Saturday, April 29, 2006

Paradise (Comic Convention)
As a payoff for the humongous amount of (free) work P. did for this convention, he was given two complimentary passes for A. and me. Of course when we arrived at the ticket booth, there was no record of our names but the kind man gave them to us anyway. We both, A and me, had our doubts about attending...well - I've beeen to these thangs and they're oookaay if you like Spawn and big-breasted women beating the crap out of some monster & then being bedded by some other monster...if you know what I mean - so we were kind of, sort of prepared. But what a surprise - we ended up really enjoying ourselves. Maybe this particular convention attracted artists of a different stripe - there was a lot fun and interesting (and brilliant) work. The attraction for me - what made me say I'd go in the first place, was the addition of Women in Comics - a series of forums with women cartoonists speaking about their work & the effect of their gender in the industry.
We did a walkabout of all the artists and people were so pleasant to us. It took us a while to realize that part of that friendliness was due to the 'PRESS' badges we were given for our passes. I should have taken out my notebook & really played up the role! Artists were anticipating our approach and flipping their portfolios open to their best work, pointing out their 'freebies' (business cards & bookmarks, etc.). But even after I said we weren't really 'Press', they were still nice, though a little disappointed. I think a lot of them are happy just to have someone notice them.
A. picked up a beautiful print of chicadees flocking about a berry bush, with some chicadee-coloured dragons sharing the berries. That was by Heather Bruton, and there were several similar prints with different birds cast as dragons (or vice versa).
I picked up 'SuperFuzz', for a 10 year old friend who likes lots of action (read 'violence') in his comics. This was a compromise - it's a lot of fun, with some great hulking superheroes and great drawing. The artist even threw in some stickers because I bought four of his books. Bonus.
We attended a lively forum featuring Sandra Bell Lundy of 'Between Friends' fame and Rina Piccolo of 'Tina's Groove', both syndicated cartoonists. Too bad more people didn't drop in because it was fun session with interesting digressions to thought-provoking questions.
So it's good to know that there's some great talent out there and lots more in the wings. A change from the 'fine art' atmosphere I've been breathing for the last little while. Worlds within worlds within worlds.

Friday, April 28, 2006

That Time of Year...
Yep - Comicon - that gathering of the unwashed (and I mean seriously unwashed) to which my husband makes his pilgrimage every year to breathe in the ambiance (very potent) and to join in mass homage to the great God of Comics...and this year A. & me are going too. My sweetie worked hard & late into several evenings to snag us 'complimentary' passes this year and THIS year is special because they're having a special symposium of women cartoonists, including Sandra Bell Lundy and Rina Piccolo, among others. So A. & me decided it would be good to go and give our support to these very talented gals, although A. says, if anyone in costume comes anywhere near her, she's gettin' the hell out of she will be a trepidant visitor.
P. has a table too, at least part of one in 'Artist's Alley', so I hope lots of people drop by & peruse his 'Offerings', a most excellent collection of his many and varied drawing & painting pursuits. We are looking forward to our day out. But now we are having our girl's night in & watching 'Walk the Line'. Yeah Joaquin!
Gotta go make popcorn...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sculpture Garden
Drawing class was cancelled last night due to a no-show model. After getting over being mildly pissed-off because the convenor COULD have EMAILED us before we drove all the way out there, we offered to drive our classmate home. Her husband had driven away before she read the cancellation notice on the front door. The 'wasted' evening turned out to be a gift in disguise.
Our classmate is a gifted sculptor and an artist who lives her art. As we pulled into her driveway, her garden quietly held forth the products of this lady's hands, mind and soul working in harmony. Small cement-covered figures climbed a large tree, frolicking on the branches in the twilight. An oval basin, propped on four legs to waist-height held a planting of Corkscrew Willow trimmings - a contained forest of bright green sculptured branches. A female figure curled up in the humus, just off the path, her hair a frothing of green sedums, a blush of lichen beginning to cover the muscles of her back. Her repose, peaceful. Two four-foot chunks of scrap curb-side concrete were sculpted & set into standing pieces - twin towers with sinuous designs cut into them.
The back garden held more delights. Pieces of iron-mongery salvaged from condemned buildings & scrapheaps found new meaning in mobiles, frames and abstract pieces of art, filling the small (30'x40') space. A large concrete abstract sculpture took centre stage on the curved brick patio. Sash window counterweights, heavily oxidized, swung from a branch as we passed them. The whole of the outside was a garden of delights - a lifetime's work in progress.
Inside was more of the same. Writhing sculptures, mostly of women, cast in clay, concrete, hydrocal and whatever other mediums were available. The kitchen cupboards were topped with a row of bodies, strategically lit with small halogen track lights - no boxes of cereal or canned goods as decoration here!
Art filled every room - the house was a gallery devoted to this lady's genius, and her husband was the curator & exhibit designer.
So the evening had a surprise ending for us. An inspiration...and now I have some ideas for MY garden. I can hear my husband groaning.

