Keirartworks's Blog

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

Leave a comment

Snowfall, December 2016.

A twenty degree angle, up from the east to the west.  After 36 hours of fierce but invisible wind, the snow has begun.  I’m relieved.


ah, this year, this year.

As I would with child coming down from his destructive tantrum, I want to dose this year with a well-laced hot toddy and tuck it firmly into bed, so we may all have the chance for some self-care.  A break from the nonsensical, irrational, incessant howling we’ve endured to breathe in simple things.

Even for an hour, to be simple, straightforward.


All of us are on a four-lane superhighway it seems, doing our best to be generous, to be kind, but oh so beleaguered, so worn out.


The Chickadees sing in the slanting snow.

Despite the breathtaking antagonism, the astonishing indifference, the unrepentant mean-spiritedness witnessed and endured these past few months, they still sing, cheerful.  They have done this every winter, for as long as Chickadees have been chickadees.

Third-floor roof of the studio building.  Looking Southwest across the harbour

Third-floor roof of the studio building (2013). Looking Southwest across the harbour

It follows then, that if the Chickadees sing, so can we.


Leave a comment

Vivaldi at August’s end

Summer grows into Autumn.

In two weeks I play cello for these, and for Gloria and the Oboe Concerto in F (more info here); it’s good to have such a soundtrack to live and work by.  Thank you, Vivaldi, for composing this music 300 years ago.

I listen to II mvt of the Oboe concerto as I take stock of my studio.  It’s in transition –  from the heat-wave quasi-prison it became in preparation for an artisan booth full of functional art pieces these past three weeks to the fully open creative space it will be for the next eleven.   Full production begins tomorrow for the first instalment of a multi-arts & performance show, #Water will ‘sneak peek’ for an evening Saturday November 14 in Massie Ontario.

It’s Clear the Boards time.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

In these days, a flushing of old ideas and concepts; a quiet but detailed acknowledgement of the impact of events these past ten weeks; a clear light shone again upon the plans I made last spring for this September until June 2016 – in short, I need to allow my mind to change its shape.

To allow room for the grand mistakes that teach me more than any school or schedule ever could.  Room to make these impossibly subtle ideas manifest in paint, music and words.  I want to wrap my audience in soft understanding of the large and tiny things that affect the ecosystem that we are.  I want laughter to be a big part of the performance, in which we entertain each other, and challenge each other a little, so see and hear things slightly differently.

I want elegance out of mess, I want insight into muck, I want a way through to something unimagined.  I’ve some idea that what I can see in my mind is possible, but not really.  I know I’m going in with big blind spots, and this is more than a little terrifying.  I’m going in though, regardless, rich with gratitude and good collaborators.  I’ll tell that story here in the weeks leading to November 14.

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I've never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I’ve never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

Gig to play now.  I’ll be back here in eight hours, where the engine now purrs with promise.

and Vivaldi plays on….

Leave a comment

Follow the loose rein

I stood grinning on a hill in the spring wind without the protection of my long winter coat and smelled the turning of the planet towards the sun.


This Titanic winter season has run amok of the inevitable.  As did the Titans when banished to the underworld and the unsinkable ship when torn by an iceberg, even the strongest behemoth must surrender, eventually, to change.  I can feel the chill through my window, yes.  But it can no longer reach my bones, which glow golden.

Everything is white again.

One of the blizzards from 2013-14.  I lost count.

In requiem to the five white months that are now passing I need to acknowledge my grief too, because I will miss it. This winter has tumbled and shaped me like a river-rock, exposed me like a quartz that had been encased in calloused grey stone – in the safe invisible of frozen white.  It was as though all internal weather was played outside these windows – serenity, calm, beauty so sharp it hurt, but also rage, fury, sorrow, wilfulness.  I’m different.  A lot different.


I’ve just agreed to make twenty pieces of art, write, record and rehearse twenty minutes of music and  – what the hell – twenty+ pages of a hand-made, limited edition book that will explore the idea of exposure and vulnerability, or “The Public Intimate”.  It’s a true child of the winter that’s passing, this show.  I’ve become deeply intrigued by what we do as humans and artists when we look at ourselves and make portraits, then publish them.  Selfies – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Munsch, Cohen, Joni, Camus, Anne Michaels…  If all art is in some way autobiographical, then in fact, making and publishing ‘selfies’ are the job of artists.  We hear a song, read a book, see a great self-portrait, and we are moved to tears.  They are soul food.  But self-publishing is also the work of every human, right?  Even the duck-faced self-portraits published on facebook that are so vulnerable, awkward and exposed are expression of our human need …  to be visible?  Still working this out, as you can see.

My answers, for whatever they’re worth, will be published in a gallery in 13 weeks.  You can bet you’ll be hearing more about it.

1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment


In the Pour House, just up from our funky B&B on St. George.  Black & Tan is 3/4 gone, and the stained glass toucan in front of me smiles with greater and greater intention.  He’s right – I want to say something.

