Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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Hamilton Residency 3

My new middle name is Curiosity.  Like a little kid, mouth open: wow. huh? how come? really? Wow, really. Who?

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Strangely, it feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, living my brand new daily life in an arts hub in the old rather broken, semi-forgotten industrial sector of this big city where my Grandmother raised her children. Memory cells light up each night with twenty new names and connections, emails fly out daily from my computer to people I’ve just met, or want to meet. The work on the walls of my studio changes before my eyes as I try things I’ve never tried, make mistakes I’ve never made, sort through which ones to keep and which to release.

There’s a lot of trust in the air.

I’m deeply aware of my solitude, my autonomy, and grateful beyond measure for the opportunity to stretch myself well beyond what has become comfortable. In the sixth day of the first full -time week I’ve lived here, I can feel my thinking, my painting, my writing and my awareness shift as old belief systems dissolve. There are seven weeks left of this residency, and every one of them is glowing with promise.

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From school to studio; books to paint. It’s a complex shift in awareness and perception, I find.  The road from left to right brain is populated with circus performers and street musicians, frequented by students seeking their masters of illusion, lined with bright market tents full of tempting diversionary tactics. You quickly discover that only tourists stop at these, that it’s important to stay mindful and moving forward.

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It has taken a while to sort out who actually lives here, in the space between things predictably linear and things … shaped and sounded differently.  I’m finding that this right brain work is more about releasing what I think I know than applying any learned structure and experience to what I do, since the objective is to change and expand my understanding of what’s possible.

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Often the return to people and conversation is a shock. I’m happy to be reading the reader’s edition of Carl Jung’s Red Book (2009, Shamdasani, Ed.), which is providing some context for the conscious choice to enter transformative space, and be changed by it. A good ‘bridge’ book, as is Once Upon a Time, a short history of Fairy Tale (Warner, 2014), and The Heart of a Peacock, a collection of short pieces by Emily Carr.

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It’s been useful, occasionally, to dip into Art Lessons, Meditations of the Creative Life (2003, Haynes), or a bit of Emerson. Also to shut the whole thing down, go sit in a big chair at the Jackson Square cinema, eat popcorn and watch Aquaman.

Art heals, writes Sean McNiff. I agree, wholeheartedly. Nature heals too.

Now I’m surrounded by human nature, not my beloved lake and forest from last summer, and we humans are complex. Thank you Nora Bateson, for this 8 minute video, which inspires me to make my own, about what art work makes possible.

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In this place of broken sidewalks and boarded up warehouses we grow art, like sprouts push up asphalt. Slowly, bit by bit, but as surely as the sun rises in the east, artists take places like this and clean up old toxic abandoned soil, growing impossible things in impossible places because it is their nature to do so.

It is a reclaiming of health; I’m grateful to be part of the process.

 

 

 


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Hamilton Residence: 2

Wasn’t expecting a day of psychological paralysis after I moved in to the apartment-for-January. All I could see was a massive knot of project-and-task-ropes too tight to unravel – there behind a thick glass wall. I was not feeling intrepid, in any way. More like a five-year-old left behind in a huge unfamiliar city with some gummy bears and a pat on the head, have fun kiddo and don’t let the Mafia get you! Mafia?

It’s been my habit to take all my willpower and run full tilt at that glass wall over and over again until I reach emotional collapse. A saner strategy yesterday was to maintain a steady awareness of the conundrums behind the wall while I read, wrote, ate well, organized the books left behind by Mac students and recovering alcoholics, moved furniture around until the space matched my rhythm, and puttered away at my christmas present (Dec 24 text: Hey mom, Raccoon or Horse?).

By midnight the knot had begun to unravel of its own accord; I found peace.

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New place.

Morning teaches me where east is; I can hear the complex conversation of starlings in the back yard. It’s comforting to know they are themselves here, too.

The man downstairs is a smoker; I woke remembering what that was like, ten years ago – my first waking thought of nicotine with my coffee. Amazing, how the smell permeates.

My street is near the hospital, where nurses are charged for parking when they go to work. They avoid this by parking here all day and all night and so the street is packed with cars.

It’s going to be quite a dance when I come home from the studio, but that’s just fine. I am moved in at both places now, and happy to walk. In fact I’d prefer to walk after the car miles I put on in November-December.

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There are eight weeks left now, for nine paintings, blog and book, for building good, enduring connections in Hamilton – this is the residency idea-rope, the one that glows with curiosity and promise. It’s right in front of me now, sleeping and still like a beautifully patterned snake, no longer tangled with the others.

