Emma Gonzalez. There's really nothing I can say to add to this narrative, except maybe... she is allowing herself to FEEL. Everyone is witnessing her FEELING. Far from being weak, it is extremely powerful. And necessary. And the only way THROUGH. To me, this is as big a deal as everything else that this crazy youth emergence means.
2017 began with the death of my mother, and ended with a studio being built in the back yard and a trip to New York City. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was a long, twilight struggle where the battle seemed to be fought just outside the reach of my consciousness; and saw me mostly carrying on in a normal fashion, though I was lost in plain sight. I didn't get much artwork done, though I managed to squeeze out a few paintings. The artwork goals I'd had for the year never came to fruition, and I knew I was not to care. I was to keep moving forward however I saw fit at any given moment- when you're grieving you're supposed to take care of yourself. And maybe that's all we can ever do.
2018... HI THERE! I come to you with empty hands and a hopeful heart. I want to approach you not with my brain, but with that part of me that *knows* without having to think about it. With my new studio in place (thank you, Timothy Wilson Hoey) I am poised to devote myself to artwork in a way I've never been able to before, and I want to do only what feels right- any other considerations be damned. I want to hunker down and explore undaunted. I want to write if I feel like it- paint if I feel like it- stare out the window lost in thought if I feel like it. I want to slow it all down and find out what fits for me, and then... DO THAT.
I know I'm fortunate to have this chance.
Not to generalize, but I'm a bit of a stereotype. I'm a middle-aged woman who "lost herself" to a certain extent while raising her child and then "found herself" again after that child became a fully functioning adult. I'm glossing over all kinds of things of course, and please note that I regret nothing. But it's all true. And I can be thankful that the coming-full-circle occurred, because I'm sure there are cases where it doesn't.
I have a degree in Fine Art ("with Distinction") from Concordia University (1989). While raising my daughter I focused on collage due to lack of space and time, and I still love collage, but I always wanted to return to painting. I finally did that with my first solo show at Polychrome Fine Art in 2009, but it wasn't until participating in The 100 Day Project in 2015 that I gave it my undivided attention.
My 100 Day project, "100 Days of The Artist is Present", was revelatory for me in several ways: 1). I was reminded that I had some skills (and painting each day improved them quickly), 2). I was reminded that the act of painting is meditative and therapeutic, and that I mustn't stop doing it, 3). It was demonstrated to me that I was capable of more than I had believed of myself for several years, and 4). the level of response I got from people who followed the project buoyed me and made me feel hopeful. I later started a project ("Loved Ones", 2016) where I painted musicians who meant something to me, and then another ("Certain People", 2016-17) where I painted writers, comedians, and others I love. I will continue to paint portraits, but now that I've reminded myself that "yes, you have a few skills; and yes, you're allowed to call yourself an artist and devote time to it", I want to see what else I've got in there.
I'm going to revisit the 2017 goals, but I'm approaching from a different place. I finally made myself a new website at the end of 2017, and with the help of Jill Margo of GOOD I am in the process of tweaking and improving in the hopes of making something streamlined and fully functional. I hope to find a publisher for my "100 Days of The Artist is Present" book, once I receive an new introduction being written by a scholarly gentleman in The Netherlands (whose identity will be revealed in the fullness of time). Mostly I want to get back to making a mess in here, so without further ado...
Thanks for reading,
I would like the world to know that I am offering giclée prints. Giclées are inkjet prints using pigmented inks (rather than dye-based inks) for longevity and quality of colour. The scan taken of the original artwork is highly detailed, collecting far more information than is standard for a digital print, and the paper used is archival (acid-free). A good giclée print is practically indistinguishable from the original work.
Some of my giclée prints are 16X20 inches and cost $125.00 each; some are 13X17 inches and cost $100.00 each.
16X20 inch prints at $125.00: Amy Winehouse, Etta James, Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits.
You can purchase giclée prints here.
