30 March 2016

red sketchbook

I recently went to visit a friend for a few days, and brought along my red sketchbook, a couple of Sharpies and a set of watercolour crayons.

My friend is understandably a bit shy about portraits of her & family so I won't post those, but here's a landscape I did from the window of their guest room:

the red sketchbook
under drawing with Sharpie marker

gone over with watercolour crayons

Then, on my way back home, I was able to meet up with someone whom I'd only ever known through social media.  This was very interesting, a first for me!

Uli and I hit it off right away and had a few hours of great conversation and a lovely meal at her home, before I had to get on a plane.  During our brief visit I was able to see some of her paintings.  That was a real treat, as I have admired her work for some time, and the actual paintings have even more impact than the images on a screen which first impressed me. Click here to see some of Uli's work.

I also managed to make a couple of super-quick sketches of her and her husband with a perishing Sharpie.  An old partly-dried marker is a much more interesting drawing tool than a fresh marker.

Not super-accurate anatomically, but catching a little of the feeling:

Sharpie marker

the red sketchbook
Sharpie marker

I've had my red sketchbook for several years and it has slowly filled up with portraits, maybe 50+ faces painted and drawn with all sorts of materials.  

And 3 landscapes.  For variety, you know.  :)

10 March 2016


While thinking about my stalled studio endeavours, I made another entry into the pattern book:

pattern book

And I did a bit of searching around for ways to describe what I'm aiming for in the studio.  I've got this thing going on lately where I'm trying to make visual images about sound and movement, so I looked up words related to music in my old Webster's Dictionary and came across some interesting stuff.  

Then I consulted the Oracle (in this case Wikipedia) to expand on some of those words.  In particular I found myself liking the sound and concept of "homophony".

The sound of a word when spoken can be as important as its meaning.  


In music, homophony (/həˈmɒfəni, hoʊ-, -ˈmɒfni/; Greek: ὁμόφωνος, homóphōnos, from ὁμός, homós, "same" and φωνή, phōnē, "sound, tone") is a texture in which a primary part is supported by one or more additional strands that flesh out the harmony and often provide rhythmic contrast.



Homophony: Homophonics.  It's kind of an awkward-sounding word when I say it aloud, almost a tongue-twister.  Which syllable to stress?  I don't know.  But I like the word, I like its awkwardness and I like how it describes these paintings.

Yes, I think that is what I am attempting in the studio: exploring visual Homophonics.


Tomorrow I teach a class of 26 grade-3 students how to make and print collagraphs based on their studies of Peru.  Prototypes made, panniers packed for the ride & I'm basically ready to go.

Meanwhile, "homophonics" will be settling into my mind.

06 March 2016


I have not done any "real studio work" in about two weeks.  Still, I am making a blog post anyway - to show you, dear Reader, a slice of the life of this particular artist when things are not going so well in the studio!  *laughs*
A series I began last month has come to a halt, perhaps due to overthinking but also perhaps because I have been clinging too rigidly to an idea with insufficient depth.  I've just got to let it rest for a moment.

I've been teaching a lot, and then part of my studio is under construction while my work rests.  So I decided to make a "Pattern Book", which requires neither a studio not any long-term, involved processes.

Pattern Book

Pattern Book

Pattern Book

Pattern Book

Pattern Book

Feels like I'm back in school trying out ideas in a very unsophisticated way.  Looks like nothing much, but sometimes these things lead to surprising developments.  Meanwhile, the meditative nature of exploring different types of pattern is kind of nice.  I can let my thoughts wander over and around many ideas while playing with the simple colours and shapes.

In the teaching realm, I have been doing printmaking workshops with primary school students.  Basically I am teaching how to make collagraph plates, and then making relief prints.

The process leads to something like this:

art instruction

Prototypes for a Grade 3 class studying Peru, made in the useable part of my studio.  The collagraph plates shown above measure 5 x 8.5 inches.  I make prototypes for every class because I am still learning about printmaking, and the process evolves with each lesson!

It's a bit funny, teaching kids, because there is always an aimed-for end result.  In the studio there is also at times an aimed-for end result, but it's much more fluid.  Getting sidetracked in the studio can in fact lead to greater productivity, if you want to think of it in those terms.  In a 90-minute primary-level art class however, things have got to stay on track.

I try to focus my instruction on techniques while encouraging students to create their own imagery and aesthetic interpretations.  Most of them are very creatively independent, while a few will copy my prototypes.  Either way, everyone seems to have a lot of fun exploring ideas while learning new skills, with occasional "eureka!" moments in the mix.

And isn't that really the point of education?  The point of being alive?

Until next time,