Orange is the New Black, Drawing #3



Amazing the true-to-life colour when a drawing or painting is photographed in direct sunlight. I think it's because the whole spectrum is present. Below is an earlier version taken on a cloudy day. In the final version I darkened the flesh tones with some graphite. The drawing took about 3.5 hours to do, crazy huh. Most of it while watching 3 episodes of 'Orange is the New Black,' Drawing #3 (final), 2013, Brenda Clews, 15" x 11", graphite and pastel on 130lb archival paper. No idea if it has any reference to the actual show itself, but it certainly has personal resonances.



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Art Show in less than 2 weeks! Panic City!

Nine paintings done and ready to go! Of the last two, one needs some fussing, and one needs the breath-hold throw-the-paint treatment. Art show is in less than 2 weeks!!!!

May 15 - June 15 at Q Space, 382 College St., Toronto.

This one is large, 5' x 5', oils and charcoal, called 'Charcoal Poems.' The photo's not too bad, though the right side is a bit dark.



Taking photos of the paintings is the next assignment, and doing that properly is going to be almost as challenging as painting itself.

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Untitled2, 6th wash



She's gloved now. The forearms were 'not' meant to appear in the former versions of this painting, and so they weren't drawn with any particular care. But they appeared anyway (painting is like that, like it cares what the artist thinks) and it didn't work. So I thought I'd do my Venus with gloves. Don't yet know if it 'works.' This is still in rough. Likely take me the rest of the day and night to finish to my satisfaction.


Untitled2, 6th wash, Brenda Clews, 2013, daylight photo, 24" x 30", inks and oils on stretched canvas.

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Untitled2, 4th wash, with poem


This painting is developing into something that I find embarrassing. And yet, it's also ...not too bad. The poem fragment is from my 'Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems' and dang, I can see Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite and something distinctly literary (a sense of a book plate coloured in instead of an etching or an ink drawing) and quite post-modern (the whiff of pastiche, and it's a little bit funny too, the butt). It's driving me a little mad, this painting. What emerges under one's brush is like the dreams we remember - where do they come from? They are a mystery. We simply try to understand them.

What I don't like - the background doesn't work all that well though I can now live with it, and the arms. I did not work on this part of her sketch, intending to darken them into background. Not sure what I'll do, tinker until they're better, or perhaps glove them. :)

Untitled2, 4th wash, daylight photo, 24" x 30", inks and oils on stretched canvas.

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Untitled2, 3rd wash, with poem

Really I am not sure what is happening to me. I am kind of falling apart.

For days in angst, torturing myself inwardly, trying to get myself to paint (show is in just over 2 weeks now), meditating, etc., and then today it was attack the damn canvas time. So I did. With permanent inks, oils, and so on. Hours of struggle bending over the painting, doing this, that. It's too pretty, no, now it is far less pretty and simply over-worked. Or maybe it's ok. I simply can't stand this state of mind. Tomorrow hopefully more work on it, at least re-doing the lettering of the poem, which got kind of mussed in this afternoon's trauma, the face, the arms, the shawl, the background, whatever I can do for the magic.



Untitled2, 3rd wash with poem, daylight photo, Brenda Clews, 2013, 24" x 30", ink and oils on stretched canvas.
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Untitled4, 1st wash


I must be running a temperature! This is so not like my normal style. A poem fragment will be written into this when it's closer to finished. Probably into the white spaces in the towel. Don't think I'll do much but darken the torso when the paint is dry. I'm kind of liking the simplicity here. 'Untitled4,' 1st wash, nighttime shot (colours are a bit brighter than they appear here), 2013. 24" x 30", oil on stretched canvas.

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Untitled2, 2nd wash with lettering

Still not happy with it, but now I get where it is going.


Untitled2, 2nd wash with lettering, daylight photo, 2013, 24" x 30", ink and oils on stretched canvas.

As ever, the colour has faded out as the painting dries. So that has to be worked on. Probably, because of the poem fragment that I chose (from my Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems), which I had forgotten about but which my 'text edit' file reminded me of this morning, she will have to remain quite whitish, almost transparent.

Painting is like dreaming. You dream without really knowing where the images come from, or how they are created by your mind. Likewise with painting - you know you're doing it, but you don't often know what it's about while you are doing it. The painting arises as if from a dream.

I am only now dimly aware of what I am doing with this painting. It's too pretty. But then again, it is a kind of Circe image of the Botticelli Venus type, and that's not pretty at all.
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Untitled2, drawing and 1st wash

This is the 2nd poempainting. It is most challenging. Doing the drawing took nigh of a day, and I rubbed out so much I gessoed in the figure and painted ochre into the surrounding before gessoing that. It has sat propped on the floor for days. Pressure and deadlines drove me to throw it on the floor and begin painting this evening. While it is only the first wash, that does set the direction of the painting. I hope as I continue to work on it over the next few days, I like what emerges better than I do presently.


