Image

My daughter's photo of me this morning



A self-portrait from this morning.




My sweet daughter's photo of me this morning.


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In the Middle of the Summer that Summer

Paint becoming the sediment out of which it was made, a little muddy, silted. A cave painting. I understand the images and the picture is whole. From my personal mythology, where I cohere my experience. Not quite free association but like parts of a dream represented concurrently together. Re-finding who I am through what I lost.


finished painting (click on images for larger size) - it has a powdery quality and a slight glow,
a 'cave painting' sense, not quite revealed...



pre-painting sketch

In the Middle of that Summer, 2008-2009, multi-media: -oils -graphite -water-soluble oil pastels -colored India ink drawings -a self-portrait photograph, and sketch of women with charcoal found on the beach lined in Ink later, both printed on parchment paper glued to the sketch with 'water mixable oil Matt Varnish' -on Arches archival watercolour block, 15"x20", 38mmx41mm, 2008-9. Words from a prosepoem written on the back of the sheet that the drawings of the women on the beach were on: In the Middle of August in the Summer of 2008.



Scans from my notebook, written and sketched on the beach on that day, August 15th, 2008. Yes, I use a Moleskine®.

Women who were standing on the beach drawn with tiny pieces of charcoal found in the sand and later the outlines inked and the sketch sprayed with Krylon® matte fixative. Scanned onto parchment paper and affixed with Windsor&Newton® matt varnish.



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Angels

File:Cortona Guardian Angel 01.jpgAs a little girl in Lusaka, Zambia, having come out of years of living in the jungle with my geologist father, frightened of so many people, uncomfortable in shoes, my mother enrolled me in ballet. Within a few months 'they' decided that I should train full-time at the National Ballet, do my schooling there, everything. I was 7 years old. I loved to dance! My soul was free!

My mother, however, refused. Not just refused to let me study ballet, which was probably a good decision for my hip bones now, but took me out of the class and hid my ballet clothes - the little black slippers especially I loved (too young for toe slippers).

I remember crying and crying and looking up one night and seeing a beautiful large angel in the window, and I felt comforted and peaceful and loved. And the angel showed me where my mother had hidden my beloved danskin and slippers, and I took them and slept with them under my pillow that night.

Surely a vision of my guardian angel!

When I came back to angels many years later - Rudolf Steiner says your angels abandon you around your 33rd year and then you struggle through on your own. If we can, he says, we need to open ourselves to the wisdom and guidance of our angels. To 'think as our angels think,' and thus we can find them again...

Angels, I believe, are unconditionally loving forces, and yet also protective. Angels guard us, keeping our vulnerable inner spirit of love alive.

Angels are the opposite of despair. Angels are trust and navigation through the intricacies of each day in the multiples of connections we have with each other.

As I learned to commune with my angels, following Steiner's advice, 'my' angels became a metaphor for my 'intuition.'

Like Blake, I've spent many a long hour communing with angels. Mostly what I understand through my 'angels' or 'intuition' is how the intent to do something operates. There is intent not necessarily before action but firing its energy. How intent becomes a way to explain the motivation for our actions, what propels our actions towards each other. And love, oh, yes, how angels most desire that we love each other. If we think as our angels think then we can think and feel love, compassion, blessing, joy.

I'm not a deist, though. I don't try to fit my notions of angels into any religious system of any kind. I used to play with faeries as a child too - and sometimes can still 'see' the playful little jolly trickster beings and nature sprites...

It's all fabulous! Who is ever alone when you are surrounded by angels and faeries........!
__

Milton's Satan was by far the most inspired character of those beautiful epic poems. Satan was where all the energy was. God was imperial, authoritarian, boring. Though Dante's God was alright, come to think of it. By Milton I think the whole endlessly blessedness of the blessed realm had worn thin and it was time to find the rebel.

I'll never forget Satan's fall to earth - so poignant, almost heartbreaking, yet the most exciting moment in English literature and religious studies up to that point.

Milton was never the sensualist Shakespeare was. Milton, the blind genius composing his epic poems in his mind all night and then reciting to whoever would take dictation the next day. They thought him a hack writer, and felt sorry he'd lost his sight, and oh, how he surprised everyone with his vision and his superlative composition. Milton's writing is, for me, nearly perfect.

Once I fell in love with another graduate student, many summers ago, who was in Toronto for the summer from England where he'd gone to do a dissertation on Milton, and he had a photographic memory, and lay beside me in the night reciting Milton by heart for hours... what bliss, I can't tell you.

Milton understood angels in ways that the Byzantine and Renaissance artists didn't. And he understood the Fall as the story of each person's quest to unite the fissures and splits within, as a journey towards wholeness where opposites are united.

Milton was a visionary.

Wim Wender surely is a visionary filmaker too - at least in Wings of Desire, which is probably my favourite film.

In Wings of Desire, the angels who fall, who become mortal for love.

What epic stories!

Are angels a type of simulation? We imagine them - even if vividly as in my case! - but does that make them figments of an ethereal light, an inner light?

Traditionally angels are thought of as guardians, as guides, as helpers. As emissaries of the godhead. Messengers. What is between the human and the divine. Angels are busy workers who concentrate on individual concerns, rather than the rather distant deity whom they serve. At least in the myths that they've come to us through.

I loved the Buffy shows, and Angel, now that was a most interesting way to present the Satan Milton bequeathed to us - angels with vampiric sides.

A literary study of angels, and surely it's been done and done, would not, I don't think, be as interesting as one on the Hell's Angels.

Or the roar of motorcycles.

Milton enriched our understanding of the power of angels considerably didn't he.

__________
Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656.

Not knowing what to post, I posted this piece, which I wrote a year and a half ago in some correspondence.

