Friday, 28 December 2012

Annual Analysis

Swimming #1

My year started swimmingly, in some ways: at least, I was somewhere I could swim outside, in an ocean, and not freeze to death, unlike the year I did the Polar Bear Swim in English Bay, Vancouver. I was much younger and considerably hungover, I sort of seem to recall.

Swimming #2

And then I spent time house-sitting, knitting videotape, and playing music. Music became a recurring theme this year, for some strange reason: I went to a lot of live concerts, small and large, and stayed with friends and family who play. I discovered how much I really enjoy working away on my computer while there are professional musicians playing ten feet away. Need to do more of that in the upcoming year.

Winter frost

And after a lot of couch-surfing, cat-sitting, and travel in eastern Canada, I'm back in Calgary, at the address my driver's licence and library card say I live at. The year has, to put it mildly, gone quickly.

Faster than a speeding C-Train

Blatantly stolen from my friend Melissa Jay Craig's round-up of how people found her blog, here is the brief summary from how you, gentle readers, found me in 2012. Apart from some permutation or combination of my name, my city, and something to do with my occupation (most frequently "artist"), as well as various enquiries about "gymnosperms", "lasqueti" (I'm sure some were saddened that this is not the place to find out where to buy pot there), various bookbinding forms, and Great Inagua in The Bahamas, my favourites are 7 hand snake, coconut hanging off a string, and last, but certainly not least, pith-a-me.


Sunrise on a cold December Calgary morning: the road ahead is going to be interesting....

Friday, 14 December 2012

A Year of Nomadic Existence

Improvising #1

It was a year ago Wednesday that I gave up having my own home: in some ways, it feels like yesterday, but mostly, when I look back at everywhere I've been and the things I've done, it feels like forever.

When I locked the storage room door and headed to the airport, bound for The Bahamas last December, I knew where I was going to be until the end of April, and that was about it. For someone like me, who has been not inaccurately described as being a bit obsessive, anything beyond that was a great leap into the unknown.

Improvising #2

But while I now find myself craving my own space, this improvisational life has been useful in at least one way: it has allowed me to find my way back to being creative, and I'm trying hard to keep the feeling of experimentation in my practice. So far, that has meant thinking about different ways of integrating what I've been doing (artist books and assorted fibre things) with new places to install and ways to document them.

Improvising #3

(It's also meant experimenting with my photography a lot. In this post, for example, the photographs of the Bow River were taken with my cellphone, and the others with my camera with new firmware installed that lets me shoot RAW format, not just jpg, and HDR. Both require very different ideas of how and what to shoot, and that's the kind of a challenge I like....)

This sort of experimentation and exploration -- I'm fiercely resisting using the cliche of thinking outside of the box -- has meant that I've been doing a lot of reading lately, because, as usual, I've had ideas that would be fun to do, but that I don't have the knowledge to implement them. What I've learned from the readings I've been ploughing through is that several of the things I'd like to do are out of reach, at least in the time constraints of the project in general. That doesn't mean that it won't happen, but if it does, I won't be the one doing it.

Light up my life

And, y'know, I'm OK with that: I'd like to see it done right, but short of cloning myself and devoting the next eighteen months to learning an entirely different technical medium, I'm not adverse to finding, and working with, someone who has those skills to make it happen.

That brings me to the other new concept I've been exploring lately: artistic collaboration. It started with some small inquiries, which I'm now pursuing, with two local writers here in Calgary over the spring and summer, and really got in gear when I was at my residency at Spark Box Studio, where I was the catalyst for the yarnbomb of the Shire Hall Parkette in Picton, Ontario. I'm curious to see where it goes next.

HDR test

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Finding inspiration

Glittering #1

One question I find I do a lot of thinking about, and am asked often about by others, is where do the ideas for the work come from?


Regular readers know that nature is probably the most obvious of my long-time touchstones (especially when my favourite artists, like Lawren Harris, have interpreted a place that I've been to, like Pic Island above): I like being out in the landscape, observing life (both flora and fauna), and watching the light shift shadows about. Landscape as Muse, which, sadly, is no longer being made, allowed me to see other artists doing the same thing, and struck many chords in my own artistic music suite as well.

One of the programs featured Landon Mackenzie, who has a wonderful show currently on display at the Esker Foundation here in Calgary through January 5, 2013: tucked back in one corner is even the episode she appears in, as well as the large finished painting she is seen to be working on, which is pretty interesting.


In conjunction with the show, I went to a lecture entitled Making Pictures, Making Places: Landscapes, Art and Identities by Dr. Benedict Fullalove, the Head of Liberal Studies at the Alberta College of Art + Design, last Saturday, on what was really a crappy weather day. Despite that, 36 of 39 people who had registered showed up to see terrific slides of the Columbia Icefield and great historic Canadian art (like Harris's Isolation Peak above).

His talk asked the questions What is the relationship between a place and an image of a place? How has landscape art helped to define some key aspects of our identity? Can landscape art also prompt us to ask questions about what it means to be Canadian? and while on the way to my next artsy destination, as well as much of the time I've been out walking since, I've been rolling those questions, and some of the answers, around in my own mind. It's definitely helping with some of the writing I want, and need, to do about the upcoming submissions I've been thinking about putting in.

Glittering #3

Now that I'm back thinking more like an artist -- well, just thinking in general, I guess -- I've started reviewing the work I've done and the future projects (including the big one, which I hope to talk about more in public soon) that I've started working on.

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.