Tag Archives: art

Don’t Ask Questions

One thing about growing up with secrecy, silence, and paranoia in an authoritarian family is that it gets really hard to untangle the effects of emotional abuse from one’s actual personality.

Until recently, for example, I rarely asked questions. Part of that is because because so many of my childhood and adolescent questions were answered with :

  • contempt: “You stupid kid”
  • ridicule: “I can’t believe you don’t know that”
  • silent treatment: absolute silence as if I had not spoken
  • dismissal: “You don’t need to know that”
  • anger: “Don’t ask things like that!”
  • annoyance “Don’t bother me with that”
  • mockery: “Why do you care about that?”
  • impatience: “I don’t have time for this.”

I learned that questions are irritating, intrusive, inappropriate, and unwelcome. I learned that I would be mocked, ridiculed, and subject to anger or silent treatments if I asked questions or showed curiosity. Continue reading

Finished this book: Stupendous Stitching: How to Make Fun and Fabulous Fiber Art (by Carol Ann Waugh)

Cover of Stupendous Stitching by Carol Ann Waugh

Cover of Stupendous Stitching by Carol Ann Waugh

Back at the beginning of April, I went to a quilt show with my mom. Since her retirement, she’s taken up quilting, and she makes some gorgeous pieces. I’ve resisted having her make a quilt for my king-sized bed, partly because that’s a heavy bunch of quilt for my mom to be working on, and partly because I feel it’s a waste to give me nice bed blankets of any sort, since I share my bed with two fluffy gunky-assed cats and two big dogs. That’s a lot of fur and dirt, frankly, and my bed is always covered with a “dog blanket” anyway, so a gorgeous handmade quilt would be not only endangered but also simply never on display. Continue reading

Stuff I Did in March, Part Two: Music, Recycling, Cupcakes

In addition to getting back to the loom, I had another DJ gig in March. I was playing with two other women, and we were trying to work with two systems: Traktor and Serato. First we tried to connect them with an old Allan and Heath Z10fx mixer, but we couldn’t get it to work: Continue reading

Stuff I Did in March, Part One: Back to the Loom

After a long break due to a rear-ender and the February Blues, I finally got back to the loom near the end of March. This is a loom I got with the warp already on, and I’ve been doing a series of wall hangings on it. I finished off the one I’d abandoned in January: Continue reading

Only One Bandaid! (or, Learning to Make Stained Glass Mosaics)

This past Saturday, my friend R invited me out to her place to make stained glass mosaics. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and R’s work is beautiful, so I was very excited to have a chance to learn from her.

A few days beforehand, she called me with instructions about what kind of glass to get and where. So on Thursday, I headed down to European Art Glass across from the Tim Horton’s at Archibald and Marion to look at glass. There were so many beautiful pieces in there! Continue reading

Stuff I Did in January

February is finally over. I did nothing creative in February at all. After I was rear-ended in January, I stopped weaving (because my back hurt). And when the February dumps hit me, I even stopped doodling, which is a disaster for me, because a doodle a day keeps the crazy away.

I was going through some of my pictures from January to try to get inspired for March, and I found a couple of reminders that yes, I do indeed do things.

Near the beginning of January, I was at the venue where I drew my first mural so here’s an update: Continue reading

Saw this film: Banksy Does New York (2014)

This fast-paced documentary covers Banksy’s month of making a piece of public art every day in New York for the month of October 2013. It was kind of a NaBloPoMo / NaNoWriMo thing with street art; the film called it a residency. I watched it with my brother, and we kept pausing it to talk about who owns art, what is art, whose opinions about art matter, cultural appropriation, graffiti and vandalism and defacement, the concept of property, the concepts of public versus private, whether art has to have a meaning, and so forth. My brother and I occupy quite different places on the ideological map, so there were times when it was a relief to turn back to the TV with our mouths pressed thin, but at other times we both got really animated in our enthusiasm for the topic and managed to navigate our differences well. It’s a process, right?

The documentary interested me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that I recently made my first foray into public art-making. As time goes by, viewers have started to add to my art. Although I don’t think they have improved my piece aesthetically (puh-LEEZ), I am delighted that there is some conversation happening. Continue reading

Saw this film: Heart of a Dog by Laurie Anderson

Okay, so I saw this amazing film last night: Heart of a Dog by Laurie Anderson. I really don’t know much about film so I don’t even really know how to write a review of this but I was just stunned and moved and choked up and inspired and awed by this film.

