Keirartworks's Blog

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

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Back in.

Sideways works best.

I’ve been away from this studio for a month – longest time in three years – to work at sorting out old family issues that had reached a boiling point, then (surprise) to feed and look after a teenage cat mama and her three kittens who appeared in my house half-way through June.  Quite a distraction, four cats. Welcome in my life while I chewed on old family gristle.  Happily I found a generous adopter who has taken all four of them in so the family can stay together. They are installed there now, charming and distracting other people….

You’ll want to see a picture (I have many)


Finally I’m back in studio to work, changed and feeling more than a little stupid as I look at the pieces I left at various states of completion.  What was I planning?  The notes I left are a clue, yellow wash left-centre, white on overlapped spirals, throw brass-green, where is the guitar, but I’m seeing these pieces from a different place, differently.

All of my fine procrastination skills are in full play. I understand the principle of stick with it but when you are slightly out alignment with ‘it’, there’s no way to force this.  It’s also hot.

…just went to pick up my camera and tripod at the house, paused there to pull some weeds, water the plants on the deck.  Returned from that extended errand I realize I need fresh cream for my coffee.  I need the black table and the cutting table cleared for work and photos, but it’s covered in Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Bach, Beatles – all taken out of my carefully constructed quartet binders, loose.  I twitch every time I look at it, but I know it will take a full day to put it right again….shall do this now, right after I sweep the floor and put the ink away, or walk to the corner store for cream first…..

I compromise, pile the music mess and put it somewhere safe for later, clear the surfaces for new work, fill the water jugs, check which mixed paint has dried and what’s still good.  I take photos and develop them for the ‘process’ files


Cashews, fan, cleared work surfaces and some mixed yellow paint that’s still good


and the first wash is done:


There.  The story thread has been woven back in, and my bodymind is happy in image mode again.  I can now safely go and get cream for coffee #2.

This is heaven.


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The Sweet Ouch

Home to find the Shire bathed in sunlight and still buried in snow.  Three days home and yet another winter storm howls and screams at my north windows.  It’s mid-march.  I don’t feel in any way inclined to take pictures of this weather.

But oh my studio is warm warm.  Full of echoes left from hours of cello practise:  Faure, Brahms, Bach, Schubert, Dvorak. Endlessly gratifying workout-studies.

Every muscle hurts.  Including my heart.

singing, now....

singing, now….

Paintings all leapt ahead and comparing their new selves – mirrored across the walls, watch me move, see how I am, now.

More more more.

Wires like the promise of further connection:  1/4 inch to loop pedal to Soundboard to speakers.  xlr from MK40 to board to speakers.  These wait on new arrangements written in the car, on the road, in waking moments – and time…  after the meetings, the rehearsals, the photoshoots, the graphic design, the lessons, classes, visits….

Tonight.  Tomorrow, and then the tomorrow after.

my friend's house

my friend’s house

I’m bigger somehow, since I’ve been away.  So is the world.

Didn’t think I could love more than I did when I left.  Turns out I can.

To achieve great things, two things are needed;  a plan, and not quite enough time.


find a reason

I have two feet’s worth of projects to move from here to over there – from the possible to the more possible pile; to the surprisingly good pile, a few to the “well now I know that won’t work ever” pile.  They all have a best before date; some of which I know, others I’ve misread, so I pre-empt, and miss the mark…

factory windows

art factory windows

Every one of them is worthy of the best attention.  Unfortunately tonight, after 18 hours of steady steady…  for what feels like the past three months straight, I’m really really tired.  And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Bofoto shot ( from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago...

Bofoto shot ( from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago…

Last night I sat in for the GBS’ principal cellist to sight read Dvorak (a last-minute surprise; I tanked), the night before I was melted by the Goldberg Variations played by Mark Fewer (vln), Steven Dann (vla), Richard Lester (vlc), which was like witnessing the reason the planet turns and the sun rises.  The night before that I tried again to reconfigure my brain to fit the frequency of the instruction manual for a BOSS900  digital THING which will allow me to write and share songs with my collaborators….

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968.  I'd like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can't, really.  In a bizarre way this is comforting.  I wonder if anyone gets that.

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968. I’d like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can’t, really. In a bizarre way this is comforting. I wonder if anyone gets that.

What’s my point?

I think it’s pretty simple.  I really am really tired, and I need real sleep.

Also that I love what I’m doing.

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Drop the veil

I just need to write this here, shout it out on whatever broadcast range I have – it’s SUCH good news.

At age ten Larisa Yurkiw told me her goal was to compete for Canada at the winter Olympics.  Against incredible odds she has just qualified to do exactly that – 2014 in Russia.  I taught Larisa cello for 4 years starting at age 6 so in many ways she will always be my kid, but she’s everyone’s, really.  We are so so proud.  I am very much inspired by her determination, heartened by her grace and calm.  Here’s a link to one of many articles about her story, so you can be inspired too:  Toronto Star, Jan 17, 2014

Bent tree on the Lion's Head section of The Bruce Trail, 2013

Bent tree on the Lion’s Head section of The Bruce Trail, 2013

And now leap with me – to a coffee shop conversation I had this morning that stuck with me…  so why do I write this blog?

It’s not a confessional, nor is it a journal  (I also write in one of those and have done since I was seven – nobody gets to read those; they will be burned).  The writing I do here is edited and then proofed then edited again, for a purpose I can only barely describe.

I think it’s a ‘ping’ – to reference my friend Marcus’ blog, Echolocators.  It’s as clear a depiction of the process and experience of being an artist/musician as I can imagine and write – with all the ugly, painful and ridiculous bits included alongside the sublime.  I do know I’m never satisfied with the results, but I get that this too is part of the process.

I write this material partly because I believe it’s time we collectively de-mystified and un-deified this idea of what an artist is, and understand finally that art is a set of tools, like carpentry tools or plumbing tools or surgery tools.  What sets any of these skills on fire, and makes miraculous results possible is passion, which everyone is capable of.  The rest is just work.  Simple, pedestrian, deliberate, clean, persistent work.  If you get that, then you get what humility is.  And every once in a while, when you get out of the way of your own perceptions of ‘how it should be’, you also get to participate in something brilliant.

elderberry flower buds

elderberry flower buds

There’s a dark side to this.  Artists & musicians who have the craft, the drive and the courage to hone their skills can hit a bell tone with them that resonates with and reaches millions of people.  Immediately (at least in North American cultures) they are perceived as fair game to be de-humanized – into an action figure doll that anyone can manipulate and play with and project their … stuff onto.  The bigger the bell-tone, the brassier the bell, the more toxic this can get.  People who are star-struck want a piece of that fame shine and when they find they can’t possess it, they will often try to destroy it, through slander and abuse.

“Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent.”, said Emily Dickinson

thyme from my mom

thyme from my mom

Still, we do this… pinging.

…There’s places in your mind
Been working overtime
Trying to name a brand new sound
There’s places in your heart
Listening to the ground, to the ground
All your windy life you’ve waited,
now it’s time.

Kris Delmhorst, from “Brand New Sound”
Shotgun Singer, 2008



Most of the pings are imperfect, some are misdirected, some never get uttered.  Many that are released come back to us though, echoing off the surface of far away things we can only name by our voicings.  It’s good to know there’s something there in the dark of humanity.  Good to know if you’re swimming towards obstruction or if the way ahead is clear and open.

So…. Ping.  Glad you’re there.


“The soul should always stand ajar.”  – also Emily Dickinson