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'Two Women': life drawing at The Keyhole Sessions

I forgot to set my computer to record the radio show I was on, along with Jen Hosein and Pen Smith, to promote our poetry reading on the 25th. Oh well. It was a busy day. The show was truly wonderful, though, and I will share it as soon as I get a copy.

But I did go to the 2nd last Keyhole Sessions life drawing event and have a few drawings to show. Rather than filling one post with them, as usual, because they're coming to an end (only one more session), I'll post one at a time.

These are the raw sketches, before I do anything to them. Of course, I'll post any that do get worked on as well.

'Two Women,' 2012, 15" x 12", charcoal, water-soluble wax crayons and oil pastels, India ink on canvas sheet.

The pose was quite complicated and time ran out, as it always does. While it was a 25 min pose, I chose not to work on the correctness of the drawing itself; rather, I drew something general and then spent most of the time colouring it with water-soluble oil pastels. While I tend to think that I can do colouring at home, really I can't. It's best done on-site. Luckily, the painting had a half hour to dry before I grabbed a cab to get to Nik's radio show, HOWL. Later that night, at home, I added some ink lines. Sometimes I wish we could take reference photos at life drawing sessions. Here the cross-over of limbs and intertwining of figures in 3D space was hard to translate into a 2D sketch, and I can see that spending more time on the basic sketch itself would have helped. Adding colour in the time allotted for the pose meant I had to move on before feeling that the drawing was as good as I could do. Meaning, the figures are a little abstract - expressions of feeling, I guess. Still, I feel it's an okay piece in the style of colouring developing in these figure drawings from life-drawing sessions.

The photograph was taken in direct sunlight to get the best white balance, and you are also seeing all the detail; on the wall, however, it is a little darker, more solidified.
___

 brendaclews.com
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An untitled painting of a man

Untitled, as of yet. I just painted this. An iPhone photo taken with a daylight bulb. 18" x 24", oil on canvas sheet.

I have been deeply troubled, as ever, by Syria, the refugee camps, the deaths, the conflagrations. And the miners in South Africa, their horrendous treatment, not just the shooting deaths, but the survivors being charged with murder (withdrawn as of today, but it influences). This is a -just-sit-down-and-paint-woman-whatever-fucking-emerges-let-it-be- painting. From the inner self, where the cauldron burns.




___

 brendaclews.com
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A Palmistry (in process)

Finally working on a new painting.

A hand, yes. My current 'hand crisis' is what I think I was doing, but then the disembodied quality of the hand made me think of a nightmare long ago, of the strangenesses of our lives, which are like intersecting arcs.

These paintings are becoming a style, I guess. I work from the imagination. When I sit down I have no idea what will emerge. It's scary! Let it be messy. Yikes! Don't over-work and the way to do this is to be fast. Shivers! Just dive in. Though there is a sort of representation of my hand because it's very much a focus now. So is a psychic I saw around the time of the nightmare - a Wiccan witch from Northern Ireland who really was the real deal - who read palms.

Because of the the complex cluster of images that this painting is drawing about itself, I decided to call it, A Palmistry.

Palmistry is a way of reading the life of the person whose palm it is.