Untitled2, 2nd wash, nighttime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" oil on stretched canvas.

I sat with the drawn canvas all day, didn't go out into the sunshine, didn't eat, refused to do anything until I painted, finally did early evening, actually enjoyed the brushstrokes at the beginning, painting is usually torment for me, an inner struggle, such terrible intensity mingled with insecurity that only finally finishing brings exhausted relief, but painting this was light and fun, until I began to see what I was doing, oh, I can't stand this painting, anaemic and whispy, everything I don't want this series to be, and so I must drag myself back to the canvas and throw dark passion into the paint. And if it doesn't produce something I can live with, into the dank dungeon of the basement with ye, canvas!



Untitled2, drawing, daytime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" graphite on stretched canvas.



Untitled2, drawing, nighttime photo, 2013. 24" x 30" graphite on stretched canvas.


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Untitled1 poempainting in progress


If this painting had stayed the way it was when first painted, I wouldn't have touched it. But it faded out as it dried. It's still wet here - I finished it at 11pm last night - but the colour is much stronger.

Among other thoughts and associations, we are approaching Spring and she's my tulip lady.


Untitled1, 3rd wash, Brenda Clews, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas 
(daytime shot, colours good, but still wet)




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Untitled3 poempainting in-progress

I thought the colour would get washed out as it dried, but so far, it's holding. I painted last night and it does need a bit a work still, but I'm happy with this one.


Untitled3, 2nd wash, sunlight photo while still quite wet, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas


Untitled3, 1st wash, very wet, 24" x 30", oils on stretched canvas


Untitled1, 2 and 3, all 24" x 30", graphite, oils on stretched canvas

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The Poet Who Is Either Silenced Or Speaking Fire


It is the kinda day to pick up your cross and bear it.

I'm not saying I'm wishing you a Good Friday, exactly. Actually this drawing was drawn a month ago and I just finished it tonight and took a photograph under daylight bulbs.

'The Poet Who Is Either Silenced Or Speaking Fire,' 2013, Brenda Clews, 8.5" x 11", mixed media on 130lb archival paper.

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She, transparent to the sun (finished)



'She, transparent to the sun,' 8.5" x 11", conte, chalk, pastel, art pen on Pentalic neutral pH 25% cotton 130 lb drawing paper.

This drawing is finished. The poem written into the drawing was recorded over a mix of sounds, with a slight theatrical flavour. Both the drawing and the poem refer to something specific. Do you see it?


direct link: She, transparent to the sun.

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Charcoal Poems near completion

Some other notes, this on getting started:
Too fricken busy!! Phone call with an old friend who's in town, arrangements, dogs out twice, a sunny day so photos of some of my poets drawings, breakfast followed immediately by lunch because I was still hungry, lol. I did start filling in more of the green but ran out of the mixture, which was from last September in a small plastic Sushi container for ginger, and so have to re-mix. But, first, tea! Lol. Lol!
Some many hours later, well into the evening:
It's gone back to where it was, after a lot of rubbing with an old, wet tea towel.
And, finally:
The shadow beside her is back, though. I've struggled with it. Shadows in the sense of the unacknowledged repressed hidden sides of us are like that. They can't be painted green. Scribbled in charcoal only.
So it doesn't look like the image posted below. Now I'm thinking to get some fresh Gesso and work it so that there is a green base and then scribble the charcoal over that.

I began this painting a few weeks after my mother's death last September. There is a lot of grief in it. It's not a happy, giddy circus and while greening the shadow makes for a more pleasing painting, that's not the point. The problematic scribble of charcoal beside her is part of the composition of the painting. Charcoal Poems will find its viewers.

The painting is also a calligraphy and maintaining the stroke of the charcoal, a type of poetry itself, an illegible dream writing, perhaps the compositions of loss, the scribble the speaks of the disjunctures, expresses it in incoherent terms, and so has to remain, however I finally work it.


Where it's at after last night's paint-a-thon. Below, where it was just before that.



With a solo show in early May at Q Space in Toronto, I need to get this finished so the oils will be dry! (I use water-soluble oil paints, so it should be ok.) Today was the day. Get down to it, I told myself. And somehow I did. Likely I'll tinker for a few more days, but time has run out.

I'm thinking that big black shape next to her - it's lovely willow charcoal set with a fixative, and where I began this painting - has to be dealt with. Or not. (At this moment it's not working for me, but that can change in an hour, or a day.)

