Keirartworks's Blog

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

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To Locate

I resist the obviousness of GPS as a tool to locate, navigate, identify.  Most interesting to me is when GPS is wrong, as in the case this spring when a K-W woman, travelling in deep fog at the tip of the Brice Peninsula, drove her car into Georgian Bay instead of the Hotel parking lot.


tap water filling the bucket I used to water my garden every day, in this dry dry summer we had

There are so many other ways to identify that have more meaning, make more sense. They pull from deeper source data to inform us about identity.  Navigation there is not by straight, measurable lines.

very simple shore cabin where I spend several summer weekends this year. This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the "sound" that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work

This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the “sound” that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work.

I live in a place surrounded by water.  It rains and snows more here than any other place in Ontario.  Travel by car in any direction and you’ll find a river (likely with a waterfall), a lake Great or small, a creek or stream – in less than fifteen minutes.

Jones Falls, Owen Sound

Jones Falls, Owen Sound

My mother’s family has lived here for six generations before me.  The (scots) paternal side of her family was famous for their foundry, where they made enormous propellers for lake and ocean-going ships “At one time, [Kennedy’s] supplied propellers for about ninety-five percent of marine traffic on the Great Lakes” (Grey Roots Museum and Archives).  Water people.  Industrialists.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I'm using this as reference for a series of paintings.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I’m using this as reference for a series of paintings.

Mom’s Maternal side (Pennsylvania Deutch – descendants from German refugees of the 100 years war) not so famously made ladies’ hoisery, employing 200 women at a time when women were organizing to get the vote. A great great great uncle of mine fought for the North in the American civil war; we are making a book of his letters home at the moment.  Dependable people. Steady.

It is in that factory building, on the third floor NE corner, where I have kept a painting/music studio these past eight years.

studio a couple of years ago

My parents are retired (and excellent) Highschool English teachers saturated by music, literature and art (Mom – ARCT Piano, Toronto Conservatory; Dad a painter of landscapes and literary references).  My daughter is now twenty, mostly fluent in Japanese, studying modern languages and international studies at U of Ottawa.


I had a mentor and teacher as a young music student who was fierce like a grandfather to me.  As a young man he used to play violin like Fritz Kreisler in my Great Grandmother Kennedy’s parlour for the WCTU ladies. He later played at my parent’s wedding and made both of my cellos, the first of which was just returned to me last summer after 14 years. (link to that blog if you click on the picture I believe)


Instead of studying cello at Laurier at age seventeen I chose to study Visual Art at York University.  Somehow I felt that the formal study of music would ruin my love for the pure joy of playing it.  I will never know if I was right, but I’ve also never regretted the decision.  I’ve been able to do both in my life and love them equally. Each practise informs the other I’ve found, so I teach musicians how to draw and it makes them better players.


It is this very thing that has led me to a Masters in Community Music – at Laurier, where I chose NOT to study music performance 35 years ago.  I love the way life travels us back to ourselves.

You too can own a painting

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Ah, the ever-changing dynamics of the ecosystem shared by Art and the Internet.  This has come up in every peer conversation, every artist statement, proposal and grant application I’ve written this month.  Think I’ll write an essay about it & post it here.

But this is not my purpose right now.  I’ve been doing some house cleaning on my blog site, and noticed to my dismay that there is no post devoted to the sale of my paintings.  This is an incredible thing. When asked about my current explorations as a visual artist, how can I send people here if they need to dig through seven years of musings just to find out what is available for purchase?

Good grief.

Here it is, then.  The November 27, 2015 post of all paintings currently available from my studio (work from 2001 to last week).  To see past work that’s sold, surf through the gallery to the right of this post.  There you will find photo reference, promo shots and visual art from the past 15+ years.  Eventually I will dig up the older digital archives that go back to 1975, but for now we shall celebrate the present moment!  Each piece is published under the title of the show it was in, with reference to blog process work, or a brief description.

Please note the distortion in size – an internet specialty.  Some of these pieces are quite large, and those are the ones that appear smaller.  The smallest also appears to be the largest.  If you’d like a studio tour of these so you can see them in person, come on over to the open house on December 5 (10-4, Saturday, third floor collective at 1190 2nd Avenue East [enter through 2nd Ave. door), or write to me at  – I’d be happy to set up a time to show them.

Anyone interested in owning any of these pieces should also know that I LOVE instalment payments, even over a year. Really – I just love them.


The Bells that Still Can Ring (Studio Tour and Bean Cellar, December 2015)

This is work in progress as of now.  Check out the posts in the menu bar under “Art” for concept & research.