I kind of thought it would be more about dogs, but while I was wrong, I was not disappointed. Anderson’s rat terrier Lolabelle does feature prominently, but this isn’t a narrative film in which a linear story is told (not even in a mixed-time-sequence way). It’s more like… well, like a long poem, or a series of vignettes, or a song cycle. Anderson weaves in Lolabelle’s life and death, her relationship with her mother, her mother’s death, 9/11, the NSA data centre in Utah, dog training, a traumatic childhood accident, film clips from her childhood, her own fascinating poetry-narration, and really incredible imagery.
Continue reading

Finally got to play with my new loom

First I hemmed the work in progress that was already on the loom when I got it.

First I hemmed the work in progress that was already on the loom when I got it.

Back at the beginning of November, I got a new-to-me loom. It was one of those via-via things: the owner of the loom died last year, and her son was finally cleaning out her condo. The son’s partner is in an artist’s collective with a good friend of mine, who heard about the available loom and asked if I was interested, with the caveat that they wanted it gone quickly.

Did I want it? Of course! Could I transport it, and did I have room for it, and do I really need another loom? No, no, and no. But I really miss weaving. My jack-type Artisat loom is in the Room-Formerly-Known-as-My-Studio, and currently known as my bromate’s digs. There is no other place I can put the loom, since it has to be locked away from the cats (all those strings and threads and ribbons and dangly bits: can you say “vet bill,” boys and girls?). Continue reading

What the heck is the “Vagina Folder”???

Vagina I (16"x16" acrylic and collage)

Vagina I (16″x16″ acrylic and collage)

I was sorting through old pictures on my hard drive and I came across a folder called “Vagina Folder.” What the heck??? But when I looked in there, I saw pictures of three paintings I had been commissioned to do by a woman taking a course on women’s art. So here are three vaginas in multimedia (acrylic and collage). Continue reading

A Doodle A Day (acrylic version)

6"x6" acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

6″x6″ acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that my friend R. and I repeatedly take the acrylic painting class at Forum Art Centre with David Cooper. Here’s the only thing I have actually completed so far this session. There’s one more class next week but it’s the critique class (with wine and snacks). At that class, we won’t be painting, but we’re supposed to share everything we’ve worked on during the course, whether finished or unfinished. I’ve got eight other pieces on the go, and am hoping to find time this week to work on some of them before the last class. But I’m not going to stress about it; this is funtime!

 

 

Staycation Day 4: I Hid the Lists and Did What I Wanted

There’s not much to add, really. I cleared all my papers and lists off the kitchen table, and then spent a few hours doing this:

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

It’s been months since I last played around with the watercolour pencils. Not since last winter, I think. I used the notebooks as a way to warm up a bit, and then I did the heart above on a postcard to send to a friend whose birthday is coming up. Then some more notebook doodling, and the heart below (not finished yet in the picture) for my cousin’s upcoming wedding.

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Also, I was approached about maybe DJing a rave-themed wedding, which is about a 90% perfect fit with my DJ style and music collection. I hope it works out, although I bet they’ll have second thoughts when they think about their poor grandparents!

Tonight is studio time at the Forum Art Centre where R. and I take an acrylic class taught by David Cooper on Thursday nights. This is the fifth (I think) time we take it together. The class fee includes studio time on Tuesday evenings. So I am considering heading down there for that, although if I take advantage of the cleared-off kitchen table, I could do “studio night” here at home, and not even have to put my bra back on!

All in all, hiding the lists and choosing to just play today was the best idea I’ve had in a while. I even got a couple of errands done and took the dogs along in the car to pick up the winter tires. A lovely day! It’s amazing how much better I feel if I’ve made something. Writing, weaving, drawing, painting, anything. It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to be made.

Frustrating Vacation Days

This is my third day of a five-day “vacation” in which I am just staying at home and trying to catch up on my life. I had a huge long task list involving some cleaning and organising, some art-making and writing, some (limited) socialising, and some progress on contract work and paperwork.

Saturday went really well. I met with the bank about the mortgage, sorted through all of the stuff in my front alcove (which is supposed to be my Reading Corner but has slowly filled with books and bags and baskets and bird cages), freecycled a bunch of books and other stuff, brushed the Fluffy Dog, wrote a blog post, and came up with a grocery list. Super productive, and I still had time to do some reading and kill a dragon or two in Skyrim while finishing off the bottle of wine I’d started on Friday.

Sunday was slightly less productive. I did get grocery shopping and dishes done, and sent out another invoice (yay for income!), but the big event of the day was a combo art playdate and doggy playdate with J. at her place. I love spending time with J., and the Fluffy Dog loves spending time with her new little rescue dog, but we got no art done. As a visit goes, it was lovely as always: we humans drank London Fogs and discussed the state of our psyches and the world around us while the two dogs (one 80 pounds and one not even 8 pounds) gnawed on each other and played adorably. But the thing is, I got no art done, and I had been looking forward to that for days, anticipating our playdate. This is the first time we’ve tried to combine the two (art and dog playdates). Maybe over time, as the novelty of these two dogs developing a friendship becomes more mundane, we will be able to do both. But I think that for now, I will have to just accept that when the dogs are involved, art won’t really be on the table.