Charcoal Poems, near completion, 2013, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, India ink, oils on double primed canvas.

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The real story of recording 'She, transparent to the sun'

Ok. Truth is this 'little' 1:33min recording took most of the day. I hit Record and said the short poem a few times and nothing was recorded but a blank line. Plugging and unplugging things, resets and upsets, hours went by as I struggled with my system made of old and newer components. Checking and re-checking System Preferences, everything always looks fine, even the Mac's internal microphone worked, but not dear old GarageBand. In increasingly dire frustration I deleted it. Deleted it! And then the Apple App store wanted to charge me $14.99 to re-buy it! Snarl and growl. I went and found iLife '11, hoping it was the latest version, and anyway, if it isn't Apple is usually decent enough to update if you've bought the product in recent history. Being by now thoroughly versed in the checking and re-checking of everything multiple times, I did open the App store again, and finally, under Purchases, there was my Garage Band, uninstalled, ready to install. So I didn't have to re-install iLife.

Did the re-install work? No. GarageBand has become the most finicky mistress, or, in my case, master. It certainly recognized my mic, but allow recording to occur through it? Not on your iLife.

I think in the process of clicking anything and everything I clicked Input over to the internal mic and viola, recording real sound. Then I clicked it back to my mic. And it worked!

No idea if it ever will again, or if I have to jump through X number of hoops before the software responds correctly.

Ok. So we got recording. I recited my little poem. Almost too fatigued to care about the quality emotion wrapped up in the tremor of voice. Perhaps too shrill; perhaps not contained enough. I don't like my voice, but few of us do. It's too high. I try to remember to speak more deeply. And so on and so forth as I recorded the scant minute and a half a few times.

I did choose a recording that wasn't too bad but the weird thing is that the sound was a bit 'tinny.' I had recorded the piece I read on open mic last sunday at Nik Beat's HOWL at Q Space in preparation for my performance and the sound had been crystal clear and very life-like. Try as I might, with moving the mic from desk to lap, tilted up, and down, the 'tinny' sound remained.

So finally I plugged in another mic that, look we're talking low end stuff here, but there are subtleties, is not as good as the mic that had become 'tinny' for no good reason.

It was getting dark. I had to take the dogs out. I hadn't eaten, neither had they. And I kept at it, tenaciously.

Yes, as I said yesterday, while I'm not fully satisfied with the final recording, IT WILL DO (take that, GarageBand!). And yes I spent some time finding tracks on freesound.org and mixing and re-mixing them. By the time I'd saved a version and uploaded and shared to Facebook and posted on my blog, it was 9pm, and when I took the dogs out the slush that had fallen all day was becoming lethal slippery icy under foot and I didn't have my cleats on and so we gingerly walked around the block, not enough of a walk for any of us, but we all came home nearly an hour later soaking wet, and even this morning their leashes and harnesses and dog coats are still damp.

Here's the recording again.

You'll forgive me for posting it twice.


  direct link: She, transparent to the sun (the title is taken from the quote from Legends of the Bible by Louis Ginzberg on Noah's birth, but also describes the painting, which became an integral part of the meaning).

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Drawing-in-progress: She, transparent to the sun



A test shot of the light drawing I did last night, and then wrote the poem I composed earlier in the day into it. Because the writing took more space, I'll have to extend that dark background to page edge, and see if I can sharpen the edges of her face (the conte is rough, awkward for fine lines). 'She, transparent to the sun,' 8.5" x 11", conte, chalk, pastel, art pen on Pentalic neutral pH 25% cotton 130 lb natural white drawing paper.

 ps. When I can take a better photo (we have a sleet storm right now, so no going out to get a daylight photo), or at least set up lights with some daylight coming from the window, I will also take a photo of the poem, which I wrote in my writing Moleskine, but first, on a quest for shrimp (which I have been craving for days and last night bought an over-priced prawn dish from an Indian restaurant that was mostly onions and green peppers in spices and very few split prawns, and it didn't hit the spot. Lol! :)

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the poets are coming



Trying a different style because I need to find another way to draw at poetry readings. Relying on the style that is developing for life-drawing sessions, as I have been, is not working - poets giving readings of their work don't pose, the angle is usually not interesting, and so on. Today I picked up some art markers, the kind with fine points at one end and brushes at the other and which use archival permanent inks. I think I will work with my ongoing theme of multiples, multiplicity.

the poets are coming, 2013, 9"x 12", 22.9cm x 30.5cm, art markers on 80lb archival Strathmore drawing paper.
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The story in a drawing



Moleskine notebook.

