Self-Portrait After an Alchemical Dream

Self-Portrait After an Alcemical Dream, 20”x26”,charcoal on Yupo paper. ©Brenda Clews 2021

Self-portrait after an Alchemical dream. ©Brenda Clews 2021. 20"x26", charcoal on Yupo paper.

[Adding the original dream & something on the process of what's appeared in this preparatory sketch for a possible painting, if you'd like to know what it's about.]

Original dream
…red spots develop under my cheeks, and as I powder them, they become raised wheels, one on each side, which the thick powder whitens, six spokes, a central hub and an outer wheel, a relief sculpture perhaps, like something from myth, an archetypal symbol, which the attempt to hide with powder only accentuates. I feel no horror, or pain, but awe as I brush the powder on skin become wheels and spokes. Sculpted like Medieval cosmological wheels, alchemical wheels of transmutation, the configurations are mysterious, almost reverential, an embodied reference the Wheels of Ezekiel, but also to the powdered faces of highly-stylized Oriental performance, and somehow the magnificent coiled antlers of Bighorn sheep… (2008)

Process of charcoal sketch:

Friday, I decided to try a charcoal drawing to see how my dream of the alchemical wheels appearing in my face, rising in my cheeks, might appear. In the dream, I powdered them as they rose sculpturally. But here I hoped to let my 'unconscious' take over and I did go into a light trance and even worked with my eyes shut at times. At the beginning, I used a sponge and charcoal powder that I then sprayed with a fixative, and kept working. There are distinct shadow and light sides. The wheels are dark - to me, the one in shadow looks floral; the one in light, ocular. The hair fed snake-like into the wheels, which seem almost to be whirring and that is unlike the dream. And I see four eyes!

I find the drawing a bit scary, actually. There's psychic progress for sure. Self-portrait after an alchemical dream. 20"x26", charcoal on Yupo paper.


Drawing of My Niece

She was drawing me while I was drawing her. Last night, our Thanksgiving, here in Canada. It doesn't 'look' like her in a photographic sense, but she said I could post it. Photo taken on iPhone4 with daylight bulbs. Charcoal and water-soluble oil pastels (cretacolor aquastics) on 11" x 13" canvas sheet.

Basically, she sat in this position for maybe 5 minutes, long enough to do a quick charcoal sketch. Then I had to imagine the way her body was. Though I did get the terrific colours she was wearing, that green sweater and those red tights, smashing, really, and perhaps something of her spirit, when she is pensive, that is.

Comments (1)

Midnight Sun (a new figurative painting)

Midnight Sun, in-process, 2012, Brenda Clews, 28" x 22", 71cm x 56cm, oil on canvas.

A painting with a textual history, meaning a history of texture. It was another painting before. On my wall for half a year, and I couldn't look at it anymore. Deciding not to sand the canvas, or even prime it, I began painting over the original painting this afternoon (see the album of what is underneath here: Midnight Sun). It may be done, not sure. The true test is, how liveable is it?

(The colours are pretty good, but the main figure has pink in her body and that is not appearing.)

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon, 2012, 17" x 14", mixed media on 90lb archival paper.

I drew two poses of the same model on the same page, and she is holding a mirror in which she is reflected. Gazing upon the self. Selves who witness each other. The multiplicity of the self. I've called it Harvest Moon to celebrate the model's pregnancy of 6 months.

Last night I went to a Keyhole Session, great models, wonderful crowd of artists, and I'd had a difficult day, emotionally, and somehow every drawing just wasn't right. Not sure if in future that particular kind of stress means stay home, rest, recuperate. My daughter, bless her, likes this one.

Life Drawing at TSA

Finally, went to a life drawing session at TSA (Toronto School of Art) last night, and only because my niece (who's 20) said she'd go with me. She found the short poses difficult and erased all her drawings but three! Oy! She is very talented and wants to do an art degree.

The model was older, I estimate about 70. I don't aim for a likeness, rather looking intently at the form and letting my hand draw. Anyway, thought I'd share. First session since 2006!

The room was packed, nearly every table taken. While I hadn't planned to create backgrounds for my sketches, I found myself hurriedly sweeping coloured conte crayon over the next page in between poses. Then quickly rubbing with a paper towel to blend and wipe the excess pigmented dust onto the floor behind me with paper towels!

The conte crayons are similar to chalk pastels, brightly coloured, though a little less dusty.

These are the sketches as is, untouched, simply photographed in late afternoon sunlight, and slightly colour-corrected to more closely match the originals . There are more, some I don't like, some awaiting colour.

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

 Four one-minute poses- I've always liked drawing them as a crowd.