"Brain Scan No. 7" was used to illustrate an article by Anne Mullens in Legacy magazine. Legacy magazine is "a progress update of the accomplishments of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative", and the article, which you can read above, lists four traits in youth that could make them more susceptible to alcohol and substance abuse. A training program called Preventure has been developed to identify such children and provide them with cognitive behavioral techniques that can help mitigate potentially problematic behaviours. MORE POWER TO THEM.
Prince died one year ago today. I was shocked and upset for quite some time, surprising myself. I didn't own everything he'd ever released; I didn't know his oeuvre back to front. I knew "Sign of the Times" and "The Black Album" and most of the hits, but that was it. Still, I found myself googling pictures of him and articles about his death, and crying, for weeks.
I've been sitting here for some minutes now trying to think how best to describe what he (and the music of his that I loved) meant to me, but I'm not coming up with anything terribly brilliant (apart from the fact that it was FAR TOO SOON). I'm going to let Michael Chabon, who posted the following on Instagram the day Prince died, do it for me:
"I came of age feeling drawn to the borderlands. I felt like I did not belong anywhere except wherever nobody belonged, and that I could not, would never want to be defined except as someone who instinctively rejected definition. It was exhilarating but it was lonely and confusing. You looked for people who seemed to be walking the tightrope between This and That (or This and Not-This) with grace, confidence, an appearance of fearlessness, a wanton disregard of gravity and physics. Between "high art" and "pop." Between "black" music and "white" music. Between white and black, straight and gay, male and female, cool and nerdy, genre and mainstream, rooted and uprooted, old school and avant-garde, commercial and arty. Between synth-bass minimalism and a shredding Telecaster solo. Between anyplace they stuck you and everywhere you knew you had the right, and the desire, to be.
He surfaced like Aphrodite in a fizz of synth foam with his second album, when he was 21 and I was 16, and at once became my surest guide. Nobody ever walked that tightrope between the Approved Categories with greater heedlessness, verve, aplomb. He wasn't lost, drifting, incapable of choosing. But he also wasn't choosing nothing. He chose never to feel the need to choose. In a culture debilitatingly addicted to labels and categories, Prince gave them all the Slip.
No one else could have felt, understood, expressed so perfectly the quantum state of identity that Prince folded, set to music as tightrope-walking as any he ever recorded, into the lyric: "If I was your girlfriend Would U remember 2 tell me all the things U forgot When I was your man?" When he sung these and all the rest of the lyrics to "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (on Sign O' the Times, his masterpiece of the Slip) he was not just posing a rhetorical or cute question. He had thought about it. He had imagined it. He had wanted it. Being someone's girlfriend was something that on some level he knew he could, maybe even should, do. Or, at least, that no one was ever going to tell him he couldn't." -Michael Chabon, April 21st, 2016.
The week after Prince died, I painted several portraits of him (above). They're all pretty loose; some resemble him more than others. Some I will never show. The ones I'm going to post here are all for sale and will soon be in my store: they 15X21 inches, ink on paper, $600 unframed.
Please feel free to contact me.
Two years ago I was smack-dab in the middle of The 100 Day Project, painting a portrait a day from Marco Anelli's book "Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramović". Anelli's book is comprised of photos he took of each person who sat before Abramović during her three-month long performance piece at MoMA in 2010- "The Artist is Present". I fell in love with the Anelli's book and decided to use it to participate in The 100 Day Project- something that happens once a year whereby people choose something they're going to do each day (art, poetry, dance- doesn't matter), document it, and post it to social media.
The photos above were taken by Wendy Nesbitt, whose blog you should check out. Sure, why not lay around on the couch and on the floor surrounded by my 100 paintings? Far be it from me to refuse my chance for glory, or "15 minutes of fame", or anything I can get. My millions of followers can attest to what a hype hog I am. (Uh, did I just coin a new term...?)
. . .
