Paintings: Gorilla House LIVE ART Battles

These are going to be, for the most part, poor quality archives given the lighting at the Gorilla House, the time of day and the fact that they are snapped with digital cameras.  These paintings are produced in two hours and then auctioned off immediately following the paint-off, giving the artist very little time to BOND with the paintings.  Three ‘energizers’ are offered at the SPIN-OFF and so goes the event.

Week 4: Queen of Swords, A Surprising Massage, Greater Calgary

Week 5: Lies, Two Points, Vanilla

August 22, 2012:   Prism  A blog entry that describes the process of creating the following painting can be found here.



August 29: Science and Progress, She left him to love another, Angels  The post that explains the process of my thinking for the following painting is located here.

Week 7 (apparently, I am off on this) Midnight bikers, Layers as in those created with tissue, red knife.  The post the explains the process and thinking behind the image below can be found here.

Week 8: 1. Dropouts from Night School 2. Bikes 3. Seven Hearts

Week 9: 1. Speak when spoken to. 2. Speak the truth 3. Electric Women

Week 10: 1. Self Destruction 2.Hairless 3. The lessons we learn.

Week 11: Our own concepts.  My selected focus was ‘Memory.  I have written about the process of making this piece here.

Thursday Morning: CTV Battle…Feeling a anxiety hour after hour.

Week 12: 1. Zombie

Week 13: 1. Cowgirl 2: Liquidated Damages

Week 14: “She is pretty?”

Week #15: A Blue Line, Nacho Cheese, Think Not About Clothing

Week #16: I missed because I was enjoying Halloween festivities with my children.

Week#17: W.B. Yeats Poem and Memory

Week #18: The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

Week # 19:

P1080436 P1080440

Week # 20:


Photo Credit: Belinda Fireman

Photo Credit: Belinda Fireman

Uh oh!  I forgot about adding these…will at least hunt out the images, but don’t know that I can find the inspirational concepts.  Eventually, I will update all of this information.  I’ll try to get this back on track!

P1080849 P1080833

The blog post about the process creating the following painting on January 2, 2013 can be found here.

P1090211 P1090209

The blog post that describes the creation of the following painting, completed on January 9, 2013 can be found here.

P1090272 P1090277

The blog post that describes the creation of the following painting on January 23, 2013 can be found here.

Pour Into the Great Sea3Aaron

Photo Credit: Aaron McCullough of Red Dot Photography

Pour Into the Sea: Photo Credit: Belinda Fireman

Pour Into the Sea: Photo Credit: Belinda Fireman

January 30, 2013 Concepts: Fibonacci, Circus and the blog post about the process can be found here.

P1090386 P1090393

The blog post for the next painting, created on February 6, 2013, can be found here.

Kath and Henry 3

Henry Rollins

The blog post for the next painting, created on February 13, 2013 can be found here.

Do Not Be Afraid

Do Not Be Afraid

The blog post for the following painting, completed on February 27, 2013, can be found here.

The Peaceable Kingdom based on Isaiah 11

The Peaceable Kingdom based on Isaiah 11

March 13, 2013 I blog about the process for creating the following painting HERE.

P1090882 P1090888

March 20, 2013 I blog about the process for creating the following painting HERE.

P1090899 P1090898

March 27, 2013 I blog about the process for creating the following painting HERE.

P1100279 P1100284

The post that describes the process for painting the piece below on April 17, 2013 can be found here.


The post that describes the process for the painting created on May 1, 2013 can be found here.

May 1, 2013 Gorilla House

May 1, 2013 Gorilla House

The painting that I created May 8 is written about here.

May 8, 2013 Gorilla House

May 8, 2013 Gorilla House

Carrie and Me May 8, 2013 Gorilla House

Carrie and Kath  May 8, 2013 Gorilla House

The painting that I created on May 22nd, is written about here.

Ryan and Kath May 22 2013 Gorilla House

Ryan and Kath May 22 2013 Gorilla House

May 22, 2013 Gorilla House

May 22, 2013 Gorilla House

The painting that I created on August 7, is written about here.

August 7, 2013 Gorilla House

August 7, 2013 Gorilla House

Shannon and Kath August 7, 2013

Shannon and Kath August 7, 2013

The painting that I created on August 14, is written about here.

August 14, 2013 "Tame Me" Gorilla House

August 14, 2013 “Tame Me” Gorilla House


The painting that I created on August 21 is written about here.