The other conundrums: Patreon launch for funding (I’m half-way to my winter financial goal); where to live next month and after; redesign of my Masters research to include Hamilton Musicians; Artists talk about art and validity/function (and others about community); where to move my orphaned piano, desks and dining room table while I set up my life here – those are still slightly knotted, but now accessible and in a different room. They too will unravel themselves as I move ahead, I know.

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The reason the glowing curiosity project-rope was tangled is because we’re now down to the brass tacks,* i.e., this is no longer just a great idea, the Hamilton Portrait Project. I’m done my December gig work (that has funded January), and the project now requires steady, concentrated, sustained action. My painter self gathers for the leap:

Define dimensions with portrait-ees, then purchase, build and stretch canvases, or find boards to work on if I decide to work on paper (I’d love to do them all on paper, but framing is much more expensive).

Define symbolic content and focal point subjects in collaboration with Portrait-ees. This will be mostly online, but also with scheduled in-person meetings with collaborators who will come to Hamilton, bless them. Since we’re down to the wire now I will use Proust’s questionnaire as a template for all portrait-ees, then devise more specific questions (myth, curiosities, symbols) for the second interview.

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someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to make a hooked-rug out of the Coat of Arms of Canada, which hangs in my kitchen.

 

It has occurred to me that since these nine pieces will be in a show together, they need to be connected somehow, visually. I like this part of the ‘puzzle a lot. As I work through the preparations (above), I will ‘play’ with the pieces I worked on in December, and experiment on paper. That will happen today, after I’ve got these things in motion. I can’t wait to get at it.

I’m grateful for and fascinated by the wall adornment in my bedroom – that it’s here, and that the most challenging of the pieces are those I will wake up to every morning.

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These pieces were perhaps started and finished within an hour, then sold at market. The authors were incredibly prolific painters who had figured out the cost vs labour equation, and how to make painting a viable source of income. You need to see the work up close to appreciate the skill level – just enough finesse to get the idea across, then on to the next piece. You need great imagination and confidence to do this kind of work.

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Such fast fast work. See the plane in the middle ground? That’s five or six brushstrokes. Amazing.

These painters had made themselves familiar with the effects of light on water, and also what tourists want – a narrative of place, time, and moment. Fantastical illustrations, grounded in observation of places where shore meets land, but most likely made up in their heads.

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Sky first, blue wash for water. Then pallet knife, brush and finger. Are those people in the boat?

I do not paint this way, and I do my utter best to avoid nostalgia. But I do admire the efficiency of these pieces. Glad they’re not the puzzle I’m working on.

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So, as social media quoted to me this morning, get curious, look around you, and work with what you’ve got. I find myself thankful that a) there are no velvet paintings here, b) that only one room has garage sale art,  c) that I have absolutely no desire to smoke cigarettes and d) I have a beautiful studio with clean air where my heart sings joy. I will go there as often as possible, knowing I have bath bed and kitchen here to take breaks in. (Oh, and reliable high-speed internet, which I did not have these past ten days while dog sitting.)

Will brew coffee number two in said kitchen now, and attend to the next task – a detailed list of specific new ways for us all to connect and collaborate.

ONWARD HO!

 

  • Down to the Brass Tacks.. The origin of the phrase, dating from the late 1800s, is disputed. Some believe it alludes to the brass tacks used under fine upholstery, others that it is Cockney rhyming slang for “hard facts,” and still others that it alludes to tacks hammered into a sales counter to indicate precise measuring points.


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Springboards

All ten portraits but one large one, spoken for. Incredible, since the Portraits Project arose out of the Hamilton Arts Council’s Cotton Factory Residency offer, announced only eight weeks ago. In the meantime, seven gigs in three different cities, 3,000 km and six different family Christmas gatherings. In the most recent meantime, Westley the Bernese Mountain dog and I become fast holiday friends…

…and the snow falls, then melts, then falls again in Grey County, Ontario, Canada.

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As I watch it fall I find myself in wonder at how time can compress and stretch, how it can split as it did this past December into many parallel timelines, each one as full of healing moments as with tasks, events and connections. I’m not the only one whose life went this way – folks every place I’ve been have their own version of crazy and wonder-filled weeks.

What a world to pause in, here. As Westley snores on the floor beside me and Fezick the fighting fish soaks up the music I play (how does that sound from inside a fishbowl?!?), the snow falls like sifted fragments of memory.

