Keirartworks's Blog

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


sitting bones

This morning’s cold has made the rain weightless.  As I watch from my third floor window I can feel the pull and flow of ocean, save that it’s air – currents made visible by tiny crystals of frozen water.  The north wind, playing.

My walk at dawn was full of the promise of this; I’m glad to be in the saddle now watching it happen.


The saddle today is all about music education – not just classical, not just conventional, but real and applied like a cord that weaves through every part of life (in Austria the bricklayers sing opera as they work). I’ve got alot of ground to cover from now to Sunday evg – on familiar roads, abandoned roads, through fields, bush and escarpment on animal trails – always pulling this cord (chord?) of an idea through it all.  (I’m tempted* to play a little with this idea (like the North Wind) and pull up the Minotaur in the Labyrinth myth….)


There are models out there that answer the need for a strong, universal program for kids to learn and play music.  Every one of them needs to be altered to fit the place they will be.  Every one of them needs strong advocates on the ground, a solid team of non-competitive, collaborative teacher/player/coaches, and the clear understanding that without including and involving the parents, the community will never engage, the bricklayers will never sing on their scaffolds.


There will be some valuable breaks from the computer – practise on cello & viola & piano, learning vocal lyrics, arrangements; rehearsing & playing a great benefit gig for the Phillippines with great friends (& incredible players); hikes in the playful snow.  Through it all my heart and head will still be in the saddle here, building a good plan.  I love this work.  Love it, love it.

detail of 4'x4' painting in progress:  D-ring snaffle bit

detail of 4’x4′ painting in progress: D-ring snaffle bit

I have the bit in my teeth now and girth snug on my belly – I’m both horse and rider, and we’re off.  See you on Sunday if you live here. Have a great weekend, wherever you are,  if you don’t.  ‘Hope you get to play.

Here’s the Phillippines poster:

calm in the eye poster1(1)


*maybe later, since it would require a pretty serious re-write.  I’m not sure that the bull-headed beast is a bad thing that needs to die in this version, and not sure we need one hero (we need many). Cut or change Theseus’ motivation, re-write Ariadne’s lines, keep the labyrinth as a metaphor for accepting what you don’t and cannot know until you’ve gone the distance,  give the Minotaur an archetypal weight and purpose because we need him, there’s always a scary beast….

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I’ve given myself two weeks to answer a list.  On my list are relatively small goals but they are necessarily comprehensive, since the overall aim is to break through a log jam of old unfulfilled ideas, to clear out what is no longer useful or appropriate, and give form to the ones with a vigorous pulse.   So.

Ten paintings finished and hung in a public space in two weeks.

Hammer drawing #1 - rough

Hammer drawing #1 – rough

Two public performances booked for cello ensemble, so that we HAVE TO polish these beautiful pieces, and present them.

(If you’re interested in hearing us:  December 1 Aids Vigil at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, and December 16 6:30pm at Owen Sound City Hall)

One new project for 2016, very dear to my heart, fleshed out and taken to the collaboration table.

Eight long hikes.

Three non-fiction books finished.

One grant application mentored and sent.

Five daily rituals carefully designed and established.

One package, two letters sent to Japan.

…and space in-between.

Autumn ferns on the Bruce Trail, September.

Autumn ferns on the Bruce Trail, September.

This reads almost like a Dr. Seuss book…

One fish, two fish, three fish, four….

inheritance from two families on my mother's side:  A proud sign from Kennedy Foundry of Owen Sound, hanging on the wall of Circle Bar Ladies' Hosiery factory, also in Owen Sound, owned and operated by my mom & aunt's grandparents, Walter and Catherine Keebler.

inheritance from two families on my mother’s side: A proud sign from Kennedy Foundry of Owen Sound, hanging on the wall of Circle Bar Ladies’ Hosiery factory, also in Owen Sound, owned and operated by my mom & aunt’s grandparents, Walter and Catherine Keebler.  The fish are mine – made from carpentry scraps.

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we carry these things privately

In art school we talked about negative space – the less obvious part of any picture that does the most to define the subject.  When building a 3D illusion on a 2-dimensional plane this is one of the neatest tricks – to first define what’s NOT in the drawing, in order to clarify what is.

