September 28, 2008

As I planned it to be

Here is, finally, the version of the twenty-five panel piece as I intended it to be. I like it best this way. And my gallery in Ottawa is interested in having it for the opening of their new space. When that happens, I will definitely let you know. It's been postponed a few months already. So I am looking forward to seeing it happen, as are the owners.


Meanwhile, Hurricane Kyle is about to thrash Nova Scotia and New Brunswick later this evening. The current projected path is towards Yarmouth, about three hours west of here. But we are already experiencing rain and strong winds. I've folded up the lawn furniture and brought in some potted plants. Lila is pacing and I'm closing windows. So much for summer.

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September 24, 2008

The story of why I watch CBC News at Six

Coronation Street is on at 7 pm most weekday nights (when it is not pre-empted by the Olympics or Hockey playoffs or some other political game show). So sometimes, being impatient, I found myself turning on the TV before 7. And that’s newscast time. Six to seven on all two and a half channels I get here in Paradise. For some reason, I’ve never liked watching or hearing news and find reading the newspapers even harder. I think it has something to do with growing up during World War II and hearing about so many deaths every day. I couldn’t wait until the war was over and it would, I thought, be only music and fun shows all day.

Nevertheless, I found I really liked watching CTV (channel 5) news. The anchorman there is a very sweet, friendly, kind man. Someone to count on. And the weatherman was the same. A sweet, lovely man. But then the weatherman, Peter Coade, changed to CBC news with Jim Nunn. I don’t know why he changed but I found I missed him on Channel 5 so I changed too, to Channel 3 so I could have my weatherman back. It took a while to get used to Jim Nunn who is saucy, straight-forward, shoots from the hip and is sometimes cranky and challenging to his interviewees. Now I love them both. And to my surprise I’ve heard of other people who also switched news channels because of Peter Coade.

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September 23, 2008

Dance dance dance

I went to a dance concert Friday evening. I was not sure I wanted to go but because I have a seasons’ subscription and don’t like wasting a good ticket, I went. It was Martin Belanger from Montreal. A dance piece called Grande Theorie unifiee. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I laughed, giggled and basically was mesmerized by all the clever antics and beautiful dance moves. The performance included everything: funny talk, adroit acrobatics, campy acting and singing, outrageous innuendos, and I could go on. And it all went together. My biggest complaint with modern dance is when the elements don’t work well as a unit, and especially when the arms are out there dangling on their own, don’t feel attached to a body, or speech feels like an intrusion. Not here. All was well integrated.

When leaving the arts centre, I met a friend and said, Wasn’t that wonderful! No, he said with a very sour face. I told him I laughed so hard I thought I’d split. Usually I fall asleep halfway through these things. He said he wished he had. Well, maybe it wasn’t all new, cutting edge, cultural breakthrough High Art, but I had fun!. It was a great performance.

Posted by leya at 07:40 PM

September 22, 2008

It's off to work we go, hey ho, hey ho

I just finished reading Philip Roth’s novel Everyman. There’s a great quote in it I keep thinking about as I am cleaning up my studio preparing for the next burst of painting. As a retired art director of a well-known ad agency, the main character in the novel now has the time and space to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an artist. When, after a short time in his new life, he assesses his talents as mediocre, his enthusiasm for painting has dwindled, and the romance with Art has faded, he is reminded of the words of the painter, Chuck Close: “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

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September 17, 2008

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak*

On The Current this morning (CBC radio), Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed Daniel Levitin who believes music is what makes us human. It was a fascinating interview. His new book, The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, is an anthropological study going back at least 6,000 years in the history of music. He was talking about how music has the ability to comfort and connect us to a larger community of people of similar states of mind. Music actually shapes the evolution of our brains, thereby shaping civilizations.

He sees music and songs as metaphors for ideas, feelings, emotions that we share. Stories, music, art all have this capacity. I can’t say I agree with his choices for memorable music, but I do like what he is saying.

Somewhere in the interview, Levitin mentioned that Pete Seeger, who still strongly believes in the power of music, is ninety-five years old. All I could do was keep saying over and over, ninety-five years old, Pete Seeger is ninety-five years old. He was a major part of my youth. Besides the influence of his songs and his philosophy, his father and step-mother lived a few block away from my home. Peggy Seeger was a year ahead of me in High School. And I went to their house to take piano lessons with Mrs. Seeger. The father was a musical archivist and their home was always filled with music, in books and sounds. I really liked Mrs. Seeger. She was warm and generous of spirit. She wanted to teach me about improvisation, something I still want to learn, but my parents were strict about my learning classical music and so, they being the ones who paid for the lessons, I had to change teachers.

Now, the real bummer is our current Prime Minister. Mr. Harper decided to cut funding to arts groups in Canada because, as he feels, why spend money on things people don’t want. He is, in truth, just underlining how uncivilized he is. Without culture, who are we anyway, Mr. Harper!

* English playwright William Congreve

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September 16, 2008

A few more paintings

30X30 2.jpg

30X30 4.jpg

30x30 5.jpg

30X30 6.jpg

30xx30 3.jpg

All these paintings are 30 inches square. I work best large so it is always a challenge to contain the size (and I do like challenges). I am particularly interested in what happens in the last one, the "white" one, where the "image" is partially eliminated and the "field" is very stark. Not too many people respond to it the same way I do--with the same curious pleasure--but that's okay. As my mother would say, that's what makes horse-racing.

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September 11, 2008

Two more

A couple of more recent paintings. These are five feet high, seven feet wide, composed of three panels.



The red painting is the one that moved me to tears when I finished it. Maybe because it had been through so many incarnations, I was just relieved to see it settled. Or excited. And pleased.

Posted by leya at 07:39 PM

September 10, 2008

Back in the classroom again

School started again for me yesterday. This semester I’m teaching the Anatomy Drawing course. To be quite honest, I don’t really believe you need to know anatomy to draw the figure well. You just have to look carefully. But whatever it takes to get someone to be more observant—in this case studying bones and muscles—is fine with me.

Several years ago I co-taught an anatomy class with an anatomist. He taught the anatomy part; I taught the drawing part. I learned a fair bit but what I learned most decisively is that studying anatomy for the artist is, as I said before, not a necessity. For homework in that class, I had the students draw a part of the body (for instance, the back); then they studied the back and after that, drew the back again for homework. The first few assignments on the various parts of the body showed considerable difference in the before and after drawings. But by the fourth session, the drawings done before studying that particular part of the body were as good as those done after studying it. So I feel my point was proven.

Still, it’s an interesting subject to teach and students enjoy the learning process. So I’m spending my free time studying anatomy.

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September 06, 2008


I’ve been working on some two-panel pieces—one panel five feet by two and the other five by three, making a five foot square painting. I named them It. Here are numbers two and three. Number one, a red and black paintings, went to Denmark. I would have liked to go with it!



The first painting, the mainly pale green one, came up into my living room for a brief stay. Taking it out of my studio I was able to see it needed more work, was too busy. I calmed it down (too many "stripes") and now I am much happier with it.

The second painting, the blue-purple one, also underwent some renovations after being photographed. Then I was able to see the color was not working, needed to be intensified, and also the red area was at that time not as exciting as it is now.

I'm leaving them as they are and hope they find new homes soon. My studio is crowded and I need to start some new work.

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September 04, 2008

Twenty-five again and for the last time

I can't work on this anymore. It's done. Maybe I would rearrange the panels. That's an option.


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September 03, 2008


As promised, here are a few photos of new work. Ever since leaving art school I've worked in black and white on paper for experimentation and discovery. These recent pieces give me many suggestions for new work. So I've ordered more stretcher bars to start some new paintings in the near future.




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