Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Frances Loring

Frances Loring, Inuit Mother and Child, 1938, carved 1958 (source)

Another view (source)
Frances Loring (1887-1968), was American Born, but settled in Canada early on in her career- she worked closely with (partners even?) Florence Wyle, a notable sculptor in her own right. She founded the Canadian Sculptors society in 1928 with  Emanuelle Hahn and Henri Hebert. She is well celebrated and collected in Canada, and her works are easy to see on line and in person at the national gallery and elsewhere.

I love the graceful flowing lines in her work, the feeling of lightness in such a heavy medium. She did many war memorials and public commissions too- which I will not post here as the kids are going nuts right now, trying to 'help' me type this- drinking my coffee (decaf- so it's only so bad), barking like dogs, telling me things and when I don't listen attentively enough grabbing my face between their hands and telling me again- their big eyes wide and their milk breath blowing on my face forcefully.

I sort of envy this Inuit mother with her child tucked snugly away on her back- though you can tell he's just itching to get out and make a break for it, calculating the fastest way to make his mothers hair fly out of those neat braids while she chases him. and there I suppose is the beauty of this piece in particular and Loring's work in general- they are specific people, but also they are general enough to make us relate, to represent an archetype, or an emotion and that is powerful stuff.

Monday Inspiration 2014 is all about Canadian artists. Each Monday I'll pick a new one to profile- If you can think of any that you think I ought to look up- please let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear from you. You can find a list of the artists I've done so far here. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge: Trees

Well, no new photos of trees at the moment- but I saw the monthly prompt and knew at once which three photos I would choose- so I'm putting up these ones from my archives. The trees are in that slightly mangy stage here at the moment- their few hanging leaves make them look like scruffy dogs, shedding their coats. These photos however capture them at their most majestic, stark and skeletal and also lush with new growth.

The top one is my favorite tree in our yard- or two trees, sister Manitoba Maple trees- growing up together to form one magnificent canopy. So far they've been untouched by storms and I hold my breath each time the winds blow hard.  The hoar frost almost makes winter worth it. In the middle is an old scraggly maple, more as a backdrop to the lentil sprouts from last summer, and then the bottom, my big five year old when she was only 3, walking on top of the snow in march, with it's crazy tough top, and the trees ready for spring sheltering her.

These photos are not technical exceptional at all- except possibly accidentally- but I think the composition makes such a difference, I figured out while taking the ones with N that a lower horizon line makes the enormity of the trees clear. Before I figured that out I was never happy with my trees, they always looked too short, not leggy enough under their branches. I think also they're helped by having something small in them- (the lentil sprouts, and N) to help give a sense of scale.

When you're trying to make them seem big that is...

Joining in with a personal photo challenge again this month- I've been away from the blog- but I did miss it- so I'm back I think!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Well hello there...I've been thinking of you. Things have been busy, and hectic, and I've been caught up in trying to make things cozy and just right for winter, and taking a course on reduction lino printing, and making clay stuff, and getting into the rhythm of school, and being outraged at Jian Ghomeshi, and Steven Harper, and, well, things, you know. During it all I've been wondering about this space- and it's purpose, and if I need it, or if I add anything to this excellent internet community, or just what is it all for anyhow.

I've realized lately that "what is it for?" is one of those negative mantras of mine, one of those things that crops up in my head and puts a stop to any positive creative energy. My creative center will say- "how about this?" and my serious side will say "what is it for?" and the creative center just shrinks down and shrugs, while backing away. It's not helpful, and even though I know what it's for - creative expression, joy, beauty, chronicling my experience in the hopes that it relates to someone, I still get hung up on that "what is it for?". The reality is that I create things all the time, it's part of who I am, I can't help it, and even when those things are utilitarian- I still make use of creativity to do it differently, or better, or prettier, or even, not much better or prettier- but much more complicated.

And so maybe "what is it for?" is not the best way to approach the blog- but rather- "how does it serve me?" or better yet "how does it serve those of you who actually read it?". I think that I am not a writer, I can write- passably some days- but actually it's not my strong suit, I do love taking photographs- but often I find my camera is just not there when I need it, The garden is worth documenting- but it's a bit boring probably for all of you. The Monday Inspiration posts are successful in that it really does serve me- as I get to expand my knowledge, and you- dear reader- as you find it interesting- (I presume).

So there's one aspect to keep. The photos of the kids is again tricky- because as N grows I feel that she sort of outgrows the space, and I wonder how she'll feel about it as an older kid, and A is honestly hard to capture on film, not being the camera hound that N is. But I do love documenting them this way- I love that the images are there for friends and family far away, and that people get a sense of our days here, not just annual Holiday photos. Possibly a photo journal mentality would be best then- not too much info and quicker for me. A record of our days, so maybe a weekly photo heavy post would be best there- 'this week', or 'lately', or something along those lines.

The other thing I'd love to document here is the studio work in studio season, and the garden in garden season, that's a bit tough as sometimes other things get in the way and I've got nothing new to show you- but as the kids get older I hope to get more of a routine going. I also hope to open up an online store soon, errr... maybe soon, and it might be nice to have it connected here so you could see a piece get worked through right to the end.

