January 20, 2013

Discovering Magnitude

As I expected, I’m not doing much in the way of my own art these days.  If only to start this year off on the right foot, my new printing studio is set up and ready with press, inking plate, brayers, inks, and drying rack in place and inspirational things on the walls.  All good to go including a good selection of music to serve as backdrop.  Except we’re still struggling with clearing out the other rooms and it’s slow going so no time for me to work on any prints yet.  There’s just so much stuff to sort through, make decisions about, and then deal with.  I did prep a block yesterday, just in case, but I’m resigned to going with the flow of things for now and not stressing. I'm dealing with enough emotional baggage these days already. 

But I want to share a new (yet not new at all) artist I only discovered a couple of weeks ago who's totally inspired me.  Not just on account of his work but because his life story is so richEyvind Earle, American, 1916-2000.  So says my new wall calendar anyway.  


I found him at a Calendar Club, of all places, looking for a new art calendar to hang up at my desk at work where it reminds me that my life is more than just booking meetings and balancing spreadsheets.  It gets a bit harder to find something interesting each year because I’ve already done all the masters: Matisse, Chagal, Gustave Baumann, Georgia O’Keefe, the Group of Seven etc., and I don’t like to repeat. 

Plus there are an awful lot of ugly calendars out there too…the majority I’d say.  So the pickin's are slim sometimes.  This year I figure I struck gold.  Not only does this man’s work totally resonate with me but his life story, which I learned about here, really moved me.  His passion for his work and the dedication he brought to it, often against huge odds, are incredible.  I'm not sure I'd have the strength and focus he had under similar circumstances.  

Besides that, if I can trust the information I came across, he only produced his serigraphs when he was in his sixties if not seventies and, to a degree, reinvented himself and his work through them.  That alone would be inspiration enough yet I'm also in awe of how genuinely spiritual he was and how much of that spirituality he brought to his work and to his whole way of living.  He was, as I see it, a giant.

So, although I myself am not creating right now, I'm trying to keep in touch with the creative vibes of others.  Maybe, when I actually do sit down to work on another print, I can channel some of Eyvind Earl’s spirit.  

January 01, 2013


It's almost hard to believe 2012 is now something to be referred to as "last year".  And, as always on the first day of each new year, I'm thinking about what I accomplished last year and what my goals are for the next one.  For this year I've determined to build on the same goal I settled on last January.  Transformation.  It appeals to me because the premise of turning lead to gold can come in so many guises really: physical, spiritual, creative, intellectual.  It leaves a lot of room for play. 
I've been thinking about this for days now, while R and I spent the few free days of our Christmas break cleaning out sections of my parents' suite.  With them gone, we had to make some choices about what to do with their empty apartment.  We considered renters, or Nora moving in down below in a first step to independence, or even Nora and her BF moving in together since it seems to be imminent.  But, in the end, we decided we've had enough of living with others for now and will turn the downstairs into an extension of our existing space. Our house isn't big by North American standards, 2000 sq ft., and we used to joke that, with the five of us, we had the most people living in the smallest house of all our neighbours. We made it work for close to thirteen years but now we want to see how it might feel to stretch our spacial boundaries. 

In that vein, we'll set up the living room downstairs as a sort of sacred space, a meditation/yoga room, and I'm turning the kitchen downstairs into my printing studio while R will make my father's room into a music room: a new space for his keyboard, numerous accordions, and other sundry music stuff. We hope the transformation of those rooms into spaces to create in will lead, through that creativity, to our own transformation as well. It feels like a good tribute...my parents spent a lot of happy and creative years in that space...so it seems like the right move and offers perhaps a little light at the end of what seemed like a long dark tunnel.

Last August, on the night of our wedding anniversary, we took a walk. We held hands and talked about the year ahead of us, about what might lie ahead for us as a couple and what changes might come. At that time, the idea of my parents being gone was still a part of some indefinite future but the shadows were there already. As we talked, in one of those odd random bits of synchronicity, we both suddenly looked up at the sky.  The day had been stormy and the night sky was still full of dark clouds.  Yet, suddenly in the very moment we glanced up, the clouds parted and the moon shone out full, white, and bright, and strong.  And, because we're the type of people who see messages in things like this, the symbolism for us was: we'll have to get through some darkness in the year ahead of us but the light will come through in the end.   

And there surely has been darkness already; I'm hoping the worst of it is behind us for a little while.  This year's holidays were rough for us, emotionally.  For the first Christmas Eve in probably seventeen years straight my parents weren't with us for the traditional dinner and festivities.  Even before that, since R and I are together, there were only a couple Christmases we didn't spend with them.  This year R and I turned a corner and now we were the parents as Nora and her BF shared the evening with us instead, and as maybe some new traditions were born. It was special in a different way yet there was an emptiness there still.  The next day we ate Christmas dinner with my parents in the home they're in but it was a bleak affair and neither my mother or father really even registered why the three of us were there eating with them.  It took a lot of uplifting music to shatter the darkness we came home enveloped in.

After this came the chore of cleaning up downstairs and, positive future plans for the space or no, the actual task of sorting and discarding a lifetime's worth of collected objects and memories was soul-searing.  In one of life's ironies, the shadows of my parents are everywhere as we work to wipe away most of the traces of their existence so that we can move on.  Yesterday we figured we're maybe twenty percent  of the way to being done but the kitchen, at least, is shiny and clean and ready for the final touches: the move of my press and my printing equipment.  

Of course, all this activity means that although the end goal will be a new creative space, the available time for actually using that space to create in is still a fuzzy thing in the future. It may be a while before I actually get to print anything down there.  I have an idea for a new print and am itching to sit down to it but it needs to wait. Luckily, as a closure to the last year, I did manage to finish the last print.

Reduction Linocut - 8 x 10 inches

Now, I'm ready to move forward and I hope the new year brings much to celebrate.  And I'll take the fact that the world didn't end last month as a good sign.