It turns out that Mary has many years of writing that she has neglected to edit. Numerous uncatalogued drawings turn up, as well.
On the other hand, desean has all of his art and writing neatly organized on his laptop, and he has already done the layouts for two or three books. It is quickly decided that Mary will be in charge of Data Retrieval and desean will be in charge of Development.
They settle down with Mary’s documents, and discuss the best way to organize them.
They drink many cups of coffee, and eat a lot of peanut butter.
Pattern 1 Enchanted 6.25x4" watercolour & markers on primed pamphlet
One of my favourite sketching exercises is to make two or three bold lines…which I think of as vectors…and make my characters and objects fit into them. For this little painted book, I decided to use watercolours on the primed pages, filling my large shapes with colour. Using various markers, I used patterns to create texture and shading.
Filling in certain areas with unlikely patterns, such as the scales on the character’s body and the watery stripes in the sky, creates a sort of mysterious tension that I enjoy immensely. Often on my walks I am surprised this way; a leaf will be mottled like a rock, or a tree trunk will be scarred with dots and dashes. These unusual patterns make me pause and look again, enchanted.
PageScape VII Playing 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
Themes and messages in art are always a controversial subject among artists. The artists who paint what appeals to them often have their work labelled as ‘just pretty paintings.’ The artists whose main work is fraught with poetry and meaning often just want to paint a pretty picture, and not have to explain it. Meaning can be painted into a picture, or an originally simple painting can take on great significance later. The actual methodology happens somewhere in between. An artist should (probably, some of the time…but I confess I usually don’t) have something in mind when beginning a work, but it’s a good idea to leave room for change, random ideas and visionary moments that may plop down in the middle of the canvas unexpectedly. As much as we like to feel we are controlling things, inspiration is a pretty wild ride. Good pictures can be ruined. Bad pictures can become masterpieces.
My own method involves playfulness. ‘Let me not take myself too seriously,’ I admonish the air, as I reach into the coloured pencils and grab three colours at random. Hmmm. Not my usual colours, that’s for sure. But wait! I’m drawing in a recycled hardcover novel with black primed pages. Definitely nothing serious going on here. I make some shapes and colour them.
PageScape VI Reflecting 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
It was another hot day, though there was a breeze rustling the leaves and stirring up patterns in the lake. Deb and I sat in the screen house, sketching and talking about the ever-shifting shapes of our lives. Every day, something changes, and our perception changes. And some days, our understanding of things completely starts over.
The lake so familiar to us changes constantly, subtly, reflecting the myriad transformations around it, sky and forest and little people living on its shore. Light flashes off the water. For a moment, we are not sure what we see.
PageScape V Connecting 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
While my friend and collaborator desean was visiting, we had many discussions about our work processes, and especially how we work together. As soon as one of us mentions an idea, the other makes a connection, and from there we branch off in many directions, embellishing and refining, frequently returning to the original concept. Sometimes we begin with words, other times with images, weaving the two together into ideas for artwork series and books. Even when we are not collaborating, we often find ourselves making connections between our individual works. It is a meeting of minds, an artistic synthesis.
A393 Token VI (caregiver)
10x8" acrylic and prisma colour on board
The Token theme is about the almost magical moments and events in our lives, often repeating, that can become symbolic to us. When a crisis arises, these tokens seem to fall from the sky; someone takes care of us, or something or someone suddenly appears to make us smile. Something special happens, or something doesn't happen (also gratifying, in some cases). Sometimes we don't notice them, little golden bits in almost every day. A smile. A word. The plaintive song of a bird. Moments of peace.
If we were to make a pile of all the little tokens we have ever received or found and count them, it would be shocking to see how many we collect in our lives, and how easily they roll away to hide in drawers or under other things, how easily they become tarnished. But if we all made a stack of them, if would be a mighty tower. It would make us look up.
A392 Artist & Anomaly V 24x18" acrylic, pastels, pencils private collection
This is a lost and found work. I did not have it recorded in my catalogue, and had not taken a picture of it. One day my friend Deb visited, and she brought the picture with her. I had given it to her daughter and then forgotten it completely. So here it is, slightly out-of-place, since there were no other numbers available for it, and I can't quite make out the date. The picture surprised me...what was I thinking when I did it? I think I was simply enjoying the shapes and colours and patterns. Maybe it's my child artist, surrounded by her creative aura.
