Keirartworks's Blog

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


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dry dry #Water

I’ve been dreaming poetic dreams of mycelium which is really thought connecting to thought through boundaries which are really just illusions.  I’ve been coiled and waiting like a pike in the hot weedy shallows, ready to spring at my duckling dinner.  Racing like a strong salmon through the lines and hooks that dangle my possible death, crawling like a crayfish over the rocks at lake’s edge, pulling shadow over my body against the diving gulls….

water1I’ve been floating like an embryo, building my body like the miracle it is.

number nine creek, taken at a family hike in spring 2011

number nine creek, taken at a family hike in spring 2011

Like fluid, this part of my #Water (working title) project has been, as I immerse myself in possibility.  What can be made of these paintings, installed in a room, with sound?  How can I build a visceral sense of connection and inclusion out of sound, light, and image?  How can I describe an ecosystem – more than describe – evoke?

waterRock

 

Water2

Re-re write my artist bio, tighten up my CV and struggle through the mud of my artist statement.  I fill out forms and check my grammar, punctuation, spelling.  I identify key points in my artistic approach and practise and do my best to describe to people I may never meet why my work is valuable.  I choose paintings from previous shows that I hope will illustrate … my merit.  I work out a budget that makes some kind of sense, re-write it without the extras, then pare it down a little more…

I notice a feeling of dehydration.

Mudbank_roots

Grant-writing uses an entirely different part of one’s brain than the bits trained in painting and music.

Morning-Glory-2015

 


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A broadly curved road

I went subterranean twelve weeks ago, maybe more.  Came up again two days ago, I think.  I know this because I found myself gardening yesterday.

DomsLilly

This was a tunnel of a place I’ve been in, a way into and through the deep, long list entitled Impossible-but-Necessary.  In twelve weeks strong and beautiful people died, shockingly, suddenly, and those of us who grieve them turned inward then slowly forward; old and treasured things were broken then transformed phoenix-like amid the mourning, the loss.  Boundaries were breached, injuries dealt and received, some old trusts betrayed and also new ones established without question.  Concerts were rehearsed and played; family homes sold and contents dispersed, others burned and the tenants embraced by this rich community. Long overdue letters were written and sent; 50-year careers ended; a 20-year-old vehicle sold for parts; the streets in the city opened and excavated in the great replacement of metal with plastic…

BackyardLawn

As the boxes were packed and the old things released into landfill sites, recycling depots, re-store Judy Collins sang who knows where the time goes? to help the tears come.

As the goodbyes were said after the stories were told, as the weeping hugs were shared, Kodaly’s solo cello sonata raged and softened and spoke …

As the solos were played and the painting delivered; as the portfolio was presented and the university applications sent, Cohen sang ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering…

Through all the overnight insomnia on the studio couch Joni sang dream on, dream on...

Forsythia

As we turned forward into spring, and green and growth, david sereda sings, you’re beautiful.  Be You.  Coco Love Alcorn sings We gather ’round when we can, and we let ourselves be true…  Tyler Wagler sings …out the doorway, ‘way we go.  Where you lead, I will follow … Kati Gleiser plays Rachmaninoff and then sings our beauty back to us.

As the pipes thawed, so did we.

 


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Who designed this?

The Harness is off.  It’s over there on the floor.

Curious, to see this thing I’ve worn for 30+ years…  Who made it?  Why so tight?  Why the rough rope?  It’s ingenious, actually.  There’s a pull cord I see that will jab thumbtacks into my backside when I’m slowing down, and simultaneously tighten the collar around my neck…  added incentive to get through the last 10% of every project?

I recognize that this harness was designed by me, however unconsciously, from the inherited protestant ethic of Work as Suffering.  Life is work, therefore (inevitably) Life is Suffering.  Extrapolated:  If you don’t suffer, you’re not working hard enough.  This idea can take the joy right out of any task – even if it’s your highest calling.  It can in the extreme lead to the wearing of hair shirts, to self-flagellation, martyrdom/victimhood,  the false rationalization of the need to live like a starving artist …

up next.  Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy - to engage, or not.

up next. Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy – to engage, or not.