I have an idea how to keep this blog going since I feel I am running out of steam... inbetween paintings and prosepoetry pieces, I could grab a book from my shelves, any book, and find a quote in it that I'd underlined in pencil. And write something about that book, or when I read it... so many approaches rather than the dry academic essay to what are, after all, collections of knowledge, our beloved books...

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'Time of Recompense' by Ai!R

  

I am a fan of Ai!R, a Russian composer and musician, who I discovered on Jamendo. As I listened to his latest offering, while working on a piece for painting, in the deep night, I wrote images for each of the three tracks:

1)The Time of Recompense.
Like a massive, slow procession of cumulonimbus storm clouds moving slowly and ominously over the mountains, unstoppable, a dirge, funereal.

2)Lullaby for Shadows.
Slashes of sunlight tearing the clouds which gracefully part like curtains to reveal the stage, a grand stage of all life. The artist is playing the music of the grand story of the tableau of life with the tenderness of a lullaby.

3)Escape.
Strings, action. The inner workings of the organ in the silent night. An audience of souls. Ghosts dancing as the heart remembers love, joy, fullness.
Glory. Steady, majestic dance building tonal waterfalls, crests of waves of notes, golden shining through.
Increasing radiance.
Pure love in the final magnificent dance. Rich, timbre echoing to the steady heartbeat of chords until the last ray of sun sets.
The artist gives the gift of his music to celebrate the drama, the gift of life, a recompense. This love partakes.


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Shaman



'Shaman: Reflective Face,' 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic, varnish and dried leaves on archival paper

No idea why I keep working on it - wasn't my original idea or even close (which was some colorful decorative masks) and I don't know where he came from, or why painting his face is so difficile. Because I took him to DOWH yesterday for the alter, and the women said, 'oh he's a shaman!' he now has a new title. Shaman, he is.

(In my original conception one aspect I wished for was cat eyes, not quite but almost-sort-of, eyes that can see in the dark - how else is a shaman to get about in the obscure spirit worlds?)

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How It Comes About

Sometimes it emerges as a gift, but mostly not. More like hewing sculpture out of marble with your fingers as your only tools.

Perhaps there are artists who laugh the whole time they work and who are satisfied with everything they do. While I am mostly 'in the zone,' concentrated, focused, busy doing and undoing, wrecking and saving, there is always a moment when I cry. Anguish. It might be before I begin. Or after I've ended. But usually during schisms during.

I'm in the flight or fight syndrome when I paint. I want to run from the image I am fighting to create. I only stop what surely is a sort of madness, painting, by deciding something is finished when I 'can live with it.' And yet my images clearly don't reflect the pain they have caused me.

People who don't create art don't perhaps understand what you go through as you wait for the moment when your painting, or your sculpture, or your composition sings to you.

Until it sings to you, you have to keep going or give up.

Lately I'm simply making, without being serious. I'm doing pieces that are not part of any project. Mostly I am aghast at what's emerged. It's better to have a direction, to know what it is you want to do. To have a thesis.

Yes, even in paint. A thesis is not a direction exactly. Not in the way I am using it. But an overall 'reason for being' perhaps.

Just doing for the sake of doing doesn't do anything.

Unless you make the 'doing for the sake of doing' the raison d'etre, that is!


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Sheets

Harsh sheets
fall softly.
Leaves once, crack in November.
Shellac the face with stones,
I saw this:
a model whose head
pasted with small grey stones,
like you find
on any rocky pebble beach.

Sheets perhaps of rain,
or the ones you wash because
you sleep in them,
or what we write or draw on.

Sheets fall

my walls

falling, falling
like tears.


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The Reflective Face

As masked women in the circle, we wear our secrets and our feathers. Bird-wing women. Masks represent ways we hide our feelings. We dance. Spontaneously a masked woman enters the circle, slowly or spinning or high stepping. At the moment of uncovering she removes her mask to reveal her reflective face. As woman after woman enters the spotlight of the centre of the circle dancing and strips her mask, we cheer. Vulnerable without what hides us, sweat, and crease, and laughter, we: flash glitter dancing glyphs; we: body poetry.





The Reflective Face, 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic & dried leaves on archival paper (on right, earlier version; on left, finished, with leaves dried nearly to veins, gloss, and more paint added -click on images to see larger versions)

I didn't like the finished painting, so have played with it in Photoshop. The original is varnished, very high gloss.







A poetic response to one of the exercises Erica Ross facilitated during her Dance Our Way Home session, 'Honouring Your Feelings,' the second session of the Nest & Nourishment series, last Saturday. She offers the same class each Wednesday evening.

I wished to write about the dance of the masked women and thought to paint a feather mask to illustrate this post. Because of the way the paper buckled with the wet paint, and the shape of the neck, I think it is a man angel. I call my masked man, or perhaps beneath the mystery of the mask, woman,  The Reflective Face.




A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor

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Where Butterflies are Born

When my own dance began, oh, it was hard. I lay on the floor, like a grub. I crawled forward following a line of sun that fell across the floor. I crawled forward and was pulled back, again and again. On I struggled, slipping back, pushing on. I fell off the path. Defeated. I pulled myself with pain, effort back to the track of sun. In the whole dance I made only an inch of progress, until I gave up. Almost by levitation, I felt myself rising. As if strings were attached to my arms and back and head. And those strings were pulled by higher forces and I began to dance like a marionette, shaky and wobbly on the floor. I was uncertain, but felt guided by unseen masters. It was a happier dance than the hard journey on the floor had been. I jumped and writhed and flopped and flounced like a puppet on strings, only I distinctly felt that I was achieving what I most wanted to achieve, and I only achieved it by letting go, and trusting. It was a strange, ecstatic feeling, perhaps like a newly emerged wing-wet butterfly trusting inborn instinct, rising and flying.