August 21, 2013 Gorilla House

August 21, 2013 Gorilla House

P1120316The painting that I created on September 4 is written about here.

Rebecca September 4, 2013

Rebecca September 4, 2013

September 4, 2013 Gorilla House

September 4, 2013 Gorilla House

Gorilla House LIVE ART: September 11, 2013

When I selected a random photograph from the studio photographs by photographer, King, John Howard Havelock, 1873-1963, I was in a bit of a rush and had no time to conduct any research on the man I was about to paint.  Poet-writer-friend, Shannon and her partner, Lonnie DID share with me that they believed that Aatsista-Mahkan (Running Rabbit) was one of the Blackfoot Nation chiefs to sign Treaty 7.  I have included, below this entry, an historical context for the painting that I took on.

Given the short two hours allotted for painting at the Gorilla House, I see several flaws in my work, (most having to do with proportion) but I did feel as though the piece basically painted itself.  I didn’t feel stressed as I worked, but as the audience gathered at 9:00 for the auction, I really wondered if I would complete the piece.  At that point I had not painted the hands…and was picking away at a very small face.

A lesson we learn early in painting/drawing this subject matter is that the face is basically a hand’s length…and here we see the issue with my drawing.  Given studio time, this would be further analyzed and likely overworked.  Another thing that we learn in life drawing classes (with a focus on gesture and quick poses) it is acceptable to create a head, smaller in proportion with nondescript features, rather than to pick away at those sorts of details and sacrifice a strong gestural component.  Ideally, in ones practice, proportion becomes second nature.  Running Rabbit’s face needs to be wider, his head larger.  What happens in a situation like this, when the hands are portrayed larger than the face, is that the figure becomes foreshortened.

What drew me initially, to this image was the background used for the studio photograph…a romanticized water fall and large boulders in the foreground.  I intentionally excluded the background, pleased with the beautiful grain in the wood panel and how it felt to inform the piece.

Running Rabbit

ProportionIn the end, the piece was generously purchased at auction by Jordan, for his girlfriend.  This was a surprise for her and it was fun to be able to share thoughts with her about the Blackfoot Nation and its complexities over history.  The study of first nations history is obviously important to her.  Thank you, Jordan, for making two ladies happy.

P1120647 P1120650 P1120630 P1120632 P1120639

Hugh A. Dempsey, amazing historian and researcher, confirms this in his biographical summary located here.

AATSISTAMAHKAN (Running Rabbit), Blackfoot warrior, the leader of the Biters band, and a head chief of the tribe; b. c. 1833 in what is now central Alberta, son of Akamukai (Many Swans); had four wives and eleven children, the most prominent being Duck Chief, who later became a head chief; d. January 1911, probably on the 24th, on the Blackfoot Indian Reserve, Alta.

When Running Rabbit was a teenager, his elder brother Akamukai (Many Swans) was chief of the band. To encourage the young man to go to war, Many Swans lent him his spiritual protector, an amulet he had received through a vision. It consisted of a round mirror decorated with weasel skins and eagle and magpie feathers. On his first raid Running Rabbit captured two enemy horses, which he gave to his brother. Many Swans lent the amulet to him three more times and, because he was successful on each raid, finally gave it to him. During his career as a warrior, Running Rabbit killed 11 enemy in battle and captured numerous horses. People began calling him the “young chief” while he was still a teenager.

On the death of Many Swans, in the autumn of 1871, Running Rabbit became chief of the Biters band. A descendant described his leadership: “When Running Rabbit was among his band, his men were invited to eat, smoke, tell stories every day. He was generous. He gave his running horses out during hunts. Running Rabbit had four wives; two put up Sun Dances. He was kind to children and women.” Band members went to him to settle disputes. In the early 1870s, when the Blackfoot were camped on the Oldman River, the daughter of Crowfoot [Isapo-muxika*] was accidentally killed by a young man holding a loaded gun. The man immediately took refuge in Running Rabbit’s tepee because Crowfoot, one of the head chiefs, sought to kill him. Running Rabbit persuaded the chief that the shooting had been an accident and offered two of his own horses as compensation. He was a stern protector of his family, however. When an Indian began beating Running Rabbit’s blind brother with a whip, he shot and killed the man.

