Monday, November 30, 2009

New Things

Just remember to breathe!

Dear Enraptured Readers:

I'm not dead. In fact, I seem to be becoming quite recovered from my recent illness. Thanks to family and friends who helped me out!

The studio is full of canvasses - some in the process of being covered with real live paintings, others just waiting for me to buy some more gesso and get them finally prepared enough to work on, others sagging miserably at the corners. Looks like I didn't stretch them quite properly, and with a little time and humidity, they're drooping like undies on a line. It's dispiriting.

I'd lost my taste for sketching since about 2004 - I don't know if it's coming back. As I've said, I've been becoming too computer-dependent for the purposes of assembling the work. Without drawing with only my mind and hand, I was relying on the machine to bring up "chance" meetings - collage-style - of photographs I thought I might want to use, and that might work out into something fantastic when brought together onscreen. But, nope.
I try to motivate myself to draw from life. Vanity is a great blocker of achievement - I don't like doing things imperfectly, and my life drawing look crude and too imperfect. Impatience.

You can't rely just on chance to produce meanings. In throwing stuff together sometimes there were some nice collisions of images, but mostly it was all too empty. I was working too ass-backwards - and a bit desperately, I suppose. You can't rely on external things to provide the inspirational glue - the idea that will motivate and inform a work. No many how many things you pile up, you have to do that yourself.

I've always believed the gestures of the body are really important to art - how they give real individuality to the finished work. Running dead set against this, is how I percieved - and trained myself up in - what I call the 'imperial' tradition of oil paintings, which being usually made for those in power, tended to impersonality and a kind of grandeur that is somewhat removed from regular human considerations - and intimacies. Out of this conflict comes...well, some stuff I'm still dealing with.

In some ways, the computer can be a seductively powerful tool. On the other hand, in what I fear what might form the nature of a truly personal and integral art, I suspect the computer may have very little to do with it.
I'm on the damn thing a lot, though.

So - I'm trying to sketch more. The sketches look so far removed from what I've considered my good finished products that I'm a turned off.
Still, they're full of troublesome skirmishes with vexed men fighting dubious angelic-looking creatures. I wonder wot's up?

Some pics and such soon.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Dear Enraptured Readers:

Right there, above, is a picture representation of that lil' virus that has made my life so miserable this last week and a half. It wasn't just debilitating to have on its very own, though - No!
No, I came down with the flu's despair-and-worry inducing symptoms on the very same eve of the day I had some minor surgery on my back.
This was not comfortable. This was not nice. The bloodletting was formidable. Every time I coughed, the my isolation room looked like a Sam Peckinpah movie.

All in all, November was a great month for losing blood. I gave about twenty vials away in the first week (one half for research, the other half, nobly, to science), and about what seemed like half my liquid body weight in the second half. I wonder if this will benefit me in any of the olde ways that bloodletting used to claim? I think I have gained a somewhat otherworldly, delicate pallor.

Thanks to all the staff of Toronto General Hospital who did such a good job of saving my tattered existence. I'm furious, though, that while I was in duress, the staff did an unsigned for lumbar puncture, and an awkward one at that. F^%k.
My back's still aching. Better than from being laid in a pine box, but...still!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crazy Time (In A Good Way)

Dear Enraptured Readers:

Not much is happening above ground that's evident, but up in my sky-high studio in the clouds, a great deal is going on.

I've been scooting around town on my bicycle, carting home all sorts of found goodies on it's ample side-carriers, and making fun home-made stage sets with them. I think I've got half the Leslie Spit's cast off metal junk in storage back home at the moment. Twigs, rocks, metal, fragments of this and that, tubing, glass, name it, it's probably lurking somewhere around the place. Cycling around, clanking and grumbling, I think I'm starting to look more and more like one of those crazy old coots one sees about, weathered by the vicissitudes of fate, doing an imaginarily brisk rag and bone trade.
All these things I'm piling up, tying and ragging together, arranging and re-arranging (whilst cursing and sweating) into nifty and provocative 'settings' that I'm photographing and sketching. These should form a kind of framework that's intriguing and evocative, neither background or foreground, into which I can work all sorts of other pictorial elements. At least in theory. Well, we'll see how this goes.

It's all a lot more hands-on, creative and meaty than the kind of computer-dependent photo-collaging I really starting kicking with, in 2003 and 2004. At the time, that had a real sense of digging into something meaningful for me, and was an evocative and flexible tool. By 2005, though, that had already gotten a bit more uncreative and worn- or at least I had. I was distracted by distressing woes, and got too dependent on technical distractions to carry the weight of the work. Uh-oh.
In the few years since then, I've been veering around a bit, trying this and that, trying to find that visceral sense of newly creating again. Not without some merit - I think the architectural ("shrub") paintings, were a necessary search, and that a lot of the still lifes turned out quite nicely. And the last show felt like I was getting back on the saddle.

So - yes! I'm building all sorts of funny things around the house, and photographing them like mad. Wish me luck.

It's interesting feeling a lot of walls dissolving - sketching, photographing, designing, inventing, re-photographing, mashing stuff together....a lot of hands-on, unexpected and intimate weirdness. This is bringing up new possibilities to access, or get near the kind of prescient ambiguity needed to show some of the heavy stuff I'm trying to deal with, with all this - grief, loss, trauma.

For whatever reason, I've found that whenever I've tried to take a break and swerve from this - well, darkness is the first word that comes to mind - the work flattens out.
I don't know if this is because of something I've been through, personally, or an external set of metaphors I work best with expressing feelings and intensity through. I don't know if it's because society needs a certain set of symbols at any given time to understand what's in a work, and artists reflexively work with those setups whether they're personal to them or not - though sometimes artists may internalize and believe they 'are' those things. I do not know.
Whatever the case, I have to keep myself directed toward the ambiguous and difficult, or else I seem to lapse into a terrible superciliousness.

Another thing I'm interested in right now is the feminine in my work - and - well, that's a whole other blog post.

In almost unrelated news, I had my first ever acupuncture, and first-ever chiropractic appointment as well. Both, I can say, have been marvellous. Not uninspirational! Ain't that grand?

More soon....