I'm writing about last Saturday's dance, 'Honoring Your Feelings, in the DOWH Nourishment series that Erica Ross offers. She is offering the same class this Wednesday evening.



A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor


At this point in the DOWH session, we were partnered and I was dancing what I was feeling while being witnessed by my partner. It is surprising what insights emerge in dance, isn't it. We bare our souls; we find kinetic metaphors for where we are on our life paths; we move through huge issues, blocks, grief, things that seem immovable. Like many, I couldn't live without dance. On the dance floor we support each other's processes. We give space to our intertwining energies. We enjoy our mutual beauty.



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Dancers After Midnight


Dancers After Midnight, 2009, 8"x11", 20cmx28cm, oil pastel, India inks on paper

It's called 'Dancers After Midnight' because I sketched it in the midnight air, and finished at maybe 2am, when the air was still dark smoky blue-black.

Recently I've been 'put through the paces' over my work by someone I considered a friend but who turned out not to be supportive of my painting. In summarily dismissing almost all of my work, it was called 'abstract,' a label that mystifies me. I would say that if one liked a more Classical style of painting, stillness, realism, then my work would not be adequate, but neither would I call what I do 'abstract.'

How can I explain my art? Let me try.

When I work I like to create something realistic enough for you to recognize the subject matter, yet I like imperfection because life is like that. I like to see the brush-stroke, which to me is like the breath of the artist breathing onto the canvas. And a calligraphy of drawing, the poetry of the lines, is crucial. As is motion: rhythms of colour, sweeps of brushstroke, moments of tension between forms.

Slick does not suit me; I like it raw.

When I paint, it tears my heart out of my chest. Can you see my pulse beating there, in the dance of oils and inks?

I like beautiful, on this side of frenzied.

If I had to accept a label, I would say my art is somewhere between drawing and painting. My main influences are an incredibly diverse range of artists both contemporary and throughout history. I think the way you paint is linked to your biological gesture in the world. That paint and inks do not come out of tubes or bottles but fingertips.

My ex-friend and I have parted ways.

I guess the lesson is that you have to believe in yourself. That's most important.

Be true to yourself and follow your vision.

It's important not just to support and nurture the talents of others, but to have friends who support and nurture ours. When there is a balance, of give and take, a crucial reciprocity, we can freely explore and express our gifts, which are, afterall, our sacred offerings.


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My daughter's photo of me this morning



A self-portrait from this morning.




My sweet daughter's photo of me this morning.


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Comments (2)

In the Middle of the Summer that Summer

Paint becoming the sediment out of which it was made, a little muddy, silted. A cave painting. I understand the images and the picture is whole. From my personal mythology, where I cohere my experience. Not quite free association but like parts of a dream represented concurrently together. Re-finding who I am through what I lost.


finished painting (click on images for larger size) - it has a powdery quality and a slight glow,
a 'cave painting' sense, not quite revealed...



pre-painting sketch

In the Middle of that Summer, 2008-2009, multi-media: -oils -graphite -water-soluble oil pastels -colored India ink drawings -a self-portrait photograph, and sketch of women with charcoal found on the beach lined in Ink later, both printed on parchment paper glued to the sketch with 'water mixable oil Matt Varnish' -on Arches archival watercolour block, 15"x20", 38mmx41mm, 2008-9. Words from a prosepoem written on the back of the sheet that the drawings of the women on the beach were on: In the Middle of August in the Summer of 2008.



Scans from my notebook, written and sketched on the beach on that day, August 15th, 2008. Yes, I use a Moleskine®.

Women who were standing on the beach drawn with tiny pieces of charcoal found in the sand and later the outlines inked and the sketch sprayed with Krylon® matte fixative. Scanned onto parchment paper and affixed with Windsor&Newton® matt varnish.



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Angels

File:Cortona Guardian Angel 01.jpgAs a little girl in Lusaka, Zambia, having come out of years of living in the jungle with my geologist father, frightened of so many people, uncomfortable in shoes, my mother enrolled me in ballet. Within a few months 'they' decided that I should train full-time at the National Ballet, do my schooling there, everything. I was 7 years old. I loved to dance! My soul was free!

My mother, however, refused. Not just refused to let me study ballet, which was probably a good decision for my hip bones now, but took me out of the class and hid my ballet clothes - the little black slippers especially I loved (too young for toe slippers).

I remember crying and crying and looking up one night and seeing a beautiful large angel in the window, and I felt comforted and peaceful and loved. And the angel showed me where my mother had hidden my beloved danskin and slippers, and I took them and slept with them under my pillow that night.

Surely a vision of my guardian angel!

When I came back to angels many years later - Rudolf Steiner says your angels abandon you around your 33rd year and then you struggle through on your own. If we can, he says, we need to open ourselves to the wisdom and guidance of our angels. To 'think as our angels think,' and thus we can find them again...

Angels, I believe, are unconditionally loving forces, and yet also protective. Angels guard us, keeping our vulnerable inner spirit of love alive.

Angels are the opposite of despair. Angels are trust and navigation through the intricacies of each day in the multiples of connections we have with each other.

As I learned to commune with my angels, following Steiner's advice, 'my' angels became a metaphor for my 'intuition.'

Like Blake, I've spent many a long hour communing with angels. Mostly what I understand through my 'angels' or 'intuition' is how the intent to do something operates. There is intent not necessarily before action but firing its energy. How intent becomes a way to explain the motivation for our actions, what propels our actions towards each other. And love, oh, yes, how angels most desire that we love each other. If we think as our angels think then we can think and feel love, compassion, blessing, joy.