I did this poem drawing in October 2012. At the time, I decided not to type out the words. Frankly, I'm tired of seeing my poetry elsewhere on the NET. Bits of it, a line here or there, a title, or the substance of what I've written reworked. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment that I am somewhat influential, but truly I find it insulting to discover my verbal images being used by other writers, or the style of my work being copied. So I've stopped posting poems and prose poems here in my blog. But I do like to keep an archive, and Google has an incredible search engine for blogs, meaning I can find a poem if I remember only a phrase. So I am encrypting my writing, and have no intention of passing on the password either. Sorry, just tired of being seen as 'raw material' for other writers and not being given credit where credit is due.

Of course, you can read the prose poem in the image. I'm just not making it easy to copy.

And I'll let you know what's going on with publishing - some good things in the works. And, no, I will never self-publish.


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Illuminata

Some photographs today of 'Illuminata,' an illustration for my prose poem of the same name with some lines from the poem written into the ink painting. I have used little bits of filters to elicit certain effects because rain white cloudy daylight can be very bland when it comes to gold leaf. :)







Illuminata, 2013, Brenda Clews, 28.5cm x 42cm, 11 1/4" x 16 1/2", graphite, India ink, copper, silver and gold leaf in a Moleskine A3 Sketchbook.

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The Lady and Her Skeleton

A little explosion of ink and pastel at 3am before an early day. Probably shouldn't have. (Before me is a small plastic skeleton, and so I am actually drawing a figure, that skeleton 'fleshed out,' dimly reminiscent of a Kokoschka style (maybe)).

While I was photographing the oil pastel and India ink sketch, I heard my 6lb kitten going for a box with dog treats, over and over, and then one fell to the ground and eventually I went into the kitchen to see. Sure enough, she had a 'dental-type' dog treat on the floor, in splinters, and was nibbling on some small bits. No wonder doggie isn't barking as much when I go out, and has, according to the Vet, put on weight. Lol. They are in cahoots, have become a team!!!



I just took a pic of the figure I drew/painted in the early hours of today (3am-ish) and her skeleton, who clearly is gonna morph into more enfleshed beings in drawings and paintings, I can feel it. Lol!

Hope it shows in this photo - she's inclined at the same angle as the skeleton who inspired her. Those are candles in front of his right leg, I should have moved them.

And I must arrange him differently from time to time; obviously, him standing there like that affects my vision. Last night it was time to give him a body. Listen to me! Due to the bad influence of my children, I now am hooked on vampire and zombie shows, and it's beginning to show isn't it? :)) ::laughing:: 



'The Lady and Her Skeleton,' 2012, 15" x 11", charcoal, Cretacolor water-soluble oil pastels, India ink on Pentalic archival 25% cotton 130lb paper. (A gorgeous pale cream paper, percentage of sale donated to the American Wildlife Foundation.)

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'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace



Ink Ocean: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

Ink Ocean is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

---
With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.




Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.

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'Charcoal Poems' painting-in-progress


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

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.

Written in the painting, The Charcoal Poems, which runs through the blue man who is floating, and by the ferris wheels, MAMA TOTO, and DISH in the STARS.

In the painting, to the right of the woman, 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


My mother died in the middle of September this year, and I began this painting a few weeks later. There are references, I think. See the little woman the larger woman is attached by a red chord to? Like a mini-version, an inner child perhaps. I don't fully know what all the images are about, though, like remembering a dream, I am understanding them.

This painting is like working in a dream. Nothing at all like my usual process. I think it's almost finished, except for working on the white areas, which I'm thinking to paint with tinted pastel whites from the palette here.

Assaad Chehade, a masterful Surrealist painter who lives in France, wrote, in a comment of an earlier stage of this painting:
I don’t see - there - Marc Chagall or Frida Kahlo or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
I clearly see Brenda Clews with its artistic preoccupations (colors, Charcoal, canvas, and other elements) and its concern language, and even its musical relationships. A set (colors, words, music) can be influenced at a time - As they say the apostles of art.- but it has - already - exceeds any influence. Even if idolatry was introduced with writing, I don’t see any aspect of "icon" in your work. But I will go - without hesitation - to the narrative form. Which we call a sense, and not defend sense. Something that belongs to all visual cultures of the world.
Brenda, you are in the process of promoting the spirit of intellectual vision of the idea. You are currently working on a wonderful thing, it is not internal to the painted surface, but between the canvas and the viewer. Good continuations.
An update on Sunday, Nov 11th:

Worked on this all day yesterday, thought it was essentially finished. I was rather shocked this morning - the purple is not so bright under daylight bulbs at night. Not a great pic, but I don't have access to a better camera today. When it dries a bit, I'll apply a grey wash over the purple to tone it down somewhat - adding some Payne's Grey to the Dioxazine Purple wouldn't have worked, I don't think. A later wash will be better, but, with oils, you have to wait, and wait, and wait.....



