I am trying to flow with the river as this new experience takes on a life of it’s own.

Talking through the top of your hat at the drop of a hat.

mixed media on paper

Tundra Swans

Our lives are brief tragic beautiful and surrounded by mystery.  Black marks on a white ground – that is all these words would be but for you they are building a bridge across time and space, following the thought of other minds. (1)

Black marks on a white ground, can they really build bridges? We read books the weather other people read too much into a gesture a look read the potential danger of a situation read it all wrong. Clarity understanding but what of the quality of understanding  has that is that as dense in meaning as the pace the ebb and flow of words across the page a rhythm so lyrical quick quick slow quick quick slow a dancing rhythm the pace of breath to breathe  swallow words whole digest. How much of language uses the body? Can you envision a world without words to define it?

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan explores all of that.

The Brief, “Between 1878 and 1881, Edgar Degas drew, painted, and sculpted Marie in numerous artworks, most famously in Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, (a wax sculpture half-life size so about thirty inches would be my guess, it always interests me how often measurements are omitted when talking about art) which appears at the sixth exposition of independent artists in 1881 alongside Degas pastels of convicted criminals…

The Tragic, “Critics lauded Little Dancer as “the only truly modern attempt at sculpture, “and saw a street urchin, in her face clearly “imprinted with the promise of every vice”.

Hundreds of young girls lived this life, half-starved because of poverty, exploited and marginalized in a world that saw what? Not who they were or what the effort cost them, nor did they think of how few alternatives their lives offered them. Marie was fortunate, her mother was a laundress, and she had an older sister Antoinette and a younger sister Charlotte who according to the book history did make something of herself in the ballet.

The Beautiful, Degas was forty six when Marie modeled for him. Thirty seven years later, the wax/fabric/hair sculpture was still in his studio. It was only after his death that his heirs “arranged to cast the twenty-eight bronze repetitions”.

The Mystery, Her name was Marie van Goetham. What was Degas trying to capture in that wax figure of a fourteen year old girl and why did he chose to use real fabric for the skirt and real hair for her head? If it was me we were talking about, it would be because it was the most expedient route to capture what he was thinking. Oh and why did he never have it cast?   A mystery.

 

(1) The College Survey of English Literature the Introduction to William Cowper 1731-1800

Talking about size, the Tundra Swan painting is approximately thirty inches by forty four inches. It was an attempt to explore their communal dance,  a language which I find fascinating.

 

What a Beautiful Day

Do any of us really appreciate how precious life is?  I rarely have anything to say, moving our lives has destroyed a big part of who we were. I expect it is small potatoes to all those people who live in immigration camps. The book, What is the What, helped me understand just how much life has changed for thousands of people, although they rarely make the news. Isn’t that something we should think about?

Word Drawing 5 x 8"

Summer Time

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shadows187_e

I spent two weekends recently attending workshops. One was on abstracting the painted figure and the other on becoming a published writer. Both were very interesting. What we don’t know about the process or about ourselves makes all of it worthwhile.

I realized I am not interested in being either. I don’t see the way they do, in the painting workshop, plains and angles are a foreign country. I see mass, volume, density and negative space.

I spent that weekend using my left hand to paint. It was a good exercise in motor control, and in making your brain work a different path.

The writer’s workshop, WELL how could anyone feel justified in betraying their friend to make the narrative of the book more interesting? That too is outside of my comfort zone. Oh he did have good reason, but his friend has not spoken to him since. Is that journey less than the sum of its parts?

I have been reading concurrently two books, The Brain that Changes Itself and When Breath Becomes Air. They both speak to me in different ways, we have the gift to change how we think and we have the gift to choose how we think. That sounds very much the same doesn’t it, but it is all to do with degrees and attitude.

I finished When Breath Becomes Air today, written by Paul Kalanithi.

 

Defining Space

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acrobatesMy first foray thinking about sculpture not as an object, but as defining physical space was in a workshop with artist Ann Whitlock.