I'm not a deist, though. I don't try to fit my notions of angels into any religious system of any kind. I used to play with faeries as a child too - and sometimes can still 'see' the playful little jolly trickster beings and nature sprites...

It's all fabulous! Who is ever alone when you are surrounded by angels and faeries........!
__

Milton's Satan was by far the most inspired character of those beautiful epic poems. Satan was where all the energy was. God was imperial, authoritarian, boring. Though Dante's God was alright, come to think of it. By Milton I think the whole endlessly blessedness of the blessed realm had worn thin and it was time to find the rebel.

I'll never forget Satan's fall to earth - so poignant, almost heartbreaking, yet the most exciting moment in English literature and religious studies up to that point.

Milton was never the sensualist Shakespeare was. Milton, the blind genius composing his epic poems in his mind all night and then reciting to whoever would take dictation the next day. They thought him a hack writer, and felt sorry he'd lost his sight, and oh, how he surprised everyone with his vision and his superlative composition. Milton's writing is, for me, nearly perfect.

Once I fell in love with another graduate student, many summers ago, who was in Toronto for the summer from England where he'd gone to do a dissertation on Milton, and he had a photographic memory, and lay beside me in the night reciting Milton by heart for hours... what bliss, I can't tell you.

Milton understood angels in ways that the Byzantine and Renaissance artists didn't. And he understood the Fall as the story of each person's quest to unite the fissures and splits within, as a journey towards wholeness where opposites are united.

Milton was a visionary.

Wim Wender surely is a visionary filmaker too - at least in Wings of Desire, which is probably my favourite film.

In Wings of Desire, the angels who fall, who become mortal for love.

What epic stories!

Are angels a type of simulation? We imagine them - even if vividly as in my case! - but does that make them figments of an ethereal light, an inner light?

Traditionally angels are thought of as guardians, as guides, as helpers. As emissaries of the godhead. Messengers. What is between the human and the divine. Angels are busy workers who concentrate on individual concerns, rather than the rather distant deity whom they serve. At least in the myths that they've come to us through.

I loved the Buffy shows, and Angel, now that was a most interesting way to present the Satan Milton bequeathed to us - angels with vampiric sides.

A literary study of angels, and surely it's been done and done, would not, I don't think, be as interesting as one on the Hell's Angels.

Or the roar of motorcycles.

Milton enriched our understanding of the power of angels considerably didn't he.

__________
Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656.

Not knowing what to post, I posted this piece, which I wrote a year and a half ago in some correspondence.

I have an idea how to keep this blog going since I feel I am running out of steam... inbetween paintings and prosepoetry pieces, I could grab a book from my shelves, any book, and find a quote in it that I'd underlined in pencil. And write something about that book, or when I read it... so many approaches rather than the dry academic essay to what are, after all, collections of knowledge, our beloved books...

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Comments

'Time of Recompense' by Ai!R

  

I am a fan of Ai!R, a Russian composer and musician, who I discovered on Jamendo. As I listened to his latest offering, while working on a piece for painting, in the deep night, I wrote images for each of the three tracks:

1)The Time of Recompense.
Like a massive, slow procession of cumulonimbus storm clouds moving slowly and ominously over the mountains, unstoppable, a dirge, funereal.

2)Lullaby for Shadows.
Slashes of sunlight tearing the clouds which gracefully part like curtains to reveal the stage, a grand stage of all life. The artist is playing the music of the grand story of the tableau of life with the tenderness of a lullaby.

3)Escape.
Strings, action. The inner workings of the organ in the silent night. An audience of souls. Ghosts dancing as the heart remembers love, joy, fullness.
Glory. Steady, majestic dance building tonal waterfalls, crests of waves of notes, golden shining through.
Increasing radiance.
Pure love in the final magnificent dance. Rich, timbre echoing to the steady heartbeat of chords until the last ray of sun sets.
The artist gives the gift of his music to celebrate the drama, the gift of life, a recompense. This love partakes.


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Comments

Shaman



'Shaman: Reflective Face,' 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic, varnish and dried leaves on archival paper

No idea why I keep working on it - wasn't my original idea or even close (which was some colorful decorative masks) and I don't know where he came from, or why painting his face is so difficile. Because I took him to DOWH yesterday for the alter, and the women said, 'oh he's a shaman!' he now has a new title. Shaman, he is.

(In my original conception one aspect I wished for was cat eyes, not quite but almost-sort-of, eyes that can see in the dark - how else is a shaman to get about in the obscure spirit worlds?)

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How It Comes About

Sometimes it emerges as a gift, but mostly not. More like hewing sculpture out of marble with your fingers as your only tools.

Perhaps there are artists who laugh the whole time they work and who are satisfied with everything they do. While I am mostly 'in the zone,' concentrated, focused, busy doing and undoing, wrecking and saving, there is always a moment when I cry. Anguish. It might be before I begin. Or after I've ended. But usually during schisms during.

I'm in the flight or fight syndrome when I paint. I want to run from the image I am fighting to create. I only stop what surely is a sort of madness, painting, by deciding something is finished when I 'can live with it.' And yet my images clearly don't reflect the pain they have caused me.

People who don't create art don't perhaps understand what you go through as you wait for the moment when your painting, or your sculpture, or your composition sings to you.

Until it sings to you, you have to keep going or give up.

Lately I'm simply making, without being serious. I'm doing pieces that are not part of any project. Mostly I am aghast at what's emerged. It's better to have a direction, to know what it is you want to do. To have a thesis.

Yes, even in paint. A thesis is not a direction exactly. Not in the way I am using it. But an overall 'reason for being' perhaps.

Just doing for the sake of doing doesn't do anything.

Unless you make the 'doing for the sake of doing' the raison d'etre, that is!