In 1877, along with Crowfoot, Old Sun [Natos-api*], and other leaders, Running Rabbit signed Treaty No.7 with the Canadian government on behalf of the Blackfoot tribe. He was appointed a minor chief and was listed as having 90 followers. By 1883 his band would number 156. In 1881, after the last buffalo herds had been destroyed, the Blackfoot were obliged to settle on their reserve, 60 miles east of what is now Calgary. Running Rabbit proved to be one of the chiefs who adapted to the new life most ambitiously. He camped near Blackfoot Crossing where he started a small garden and encouraged members of his band to become self-supporting. In 1887, after he had begun farming, he was particularly mentioned by Indian agent Magnus Begg as one of the Blackfoot who “deserve special mention as having worked well with their own ponies and with the work oxen.”

Running Rabbit was named one of the two head chiefs of the tribe in 1892, replacing the deceased No-okska-stumik (Three Bulls). He shared the leadership with Old Sun, but being much younger and more progressive, he often tended to speak for the entire reserve. He became known for his wisdom and his ability to remain free of intra-family problems. Besides controlling the tribal council with a firm hand, he continued to be a hard-working farmer. In 1898 he had his own wagon, mowing machine, and horse rake and had made enough money cutting and selling hay to buy a high-top buggy. He supported the introduction of cattle and the opening of coalmines.

Although the Blackfoot suffered bitter and difficult years after they settled on their reserve, Running Rabbit was a chief who was respected both by his people and by the government. At his death in 1911, he was compared to such great leaders as Crowfoot and Old Sun.

Hugh A. Dempsey

A portrait of Running Rabbit, painted in 1907 by Edmund Montague Morris, is in the Ethnology Dept. of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (Edmund Morris coll., HK 2408), and the PAM holds a photograph of the chief. Both portraits are reproduced in The diaries of Edmund Montague Morris; western journeys, 1907–1910, transcribed by Mary FitzGibbon (Toronto, 1985), 19.

Canadian Museum of Civilization Library (Hull, Que.), Doc. coll. sect., Julian and Jane Hanks papers, box 301, file 10, esp. p.31 (Julian Hanks, interview with Spumiapi [a descendant of Running Rabbit] via Mary White Elk, 3 Sept. [1939]). Arni Brownstone, War paint: Blackfoot and Sarcee painted buffalo robes in the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, 1993). Can., Dept. of Indian Affairs, Annual report (Ottawa), 1887: 100; 1898: 126. J. [S.] McGill, “The Indian portraits of Edmund Morris,” Beaver, outfit 310 (1979–80), no.1: 34–41.

The following information was located here. Aatsista-Mahkan or Running Rabbit (c. 1833 – probably 24 January 1911) was a chief of the Blackfoot First Nation.

The Blackfoot Confederacy is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana. They were called “blackfoot” because they chose not to wear shoes.

The Blackfoot Confederacy consists of the North Peigan (Aapatohsipiikanii), the South Peigan (Aamsskaapipiikanii), the Kainai Nation (Blood), and the Siksika Nation (“Blackfoot”) or more correctly Siksikawa (“Blackfoot people”). The South Peigan are located in Montana, and the other three are located in Alberta. Together they call themselves the Niitsitapii (the “Real People”). These groups shared a common language and culture, had treaties of mutual defense, and freely intermarried.

It is also speculated that “Blackfoot Cherokee” refers to a band of Cherokees that had black ancestry, most likely from the adoption of escaped slaves into their society. This band of Cherokees of course have no connection to the Blackfoot nations.

Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 2, 2013

Cold wind. Grey skies. Zillions of sparrows eating their feathers full at the feeder…snow in the weather reports.  Dark cloud zooming from the west.  Yellow light of sun on the horizon, smothered in vertical bands of rain, racing this way. Spaghetti dinner with my cousin.  Watching the cat across the street tossing its prize again and again in the air.  Thinking about elephants…

I packed up my art stuff and headed down to paint.  A deck of Edward Gorey Fantod cards became the generator for the three concepts.

Echorche Urn Yellow BirdI had already decided to make some sort of observance of the fact that there is going to be a March to Save the Elephant on October 4…I wanted to have people at the Gorilla House, artists and audience combined…bring the plight of the elephant to the forefront…just for an evening.  So, in combination with the Yellow Bird image in Gorey’s cards…I proceeded to draw and paint.