She gave each of us a ball of string and said, ‘Do something with this.’

Our group must have looked a bit bewildered; we were second year art students at the time. She went on to say, “You don’t have to use the whole ball, and you can incorporate anything else you wish, but you must use some string. You have a week. If you want to discuss anything, I am here”

Rob took a bit of his ball of string and used it to hang an empty frame, thereby capturing a view without the need to reproduce it. Brilliant.

Three of us pooled our resources and took over a local quarry. We tied string to rocks and made a spiral labyrinth that traversed the pit from top to bottom. It was a very temporary installation. We rushed in Friday after school and called everyone together to ride share (few of us had cars) on Sunday. Monday it would no longer exist.

I am thinking about this long ago time because a few friends want me to lead them on a workshop to make cement sculpture for the garden. I left off doing that years ago, have given away all my equipment and tools, pigments and supports and molds. So, I am now trying to think of something we can all learn from instead of just me teaching.

The big problem is permanence is what they are after. So not a tent but a house. Pity. The other way of doing is so much fun and more flexible as well. This amuses me.

At this point in my life permanence is as elusive as life itself, and an illusion. There is a good reason why much of our historical artifacts are broken ceramic sculptures. If they were bronze or iron they had to be buried very deep not to be recycled into implements of whatever war was raging at the time.

Christo understood the beauty of the temporary, so does Mother Nature. Isamu Naguchi did his best to make that vision permanent.

five years

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I received a nice notice from Word Press, apparently I have been blogging for five years.

They didn’t actually give me a star, I have missed the mark to post every Monday, but life overtakes our best efforts.

I did get the magnetic poem on the dishwasher.

Here dwell the true magicians,

Nature is our servant,

Man is our pupil.

We change, we conquer, we create.

Written by Anna Letitia Barbauld

An amazing woman who lived in England, in the eighteenth century.

Burial Caves

Burial Caves

She was not just a writer and a poet, she was a political activist. Unfortunately, like so many  she fell out of the history books. Why is that? After her lack of support for the Napoleon Wars in 1812, when hey we were at war here too, she lost her support and never published again. She founded a school for women that taught more than the domestic arts, was opposed to slavery and wrote critical reviews of other books.

I found her quote in a book given to me by a friend, Quotes of Women, but clearly they had a whole lot more to contribute then a mere quote can tell.

For that I do have to thank Wikipedia, and the Internet, what else has made the world  so accessible to us?

Lost in Translation

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Something and nothing produce each other.

A quote from a book I have been reading, well mostly looking at the pictures they are fantastic.

But, the quote is apparently by Lao tzu, it doesn’t sound right to my ears.

Here is an alternative form “Being and non-being produce each other.”

That still sounds wrong. Even if we were talking about black holes and dark matter, which we are not, at least I don’t think so, they are we think a continuum not an the Cloud Unknowingequation, but maybe this is profound, and I have not understood it.

Does anyone have a comment or a theory? I am listening.

Garden Art

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Dwarfs, faeries and flamingos so offended an artist, you know the ones, adorning the lawns of our neighbours that one night he abducted them, the idea to hold them for ransom. When caught, his reasoning was that it offended his artistic sensibilities. The owners should pay for the eyesore they inflicted.

We actually don’t have any control over what is displayed in the public domain, or how it is represented, even if we are the artist. That is something we learned the hard way. Chris’ windows can be freely photographed and reproduced on coffee mugs, tee shirts, note cards with no credit to who made the work, the post cards are copyrighted, but apparently not the source of the postcard. Interesting world, interesting sensibilities that allow the original creator to be unnamed.

But, we do have by-lays as I am learning. Never having had neighbours before it is a new idea for me.

It is an interesting idea, to abduct, hold ransom that which offends our idea of beauty, aesthetics.

I have plans for our back garden. But, I can stand on the back porch and see seven neighbouring houses. Is this a public or private place, it is not street front, do I need their permission?metal sculpture