Vacuums Suck
A. was thrilled when our VERY old Electrolux AP200 didn't respond to electrical input. Dust was overtaking the house at an alarming rate. We couldn't have visitors in unless we kept the lighting dim. Hairballs threatened to choke us with every breath. Clearly it was time to make a decision, but since the car needed major brakework the same day, the decision (which would have been to go shopping for a new vacuum cleaner) was to haul the heavy artillery up from the basement...screwdrivers, pliers, current meter, etc. etc. The diagnosis, scientifically arrived at and sound until proven faulty, was that the cord was fini. It could no longer carry it's fiery load. The black wire had committed bisecticide - never to flow with juice again.
The solution: $8 worth of electrical cord & a plug from the Home Depot (and a 10 wait while the customer ahead of me asked the most inane questions about metal plates - I think he had one in his head). Then several hours of unaccustomed tinkering at the kitchen table with a rapt audience getting stressed out by the fiddley bits.
Electrolux machines - at least this one - are the apex of industrial design. Everything is so perfectly put together that any small aberration (like a heavier gauge of cord) puts the whole system out of alignment. The cord recoil mechanism was designed so that the exact size of the original cord kept the connectors in perfect position. Nothing was fastened down - everything kept everything else in place. So when I got the assembly back together (I jerry-rigged a couple of items), the unit kept popping apart, which meant it wouldn't quite fit EXACTLY into the cannister, which meant I couldn't close the cannister with the cunning little plastic sliding strips (with NO room for a bit of slack) we (I) had to think it out again.
We again have a working vacuum cleaner, sans the recoil assembly which was replaced by a Pringle's chip container. Houston we have contact! Once more the house is (relatively) dust free. And boy, do I feel good!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cool Small Things
We had two deserters on account of the rain. Weenies. And we had to wait for half an hour for everyone else to show up - but that's expected (but we don't wait for longer than half an hour without serious apologies or really strong excuses given). The rain stopped and became a light mist and the sun actually broke through for a brief glimpse - like the guy at entrance said it would. The Good Friday hike was everything it should have been . We had only one male this year, everyone's husbands (and MY son) abdicated, but it was their loss.
The woods were at their quiet best. Small treasures were there for the looking. Jewel-green mosses, a blush of colour running thru the outer edges of the trees and shrubs. A still pond, that probably mostly dries up in the summer, with some bottom's-up geese & nesting ducks. Unfamiliar (to me) birds calling, but unseen. The season's first Coltsfoot, not-quite-out because they like to reflect the sun like dandelions. Hepaticas - delicate, pale blooms out of the way of the obnoxious cyclists belting their way thru this gentle sanctuary (everything is about them). And an unexpected treasure found by S. - a tiny, transparent salamander - trying to get run over by the cyclists who see nothing but mud.
We shared lunch, or at least our cookies, by a small playground in Sanctuary Park before making our muddy way back to the cars. All the other hikers stuck to the converted railway path, but the woods were much nicer AND much more of a workout. Very hilly. Perfect.
We'll be back.

