Working on Art

hallway collagesFor a month or two I’ve been inviting friends over for dinner, wining and dining them into the night, and, when they’re relaxed and off-guard, I lure them up to my room, blinking and confused, and force them to sit on the edge of my bed and look at my art.
I’ve been so hungry for feedback, ravenous after many hours and days and weeks over the winter of experimenting with different forms, jamming around with the photos, the painting, the collages – I need need need to see what people respond to.living room collagesI’d invited a bunch of people over for a barbeque last night, a little seasonal fair, and as I was tidying and mopping and vacuuming in anticipation of their arrival, it occurred to me – I’d have them hostage for hours, could put art all over the house and see what people might say.photoIt must be some core piece of the need to make art is an element of communication – it’s like you’re looking for a way to talk about something.
And sometimes it may be a private correspondence with the Universe – like cave artists making shamanic magic on the walls, calling to the spirits of the animals to reveal themselves and where they can be found in abundance.
Or it may be a conversation you are having with a friend in your mind as you do it, a kind of running dialogue that informs what comes out. And then when you talk about this image that has sprung from somewhere, it’s part of how you connect as friends – you see more about who they are by what speaks to them.photoSo when Bea said she really loved the alligator – a drawing I’d hesitated to put up, cause it’s just a loose rough kind of sketch of a piece – it gave me some sense of a place in Bea that resonates with this not-pretty, not-girly kind of image.
But Tom kept remembering something I hadn’t put out, a picture I’d shown them several weeks before when I’d had them on my bed and forced them to look at things, an experiment with drawing and painting on a photo – photoThat one! said Tom. That one was his favourite.
Sometimes taste seems to cut along a shared medium, as in sometimes the painters like the paintings, responding with a visceral part of themselves to texture and colour – Maria, a month ago uttering a low hum when she saw the blues and drips and bumps in this piece – under the seaAnd showing no real interest in the experiments of drawing and painting on photos -
swallow expWhereas Nicky, a non-visual artist, an actor / dancer / director, was very drawn to these experiments, and felt the one of the magnolia was the most realized, the most successful integration of photo and paint – photoAnd while some people have a more textural inclination, others are more figurative, they don’t care for abstraction, they like to always recognize what the image is, to always see a familiar shape.
Sometimes when you’re kind of on that edge, a title can help, can indicate a figure to be found and known – so for example, if I were to say this is a butterfly -
flutterbyWould you believe me?
What’s your favourite, Dear Reader?
(Weekly Photo Challenge – Work of Art)

Pomegranates & friends – Layers

navel pomA friend was in from out of town. We used to be roommates – a year or so spent as Plateau rats in one of those gorgeous, reasonable-rent Montreal apartments with a view of the mountain, just before I became a mom or really had a career to speak of – so long ago now, those young and loose bohemian times.
hairy end pomMy friend was / is a singer, and would wander around the apartment in a thin bathrobe warming up her vocal chords. We’d meet for coffee and giggles in the kitchen before heading our separate ways – she taught from home, I was working long days in the early days of a film career.
interior skien pomThe first night she was here, after some 20 years of really not being in touch much at all, we stayed up late into the night talking, drinking wine, catching up on the many shifts and twists in the tales of fate and circumstances, reaching further and further into the delight in each other’s company, alive again and still as it had been at the kitchen table many years ago.
raw interior pomIt was in the morning after she left I saw the pomegranate on the kitchen table. She must have brought it with her and left it behind.
Such a treat, the thick rind, the weird layers of membrane holding the tasty seeds – such a unique fruit sensation.
Pleasures, simple pleasures, friends and fruit.
ecu pom berriesWeekly Photo Challenge – Layers

Marks

20130806-201140.jpgShy, tentative marks on the page, trying to remember how to draw – oh I used to do this all the time, it was so easy decades ago…
It is a re-entry into pure eye to hand communication, all visceral observation, any analytical thinking subverted, diverted, short-circuited.

20130806-201214.jpgLast week in the city, at lunch a friend said she had started going to life drawing classes again after an absence of decades. It comes back, she assured me, Like a bicycle…

20130806-201300.jpgEncouraged by my sweet BFF Susan, asked so nicely by Uzoma, and determined to reconnect, experimenting with pencil, pastel, paint, messing around, trying anything to feel less afraid of the page, I begin drawing on photographs –

20130806-201343.jpgIt seems like a desecration at the same time as it is wholly satisfying – an ownership, a branding – a new area to explore while feeling somehowlike a tying up of loose ends…

20130806-201422.jpg

Strange times

jan frontyard sky

Strange times.