(Although I have had the bright idea to put some fans in front of it and to leave them running all night - since I use water-soluble oil paints, which dry faster than traditional oils (at least for working, they still need 6  months to fully set), I may be able to finish this painting tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I'd like to start a new one - having discovered that my favourite size is 5' x 5, it will also be large.)
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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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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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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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As if Death Were a Passion



As if Death Were a Passion, Brenda Clews, 2012, 12" x 16", graphite and acrylic on triple-primed cotton canvas sheet.


outline the skeleton
in red
make the lines of the bones
red

alizarin crimson, cadmium red
flame red, poppy bright

ok, blood too

the passion of death

as if death
were a passion


_________

It's taken many weeks for me to watch this great little instructional video on how to draw a skeleton. I've never taken anatomy, so I fully appreciate teaching tools like this (thank you Kenny Mencher!). I'll have to get myself a wee skeleton at a Medical Supply store at some point. :)

I meant to take a photo before I started working it. Ah well. It's not perfectly drawn because I don't want that.

The instructional video is here: http://kenney-mencher.blogspot.ca/2011/11/video-drawing-skeleton-front-view.html?m=1 (if, like me, you'll probably watch it later do bookmark it since it's an unlisted video you won't be able to find it on YouTube without the link)

I took the photo with my iPhone 4 using Camera+ and then a Clarity filter - later I'll blog it without the filter. It's just kind of neat with the tones the filter gives it.






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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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'Every Angel is terror' (Rilke): painting in-progress

I was photographing this in a patch of sunlight, my backside in the alley, and a man drove by in a large red SUV, and the man with the puppy that is part husky called Maggie was trying to get her on leash so she wouldn't run on my still-wet painting, and then the man in the large red SUV started backing up, and Maggie's owner and I, well, what's going on? He stuck his head out the window. 'Do you paint?' 'Yeah.' 'Is that yours?' 'Yeah.' 'Do you sell your work?' 'Yeah.' 'Do you have a studio?' 'No, just my apartment.' 'Can I come by to see your work? I like paintings.' 'Sure.' 'Is that one for sale? I like it.' 'Yes.' So I gave him my phone number. He's the general contrator for a store going in around the corner.

A cute story, that I share. My apartment is getting so filled with paintings and drawings from all these lifedrawing sessions I've been going to I am considering selling with a PWYCA - 'pay what you think it is worth, and what you can afford.' Although a painting this size might go for around a grand, I'm not affiliated with any galleries and don't even have a 'store' at my art website. Rather than have all these paintings collecting dust in folios, I might shift my sensibility to another way of offering my work to those who really love it.

"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", in-progress, charcoal, acrylic, triple-primed cotton canvas sheet.

brendaclews.com
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'Every Angel is terror' (Rilke) painting-in-process


"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", painting-in-progress, charcoal, acrylic, canvas sheet.

TSA tonight. I'll work on it over the next few days. A rough draft, you could say.

brendaclews.com
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Dancer


Happy with this painting of a dancer in my Moleskine. Why? She is lithe and muscular, and has an elegance. She also looks like she's dancing in an ink painting. Splotches of black India ink move over her; she is situated in torrents of acrylic flame red ink. In her dance, she holds still for a moment and her pose imparts a tension of the energy of emotion. There is life, passion and death here.

What I most enjoyed was overdoing this piece. Many inks were dip penned and brush spread until it was a mess, and then, miraculously, I washed the inks off, using all my rags and a half roll of paper towels, wetting and blotting until the sketch began to re-emerge.

With that weight of paint removed from her, of which only I hold the memory, she is again lithe, ready to spring.

And I had to laugh when someone said she looked intersex, and admit ever since Fellini's Satyricon, and then Jung's exploration of the hermaphrodite, I've felt intersex in dreams or art can be a powerful image of inner union. If my Dancer appears to be both woman and man, I am delighted.

Not sure why, since I don't usually anymore, I scanned the sketch, and then the first wash of black India ink and permanent red acrylic ink, and I took an iPhone photo early in the process of adding the inks that I later removed. I have included these three in-process photos, along with the final one (it's first, on the left), for you so you can see the progression of this little painting that took the greater part of last Sunday to complete.

Dancer, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, graphite, India and acrylic inks, Moleskine folio Sketchbook A4.

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Woman in Red and Blue (final painting)

Woman in Red and Blue, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, mixed media.