So that means- 'Monday Inspiration', then a 'Lately' post with photos of our week, then a weekly garden/studio post too. Okay- I think that's sorted out. If you're still reading this unspeakably boring brainstorm- thanks for being a sounding board- let me know what you think.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Jean Paul Riopelle

Jean Paul Riopelle, untitled, 1954 (source)

Jean Paul Riopelle, untitled, 1956 (source)
Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), is one of Canada's Masters really, though I hesitate to say that I don't really know much about him- didn't learn about him in school at all- I think possibly that's a reflection on French Canada vs. English Canada. At any rate I love the colours of the images, but am not overly fond of them- possibly- like Pollock, they need to be seen in person in order to really be appreciated. I think the comparison to Pollock is unavoidable, they painted at the same time, and they are really similar. However Riopelle seems to be more truly abstract, with no subject matter- but the paint itself, while Pollock's work is mostly based on an abstracted subject- with the exception of his drip paintings.

I like the methodical feeling of Riopelle's works. Even though they are abstract, they seem controlled, planned or thought out even. Think of them in comparison to Pollock's drip paintings' wild drops and sprays, which are largely accidental on purpose. I love the diaphanous quality of the watercolour example above, and the way that the black dots and squiggles interplay with the brighter sheer colours.

Monday Inspiration 2014 is all about Canadian artists. Each Monday I'll pick a new one to profile- If you can think of any that you think I ought to look up- please let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear from you. You can find a list of the artists I've done so far here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Walter Joseph Phillips

Walter Joseph Phillips, The Bather, 1923 (source)

Walter Joseph Phillips, Norman Bay, Lake of the Woods, No.1 (source)

Walter Joseph Phillips (1884-1963) was born in England and studied in Paris and South Africa. He moved to Winnipeg Manitoba and used the surrounding Manitoba landscape as his subject matter. I think his prints are amazingly delicate, those slender lines, and gradations of colour lend a watercolour feel to them. Which is unsurprising because he worked in watercolour also. I particularly love the images that contain people within them, and the way that he deals with that interaction. Maybe because his works are so similar to group of seven- but those works have been so criticized for not containing people, or- more rightly- for making the Canadian landscape feel wild and untamed and void of humans, when in reality they mostly painted in parks and cottage country (with a few exceptions of course).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Mary Wrinch

Mary Wrinch, Green and Gold, 1932 (source)

Mary Wrinch, Sunrise (source)
Mary Wrinch, (1877-1969), was born in England- then moved to Ontario where she studied under Laura Muntz, Robert Holmes, and G.A Reid (her future husband). She also went to England to study the painting of miniatures, before coming back to Canada. Mary Wrinch painted at first- then moved on to Printmaking, using Linoleum and wood block to make prints, often based on nature- especially around Muskoka lake- the same area that the group of seven painted.

I think her works are stunning, stylistically modernist, but arts and crafts too. They're really wonderful,though they do feel a little frozen. Overall I like that- it seems as though they're not about capturing the life cycle or reality of nature, but about capturing a moment in nature. I think Printmaking as a medium has a sort of formal, stark feel to it, that gives it's subjects a feeling of being paused. Some would criticize the work for feeling lifeless- but I like that, and I think she takes advantage of it- to capture the fleeting quality of these moments.

Mary Wrinch is that rare thing- a well documented Canadian female artist- so if you like the works- just google her name and you'll find lots more info online.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In the Garden: September 14

Some of these photos are old- I'm a bit behind here, school, and birthdays and colds et al. but these are photos of our barley harvest- not much after the deer came and had their fill- but some enough for christmas pudding, and to increase our seeds next year. The zinnias I planted are all blooming and really lovely- it's a giant cactus mix, an a state fair mix I think- the colours are just awesome, coral and pink and orange and red and gold, they make an effortless arrangement. I've also figured out how to show them best- with short stems in a short vase so that you can look down on the flower tops, for years I've been trying to cut long stems and putting them in tall vases- and then getting annoyed because all you see is the underside of the flower- this way they make perfect little round flower
puffs- adorable.

My passionflower vine flowered too- so wonderful looking- an exotic flower for sure! It's set to come inside now along with my other special plants because we've got a frost warning here- so it's all hands on deck for harvest. This year we seem to be more relaxed about it- I think we've learned what can tolerate frost and what we'll bother covering or not. We just picked the sauce and drying tomatoes green and brought them inside- then covered some of the eating tomatoes. We brought in the pumpkins too- they look lovely and big- though must be tasty enough that most were eaten by something before we got to them. We had grown them in a patch that's surrounded by longish grass- which is just too easy for woodchucks of other rodents to get to.  I know pumpkins often get left out till the last and the vines are dead- but we never do- frost makes them spoil, and then they won't keep, of course taking them in early is tricky too- but if you're careful, and cure them well- they'll keep into February or March even.

The dry beans are starting to harden now- so hopefully it'll stay dry for them (and for the farmers- it's been a wet fall- so they're just starting to get things off the field- it's late and damp and no good generally). We've planted the strawberry transplants- in one long row hopefully that will help keep the weeds down and allow us to space the runners out to the sides of the main row which will make it easier to keep tack of, I'm amazed by how awesome plants that renew themselves are- the runners we placed in pots had taken off so well that the roots were growing out the bottom of some of them!

I think this will be the last official garden update- though I'll post about the new tomatoes we grew this year, and a few other photos of course- it's time to switch gears into the kitchen and clay studio...