Something For Everyone, Something From Everyone

Musings

I enjoy exhibiting this sculptural painting. Watching people interact with it reminds me why I paint this way. Confronted with a dense piece of text some viewers are arrested, some are dismissive, some are angry. The piece is asking for a big investment in time and energy. It is asking for a palpable mental effort. Actually, all artworks are asking for that same thing. This one is just more strident.

Something For Everyone, Mixed Media, 22 1/2" x 18 3/4"

Something For Everyone, Mixed Media, 22 1/2″ x 18 3/4″

The packages of words we constantly hand back and forth are the cogs in an engine that shapes every aspect of our lives– waking and sleeping. We need to consciously recognize our language, acknowledge its power and celebrate its resiliency. I put it up on the wall in a physical form to make that happen.

Yet here I am, making it easy for you. This is the text, wrestled back into a form we are more comfortable with– the page. Looking at it on an endlessly changeable digital screen, it is tempting to edit. But words bitten into a finite sheet of clay are uneditable and compressed. They cannot be taken back. This is the unabridged version of my words written in stone.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Can anyone really promise or even attempt to offer something for everyone? Even super heroes don’t talk that talk. How easy is it to pick out one movie for four people to share? Hard work. Thankless task. Neverending story.

Making happiness… and here we are back to a job for a super hero. No wonder we love them. Would that they were quotidian. Would that the happiness was as well.

In my home, the father was the super hero. Distance & mystery. Beauty & the Beast, in one elusive package. If you would be the object of passionate love, be elusive. Be aloof. Be rarefied. Be anything but obtainable.

Don’t attempt to provide dependable doses of happiness or content. That way lies motherhood, the opposite of super hero. The daily round, the daily grind. Cinderella swept clean of romance.

Who is she anyway? Who could she have been? An action hero. A woodland sorceress. Left to her own devices, given her predilection for clothes and shoes, she might have done time as a femme fatale, graduating in time to super hero & bypassing motherhood– always supposing she is free of the tragic flaws, traveling in tandem and known as a warm heart and a compliant disposition.

Yes, we do; we want these– in our lives but not always in our own breasts, not always out of our own pocket. Perhaps if left to itself, happiness will create itself and self-styled gatekeepers can lay down arms.

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New Paintings

Artwork

Paintings. Sculptures. I’m not sure how to classify these works. The substrate is a paper-infused, air-drying medium that I can shape into bite-able sheets. I have been moving toward a more text-centred mode of expression for a very long time and a few of my newest pieces are almost solid text.

"Water-made World" Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 16" x 24"

“Water-made World” Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 16″ x 24″

"Multi-plane Dialogue, Gretel" Acrylic and mixed media, unframed, 18" x 12"

“Multi-plane Dialogue, Gretel” Acrylic and mixed media, unframed, 18″ x 12″

"Porcelain Delta" Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13 1/2" x 18"

“Porcelain Delta” Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13 1/2″ x 18″

"Vintage Two-Word Dictionary Entries: Coal Scuttle / Iron Lung" Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13" x 13"

“Vintage Two-Word Dictionary Entries: Coal Scuttle / Iron Lung” Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13″ x 13″

"Vintage Two-Word Dictionary Entries: Green Horn / Lady's Man" Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13" x 13"

“Vintage Two-Word Dictionary Entries: Green Horn / Lady’s Man” Acrylic and mixed media on birch panel, 13″ x 13″

This body of work expresses my appreciation for the beauty of letter forms, the cogs of our noble and maltreated communications vehicle. I put language in the foreground and ask viewers to apprehend it as a sinuous, flexible art form.

If I catch myself unawares, I can almost take my own breath away. (What an admission to make in print.)

Have you seen this painting?

Artwork

You probably haven’t, because I am simply awful at posting new stuff. Here is something I featured in the June Riverdale Art Walk:

AndreaTrace_EngravedWater

Engraved Water, Mixed Media on birch panel, 16″ high x 20″ wide

It may feature again in the Headwaters Show in September. I feel comfortable having my much-loved blue near me.

Currently, my daughter’s room is torn apart (new window, new floor, new paint on the walls) and she is inhabiting my studio until she can get back into her own space. In the meantime, I cannot work- can’t paint at any rate. I need my studio to be just my own. A Room Of One’s Own, you know. I feel a little prima donna about the whole thing, a bit sheepish and spoiled; yet I still cannot whip myself into the studio and get down to anything.

