April 26, 2009

In a Victorian age

So I gave the cliché about women being like wine as they get older some thought this weekend and decided it’s not true. Why? Because the older a wine gets, the more money it will fetch. That’s definitely not the case with women. Not to imply that I want to be bought or sold. Most certainly not. But if I did…

This weekend I reached the pivotal point in life where I have to give in and accept being called ma’am in stores and restaurants. Although it’s been happening randomly already, I fought it off on the premise that it wasn’t wholly justified. On Friday, my Birthday, the leg that argument stands on just got a bit more wobbly.

We celebrated the bitter sweet event by going to Victoria, a place with, appropriately, lots of history and wrinkles both literal and figurative. The city is a Mecca for 50 something people at leisure spending money on British-Isle-style offerings. Tea houses, candy shops, boutiques selling Shetland wool sweaters, horse-drawn carriages for sightseeing, stuff like that. But that’s not really why we like it. We may be “of the age” but we’re definitely not of the “mind-set”.

We go to Victoria because it’s beautiful. Because there are Arbutus trees and an ocean walk where, on some days, the breakers leap up and over their stone retaining walls and land at your feet on the walkway 10 meters above them. And yeah ok, because the buildings in the downtown core have an old-world charm, even if much of it is contrived to be old-world charming. And, finally, because Victoria also has lots of young people, it is a university town too, and enough of a holistic core to offer up some awesome vegetarian cafes and restaurants. So pretty much, it has it all: lovely scenery, lots of great places to walk to, lots and lots of fantastic places to eat, and even a gay night club where R and I went dancing on Robbie Burns day a couple of years ago so that I could recapture a sense of my wayward youth. But that’s another story.

This year it was a more sedate affair. Highlights? A visit to my favourite bookstore:

A hunt for images for possible future prints (somewhat limited because I HATE looking like a tourist and taking pictures in public).

And a hunt for what's supposed to be, according to Will Ferguson in Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw, Victoria's ugliest mural. We walked up and down and around pretty much every street in the main core trying to find it and failed.

We found lots of other murals, in varying degrees of aesthetic appeal, like this one with black bears and Ralph and Ed from the Honeymooners:

and this one, which I'm not sure is finished yet:

Nothing that even remotely resembled the one WF described in the book though. We even asked a couple of locals if they knew where Victoria's ugliest mural was but they didn't. Or maybe they did know it but, with the whole beauty in the eye of the beholder thing, they actually liked it and didn't think it could be be the one we were looking for.

I'm considering writing WF a letter and chewing him out for not mentioning the address.

On our last day, leaving one type of structure for another, we went to see Beacon Hill Park. Most of the park was very manicured but we found a small grove of fantastic trees and meadows full of wild flowers and took more pictures that will, one day I hope, become prints.

It was an excellent trip and an excellent way to recognize another year's passing. May they all be as good.

April 19, 2009

No ink; No print

For lack of ink the print was stalled.

I ran out of white ink, forgot to order more until it was too late, so over a week went by without any action on my print and the block sitting and gathering dust. Annoyed with myself but not wanting to waste precious time, I figured this would be a good time to update my website with my new work. Well...

I've recently switched internet browsers from Firefox to Opera and I'm really loving all the cool features. But, oh horror, I looked at my updated site and discovered that my images, in "popping up" to larger view, behave totally differently in Opera than they did in Firefox. And, worse, they're doing the same damn thing in Explorer. Some do this, some do that, and, just to really make me scratch my head, some behave just the way they're supposed to. Man! I'd read that some coding doesn't work across all the different browsers and I thought I was careful when I wrote the code for the pop-ups but, clearly, I screwed up somewhere.

So, red faced, I go back to the drawing board. Once again, to build onto the two months of my life that went to learning CSS and HTML last year when I first built my site, I'm filling my brain with programming language and struggling to understand it. And no, I'm not done with the site. It may just be another two months. I confess, I considered just going with some gallery site provider like Artspan etc., and I spent two days looking at different options, but it all comes down to limitations. I can't find exactly what I want unless I pay more money than I'm willing to pay. In the end, I chose to struggle on with fixing it myself.

In the meantime, my white ink came and I actually got back to printing today. Here's layer three of my L. Cohen print. It's coming along really well. One more left to go. My scanner isn't big enough for the full print, the top and sides are a bit cut off in this image.

April 09, 2009

Free Hugs Campaign

I may be really behind the times because apparently this is something that's been going on for a couple of years now, but I only came across this clip today, a friend sent it, and it really moved me. It's for sure worth sharing, just in case there are others who haven't heard about this. It makes me feel that all hope is not lost for this world, which is generally opposite to what I feel whenever I sit in traffic on the way to, or from, work.

So, although we aren't officially into Easter weekend yet, this is a good way to start...

More info here:

April 05, 2009

Cohen Kōan

The first bit of inspiration for my L. Cohen print is his As the Mist Leaves No Scar:
As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill,
So my body leaves no scar
On you, nor ever will.

When wind and hawk encounter,
What remains to keep?
So you and I encounter,
Then turn, then fall to sleep.

As many nights endure
Without a moon or star,
So will we endure
When one is gone and far.

It was probably one of the first of his poems I read, still in high school, and there's too many reasons why I like it; listing them all would take an essay. But the meaning I take from it changes as I get older. These days, I see the comment on the impermanence of experience from a more Zen point of view: experiences come and go, we are touched and we move on, but we transcend onto other things, in the natural ebb and flow of life.

As for the print, the poem fits the nature of the image I'm striving for: Cohen's face, in the center and seemingly either moving into focus, or receding out of it, surrounded by suggested references to some of his other works.

The big question, of course, is can I pull it off? And will it end up looking like Leonard Cohen or just some unknown guy? Nervously I anticipate.

I printed the second layer today. Here's my inked block.

And the resulting image:

One thing I realized, while looking for ideas for the print and reading more of Cohen's poems in succession than I've ever done before, is how cryptic some of the work is. The poems are almost kōan-like; they work on a level beyond the mental, they hint at meaning but never fully give the answer and, just when you think you know what the message is, it changes. It's definitely one of the things I like about the poetry so much: it takes me on tangents beyond the ordinary.