Saturday, December 16, 2006

Math and art

I was listening to CBC this morning and listened to an interview with a woman who teaches math and analyses math and how it relates to the arts. She asked a dancer to describe how the steps of a particular movement were created and in it found many similarities to algebraic formulas.

Mathematics are a very left brain function and, to me, something that always horrified me. I never excelled at them and stumbling blocks early in life set me up on a road to fear ever since. The right side functions of language and arts however, came without fear.

The interview about math and the arts made me wonder if there is a difference in the processes of creating dance, theatre and visual art. I can see the same crossover process in theatre when an actor assumes a role and 'becomes' the other person, losing themselves in the role. Perhaps the same happens in a dancer, but having known few, I can't comment. Sailing into 'the zone' when creating art is a common occurance and there is a mathematic element to drawing in perspective, measurement, angles and proportion.

The whole concept of putting something into writing that you do without thinking is becoming a reality for me. I have been asked to write tutorials in art on a number of subjects. It is more difficult than one would imagine. Its like verbalizing how you drink a cup of coffee or how you fall asleep. I do it without thinking. I know the process intimately. I can see it in my mind, I can visualize it effortlessly. But to put it into words is always a challenge. A good one, as it makes me carefully consider the steps and the processes behind the art.

This drawing was done as I waited for a cake to bake today. It is done in my Moleskine in conte crayon. I love the earth tones that the conte produces.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm drawing

A last minute flurry of commissions and drawing tasks keep me off the keyboard and onto the drawing board.

Normal service will resume soon. This little chap will amuse you while I'm off being industrious.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Circa 1955

I was looking through some old photos and found this image of a Christmas tree decoration that I had when I was a child. Its quite innocuous, just a simple plastic 1950's reindeer. I remember that the two halves split allowing access to the inner contents of little green and red candies - tiny little balls that filled it and made it a bit psychedelic perhaps 10 years before its time.

The second image is of me, taken at Christmas 1955, when I was 19 months old. I seem to be guarding my doll, an elf of some sort and setting a baleful gaze at someone else who may have had their eye on it too. The photo is the circa of the reindeer ornament and we've both survived the last 50 years, even if one of us has lost their centre core.

I don't know why it was saved from those years but it turned up in some decorations received from my mother's house years ago and it has decorated the tree ever since. My whole tree has animals on it. Not silly cartoon animals, but ones based as best as they can be on real animals. Bears, squirrels, moose, dogs, cats and birds all find their way into the branches amidst fragrant boughs and tiny white lights that make the silver icicles sparkle and turn the room at night into a different world.

No matter how old you are, there still is something magical about a Christmas tree lit at night in a darkened room. And something more magical still to find among the ornaments a memory.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


The art store in Toronto rang today to say that they didn't have the Mylar drafting film in stock and didn't know when it would be in. They're sending the remainder of my order, but I REAAAAAAAALLLLLLLYYYYYYY wanted the Mylar. Now I will have to find another source. A week and a half before Christmas and finding drafting film in St. John's? Yeah, right. But you never know. I'll scour the phone book tomorrow in hopes.

I have s number of Secret Santa projects to work on before Dec 22nd, as well as a couple of portraits too. Deadlines do create pressure and sometimes that is a good thing as it pushes you to complete drawings and not let them slide. The portraits are near completion and the first secret santa drawing in on the drafting table - at least the outline of it. Two more to go...both needing research for images and time to draw them. I'll get there. Its like Christmas, you think you'll never finish all the preparation, but Christmas Eve arrives, all the stores are shut, the last people have gone home and you can sit and soak up the atmosphere of another season. And wait for it to start up all over again the next day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rooms with a view

The Rooms unites the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Art Gallery and the Provincial Archives under one roof. A place for people, The Rooms is a portal to the many stories our province has to tell.

This photo was taken with my little 2mb camera in my cell phone and shows the panoramic view from The Rooms overlooking St. John's harbour. I was there to see the newly opened Mary Pratt exhibit a few weeks ago Simple Bliss. It is only now that I've figured out how to transfer the photos from the little card in my phone to the computer - amazing what you can find out when you actually read the instructions!

I have ordered some Mylar matte drafting film after hearing nothing but praise for it from other artists when using it for coloured pencil work. I've ordered it and some other things (well I had to get up to a certain monetary value before they will let me order)so I'm waiting not so patiently for it to arrive so I can try it out. It has unique properties and takes limited layers of colour. You can erase back to nothing and add colour on both sides of the film. I anticipate some interesting experimentation with this new carrier for my colours.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006


PMS or Panic Mode Syndrome is the worst form of stress for an artist to confront. Sometimes it enables a new unplanned concept to appear in the painting, but I'd much rather have an enlightened thought arrive effortlessly and out of love for the piece. (Dianne Middleton)

I had so much to do today that didn't get achieved. And now its Sunday night and my energy level is dropping along with my enthusiasm to complete any more tasks today.

My fall yesterday has manifested itself into some nice bruises and soreness all down one side, so that makes hauling around boxes of decorations or trying to put up Christmas lights an impossibility at the moment. I'll tackle it again tomorrow but think it will be on a diminished scale.

I have been working on two portraits at once today, flitting from one to the other and fitting in this little drawing in my Moleskine of one of the images from the Weekend Drawing Event at WetCanvas. I can't resist portraits of people and this one was no different. I look at a sketch like this as a coffee break between the other portraits. It lets my mind wander and allows me to play with colour and just see something new. I can then go back with fresh eyes to my other drawings again. I'm on track for timelines with the others which are needed before Christmas so they aren't causing stress - yet.

The Arts and Letters Competition deadline is February 16, 2007 and this year I want to have a couple of pieces ready to go. Open to the residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the aim of the awards is to stimulate creative activity, both amateur and professional, by the provision of cash prizes, adjudication, and the publication or exhibition of meritorious entries. I have several images that may be worth entering but there is enough time to complete a few more. I just need to make sure that procrastination doesn't enter into the picture or February will come and go and I will will not have brought the paintings to the gallery.

There are always ideas for drawings floating around in my head and they come to me in the strangest places. In the shower this morning, I watched the water come out of the showerhead and thought about colour in the water and on the head itself and how the light reflected on it. I spent a full five minutes analyzing water drops - how they lie on flat surfaces or how the weight of the water changes their shapes on curved areas. Nothing is sacred. The most mundane becomes art if you let it. The bathroom becomes a myriad of shapes and colours and light plays instead of a utilitarian space.

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