Keirartworks's Blog

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Resplendence

A multitude of tasks and their stressor partners slow-dance around my house like dust motes in the sunlight; I am happily, if overwhelmingly engaged in the actions of living.

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Every so often pressures collide with sensibilities and swirl the dust mote dancing into a frenzy. Through and over all of this a thin cicada song of anxiety – I’ve mostly learned to ignore this, like the writer who works beside a busy train track.  Some days are better than others.

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I am doing my utter best to lay solid groundwork that will take me/us somewhere new, satisfying and truly relevant in these times.  To connect need to need in a way that can reveal surprising, intersected solutions.

To make functional use of art and music, in valuable and valued service.

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Need to need, like bee to flower. Then honey, more flowers, a resplendent spring.

I seek nothing less than an active, challenging, collaborative peace.

 

 


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Colour Pages #3: inside blue

Blue is internal.

BookreadingRoofShadow

It’s the other side of sunlight, where solitude lives.

Demons also live there.  If you don’t make friends with the demons and fully acknowledge their right to live in the shadows, they grow malevolent.  Eventually, inevitably the malevolence comes to find you in the dark, biting.

East_KitchenBottlesWide

East

This is an excellent method for self-administered shock therapy, though it can be very dangerous.  The fallout is messy, often requiring years of clean-up.

Surrender

If you can imagine the colours of this painting inversed,  then you get a window into what was happening in my world while I painted it- some very serious shock-therapy at the time (two years ago now, and the cleanup is progressing nicely, thank you).

RoundTwo_Surrender_Inverted

A blue story might happen in the shadows under an overpass and never be told.  In a rich dream barely remembered in the morning, blue would be the awareness of vulnerability.  Blue is a difficult question left unasked, a knot of trauma buried in your body and waiting to be acknowledged.

It’s slippery and changeable, the blue of shadow, of vulnerable.  It beckons….what IS that in the corner?  under the bed, in the basement, in the closet…

from #Selfie (2014). inverse image of me on white indian cotton.

from #Selfie (2014). inverse image of me on white indian cotton.

But if you turn on the light, blue is gone.  It does not survive glare.

So, gentle blue.  Patient, kind, tender.  Blue of sadness just before sleep, when a small thing is remembered from the day and filed in a dream.  Blue of rich and enduring peace, as deep and calm as the ocean floor.  Restful blue, healing blue.

TotemFinal

The blue of silent, joyful, floating surrender, unwitnessed by anyone but yourself.   This is the blue that connects you in the most profoundly human way to everything else in the ecosystem you are an integral part of.


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Colour Pages #1: Yellow

I’ve been ill and intensely insomnia’d recently – slowed down enough to obligingly revise my to-do lists from twenty things to one – or two if the gods are smiling.  In the in-between times, too tired to sleep or read or write or hold a thought long enough to notice what it is …. I’ve been bored.  This is no small thing and I do not make light of it. According to my upbringing and my deepest inclinations, boredom is a crime of the most serious nature.  A crime AGAINST nature, in fact.  It is absence of life and purpose.

YellowBell_Nov2015psd

This is not the yellow that I see in the original before me. The violet / purple in the background is close, after much calibration in photoshop. Why can’t I get the yellow to read, digitally? what’s up with that?

And so I feel like I’ve been KO’d.  I over-react in a kind of panic by revving my engines when I can find & start them – HUGE waste of precious gasoline.  In those moments, roaring like an worn out F350, I lock myself into an intense but oh-too-brief road-race contemplation of mortality, choice, autonomy, risk, personal truth… and joy, both humbly small and thunderingly huge.  I know full well this is a form of madness.

In the midst of this I ask myself, ‘What do you think?

(Like I’m in sanctuary, on White Cloud Island.)

About Yellow?

(Seeking relief, which it is.)

