08 November 2010

a thousand apologies

Apologies for the extended absence, I have been living a computer-free life (not by choice).

I hope this will change in the near future, but whilst not blogging-and-reading-other-people's-blogs I have been travelling (not where I thought I would be this fall though), and experimenting with other ways of creating layers on my paintings (there is much destruction in the studio), so hopefully I will have something to show and write about once I return to the century-currently-in-progress.

30 May 2010


What a great weekend - it was all about the water. Yesterday I floated for three hours in a friend's pool while we talked - so unbelievably relaxing. Today I breathed salt air and listened to the sound of the surf, and this evening I'm working on this piece with colours from the waves.

08 May 2010


I just finished with the flame-thrower and am waiting for the encaustic to warm up again so that I can pour yet another layer on to the piece I’m working on, while I wait I thought I’d post what Ron Black, who takes great nature photos, just sent me – pictures of our brand new pond, it’s just a baby, less than a year old.

Standing next to this pond, a small cone-shaped hill lurks in the trees to the south-west, there are acres of forest on all sides and unless a small plane flies over head you can’t see anything man-made here, even the part of the trail that is visible was made by animals. It is also the quietest part of the property.

Sometimes, standing there, I think about how much industrialization has changed the sounds we hear almost every moment of the day, even in the quiet of the night I can hear human sounds I couldn’t hear over the noise of the day – vehicles on a distant road, a train on tracks eight miles off.

I love human sounds, I live in more than one place and where I sit writing this now I can hear my old clock ticking, the neighbours to the east singing prayers, and the girls to the south happily shooting hoops. But just as looking at the ordered chaos of nature is somehow calming and energizing at the same time, the layers of sound around this pond make it hard to walk away. The soft natural sounds (when there are no tractors growling downstream) are meditative and somehow invite further listening.

As a kid I always wondered why sounds can affect the mind and emotions so much, why can music make us feel triumphant or despondent? I was reading an article about preserving areas of natural sounds, and some book reviews about silence (also this) recently, and, predictably, I thought about noise a lot when I stayed in this Buddhist monastery for a while, but this Radiolab show is my favourite exploration of sound. The range it covers in one hour is incredible, and the part where they talk about why there were angry riots when Stravinsky’s ‘Rites of Spring’ was first performed but adoration when it was performed a year later is amazing. I haven’t been able to embed the program for some reason, but here is another link, there are three parts (‘Behaves so Strangely’, ‘Sound as Touch’, and ‘Musical DNA’), they are each fantastic.

02 May 2010


This is the current stage of the middle of the piece I am working on, it is going slowly.

I've been off my groove lately, this has somehow been a very complicated year, and I've let things eat away at my work time - a dangerous trend especially since technical problems are also hindering productivity.

These last few days I've been re-inspired and mad to work, but found myself instead enjoying spending time and eating (a lot!) with family and friends. Saturday I ate each meal with different people (ending up in an incredibly atmospheric old building full of wandering passages for a delicious dinner), but after lunch today it was time to get serious and focus, which feels great and frustrating at the same time.

The first few hours in the studio I generally spend flailing, the longer I've been away the longer I spend lost and wandering before I find the path, but I even resisted the holiday parade going down my street this afternoon and am finally making some progress.

Tomorrow I'll be getting my little flame thrower fired up, it's time to layer encaustic.

27 April 2010


Instead of working on art I am being a dutiful child and scanning ancient family photos, which takes a lot of time but is interesting. I hadn’t seen steam-powered tractors before, I like how complicated this one looks. And what is flinging that hay, a haybuchet?

Apologies for the terrible joke, just one of a zillion things that go through the mind during hours of scan, label, file, repeat.

There is also time to think about how different my life is from theirs. Some years before these photos were taken some of the people in them walked 2400 km to a new life, then there was another big shift to another new life, the one I am looking at. I can’t even imagine co-ordinating walking entire families that far, through whatever weather, eating only bread, cider and sour milk offered by strangers along the road. And how to even find the right roads, without all the street signs we have today?

Besides a good map I think I’d want a series of serious foot massages.

24 April 2010


I love all kinds of maps, and I have been fussing with this one off and on for a while without being sure where exactly to go with these constellations. They may be put aside to be part of a series of maps and charts that has been in the back of my mind for a while.

