Thursday, May 31, 2007

glenn gould

I was a huge fan of Glenn Gould in my late twenties. I had just started to learn the piano, and went looking for recordings of Bach keyboard music because I enjoyed the "List A" pieces in my conservatory piano books.

I found something called the Goldberg Variations, and played it on the stereo one night when I was alone in a huge, empty house. Part-way through the recording I was frightened by the sounds of a male voice mumbling nearby. I got up and looked out the windows, peering into the blackness unable to see anything, my heart beating rapidly.

Then I realized that the "mumbling" was coming from the stereo speakers. I later read that Gould always sang as he played, and his singing is audible in all his studio recordings.

The Goldberg Variations (especially Gould's 1981 version) became one of my favorite works, and when my sister got married I suggested she use the quodlibet (variation 30) as her wedding march. (Listen to it here - scroll down to track 31)

I did a series of sketches of Gould performing at the piano, using videotapes of his recording sessions and TV shows. Gould was an eccentric musician, constantly swaying, rocking, and conducting himself with closed eyes as he played. There was something restless and driven about him, and I like this particular drawing because it seems to catch him in a freeze-frame.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

self portrait

I remember a drawing instructor once asked my class, "Why are there so many self-portraits in art history?" We tried to think up intellectual reasons - something along the lines of "the self-reflexivity of the artistic process since the renaissance," and were brought up short when the teacher pointed out that the artist is often the cheapest and most convenient model for him- or herself.
I went through a phase where I drew my face, hands or feet incessantly, and after a time I could even recreate my face from memory, without consulting the mirror.

This drawing is created with black markers in varying thicknesses, as well as soft (dark) pencil.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

old woman

When I studied visual art at the University of Western Ontario in the early 90s, I developed a fascination with images of elderly people, especially old women. For my fourth-year painting class I did a series of eight huge canvasses, each containing eight life-size images of naked, elderly women. I spent a lot of time sketching lined, wrinkled faces and bodies during this period.

Monday, May 28, 2007

cardigan on the floor

As a child I loved reading Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy books. They were delightfully illustrated with quirky ink drawings, and I would pore over the pages for hours, trying to figure out how to draw like that.

In my early twenties I experimented with line drawing, and some of the stronger pieces came from a series I did of clothes thrown on the floor. I remember this particular cardigan; it was a label called "Non-Fiction," and I bought it myself with money I made working as a lifeguard in the summer. It was a pink sweatshirt cardigan, and was stereotypically 80s: oversized and boxy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

toe shoe

Like many little girls, I was fascinated by ballet. I desperately wanted to take lessons - not necessarily so I could dance, but just to wear the beautiful costumes and shoes.
Luckily my high school offered a dance program as an alternative to the standard physical education courses, and I was finally able to indulge my dream of wearing pink satin shoes.

Eventually I came to realize that the physical demands of ballet were unnatural, and harmful to my body. But for a few short years I delighted in living my dreams.

This line drawing was done in black ink on paper.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

crow

I have a special fondness for crows. During my university years in London, Ontario, I enjoyed seeing a family of crows return every year to the same stretch of trees that lined the long driveway leading up to Brescia College. I would walk past them on my way to class every day, and their large, bold black figures fascinated me.

Years later I was walking through an older neighbourhood in London when I suddenly felt something land on my head. I immediately stopped in shock, and moments later the crow that had alighted on me hopped down onto the sidewalk in front of me, then turned and cast me a curious eye. We stood together for an endless moment, staring intently at each other, before the bird casually flew away and I was left to continue my walk, bemused.

Shortly after this I began taking singing lessons, and eventually came across a song that I loved to sing. It was a German Lied from Schubert's song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter's Journey), called Die Krahe (The Crow). Click here to listen to a recording (scroll down to track 15). The song tells the story of a man near his life's end, followed ominously by a carrion crow as he walks out of town.

I was terribly upset when the crows began dying in southwestern Ontario, victims of the West Nile virus. For several summers the skies were empty of their raucous cawing and sweeping black forms. Sometimes I wondered if they'd ever return to visit me again. I'm happy to say that I often hear crows now, as I sit working at my desk near my open apartment window.