“Whoever has seen these giants marching across the last free open spaces of the world knows that this is something that must not be lost.”
– Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven

We are in a world that is agitating with loss…species...glaciers…my mother.  Concerning this, I am not an alarmist and I am not a pessimist.  In fact, I live in hope…but most certainly for things ‘not of this world’.

The three archetypes shared with Gorey DID generate some connections for me while I worked.  The Gorilla House concepts always do!  The Urn as a metaphor…a container for what remains and L’ecorche…humanity, exposed…at its core (the bad and good of it).  The Yellow Bird…my mother’s song…my father’s whistle…the bright hope, small but apparent.  I thought also of the canary in the cage…the small warning of a big catastrophe in the mines, the pits that we dig for ourselves.  (apologies for the scattered images of last evening…but I pulled it together and it became this)  Thank you to Taylor for purchasing this piece at auction and to Teri for wanting it.

P1130240 P1130243 P1130245

Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 9, 2013

I know. I know.  You didn’t see me there!  But, I was!  I ran over to Home Depot to get my board at 6:15…I got it on half price because I convinced the lady at the check out that it was the only one in the bin like it and, “Look!  It has this flaw on the back!”  No problem…$4.30.  Awesome!

My wonderful cousin was in town…I pulled my paints out and started my work at 7:00 sharp.  I thought about all my Gorilla House peeps and the huge energy that one feels as the artists get started and the audience has stepped in for the first time.  We turned on some Gretchen Peters music and Margy set up her panel on the feast table across from me.  It was just a terrifically magical time.  In the middle of my painting frenzy, my cousin dearest poured me a bubbly ice water, something we both enjoy on our relax times together.

I have no idea the concepts of ‘The House’…I was continuing on with my series of Studio Chiefs, this one Chief Eagle Calf of the Blackfoot Confederacy.  I liked how the wood panel informed the piece.  I worked until 9:30 and then stopped, knowing that down town, the auction had begun.  It was a glorious night of painting.  This one will be up for auction next week at GH.  This evening proved that you can take the artist out of the Gorilla House, but you can’t take the Gorilla out of the artist!

I found this descriptor on the back of a photograph of Chief Eagle Calf, also known as John Ground, on the back of an old photograph that was sold on E Bay.  I feel sad about the sort of spectacle that is intended by this description.  I honour this great man with my prayer blessings.

Chief Eagle Calf 3Chief Eagle Calf was also present with three other chiefs at the home of Robert E. Lee.  Here, the four chiefs signed their names with pictographs.  The following information has been collected from here.

A contingent of Blackfeet leaders from Glacier National Park, likely in Washington on tribal business visited the Confederate veterans home in Richmond on May 19, 1914. All have signed the book with their pictograph as follows:

CHIEF EAGLE CALF Also known as John Ground. (CHIEF)

Two Guns White Calf (1872-1934), a Blackfoot chief, is best remembered as a model for the “Buffalo Nickel.” The face which appears on the nickel was actually a composite image made from the likenesses of three Native Americans, including Two Guns. Designed by James Earle Fraser, the coin was first issued in 1913. Two Guns always maintained that he was indeed the sole model for the image on the coin and gained celebrity for this association. He was, for many years, the public face of Northern Pacific Railroad, whose advertisements billed him as the model for the coin, and a major attraction for the tourists who visited Glacier National Park. 

Chief Eagle Calf 2Chief Eagle Calf 5If you are interested in this piece, please come down to the Gorilla House next Wednesday when I will be painting LIVE.

P1130334 P1130335 P1130336 I am grateful for the support and love of my family.

Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 16, 2013

Rosa Lone Woman Heavy Breast, daughter of Calf Robe and First Strike, wife of Owen Heavy Breast of the Pikuni Blackfeet collides with the words from the Bee Meeting by Sylvia Plath.

I was late, as is usual these days.  I couldn’t find a sheet of 1/4″ plywood…a disappointment…but purchased the 1/2″ thickness instead.  I wanted to paint a female this evening. I chose Rosa Lone Woman Heavy Breast. Her name described my present state of mind.  I liked her posture…her ease…the enjoyment of sitting ‘in this photograph’ having a smoke.

I worked from a photograph that exists in a collection of eight negatives.