Grandvista Gardens, Dundas, somewhere near 1968...  Marcus?myself, Lee, Rebecca, Marcus & unidentified other RH side

Grandvista Gardens, Dundas, somewhere near 1968… Marcus?
myself, Lee, Rebecca, Marcus & unidentified other RH side

We’ve had a lovely lovely christmas, and a beautiful Solstice leading into it.  Great music was played and shared, connections forged and re-forged among friends and family, warm, sincere thoughts expressed in gifts, in laughter, in deep conversation.  Over and through all of this there has been a generosity of spirit that to me seems many times magnified over previous years – and those previous years of goodwill have also been remarkable.  Among other notable things this year there’s a new highly contagious trend – to pay for the guy behind you in the drive-through.  The one you’ve never met, and don’t need thanks from.  Huh.

Throughout all the visits and the meals and events there have also been absences – people and memories left silent and unremarked.  For me, these have defined and enriched Christmas 2012 as much as anything.

My family lived in London England in 1967-68.  Here my sister and I skip through a graveyard...

My family lived in London England in 1967-68. Here my sister and I skip through a graveyard…

Negative space becomes positive, once you see it for what it is.

We now have four cats – and another marvelous one has adopted the couch (and anything else he can play with) in my Studio.  Purrl, Oliver, Samantha, Benjamin, Tolouse-Lautrec.  Each as different as could be, but joined together in the eternal Cat fascination with all things moving.  I’ve played long and wild with all of them this week.

But Mark, my brother, my protector, beautiful, noble, intense – how is it that you are also here, through forty years and more?  I can feel you standing like a wall of safety between me and any new person, any potential fall, any threat to my person.  Thanks.  There’s only one of you.



Lee and I on the swings under the big maple at Briar Hill School, somewhere around 1972

Lee and I on the swings under the big maple at Briar Hill School, somewhere around 1972

The compost bin is beside the big maple tree at my Parents’ house – I was there yesterday morning, on the side away from the swings, staring at her now immense girth.  This tree was at least 100 when we arrived at the Schoolhouse in 1971, and she’s since almost doubled in size.  The swings are long gone.

This year L was present in her absence.  I have only one sister, and she was even closer to Mark than I.  I sense that he walks and runs and sleeps and chases and leaps with her in Germany too.  Look after her, M.

Cousins, 14 years ago.

Cousins, 14 years ago.

Cousins, circa 9 years ago.

Cousins, circa 9 years ago.  And a Thomas.

A,B,M – this is your Aunt.  You are all far far away, doing far away things, but I call each of you home to Annan for a snowfight, a hike, a tribal dance, a silly contest, and a hug.  You can do this in your minds – but make sure you do this.  All my love,

My sister, on Trudeau's back.  I was right there beside them when this happened - she was furious at him.  And now he, too is positive-negative space, worthy of much consideration.

My sister, on Trudeau’s back. I was right there beside them when this happened – she was furious at him. And now he, too is positive-negative space, worthy of much consideration.


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in the dark of the moon

The clouds are pale indigo-violet, then a blustery bruised grey shot through with long warm lines of golden sunlight  and rich blue – this sets the red reds and the yellow yellows and the living greens in brilliant, stop-in-your-tracks collaboration.  I feel as though I’m watching the gods at play in a game where they best one another in acts of impossible beauty.

From far and away family gathers to roll around in the astonishing splendour of where and when we are together at the end of growth — so brief this year.  Together we stop in our tracks and wonder.  Then we move on, we joke, we sing, we cook, we eat, we drink – though it’s perhaps true that this year that none of us are left without feeling privately humbled by the world through which we’ve hiked.

Three days, then family leaves reluctant, less difficult, more compassionate maybe than last year, though it’s hard to say.  Then the wind whips up every leaf from it’s branch to dance it high like opera, like gregorian chanting for four days – then pitches each one down in its own time to serve as mulch for 2013.

The rain, the hail and the heavy heavy sky nightly calls the woodstove to warm, and we feel compelled willy-nilly to finish what was undone – to clear, stow away, cover up, rake and dig while we imagine the day soon come when we cannot.

