The car got a detailing. I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max. I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble. It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.
Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.
Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow. Alexander Eliot
I sat in City Hall for much of yesterday afternoon in order to get a Building Permit. Then, I crawled home on Deerfoot Trail because of an accident somewhere near Anderson. Max and I did a quick neighbourhood walk and then, crackers and cheese in tow, I headed back down to the core for the Rumble.
It’s nice when you just ease into ‘the house’. I had been looking forward to painting my great blue whale and buoy throughout the week. The image has been alive in me and the outcome of this remarkable animal, caught in a web of fish net out at sea, has been concerning. The story, as covered by the news, has just dissipated with the calling off of the search.
It was a peaceful evening, painting. The gathering was small, but productive. One of the inspiring pieces was a poem from Maya Angelou, titled Old Folks Laugh.
Old Folks Laugh
They have spent their
content of simpering,
holding their lips this
and that way, winding
the lines between
their brows. Old folks
allow their bellies to jiggle like slow
rise up and spill
over any way they want. When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and the worst
Saliva glistens in
the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble
on brittle necks, but
are filled with memories.
When old folks laugh, they consider the promise
of dear painless death, and generously
forgive life for happening
by Maya Angelou
The line that would be incorporated into my piece would be, “When old folks laugh, they free the world.”
We can’t see beneath the surface of the beautiful and endless oceans. We do not take pause and think about the rivers that are constantly finding their way to the sea. A mirror, the water reflects the sky. There is a forever-drift of life beneath the blue. But, we forget. In all of our wild consumption and progress, we do not remember the life that gasps for breath, but is hidden from us.
Last night, I wanted to meditate and to remember. Thanks to Benjamin who purchased this piece at auction.
On the autumn equinox, we gathered at the Rumble House to celebrate our love of art, family and friends. It’s as though a magnet drew us to the Rumble. For one last time, we could paint with Enriquito, laugh and cry. Life is marked by “Happy Birthdays” and tears. Last night it was so…we offered up another good-bye. Selfismo, we love you.
I was quite late AGAIN…but I got started on a very long panel and will finish it next week at the battle. I enjoyed conversation and the support of my friend, Michael. I tackled a subject that I’ve wanted to paint over the last few weeks, but instead focused, on completing Chief Poundmaker. It was great to connect with Dylan last night.
And…onto the next painting.
A few weeks ago I was following the story of a great blue whale that had become trapped in fishing line and was showing signs of distress. A search began to assist the whale, but once the weather had changed for the worse, the search was called off and the news story disappeared.
It isn’t any sort of secret what would be the demise of the blue whale, if not helped…it would be an exhaustive death and a drowning. A disappearance. A good-bye.
Crews Try to Save Blue Whale Trapped in Netting
“Whale watchers first saw the leviathan — estimated to be about 75-feet long — about five miles south of Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro. It was pulling about 300 feet of line attached to a buoy, Salas said.
“We’ve seen a lot of blue whales these past few months, and everything seemed ordinary at first, but then our captain noticed the whale was dragging a buoy,” said Salas, who has been in the whale-watching business since 1990. “We immediately notified the Coast Guard and NOAA, and our captain stayed with the whale.”
Salas said the whale has been swimming, diving for the krill it feeds on and breathing regularly.
Blue whales are the largest mammals on earth and are thought to be the largest mammals to have ever lived on the planet.”
Later…CBS Los Angeles wrote ‘The rescuers tied a second, larger buoy to the buoy line to more easily keep tabs on the whale.’
Fishing nets and gear are a huge challenge to cetaceans and again, because the story of the sea is not visible to us, citizens of the world forget or push the sad facts out of consciousness. What of our covenant with nature…what of our covenant with God?
The painting is in progress and will be completed next Rumble on September 30th. I want the piece to capture a dynamic between the pristine environment seen from the surface and the tension of the impact of our consumption and our disregard. Stay tuned.
Last night, I really spent time looking around the room at the faces of these people I love. I appreciate the thoughtful sharing of chicken enchiladas prepared by Christine…and chocolate cake provided by ‘the house’. Every week, we share and build a narrative and I am so grateful for being a wee piece of the family. Thank you, Rich and Jess.
Beautiful yellow lion.
Surrounded by Enriquito.
Morgan’s tribute piece.