To be clear – I’ve had a super-productive, satisfying time since April, when I began work on the #Selfie project.  It’s been an experience full of engagement, surprise, transformation – rich with reward on every level.   I also met my harnessed self full-on several times, too, and recognized someone driven in a way that is not healthy.

With several new projects on the table now – each one full of promise, potential and fascination, I find myself wondering about this.  As I take the breath one takes before diving in, I wonder

Do I really need the thumbtacks?

Does it need to come to suffering and self-denial, this finishing?

Must it be a battle, every time?

 

resist underpainting

resist underpainting

At the very least I need to radically alter the design.  To find and use material that I like – softer, padded. No thumbtacks, no injectors full of anxiety, no neck collar.   Maybe it should be more like a well-crafted tool that will help me to pull a heavier load.

Or maybe the work isn’t heavy, and I don’t need a harness at all.

This is quite a thought.

dance step 2 resist underpainting.  The power is in the space between

dance step 2 resist underpainting. The power is in the space between

Maybe I just need to change my mind.

This is exciting.  So is 2014-2015.  So many neato, challenging collaborative and solo projects ahead.  So many Incredibles to work and play with.  Without suffering for any of it.

So, Honoured Protestant Ancestors.  What you lived and suffered in protest to is no longer life-threatening; the ethic no longer applies in any way that’s healthy and life-affirming.  Sleep in peace, with big smiles.  Grins, even.

 

“If you bring forth the genius within you it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.”

– Jesus, gnostic Gospel of Thomas (which didn’t make it into the bible.  Too bad.)

 

 


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Wings

twenty extra minutes uphill, but it didn’t feel like it because of Dire Straits and Jake Coco.  In fact, my wings carried me up that hill in time with the music, and then I was soaring high high above everything where the horizon is curved, warm sun on my back.

base drawing for "selfie answer 1", which will graduate to its' next stage today.  Can't wait to dig in...

base drawing for “selfie answer 1”, which will graduate to its’ next stage today. Can’t wait to dig in…

My theory is this:  I’m invisible if I close my eyes when I’m working out.  In this way I have discreetly walked ten miles every week for the past month, flown up countless hills, memorized lyrics to twenty excellent songs, and arranged ten more for cello and voice.  I truly never thought I’d say this, but I do love my little green iPod with all my heart, just for making this such a rich journey.  And for being tiny.

love these guys so much, missed the boys this week past

Some of our Youth Orchestra kids on the week before March break. Great tribe to be part of.

I have no profound thoughts to offer, since I’m in transition from task to task today, but I’m aiming for objectivity this weekend after tomorrow’s supremely enriching Sistema Teacher workshop in Toronto.  When I’m done there my iPod and I shall drive and drive, and the parts of my brain that have become strapped in too tightly by all of this striving and slogging will loosen their ties, let down their hair and begin to dance again in the big expanse of Road Trip, where the horizon is curved.  Somewhere in the middle of this walkabout I will find Profound, and Articulate, and craft something here…

But for now I will leave you with a beautiful thing crafted by Annie Dillard.  I’ve been chewing on this ever since I read it two weeks ago.  She writes things that just keep coming back to you…..

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

Happy first week of March 2014, everyone.

 

The Courage muscle

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It’s easy to deflate yourself when you’re making art.

blue wash

blue wash

It’s not just art-making – it’s making anything, really if you are serious about doing it as your vocation.  Honestly, you ask yourself, who really cares whether this works or not?  The world will not stop spinning, the grass and the children will grow regardless of what happens here.

red wash drying.

red wash drying.

So you give up and do something else – or I do.  Especially yesterday when I discovered the answer to “how come every time I come back to this painting from the far end of the studio I’ve forgotten what I was going to do?”.  I figured it out while I was uploading old paintings onto this page, from 10 years ago:  I’m 50, and my eyes are NOT what they used to be.  I have trifocals, music glasses (stand distance), and I should have reading glasses too, but I don’t.  Now I’ll get them.  They’d be entirely helpful…

Silence (detail), from Sea Hear, 2001

Silence (detail), from Sea Hear, 2001

And then you find yourself mucking about again, throwing paint, changing the light, drawing lines, running up and down stairs for more energy…

Courage is a muscle.  I’m working out.