The dream, dated June 2, 1980, was quite long, and went on to become much more scary than the beginning, the part about the hand (which is all I'll relate):
There was a darkness outside, pushing in. 'S' was here, and entertaining as always, but aware of the ominousness. He went to the bathroom and when he came out he said that there was a hand on the windowsill with a note beside it (he told me what it said but I can't remember now). I shucked it off, asked if it was an effigy and he said no, it was a real hand. I knew it was a child's hand and had been deliberately severed. I could not go and look at it directly but could only think what poor child in this dear world had been sacrificed. I thought it the work of a demonic cult, and that, like marks on houses, of the first-born to be killed by Pontious Pilate in the Roman era, or the Jews during Nazi Germany, this was a mark that was a warning. I could not consider it a symbol, for it was a real hand from a real child. I saw it clearly in my mind's eye throughout the dream. I could not step into that room, however, and see the hand in flesh and blood as a sign in the window. I could not have borne it - a child of maybe 4 - unbearable. Perhaps it was my own hand.
....The sign of the hand - I was already becoming disoriented and couldn't perceive the situation clearly. I tried to calm 'S' as best I could in my state - my senses were being scattered and broken up....The blackness all around us was growing. The atmospheric temperature was dead still, enclosing, pressing against my home. I tried to stand. All I could see were sections of the visual world - a plane of darkly embroidered fabric in the air, and nothing else. Or a distortion of furniture. Memory told me where to stand for my senses were turning the world into a 3-dimensional Cubist picture that did not have coherence. The world of time and space and the way the senses order it was shot to hell. I could barely negotiate my way around and could not think with any clarity....It was like seeing the world through a crystal prism, darkly....Other dimensions could enter.
My intention had been to write some of the text of the original dream onto the canvas, but... I'll see. It is most strange that with my SLAC wrist and the recommended removal of the scaphoid bone and the fusing of the other bones in the hand with bone taken from elsewhere in the body that I find this old dream re-surfacing.

Can my painting move beyond my immediate concerns to connect with the strangeness of hands, all hands? Look, those red dredges of oil pastel running from her neck and down are not blood, but were meant to represent a red striped top. Lol.


"A Palmistry (in process)", 2012, Brenda Clews,18" x 24", charcoal, oils, oil pastels, oil sticks on triple-primed cotton canvas sheet.


 on the easel

 earlier stage


brendaclews.com
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She, herself

She, herself, 2012, 12.5" x 12", mixed media on primed canvas sheet.

A small offering to Breast Cancer Awareness. The child-like drawing is a return to innocence. She touches herself. She is meditative, aware, loss and trust fill her, her erotic energy is strong.

May 7th is also, I suspect (it's not easy to discover which day it is), National Masturbation Day, and celebrates the many benefits of private self love from the healthy release of endorphins through to the healing that deep self acceptance provides.


brendaclews.com
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Figurative Art: 'Every Angel is terror' (Rilke) and 'Braille'



"Every Angel is terror. And yet, ah, knowing you, I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul" from Rilke, 2nd Duino Elegy, 2012, 18" x 24", charcoal, acrylic, primed canvas sheet.

When I go to drop-in life painting sessions, which consist of 4 hour poses, difficult for the model for sure, but rather static to paint, I like to make the painting into something which can evoke a poetry in the viewer. In this painting, to which I gave a few lines from Rilke's 2nd Duino Elegy as a title, the woman has what I call Etherics beside her. In my imagination, they are preparing her for an inner visionary journey. They are tribal soul sisters caring for her. Whether this be dream, or waking imagination, or the mysterious process of art, I don't know. You will see them as you do and they will make sense in the context of your inner life.



Charcoal sketch of the same model as in the previous painting, done after the painting from a slightly different angle, on primed canvas.



Replacing an earlier version of this poem painting with the charcoal sketch inverted (see earlier version below.)


The poem, 'Braille,' was written in 2006, and the drawing was from a drop-in life drawing session that year at the Vita Brevis Studio.


The painting came first (and soon I'll add some writing from an older journal that seems to express the figures in the painting). Then, while the painting was drying, while I was still in the studio at TSA, I did a small charcoal sketch on a sheet of the canvas pad from a slightly different angle to that of the painting. Then I paired the charcoal sketch inverted so it's like a negative with a poem that is in my poetry mms to replace an older version with another model from a life drawing session, which I added to this post as well.


brendaclews.com

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Woman of the Sea

Whiteness, a high tide drawn by the moon. Light coiled around and inside her, claiming her. Thoughts passed through like schools of fish. Luminosity opened in the depths and kept opening.


Woman of the Sea, 2011, 12" x 10", 30.5cm x 25.5cm, India ink, conte crayon, oils on [100lb archival] paper.