Posting again because I fiddled a bit with and cropped this portrait. The scanner, while enabling a high resolution/good colour image, misses texture. One day I'll get a decent camera to take these paintings - this one is scored with lines from toothpicks, dental tools, knitting needles, and different media - pens, inks, paints, rubbings and scratchings... I didn't like the initial sketch (self portrait drawn looking into a mirror) and was too impatient to work on it so I thought I'd see how the figure could emerge through washes of black paint, and then all the other media I used, inks, acrylics, oils, from fountain pen inks, dip pens, ball point pens and brushes and cloths. Often I spray fixatives between layers too, so there's a few of those. A figure does emerge, and there's a welter of emotion in that worked surface. I have a 30" x 40" Windsor and Newton canvas still unopened for a self portrait, and so am doing studies, not just for facial features (haven't hit home quite yet) but for painting techniques.


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Woman in Red and Blue


From my Moleskine Project today:

Woman in Red and Blue, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, mixed media.


You might guess, I am working on studies for a self portrait painting. Still haven't achieved a good likeness (according to my beloved children), 'but,' they say, they 'like them anyhow.'

I layered this with different types of inks, pens, paints, scratchings, and so on. You might be able to see the detail if it opens in full screen and gives you an option to view at original size.

Let's hope so.

:)


While the darker image is from a scanner, this is closer to what the painting looks like in bright natural daylight (it's an earlier version, too).

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Iridescent Blue Face



From my Molsekine Project today:


Iridescent Blue Face, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, multimedia.

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Coil of Koi in Dark Water


Coil of Koi in Dark Water, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, multi-media.

Finished, unless I slightly whiten some of those Koi edges. I sparingly brushed the koi with some translucent paints (vellum, blue, orange, yellow), which glimmer. The fish have a pearlescence that you can see if you tilt the painting in the light.

They are like angels rising from Dante's Inferno.



Earlier version: 


Coil of Fish, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2012, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, multi-media.


I have rubbed this out many times! Was going to scratch the koi out and add oranges, yellows, golds; so far, it's not working. I used a wooden toothpick to scratch the koi out, but the underpainting of acrylic 'bone black' had dried too much, leaving them with a ghostly presence.

They are like angels rising in dark water, and I may have to just accept that.

In process!

From my recent NaNo novel: 'When the plump Chinese lady who owned the store came over to feed the koi, the fish swirled to the top of the tank, a mass of watercolours and oils coiling and curving and looping in and out of each other as each fish rose to eat bits of the koi feed. Their gills translucent against the misted windows of the store.

The glass thinned, melted and the koi are flung out of the tank as the water rushed out, a coiling, spawning tidal wave. The gills of the koi became soft wings, they grew like when you drop a stopper of ink into water and patterns of ink coil and flow outwards and upwards as they disperse. The koi’s filmy, translucent wings spread and grew thinner as they rose, a coiling mass of golds, oranges, yellows and browns, a living tree spinning upwards, a whirlpool of fish like leaves flowing into the sky, for the ceiling had disappeared.'


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Wishing You a Bountiful 2012

Hope in 2012 everything
that you hold meaningful
remains and thrives in your life,
a bountiful, living garden,
and,
if you have unfulfilled wishes,
they come to fruition and blossom
in all the ways that you would most like.


*hugs and love, Brenda




In the Park in June, 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2011, Moleskine folio Sketchbook, sized with Golden GAC-100, and painted with watercolour and India inks.

Notes on the painting:

A few layers of GAC-100 (artificial rabbit glue) on the paper prepares it for painting. I found the GAK gives you a little time to change your mind - you can dab the colour out before it sets permanently, so it is a little more forgiving than unsized paper which absorbs the colour instantly. It has a satin shine that is not like a varnish because it grabs the inks and sets them. It is faintly glossy, like brushed egg whites on cooked pastry, beneath the paint, which overlays it and is opaque. The GAK is not like a varnish because it is underneath the paint. It gives a luminescence to the painting that the camera does not quite capture.

I have no idea how you would varnish a piece like this. A matte finish would destroy that faintly glossy luminescence, and a satin finish would remove the deep opacity of the paint.

Which means, keep paintings like these in my book, or framed under glass. It is a fragile surface that I would not wish to intrude upon with a fixative.

A dimly wrought portrait of my daughter. Because I could not work with the paint for too long, I was not able to get a likeness. The woman in this painting is older than my daughter and does not really resemble her. Her energy is here, though.


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Language is the cage through which I express my passion



Yay! HP has finally provided an OS X Lion driver for my printer scanner! I re-worked one of the ink drawings/paintings in my Moleskine sketchbook tonight.