Bee, from About Rocks (with my dad), 2000

Bee, from About Rocks (with my dad), 2000

Happy Friday, all.

2 tasks left, then she will release me.

2 tasks left, then she will release me.

 

I am released:

Chalk Horse, 2014 48"48", acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Chalk Horse, 2014
48″48″, acrylic and mixed media on canvas

 

 

This gallery contains 6 photos


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This business of music

Interesting, isn’t it, that we divide ‘commercial’ music from ‘real’ music?  When in fact all music is consumed, and all professional musicians are in the business of earning a living – no matter what genre they play in.  We say to our kids – no don’t be a musician, you’ll never make it, it’s too hard – and urge them to get real jobs  – respectable ones.  What a terrible thing to say to anyone – especially a young person whose soul comes alive when she plays, who loves everything about the work of making music, teaching music, learning, building, playing, recording, performing.  I know kids like this.

This embedded idea applies similarly to art, and the work of learning the skills, making it, teaching it, presenting it.

There’s an old joke that says it all, in which little Johnny says to his mom, “Mom, I know what I want to be when I grow up!”  Mom (who’s delighted that he’s thinking ahead) says, “Really?  And what is that, Johnny?”.   J: “I want to be a musician!”  Sad, Mom says, “Oh but honey, you can’t do both”.

It’s persistent, that perception – that being a musician or an artist is more like play than work.  That to choose these professions is to choose to be unreliable and therefore disrespected.  This mystifies me when I encounter it in parents of young people, since nothing could be further than the truth.  Every pro musician and pro artist I know works all the time, every day at what they do.  They are entrepreneurs, translators, presenters, skilled craftsfolk, diplomats, therapists, philosophers and comedians (that last because they have to be, in order to stay sane).

I was at a lovely show last night by  “My Sweet Patootie”, good friends of mine who deliver a marvelous mixture of edgy, silly dancey swing on fiddle, guitar and a tiny drum kit.  They regularly tour Britain and the ‘States, and had a chance to let their hair down a little & play to the home crowd.  It was solid fun, presented with just the right level of goofy professionalism and great playing.

I left the show reassured that good stuff can happen in the industry, that the business of music can pay if you apply a little imagination, and keep showing up for work.

Now:  can we try to change our minds about what we tell our kids?  Don’t shut them off from their souls, folks.  Find a friendly pro who can give them a little structural help, and then love them for their courage.


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Saturday morning, 4am

Yesterday was requiem day as I worked in the studio, which seemed fitting, somehow.  Every layer of grief and joy is expressed and exposed in them – the Mozart, the Brahms, the Faure, the Rutter.  Outside my windows there raged a storm that tore hydro lines and uprooted trees – for a while my phone and my internet was dead, and I was startled that this made such a difference:  me utterly alone with my grieving, raging, joyful, impossibly beautiful requiem (Mozart at that point).  Some deep internal things happened then that were very good indeed – thank you Bruce Telecom, Mozart, and the Storm.

falls2_October2013

My work continues to go well – barring another major dharmic intervention, two very large paintings will be finished by the end of Sunday Nov 3, which is also the day of an eclipse of the sun.  We will rehearse another requiem (the Popper, for 3 celli and piano), I will get some deep practise in, and the weekly routine will dance on.  For me, though,  there will be a rich, indescribable difference, thanks to the Storm, the Requiem and Bruce Telecom.  I’m humbled by it, actually, in an empowering sort of way.

a yellow christmas cactus that I raised from a wee thing.  Blooming like mad in my eastern window...

a yellow christmas cactus that I raised from a wee thing. Blooming like mad in my eastern window…

The tectonic plates beneath us are shifting.

Can you feel it?  There is an air change, a sea change, an internal change wherever you look, if you look for it.

How wonderful it is to be alive.