Title Mrs. Heavy Breast
Subject Photography Negatives
Blackfeet (USA)
Blackfeet (USA) – Personalities
Blackfeet (USA) – Women
Blackfeet (USA) – Clothing
Description A Blackfeet woman wearing an elk teeth dress and earrings, sitting down and smoking. Note: Photograph of a photograph.
Creator Thomas B. Magee, 1862-1930; Henry L. Magee, 1896-1966
Contributors University of Lethbridge
Date c. 1910-1945

The story of her husband, Owen Heavy Breast is located on the Blackfeet Digital Library.

Father: Heavy Breast
Mother: Tall Nose
Wife: Rosie Heavy Breast (Lone Woman) No children.

Owen and his wife Rosie were successful farmers and ranchers. Owen and his wife had two Medicine pipe bundles, a Horned Weasel Headdress & a Weasel Shirt. Owen was also a member of the Shriners of Montana and the Masons of which he was very proud. Owen was very well known not only within the tribe but also with many outside officials. He often traveled with delegations around the United States.

Last evening, at the Gorilla House, I incorporated RED and this is of huge significance to me, given that I’ve been painting in very muted and neutral palettes since we lost my Mom.  Interesting though, I had squeezed out some red on my palette last week during one of my prayer times at the feast table.  I was praying a new layer of my prayer mandala at the time.  I hadn’t thought about any of this until this morning.  In fact, Rosa is painted in a very similar palette to the mandala.  The act of painting is contributing to my healing…I know it.

P1130464If my readers will bear with me, I am posting the Bee Meeting in its entirety, but the truly impacting words offered up as a Battle concept last evening, came from page 51 of Plath’s Selected Poems…the final stanza.  While I will not go into the details of how I relate with the words of this poem, suffice it to say that I experience ‘recognition’ as I read the complete poem.  The following text, in blue, is written on the panel.

I am exhausted, I am exhausted –
Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.
I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands.
Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished,
why am I cold.

The Bee Meeting

Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? They are the
The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees.
In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection,
And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me?
They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats.

I am nude as a chicken neck, does nobody love me?
Yes, here is the secretary of bees with her white shop smock,
Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees.
Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice.
Thev will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.

Which is the rector now, is it that man in black?
Which is the midwife, is that her blue coat?
Everybody is nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors,
Breastplates of cheesecloth knotted under the armpits.
Their smiles and their voices are changing. I am led through a beanfield.

Strips of tinfoil winking like people,
Feather dusters fanning their hands in a sea of bean flowers,
Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts.
Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string?
No, no, it is scarlet flowers that will one day be edible.

Now they are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat
And a black veil that molds to my face, they are making me one of them.
They are leading me to the shorn grove, the circle of hives.
Is it the hawthorn that smells so sick?
The barren body of hawthorn, etherizing its children.

Is it some operation that is taking place?
It is the surgeon my neighbors are waiting for,
This apparition in a green helmet,
Shining gloves and white suit.
Is it the butcher, the grocer, the postman, someone I know?

I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse hurts me
With its yellow purses, its spiky armory.
I could not run without having to run forever.
The white hive is snug as a virgin,
Sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.

Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove.
The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything.
Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics.
If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley,
A gullible head untouched by their animosity,

Not even nodding, a personage in a hedgerow.
The villagers open the chambers, they are hunting the queen.
Is she hiding, is she eating honey? She is very clever.
She is old, old, old, she must live another year, and she knows it.
While in their fingerjoint cells the new virgins

Dream of a duel they will win inevitably,
A curtain of wax dividing them from the bride flight,
The upflight of the murderess into a heaven that loves her.
The villagers are moving the virgins, there will be no killing.
The old queen does not show herself, is she so ungrateful?

I am exhausted, I am exhausted –
Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.
I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands.
Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished,
why am I cold.

3 October 1962

Thanks to Cheryl Todd Shergold who generously purchased last week’s, Chief Eagle Calf and last night’s Rosa at auction!  Thanks also to Tyler who has recommended for us the reading of Black Elk Speaks by John G. Niehardt  While this section of my personal library is swollen and moving beyond the shelf, this is one that I’ve intended to read for years.

P1130455 P1130459

Photo Credit: Cheryl Todd Shergold  Two treasures find their way into an inspiring artist's studio.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Todd Shergold Two treasures find their way into an inspiring artist’s studio.

“You have noticed that the truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing face is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better for them to see.”
Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 23, 2013

Late again. It had something to do with my dog, Max, and getting him out for some good exercise.  We lost track of time…this, after an afternoon raking leaves, cutting back the perennials and mixing new soil into the flower beds.  I emptied and hosed down the shed and took some photos of items that need to go on Kijiji.  It was a very physical and productive afternoon.