It’s hard to concentrate lately because of some frustrating technical problems, I love solving problems when it comes to building the metal boxes, figuring out different ways of making hinges and new hidden compartments, but when it comes to materials difficulties when I’m working with the 2D pieces I have no patience at all.

Sometimes when I am working out how to build one of kinetic pieces it makes me sad that my grandfather died before I could show him the things I make. Pictures weren’t his thing, although his family included many artists he was an inventor, and when he saw problems and inefficiencies he automatically started coming up with solutions. When I’m building something the technical difficulties are often my favourite parts of the process, various solutions are getting worked out in the back of my mind day and night, and I love the continual challenge after challenge until the let-down when it’s completed.

07 March 2010


I was so happy to find this film, I just love Saki (H. H. Munro). The first thing I’m going to do with my new time machine is prevent him from returning to the front (he signed on as a foot soldier in the ‘Great War’ in his 40′s, and kept going back to fight even when considered too sick or injured to do so), and give him a long-lifetime supply of pens and ink.

I enjoyed hearing ‘The Open Window’ read on National Public Radio‘s ‘Selected Shorts’ years ago, it was a good pick for a short film. The Reginald stories are so incredibly funny, I wish someone would make some of them into a movie. Starring Johnny Depp. Somebody call him, quick!

Waldo is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.

  • ‘The Feast of Nemesis’

Reginald sat in a corner of the Princess’s salon and tried to forgive the furniture, which started out with an obvious intention of being Louis Quinze, but relapsed at frequent intervals into Wilhelm II.

  • ‘Reginald in Russia’

Reginald closed his eyes with the elaborate weariness of one who has rather nice eyelashes and thinks it useless to conceal the fact.

  • ‘Reginald’s Drama’

Think how many blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretions of other people.

  • ‘Reginald at the Carlton’

Reginald in his wildest lapses into veracity never admits to being more than twenty-two.

  • ‘Reginald’

We all know that Prime Ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other married couples they sometimes live apart.

  • The Unbearable Bassington, ch. 13 (1912)

01 March 2010

my heart

Often when I go to compose a post I am tempted to just put an image of whatever piece I am working on without any text, I find writing very difficult. I love reading what other people write though, and admire how skilfully some people blog.

During a conversation there are the constant decisions and adjustments regarding how much of one’s life and thoughts to reveal. Bloggers, without knowing who will be reading, need to somehow maintain a balance between not revealing enough to intrigue a reader, and sharing too much, thus becoming instantly uninteresting.

I first started reading Rima’s blog because I love her lively drawings, paintings, and fabulous clocks with their medieval influence (and this game she made is fantastic), but besides being a talented artist (child of two artists) her talent as a storyteller sharing her adventures helps make her blog so entertaining (and popular).

Making the decision to take time away from her work to share the joyful times of her life is generous, but it must be hard to decide to keep writing at times like now when things are not going well. I admire how strong she is to be open at a vulnerable time.

13 February 2010


As usual I find myself astonished at what the clock says. It’s so easy to work all night in the quiet, there is no sign that time is passing.

04 February 2010


Isn’t this gorgeous? The fork threw me at first, but someone in the comments to the article had an explanation which further reading supported (there are a couple beautiful Roman forks here). Whatever its age, it is very cool tool.

I realize I haven’t posted any of my work recently, I do mean to do that soon!

03 January 2010


This fall I’ll follow a path trod by pilgrim feet for a thousand years or so and among other preparations I need to improve my Spanish. I prefer to work on languages through regular books rather than language texts, and figuring I should begin at the beginning, I grabbed something basic. So, as of this afternoon, I can explain that I do not like to eat green eggs and ham with a zorro, in a rincón, or in a barco, while navigating a charco. I question the text though, translating Sam-I-Am as Juan Ramón doesn’t seem to reflect the flippant energy of the number one fan of green eggs and ham.

Wandering around the Internet reading what other people have written about the pilgrimage I came across a blog by a Canadian girl (a cousin of mine, twice-removed, lives in her hometown). Her last post, mentioning another kind of adventure, was a link to the blog she started when she later moved to Paris. How can you not adore someone who wanders into these kind of situations:

Things that don’t happen in Kingston

And writes posts like this:

couple of weeks ago I had my first