Father and son…
First time at the auction…Megan….and always artists and audience, stepping up to take on the mic at auction.
Nick…and only one more week to see the show at Essentia! Go!
An animated conversation broke out…and often does…discussion about the Enriquito portraits series painted by An Dong.
Loving words spoken at the microphone…look at those faces.
Our missionary-artist…quotes beautiful scripture with us every time she attends. She is embraced. Ethiopia is her next stop.
And then we broke out in singing Happy Birthday! Tears started in many of us…I was thinking after singing, ‘how many of our group miss singing that song with their own family each year?’ It was very powerful! Happy birthday, Cam…and thank you for all you contribute to this on-going vision.
Internationally recognized artist, Francis Wiley, is a gift to us as well. Follow his events and projects here in Calgary. We are blessed to have him!
Nick always explores literature with us…formerly, Lewis Carroll and last night, A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
Enriquito’s last painting at auction and appropriately, Eileen won. The room went silent.
I painted a two-hour Rumble in my kitchen on Wednesday afternoon. I want to paint Chief Poundmaker as an offering to Dylan, for his continued success on a positive and rewarding journey. For now, life seems to be blessed and it is because of some great choices. I first met Dylan at the Gorilla House, while painting my studio chief sketches and so, it came to be that he shared his story.
Needless to say, the painting was not accomplished in two hours and so I took the panel with me to the Rumble, thinking I might complete it then. Nopers. With the whirl of activity and lacking intense focus, I knew that I would be putting a soulful effort in at home, again. It’s still not complete, as I make the effort to achieve a satisfying likeness. This is just important to me. I am writing this blog as more work is happening and while drinking my morning coffee. I’ve decided, however, to get the post about Wednesday night on my blog, with the painting in progress. Otherwise, my readers won’t see the archive of work and enthusiasm that was poured into our latest Rumble.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Even in our Rumble House community, we are thinking about what it means to belong. We gather in this tiny venue, and share a powerful sense of being a part of something. We accept one another, laugh with one another and talk about extraordinary things. When one of our community is in pain, we support and uplift. It is interesting that art is our connective tissue.
Last night, I didn’t participate in the auction…my piece was largely incomplete. One of the themes of the night was ‘Take Down the Walls’.
Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”
I’m very-much interested in research and the production of a body of work based on the historical plight of British Home Children. My readers may or may not think that this is a part of history to reflect upon…it doesn’t matter. It is relevant because it is a part of MY story. I am a descendant and find this story on my family line, along with so many other diverse stories, an important one. From the Library and Archives of Canada….this.
As we enjoy our sense of community and security, we need to remember that we are blessed. We must remember that colonization impacted the homes of others and be respectful of that impact always. We must remember that our security has been built upon the backs of hard workers and indentured workers, as well as slaves and upon the opportunities that were and are afforded us as a part of democracy. These gifts must never be taken for granted.
Here are some photographs of an awesome community of artists who are doing a great job supporting one another through various life journeys.
I was late and when I arrived, I was kind of jostling and trying to find a spot to sit. The proper etiquette at Rumble House is to arrive in time to set up and when the artists are painting, yes, interact, but don’t blow the beautiful flow of painting and creating that is happening at the time. I was ‘the bull’. Thanks to Jess and Rich for helping me get sorted.
I sat to paint, but had been filled with a bit of a melancholy all day. I never really know how it’s going to go. Do any of us?
Presently, I’m listening to Vance Joy’s music on Youtube. It’s beautiful. Thanks, Jess. Two mamas have a little teeny son, August, and Jess woke at 4:00 a.m. with the sweetheart and listened to this. Such a beautiful song…and it leads to others. There is so much amazing joy in being engaged with life…but, there is also huge struggle. Yesterday, my cousin Jaime’s words of sadness and loss hit me very hard as well. The experiences that we are offered and challenged to face with grace and gratitude are limitless. Cayley has told me that I’m a bit of an empathic, so again, I feel a lot of this in my bones.
I went out on my walk at Frank’s Flats yesterday early afternoon and the extreme variety of life experiences was exemplified in the glorious and the gut-wrenching pain to be found in nature. I stalked the great blue heron that had been perching for the past week or so at the pond’s edge…a very nervous bird who shifted its location at the sound of the train or a person walking the path some distance away…agitated…so powerful in flight…so truly amazing in its structure and appearance.