This was the final 15 min pose- I liked this drawing as is, so did another drawing of the same pose in the next slide.

Or view as a slideshow...

Home  Green Fire  Different, yet Same  Soirée of Poetry  Videopoetry  Celestial Dancers  Photopoems  Birthdance  Bliss Queen  Bio  Life Drawings  Earth Rising  Creative Process  Multiplicities  Links  Comments
Comments (2)

Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones

direct link: Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones

A painter on painting. Or, I'm painting again! Yay!

Wasn't a planned video, rather, thinking, many artists are showing themselves painting on-screen, let's put the camera on and get some footage, but I got talking, you know how it is, at night too though I managed to boost the light when I edited it, and now it's a bona fide video.

Enjoy. Hopefully you will find inspiration here for your own art, and might consider posting your own video.

Note: click on the base of the slideshow
to start the slideshow (or in the middle to
go to Picasa and see larger images).

Home    Different, yet Same    Recent Work    Videopoetry    Celestial Dancers    Photopoems    Birthdance    Bliss Queen    Bio    Life Drawings    Earth Rising    Creative Process    Soirée    Links    Comments
Comments (1)

Pencil Sketch for Women in Autumn

From Women In Autumn
73cm x 52cm, 28.75" x 20.5", pencil on 300lb Arches watercolor paper.

Women in Autumn - barest pencil sketch of the same figures I've used in Women in Spring, Summer, and Winter. The figures who are all one figure. One nameless woman that I spent 2 or 3 hours drawing in November 2006 at a drop-in lifedrawing session.

This was drawn maybe a month ago but I haven't posted it here since I thought I could take a better photo by placing the drawing against a window when the sun is streaming in. Only I forgot about it, and now, ah well. Here is the sketch for the final painting in the series, Women in the Seasons, which can be seen at my website (scroll down).

Home    Recent Work    Videopoetry    Celestial Dancers    Photopoems    Birthdance    Bliss Queen    Bio    Earth Rising    Life Drawings    Creative Process    Links    Comments

Wind Over Grass - contact dance

This is what awaited me this morning after the painting in the night that I put whitewash all over and then rubbed out. I can't say which I prefer, though I am tempted to go over to the art store and buy a canvas and paint a larger version of last night's colorful rendition while the energy is still hot.

This painting is part of my landscape as figure, or figure as landscape series, which I will upload to my life drawing page soon.

Home    Recent Work    Videopoetry    Celestial Dancers    Photopoems    Birthdance    Bliss Queen    Bio    Earth Rising    Life Drawings    Creative Process    Links    Comments

Contact Dance, a painting

In my last painting I had returned to the style I developed in high school. Before the Fine Arts degree, before the style that developed through the Birth Paintings and that became my signature afterwards. I had gone back to re-find who I was, and to see if I returned to that point if my art might develop in another direction. I'm still working on the painting; I seem obsessed with either it, or the process it represents. Working on that small painting is like scraping memory and habit off to get to the back of the cave and seeing what the first marks were. Success is not important in this endeavour. It's all exploration.

So what happened tonight took me by surprise. I am posting the images up to the point where I painted everything white and then proceeded to rub the painting out. It would be an easy piece to re-do since it was from a sketch from a life drawing session which I still have and can reproduce on another canvas.

Who knows, I may re-paint these figures and leave the painting at the point I'm showing you here: unfinished, but still kind of raw, perhaps alive. There is an artist, an Expressionist perhaps, or Post-Expressionist, who this painting reminds me of and when I think of his name I'll pop it into this post (if you know please leave a comment).

It's two figures in contact dance. Actually it's one model in the life drawing session in two poses that I drew on the same page. We do what we can to get the poses we'd like. Because I sought the tensions of the connection point of contact dance, the flow and the seismic lines of energy, I used small lines, a loose construction.

The sketch was done quite awhile ago and the ink had set. Click on the images for larger size.

There was no plan for the painting of the sketch. Lines followed lines; colours suggested colours. I used a plastic egg carton and each colour had its own 'egg nest' and its own brush - 10 all together! This system kept the colors pure, but was akin to a stick game as the brushes often entangled and kept falling!

Click on image for a really large version. 'Contact Dance,' 2009, 14"x10.5", 35.5cmx26.5cm,  India ink and oils on a primed canvas sheet.

Perhaps I should have stopped here. Instead I continued painting, covering the bright colour with a white wash, and then throwing water all over it which got wiped off along with most of the colour. What's left of the painting (see next post) can probably be taken in another direction, and I can re-do what I did here, using this image as a study. Oh, the delights of art-making!