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Comments (2)

My daughter's photo of me this morning



A self-portrait from this morning.




My sweet daughter's photo of me this morning.


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Comments (2)

In the Middle of the Summer that Summer

Paint becoming the sediment out of which it was made, a little muddy, silted. A cave painting. I understand the images and the picture is whole. From my personal mythology, where I cohere my experience. Not quite free association but like parts of a dream represented concurrently together. Re-finding who I am through what I lost.


finished painting (click on images for larger size) - it has a powdery quality and a slight glow,
a 'cave painting' sense, not quite revealed...



pre-painting sketch

In the Middle of that Summer, 2008-2009, multi-media: -oils -graphite -water-soluble oil pastels -colored India ink drawings -a self-portrait photograph, and sketch of women with charcoal found on the beach lined in Ink later, both printed on parchment paper glued to the sketch with 'water mixable oil Matt Varnish' -on Arches archival watercolour block, 15"x20", 38mmx41mm, 2008-9. Words from a prosepoem written on the back of the sheet that the drawings of the women on the beach were on: In the Middle of August in the Summer of 2008.



Scans from my notebook, written and sketched on the beach on that day, August 15th, 2008. Yes, I use a Moleskine®.

Women who were standing on the beach drawn with tiny pieces of charcoal found in the sand and later the outlines inked and the sketch sprayed with Krylon® matte fixative. Scanned onto parchment paper and affixed with Windsor&Newton® matt varnish.



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Angels

File:Cortona Guardian Angel 01.jpgAs a little girl in Lusaka, Zambia, having come out of years of living in the jungle with my geologist father, frightened of so many people, uncomfortable in shoes, my mother enrolled me in ballet. Within a few months 'they' decided that I should train full-time at the National Ballet, do my schooling there, everything. I was 7 years old. I loved to dance! My soul was free!

My mother, however, refused. Not just refused to let me study ballet, which was probably a good decision for my hip bones now, but took me out of the class and hid my ballet clothes - the little black slippers especially I loved (too young for toe slippers).

I remember crying and crying and looking up one night and seeing a beautiful large angel in the window, and I felt comforted and peaceful and loved. And the angel showed me where my mother had hidden my beloved danskin and slippers, and I took them and slept with them under my pillow that night.

Surely a vision of my guardian angel!

When I came back to angels many years later - Rudolf Steiner says your angels abandon you around your 33rd year and then you struggle through on your own. If we can, he says, we need to open ourselves to the wisdom and guidance of our angels. To 'think as our angels think,' and thus we can find them again...

Angels, I believe, are unconditionally loving forces, and yet also protective. Angels guard us, keeping our vulnerable inner spirit of love alive.

Angels are the opposite of despair. Angels are trust and navigation through the intricacies of each day in the multiples of connections we have with each other.

As I learned to commune with my angels, following Steiner's advice, 'my' angels became a metaphor for my 'intuition.'

Like Blake, I've spent many a long hour communing with angels. Mostly what I understand through my 'angels' or 'intuition' is how the intent to do something operates. There is intent not necessarily before action but firing its energy. How intent becomes a way to explain the motivation for our actions, what propels our actions towards each other. And love, oh, yes, how angels most desire that we love each other. If we think as our angels think then we can think and feel love, compassion, blessing, joy.

I'm not a deist, though. I don't try to fit my notions of angels into any religious system of any kind. I used to play with faeries as a child too - and sometimes can still 'see' the playful little jolly trickster beings and nature sprites...

It's all fabulous! Who is ever alone when you are surrounded by angels and faeries........!
__

Milton's Satan was by far the most inspired character of those beautiful epic poems. Satan was where all the energy was. God was imperial, authoritarian, boring. Though Dante's God was alright, come to think of it. By Milton I think the whole endlessly blessedness of the blessed realm had worn thin and it was time to find the rebel.

I'll never forget Satan's fall to earth - so poignant, almost heartbreaking, yet the most exciting moment in English literature and religious studies up to that point.

Milton was never the sensualist Shakespeare was. Milton, the blind genius composing his epic poems in his mind all night and then reciting to whoever would take dictation the next day. They thought him a hack writer, and felt sorry he'd lost his sight, and oh, how he surprised everyone with his vision and his superlative composition. Milton's writing is, for me, nearly perfect.

Once I fell in love with another graduate student, many summers ago, who was in Toronto for the summer from England where he'd gone to do a dissertation on Milton, and he had a photographic memory, and lay beside me in the night reciting Milton by heart for hours... what bliss, I can't tell you.

Milton understood angels in ways that the Byzantine and Renaissance artists didn't. And he understood the Fall as the story of each person's quest to unite the fissures and splits within, as a journey towards wholeness where opposites are united.

Milton was a visionary.

Wim Wender surely is a visionary filmaker too - at least in Wings of Desire, which is probably my favourite film.

In Wings of Desire, the angels who fall, who become mortal for love.

What epic stories!

Are angels a type of simulation? We imagine them - even if vividly as in my case! - but does that make them figments of an ethereal light, an inner light?

Traditionally angels are thought of as guardians, as guides, as helpers. As emissaries of the godhead. Messengers. What is between the human and the divine. Angels are busy workers who concentrate on individual concerns, rather than the rather distant deity whom they serve. At least in the myths that they've come to us through.

I loved the Buffy shows, and Angel, now that was a most interesting way to present the Satan Milton bequeathed to us - angels with vampiric sides.

A literary study of angels, and surely it's been done and done, would not, I don't think, be as interesting as one on the Hell's Angels.

Or the roar of motorcycles.

Milton enriched our understanding of the power of angels considerably didn't he.

__________
Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656.

Not knowing what to post, I posted this piece, which I wrote a year and a half ago in some correspondence.