PageScape IV Discerning 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
Another morning of sketching with Deb. We discussed the idea of discernment, really looking and focusing, as a path to discovery. Painting and writing help to crystallize ideas, giving form to what we can only sense.
All is hidden for us to find. And each discovery leads us, if we are discerning, to another.
A390 Token V (speckled bird)
10x8" acrylic and prisma colour on board
The speckled birds appeared in a vivid dream after I finished chemo. I (dreamed I) was lying in bed, peacefully free of care and pain. A flock of colourful spotted birds sat on me and the blankets, cooing and chirping softly. It was just me and the birds, suspended in a blissful dreamscape.
PageScape III Crossings 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
The ice began melting in the lake today, as the sun warmed the countryside. Deb and I sat out on the deck with our coloured pencils and books, talking and sketching. A breeze moved the trees gently, and stirred the patterns in the ice. Our conversation drifted, ideas crossing and shifting.
Growth 17 9x6" oil, marker on PC Paintbrush IV manual
Ever since I had been in remission, I have been thinking about a creature to represent new growth. I thought I would try out a little lizard-like character, cheery and fluid and gorgeously-patterned. Some of these creatures can grow back limbs and tails and such, and similarly, as I recover, my fingers seem to be coming back to life. Suddenly I can draw details again. I can feel my designs once more, and draw with my finest pens just for the joy of it.
PageScape II Unexpected 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
I began painting on old books and manuals as a way to move my smaller works, sketches and paintings, away from standard formats, and contain them in a 'package'. Of course a book is a package that can contain many things, all presented in order, and portable. You might think a nice new blank sketchbook would do the job nicely, and more reasonable artists have been quite satisfied with just that. But as I paint and draw over the printed pages, words and images stand out, then vanish under layers of paint and pencils. Sometimes the words are reused, as the book pages are recycled, turned into something else. The drawings are small, spontaneous, and do not have the burden of being studio pieces or series work, nor are they numbered in my catalogue. They are just pages. That is the pleasure of making them.
And that is why unforeseen things happen. Unexpected forms appear.
PageScape I Escape 8.25x5" Prisma Colour pencils on hardcover novel
The wind blows, and everything changes. I can hear the birds, but their shapes merge with the shifting landscape. Even the trees are trying to be something else. It makes me feel restless, exhilarated. I escape into a little drawing, that belongs only to this moment. No rules, no plan...
A388 Token IV (fish & raven)
12x12" acrylic & prisma colours on stretched canvas
The idea for the token sequence of little paintings began with a casual challenge from my mother. We were looking at her sketchbooks, in particular the pages of medallion-shaped designs, which she originally intended for pottery. I said that I thought they would make wonderful paintings. 'Show me how you would put a round design on a square canvas,' my mother said. I made a quick sketch similar to one of her designs, and liked it so much that I
decided to paint it.
The raven is one of my familiar old creatures, and the fish is one of my mother's favourite motifs.
Impending. Most of the time I avoid thinking about it, but from time to time, my upcoming cancer test results blanket my brain in a white fog. Pending. Coming soon. I scribble in the fog, over and over. Every time I sketch and scribble in my painted books, I find myself laughing over something...fat birds and rubbery characters, or strange, unintentional shapes. Here, my little worries become a Marie Antoinette hairdo, a Cool Whip turban. Just a momentary lather. Or another kind of Growth.
After a critical period in life, we all change in some way. The renewed woman has grown spiritually: she gratefully cradles the bird, which represents the gift of life. She dwells in this one moment, content.
The sun came out today. Recovery. Warmth and sunshine. A flower blooms unexpectedly. I have been using up old tubes of paint for these pages, and this ancient crusty cadmium yellow was full of lumps. Even my chemo-numbed fingers can feel them, scattered like a code or a lunar landscape. Texture=Sensory Input, an artistic process that is felt, like the quick gestural image.
Growth 10 about dichotomy; after illness and trauma, the brain divides in two. One part carries on as normally as possible, avoiding the thoughts of the other part. Cancer is always there in the other half, waiting to reappear, and potentially treacherous cells hover in between, waiting to change. You are always waiting for the next test. You are always in your little world, thinking of other things, normal things.