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I think about the marvel that was Wassail, at Heartwood Hall, three days before Christmas, and one day after a solstice evening of reading & music with Anne Michaels and david sereda in Toronto. Never has there been a better entrance into the holiday season – poetry and song so gracefully offered in a tiny, mid-metropolis church, then the next night a hall packed full of voices raised in full-throated song  – both breathtakingly beautiful and boisterous (some downright badassery by the Wassailors).

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Thank you, Anne Michaels, for your language and your strength; I continue to be guided by who and how you are in these complex times. david sereda for your love, your sincere and powerful intention, and your true voice for and of the world. Thank you J Scott Irvine for sponsoring Wassail – it was important and valuable to many, as you are important and valuable – to many. I am honoured to call you friend.

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Thank you Kim Dutfield, Tessa Snider, Jim Howitt and Ted Stewart, for showing up to the Wassail workshops and dreaming up impossible, improbable and brilliant versions of songs we all know – and manifesting them beautifully in performance. Thank you Coco Love Alcorn for being exactly right, for knowing just what to do, for your great soul.

Thank you Tyler Wagler for your excellent voice, your beautiful guitar, and your fine, fine sensibilities in music and in life. The sound of your laughter is up there in my top 20 favourite things – it’s always worth hearing what you are finding hilarious in this world.

Thank you Christopher McGruer, for your perfectly toned rendition of Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales; thank you Lauren Best, poet laureate of Owen Sound, for your buckets & sticks, and being game enough to join us on the last possible day.

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Thank you Suze Laporte and Mary Flynn for tolerating my annoyingly list-driven parallel selves through the months of November and December. You have been so so generous with your space and time, and I could not have done without your help.

Thank you family, thank you all the full-throated singers, thank you Heartwood Hall, Nathan Wagler and dear Lisa Koop – I’ll talk chicken with you anytime.

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I promised to write about my patreon site (now up and running, but no, you’ll have to wait just a bit more for the link) and how to climb on board with the arts projects in my world, but that post will have to wait until after this one.

This post is about good friends, gratitude, springboards.

When I was in gymnastics as a kid we called it a vault – or maybe that was the action, I don’t remember. You run full tilt, then leap and land hard on the wider end. It compresses then releases, lifting you in a kind of explosion, up and through the known laws of gravity.

The sensation is like being propelled, higher than you could ever get on your own steam, by euphoria. During those long impossible moments in the air you can sumersault, twist in a pike, flip like a dolphin, and vault yourself onto and off the ‘horse’.  The landing can be tricky, but there’s always a padded cushion, a spotter, and a good sense of humour waiting there to soften it.

With good friends, and gratitude, you can defy the laws of gravity, and find ways to land well, with laughter. Thank you, and all my love to everyone for 2019. Lets do this one together.


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Hamilton Residency: 1

Third day is a charm. The first two have been about moving in, setting up, getting my bearings – where does the paint go, need a bookshelf, is there room for the sewing machine, where the heck is the gel bucket and why on earth did I bring a guitar …

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This circus of a December has me back and forth from my gig work in Owen Sound and the residency in Hamilton – often requiring pre-dawn drives up or down the highway, trips into the cabin, re-arranging storage compartment to gather stuff I need, which has entirely made up for the Y workouts I’ve missed.

Sleep schedule is well distorted, so I often pass out somewhere early in the evening then wake at 2am & get to work – writing bios, planning workshops, curating music (for Wassail Dec 22 in Owen Sound). I’m blessed and grateful to have friends who are cool with texts like this one:  ok, I’m just walking around in aimless circles, need to crash for a bit. Is it okay with you if I come over & crawl into your spare bed now? 

Thank you, Mary, Suze, Christoph, and everyone else who has offered to be part of this process with me by offering a spare bed and bathroom, joining me in workshops, rehearsals and email threads, interviews and painting collaborations. In this way, with shovels full of miracle and wonder, the December mountains are actually moving where they need to go.

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Turns out there IS room for the 1956 Singer, yay. It’s a part of my process, the non-expert sewing of quilts – when I need distraction from the pieces in front of me I can zone into this production work and clear my head for the next go. The finished ones will help me with the draft here beside my chair this winter, too…

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The hole is for an air conditioner which I’m sure is essential in the summer months…

Portrait work has begun – I have met with three of seven collaborators, and begun the process of determining format, content, research and development of their pieces.

It’s still possible to jump in with the Hamilton Portrait work: two $500-800 collaborations are available, there’s room for $100-$1000 collaborators who would like to contribute funds and curated input towards the final two large portraits of artists of my choice, and I’m now seeking writing and funding collaborators for the printed book.