Blue Guitar
They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."
The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."
Wallace Stevens
Lewis Lapham, Harper's Mag Ed. prefaced his May Notebook piece with this lovely poem. It's been in my head since I read it. Further into the May issue was the gift of ' Into the Quotidian', an exerpt from an essay by the poet John Burnside which talked about the 'autre monde' - stepping into the 'other world' and the experience of it. It was a corroboration, for me, of the piece of writing with which I opened this blog - from Franz Kafka's Diaries, which I found pinned to a tree whilst having such a moment as Mr. Burnside describes.
It's like a balm to have these greater thoughts presiding in my skull, instead of the usual sludge that I'd be ashamed to put in print. If I can't have my own great thoughts, at least I can appreciate and reflect on those of people wiser than myself!
Good Friday: It's raining, but the Annual Family Hike will happen anyway. It's TRADITION! And we have so few, it's important to hold to what we have in spite of setbacks like crappy weather.
Today's Hike will take place at the Dundas Conservation Area. Haven't been there since I was a kid, so I'm hoping it's not as flat and boring as I remember it, for my son's sake - who hopes for a 'cool' hike. Whatever happens, there's sure to be lots of chocolate, and since my parents are coming along, Hot Cross Buns should be on the menu too. My contribution will be cookies, leftover from the Craft show - and they's plenty of 'em!
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Drawing Classes
My Teen Cartooning Classes started last week. It's sooo nice to be teaching this age group again. They're so much into what they're doing, they really, really want to learn and they GET the language that we're using. Such a great group, I feel like being an instructor is all worth while again. This class is very much into the manga-style of drawing, which is really all over the map - there's so many variations within the 'style'. It shouldn't really matter what style they're into - it all comes down to drawing, drawing and more drawing. We're always getting back to basics - basic shapes, proportion, design, expression, clarity, line quality...things I have to remind myself about in my own drawing.
Tuesday nights at NPCC are moving along. The above drawing is of Michaela - not a great likeness, but I liked the drawing (for a change). I find this stuff hard to do, but I can see from results in other areas of my drawing that it's good for me. So I keep going - even though some nights it feels like taking medicine.
This weekend was a killer weekend. I spent two full days baking for the Spring Simply Friends Craft Show, then getting everything ready on top of my classes & usual stuff. It was in Orangeville - an hour's drive. Ultimately I wore myself running the Tea Room, getting my crafts set up and all of that. It was a lot of work for very little profit and I am at the point of wondering if this particular show is worth it to me. Not to mention I was dead sick on Sunday, having worn myself out. Definitely not worth it. So Simply Friends might be minus one friend soon...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April is the Coolest Month
The Etobicoke Art Group was having its first Annual Paper Show & Sale this weekend. P. & me both donated pieces to do our bit for the group. It was a rather nice show & we picked up a lovely acrylic painting (on paper) by Kim Lee Kho (sp?) - a rather abstract figure study in strong colours. One of these days when I figure out how to plug in a camera by myself (a luddite), I may post a pic of it.
I also had the privilege of meeting Robin Hollingdrake who has an impressive show on in both the galleries right now. I am doing an all-day workshop with two Grade One classes in a couple of weeks and the teacher requested that I take the children into the gallery and do some 'art interpretation' with them. So I was thrilled to be able to get the info straight from the artists' mouth. Now I will be much more knowledgeable of what I'm talking about (it helps!).
Speaking of Robins (I didn't mean to be running a theme here!), I counted 15 fat robins cruising for worms outside the Studio B windows yesterday at Neilson Park. A couple of years ago I had an eight-year-old boy in one of my Cartooning classes. We were doing 'flip-o-ramas', where you have a folded paper with drawings on the front and inside so when you flip the paper back and forth it looks like animation (sort of). This boy did an absolutely dead-on Robin caricature, with the bird pulling a worm out of a hole. The kind of drawing that makes you want to just give up right there, because you're never going to tap into that kind of genius...and you know the kid will not grow up to be an artist - he'll be a dentist or accountant or something.
I was out at Back Acres today, visiting the folks. Part of the joy of standing in the kitchen, chatting, is watching the myriads of birds flocking to the feeder all day. Mom pointed out a beautiful striped Song Sparrow - much more elegantly dressed than the common House Sparrows gracing my trees. Also present were Nuthatches, M&F Cardinals, Juncos and a brief but noisy visit from a flock of starlings. When we went outside to see her blooming Lenten Rose (a pleasant surprise from a plant she thought was dead), a great big ugly Turkey Vulture did a slow, low circuit over our heads. So we yelled up at him that we weren't dead yet, and he drifted away (looking for roadkill I guess). They're pretty creepy birds up close!
The cyclists were out in full force, hogging the roads. I prefer to drive out in bad weather when they're not so prevalent on the road, however I've got a fine set of notches in my dash for every one I've knocked down!
April Fools has come & gone. Tonight the air was getting chilly again. Since we have not had Winter's Last Hurrah, I'm expecting Snow at some point this week. Probably the day I have to drive to Orangeville for my Craft Show. That would totally figure. Also - I discovered today that my seasonal malady is inherited from my Dad. He too gets sick every Spring & Fall. Great. Nice to know I share his pain.