As a result of my conversation with the little lady at the cash at Home Depot last Wednesday, the bins were well-stalked with 1/4″ plywood, so I bought two panels.  Whoot! And off I went.  Upon arrival, I set up my easel, but then went about visiting with my artist-friends.  It was nice to see Rich after his trip to LA.  He was spilling over about the Getty Foundation and started in about a spontaneous drive with vans and trucks loaded with Gorilla House artists.  His enthusiasm, as always, made me smile inside.

I pulled a big wash of black paint over the board…mostly transparent so that the beautiful grain would show through and inform the piece.  I then walked away from the board so that it would dry and I might be able to work into it with a piece of white conte.

Thank you to the beautiful lady who makes popcorn every week.  I munched on popcorn and watched audience members approach the board and talk about it.  I listened to their analysis and predictions and marveled at what ‘viewing the process’ does for people.  With some, I had fun little conversations…with others I just observed.  Magic!

The new show in ‘the house’ features Jeff Watt’s work and it is a powerful collection!  I hope that if you have a love for colour and pattern, you will find your way down to the Gorilla House.

P1130753 P1130754 P1130757The three motivating concepts…and I chose, “Make art. Share love.”

P1130719 P1130720 P1130724Our auctioneer, Bassano del Grappa (an alter-ego), does a fantastic work for the Gorilla House…with his monologues/perceptions of life and art,  his entertaining and perceptive visits with artists and audience alike and his constantly-developing skill at auction, our experience is funtastic!  I knew he had to be featured in this one!

BassanoAnd…what else?  A gorilla!  I began by applying the ‘Bassano del Grappa’ collage bits and progressed with layering of paint…from dark to light…creating depth and texture until the giant beast emerged.  Thank you to Matt for purchasing this piece at auction.

P1130735 P1130738 P1130740

Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 30, 2013 A Perfect Day

As my readers know, last week we lost Lewis Allan (Lou) Reed.  The inspiration for last night’s painting were Lou Reed Lyrics.  I wasn’t feeling up for attending OR painting last night, but ironically enough, it was my father on some form of social media messaging, who encouraged me.  Beautiful, Dad.  It was good to paint.  Now, for the back-story on the poppies.

As a junior high teacher, I had attended, over the years, too many funerals for my students.  I have recently lost Jessica…and Sheri many years back…but so many boys, other people’s sons.  Visiting a funeral home along with other teachers, greeting families at the loss of their child, was surreal over and over again.  When Jarrett passed, I painted a show titled Pieces of Gold: A Tribute to Two Sons…and then when Chris and Peter passed in a tragic accident out highway 22X on October 22 of 1997, I began painting furiously in my studio.  One of the lines in Peter’s obituary…”One of Peter’s favourite hobbies was sketching.”

I painted large scale oriental poppies…approaching Remembrance Day that year…I simply wanted to remember.  Born in 1979, how was it possible that such young lights had been snuffed out?  I was having a very difficult time with the tragedy that other families were suffering and was fearful for my own children.  When I painted red, I painted the pain, sadness, utter joy of life and the history of children…the huge impact that they have in our lives.  No issue between children and their families can stand in the way of love.  Mothers…fathers…love your children.  Do the best you can.





I saw my work as a tribute and felt that I could ‘work’ the struggle away.  Recently, a dear friend mentioned my poppy paintings…the Red Green Show came to mind, so it was only instinct that as a tribute to Lou Reed, I paint a poppy and after months of neutral colour, at the loss of Mom, I squeezed red out onto my palette.

I wrote the complete lyrics to A Perfect Day in gold text from top to bottom.  The words poured out of me.  With white chalk, I sketched in the two blooms…one about to burst open and shed it’s protective cover, the other, fully open.  Thank you to Phil and Laila who purchased the piece at auction.  Remember.

P1130962 P1130964

Phil and Laila

Phil and Laila



Just a perfect day
drink Sangria in the park
And then later
when it gets dark, we go home

Just a perfect day
feed animals in the zoo
Then later
a movie, too, and then home

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spend it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
it’s such fun

Just a perfect day
you made me forget myself
I thought I was
someone else, someone good

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow


Gorilla House LIVE ART: November 13, 2013

I spent my daytime hours painting a soldier…a young lad from Newfoundland; he was deployed to Cyprus and separated from his family.  He suffered huge loss and died very young…before his time.  As I painted, I felt as though I was immersed in his life.  My efforts were more to honour his life in each stroke of paint, than to ‘do a painting’….a prayer, I guess.