I’m in the process of setting up a Patreon site to make it easier for folks to jump in – I will add the link here on this post, and write another that’s devoted, in full gratitude, to a personal exchange between me and you, around art, process, music and collaboration.

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I’m warming up my practise here in the meantime – playing with paintings from the Bells series, now that I have a wall I can get back from to see. I like the darkness, and the hope in this one & look forward to hearing it ‘ring’ when it’s done. Maybe today….?

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While I stare at that one I’m messing around with these small pieces on raw silk. They’ve been hanging around for a while waiting for me to play some more. Acrylic wash over stretched silk, then gel, now dry media – china marker, pencil crayon, chalk pastel. It’s on the wall now with a second layer of gel on it – drying. I’m liking the texture of gel and silk with the dry media. Not sure if there will be a recognizable image on these – if so it will have to wait, since I can’t find my vine charcoal …

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I’m loving this.

Thanks for all the support, folks. Big love to you from the Hamilton studio!


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Artist statement: Hamilton Work

From two Artist’s talks given on November 24th in Owen Sound Ontario, about my upcoming collaborative portrait work.

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I feel a need to establish some background, to support the foreground of this talk…

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I remember staring at the flower in our Dundas garden for a long time before I drew it.

Mom asked me later how I knew how to do that.  I said, “The tulip taught me.”

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Fifty years and a few life changes later, I spend a summer alone in a twelve acre forest.

This time it’s the forest that teaches me about my work as an artist as well as a human: about learning to see what’s actually there, rather than what I believe to be there.

Dad and I went away and painted watercolour landscapes together every summer when I was in my early teens.  Bless you, parents, for that experience, which established a fierce joy in me for the act and sensibility of making art from life.

…which led me to art study in Toronto… which led me to wonder, “where are the women artists? There seemed to be only five of note in the last century, at least as of 1982 –

– Georgia O’Keefe, Emily Carr, Mary Pratt, Freida Kahlo…

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Käthe Kollwitz
Self Portrait, Hand at the Forehead
1910, published c 1946/48
Etching and drypoint

…and Käthe Kollwitz.  This is also the way I felt, then, in a visual art class full of posturing males who defended their haphazard final pieces (painted while drunk and stoned past the point of clarity the night before critique) with claims that they were examining abusive relationships with their mothers….  The (CIA- funded) gods of abstract expressionism were fully present in those years, in that studio.

I clung to the women artists, and to Ms. Carr in particular.

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She travelled on her own to Europe and England to study art. She was self-reflective and wrote good books. She had at various times a cabin in the woods, a tiny house on wheels, a good friend who was a monkey, and she told the men in the Group of Seven to Piss Off when they annoyed her.

While the neo expressionists were grandstanding in New York City, Ms. Carr said

“I must go home and go sketching in the woods. They still have something to say to me.” 

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thirty five years after painting class, I spend a summer alone in the forest.

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Is it ironic that this experience of isolation from humans gave me a new love and appreciation for humanity?

It took me a full five weeks of living alone in my cabin to slow myself down enough to hear the tree frogs, to observe the incremental changes in that place which have been happening steadily for 100 years and more. There was a great deal to see when I learned to slow down and pay attention.

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this mushroom was like a dessert plate with baleen whale gills.

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This cedar is over 100 years old, leaning out to cut the wind for those behind it

The forest teaches me to open and hold an empathetic connection to my chosen subject,  get the heck out of the way of what I’m looking at, and allow myself to be surprised.

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But of course the human world is not slow. There’s a great deal of change and stress in these times, for all of us. What to do? How will we keep ourselves and each other safe and sane, alive and aware, in the mess of these times?

Ms Carr whispers in my ear, points out what is happening to my kindling pile after a only year on the ground.

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… trees gather their nutrients and water via their roots. However, these roots need to be in direct contact with the soil surrounding them in order to take what they can. As such, the roots are limited in the number of nutrients and amount of water they are able to extract simply due to their size and reach. The mycorrhizae fungi act as root extenders. By attaching themselves within and around the tree roots, mycorrhizal are able to act as a transport system directly to your tree. This optimizes gathering of nutrients and water, which allows your tree to focus on growth in other areas apart from its roots.
By surrounding [a] tree’s roots the mycorrhizae also act as a first defense against toxins and potential disease. Not only do these helpful fungi bring nourishing food and water to [the] tree, they also provide a layer of protection! …
In truth, without the mycorrhizae, many trees and plants would not be capable of surviving. Roots alone are just not enough to feed … trees and plants on their own, they need additional assistance if they are to reach their full potential for growth. The mycorrhizae need your trees as well, without the trade of sugar and carbohydrates for water and nutrients, the mycorrhizae would be incapable of survival. (https://treedoctors.ca/mycorrhizae-a-tree%E2%80%99s-best-friend)

I’ve been thinking about this for some time, now.