We’ve had some dramatic weather here recently – gale force winds and sudden temperature shifts, balmy January days and thundery nights like a stormy August season.

The sky has been lively and mercurial, changing quickly -
jan backyard sky

Living with the many faces of climate change is interesting, if not yet scary in this neck of the woods, like it has been in Australia recently or various other places.

In an article about my one true love, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and his observations on the state of things, he says,

…the collective karma and ignorance of our race, the collective anger and violence will lead to our destruction and we have to learn to accept that

Out yesterday for a long walk with a friend along the Beltline, a thin strip of a park cutting through the north end of the city, we caught sight of a rabbit -

blurry bunny

Usually when you see a rabbit outside and try to approach it with a camera, the animal moves away quickly, vanishing with the flash of an upturned tail and long jumping legs showing to the camera.

This bunny came up to me, more aggressive even than the socialized squirrels in High Park, hopping straight up to my feet, sniffing at the machine in my hands – startling, freakish.

bl bunny facing front

Presumably a pet escaped and now living out along the Beltline…

Strange times.

No mind

Early this morning a dream of a deer, come to the door of a house I was just leaving.  I  thought he was an unusual sighting in a suburban neighbourhood as he turned and ran away revealing a fox tail rather than the little white cotton puff.   Excited, I turned to my host, who seemed non-plussed, as though deer were frequent visitors in his neighbourhood.  But when I went out again to the street, the deer was back, his expression deliberate, gesturing with his head for me to follow him around the corner, where it turned out an old friend was giving birth.

Today on Facebook, I see that a photo I took up north weeks ago is featured on the Ontario Travel page.

I took a lot of photos while I was up north.

I loved the experience of it.  Of getting up early, heading out into the morning light and feeling a kind of no-mind creative process – different from writing. Different because it seemed like the best way to connect with my surroundings was to be empty, to just be present in my body in the space…..waiting, feeling, breathing, sensing.

Riding and walking the trails around Collingwood, I found it easy to get very quiet inside myself.  I’d heard in the past about “walking with your power animal”.  It sounded faintly pretentious and I wasn’t sure really what was meant by it.

But I started to feel it.  I started to feel like that’s what I was doing.  Walking as if.  Walking inside the animal.  Walking AS an animal – listening, smelling, feeling the light shifts in the air.

Rustles and snaps of twigs in the brush, in the forest made me stop and listen, waiting to see who was there.  All senses poised as carnivorous predator, hunting for the next shot.

Strangely enough, sometimes it seemed as though the hunted waited, wanting to have their picture taken.

Heat in the city

Waking up my son this morning and looking out the window into the little activities in the back yard – squirrels crossing on the squirrel highway of telephone wires, various birds here and there gathering food and such – the peaceful putterings are suddenly interrupted by the massive swoop of a hawk diving into the back yard beyond where the strange white dog lives.

A moment later the hawk is up, perched on the fence between the properties, lingering a moment, huge, and then he flies off, giant wings carrying him out of the yard, a small brown shape clutched in his talons.  A mouse?  A bird?  Looks too small for a mouse, so perhaps a robin as they are plentiful in these yards.

Last summer I remember O, the (ex)husband, saying he’d seen a hawk swoop into the back yard and catch a pigeon one day when he was home – so it seems they do go in for birds.  And perhaps it is the same hawk.

The presence of a hawk wouldn’t be surprising of course if we lived out in the burbs, near fields or a marsh, but we are right downtown.  Just 2 weeks ago there was a shooting at the gelateria around the corner – the memorial flowers are still wilting outside the cafe where the man died.

Talking with my boy after the fact we figure this must be a good yard for hungry birds and animals in the city.   There’s so many trees the woodpeckers like the range of insect sources, the squirrels and birds have been feasting on the saskatoon-berry tree for weeks.  Someone a couple of yards down seems to have a crabapple tree cause the squirrels drop half-eaten little apples as they pass by on squirrel highway.   All this fecundity, the well-fed life must be appealing for the larger birds of prey as well.

It is the beginning of a hot day here – hot for us Canadian types at least.  34 degrees now in the early afternoon and rising, but with the humidity feels like 40-something.

In the hammock with the camera, seeking out birds in the trees I realize they are hot too, their beaks open, panting.

The sprinkler seems like a good idea for everyone – for the plants, all a little parched and shrivelled from so many days without rain, for the birds if they dare come near the sprinkler….

And they do, having a veritable sprinkler party, flying and darting through the water, catching the lower streams in their beaks and drinking, splashing around in the puddles forming in the dips and valleys in the earth.