Words adhered to the panel came from Walt Whitman’s preface to The Leaves of Grass…

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured … others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches … and shall master all attachment.

I think those words are powerful and certainly apply…I experienced them at my core.

So, having spent a day in this manner, I was ready to cut loose at the Gorilla House.  Artists had already been notified that our concepts of the evening would conclude with “…but Heavy Metal made me do it.”  I went in search of references for a pop culture figure that people would easily recognize, thinking I’d like to represent also, some form of robot.  Clearly, I didn’t want to focus on the Heavy Metal sound…but rather, on a metaphor for the sound.

I chose Master Chief, after a number of suggestions.  Tyler, thanks for the idea.   Anyone who has encountered Halo will be familiar with the character, especially gamers and those with gamers in their lives.

I began by creating a series of block letters…I don’t know where this idea came from.  The experience of Gorilla House-painting is always surprising.  Without measuring, this process went easily.  Friend and artist, Jen and I were discussing how the world of graphic art has changed over time and the fact that fonts are designed through computer imaging where as ‘in the day’ letters and signage was done manually.  Quite a shift over years.

I laid my guide down quickly in pencil and then the words, R.E.S.P.E.C.T, REACH and in cursive, Forward Unto Dawn…and the selected theme of the evening, coming from Dylan in 1966.  “I never wanted to be a prophet or a savior...but Heavy Metal made me do it.”

Block LettersThe words all have some sort of connection with the Halo game, but also speak to me in a completely different context.  So, this painting is really a clash between two different worlds or realities. Master Chief, the other-worldly soldier, was a pleasure to quickly block in and paint before the end of the two hour session.  I am grateful to Cherise who purchased this piece at auction.


For the non-Halo player, this from Wikipedia.

Halo 4 is a 2012 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. The game was released in most territories worldwide on November 6, 2012. Halo 4s story begins four years after the ending of Halo 3; the player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier. The story is mainly set on a Forerunner planet, where Master Chief encounters the collection of alien races known as the Covenant and ancient warriors of the Forerunner empire known as the Prometheans. Master Chief is accompanied by the artificial intelligence construct Cortana.

Setting and characters

Halo 4 takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting in the year 2557, four years after the events of Halo 3.[21] Backstory details that hundreds of thousands of years before the modern era, humans were one of several interstellar civilizations. Following a war with the parasitic Flood, the humans came into conflict with the Forerunners, a powerful race that upheld the Mantle of Responsibility, a policy of benevolent shepherding of other races. After years of conflict the Forerunners defeated the humans and stripped them of their technology and empire. The Forerunners soon fought the Flood themselves; after exhausting every other strategic option available to them, the Forerunners activated weapons of mass destruction known as the Halo Array. The Array’s firing killed all sentient life in the galaxy to deprive the Flood of their food. Life that the Forerunners catalogued was then reseeded throughout the galaxy.[22][23]

In the 26th century, space-faring humanity (organized under the United Nations Space Command, or UNSC) comes under attack from the Covenant, an alien collective of species that worships the Forerunners as gods. The Covenant believe that activating the Halos will bring about salvation, not destruction.[24] The human supersoldier Master Chief John-117, along with his artificial intelligence companion Cortana, are instrumental in stopping the Halos from being activated, and the Flood from once again menacing the galaxy. At the end of Halo 3, Chief and Cortana are left stranded in unknown space aboard the remains of the vessel Forward Unto Dawn.[25] Much of Halo 4s campaign and Spartan Ops’ missions take place on or near the Forerunner planet Requiem. Part of the game also takes place on Ivanoff Research Station—a human base in orbit around the Halo ringworld Installation 03—and in Earth’s orbit.

P1140057 P1140058 P1140063

Gorilla House LIVE ART: November 20, 2013

I began writing this post at 3:33.  Cool.

I heated up a bowl of cream of mushroom soup for lunch.  It was prepared the way Mom used to do it (apart from the addition of a can of water) when we were just wee things.  I sat at the large feast table by myself and pretty much ruminated the soup away, with thoughts of Mom and her love and care of me.

