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'LES CHEVAUX, a late night drawing extravaganza,' hosted by The Keyhole Sessions, a Rogue Nuit Blanche event!

'LES CHEVAUX, a late night drawing extravaganza,' hosted by The Keyhole Sessions was an awesome Rogue Nuit Blanche event! The offerings, incredible. Outfits, poses, the whole set-up, pure brilliance of the dear Madame, Sonia Barnett.

There was not a lot of time to pick and draw one of 5 or 6 ongoing poses, each with one or two models, since they changed every 15 minutes or so. I brought a whack of art supplies with me for this session. First I did a quick charcoal sketch; then I broke out my large set of water-soluble oil pastels and scribbled in colour; finally, I wet a brush and slid it over the figures so their lines turned into paint. I like to show 'the morning after, as is.' If I manage to further work on these, of course I will also post those whenever that happens (all my Keyhole life drawings are in a Picasa album).


Two Women, Keyhole at Nuit Blanche, 29 Sep 2012, unfinished sketch, Brenda Clews, 12" x 16", charcoal, water-soluble oil pastels on triple-primed canvas.



Woman in Corset with Fishnet Stockings and Doc Martens Boots, Keyhole at Nuit Blanche, 29 Sep 2012, unfinished sketch, Brenda Clews, 12" x 16", charcoal, water-soluble oil pastels on triple-primed canvas.



Woman in Ribbons, Keyhole at Nuit Blanche, 29 Sep 2012, unfinished sketch, Brenda Clews, 12" x 16", charcoal, water-soluble oil pastels on triple-primed canvas.



Two Sketches (iPhone photo), Keyhole at Nuit Blanche, 29 Sep 2012, Brenda Clews, 12" x 16", charcoal, water-soluble oil pastels on triple-primed canvas.



Four Sketches, Keyhole at Nuit Blanche, 29 Sep 2012, Brenda Clews, 12" x 16", charcoal, water-soluble oil pastels on triple-primed canvas



The Emotions Running Through It (Surreal Sketch), digitally finished, Brenda Clews, 2012, 20" x 13.5", charcoal, coloured pencil, water-soluble oil pastels on 90lb archival paper.



One of the many models; one of the many poses (five or six poses concurrently, which you can't see in this iPhone snap). Isn't she gorgeous? Because I was still working on a previous pose by a different model, I did not draw this one. Wish I had!


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 brendaclews.com
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Nuit Blanche in Toronto Tonight!

A night where over a million people flood the downtown core all night long for art! From 7pm to 7am the Arts Community in Toronto is ON SHOW. A fabulous all-night event with everything you could imagine, art shows, installations, performances, readings of creative writing (poetry, novels, etc.). It is a wild and beautiful night. It's sponsored by ScotiaBank. Here's the main website: http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/

The crowds who move from spectacular or intriguing or simple art exhibit to exhibit is mostly what I have experienced. This year, however, I am actually drawing at some venues - on Nuit Blanche, they are all free. They're 'rogue' events, not on the official roster, and not wanting to be part of the corporate culture that finances Nuit Blanche. (Keyhole at Twist Gallery on Queen St W., and Paris Black at Epique Lounge on Cumberland). But it's all fun; all intriguing. And an amazing production all in all, and a terrific boost each year for the art community in Toronto. If you're in Toronto, dress warmly tonight! And enjoy what the arts in this city have to offer!

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Charcoal Poems continues...




Charcoal Poems, in-process, 2012, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, oils on double primed canvas.

And I was listening to Schönberg's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 42,' Glen Gould piano, at high volume. My upstairs neighbour may have been banging on the floor, I'm not sure. After I sprayed the fixative on the charcoal, I opened the windows, and then didn't hear anything except outside sounds.

I promise to get a better camera. I can't believe how much my mother's recent death is affecting me.

Ok, so my 'influences' are Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, and Jean-Michel Basquiat (who I am truly into).
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Detail of 'Charcoal Poems' in-progress



Charcoal Poems, in-process-detail, Brenda Clews, 2012, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, oils on double primed canvas.

Sun shone into the living room, so the lighting was better than the photo I took last night. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get an evenly lit photo of the whole painting due to its angle, the size of my space, and so on. A part of me wants to leave it as part drawing, with lots of blank canvas, but we'll see what happens as I continue working on it.

Some notes as I responded to Facebook comments:
  • These paintings are like writing. In the way that characters come to an author, I find myself getting to know the figures who have emerged and understanding what they are doing, what they are conveying, and how they are part of the visual imagination.
  • The next painting will be stapled onto a stretcher - stapling to the back of an office divider doesn't work very well. Not only is the canvas a bit loose, but the divider tends to do what tall buildings do in high wind when I paint. It has a rhythm, literally. Also, it's too heavy to put on my studio easel, so I have to sit on the floor to work.
  • While my mother's death is not an actual focus in this painting, yet painting is a way to work out one's feelings, which rise to the surface to be expressed and released... 
Last night, I added some orange, and then wavered off to sleep. My brother probably has already picked up my mother's ashes, and he trying to see if her niece in South Africa might be ok with spreading them there - my mother so loved her home country, and always missed it, and often said she would like to go back and die there. But we don't know if our idea is feasible, vis-a-vis shipping, or possible for her beloved niece. I think my mother's recent death came up in the Paul Celan quote I used. Paul Celan is a poet of death like no other.