I have an idea how to keep this blog going since I feel I am running out of steam... inbetween paintings and prosepoetry pieces, I could grab a book from my shelves, any book, and find a quote in it that I'd underlined in pencil. And write something about that book, or when I read it... so many approaches rather than the dry academic essay to what are, after all, collections of knowledge, our beloved books...

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'Time of Recompense' by Ai!R

  

I am a fan of Ai!R, a Russian composer and musician, who I discovered on Jamendo. As I listened to his latest offering, while working on a piece for painting, in the deep night, I wrote images for each of the three tracks:

1)The Time of Recompense.
Like a massive, slow procession of cumulonimbus storm clouds moving slowly and ominously over the mountains, unstoppable, a dirge, funereal.

2)Lullaby for Shadows.
Slashes of sunlight tearing the clouds which gracefully part like curtains to reveal the stage, a grand stage of all life. The artist is playing the music of the grand story of the tableau of life with the tenderness of a lullaby.

3)Escape.
Strings, action. The inner workings of the organ in the silent night. An audience of souls. Ghosts dancing as the heart remembers love, joy, fullness.
Glory. Steady, majestic dance building tonal waterfalls, crests of waves of notes, golden shining through.
Increasing radiance.
Pure love in the final magnificent dance. Rich, timbre echoing to the steady heartbeat of chords until the last ray of sun sets.
The artist gives the gift of his music to celebrate the drama, the gift of life, a recompense. This love partakes.


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Shaman



'Shaman: Reflective Face,' 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic, varnish and dried leaves on archival paper

No idea why I keep working on it - wasn't my original idea or even close (which was some colorful decorative masks) and I don't know where he came from, or why painting his face is so difficile. Because I took him to DOWH yesterday for the alter, and the women said, 'oh he's a shaman!' he now has a new title. Shaman, he is.

(In my original conception one aspect I wished for was cat eyes, not quite but almost-sort-of, eyes that can see in the dark - how else is a shaman to get about in the obscure spirit worlds?)

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How It Comes About

Sometimes it emerges as a gift, but mostly not. More like hewing sculpture out of marble with your fingers as your only tools.

Perhaps there are artists who laugh the whole time they work and who are satisfied with everything they do. While I am mostly 'in the zone,' concentrated, focused, busy doing and undoing, wrecking and saving, there is always a moment when I cry. Anguish. It might be before I begin. Or after I've ended. But usually during schisms during.

I'm in the flight or fight syndrome when I paint. I want to run from the image I am fighting to create. I only stop what surely is a sort of madness, painting, by deciding something is finished when I 'can live with it.' And yet my images clearly don't reflect the pain they have caused me.

People who don't create art don't perhaps understand what you go through as you wait for the moment when your painting, or your sculpture, or your composition sings to you.

Until it sings to you, you have to keep going or give up.

Lately I'm simply making, without being serious. I'm doing pieces that are not part of any project. Mostly I am aghast at what's emerged. It's better to have a direction, to know what it is you want to do. To have a thesis.

Yes, even in paint. A thesis is not a direction exactly. Not in the way I am using it. But an overall 'reason for being' perhaps.

Just doing for the sake of doing doesn't do anything.

Unless you make the 'doing for the sake of doing' the raison d'etre, that is!


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Sheets

Harsh sheets
fall softly.
Leaves once, crack in November.
Shellac the face with stones,
I saw this:
a model whose head
pasted with small grey stones,
like you find
on any rocky pebble beach.

Sheets perhaps of rain,
or the ones you wash because
you sleep in them,
or what we write or draw on.

Sheets fall

my walls

falling, falling
like tears.


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The Reflective Face

As masked women in the circle, we wear our secrets and our feathers. Bird-wing women. Masks represent ways we hide our feelings. We dance. Spontaneously a masked woman enters the circle, slowly or spinning or high stepping. At the moment of uncovering she removes her mask to reveal her reflective face. As woman after woman enters the spotlight of the centre of the circle dancing and strips her mask, we cheer. Vulnerable without what hides us, sweat, and crease, and laughter, we: flash glitter dancing glyphs; we: body poetry.





The Reflective Face, 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic & dried leaves on archival paper (on right, earlier version; on left, finished, with leaves dried nearly to veins, gloss, and more paint added -click on images to see larger versions)

I didn't like the finished painting, so have played with it in Photoshop. The original is varnished, very high gloss.







A poetic response to one of the exercises Erica Ross facilitated during her Dance Our Way Home session, 'Honouring Your Feelings,' the second session of the Nest & Nourishment series, last Saturday. She offers the same class each Wednesday evening.

I wished to write about the dance of the masked women and thought to paint a feather mask to illustrate this post. Because of the way the paper buckled with the wet paint, and the shape of the neck, I think it is a man angel. I call my masked man, or perhaps beneath the mystery of the mask, woman,  The Reflective Face.




A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor

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Where Butterflies are Born

When my own dance began, oh, it was hard. I lay on the floor, like a grub. I crawled forward following a line of sun that fell across the floor. I crawled forward and was pulled back, again and again. On I struggled, slipping back, pushing on. I fell off the path. Defeated. I pulled myself with pain, effort back to the track of sun. In the whole dance I made only an inch of progress, until I gave up. Almost by levitation, I felt myself rising. As if strings were attached to my arms and back and head. And those strings were pulled by higher forces and I began to dance like a marionette, shaky and wobbly on the floor. I was uncertain, but felt guided by unseen masters. It was a happier dance than the hard journey on the floor had been. I jumped and writhed and flopped and flounced like a puppet on strings, only I distinctly felt that I was achieving what I most wanted to achieve, and I only achieved it by letting go, and trusting. It was a strange, ecstatic feeling, perhaps like a newly emerged wing-wet butterfly trusting inborn instinct, rising and flying.

