Gorilla House LIVE ART Battle: January 9, 2013

Sheesh! The concepts drawn at the wheel of doom were absurd, the strangest combination of unrelated blah blah yet to be struggled with and that is for sure!


“If Nancy Knew What Wearing Green and Yellow on Thursday Meant” by Joe Brainard

From 1963 to 1978, Joe Brainard created more than a hundred works of art that appropriated the classic comic strip character Nancy.

"If Nancy Knew What Wearing Green and Yellow on Thursday Meant" by Joe Brainard

Photo Credit Unknown but located here.

Second…from The Onion, America’s Finest News Source,

Authorities Abandon Search For Missing Girl After Finding Huge Bass While Dredging Lake

Photo Credit Unknown but Located Here

Photo Credit Unknown but Located Here

And finally,  Joan Miro’s Image, The Potato

The Potato by Joan Miro, 1928

The Potato by Joan Miro, 1928

Now…I ask you, what would you do with that?  Quite honestly, at the moment the concepts were drawn, I was more consumed with a conversation shared prior to the spin of the wheel.  I had chatted with a few people about insomnia…my daughter struggles with this and at times, I do as well.  For two nights I hadn’t slept.

This led to a visit about dreams…wakefulness…consciousness and sleep.  It always happens at the Gorilla House (the visits, I mean)  So, when we began to paint, I had to deal with one gentleman’s dream and Miro gave me the entry point for doing this.  The dreamer found himself pulling wiggling worms out of his shoulders and pitching them down on to the ground…a nightmare…the setting, looking at himself in the mirror after having had a shower.  Seeing the worms in the reflection, he pulled them out one at a time.  A question at waking, “Was I really asleep when that happened?”

For the rest, my painting speaks for itself.  It is just so bizarre!  The missing girl…in yellow (no green), left while dredging.  Apparently, it was more important for the authorities to snapple that large bass!  Miro…amorphic shapes, line, text and colour palette.  THE BASS…a fish…unrealistically large in context with the other dream-like figures.

Thanks to Jessica for purchasing the piece at auction.  Just to let you know, Jessica, ashes from a Sweet Grass smudging in my studio were incorporated into the ground.  This painting will be a blessing-painting.  Thanks to Harold for propping up my piece while I snapped a photograph.  Thanks to Karen for a taste of red wine when I had no coin.  Thanks to Kells and Deb for quiet conversation.  Thanks to Jenn for Cadmium Yellow Medium.  And thanks to Bassano del Grotto!  Thanks be to God, for a safe drive home through a blizzard and too many centimeters of snow!  Readers…may you have sweet dreams and know that they have a story for you, if you but take the time to ponder them.

P1090272 P1090273 P1090275 P1090276 P1090277 P1090285

Hollee’s Card

My fridge door holds a whole collection of ephemera…wee bits of flotsam and jetsam, each piece carrying little meaning for others, but huge meaning for me.  It all takes the form of magnets, photographs, bits of writing and items that bring to light my relationships and the people I treasure.  This morning, a postcard particularly stood out for me; on the back, a special message from Hollee on her journeys and on the front, a beautiful image, La Clairiere 1944 by Rene Magritte.

Magritte had survived a very unhappy period.  Invaded by the Nazis in 1940, he fled his beloved Brussels and the woman he loved (Georgette).  Returning in 1943 and experiencing a very dark personal period, Magritte overcame his sadness at the occupation of his home by spending a brief, but potent, period experimenting with the luminous and fruity palette of painters like Pierre Auguste Renoir.  La Clairiere (The Clearing) is evocative of work coming from Magritte’s  ‘Sunlit’ period.  Something like fifty pictures were completed during this brief, but inspiring, period from 1940 to 1945.

La Clairiere by Rene Magritte 1944

From 1935 forward one can glance through the art history books and discover the huge reaction and agitation in artists. Artworks, with the coming of war and the spirit of domination, demonstrated huge shifts and experimentation world wide.  We see this evidenced in a myriad of works including those produced by Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso and abstract expressionist, Oskar Kokoschka.  Since university years, I have admired the work of Oskar Kokoschka and notice some of the same movement and expression in the work of contemporary, John Hartman.

Returning to the image…La Clairiere.  While I can not find any analysis of this painting in my art books or on line, suffice it to say that the images captured are very symbolic for me.  Most obvious, I suppose, is the image of the dove.  Within our western culture, the dove is symbolic of peace.  We see within the plants, the birth of a multitude of doves.  The single point of interest has already taken flight.  It feels as though peace arises from ‘the ordinary’, but the viewer is given the sense that it must be tended…watered…harvested.  This sense of ‘giving birth’ or ‘nurturing’ is supported by the nest and the contents, three eggs.  Here, I apply some of my Christian symbology…three; the triune God, the bread…the water of life and baptism.  I would give anything to be able to speak with the artist.  Wouldn’t we all like that?  So, for me, there is a sense of the Eucharistic elements present to a landscape that smacks of ‘the garden’.  While we are not present in the image, we are present through a sense of responsibility or engagement.  The glass of water invites us, as does the bread.  These fragile details (the eggs and nest, the bread, the glass) appear at the very forefront of the composition, causing a nurturing response and a sense of immediacy.