In the painting, to the right of the woman (not visible in this detail), some lines from Paul Celan's, 'In Prague':

The half death,
suckled plump on our life,
lay ash-image-true all around us -

we too
went on drinking, soul-crossed, two daggers,
sewn onto heavenstones, wornblood-born

(With thanks to Pierre-Marie, Bent, Don, and Brandon [among many others] for comments which elicited these responses.)
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 brendaclews.com
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The Charcoal Paintings, in-process2



The madness continues. (See previous post for the fragment of a Paul Celan poem written on the left-hand side.)

A full shot from the greatest distance my living room allows; and a detail. Night-time, daylight bulbs. I'll likely keep working, maybe all night, why not, it's the weekend. :)

The Charcoal Paintings, in-process -a detail, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, oils, on double primed canvas.

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 brendaclews.com
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The Charcoal Paintings, in-process



When you don't know where to begin, begin where you are.

The Charcoal Paintings, in-process, 5' x 5', willow charcoal on double primed canvas. (Photo taken at night with two daylight bulbs in clamp lamps.)


Some lines from Paul Celan's, 'In Prague':

The half death,
suckled plump on our life,
lay ash-image-true all around us -

we too
went on drinking, soul-crossed, two daggers,
sewn onto heavenstones, wornblood-born


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 brendaclews.com
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Early Poem Painting like a Frank Stella

Continuing with my remembrance of my years doing a degree in Fine Arts in the 1970s, and finding myself in the middle of a Conceptual Art era in which I did not belong, I suddenly made the connection with an old painting of mine and Frank Stella's famous stripes

Now I like Frank Stella as a person, - what I have heard of him in interviews (a recent Frank Stella interview with Eleanor Wachtel is brilliant), and his views as espoused in articles I've read over the years. His stripes paintings (what I knew as an art student), however, leave me on the cold side. They are certainly outstanding for their time. It's self-confident work, sure of itself. All the stripes are hand-painted (pencil lines but no tape) too. But do these works of Stella's inspire me, inspire the poetry in me? No, rather, these paintings remind me of good geometry, bordering on an Op Art. Fun, a little play with the way the eye reads its optical images.

I understand that for Stella, abstract art is a type of landscape, this is its European roots, and that his aim was to create art that removed realism, all traces of Renaissance perspective, the way art up to the modern era normally represents the world, and so on. He was enormously successful in his endeavours - at 35 he was the youngest man ever to have a solo retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. His current work, which moves into sculptural paintings, is composed of a complexity of constructions, and is bright and busy as it approaches the rhythms of music, still doesn't make me want to rush to the easel.

Yet, yet. By my fourth year with my very avante guarde art teacher (who did huge 'shit-brown canvases' out of house paint, or made rooms of white sheets), I was very clearly doing 'a Frank Stella.' Why it has taken me this long to realize it, I have no idea.

I don't have a photo of my 'art school' painting - and the colour in these old snapshots does not convey the vibrance of the pure acrylic paint. I never personally liked this painting, though I got a top grade for it, and other people seemed to like it - and have no idea what the poem that I wrote for it was. Also, other than finding it mysteriously resting on the back of a couch in a photo with my Dad in his condo years later, I have no idea what happened to it.

I include some Frank Stellas so you can see what I mean. Mine, of course, a poor derivative, though this was never conscious till now (though I had studied Stella in university, of course I had).

The man in the first two photos with the roundish face and black moustache is my first husband, an Irishman from Dublin - a short early marriage that lasted 2 years. I'm in the 2nd photo (with straightened hair, oh the craziness of youth), you'll figure out which one. My Dad in the last. And then some paintings that are part of the masterpieces of Abstract Expressionism by Frank Stella.






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 brendaclews.com
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Another Photo of My Mother


Still not ready to write of this past week, her death, her cremation, the ways in which it was a blessing and the ways in which it was a trauma. But I've been thinking of this photo, and, piling through dusty photo albums on bookshelves and then in the basement, finally found it. Taken on Adderley Street in Cape Town. I was 23 months old.



 brendaclews.com

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Bread for the Birds

I fed the birds out back this morning for my mother. With a half bread-bag of collected bread, it seemed a simple enough offering to one of the good memories. Keesha, my dog, was on a leash, and while she wanted to eat all the crusts, easily accepted being pulled away from the pile. Our kitten always accompanies us on the dog stops by riding on my shoulder, held gently but firmly under my hand, but she was only looking for whatever moves, people, squirrels, birds, falling leaves. Later I watched from the window as the pigeons came, feasted.
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My mother died last Thursday, September 13th; the funeral is tomorrow, though it hardly that, she was 89, and outlived all of her siblings and friends, so we will only have an immediate family gathering around her casket before it goes into the crematory fires. I seem to have been in deep meditation since she passed away. It was a good death, coming as a release after years of gradual decline and being fully bedridden after her stroke 6 months ago. She passed away peacefully.


Florence Clews, 1923-2012
Christmas, 2011
Photo by Tara Clews

(Sept 18th. I am still too raw to write. Her funeral was this morning. 
Many blessings, Mom. Love you. xoxo)
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