P11401590019_###After that, I spent the afternoon on my kitchen floor, working on a painting of a soldier and his daughter.  It should be finished this weekend.  Max and I took off for the off leash park and while my lashes froze during that one, I enjoyed getting up and moving after the intensity of my afternoon work-out. Painting is a huge work-out, the way I look at it.

I hesitated to go down to the Gorilla House because of the cold.  In the end, I made the trip out of commitment to myself and my friends who also attend every week.  It has something to do with the practice…the community…and the brain gym.

All of the driving concepts had to do with Mathematics… Game Theory and Deformation Theory (something to do with P).  HUH?    Math was a struggle for me in school…a struggle last night as well.  In the end, I thought simply of the relationship of a mother to her child.  Is that in any way mathematical?  Thanks to Rich for picking this one up at auction.  I was glad to see you, Angie. Be better. Thanks, Bruce, for the beverage.  Congratulations, Jess, on getting those cards done!

P1140177I finished writing this at 4:03…and that, with a consoling conversation with daughter.  I love you, Erin.

Gorilla House LIVE ART: November 27, 2013

I was distracted by all sorts of things after my day of guest teaching.  There were so many things going on that I lost track of time.  An interesting concept…LOSING TRACK OF TIME.

In a couple of the language arts classes yesterday, the students were reading chapters from their novels and this gave me opportunity to read from mine.  I always try to carry a novel with me, but most often don’t have the chance, during the day, to read.  I had finished  A Rhinestone Button by Gail Anderson-Dargatz the night before and so selected one l had picked up at a second hand shop some time ago. Amazing book!  My Mother’s Ghost by Fergus M. Bordewich!  A memoir, this book fell into my hands when I most needed it.  The thing is…the intensity and the authentic voice, somehow impacted the way I saw everything after setting the book down.  Honestly, for me, this is an always-event, when I am reading a well written book.

I realize that I spend an excessive amount of time considering family, family history, family stories, family records and family photographs…and I am always seeking out a resolution to this sense of nostalgia and memory that pervades most things I do.  Fergus M. Brodewich seemed to be on the very same road in his novel…and so, more than once, my eye brows turned up.  His is a memoir that deals almost exclusively with the resolution of reality and memory.  A rich amazing story!

The story stuck…and so, I painted it.

My focus…the John Lennon lyric, In My Life.

There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all

And with all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these mem’ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

And I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I loved you more

And I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I loved you more
In my life I loved you more

I pulled out the iconic photograph of Yoko Ono and John Lennon taken by Annie Leibovitz, hoping to capture, in a painted sketch, the contrast of light world resting up against dark and to allow the wood grain to inform that composition.  I didn’t particularly want to go into a busy social environment…I was feeling pretty singular…so, I pulled out pencils and did some sketching at home.
It was quite late when I headed down to ‘the house’…and I only had about an hour to paint ‘this thing’.  I was grateful to find a fairly quiet place next to my friend, Jen, at the table…my back to a wall…a very rare experience when painting in that public space.  I had a couple of  conversations with people.  I treasure those.  (Jen finished early and she headed across the street to her apartment to pick up her four liter of chocolate milk to share with people at the Gorilla House…she just didn’t think that there was any way she could drink it all before the stale date.  I share this wee tale because it gives you the idea of how close knit we’ve become at the Gorilla House.)  Last night, painting was a quiet, introspective act.
Thank you to Teresa, for purchasing my piece at auction.  Thank you, Rich Theroux, for the hug and to Enriquito for being there.  Thank you, to the dear lady who is taking painting lessons at the Kirby Center…”I so appreciated your conversation and your dream to attend Thursday figure drawing.  I chatted with you for a good while.  I took your photograph while you sat in front of the beautiful purple canvas.”

4 thoughts on “Paintings: Gorilla House LIVE ART Battles

  1. Hi Ms. Moors,
    I love your painting “Do not be afraid”. It is very calming as Jesus calms the waters. You have a lovely and extensive website. I am Raj Sundaram’s Mom from Cardinal Newman School
    God Bless!
    Maya Sundaram

    • Maya, thank you so much for visiting my blog…and thank you for taking a peek at my art work. I was sad to see that particular painting sell at auction because I also liked the message…some days are very troubling, but those waters will also be calmed. Bless you!

  2. Pingback: Something Fishy | The Chapel

  3. Pingback: Beyond Remembering | The Chapel

Leave a Reply