We know this in our skins, just watching the feverish feeding birds and chipmunks.  We catch ourselves nodding up at the sky as though to a partner we know well who sends clear signal:

it will be a heavy winter.

An incredible January hike in 2009 – ice formed on the tops of all the trees along the north-facing shore of Georgian Bay. We were astonished, all of us.

There’s a part of me that’s eager.  The fast pace of things this year flows in my veins and there may be at last some time to slow down and warm up on the inside, to listen to the resonance of what has occurred, in this year the Mayans were so clear to note in stone.

…we hike in North Sydenham, while the ground shifts beneath us, which it always has done, and always will.

I do hope, wherever you are, that you feel just as deeply grateful for what’s right in front of you – including your own self.

This is dedicated, in part – in a large part – to Amanda Todd who died last week.

Hug from me, A.T.



Impossible Beauty

It began yesterday morning when the temperature dropped.  This dreary, straight down rain we’ve felt so wrong about all month became soft floating flakes of snow – wet enough to stick to every branch, every bough, thick enough to cover last years piles in a pristine white eiderdown.  Less than a day later I wake to find myself surrounded in pure white floating dancing wonder.  I have yet to see another natural phemomenon that transforms the world so profoundly, that so clearly gives all who live within it permission to go inward.  Entranced in the big window, I sit with my face twelve inches from the swirling sculpted outside.  The sense of it is sinking in – I can feel in my whole body that Winter is Here, Now.


It’s time, the Ojibway will say, to tell stories.  Time to gather together and slow ourselves down so we can share them, repeat them, sing them to one another.  To write down the thoughts that so easily escape and dissolve in other, busier seasons, to build hearth-fires and keep them burning, to notice subtle things about people and respond to them, gently, as you would offer a story, gently.  As the days grow longer here, they also grow colder – so we enter the season in which warmth replaces light as the generous thing to offer.  I do love this about us, here.

looking out from the warmth

Inside there is peace too.  This Christmas has been marked by a steady (but not punishing) schedule of visits, gatherings and meals, none of them fraught with tension or angst, melodrama or frustration- rather a sense, for me anyhow, of deep joy, true appreciation, and contentment.  We’re still not done – there are at least four more important gatherings to join, a huge turkey and a ham to consume (on two separate occasions, thank god), hikes through the snow with cameras and conviviality, books to read together in a house with others reading books, letters to write, and – for me, because Christmas Day came at us headlong like a steam engine full of Vivaldi Glorias & Corelli Concertos – presents to finish making.

I'm sitting right beside this deck, on the south. The snow has now completely covered the rock. Bye bye last year, hello the lovely 'in-between' of Winter.


I dreamed last night that I had forogotten to bring my cello to a recording session. No panic, in the dream – I simply went home to retrieve her – but it was a clue – I need to reconnect, in a deep & meaningful “winter” way, with my friend.  To release her chocolate tones again and again, more and more specifically. To play the Faure, the Saint-seans, the Dotzauer & the Bach with her into my new gadget, so I can hear them back, polish.  And soon, to write and sing my own, which will feel like building a warming fire, and keeping it lit.

Happy Wednesday all, & thanks for the beauty.



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Friday list

These guys are everywhere, like a carpet

There are softer things that need attention.  Small things that don’t register as important until you look a little closer, slow down a little more, open up a bit…

From that idea comes this week’s list:

1. Take note of the times when I feel odd, for however short a time – any kind of odd will do – unexpectedly odd.
2. Make deliberate space – in my mind, my house, my job, my belief system, etc – for something smaller, less strong, less experienced, less motivated, less_____ than me.
3. Remove all the little cat hairs from the window pillow.
4. Examine something that I use every day, very very closely.
5. Take note of the shoes of everyone I meet.  Address at least one thought at each person’s feet, or foot.
6. Identify three outstanding debts I owe to myself.  Attend to them.
7. Give away five good books.
8. For ten minutes every day, breathe the way I think, then think the way I breathe.
9. Hike somewhere out there, softly.
10. When practising cello, pay attention to the beginning and the end of each note.


new fingers on spruce