If mycelium and mycorrhizae connect entire forest ecosystems by symbiotically extending the roots of each tree and plant, and in so doing also build healthy soil, what connects and nourishes us in human ecosystems?

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Of course, we know that Love connects us.  But what is the action of Love? How does it deliver nourishment and connect us across race, gender, politics, economics, AND ALSO back to natural ecosystems?

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If you can forgive my clumsy photoshop illustration… my theory is that Arts connect us, internally and externally:  Music, painting, poetry, story, film.

I think we’re often not aware of the extent, or the strength of these connections we share, through art. Maybe if we were we’d be more discerning with what we ‘consume’, and it’s effect.

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My work at the Cotton Factory residency December 1 to Feb 28 will be a mini-experiment in connection through art. Through collaborative ‘portraiture’ I will endeavour to build and grow a mini human ecosystem in which ten to twelve collaborators are connected through the work we do together, and the paintings I produce as the result of my artistic collaboration with them.

I invite you to consider becoming part of this little human ecosystem – who knows what we will discover together!

This post is already long. In the next post I will outline how to become involved, on whatever level you choose.  I salute the six people who have jumped in without hesitation to collaborate with me, and also all those who will jump in soon.

Hooray for art!!


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The resistance clue

If your residency application is successful, what do you plan to work on‘ … over the ninety days you’ll share a large studio with another working artist, in a building full of artists and arts workers, in old industrial Hamilton, Ontario?

Well,’ say I to me, while writing said application, ‘what have we never tried before?‘. A world full of things, I answer. ‘Then what, amongst the world of projects still undone is the one you most resist? The one you don’t want to consider because you fear to approach it?

The answer leaps into my mind like an outrageously dressed bugaboo jester, finger pointing exactly where I don’t want to look…

Commissioned portraits.

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view outside my first couch-sit this month – a place I lived in 15 years ago. Thanks Christopher…

I’ve resisted commissioned work for two decades now because the whole business is rife with potential misunderstandings: client has a clear and fixed idea in their head about what they want – which has little to do with what I might envision or choose, which means that each step in the development of said painting will compromise both the client’s idea and my artistic integrity. It’s an old problem – it’s so easy for the artist to be perceived as a ‘stand-in’ for the client, who would paint the painting they see so clearly in their mind’s eye but cannot, because they’re not an artist…

The only way it works is if it’s collaborative, from the absolute beginning. Client/subject likes my work and approach, and together we build an intersected space of trust between us. This begins with a very clear confidentiality agreement – as an artist I will not share any information about my collaborator, other than what has been approved.

Client shares what he knows about themself – images, memories, traumas, insights, events, symbols, music, books, choices, yearnings, rages, curiosities… and I/we find imagery that resonates with these things. The resulting portrait then becomes partly the client, and partly my understanding of them: collaborative.

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It’s intimate, this process. Relational. A respect for and a reaching across differences, to form a new understanding of both self and other. The resulting painting reveals an essence that’s both client and artist, if we’ve done our job right. It’s more than possible that it will be less about faces and heads than hearts and souls, though overlapping symbols and figures will be recognizable, or at least I anticipate.

And so, because following the thing I fear most in my artistic work always bears the most interesting results, I wrote “Collaborative Portraits” in my residency application.

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In three months, with Christmas and a Masters capstone in between I think I can get ten portraits done at Cotton Factory. Four large ones (4’x4′ or the equivalent) at a $1500. entry fee, and six small (2’x2′ or the equivalent) at a $500. entry. By ‘entry’ I mean that I expect the final cost of the painting to be equal to that fee, but if the collaboration takes us down rabbit holes and onto a longer journey I may need to adjust for the final piece.

Folks who do not want their portrait painted may pay the commission fee for someone who does but cannot afford it – this might then become a 3-way collaboration.

These paintings will be shown together at the end of the residency, in Hamilton and in Owen Sound. I hope we’ll all be present to talk about the process, which I’ll also write about on this blog under the title “Portraits”, (with all confidentiality agreements firmly in place).  I’ll produce a print and an ebook as well, which will be available on this blog and likely other places.