I painted Johnny Winter for my brother for Christmas, because I know he loves him, and he's been hinting for a while that he wanted a painting. It turned out to be the only painting I've squeezed out in the last few months, but it was a good'un because it did the trick- my brother was "gobsmacked". I've added Johnny to my series of "Loved Ones", though truth be told I don't love him like my brother does. My brother loves the BLUES, and he loves guitar. And I love my brother, so............ Johnny Winter.
Here's the story. I haven't been able to do artwork for a few months, and I'm trying to get back in the saddle. It's always a bit dicey. I'm rusty, and at the same time I'm determined that I simply must try to do something new and different. (Sigh. Always with the "musts"). I've been posting a lot of my older collage work on Instagram and it got me thinking that I'd like to try to combine my portraits with my collage. I've done lots of painting on collage in the past, but not the portraits per se, and not with black ink dripping and/or spreading-into-the-paper. If you follow me. It was usually very tight line work done with white ink on top of the collage.
So I got started, and I glued some pieces from an old map to the paper I usually use for ink portraits. Then came the question... who do I want to paint? I have a cache of photos of people I want to paint, but none of them felt right. Frankly, I wanted someone with a lot of hair, and I came up with Dolly Parton. She's never been a particular favourite of mine... she just happened to fit the bill. Sorry Dolly.
Yesterday was Day 2 of working on Dolly, and I decided I should just finish the damn thing as I wasn't going to get the results I was after. I thought I would listen to some Dolly Parton on my computer while doing so. I wanted to listen to her bluegrass recordings, but the first thing I came across was a clip where I discovered that Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You", which I only knew as a Whitney Houston hit. I watched Dolly Parton explain that she had written it for Porter Wagoner when he was being a dick about her leaving his TV show and breaking out on her own, then found a clip of her singing it on his show in 1974. I was surprised! New respect for Dolly!
I then went back to searching for bluegrass recordings, and found a playlist. But you know how youtube playlists can be. It started out with bluegrass, but soon I found myself listening to some seriously melodramatic schlock, and discovered that Dolly has (or developed?) a habit of falling into whispering at pertinent junctures, ie, when she wants to point out that "here is where you should start to cry". And I simply cannot abide by that. I continued to paint for a while, but with loud exclamations of "Oh my God! NO!" For some reason, as an antidote, I switched immediately to Perfume Genius.
What a roller-coaster ride! Respect for Dolly! Disdain for Dolly! Surely the truth lies somewhere in between. And she did help me out with the hair and all.
Over the course of 3 months In 2010, Marina Abramovic staged "The Artist Is Present" at MoMA in NYC- the most widely attended performance art piece in history. She sat in a chair for three months, six days a week, and people lined up to sit in front of her and look into her eyes for as long as they liked. Marco Anelli took photos of each of the participants, and the result was his book "Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramovic". I bought, and love, that book.
In 2015, participating in "The 100 Day Project", I decided to paint 100 faces from that book- a painting a day for three months. THIS IS THE BOOK I'VE MADE OF THOSE PAINTINGS! I'M PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT IT!
The book will sell for $30 at "A Very Poppet Christmas" at Poppet Creative (1508 Haultain St) from December 16th - 23rd, or any old time if you just let me know. I don't have it listed in the "store" section of this website yet, so if you'd like one please reach me through my "contact" page. There will be books making their way to The Netherlands, New York City, and Toronto, among other somewhat less exciting locales- I'm pretty excited about that, too!
These are some of the paintings that will be on display at Trounce Alley Gallery for the Smith-Lampman-Villa show, opening Friday, October 21st. There will be 13 of my paintings in all, along with the work of Don Smith and Mitchell Villa.
I have a growing list of "certain people" that I want to paint: Doris Lessing, Dave Chappelle, Bette Davis, Toshiro Mifune (the actor from "Rashomon"), Louis CK, Michael Chabon, David Rackoff, Joan Didion, Oliver Sacks, David Sedaris, Jim Carrey, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Cindy Sherman, Eartha Kitt, Elvis Costello, Michael Jackson as a child, and either Lily Munster or Morticia- I can't decide which. I think Morticia.