The shrubs read to be tobacco plants, a product that gave some sense of comfort and relief in the day and a plant that within first nations cultures represented a bartering tool as well as a gift.  Today, tobacco continues to be a part of healing ceremonies and is incorporated into sweat lodges and other ceremonies.

I enjoy Saturday mornings…after my walk with Max, I can take time to pray, sip a coffee…look at a postcard.

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
— Anne Rice

Joan Miro: Off the Wall!

"Escargot, femme, fleur, et etoile", Joan Miro 1934

Automatism…that’s the fancy word for letting go and letting it be…whether the art is rooted in a mark, a feeling, or a dream.  It is a letting-go.  Inspired by one of Miro’s pieces, the grade eight and nine students fell into a rhythm of invention. Joan Miro was yet another artist who was so engaged with the heart of his soul that he struggled.  Yet, his work is laden with a sense of celebration and childlike creation. 

One Wall



I love words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. — Anne Rice

The Tree As Symbol: Writing My Mind

Nailed to the Tree

A seed has been planted in the human spirit to nurture creativity and facilitate its perpetuation.  Fundamentally, the visual arts have, since human beginnings, provided for this end.  The artist experiences satisfaction of the deepest sense as the creative process leads to blossoming and the giving forth of fruits, (it is a commitment to the work to get there) whether emotional, physical or cognitive.  Creativity brings the mind to life and conversely, life generates creativity.  The seed, embedded in fertile soil, gives life to a plant.  It’s spreading branches and foliage reach to the heavens.  The roots, deeply founded, seek the earthly core and the trunk serves as a link between the world of Heaven and that of Hell.

Imagination, an essential prerequisite to creativity, I think, serves to generate connections between the conscious world and that of the subconscious.  I could be wrong here…I am not an expert on either imagination OR creativity.  These are merely my thoughts. 

Some of the good stuff I've read on creativity.

In essence, I believe that the imagination, like a tree, unites Heaven with Earth as it draws images from a mundane experience of sensory perception, while bringing to light all that is mystical and awe-inspiring.  Somehow, the tree has become of the most essential of traditional symbols and because it is culturally universal, artists of every background have sought to represent its meaning in the context of their own lives and art.  In doing some basic research on the exploration of ‘the tree’ in art, I also found much in the way of  written interpretation and in some cases even the artist took on the mantle/metaphor of the tree.  A quote from Roger Cook…

Fir Tree 1940 Paul Klee

I use an image created by Paul Klee in 1940.  In fact, it is said in Roger Cook’s The Tree of Life: Symbol of the Centre that Paul Klee, in a famous public lecture published On Modern Art and delivered in 1924,  “used the image of the tree to show how the artist is a medium or channel for the transformative processes of nature. ‘From the roots the sap rises up into the artist, flows through him and his eyes.  He is the trunk of the tree.  Seized and moved by the force of the current, he directs his vision into his work.  Visible on all sides, the crown of the tree unfolds in space and time.  And so with the work.’  In this drawing Klee places the upright of the K in his signature through the centre of the trunk of the tree, thus symbolically uniting his own creative powers with those of nature herself.”  This drawing is in Felix Klee’s collection in Berne.

In Klee’s work,  it is easy to discover or re-discover the world of childlike dreams and imaginings.  The symbol of ‘tree’ reoccurs often in his work and it is easily noted that beneath the surface of symbols such as bird, cross, house, fish and tree, it is possible to discover all sorts of alternative worlds.  We are invited as adults to explore, once again, the naivete of a child, a time when creativity and imagination were ‘on the surface’ of everything.  Subsequent to that, Paul Klee’s use of colour, texture and symbolic images evoke a response from the viewer that represents a very particular time or season of great significance. It tweeks memory. Wow!  Art has such power and it reminds us of who we are and how we relate with our world.  How does this tweek me?

So, I was out on yet another off-leash experience with Max this afternoon when I began to formulate an idea for another piece at St. Albert the Great church…a Giving Tree.  I’m writing about the ‘jag’ (the initial action that follows a lengthy period of incubation for the artist) because it was so inspiring and so immediate.  I wondered about the physical volume of or presence of a thousand golden leaves and I began instinctively to pick them up in piles of a hundred, only the yellow ones, freshly fallen today.  Below, you will see three photographs of 100 leaves; 300 leaves.  I will have to collect another 700.  I will dehydrate these and then paint each leaf with metallic gold acrylic and later apply them as collage to the Giving Tree.  There is something really ‘magical’ about gradually building up textures and layers.  It is a truly satisfying process.

100 Poplar Leaves

100 Poplar Leaves

100 Poplar Leaves

 It was these leaves that also inspired me to write this afternoon.  While I only consider this a beginning to my exploration of the tree as symbol in artists’ works, it is a beginning.  I would love to have you share your thoughts with me on this topic.  Let me know if you have explored this symbol in your own work.  Time for me to go and do some sanding in the studio.  Next, writing about Piet Mondrian.