The thing is, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for art-making now. Today has been mostly given over to waiting for and dealing with contractors. Electrical estimates this morning, and now I have been waiting for over three hours for the drain people to come and clean out the main drain. The appointment was for between noon and 2. I called at 2 to ask for an ETA and they said 45 more minutes. I called again at 2:50 and they said they couldn’t tell me a time because there had been an emergency and the guy got his machine stuck in a hole. Sigh. It’s 3:10 as I type this and they just called to say the technician is on his way, so I live in hope but I am not holding my breath.

I can’t make something when I know an interruption is coming. If I have 20 minutes or an hour or (happy day!) four hours scheduled, I can use it to make something. It doesn’t matter how short the time is as long as I know it’s mine. But in a circumstance like this, when I’ve been awaiting the doorbell’s ring since 11:45, I can’t put my head into that space. So I’ve sorted through paperwork and pulled the things I know I’ll have to work on later. I’ve replied to a few emails. I’ve sent another invoice, and after the electrician left I zipped over to the hospital to pee in a bottle for the urine metanephrine test. At 4:45, I have to be at The Forks to meet S. for coffee and I had been planning to walk over, but time is starting to get short.

***

Two polite young men showed up and cleaned out the main drain. This is a major deal for the household. We used to get it cleaned every two years, as we have massive oaks growing along the sewer line and roots get in there. Last time, we left it for two and a half years…. and had a sewer backup, rendering our former tenant homeless and leading to a five-month, $15,000 renovation. The nice young men (a white tattooed supervisor and an earnest brown apprentice) did find a fair amount of roots in there even though it was last cleaned eleven months and three weeks ago.

The main drain access is in my tenant’s suite, so I had to be present while the guys were down there. How odd to be in someone else’s space like that, in a power position (I, Landlord), seeing their things and the intimate details of their daily life, the apple on the counter and the scrub brush in the sink and the knick-knacks and baby pictures.

Now it’s time to let the dogs pee and I probably have just enough time to walk to The Forks to meet S. instead of taking the car. Yay for beautiful autumn walks! Perhaps that will make me feel less time-wasted and frustrated, and maybe I can get back on track for Day Four of my mini-stay-at-home-vacay.

My Very First Art Lesson (in which I learned I’m no good)

When I was six, I learned that I would never be an artist.

Like any other kid, I loved to draw and fingerpaint and glue stuff onto other stuff, especially if beads or glitter were involved. In the homes of my grandparents, my father, and my aunt, I was surrounded by evidence of art and artists: my great-grandfather was a master painter back in the Old Country (Denmark), and my grandfather had been apprenticed to him. My grandparents met when my grandmother took a class with the master painter, and my grandfather would offer to walk her home and carry her painting gear. The walls of my grandparents’ home were filled with paintings and drawings and woven tapestries and other work by my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, aunt, and other artists. Every bit of wall space was filled. Continue reading

My First Mural: Reflecting on the process

The completed mural, with a chair for scale.

The completed mural, with a chair for scale.

At the beginning of August, I finished my first public mural. Well, it’s my only public mural, but I live in hope that there will be more! The staff at the venue where I drew the mural are concerned that it will be defaced, but I’m pretty chill about that. It’s public art; the public will add to it or hide it or otherwise react to it however individual people choose (that is, people might “deface” it). But putting something out in public is an invitation to interaction, and anyway, entropy happens. Things decay. What happens to the mural now is still part of the mural, and it’s the part I have no control over, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the process. Continue reading

Day Trip: Winnipeg Folk Festival

Went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival on Saturday for the first time in nineteen years. I picked a great day for it: There was a weather warning because of the extreme heat and humidity, and thunderstorm warnings for later in the day. On Friday evening, a nurse friend working a twelve-hour shift at Concordia Hospital texted me to let me know that Emerg was full of Folk Festers. “The heat?” I asked, and she replied “Overheated… and a few bad cookies.” Continue reading

Saw this documentary: The Fake Case (Ai Weiwei)

 

Ad for the Ai Weiwei documentary.

Picture taken from the Cinematheque guide.

Ai Weiwei’s bravery makes me squirm.

I do try to be courageous and speak out against injustice and be a witness, but as Yoda says “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Ai Weiwei gives a lot of thought to his art and politics, but when pivotal moments arrive, he does not pause to think; he simply acts in accordance with his own beliefs and ethics. Continue reading