Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shall We Celebrate The 'Bad' Mother? (repost from 5/12/12)

It's the day before another 'taken-over-by-Hallmark' holiday - Mother's Day -  and I'm wondering if this goes across our world or is it just a 'North American' thing - but after going to that social network icon: Facebook this morning, (the ritual of coffee and pc that mornings have become) and reading all the posts praising the poster's mothers to the skies; I was left wondering : "What about those 'Bad Mothers' ?"
I have posted about my troubled and often brutal childhood with my own mother  and my book "The Other Side Of The Canvas" describes how many of my paintings were influenced by this tortured relationship, so we don't need to flog that horse any more. But I'm not the only person on this planet to have had a 'bad mother' and how do we honour this day? Well, perhaps 'honour' isn't quite the right choice of verb but you catch my drift. I am bouncing about in feeling an anger because I didn't get that kind of life ( yeah yeah, petty I know but I'm aiming for honest disclosure) and the other part that really forgives her and realizes that all that crap gave me this huge gift of painting the story - it all goes into the canvas - and recognizing her for that.  
And speaking of mothers : how about the Mothers who never became one? How about the Mothers who died in childbirth and are unknown to their children? How about the Mothers who are forgotten? And, closer to home for me: How about Mother's who abandoned their children?
As usual there are really two sides to everything. 
I'm half torn wanting to post a status update about all this but I think if any of you actively participate on Facebook, you soon come to realize that it's far too easy to inflame all around you by the rampant misunderstanding that occurs regularly with a seemingly innocuous  post. I've had to remind people that I'm being irreverent when I post or making fun or fooling around (except with Art) so stop taking everything so seriously.  
Speaking of abandoning mothers, I watched the BBC Classic theatre movie "Daniel Deronda" by George Sand last night. Interestingly, George Sand was a woman but due to the benighted misogyny of her day, had to use a man's name to publish her work. 
Anyhowfarwehaven'tcomeway, the story is of a young man in 17th? 18th? century England who has grown up as a privileged Englishman in an 'adopted' family and is searching for his roots (along with all sorts of other side stories, blaa bla bla) AnyColesNotesway, he eventually is reunited with his mother and discovers she is a famous artist of the day - a singer - and she tells him she was not a good mother because she wanted a career and not a child so gave him to her friend to raise in England. 
That was the part I was fascinated by. Is this the price you pay for being a woman who is an artist and wants that recognition? Certainly not having my children around me has lead to my success as an Artist because it left me free to paint. And before you judge me with any incensed feelings, may I point out that EVERY MALE artist has done this with impunity and is forgiven.
Ah, woman pays the higher price. 
And an Woman Artist pays the biggest one of all. 

The Painting: "Portrait of Rita" (1951) by Marla Thirsk. 
I did this from a memory really. Mom used to always be on the couch when I came back from school, so it's a memory of that and I used  collaged parts of some old photos of her I have. 
My fav part is the old coke bottle and she did like Coke. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Update: The Desk...The Desk

The title is supposed to be said in a kind of 'Monty Python-esque' way, which is about as lame as lame can be but I'm tired after my almost 14 hr stint at the advanced poll today and the next 3 days and it's about the boring-est job to do but needs must as they say, whomever 'they' be and thank the gods I'm creative as I am making myself a batch of my collaged business cards to have on hand for the show in Victoria next month whilst I sit there and keep the other souls entertained and, oh yeah, the desk - what can I say?
I'm possessed. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Idle Hands Are The Devil's Playground