Home    Recent Work    Videopoetry    Celestial Dancers    Photopoems    Birthdance    Bliss Queen    Bio    Earth Rising    Life Drawings    Creative Process    Links    Comments
Comments (2)

Julie McGregor's Art: A Spectral Mine

Julie McGregor's art is figurative, richly coloured, with dense backgrounds of oil embedded into the canvas. An heir of the Impressionists and the Group of Seven, she takes the palette further, exploring the nuances and depths of her subjects, their beauty, their slight asymmetries, the way they are contained in the multi-coloured brushwork she has sculpted them out of. Not just thick light revealing the features of her figures, but the surfaces glow with jewel-like dabs and dashes giving the sense of a spectral mine illumined from within by its precious ores. In all of her works an inner power emanates, as if from the energies of the earth itself. Check out her paintings. Beautiful.

Julie McGregor is a Toronto artist and jazz singer.

Home   Videopoetry   Celestial Dancers   Photopoems   Birthdance   Bliss Queen   Bio   Earth Rising   Life Drawings   Creative Process   Links   Comments

Women In Summer, 2008, Picasa Slideshow

Women In Summer, Oil paint, watercolour pencils, India ink on Waterford watercolour paper, 72.5cm x 52cm, 28.5" x 20.5"

I've posted a slideshow of the process of this painting before, but that was a Flickr slideshow (that I could only get to run backwards, if readers at that time recall), and this is a Picasa one (which runs forward very nicely, thank you Picasa). Apparently I did not keep the larger originals when I uploaded the series to Flickr. What. Else. Is. New. Hours spent searching on various hard drives and finally downloading what I'd uploaded at Flickr, and then uploaded to Picasa with embedded copyright info in each photo for the new Art Website.

Via an inserted 'Google Spreadsheet' I can get comments at my new Google Site art & poetry site! Sweet!

From Women In Summer - the process of painting

direct link to the slideshow: Women In Summer

Figurative No.1

for my son

It may or may not be finished, but feels as if it is. I'll call it a figurative abstract.

(click to enlarge)
Comments (2)

First Wash of a new painting...

This drawing sat on my desk, it's 55mm x 74mm, 300lb archive watercolour paper, on that piece of plywood, under tissue paper, since last Summer. Many things have rested on it, papers, purses, gloves, hat, scarf, sweaters, until I cleaned it all up a week ago. Yesterday afternoon I threw water all over it, which ran everywhere, on the floor, all over my class notes (requiring a 'drying out' on a towel in the living room) but never mind that, and started rubbing paint in.

The painting wasn't too bad, really it wasn't. But for no reason that I can think of I found a Waterman fountain pen that still had ink in it (oh, rue the day for pens with ink when you shouldn't!) and inked in the figures, after they'd had their first wash of paint. I only looked at the lines, was comforted in the process of outlining and ignored the whole painting in my act.

What a mess! Why'd I do that? Inking by rote, rather than with a sensitivity to the image?

Now I have to try to clean up- the inked lines far too dark and insensitive. Because I drew them after the first wash of colour, the colour doesn't adhere to them, nor did they bleed into that first wash as would normally happen (since I used to ink first, then paint).

Oooh, la!

Is this why it sat like an accuser on my desk for over 6 months saying, paint, paint, when I would choose the 'by rote' path rather than the 'in the moment' shifting and changing as light and colour asked, and be forced to confront my own predilections, my own habitual patterns, all the immovable grids in my perception?




Find more photos like this on Creative Crossing

A slideshow that I posted to a site that a friend, Klara Elek, invited me to join. Not to replace my art website, but sometimes one should contribute to a site.

Looking at these pieces, I realize I haven't yet begun to paint. There was a very long hiatus of perhaps 20 years, and then a slow reunion to painting. These pieces are 'to regain my hand.'

The only one that's closer to 'painting,' for me, is the Landscape Figure. I painted this in November 2006, and shortly after began a series of contract positions in reception at the executive offices of a bank, and, while I'd hoped to follow the energy in this piece and produce a series of larger size, between my relationship at the time, my daughter, who went into crisis, full-time work and desperately searching for a larger place for us to live, I neglected to push myself to produce, always thinking, 'later, when time opens out.' But the emotional energy had dissipated when perhaps there was finally and again time.

Message: when 'it' happens, go with it, push your life aside, follow your art. They'll all understand, they always do.



"blindgaze," 2007, 32cm x 25cm (12.5" x 9.75"), oil on acrylic matte medium, india ink, paper.

Playing with a sketch from a lifedrawing session last Fall - perhaps not as fluid as my figures usually are, but I enjoyed melding colour... I had forgotten how sensual paint is, especially when spread by your fingers.
Comments (1)
See Older Posts...