This is another drawing made with Crayola washable markers, sprayed with water to make the ink bleed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

eider duck

This drawing was inspired by a dream about a waterfowl (an "eider duck") on a distant planet. The image is an abstracted duck as seen from above, sitting on a rock with its head tucked under its wing.

The original Crayola washable-marker drawing was embellished with coloured-pencil shading and cross-hatching.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

green man

Another drawing in my Jungian dream work series, this figure is again created with Crayola washable markers and sprayed with water. The drawing was made on the back of a recycled inkjet print, and the text just happened to bleed through the paper at the figure's abdomen.

Monday, May 21, 2007

dream woman

This image came from a bodywork session I did with Mary Hamilton. I lay on the floor, and in my mind's eye I saw different colours flowing through my body. Mary asked me to make drawings of my experience, and this is one of the first in a series that explored this particular bodywork session.

The drawing (using Crayola washable markers) started as a picture of my head, and the purple near the bottom of the page was an energy I saw moving through my throat. I wasn't happy with the image, so I drew the woman's figure on top of the drawing of the face, then sprayed the entire image with water to blur the ink. The drawing was created on the back of a recycled fax, hence the print visible through the paper.

Friday, May 18, 2007

fire man

Another drawing in the Jungian dream series, this image is of a being with a flame burning inside. Again, I used Crayola washable markers and sprayed the image with water afterwards to create the watercolour effect.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

bird man

This drawing was created when I was involved in Jungian psychoanalysis in the winter of 1997/98. I had a dream about waterfowl on a distant planet, and when I did some work with the dream upon awakening, I envisioned a blue liquid seeping through me/the bird.

The drawing is made with Crayola washable markers. If lines are drawn and then sprayed with water, the ink bleeds like watercolour across the page. I had a lot of fun using this technique during this period.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

christmas cards

I make my own Christmas cards out of recycled commercial Christmas cards. I solicit donations of used cards from friends and family.

I love choosing the combinations of trees and backgrounds. Each card is unique, yet based on the same simple design. The tree image is cut and sewn to the background with a straight machine stitch, and the background is sewn to cardstock with a fancy machine stitch.

I usually print a verse inside that reads: The tree of life my soul has seen/Laden with fruit and always green.

Monday, May 14, 2007

art cards

I've been creating handmade art cards for years. I give them to friends and family with gifts, or as hasty notes and thank yous. I like to combine collage with drawing, and sometimes include quotes or inspirational words. Often the front cover ends up being some sort of floral design.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

peaches/apricots

Imagine a puddle of peaches on a countertop. The blushing warmth of skin. Their roundness. A heat that is the colour of my heart, and a vision that makes my heart ache...

Pick one up. The weight and heft registering against palm. The gentleness of fingers not wishing to bruise. The stroke of a thumb against velveteen...

Lift to your nose and close your eyes. A fragrance of lightness that vanishes if inhaled too deeply. A vision of tiny white flowers that evaporate in a rainbow’s end whenever you get too close...

A sudden bite, and an explosion of sweetness. The ache of blushing colour now turned juicy. Inner flesh that melts under the tongue. The swallow...

The end is dripping stickiness, and a ragged pip that’s hard as rock...

(plant it, and another tree will grow...)
Friday September 3, 1999

This drawing was inspired by a bunch of apricots I had bought at the grocery store. The colours were amazing, and I wanted to capture some of that gorgeousness in a picture. I used watercolour to rough in the shapes of the apricots, and then finished with coloured-pencil cross-hatching and shading. The poem was written as a gift to a friend who liked poetry.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

lizard

This collage was a variation on a lizard-like animal I had previously drawn in another series of collages. Magazine pages were collaged in large colour fields, and then cut to fit the image.

Monday, May 7, 2007

abstract landscape #4

Here's the third of three abstract landscapes I created during a collage workshop last fall. (See the first and second ones here and here.)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

abstract landscape #3

This is the second in a series of three abstract landscapes I created during a collage workshop. (See the first one here.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

starfish

This was one of my early collages made from magazine pages. The entire image is two pages wide: this is the right side. I used Sharpie pens to make the black lines, but quickly tired of this technique, since the solvents in Sharpies give me a headache.
I have an obsession with stars - they're in a lot of my drawings and collages. Fish, too.