She got wetted and blotted and re-painted a few times. This is what she became. Below is an earlier moment on the journey towards the final version.



Another Woman of the Sea, mostly oils on [100lb archival] paper. Those white scraping marks, like dots, on her right bother me, yet if I remove them the foreground, where she is, and the background, where the dark ocean is, separate from each other too much to my liking. Those white scrapes anchor her to the swirl of fluidity, the sea.

 .... yet I am still finding my relation to this painting like it was to the drawing, difficult.

But it's quite detailed, isn't it. About 4 layers of different coloured paint. Interesting what can emerge when you prepare for a run. :) The living room/dining room in my tiny apartment is currently set up as a make-shift studio, so it's just a few feet to the work table. But it takes gumption to get there. I did, and I done.

So tuckered out now, after that jaunt of paint, I'll have to have lunch and a rest. [ps It looks better in a large size -click on it -it'll open to a new screen.]

I am seeing the Symbolists here, and the French Surrealists.


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Figures


Figures, 25.5cm x 34.5cm, 10" x 13.5", India ink, oil on 100lb archival paper.

Freshly painted sketch from the life drawing session I went to in August. Probably two 3 minute poses drawn on the same page, but the imagination runs wild...

_
With thanks to Pierre-Marie Coedes for pointing out that the figures look like a couple - which I hadn't seen but did after he mentioned it.


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Old Woman of the Sea


Old Woman of the Sea, 35.5cm x 39.5cm, 14" x 15.5", India ink, conte crayon, oils on 100lb archival paper.

It's not that I paint, but that the painting paints me. It changes me somehow. It's not that I paint something but rather that I paint what's changing in me through the process of creating the painting.

Old Women of the Sea: the old woman is in the ocean; the ocean moves through her; she is the ocean. Like a mother ocean.

A figurative landscape, or, rather, seascape.

I painted her in near darkness last night, in a dimly lit room. The colours looked almost the same on the paper - I only knew which was which because of the names on the tubes, which I could just make out. As I painted, I trusted my intuitive aesthetic senses.

In the midnight air I went to the table I've set up for painting while my children are away (at their Dad's - it's Canadian Thanksgiving and my half of the family wined and dined on Saturday night). I chose a sketch. And began painting, hardly being able to see what I was doing. Doing it by intuitive sense. And I wanted to let go of the naysayers in my head, and paint with an emotional clarity.

And I guess that's perhaps that's why I have to be alone to work. My children's presence or absence has nothing to do with it. I'm learning who I am when I paint. Or being taught by my painting. It's a very intimate, private process - until it's finished, and then you can show the world.


I'm painting some of the sketches I did at a life drawing drop-in session at TSA (Toronto School of Art) in August.

The original sketch as I did it in the life drawing session
that I went to with my niece. If you click on it, you'll go to the album.



Lifedrawing6, 28cm x 35.5cm, 11"x14", India ink, conte crayon, 100lb archival paper.


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Theatrics of the Age

Ancient Grecian, red ochre of pottery, a Venus on a pedestal, the theatrics of the age.


Theatrics of the Age, 25.5cm x 30.5cm, 10" x 12", India ink, conte crayon, oil on 100lb archival paper. The original sketch all but gone in the painting, what looks like conte crayon sweeps is oil paint swept on a large dry brush.

Today I painted some of the sketches I did at a life drawing drop-in session at TSA (Toronto School of Art) in August.

An earlier version of the painting.




The original sketch as I did it in the life drawing session
that I went to with my niece. You can also view the whole album.



Lifedrawing9, 28cm x 35.5cm, 11"x14", India ink,
conte crayon, 100lb archival paper.


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Old Woman

As I painted, I thought of the blue, and of sticks. And it is like she is surrounded by a nest, isn't it.


Old Woman, 2011, 25.5cm x 32cm, 10" x 12.5", oil on archival paper.


Today I painted one of the sketches I did at a life drawing drop-in session at TSA (Toronto School of Art) in August - one I hadn't posted.

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