Sunday, September 29, 2013

friends and material things

After getting the mandalas finished and framed I wanted to do something different. The mandalas require painstaking attention. I went back to making collages. There is something about ripping and tearing paper that is very satisfying. I didn’t plan to do collages. I planned to do some more shadow studies on tracing paper. The collages grew from there. Then it grew into a project.

I’ve been drawing my friends whom I know only through words and pictures from my stone group. I look for a photo of them that interests me and then look for a stone they’ve written to add to it. I’ve completed four. I have many more to go. This is a fun project since by drawing them I feel like I am getting to know them a bit better. When all done I may stitch them into a book.

That has been taking up most of my time, but I also began an art journal.

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a while, I bought a journal months ago, but couldn’t get started. Looking at white pages is not very inspiring. I received some advice to pre-treat the pages so that they are not perfect. So I’ve done that and it seems to help. I cannot abide a pristine canvas either before I start painting, so it may be one of my quirks. 

Funny really, because when I do a mandala i
t is just the opposite. I go out of my way not to smudge anything. Anyways, the pre-painted pages act like a sort of writing and painting prompt and it is much easier to get going. If you’re stuck with your journal writing give it a try.

My hope is that keeping a journal in which I jot down ideas quickly will loosen up my work a bit. I think it may. Just like my doodle books I noticed a change early on.   

(The latter two photos when loaded in came out at an angle. Don't know why and there is no way to rotate them. Just another one of those things that has me scratching my head.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

in the future, not now

It has been a busy week. I painted and framed two mandalas that I plan to put up for sale in November.

 This will be the first time I place my work on sale and it is quite thrilling. First they need to be deemed worthy by the gallery whose tastes I really don’t know so my thrills may be slightly premature. Wait and see. I view this as a learning experience. I don’t expect success the first time out the gate and it isn’t a race anyways. At least it shouldn’t be. There is still so much to learn.

However I have not stopped there.

 I painted yet three more mandalas but now the mandala making mood has stopped. The first two were quite successful but the third is rather odd. 
Halloween Cabbage Mandala. orange, green and purple with black lines. What was I thinking?

It appears like a Halloween cabbage mandala. There is no freshness to it and I can almost smell the cabbage cooking. I don’t dislike this odd looking mandala but it does look crude and simplistic to my eyes and so I will move on to something else for the time being. I’ve accomplished my goal of having three mandalas for framing and even have a fourth so there is no reason not to try something different.

So I am back to portraits. Really I need to try a landscape sometime soon. This is something to think about, but in the future, not now.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

two weeks of stones

This has been a month of small stones. A member of our writing group challenged us to write a stone a day and post it. A stone is a small mindful observation. They need not be provocative or especially insightful but quite often these little observations turn out to be that way. It is a way to celebrate the present. To be aware of one surroundings, the sights, the sounds, the smells that creates appreciation. The following are fourteen stones I’ve written this month:

Bangers in the fry pan.
Not the name of a band
but dinner.

Abandonment is a form of hope.

He shoots! He scores!
The goalie, a concrete step leading to the building’s parking lot, remained defenseless
Against two small boys
Wielding wicked slap shots
Of imagination.


Upon the shelf in the spare closet, cord coiled around its base, the summer fan is returned. What seems necessity for a few weeks soon becomes obsolete.


Condensation from a forgotten water bottle, meant to be taken for a walk, tinkles droplets of water forming puppy pools on the kitchen counter.


A raised divider separates the four lanes of roadway. Along this stretch left and right are never to meet and find common ground. Over this no-man’s land runs a woman, uncommitted to taking a side, frantically searching for something she somehow lost.

Slipper, missing its mate, idle at bedside.

Two pillows curl between shadow and armrests.


On the sidewalk, below storefront eaves
A busker dressed in blue
Plays Led Zeppelin
“If you’re over fifty you should know this.”
He cries out
Strumming a pummelled guitar

Empty bowl, empty plate, empty cup, empty chair…

Low afternoon sun squints close the eyes
But hearts beat openly for this heat.


Black pencil on green paper
When thought left the room.


Across a scratched pine tabletop
Scraps from breakfast
Cast short-lived shadows.


Remote control sits on table devoid of colour.
Sun softens rain into yesterday’s forgetfulness.

So that's it. Another two weeks to go.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

chance occurrence

It still amazes me how a chance occurrence can change the way things get done. I was doing collages of my mother and this week I am doing mandala watercolours. Why the change? Well, I received an e-mail asking for submissions. The artwork is for a Christmas sale. This is something I’ve never done before; prepare artwork for sale-so I’m giving it a go. My mandalas are what I’m most comfortable with. Besides, they’re kind of unusual so they may work as Christmas presents. I’ll make a few and see how it goes. If nothing else it’s a great learning experience right?

In addition there was a request for Christmas ornaments. I’ve done many over the years. When my kids were small I painted chicken eggs. Many chicken eggs. These became the ground for various surface treatments and miniscule paintings. So when an online request came for artists to make a Christmas decoration to donate I thought why not? So now I’m also making a Christmas decoration but this time out of a tuna fish can with a steampunk theme. Research is required. Objects around the house or when I go out shopping get analyzed for their possible use as machinery components. Everything gets examined for their steampunk potential.

Another chance occurrence came when I did some blog surfing. Hopping from blog to blog I discovered a wonderful essay written in 1933 called In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki. This was a lucky chance occurence because for the month of September I'm posting a mindful stone a day to my writing group. Tanazaki's essay is about being mindful of our environment.The author contemplates the differences between western and Asian appreciation for light and shadow. The west sees beauty in the light and spurns shadow. Yet Asian culture sees beauty and mystery in shadow. It is a beautifully written essay that bounces about from idea to idea yet never strays from its topic. I can’t say I agree with everything the author writes. He supposes dark skin is shunned in western society because of the underlying shadow. Probably true since shadow suggests illness but there is also the more obvious distinction that pale skin being a sign of wealth. Not true anymore, tans now suggest vacation time, but certainly still true eighty years ago.

The final chance occurrence was discovering an artist living in our city I’d never heard of before: RobertGuest. He’s retired and living in the Nanaimo area.I met him through my job.Nature inspires him and he has a very mindful approach to his subject.

So what did I learn from this? Be open to the world around you. Chance occurrences lead to new possibilities.