Following an impulse to sketch the shadow of a sculpture cast upon a piece of paper. Feels good to follow impulses which don’t have an obvious outcome sometimes.
Charcoal Birds. Vichy, France (2006).
Contours of History: 2005
The contours of history were traced by me, in the history of art, with a pencil. The dates are those of the dead artist. Many of these are studies from life (drawn while viewing the master works they depict) in the UK, France and Italy in 2005. the constant motion of the contour line wraps around the forms in the drawing as it evolves, like history, rewriting-drawing over-until an approximation of the original is attained. many of these i have yet to paint, though i like the bold simplicity of the line drawings.
here are a few of the original paintings from google:
As the World Turns : Rankin Inlet, Nunavut (2009)
SYMBOLS OF CHANGE;
A collaborative process where school children in Rankin Inlet are encouraged to ‘draw out’ their vision of what symbols can be used to illustrate change. these drawings were then brought into the studio and painted with hand made gauche with a mind to putting painted emphasis on only those details in the drawings that the children elaborated. these works were supplimented by a documentary film (with the questions and process guided by the kids participating) and exhibited in the local school, a small gallery near Stroud in the UK and at the University of Toronto.
WORKSHOP PROPOSAL FOR INTERESTED STUDENTS. Feb. 2009.
Background: I am an artist working in Toronto for a national charity called Evergreen, and have an exhibition organized in south-western England for mid-April of this year. I could easily sit down and paint a number of paintings on the subject which interests me, namely, the evolution of environmental/social change in Rankin Inlet. I thought it would be more interesting, and valuable, to host a series of workshops which teach through experiential education by engaging students in creating their own symbols of change. These symbols will then be drawn onto large paper, which I will then turn into a large series of paintings. The resulting work will travel with me to England where these symbols will exhibited. Half of the proceeds from the sale of this work, in England, will go to the school to buy art supplies, and this will be emphasized in the exhibition.
Workshop Content: speaking about symbols and their function in our everyday life, and allowing students time to brain-storm about the kinds of symbols they are surrounded by. This leads into the discussion of change, and writing out what kinds of change they are surrounded by. How do they think things have changed? Are changes good? Finally we begin the process of finding the symbol, the one most important detail, a detail which encapsulates all that is the story, the process of change. These is the symbols we find in groups of ten, and illustrate individually on paper and with materials that I provide. Guidance and some artistic guidelines will help to provoke creative work which will be effective, both in the sense of being a valuable learning experience through dialogue about change, but also will give some insight into the community and the lives of people who live here.
Overall Goals: I will leave Rankin Inlet, in two month’s time, with a body of work for this exhibition, as well as a short documentary film about the process. Through making this work as an artist-in-residence within the school, I will be able to provide means of creative expression for interested students which will then travel and give them a chance to have an international audience hear their unique voices. This project will both allow the students the chance to to tell their story to a large audience, and give the audience the opportunity to support the community whose work they are viewing, and contribute in a holistic way to the development of the arts in Rankin Inlet. This is the difference in intent between commercial and community art, and I strive to become a more successful community artist. Success in this sense is measured by the integration of the project within the community, and the mutual benefit found in the process.
Additional Ideas: There is a possibility, as an introduction to this workshop process to host a couple of events, short talks, film screenings, within the school. I could give a short talk on the nature of environmental change, and the usefulness of symbols to educate people about our environment. It would be valuable to also find a member of the community who could mirror this talk by speaking about the evolution of culture in Rankin Inlet. Finally, we could exhibit the work here for a short time, before it travelled to England in the end of March, giving the students who participated a chance to see how I have painted their drawings of change, while opening up the work to the public. This event could be a one night show sometime in mid-March, celebrating the achievement of the students.