I’ll call these the Colour Pages.

same photo directly translated into black and white (photoshop CS4).  I did try, in a filter called ‘colour balance’ to remove every colour:  (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta) and the result was close enough to be the same.  So, where is the black, or the ‘absence of colour’, in this hot yellow I see in the original in front of me?  What are my eyes  – our eyes! – seeing that science and technology does not?

This blog has always been about process – the articulation and the sharing of it, the practise and the primacy of it.  I’ve felt always that finished paintings are but a by-product of what happens on the road from concept to completion. This in no way diminishes the importance of paintings as living, resonant things.  In my experience the finished (by)product will  always ‘sing’ if the practise that leads to it has integrity.   In order for process to have integrity however, I feel that it must be the most challenging, transformational part of art-making.  Not for the faint of heart, if you’re serious and have respect for what you do.

I’ve noticed that my idea of what a ‘professional’ product is has changed – especially over these past two years.  My ear for intonation and tone has as well, musically, which is the same muscle. Turns out it’s a constant refinement of perception.

January 2016

January 2016

Yellow, then.   Hmmm.

Why do I associate yellow with a seeking of Knowledge?

Lemon, pineapple seem obvious but that’s not what I taste.  Why does it instead taste like cumin?

Why does it feel like yellow is not a colour, but a light?  Like the feeling of sunlight in April after a long winter.

Cold yellow feels toxic; I avoid it’s use.  (Curious that this yellow is often called ‘lemon’.  Huh. The manufactured colour is not the same as my experience of lemon, unless you can call a colour ‘sour’.)  Cadmium yellow is a colour I avoid using as well – it feels opaque, obliterating, like heavy, cheap cheesey food – doesn’t work well with others, or my belly. Naples, Windsor, Barium, Turner’s, Chrome… I’ve used all of these but they resist light and do not glow.

A little internet digging (here) offers some history of artists’ eternal inquiry into yellow pigment for use in painting…

Gallstone
Prepared from the gallstone of an ox and gives a reasonably dark yellow. Nicholas Hilliard found it useful for shading with miniature work. John Payne in the 18th century found that dishonest colourmen were selling an inferior substitute. He suggested in his book on miniature-painting that artists should approach slaughter-houses and that the men there should be on the watch for gallstones. In 1801 it was one of the top four most expensive colours, Ackerman’s showing a charge of five shillings a cake.
Gamboge
A native yellow gum from Thailand. A bright transparent golden yellow for glazing or water-colour, it is not a true pigment. It has been in use since medieval times. J Smith in The Art of Painting in Oyl, published in 1701, describes a method for preparing the colour, which usually comes in rough cylinders about 2.5 in (6 cm) in diameter. ‘For a Yellow Gumboge is the best, it is sold at Druggist in Lumps, and the way to make it fit for use, is to make a little hole with a knife in the lump, and put into the hole some water, stir it well with a pencil till the water be either a faint or a deeper Yellow, as your occasion requires, then pour it into a Gally-Pot, and temper up more, till you have enough for your purpose.’ (Pencil here would mean a small, soft, hair brush.)
Geranium Lake
A fugitive pigment made from Eosine that was in vogue during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Van Gogh used it in versions of his Sunflowers. Now obsolete.
Giallorino
A lead yellow pigment likely to have been Naples Yellow. The Florentine painter Cennino Cennini mentions that Giallorino is associated with volcanoes but artificially made. This coincides with Naples yellow, which in Antiquity was collected as natural deposits from Mount Vesuvius, but by Cennini’s time had been synthesised. Another possibility is that the name refers to Lead-Tin Yellow (see below)….

… if you’d like to know more, go to the link here.

March 16, morning.

March 16, morning.

So technical and so familiar a thing for me, this historical context for colour.

For the purposes of this blog it’s infinitely infuriating that I can’t show you how HOT with yellow this painting actually is, right in front of me in my studio.  This is not entirely because of my relatively poor equipment or knowledge of digital colour, either.  I think the translation is not possible – original painting to internet or print.  This both saddens and gladdens me, as a painter.