I'm writing about last Saturday's dance, 'Honoring Your Feelings, in the DOWH Nourishment series that Erica Ross offers. She is offering the same class this Wednesday evening.



A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor


At this point in the DOWH session, we were partnered and I was dancing what I was feeling while being witnessed by my partner. It is surprising what insights emerge in dance, isn't it. We bare our souls; we find kinetic metaphors for where we are on our life paths; we move through huge issues, blocks, grief, things that seem immovable. Like many, I couldn't live without dance. On the dance floor we support each other's processes. We give space to our intertwining energies. We enjoy our mutual beauty.



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Dancers After Midnight


Dancers After Midnight, 2009, 8"x11", 20cmx28cm, oil pastel, India inks on paper

It's called 'Dancers After Midnight' because I sketched it in the midnight air, and finished at maybe 2am, when the air was still dark smoky blue-black.

Recently I've been 'put through the paces' over my work by someone I considered a friend but who turned out not to be supportive of my painting. In summarily dismissing almost all of my work, it was called 'abstract,' a label that mystifies me. I would say that if one liked a more Classical style of painting, stillness, realism, then my work would not be adequate, but neither would I call what I do 'abstract.'

How can I explain my art? Let me try.

When I work I like to create something realistic enough for you to recognize the subject matter, yet I like imperfection because life is like that. I like to see the brush-stroke, which to me is like the breath of the artist breathing onto the canvas. And a calligraphy of drawing, the poetry of the lines, is crucial. As is motion: rhythms of colour, sweeps of brushstroke, moments of tension between forms.

Slick does not suit me; I like it raw.

When I paint, it tears my heart out of my chest. Can you see my pulse beating there, in the dance of oils and inks?

I like beautiful, on this side of frenzied.

If I had to accept a label, I would say my art is somewhere between drawing and painting. My main influences are an incredibly diverse range of artists both contemporary and throughout history. I think the way you paint is linked to your biological gesture in the world. That paint and inks do not come out of tubes or bottles but fingertips.

My ex-friend and I have parted ways.

I guess the lesson is that you have to believe in yourself. That's most important.

Be true to yourself and follow your vision.

It's important not just to support and nurture the talents of others, but to have friends who support and nurture ours. When there is a balance, of give and take, a crucial reciprocity, we can freely explore and express our gifts, which are, afterall, our sacred offerings.


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My daughter's photo of me this morning



A self-portrait from this morning.




My sweet daughter's photo of me this morning.


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In the Middle of the Summer that Summer

Paint becoming the sediment out of which it was made, a little muddy, silted. A cave painting. I understand the images and the picture is whole. From my personal mythology, where I cohere my experience. Not quite free association but like parts of a dream represented concurrently together. Re-finding who I am through what I lost.


finished painting (click on images for larger size) - it has a powdery quality and a slight glow,
a 'cave painting' sense, not quite revealed...



pre-painting sketch

In the Middle of that Summer, 2008-2009, multi-media: -oils -graphite -water-soluble oil pastels -colored India ink drawings -a self-portrait photograph, and sketch of women with charcoal found on the beach lined in Ink later, both printed on parchment paper glued to the sketch with 'water mixable oil Matt Varnish' -on Arches archival watercolour block, 15"x20", 38mmx41mm, 2008-9. Words from a prosepoem written on the back of the sheet that the drawings of the women on the beach were on: In the Middle of August in the Summer of 2008.



Scans from my notebook, written and sketched on the beach on that day, August 15th, 2008. Yes, I use a Moleskine®.

Women who were standing on the beach drawn with tiny pieces of charcoal found in the sand and later the outlines inked and the sketch sprayed with Krylon® matte fixative. Scanned onto parchment paper and affixed with Windsor&Newton® matt varnish.



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Angels

File:Cortona Guardian Angel 01.jpgAs a little girl in Lusaka, Zambia, having come out of years of living in the jungle with my geologist father, frightened of so many people, uncomfortable in shoes, my mother enrolled me in ballet. Within a few months 'they' decided that I should train full-time at the National Ballet, do my schooling there, everything. I was 7 years old. I loved to dance! My soul was free!

My mother, however, refused. Not just refused to let me study ballet, which was probably a good decision for my hip bones now, but took me out of the class and hid my ballet clothes - the little black slippers especially I loved (too young for toe slippers).

I remember crying and crying and looking up one night and seeing a beautiful large angel in the window, and I felt comforted and peaceful and loved. And the angel showed me where my mother had hidden my beloved danskin and slippers, and I took them and slept with them under my pillow that night.

Surely a vision of my guardian angel!

When I came back to angels many years later - Rudolf Steiner says your angels abandon you around your 33rd year and then you struggle through on your own. If we can, he says, we need to open ourselves to the wisdom and guidance of our angels. To 'think as our angels think,' and thus we can find them again...

Angels, I believe, are unconditionally loving forces, and yet also protective. Angels guard us, keeping our vulnerable inner spirit of love alive.

Angels are the opposite of despair. Angels are trust and navigation through the intricacies of each day in the multiples of connections we have with each other.

As I learned to commune with my angels, following Steiner's advice, 'my' angels became a metaphor for my 'intuition.'

Like Blake, I've spent many a long hour communing with angels. Mostly what I understand through my 'angels' or 'intuition' is how the intent to do something operates. There is intent not necessarily before action but firing its energy. How intent becomes a way to explain the motivation for our actions, what propels our actions towards each other. And love, oh, yes, how angels most desire that we love each other. If we think as our angels think then we can think and feel love, compassion, blessing, joy.

