Off-grid at the shore reminds me I’m tougher than I think. April’s like a magic pre-shoulder season secret – best time to cut the winter’s deadfall for the wood stove, to see the curve of the forest floor, and feel the full moonlight – silver – on my face. Cozy warm, writing and drawing in the tiny house with the wind out there, with the waves crashing; I came north for two days and stayed for eight.
Found some ghosts, which I’d expected. A new playlist from my pal took me spinning through oh, a few decades of entanglements and triggers – music, more than anything else, can do that. Ghosts and triggers rose like the smoke from my chimney, filtered through skeleton trees and up to the silver moon. Healthy lettings-go; I’m different now.
Home & the studio reminds me how I love to work in a spiral – tree-ink drawings to sewing blankets to walking up the 288 steps at Wentworth then back down too soon, jelly legs almost didn’t hold today. Walking halfway up the escarpment cliff, through the waking trees, the bloodroot, the dogtooth violets and this time no racing spandex cyclists. Just a few other folks walking and listening to birds in the sunlight.
I’ve found a way to populate my apartment with trees, by making ink from their heartwood, their bark, their fruit. The ink is very much alive – as unlike the store-bought watercolour I’m used to as garden grown, sun kissed tomatoes are to what they sell in grocery stores. Not like earth pigments either – those remind me of playing in the dirt when I was little. Happy, healthy dirt.
Today I’m working with colour from Chestnut, Mulberry, Logwood and Sequoia, and I’m in conversation with deep roots, tall branches and carbon inhale, oxygen exhale leaves. Most of these are fugitive colours, as you would expect from watching fall colours fade, so we’re putting stories and drawings into books, where they can stay vibrant for longer. I realize this project is ours, both mine and these trees’, who teach me. Next up is Acacia (cutch), Walnut, Sumac, Apple.
I walk down from the trail and across the railroad tracks into Gage Park where old old trees live and stretch. Japanese cherries by the rose garden, mulberry by the watershed along the pathway to Robbie Burns. To the massive plane trees that mark my turn off Main street from a kilometre away – one of them is my leaning tree, and I do today. Glasses off, eyes closed, legs still like jelly, the tree curved around my back like a giant, infinitely gentle hand.
Tomorrow I take all of this into the studio and offer it to the big canvases. They’ve shifted themselves to enter the conversation that began in 2018 at the Cabin, In Gage Park and in 2022 in what I now call the ink room.
Open Studio is Saturday May 7, SH242 at The Cotton Factory, from 4 to 11pm. Blankets, paintings, books, prints, other ephemera and good conversation will be on offer, and the building will be lit up with places to visit, things to do, live music, food and delight. If you’d like to take something home from my studio, e-transfer works just fine.