Nuts.

Really Big Show

Artwork

NoOneCanPromiseIt’s the Toronto Art Expo 2014 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I know I need to do stuff like this, but I feel like dragging my feet. The pressure I put on myself— stupidly, unsurprisingly— makes it difficult to paint. Performance anxiety at the studio table ties my head and hands. I look down at what I have managed to accomplish and I am not even sure if it is artwork. Is it painting? Is it sculpture? Is it craft?

At my best, these things don’t matter to me. At my worst I want to curl up with candy and a book and pretend I do not have a room in the basement filled with expensive paint and a commitment in April to sit between my work and thousands of strangers for four days.

This weekend, I went to a show of Emilia Perri’s paintings. You can find her new work in the galleries here. The paintings— 38 large boldly coloured canvasses— looked outstanding in the rooms of the old fashioned house where they were shown. Tons of work: four car loads of paintings hung for one weekend show. We agreed though: you have to suck it up and do this. Good things will happen. Don’t be afraid of the work, the uncertainty, the public and their reactions. Right.

I am trying to communicate something, after all.

Me not talking

Musings

Since I talk all the time, this is an unusual post. All posts are unusual since I post so seldom. Talking all the time, which includes talking to myself when I am alone or in the grocery store, gives me plenty of opportunity to make sentences.

I like sentences. I like the compact kit of words in various forms that combine to communicate a subtle notion. I’m reading Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean again (Signal To Noise). Words and pictures, words and pictures. I don’t like the phrase “graphic novel” so much, but I do like words and pictures. I need to put the book down so I can get some work done.

It’s time to work on my large commissioned painting for my clients, now downstairs on two 60″x60″ canvases. I have just returned from Umbria and Tuscany so the painting will be different than it would have been had I finished it pre-Italy. Naturally. It will be a picture without words though, and that is a bit of a struggle. Struggle is good. However, I could do without the head cold and the back ache.

Pieces Of Eight

Artwork

Here's the show card.

Pieces Of Eight Show Card

I’m in a group show at The Dam Gallery in the Alton Mill Arts Centre. The title of the show is Pieces of Eight. There are eight of us (no kidding): Rosemarie Armstrong, John Ashbourne, Iris Casey, Rosemary Hasner, Pete Herlihy, Andrea Trace, Steve Volpe and Freda Wrench. I’ve done some new work for this show that I am quite happy with. The new pieces were done in the two workshops I have attended recently: one with Mary Wood and one with Claudia Jean McCabe.

They represent a new direction for me. I have tried many times, without success to really pare a painting down to essentials. Mirage does that, or at least, is a long-awaited step in the right direction. Big sigh of relief.

The other new work is Festival which is a free-form, palette-knifed composition on raw canvas. Heck, yeah. That was fun. It is sort of festive in appearance, but the real festival was in the making.

It’s adhered with medium to a birch panel but left raw in places. I mean, I did not cover the work with more medium, gloss or matte, so the canvas maintains its quality which I like. Gives the piece immediacy and does not divorce it from its roots. Framing so often formalizes a work beyond where I want it to go.

What am I reading Summer 2011

Musings
Summer Books 2011

Summer Books 2011

Lots of Neil Gaiman. And a book on Robert Motherwell. Then some more Neil Gaiman: rereading The [Compleat] Sandman. I have lent out two books very recently. The inspiring Pictures That Tick by Dave McKean, I loaned to an artist friend of mine, who is in the Headwaters Show as am I. Also, I allowed another artist to borrow The Penland Book Of Handmade Books which is a keen resource.

Another friend allowed me to borrow Just Kids by Patti Smith. I recommend it highly. And I will need to make a trip to the lake in order to return it, which is just fine by me.

Headwaters Arts 2011

Artwork
On A Swing Above The Inferno, Loose Leaf Number 2

On A Swing Above The Inferno, Loose Leaf Number 2

I have seven paintings up at the current SGI Headwaters show. One of my pieces has been awarded a Jurors’ Choice which is very cool and makes me quite happy. It’s nice to get feedback like that. I will post that picture in the next blog entry.

I hang out with my paintings for most of the exhibition because I like to talk to people and find out what they think. Additionally, I like to stop people from walking away too soon. My work needs a few minutes to sink in. A strolling viewer offering a passing glance doesn’t always allow the piece time to exude its subtle charm. So I make a bit of small talk and let the work lasso a larger share of attention. We are a bit crafty.