After almost a year, I am back to working on the bees again. (cf post from August 5,2012) A few months ago, a friend of mine, artist Elizabeth MacKenzie came for a studio visit. I showed her my wax bee drawings from last summer and said that I wanted to continue working on the bees, but that I had not yet found the form and the media that suited my purposes. My problem was to do with how I was approaching the bees – tiny little individual drawings that took a great deal of time (basically it would take me about 10 years working everyday – to complete my appointed task of drawing a colony of 40,000-50,000 individual bees). My subsequent attempts at creating groupings, swarms, etc. with more stylized shapes did not satisfy me at all. A bust! ( cf post Aug. 9 &15, 2012).
Elizabeth said that we understand bees not as individuals but rather as a very large mass, a community that has little or no differentiation. And she was right! She suggested I look to the lino cuts of Nancy Spero for inspiration. This I did, and yes, I found my path!
Lino cuts and stamps give me the pleasure of actually drawing bees, but at the same time, it is easier to create vast numbers of multiples. And further, each act of stamping creates a variation in the image – the amount of ink and the pressure applied add to the differences between each impression.
I’ve been working on a new series recently. It’s going through various permutations, so basically I am at the exploration stage. Here are 4 images from the first permutation. Still rose petals, still Nancy texts, but dark petals arranged in doubles. They remind me of leaky lungs. (The petals have always alluded to body parts). The Nancy text fragments speak about existence and time – well, to me they do.
I will be participating at Sunset Community Centre on July 1. Thanks to the fantastic Program Director, Cyndy Chwelos, we will be creating a giant, collaborative, maple leaf sculpture outside on the grounds of the community centre, with the help of community members and visitors to the Canada Day Celebrations. That’s Sunday, July 1, 12:00 – 4:00pm. The maple leaf will be made entirely out of incribed rose petals. Each participant will be asked to incribe his/her first name or initials and birthdate on a rose petal. Or, just a pattern or a design can be created on the petal if so desired. Each participant will then place the petal(s) into the already prepared maple leaf outline (made out of rose stems). It should be fun and if we’re lucky, great visually, given its 10′ x 10′ size, especially against the green of the lawns. And of course, made of out natural material, it will be ephemeral and totally environmentally friendly. Will the gods of weather cooperate?
I participated in the DrawDown again this year, this time at the Kensington Community Center. It was a great deal of fun. We had lots of visitors of all ages, and everyone was happy to roll up their sleeves and try the art activities! We did monoprint bugs, flags with good wishes written on them, stencil drawings, hand prints, geometric and contour drawings. Bravo to all the visitors who participated and to the fantastic program director of Kensington, as well as the super helpers who volunteered their time to make this day easy and engaging for everyone!
How much of one’s everyday life remains silent, that time-in-between?
I’ve changed the scale of these new drawings. I like the way that working on larger images engages the body differently, not only in the process of working, but also later in the viewing. Text fragments borrowed from Nancy are still here in these drawings. His words continue to engage me, and I find that as I continue to read, new ideas from outside, from other authors, attach themselves. But, I always feel that I have to go further, that until I finish this book, or that book, I won’t really have understood anything. And so it is with drawing, until…
I am working with my archive of inscribed rose petals—the white ones, and with the classical figures, but as with the Nancy text, the figures are fragmentary. Dissolving into memory, they become distorted and removed from the original perfection of form.
Some time ago, I began a series of drawings on vellum that play with the concept of time in narration. How the viewer interacts, completes and interprets the work is also a part of the exploration. In my drawings I want to see how layering the images one on top of the other on a translucent surface affects their reading. The translucent paper allows the images to be read from the front as well as the back, and thus the effect of layering works from both sides right up to the final image, which is on opaque paper. The viewer also has to turn the pages herself/himself in order to see all of the layers in a drawing sequence. Giving the impression of pages turning is rather a difficult task, I’ll get better at it as I work through the process of documenting the completed drawings.
When I post something here on the blogsite, it feels like it should be a finished product, when in fact, it usually is not, but a work in progress – a vulnerable moment. These recent large petal images are at that state right now – still in the process of morphing – perhaps they will survive the changes and perhaps they will not. What am I looking for? A balance between legibility and opacity, between clarity and mere trace. The powdered pastel washes beautifully, leaves rivulets of grainy drips.