And I'm sure the list will grow.
It's just occurring to me (I'm a little slow) that these ink paintings from the fall of 2014 are the true antecedents to the ink paintings that I'm doing now. And that previous to that- actually as far back as 2009- I started allowing "drippiness" in my acrylic paintings. I was pretty horrified at the time- for some reason, my idea of what "good art" was did not include DRIPS. I was very narrow-minded. I forged ahead by the sheer force of my will to not listen to "the voices in my head"- the ones that were telling me that drips were anathema and the holy grail surely involved an over-sized canvas of bold, measured marks. I wanted to do it- so, goddammit- I was going to allow myself to do it.
I don't remember what moved me, at some point later, to start experimenting with ink on paper. Maybe I was chasing THE ULTIMATE DRIP. And I don't remember, because there was wine involved, exactly what J. McLaughlin said to me one night about the perfect meeting of media and substrate... ie, the sublime interaction between water, ink, and beautiful papers. But it made a lot of sense, and I now think about that magic meeting all the time. Far from hating drips, at this point I practically live for the thrill, and frankly the physical relief and release of watching the unpredictable trajectory of ink moving through water across the surface of paper. And these are lovely papers, all with different properties and eliciting different results each time. It's somehow exciting and profoundly relaxing all at the same time. Like maybe exactly how you might want your life to be. But just for a minute!
So anyhoot, I started doing these ink paintings (above) a couple of years ago- don't ask me why. Which led to the paintings I'm doing now, which I feel are evolving slowly and will surely someday see a seismic shift. As a funny aside, Marlaina Buch pointed out to me that if you google the word "ink", the last painting shown here comes up on the first page. Ha ha! Again- DON'T ASK ME WHY.
The actual purpose was to experiment with some new papers, and I decided to do a couple of self-portraits because... well I guess because it's been a while (I should do a blog post showing my self-portraits from my teen years till the present day... now that would be funny). For those who care, the bottom paper is Fabriano hot press watercolour paper, and the top one is Somerset textured (which I believe is a print-making paper). I also did one on Arches hot press watercolour paper, but I botched it.
I like being forced to get different results by using new papers, but nothing so far lives up to the BFK Rives paper for exciting and bizarre ink-and-water action. I'm going to try a couple more printmaking papers just for shits 'n giggles, but I have a feeling I'll be crawling back to the BFK Rives pretty quick, begging forgiveness.
I'll do one more self-portrait on BFK Rives, for comparison's sake... that's what I'll do.
When I was working on my series of "Loved Ones" - singers and musicians who meant something to me or had had an impact on me- I had planned to paint a handful of local musicians who have helped me along the way. I ran out of time before the "Loved Ones" show, but Jeanne Tolmie was top of my list and I knew I would eventually paint her. My daughter Chloe, Jeanne and I sang harmony back-up vocals in The Golden Country Clan, and both Chloe and Jeanne helped me immeasurably. Jeanne was always positive, never a Diva, and was always sweet and patient with me even when I had trouble learning a harmony that she was able to figure out in about 30 seconds flat. As I was the least experienced in the band and always feeling somewhat insecure in my abilities, that meant a LOT. We also had tons of fun. FUN I SAY!
I wasn't going to include Bowie in my "Loved Ones" group... it seemed too cheap. I was very much into "Low" back in the days of mixed tapes in my Montréal bachelorette pad circa the late 80's, but that was the only Bowie album I ever owned. I don't feel I can call myself a major fan... to me he was just always there like the Stones or Led Zeppelin. Yes, I knew all the songs, but out of some kind of generational osmosis more than from pursuing him at all. It was actually a clip someone posted on facebook recently that had nothing to do with music and everything to do with how funny he was that made me decide to paint him. I was reminded that he was great- not only as a musician but also as a personality.