Specifics: We would need thirty interested students (especially those interested specifically in the arts) to participate in two half day workshops in groups of ten. In four hours we would cover background, brainstorming, discussion of symbols and, for the last two hours, drawing our symbols of change. In between the groups would be assigned some light, creative, design based homework, before finishing in the second four hour session at a later date. Each student will have two large sheets of paper (approx. 20”-30”) provided by me on which to explore these symbols with pencil and charcoal. We will be using erasers extensively as a way of changing their symbols, and as a practical joke about making changes. These drawings will then be taken back to my studio and painted. There is an opportunity to facilitate up to three dedicated students to assist as apprentices in the project in helping with documentation, paintmaking (since they will be painted in home-made watercolor), and some of the painting process.
environmental arts mentoring IV
trying to keep the pencil in contact with the paper for a full ten minutes is an exercise in physical muscle development and focus. when applied to patterns in detailed plant forms, it can border on meditation.
we laughed aloud at the alarm signifying ten minutes had passed, and all agreed to do another five. all of a sudden the timeline created motivation to complete the drawing.
seeing in the final seconds, as if it was some kind of test, the cedar transform into a lizard, i was reminded of the scales of turtles and reptiles. we discussed the form and pattern of scales, and what possible link this could draw between evergreen trees and lizards…
environmental arts mentoring III
draw a picture of your own skull…
more than my faith in my own ability to mentor or tutor is my faith that creating opportunities to draw natural artifacts have lessons embedded deeply in their forms. they also draw us into shared learning that leads down unexpected paths.
last week we took some invasive trees and spelt words we would then draw. each branch brought with it lessons which sink in through drawing the irregularities and patterns.
this week we brought out the skulls, and even though we were in a strange office environment, these solid tracks of living animals have stories to tell that i do not have words for. this also allows discussions of how to articulate what we see, and how we all interpret how we see and draw differently to have equal weight with thoughts and conversations about where these bones came from, how old they are, and how the animals lived and died.
the objects, and other living forms, become the primary activity for environmental arts mentoring, as they teach us about ecology and representing it.
A story from the corner store…all the way into a Mongolian sand storm.
At the platform created for passengers to wait and be picked up by buses, they have no bathrooms. Not anywhere that I have seen do they have bathrooms on the ttc (not like in the UK where you pay 50p to take a pee). After waiting for what seemed like 30min but was probably 8, I had to pee so badly that all I could do was image getting off the bus 10min later and running to the house over the ice. The bus finally came, loaded and disembarked north along Broadview ave, and I was bursting by the time I was dropped off beside the corner store. For an inexplicable reason I chose to go in, instead of running home. George was particularly talkative, and began unwinding what he remembered of strong winds blowing all through his childhood in China. I was fascinated, but had to run and told him why.
The next day I went back, and asked, what were you saying about Mongolia?
“It was china but bordering on Mongolia in the north. In the winter, nevermind the wind-chill, it was normally -50c. But the wind was always blowing, it would blow you over. We had summer storms as well, but instead of snow it was sand. Sunglasses would do nothing, we would have to wear goggles just to walk, nevermind riding a bike. ”
George was looking out the window at the chilly winter wind.
“When I visited the small town I grew up in, equal distance from Mongolia and Korea, there were these old walls I remember from being a kid. It was wall after wall built to hold trees to protect the city from the ever-approaching sand, trying to wash away our town. These trees were not so big though you see, maybe up to here, ”
Indicating with his hand about 5′ tall.
“They were not tall but they were old right? Like the trees I saw by the tree-line in the arctic.” I broke in.
“Yes, yes, incredibly old, 40-50 years, but they would not grow bigger than me.” George continued, “when I was visiting this town in the 70’s I found, horribly that the fences we built to keep the crops alive had decayed, since by the fourth tier of trees you can dig a foot and find water for the new saplings. That was the saddest part, that every 5-10 years the dead trees would have to be replaced, and were then used to rebuild the fences, but people had forgotten that this was our responsibility. The fence used to run through the whole north, northeast and northwest of the city. It was immense. I cannot imagine how it must be on the interior plain, where the wind is much worse, and they have larger cities like Shanghai.”
When I arrived home the image was so strongly drawn in my mind, I put it on paper.