Bell1, 2015, 20" x 24", mixed media (acrylic) on canvas. $598.00

Bell1, 2015, 20″ x 24″, mixed media (acrylic, cello A string & mistyfuse) on canvas. $598.00.  SOLD December 2015


Bells#5: Little Bells, 2016 24″ x 24″, acrylic and mixed media on canvas. $490.00

#Selfie (June 2014) – see posts under Art for concept – this was a social media show as well.

From #Selfie (2014). 'Masks' - 84" x 36"; mixed media on canvas; $3,250.00

From #Selfie (2014). ‘Masks’ – 84″ x 36″; mixed media on canvas; $3,250.00

"White", 2014, 30"x30", acrylic. inverse image of me on white indian cotton. $1,125.00

“White”, 2014, 30″x30″, acrylic. inverse image of me on white indian cotton. $1,125.00 (this is currently on display at Santa Fe Gallery in Owen Sound)


“Throwback”, 2014, 60″x60″, Acrylic on a piece of artist’s canvas (I’d used as a housepainting drop sheet for 15 years). $2,950.00

"Surrender", 24 inch round, acrylic on canvas, $750.

“Surrender”, 24 inch round, acrylic on canvas, $750.

Instagram, 49" x 41.5", Acrylic on red linen, $1,150.00

Instagram, 49″ x 41.5″, Acrylic on red linen, $1,150.00

Five Paintings at The River (January 2014)

"Teacup", 2014, 38" x 51", mixed media (acrylic) on canvas. $1,250.00

“Teacup”, 2014, 38″ x 51″, mixed media (acrylic) on canvas. $1,950.00

Shovel / Axe (diptych), 2014. 2 x 28" x 82", acrylic and fabric on canvas. $3,250.00 together. I can sell them separately (though that would be a shame), for $1,750.00 each

Shovel / Axe (diptych), 2014. 2 x 28″ x 82″, acrylic and fabric on canvas. $3,250.00 together. I can sell them separately (though that would be a shame), for $1,750.00 each

Chalk Horse, 2014; 48"sq, acrylic and mixed media on canvas. I wrote two blogs about the process of this painting called "Letting Go". Not sold; $1,850.00

Chalk Horse, 2014; 48″sq, acrylic and mixed media on canvas. I wrote two blogs about the process of this painting called “Letting Go”.  $1,850.00 (currently part of the group show, “Kunderbunt” at Durham Art Gallery (Nov 28, ’15 to Jan 24, ’16)

What Makes Us (2004)

Manitoulin, 2004. 60" x 70", mixed media Acrylic on canvas. $3,150.00

Manitoulin, 2004. 60″ x 70″, mixed media Acrylic on canvas. $3,150.00

Sea Hear (2001)

"Waves", 2001, 36" x 54", mixed media acrylic on canvas. $850.00

“Waves”, 2001, 36″ x 54″, mixed media acrylic on canvas. $850.00


This gallery contains 11 photos

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#Water, and Bach’s Air

Heart and mind, heart and mind.

I was teaching a transcribed Bach Air to one of my cello students today and was brought to tears, once again, by the beauty of that music.  Such a dance between air and sea, earth and sky, leaf and root.


I’d forgotten what day it was, actually, until my daughter sang the song at 12:05am.  Then she came again at 9am with flowers, a lovely note, and a… cooking pumpkin.?  We sat together a while, in the studio.



Then as I worked through the normal wednesday schedule, so very many people offered beautifully crafted birthday thoughts to me, by phone, by email, on social media and in person. The sun shone, the breeze finally required sweater, and my family agreed to meet all together for the first time in several years.


I can call the ocean from a drum.  The travel time between here and good friends in Winnipeg is only as long as the hairs on my cello bow. I am rich with astonishing poetry written by two friends, one native, one not, about right here were I sit, right now.  And I’ve only just begun to be thankful.

Some days are green and golden.


When the thunder rolls…

It’s easy to forget that lists are just the paper they’re written on.

Sometimes they need to be gathered in a big pile, taken to a place far away from schedule, and burned.


What a relief.

It’s a feeling akin to sorting through boxes and boxes of things you’ve been storing in case you need them, sorting and finding out who you were then, sorting and wondering why you kept that, sorting, re-filing and righteously enduring it all, sorting more and filing more and getting frustrated then finally giving up and just pitching the whole world of old stored things, newly filed or not.

In the lightness of being that follows is a freedom that’s easy to forget the taste of.


Cheryl Strayed (who is “Dear Sugar” on the website Rumpus) writes this and many other soul-jewels in answer to a 22-year-old’s request for advice that Cheryl would give to her younger self,

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

and also this,

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

I love Cheryl Strayed as much as I love Annie Dillard.  If you want to follow a good path into the former, go here.

