Keirartworks's Blog

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An ethical line

To draw a line.

A simple line can identify both home and trespasser.

Political lines describe differences, places of meeting:  here and there, you and me, us and them.

Natural lines are always clear, but changing.  Shoreline, treeline, river, snake, stick, shadow.

“Snakeroot”, 6×6″, graphite and acrylic on paper, 1999. Sold

Lines can protect the sacred, the private, the personal from the public.  Open, traveling lines explore, closed ones separate, keep safe.

Implied lines blur understanding, strong ones describe structure.  Like ladders, scaffolding.

An ethical line supports both the one and the other.  If drawn with clear intention, such a line can offer a way through conflict to respect, reconciliation.

A good, quiet line, both firm and generous.  Provocatively simple.


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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Power and comfort

The studio is dark.

I am entirely at peace in this space – made small and comfortable by the light of one candle.  Muffled, intermittent cars drive north or south through slush outside and I stare out my big, arched third floor window at headlights, streetlights, house lights.  The clock ticks like a slow walk.

Epictetus has answered a question I had earlier,

” There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will ”  (translated from the original greek)
Epictetus, AD 55 – AD 135


powerful Tara, a horse I met on the last day of 2012

Tara is a highly athletic six-year-old purebred Canadian horse who came full of rage to her current owners and would not do as she was asked.  She resisted to the point where she became a dangerous threat to herself and everyone around her.  An old dominant mare at another farm taught her another way to be by insisting for three hours- repeatedly, fiercely, physically –  that she listen to and respect her elders.

These pictures of Tara four years since then show her free-lunging with her incredibly patient 16-year-old owner, and doing everything she’s asked to do … with great sass & personal style.

Power is not a simple thing.  Epictetus also maintains that “Suffering occurs from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.”
(taken directly from the page devoted to him in wikipedia – see link above)

A comforting confirmation for Tara and another for me from a greek slave who obtained his freedom and founded a school of philosophy.

Just a note,

I’m glad that Stephen Harper has found a way to respect and meet with the first nations people of Canada.  Too bad it took him 23 days of a hunger strike.

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Winter Solstice, 2012

I woke in my bed this morning at 6:15, just in time to feel something shift.

Winter solstice dawns today with fine fine snowfall out of white into white.  Even the trees are disappearing  – their branches look like fine pencil lines now.  I’m watching the snow fall, listening to the incredible Mychael Danna soundtrack to Life of Pi and feeling nothing but gratitude.

I wish everyone a moment like this today, in which time stops and you can feel the turning of the planet, the dance of our solar system, the swirl of our galaxy and the great silent thunder of the universe we are part of.

Then you can do your errands, and fulfill your tasks- I bet they’ll seem simpler.

Happy Solstice 2012.



Imprint:  A rapid learning process by which [an artist] establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal or an object (artistic license generously applied)

Drawing is like that, for me.  The translation of an object or a face or a scene from eye to paper or canvas leaves a permanent impression in my artist mind – an imprint.  The work I’m currently doing in my studio is like this.

I’m working on a series of painting/drawings about simple tools:  Shovel  Axe  Hammer  Pencil  clamp  wrench  etc –   things in common use as extensions of our physical needs –  to garden, clear, build, keep warm (firewood), communicate and figure out.

Simple tho it may seem, the shapes and planes in a shovel (this one is a spade) are as complex as those of a human face – especially since I’m drawing an old one that still shows it’s history – mortar, rust, paint.  As I draw I’m amazed at how specific each slope is to the function of the tool.  If I were an anthropologist examining this object  2000 years from now I could easily discern it’s use – the shape speaks.

But I know more than she, because this is MY spade I’m drawing, and I have physical memory of using it:

Digging digging, hitting rock, finding the rock’s edges, then straining the long ash handle to lever out great slabs of limestone, great chunks of granite.  There is no bottom to this pile of soil – I’m down through four feet of strata – weeds, topsoil, clay – all of it growing rocks for harvest.  Loosen roots, turn soil, break solid clods with the back of the spade – whack, whack, clunk.

Right foot bruised on the push edge of the spade,  fingers slippery with mud, knees and boots caked and heavy, face smeared – I am utterly content.

Shift to my studio. My face and clothing is smeared with charcoal and paint.  I am barefoot, staring staring at this painting I collaborate with.

Now at my draughting table, write, sketch, play cards- anything to catch the next right decision out of the corner of my eye – then leap up in the aha moment to make an adjustment, addition, or big sweeping change.  I am utterly engaged, utterly content.

Early stage of the shovel painting. It's come a long way since then - looking a little like a prehistoric cave painting now, tho that may change.

The next painting is an axe.

I’ll keep you posted.