You’ll just have to believe and imagine a yellow so alive it burns your retina and blots out all other colour.  A threshold yellow, beckoning, compelling, and also repelling.  Nickel Azo yellow, with washes of  ‘Indian’ yellow (good grief, what does That mean?), Mars Yellow, Hansa yellow medium and light….

Later on March 16

Later on March 16, still wet when photographed. Traditional colour theory says that compliments bring out the essence of their opposites – green and red; orange and blue; yellow and purple.  In this painting I want to initiate a different conversation – Azo with Cobalt.  Intense, so far.  We’ll see who else wants to be at table with those two….

More to come.

I’m happy to welcome April sun again, heartened by it as I am every year.

Here’s a tag thought:  perhaps boredom is in fact a place where structure can be set aside so that other, more fluid and enduring, changing things can enter?

Colour pages will continue – like my digital version of Klee’s notebooks, which I long to read in english.  From my familiar painter’s island, these will be a freeform romp through thoughts around the business of and tools for making visual art:  colour, line, form, subject, song, frequency, culture and cultural democracy, transformation.

Chime in, by all means – the process is best if collaborative.  Together we are an ecosystem and nothing happens in isolation.

 

 


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Lift out

These days begin in darkness and wet.

Windsheild

We live in multiple layers of clothing against the cold damp of constant seeping rain, walk under umbrellas, and peek out from under shelter until some blue sky appears.

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Then we breathe the blue and the coloured leaves, and roll in the damp ones underfoot.  We go to the flashing streams, the roaring falls, the pounding waves and we exult

..until the rain and the cloud and the pounding wind bring us under and in again.

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These times.  Pressured, heavy, challenged, shifting.  Some of us don’t have dancing feet.  Some have not learned to swim.

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Two days ago in Ottawa a man died on Parliament hill.  He suffered from serious mental illness  – serious enough that he found himself a gun and  shot another man who worked as a soldier there.  I grieve for both men, whom we, in our culture, have failed to see clearly.

Poem for Michael Zehaf-BibeauMichael Zehaf-Bibeau, for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, and for every single one of us who struggles with addiction and mental illness, in sorrow for this:

Broken Voice
September 24: studio

Thought can re-write history, she says
Meditative thought influences the order of things
Orders them more neatly so there’s less damage done.
and there’s the
small voice the difficulty
swallowing
the closed throat mid-
sentence, the little
alarms shot with adrenaline
the subtle gagging that
no one notices but
There’s no problem. Who

…said there was a
problem?  Mental Illness is only
addiction is only
another form of terrorism-
We just need more Security and

I think I caught something in
the subway – just a virus it
comes and goes it’s
not
permanent.

…something about bare feet, walking
about not leaving prints behind,
and if you do your feet print
history

I’m looking at them now,
the prints
but I can’t read
I’m not sure what happened.  Or how…?

I just want to drink an ocean of alcohol
passive-watch movies that siphon rage
go to classical concerts full of fury, listen to poets
who have found something
to let somebody else do the darkness
the refined, articulate hurt that they’ve managed to
filter through all of their exhausted bewilderment how
can I

Impotent. Invisible. I just want to sleep. only sleep.
it’s taking every ounce of my strength
to resist the rampage,
The terrible roar in me.


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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.


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Sun

This morning’s coffee is warm and it tastes like sunlight.  Arctic air outside blows chimney exhaust north over the rooftops, the morning sun breathes it golden.  March after a months of white skies filled with snowflakes is air that can freeze your nostrils together lit by sun that wakes your roots.

I’m in love with the contrast of this.  I feel like I could start to extend my hands and feet by one knuckle at this point.  Maybe even work on a pair of wings.

Actually, um…

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist.  12 street from the river, where I spend most of my time....

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist. 12 street from the river, where I spend most of my time….


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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.