Eventually, I grabbed some shots, not technically astute, but a testament to what I experience daily at the flats.
Last night, I tackled a very small panel. I combined a feeling of the claustrophobic experience of grey skies blanketing the sun these last many days due to raging forest fires in Washington, Oregon…dangerously dry country, it seems, everywhere this summer and this bird raising up out of loss and injury and finding wings to fly. I made an effort to shift the consciousness and to honour the life energy of a single bird.
Congratulations to Jess Szabo on her exhibit of last night. I’m looking forward to Changing Face, featuring artists Daniel Audet, Amy Gaulin, Aaron Sidorenko, Rich Theroux, Nick Rooney, Brian Flynn, Doug Nhung, Ness Nelson and Shon Anderson.
I was glad to have connected with Andrea, who took this bird home after auction. She has such enthusiasm and such an ability to project hope in otherwise hopeless situations.
I love the energy of the people at Rumble House. Enriquito, my heart is for you on this journey. If I can give support, your Godmother-in-art is here for you.
One of my favourite people tonight…Kai, featured here with his painting of Smudge the Shark.
Rumble House has managed through a summer of floods, four of them…hail and hassle of every sort. Rich and Jess have managed to negotiate their way through the number of revisions that had to be made to the space, based on damage of infrastructure. They have done a great job and the space is beautifully changed, more spacious and organized. It’s been a strange summer for me as well, having to react to a number of events, beginning with my Max’s injury and then my own broken foot on July 2nd. Rich and I were talking a little about calamity last night and we agreed that sometimes calamity causes our greatest creativity and active engagement. We go places.
Some years ago, my son and I traveled a journey that I loosely named our ‘Manifest Destiny’ journey. I finished watching four seasons of Hell on Wheels recently and the trip that James and I took wove through several of the locations featured in this series.
The trek began when we dipped south to visit Sainte-Marie among the Hurons where eight Jesuit missionaries lived, worked and were eventually martyred. To stand in this place is to recognize, with complete clarity, the collision of two cultures both operating from a sense of protection of their own ways and intentions. It is an example of colonization and all that can be anticipated as a result.
We then crossed the border into the United States, drove through the land where Dances With Wolves was filmed, saw Mount Rushmore, traveled through the Black Hills, all while listening to Louis L’Amour stories on book tape. We stood overlooking the hills of Little Big Horn. We slept in a cheap hotel room in Deadwood and we drove through the Bad Lands. It was an amazing trip, ending with the sharing of a jug bottle of beer in Billings, Montana.
It was another place riddled with a history of the ‘wild’ west…and so much of it rooted in tragedy. It was the first time that I really thought about a lot of things. There were huge issues that I had already read about, feeling very sad about the choices of the past, but helpless to change any of them. One of the personalities that came to mind once we hit Deadwood was a woman of the west, Calamity Jane. Last night I painted from one of the photo references that is an early portrait. Thank you to Teresa for purchasing Calamity at auction.
Last night I painted her.
I am grateful for the people I bump into at the Rumble. They have become ‘characters’ of my own life…friends…hard workers…creatives.
Calamity Jane…what is fact and what is fiction?
What is the history that we are creating as individuals and collectively?
Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich became the subject of my Rumble House painting last evening. It was a lovely crowd who showed up after Rich and Jess being featured in both a Metro piece and a CBC live painting experience this past week.
I’ve done a few little sketches based on the 30s ladies since Rumble opened. I always thought of my own mother as being pretty glamorous, absolutely loving the evenings in the 50s when she would dawn her satin and crinolines and join Dad for her New Years Eve celebrations. I loved how she penciled over her eyebrows and traced her lips with her lipstick. There was never a woman who worked harder in her home and with her children, but she could seamlessly transform herself for those special evenings, sewing every outfit so that it looked store-bought. I remember when she was pregnant for my brother Stuart, how she sewed a black accordion pleated top in shimmering black and edged it in rabbit’s fur. She wore a simple black pearl pendant. Oh my goodness, she was beautiful!
I liked the particular approach to photography at the time. In fact, last evening, photographer, Francis A. Willey was in attendance at Rumble House and completed one of a series of confessional paintings. His photographs are well known around Calgary and he has achieved international recognition for his diverse talents. I’ve met him at a number of events in the city and it was great to see him out. His photographs include a body of work that features this particular sort of romanticism that I am writing about.