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Since I began to talk about this last week I’ve received three commissions – two smaller ones and one large. That means four small collaborations are available, and three larger ones [I can’t do this with family or exes – that’s my only rule. This is not because I don’t love and value these friendships, it’s because my story and yours are too entangled for me to have any real objectivity – make sense?].

If you are interested in working with me on this December to January project, please write to me at keirartworks@gmail.com, with “Portrait Project” in the subject line. No questions are dumb questions – all are welcomed, so ask away!

I’m also planning an artist talk to introduce this in person on November 24, 2018 in Owen Sound. Some of my existing work will be on display there as well – I’ll be posting photos of those pieces on instagram and facebook in the days leading up to the artist talk.

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Nobu the cat has been a great advisor

In some ways I can see that that this project has the potential to build a human equivalent of the forest I lived in this summer. We share stories as trees share soil and sun. I have a growing suspicion that art for us is like mycelium to them – a connector across species that nourishes and enriches.

This is a good idea – I can feel it in my bones. Fun, challenging, intriguing – and fast. Three months begins on December 1 and ends February 28. I encourage you to consider coming with me to Hamilton, as one of ten collaborators.

Woot!  More to come in the days that follow!

 

 


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Cabin 21: Poets

It took this tree about 100 years to grow and I’m burning it, piece by piece, in four months. It was the one mature tree I cut down to make room for this cabin – a twinned birch, now half gone.

Every time I put a new log on the fire I’m aware of this – my territorial claim a year ago, my use of a once living thing to keep me warm. The math – our part in climate change.

Human in a place of trees. Over five months they have made peace with, and in me.

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This November forest song is not one I’ve ever heard so directly. I’m listening now because I can – my house is strong and warm, my belly full, and my heart (relatively) at ease. A sense of poignancy gives me added insight – in three weeks I’ll be making art work in an old cotton factory down by the dockyards in old industrial Hamilton, Ontario.

Which is nothing like here, at all.

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What a gift – to witness November here, day by day.  If leaves are like memory and wind like change they dance together, all around the cabin. Is the music then Time? Whatever it is, it feels dangerous, spins them faster and faster, past and beyond the known, remembered moments, the assurances, the conversations, the collaborations.

Birds are gone, toads buried, squirrels vanished. The trees twirl and bend and dip into swift certainty that all of what has happened here will soon be gone and buried, in snow.

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The young maple still gleaming gold against cedar green disappears in real time before my eyes, leaf by leaf.  Just branches like bones, now.

This morning I could see earth on the pathways, now, above has become below.  I walk on what lived in the sky above my head, three weeks ago.

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Branches like ribs, trunks like spines, but this feels nothing like death. There’s a beautiful economy to it, a paring down, a pulling in. I can feel the trees bowing with the wind, with infinite dignity to acknowledge what has been, to welcome what comes. Yes, they’re 100 years strong here, together. And yes, every winter some are unable to withstand the wind, and fall to the ground. Some fall into the arms of another.

I’m now part of the ecosystem here, so these still-aloft but fallen trees are the ones I bring my chainsaw to. These are the ones who will feed my fire, next year.

…which burns low, I notice.

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I’m thinking about this state we are all in, on some level. The state of becoming our older selves, while we shed the things that once were important. The gauge of this is perhaps that we notice things that were always there, but have never been apparent. The wonder of that.

I want this to be so – that the trees also gain a new viewpoint every year, as they reach their branches upward, and their roots down. They participate differently as they grow stronger, wider, steadier – they become protector trees, anchors for all the others.  Some grow more quickly, dominating the canopy in places so undergrowth doesn’t flourish – but these also have shorter lifespans and so build soil for the others.

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What do we do for one another, we who grow so quickly, take without asking, consume so much, are so afraid of dying?

I’ve just come out of a weekend of poets from across Canada who’ve met here  – impossibly and powerfully  – in some combination of truth and humour, compassion and rage these past fifteen years. Thank you, Words Aloud.

These are some who are not afraid, these poets, or at least they’ve found some good cathartic things to do with fear. These humans call us all out to a place of attention, honesty and grace. They walk along the edge of pain and find beauty there, dare to dance there, for all to see. They give us their compassion, their rage, their insight and their tricksiness, but most of all, they call us to our own depths with whispers of courage.

Truth to power. Grow beyond what you know. Find Love –  love Love.  Leap.

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Poets double-dare me to claim my becomings, to walk softly on what once lived above my head. To honour my future, whatever may come. I’ll take that dare.