I started listening to "Low" on youtube at some point while painting him- I probably hadn't heard it in 25 years. I thoroughly enjoyed it... listened to it three times in a row. The second half is all moody instrumentals; the first half all (if you ask me) great, interesting songs. It might be that I listened to it so much back in the day that it became part of me, but I did read today that "Low" is on several noted "best albums of all time" lists. Apparently Bowie was attempting to break a nasty cocaine habit at the time... he may have been feeling a little low.
I'm afraid to say too much about Thelonious Monk because I don't know a good-goddamned thing about jazz. I just, uh, "know what I like". Thelonious Monk, along with a number of other stellar musicians, was introduced to me by my husband David back in the late 80's, and he is my favourite among the jazz musicians that I am familiar with.
I just learned something interesting about him from good old Wikipedia: "Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed more than 1,000 pieces, whereas Monk wrote about 70". Something else that I am going to quote verbatim from Wikipedia that I found amusing:
"Monk had disappeared from the scene by the mid-1970s, and made only a small number of appearances during the final decade of his life. His last studio recordings as a leader were made in November 1971 for the English Black Lion label, near the end of a worldwide tour with the Giants of Jazz, a group which included Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Al McKibbon and Blakey. Bassist McKibbon, who had known Monk for over twenty years and played on his final tour in 1971, later said: "On that tour Monk said about two words. I mean literally maybe two words. He didn't say 'Good morning', 'Goodnight', 'What time?' Nothing. Why, I don't know. He sent word back after the tour was over that the reason he couldn't communicate or play was that Art Blakey and I were so ugly." It is surmised that he struggled with mental illness, which is not so amusing.
Anyway, to me he's the best so if you don't know his music you should check it out.
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I recently did the layout for the new Sidecar CD, and the cover is a collage of mine from a few years ago. The name of the collage is "Flight 1", which also lent its name to the CD. Sidecar is Jeanne Tolmie, Aaron Ellingsen, and Jasper de Groot. Also lending their talents to the recording are Dan Weisenburger, Tobin Frank, and Jody Johnson.
There will be a CD release party! Friday March 18th. Take a gander at the facebook event page.
You can also hear and purchase Flight 1 on bandcamp.... so go do it.
Marianne Faithfull is here for her live album "20th Century Blues", which I have listened to and loved many a time. There's a lot of Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht material on it (some from Threepenny Opera, some not), plus one of my favourite songs, a Harry Nilsson tune called "Don't Forget Me". I am always threatening to learn and sing that one, but I haven't yet.
Apart from the Harry Nilsson song, the mood is all dark German cabaret- sad and glamorous and decadent. I love it.
To see the other singers and musicians I've painted so far, please go here.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have admitted it to my friends a the time, but when I was 16 or so I listened to the soundtrack of the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson remake of "A Star is Born" over and over. We had a very large gilt framed mirror in the front hall of our house, and I would stand in front of it singing to those songs holding a hair-brush or whatever, and I WAS Barbra Streisand. Oh yes I WAS Barbra Streisand. I was aware of Barbra from the moment she appeared on the scene in the 60's, and she's always been some sort of marker for me ("Well I'm no Barbra Streisand"- that kind of thing).
I just listened to the soundtrack album online while I was painting Barbra, and oh-my-God the songs are terrible. The songwriting is so hokey I felt my shoulders were raised in a kind of permanent cringe as I listened. But as a teen I put myself in Barbra's place in that movie, and it was sooooooooooooo romantic and tragic... sigh.
Please check out the rest of the gang here.
Back in the 80's my friend Clifford put Al Green's "Take Me To The River" on a mixed tape for me. For years that was all I knew of Al Green, or thought it was. When I put it together who he was and started to explore his music a little, I fell for him, and I fell hard. It would be my dream to sing with even the tiniest fraction of the feeling he emits.
To see the rest of the gang, please look here.