My current favourite Annie Dillard quote is, ironically, about schedule – you can find it on the “Grist for the Mill” page on this site, in among other chewables…


Things repeat, like this wave.  It’s a beautiful repetition, water answering and caressing the shape of the rocks beneath, over and over again.  I watched and listened to this for hours.  Next time I come the water and a strong wind will have shifted the rocks, and this wave will be gone.  But of course there will be another just like it somewhere.

I’m back in the studio now, eschewing lists in favour of hunting love and surprise with my Curious, which is the only way to get anywhere at all, really.  It’s a great deal easier, now, to say to my various rages, “Go lie down & sleep while I work.  Stay.”

So many lights came back on while I lay there like a walrus that I get exactly where I’m going, which is right here and nowhere else.


On the second morning I woke to thunder.  It rumbled into my chest like laughter and stirred up all the trees in anticipation of storm.  The kingfishers whipped past, the seagulls coughed and cried CHANGE COMING and rose high into the clouds, surfing crazy wind. Black and bruised clouds sat heavy and crashing on the southwest horizon, and in the twenty minutes it took for them to hit the Bothy, I had tucked myself, peaceful and still sun-warm, inside.


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Paper work

It is re-focus time in the studio.  I have all weekend for this – just one little gig for an hour today, then back at it.


I think of studio as a map both for and of my mind.  It’s a container for schedule; a flexible structure that can be altered according to the needs of each project.  Currently, it’s a mess – the detritus from several months of steady-work-no-break is all around.  I’ve been gifted some tools and supplies, materials and media from my father who is packing up his own studio for a big move – they have yet to find their functional place.  Other materials have never had functional space, and languish invisible in the back of an old filing cabinet drawer…

This will not do.  It begs a re-think, a clearing out, a clarification.

I love the way this draws me inexorably to a hunt for passions, new or old.  Arrows are questions, propelled by a bow of necessity:  what am I drawn to?  How and whom will these ideas serve?.

I discover I’m feeling compelled to work this out on paper as I did when I was 15, with media I’ve not used for years…

I clear the boards, make a pile for burning.  Sweep and clean the floor, listening.


Sacred space certainly, but this place is no shrine.  It’s a factory inside the factory my Great-Grandfather built.

Factories run on schedule.  Which reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote,

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. … It is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. 

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I stare at the handle of a red screwdriver and use my ears to see the space around me.  There are tires scribing the wet street three floors down; the clock ticks each second in counterpoint to the keys on my laptop.  Furnace just kicked in like a huge breathing thing acres wide and deep; the cat licks its’ shoulder. I cannot hear walls.

Audio memory kicks in now too, adding the plink…plink! of piano tuning from this morning; the breathless excited scramble-wiggle of dog claws on studio floor; footsteps like signatures in the hallway; doors squeaking open and banging shut – punctuation for arrival.  All the voices who spoke here today, each carrying different degrees of anxiety or humour,  as we navigate the measured hours before Christmas.


My ears cannot hear the sound of a to do list.  They hear only what is, and record what has been, for playback later.


These small moments I get –  to explore the shape of the room with my ears, to examine with just my fingertips the shape and texture of my cello, of a book, or a pencil as my blind grandmother did for 50 years – they are possible because I’ve chosen to make gifts, not buy them.

I have also given myself the gift of time.


Happy Christmas and Hannukah everyone.

May the time with yourself and with those you care for be rich with love.

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Out of the Box

east stairs in my studio's building

east stairs in my studio’s building, where I’m not.

I’m drinking good beer in a sunlit window at Free Times Cafe where I used to hang out with my band in the ’80s.  When I arrived the speakers were playing an obscure (to me) Serbian singer doing everything from traditional love songs to hard rock, but now we’re on to Steve Perry – this is the personal playlist of one of the waiters since the restaurant’s computer isn’t working.  Said waiter is of Serbian descent, sings heavy metal and runs the open mic on Mondays…

What’s your favourite Journey song he asks me.  I don’t know titles, I say, what’s yours?  Wheel in the Sky, he says.  It’s coming up soon… And it does – …I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow…

I’ve brought only one pair of glasses, no ipod with my playlist, no map or plan and only remembered a toothbrush by mistake.  The objective has been met though: I am not home.

It’s been wonderful to shut down my internal industrial engines and just… be.

Photo on 2014-02-16 at 11.49

Day 3 morning finds me at Carrot Common on the Danforth, drinking a big fat latte.  I’m ready now to hit the road for home, eager to get back to work.  Priorities have had a chance to readjust, the list of goals is clearer, and I can actually see that what needs to happen next is not just blind, mulish work, but a few concrete, specific things.

Not a problem.  I love work.

And it’s been great to stop for a breather.