My sister just left after an excellent day &.5 of wandering together as Us.

[Us, on this trip, included some mighty powerful people: Fran the great-mom, Dom the great-daughter, me and Lee, the daughters.  We were missing Anna, another great-daughter, but we’ll fix that.

o great toucan, I need an image.]

We were here

Two were here:

And the other two went here:

We all went here:

And we all went here:  , and here:

Oil and water.  Acronyms: ROM, AGO, TIX, TTC, CAB.  Our Mother Of The Perpertually Helpful.

Dear me.

We walked, we looked, we sat, we ate, we found and lost and found and discovered and missed so many things because we were mostly talking, but more than that, listening….

In two days I found the women in my family [save for Anna, who will come].




definition:  the difference between what you believe and what someone else believes.  The greater the difference, the more trouble you’re in.

For humans (who should know better), there must also be a fairly strong element of denial involved to make this so.

This oak tree thought it would live in one place it's entire life. Then it was sold and planted somewhere entirely different (without any of its 'birth' soil, without its taproot). Trouble, yes, but with copious amounts of water, a healthy will towards life, and supporting caretakers, not permanent.

Example 1.

(DISCLAIMER:  this following does not refer to any specific event or person in my own family – I have a larger scope here.  So, B, S, A, G, D, F, J, L, P, M, C – if you take any of this personally, I will personally come and ply you with bad jokes. no mercy.)

I might believe everything is a-okay with my family, no need to check in. In fact, I can actually feel them close by (in a non-corporeal sense), supporting me through these troubled, stressful times – thank god my family has always been so good at intuitive mutual support.  I can, without question, ALWAYS count on them to understand.

But Family feels Differently.  They feel that they’ve become less important than my Work.  In fact they have not been sending me fair speechless (supportive) messages, rather there is deep resentment brewing, and siblings,  parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws have been sharing & comparing their lists of my failures and inadequacies for months and months – years, in fact, if you really examine history.

That’s when I finally show up for dinner, expecting hugs & congratulations.

Ah but Family can be cruel, hey?  However, situations such as this can be resolved, given some willingness to let go of the ‘victim/perpetrator’ model of relationship, to rediscover the idea of tolerance, and re-affirm one’s own sense of humility. As the gap in belief narrows, mutual support increases, and wounds are healed.

how appropriate - the bleeding heart. I must say though, that the flowers so named are incredible to look at - orchid-like.

Example 2.

I fall crashing into love.  Cannot imagine who I was before I was hit with this person’s beauty, wit, wisdom, kindness & my own level of inspiration by same.  My entire life is forever changed, and I never want this exquisite,  joyful pain to end.  I make plans & take action to ensure that it won’t.

The trouble is, it’s not reciprocal.  Also and in fact, said object of worship is sadly unworthy, in the light of day.  Has bad breath, is mentally & emotionally undisciplined, doesn’t like hockey or classical music or books, and tends to be the room’s top ‘drag’ on the collective energies.  Folds his kleenex when blowing his nose (urrgh).  Too bad we got married?

Or perhaps, let’s tear up this contract that we both thought meant something different, and re-write it.

Spurge, exhibiting great uniformity of purpose.

Example 3.

I might develop a belief, over many years at the same job, that I have earned the right to self-determination.  I know that my bosses and the bosses that rule them are benevolent, that they value my presence, my competence and my experience as indispensable to the business we are in together.  Operations run so smoothly here that there’s hardly any need for communication – I am fully empowered to do first and explain later.  Thank god for this long leash, although I know I’ve earned it, these past three decades.  Life is good.

…until I get called into head office, with a recommendation that I bring my union rep with me.  Maybe I shouldn’t have shortened my work week by a day without permission.  Big oops Trouble.

Perhaps this is what good union reps are for – to build bridges over gaping canyons between beliefs, like the one above?  Should folk such as these be trained & ordained as priests from the New Church of Re-claimed Humility?

Happy transplanted Rowan tree

In closing:

Oh astonishing we (humans) –  surprising, wicked, warm and impossibly, perpetually bound for trouble.

It’s all okay.  I can take the trouble I make on the chin, with a (humble) chuckle, I think.

In the meantime, the trees grow and the flowers bloom and the bees get the job done.

1 Comment

Friday Morning list

Seems this is now a Friday morning ritual.


1. figure out a way to sincerely compliment at least two of the most difficult people in my life.

2. find astonishment somewhere, try to articulate it.

3. daily ritual -clean at least one neglected thing.

4. admit to 3 colossally dumb things I’ve done in the last month & laugh.

5. sew something. plant something.  sing something.

6. throw paint at the wall.

7. meet all contractual commitments; gracefully decline new ones I can’t serve well.

8. finish at least one long-awaited, loving letter and send.

9. play cello.

10. be well.

feel free to add more

My astonishing husband and our friend Patrick lay slate today at our house. 500sq feet laid, 500 to go.