The Stories come seeking

Stories that want to be told come in through the eastern window in the morning, or sometimes down onto the roof with the rain.

There’s a beautiful one that follows me everywhere I go now, about the water that washes the eastern shore on Georgian Bay and how that is like, and also not like the ocean that kisses and smashes and chortles the eastern shores of the Shetland Islands. This story is long like a river that runs deep then dives deeper, to run beneath the desert.

There’s another about trumpeter Swans who were many, then few, then gone for a hundred years, hunted into oblivion by europeans. Now the imprint of those wild ones on the land teaches the new, tame ones how to be who they are. The tame ones teach the humans to be …better.

There are the stories a Mother Tree whispers to me – the one that once grew right here, the beating heart of the great breathing forest that lived – lives! she says – along the flanks of Lake Ontario, sheltered by the arms of the limestone escarpment.

They come in the window and through the roof with pictures and sounds to show me. Listen. Can you hear this? Can you see how this is, how it connects with that? Look at this marvel! Listen.

And so I get to work, and write. Draw containments for these, paint them, sing them, play them.

I’ve just sent two applications in to Banff Centre for the Arts for month long residencies this year, timed after my commission work has been completed and distributed with love.

What I’ll build at the Banff residency is a visual language that matches the stories that come in, asking to be told. I’ll work with colour, water, gravity, resist, paper and time. The musical language will develop too – downstairs in the room I’ve made for it, in car rides between here and my cabin, and on the road between here and Banff this summer and early fall.

That Banff Centre will of course choose to invite me or not; I’ll know by May. If not Banff, then from a back yard studio in Vernon, or a cabin on Lake Superior. From the blue artist’s studio at the edge of the ocean in the Shetland Islands. Either way, the stories will be told, and I will find a visual and musical language for them. This is the road I’ve chosen.

I will need help. I can’t tell the stories the way they’re asking to be told, without readers, without input, without research and connection, without funding assistance. Without performance venues, walls to hang the work on, other artists to work with and pay with respect, audiences to sing the music with. Without a family of collaborators.

Become a Patron

This is a link to my Patreon site, where you’ll find some options for collaboration with me and these stories. Benefits, too, as sincere tokens of my appreciation and love. If you join me as a patron, I will take you with me on the road, into the studio, the residencies, the water, the forests. Your story will mingle and connect with these ones, and you will be included in the books, songs and paintings that will be made. You will have my rich and enduring gratitude and love.

Most of the content on this website will continue to be free. I’ve been writing here for ten years and many life changes, and I love the connection it provides. Please consider, though, that this space takes great time and effort to build, develop, evolve, enrich. If you feel inclined to support this, even for the cost of a good coffee every month, the space and the work I do will only get better.

I am and will continue to be eternally grateful for your collaboration and support. Nothing in this world happens in isolation; we’re all in this together.

The Well

stare and stare at these paintings, make a choice to add paint, increase opacity, move a line, stare again and question and re-form my understanding of the work and my own approach to collaboration – what is changing?  why and how the change?  How can I follow – willingly submit to change myself, when I cannot see the future?

I started working with bells as a response to the great political divide of the Canadian Election. Alarmed, that we are so susceptible to fear-mongering, that we permit racists and bigots to rerpresent our country and run for parliament, that
I started working with bells as a response to the great political divide of the Canadian Election. Alarmed, that we are so susceptible to fear-mongering, that my country has turned so dark, that art, science and all religions but one – or two when convenient, have been muzzled by oil and money…

Always another voice that insists on clear answers, ‘What am I trying for here?  Does this work resonate outside of my little world?  What is my statement? If challenged, could I defend the value of this piece?  I don’t know. I’m only sometimes clear with my thinking.

But we chose change, and elected Justin Trudeau, who has been swift to change our course to one of mutual respect, of collaboration with first nations, of removing muzzles from scientists, building bridges between government and constituent, addressed climate change and invited representatives from each party, and across the country to Paris for the Climate Conference.
But we rose and chose something different by giving Justin Trudeau a majority.  He and the elected have been swift to change our course to one of mutual respect.  We gave a gender equal cabinet.  We will answer for our history with our First Nations. our Scientists, civil servants, citizens are encourages to engage, witness, and collaborate with the Government of Canada.  Trudeau has invited representatives from each party and to Paris for the Climate Conference.

Discernment = Self respect.  There is no other way to choose well than from a position of strength and humility, which is perhaps the greatest form of strength.  Always the painting is stronger, more alive than I.  Always it wants something I can barely imagine to happen.  My response is to simplify.  Simplify again.

Paris. Last night at least 127 people were killed and many more injured by a terrorist group. In Paris. The western world weeps and buckles down into fear: close the borders! Protect our own! But there are bombs also in Syria, in Bagdad, in Beiruit. We do not respond to these by changing our profile pictures in solidarity...
Paris. Last night at least 127 people were killed and many more injured by a terrorist group. In Paris. The western world weeps and buckles down into fear: close the borders! Protect our own! But there are bombs also in Syria, in Bagdad, in Beiruit. We do not respond to these by changing our profile pictures in solidarity…

I look up after pause moments (knitting a scarf with cables so I need to count:  perl three, knit three, perl three, four rows, then knit one, perl three, knit three.  It’s four feet long now…), and I notice that there is a pattern also in the drawings on each canvas.  The bells are progressively getting louder, their mouths wider…

You can add up the parts, But you won't have the sum, You can strike up the march, There is no drum. Every heart, every heart To love will come, But like a refugee. - L. Cohen, "Anthem"
You can add up the parts, But you won’t have the sum, You can strike up the march, There is no drum.  Every heart, every heart To love will come, But like a refugee. – L. Cohen, “Anthem”

We shall see where change takes us.  I go willingly.

#Water: July

The heat of this summer is thick like soup laced with sweat.  I’m grumpy about it.  I’m not grumpy about the work that’s happening here like a series of intense mini-explosions, each triggering the next.  I’d just rather not sweat while I’m working (fan is off when recording).  My fuse is short.

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Happily I have this nearby…

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I’m reading about, and listening to music written by Russian Composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), who was doing his best to change the world with music and art until he died at age 43 (good introductory Guardian article here).  He did a great deal of thinking about colour, frequency, and energies, which I love.  Here’s a wiki quote,

In his autobiographical Recollections,Sergei Rachmaninoff recorded a conversation he had had with Scriabin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakovabout Scriabin’s association of colour and music. Rachmaninoff was surprised to find that Rimsky-Korsakov agreed with Scriabin on associations of musical keys with colors; himself skeptical, Rachmaninoff made the obvious objection that the two composers did not always agree on the colours involved. Both maintained that the key of D major was golden-brown; but Scriabin linked E-flat major with red-purple, while Rimsky-Korsakov favored blue. However, Rimsky-Korsakov protested that a passage in Rachmaninoff’s opera The Miserly Knight accorded with their claim: the scene in which the Old Baron opens treasure chests to reveal gold and jewels glittering in torchlight is written in D major. Scriabin told Rachmaninoff that “your intuition has unconsciously followed the laws whose very existence you have tried to deny.”

How can I not be fascinated?  In art school, this was my era – the Symbolists, the Theosophists, the mystics.

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If I can get the technology ironed out (please write if you know about high-quality motion-sensored sound systems, bluetooth), I’m aiming for November launch of the #Water tour.  I’ve got amazing musicians to work with, all with fascinating minds and beautiful voices.  Happy happy me.

Especially at 10:15pm, when it’s cool out.

 

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