I'm not a deist, though. I don't try to fit my notions of angels into any religious system of any kind. I used to play with faeries as a child too - and sometimes can still 'see' the playful little jolly trickster beings and nature sprites...

It's all fabulous! Who is ever alone when you are surrounded by angels and faeries........!
__

Milton's Satan was by far the most inspired character of those beautiful epic poems. Satan was where all the energy was. God was imperial, authoritarian, boring. Though Dante's God was alright, come to think of it. By Milton I think the whole endlessly blessedness of the blessed realm had worn thin and it was time to find the rebel.

I'll never forget Satan's fall to earth - so poignant, almost heartbreaking, yet the most exciting moment in English literature and religious studies up to that point.

Milton was never the sensualist Shakespeare was. Milton, the blind genius composing his epic poems in his mind all night and then reciting to whoever would take dictation the next day. They thought him a hack writer, and felt sorry he'd lost his sight, and oh, how he surprised everyone with his vision and his superlative composition. Milton's writing is, for me, nearly perfect.

Once I fell in love with another graduate student, many summers ago, who was in Toronto for the summer from England where he'd gone to do a dissertation on Milton, and he had a photographic memory, and lay beside me in the night reciting Milton by heart for hours... what bliss, I can't tell you.

Milton understood angels in ways that the Byzantine and Renaissance artists didn't. And he understood the Fall as the story of each person's quest to unite the fissures and splits within, as a journey towards wholeness where opposites are united.

Milton was a visionary.

Wim Wender surely is a visionary filmaker too - at least in Wings of Desire, which is probably my favourite film.

In Wings of Desire, the angels who fall, who become mortal for love.

What epic stories!

Are angels a type of simulation? We imagine them - even if vividly as in my case! - but does that make them figments of an ethereal light, an inner light?

Traditionally angels are thought of as guardians, as guides, as helpers. As emissaries of the godhead. Messengers. What is between the human and the divine. Angels are busy workers who concentrate on individual concerns, rather than the rather distant deity whom they serve. At least in the myths that they've come to us through.

I loved the Buffy shows, and Angel, now that was a most interesting way to present the Satan Milton bequeathed to us - angels with vampiric sides.

A literary study of angels, and surely it's been done and done, would not, I don't think, be as interesting as one on the Hell's Angels.

Or the roar of motorcycles.

Milton enriched our understanding of the power of angels considerably didn't he.

__________
Guardian angel, by Pietro da Cortona, 1656.

Not knowing what to post, I posted this piece, which I wrote a year and a half ago in some correspondence.

I have an idea how to keep this blog going since I feel I am running out of steam... inbetween paintings and prosepoetry pieces, I could grab a book from my shelves, any book, and find a quote in it that I'd underlined in pencil. And write something about that book, or when I read it... so many approaches rather than the dry academic essay to what are, after all, collections of knowledge, our beloved books...

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'Time of Recompense' by Ai!R

  

I am a fan of Ai!R, a Russian composer and musician, who I discovered on Jamendo. As I listened to his latest offering, while working on a piece for painting, in the deep night, I wrote images for each of the three tracks:

1)The Time of Recompense.
Like a massive, slow procession of cumulonimbus storm clouds moving slowly and ominously over the mountains, unstoppable, a dirge, funereal.

2)Lullaby for Shadows.
Slashes of sunlight tearing the clouds which gracefully part like curtains to reveal the stage, a grand stage of all life. The artist is playing the music of the grand story of the tableau of life with the tenderness of a lullaby.

3)Escape.
Strings, action. The inner workings of the organ in the silent night. An audience of souls. Ghosts dancing as the heart remembers love, joy, fullness.
Glory. Steady, majestic dance building tonal waterfalls, crests of waves of notes, golden shining through.
Increasing radiance.
Pure love in the final magnificent dance. Rich, timbre echoing to the steady heartbeat of chords until the last ray of sun sets.
The artist gives the gift of his music to celebrate the drama, the gift of life, a recompense. This love partakes.


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Shaman



'Shaman: Reflective Face,' 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic, varnish and dried leaves on archival paper

No idea why I keep working on it - wasn't my original idea or even close (which was some colorful decorative masks) and I don't know where he came from, or why painting his face is so difficile. Because I took him to DOWH yesterday for the alter, and the women said, 'oh he's a shaman!' he now has a new title. Shaman, he is.

(In my original conception one aspect I wished for was cat eyes, not quite but almost-sort-of, eyes that can see in the dark - how else is a shaman to get about in the obscure spirit worlds?)

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How It Comes About

Sometimes it emerges as a gift, but mostly not. More like hewing sculpture out of marble with your fingers as your only tools.

Perhaps there are artists who laugh the whole time they work and who are satisfied with everything they do. While I am mostly 'in the zone,' concentrated, focused, busy doing and undoing, wrecking and saving, there is always a moment when I cry. Anguish. It might be before I begin. Or after I've ended. But usually during schisms during.

I'm in the flight or fight syndrome when I paint. I want to run from the image I am fighting to create. I only stop what surely is a sort of madness, painting, by deciding something is finished when I 'can live with it.' And yet my images clearly don't reflect the pain they have caused me.

People who don't create art don't perhaps understand what you go through as you wait for the moment when your painting, or your sculpture, or your composition sings to you.

Until it sings to you, you have to keep going or give up.

Lately I'm simply making, without being serious. I'm doing pieces that are not part of any project. Mostly I am aghast at what's emerged. It's better to have a direction, to know what it is you want to do. To have a thesis.

Yes, even in paint. A thesis is not a direction exactly. Not in the way I am using it. But an overall 'reason for being' perhaps.

Just doing for the sake of doing doesn't do anything.

Unless you make the 'doing for the sake of doing' the raison d'etre, that is!


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Comments (2)


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