"LANGUAGE IS THE CAGE THROUGH WHICH I EXPRESS MY PASSION" - detail - 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2011, India and acrylic ink, gel pen, oil paint on Moleskine Folio Sketchbook A4 prepared with a base of acrylic matte medium. Prints available too!

I like the detail best. While I love Blogger's new lightbox, sometimes I'd like to show you a large image, so click on these linked words to see the detail in full screen-size. You can also buy the detail at Fine Art America - a single card for $6.50, or a print starting at $22.00 USD. Lots of options!

Below the first draft, and the second. I think it's finished, but... could give better definition to her arms and hands, make the line a little more lyrical; on the other hand, she is marionette-like. She is meant to impart a feeling of contained, and what easier way to convey that imprisonedness, in language, in form than with hands and feet that are as if sewn? The feet are hanging almost, puppet-like, and the hands as if sewn into the lines of the painting - yet there is a regal quality to her, I think of her as a doll who has echoes of a Spanish dancer, proud, beautiful. Her head, neck and torso have an inner frame, perhaps wood, over which the costume is affixed; the arms and legs are stuffed cloth. The way such dolls are. She wears a corset and only half of a skirt of black lace. Despite the contraints, she dances in the painting, the passion broiling in the red, firing her.





A man who calls himself Papytroll Michel (on Facebook) wrote: "Merveilleuse ta ballerine ensanglantée au visage dépecé.Très puissant.Très bon partage clair/obscur. Encore, encore d'autres :) Supernatural your ballerina stained with blood with the dismembered face. Very powerful. Very good clear / dark division(sharing). Still, still the others:)" 

I thanked him for his insightful comment that is like poetry, and '...I don't know where these paintings come from, even I have to try to understand them, and your comments help me to see deeper in their meanings... rarely do I set out to draw or paint something specific... rather... to discover what is there.'

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Language is the cage though which I express my passion



"LANGUAGE IS THE CAGE THROUGH WHICH I EXPRESS MY PASSION" 21cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", 2011, India and acrylic ink, gel pen, oil paint on Moleskine Folio Sketchbook A4 prepared with a base of acrylic matte medium.

After I had finished my NaNoWriMo writing early (10pm), and read some older poems I'd written, I got out my inks and paints... was up rather late with this Moleskine poem painting, tired today.

Among my papers were some prose poems I wrote on language some years ago and I suddenly felt an urge to break through language. Only, of course, you can't. Even visual representation, of any kind, is a pictorial language, learnt like anything else. But - the heart beating with its passion in the rib cage. The rib cage spread out in many (semiotic) lines. The dancer is an awkward figure, half harlequin I think, and eyes appeared in her breasts, which was unintended but apt. That rib cage became all of language invigorated (or enervated?) by our passion. It was a drawing I did thinking about these things, and perhaps it's a chart of them.

(Above and below were responses to comments at G+ by Raven M. Ridley and Larry Ayers, but way more than they asked.)

To me, she is a Spanish woman, don't ask why, in ballet shoes en pointe, with half a black skirt, only half, black hose to the ankle on the other bent leg, one arm clearly up, and wearing a corset with ribs (in which there are eyes). I thought of Frieda Kahlo when I added the red, again, no reason, can't answer why. The lines were like bobby pins springing outwards and opening. Her long black hair coming undone? Who knows.

And yet the heart remains in the rib cage; passion remains in the language that expresses it. I was thinking about Wagner's music, that Germanic passion, and the use of Tristan and Isolde in von Trier's latest film, Melancholia which I saw on the weekend, and Almodóvar, the Spanish director and the intense passion in his films. The blue is the sky, because we are always dancing in the sky.

What goes through an artist's mind while they are drawing or painting...

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whaleskin






whaleskin, 2011, 20cm x 25.5cm, 8" x 10", India ink, graphite, watercolour pencils, Moleskine Folio Sketchbook A4. (Click on the images for a larger size.)



Anchored in my mind all day, a koan. What in death does not die? I brush a wash of India ink onto paper. Ground burnt bones thickened with resins. Words in the wet wave. Words in the black tusk of the whale whose skin swims with algae, barnacles, skeletal memories of cattle, the backbones of live fish in the orange sunset that beaches the creature like a hammerhead of knuckles. The creatures of the world fight for their lives. In the mass extinction. In the radioactive orange water into which the sun has fallen. The salty sludge-lined ocean, layers of plastic bags hugging the sand, shopping for the moment.

It was a Zen moment.

What in death does not die.


 


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Configure It


Sketch, 2011, 19cm x 25.5cm, 7.5" x 10", India and acrylic inks on Moleskine Folio Sketchbook A4.