Photo Credit: Francis A. Willey
I chose Marlene Dietrich as a subject because she is such an icon of the period, however, in only an hour and fifteen minutes, the piece is a gesture of what the reference demanded. I liked the process of moving quickly from the darkest darks into the light, although, the sketch is hard edged in comparison to a studio piece that would involve the application of more layers and washes. I liked working beside Melanie who was working on a portrait in water colour pencils, with tremendous success. She had a very positive energy and sitting next to the turn table, listening to hypnotic and sexy tunes, we had a beautiful evening of it. Thanks to friend, Bana, for her purchase of this piece at auction.
Today, in Calgary, we experienced extreme weather. I know that we react excessively to changing weather, but today I feel compelled to describe that I, in fact, for the first time in my sixty years, saw a funnel cloud and watched it, ominous, in the western sky and that I did feel that what I was seeing was apocalyptic in nature. To know that there is such power in weather is a revelation when it is your own experience and not a feature on a news story elsewhere. I watched golf ball sized hail drop on my yard, bashing trees and creating a sound I have never heard. It was a day of amazing moments.
A beautiful friend offered to drive me down to Rumble House this evening and to pick me up again, at the end of the auction. I have been more than a little disappointed that during my healing, I have not been able to drive anywhere. This offer was so generous and I am more than grateful that she would do this for me. I feel well-loved. Thank you, Kirsten.
There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to incorporate the poem, Of Politics & Art into my piece tonight. For one, I have been recently sorting through some new and residual material on my grief journey…the incomprehensible loss of my mother. Everything about this particular poem resonates for me….the teacher, the reading of Melville’s Moby Dick, the description of the community of whales, likely bubble feeding, the females and their young…loss…storms…the passage of time and the passage of life.
Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs. Whitimore, dying
Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark
Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.
She read to us from Melville.
How in an almost calamitous moment
Of sea hunting
Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves
At the still and protected center
Of a great herd of whales
Where all the females floated on their sides
While their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalers
Just stared into what they allowed
Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow’s
One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.
Today I listened to a woman say
That Melville might
Be taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, “And why not?”
The first responded, “Because there are
No women in his one novel.”
And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying
Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room
With thirty children
Rapt, confident and listening to the pure
God rendering voice of a storm.
A wonderful reflection on the poem may be found here. The writer states that he/she has not read Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I have. The description of whales and their behaviours are very detailed and elegant, if not sometimes, extremely so, and one can not help but ‘know’ whales at the conclusion of the book.
When I set about on tonight’s piece, I began by writing the poem into a circular format, with thoughts of air and breath…life. I included a small piece of Chopin music…music…life…the whale song. “The blue…blue light on her face, breasts and arms.”
I depicted a family of whales…thinking in terms of personification and the self.
A very personal painting, purchased by a visitor who had stopped and shared a brief conversation with me about music…thank you, Lois of Choiceland, Saskatchewan.
It was a beautiful and funny night. I loved the conversation on our drive. I enjoyed the many conversations on site, the colour, laughter, layers of music, the grapes and the olive crackers, the stage, the jokes and always, the friendship. I will sleep well tonight.
I huge wind stirred itself up in Calgary last evening. Max and I blew around Frank’s Flats. The great birds hung on the air. The airplanes, landing at YYC, pushed north into dark grey clouds. I imagined the turbulence. The female osprey, the past two days, has been sitting consistently on the nest. The male gripped a large black garbage bag in his powerful talons…landed next to her with finesse…I kept on going. No dilly dallying! Zach Lowe was hosting at the Rumble House and it was apt to be a celebration!
And it was! A big crowd collected and the artists vroom vroomed from the starting block. A great night of painting. Jen and I had a piece of turf over by the musicians. Last night, The Hillties. Fabulous and inspiring music!
I painted a little glamour lady piece and it was picked up at auction by one of the band…very nice. I also purchased a piece by Nick Rooney at auction. It was a great night. Lately, the painting at Rumble has been more about the automatic experience of laying paint down and less about huge reflective considerations. I liked hearing Rich share the story at the end of the night about Alexander Eliot. I liked that Andy brought me some cold water to drink. I liked meeting Zach’s Mom. It was a beautiful ride, driving Enriquito home. I was blessed at Rumble again. And a cold blustery night turned warm.