Words: CONFIGURE IT

A little sketch I just did, sitting here, sweating in Toronto's heat wave...
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Vision Trees, my painting

Vision Trees, 2011, 74cm x 56cm, 29" x 22", India inks, acrylic inks, oils, 300lb Arches watercolour paper.

Perhaps this needs more contrast? One of the difficulties with trying to do a painting quickly - usually something like this takes about a month - an hour or two 4 or 5 days a week. And perhaps I will continue to tinker, who knows.

The sheet of thick paper is large. I videotaped the making of this painting. It nearly crashed my computer, and I had to copy large blocks of files to a quickly filling external hard drive to make room for the 3 hours or so of footage that are an unbelievable 160GB (which I'll delete after I've made the video). That's been sped up to about 13 minutes, and I have to edit it today to half that. Then add a voiceover of the story of my vision trees.

I don't know why they look so delicate. These trees, on the real street where they dwell and where I pass them daily, are too big for me to put my arms around, diameters of maybe 6'-12'.

Also, trying to paint a whole painting in an afternoon/evening (there were, as always, technical glitches, like I had to rush out and buy a USB extension cord because the 10yo USB hub I was using transferred the video so slowly I'd be still waiting today if I'd kept using it).

In pen and ink I laboriously drew the gaps of light in the trees, but when smearing paint on with my fingers and scratching it with my fingernails, that got covered up. Do I spend more money I don't have and purchase some pale lemon green acrylic ink and try to lighten those areas? The layers of paint as you see them here are not thick enough to give the painting enough presence for me, and yet I could not apply the paint more thickly without losing the detail of the ink lines of leaves.

On the other hand, the lightness may grow on me and I may leave it as is. We are in the exuberance of spring, the budding greens, vibrant, pale, luminescent everywhere.

I went back through old emails to find the ritual a friend who I am unfortunately no longer in contact with suggested when I lived in Vancouver, and the story unfolds from there. But that's for the video, so you'll just have to wait.

__
Festival of the Trees tomorrow! There's still time to get an entry in -send me your link. I'll be composing the essay tonight, and have it posted by 6am tomorrow at the latest, promise.
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Lady of Green Fire


'Lady of Green Fire,' 20.5cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", India inks, Waterman sepia ink, acrylic inks, gel pens, oil paint, oil pastels, watercolour pencils, Moleskine sketchbook.

[Above, scanned; below, sketchbook snapped with a camera on my marble coffee table.]



A Venus arising from a sea of leaves. A green garden goddess. Perhaps she is Spring welcoming the sun. Not fully clothed yet. Or the Woman Clothed with the Sun. Yes, I like that.

You can't tell in this scan, but the gold and the blue are iridescent colours. A very different style for me, but then I continue to explore, always open to the new.
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2 Lady of Green Fire [in process]


'Lady of Green Fire,' 20.5cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", India inks, Waterman sepia ink, acrylic ink, gel pens, oil pastels, oil paint, watercolour pencils, Mokeskine sketchbook.

A Venus arising from a sea of leaves. A green garden goddess. Perhaps she is Spring welcoming the sun. Not fully clothed yet. Yes, I like that. This is as far as I got tonight; I'm needing some iridescent blue ink to make leaf motifs in the sky, and of course, it's late and the art store is closed.
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Lady of Green Fire [in-process]






'Lady of Green Fire/Greet the Sun,' 20.5cm x 29cm, 8" x 11.5", India inks, Waterman sepia ink, gel pens, oil pastels, watercolour pencils, Mokeskine sketchbook. [Detail]

What I did tonight... it's not finished, I don't think. I may want to create a mesh of leaves in the background in gold ink but don't have any.

This, and the last poem painting, Wing of Chrysalides, are, yes, mystical drawings.




[full size]

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Wing of Chrysalides




[Above, taken indoors; below, scan before it was quite dry, or sprayed with an archival fixative. The colours in the one above are more accurate, but I like the softness of the scan. Click for larger size.]




'Wing of Chrysalides,' 2011, 20cm x 27cm, 8" x 10.5", India inks, oil paint, oil pastel, watercolour pencils, Moleskine sketchbook.

He stands between two worlds; he is about to leap. His wing, of chrysalises. In his hand, a green butterfly. He is nearly undifferentiated in the green as he straddles the blue where he is clear.

On him, glued, a piece of a shopping bill: 'Please retain receipt for purpose of completing the online survey.'

Another piece of the receipt, which hangs like a white fish, or perhaps only a rhythm.




Earlier version (scanned). You can see that I re-drew the figure who was sketched in here.


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Tree Bird Moon Ghost