Out here in the way-back-and-beyond, I may have mentioned that I am still on Dial Up service for access to the increasingly light-years-ahead-of-me Internet. The craziest thing about this scenario, apart from the mind altering 
S - L - O - W - N - E - S - S of it, is that 5 minutes past me down the highway, in the town, is high speed. The 'company' had to PASS by me (I live in a smallish subdivision just outside town) to install this service. There are @ 200 souls out here in the same boat.  Many have opted for the 'stick' or satellite service but all that means is excessive $$$ of which this artist is without. 
As you know, as an artist, I am worth more dead than alive. 
True dat.
Anybelabourthepointway, what all this leads to is that downloading/uploading any and all internet-ty business takes a 'patience of an angel' type of personality to get to what you're searching/looking at/ sending. 
I have never watched any U-Tube videos as one second means one minute download time to me. So for a 29 second clip, I would have to wait 29 minutes to download the thing before I can even see what all the fuss is about.  
SO.....that leaves me with an extraordinary amount of excess time to kill. 
This above is what happens when Marla finally and definitively gets truly bored with waiting. 
That is my computer desk, which is actually an Ikea table that I got for a kitchen table but due to the fact my hovel is pretty much smaller than a bug fart, and there's usually just me and I'll eat wherever (like sitting on the studio chair while looking at painting in progress), it was re purposed to  pc central. 
What happened was that I idly started carving my name into the top....and then I liked the feeling so much (oh, the ghosts of school and the old wooden desks!) I just kept going. The above is after 4 days. I coloured with permanent Sharpie pens, of which I have the 'mega' pack. That strange pointy thing is a carving tool, part of a bunch of carving tools I got some time ago for some project idea I had. But as with much I do, the original 'what and why' has drifted out to the Sea of "Left behind art ideas". It works a treat for carving the ever so soft pine wood (?) of the tabletop. Thank you Ikea for your cheap furniture.
Now this has become an art project. I figure with the amount of time I spend here - and let's admit it, we are now all slaves to the little magic screen - I should have this all carved in about 6 months....give or take. 
Then it can be put in an art show...or something. 
I'll tell you one thing for sure, sitting here waiting has become w-a-a-a-a-y more fun!

Friday, April 19, 2013

I Must Go Down to The Sea Again

...hmmmm...well, one month later. Did you miss me.....? Yeah, thought so. 
Allrighty then....Moving along....

This is what's been going on.




There is a thing about Life and famous last know, those ones that generally like to turn around and bite you in the ass. Or maybe they are just an Ian Flemming James Bond novel,  (Never Say Never); in any case these moments of 'put your foot in your mouth' comes flying around quite often in my artistic existence it seems. Let us witness the grandiose posturing by yours truly over painting coasty type landscapes. 
"Don't want to paint those"...she said.
"So Boring"....she said.
"My heart isn't in it"...she said. 
And then what do you suppose happens, oh faithful reader-if-you're-still-there?
Let's set the stage for all this, hmmmm?
Back about ...3 or 4 weeks ago after posting an old 'coasty' painting to good old Facebook (the painting the kids wanted for their wedding invite) and getting many 'likes' (y) (< THAT was supposed to make the thumbs up likey symbol as per FB - guess it doesn't translate to blogging) including 'Gallery Guy', I, in my oh put your face into the muck way, challenged him to a paint off. I told him I would paint 3 coast themed paintings and that to prove to me this is what sells, he would do so. And he accepted.
That bottom one is the first one I did. A bit 'feh, who likes it' but still not completely without merit. Except for the small detour while folks claimed they saw a giant sleeping in the rocks. (I repainted that part)
 Then came the middle one. 
Suddenly, something happened. I actually enjoyed painting that one. It got ....interesting to paint. It was almost abstracted. Bold shapes. Clean lines.
And when I finished that piece, I really was into painting the top one.
Now we are onto painting #4 - on the easel, and it's shaping up to be extra sweet too......and here I am with 'foot-in-mouth' - as stated.
Now what's seriously crazy about this, is, we are supposed to be painting those wild figurative works for my 1 person show at the Eclectic Gallery in Victoria> FAST approaching ......and I find I'm into these landscapes.
Ah boy. 
Make me CRAZY!! Loony Artist Mind. 
Other than being my own worst enemy.....the wedding invites got finished and are garnering rave reviews. Son says he thinks I could do this for 'other' people. 
Shoot me now. 
You think I jest. 
AND...we are stressing about outfits and looking good (weight) and where to stay and hair and nails...god love us all. It is enough to make your hair turn white. 
Oh, has already. 
This is how a month goes flying past. 

(for brevity's sake, I have refrained from the other crisis mentioning which was all the sewer pipe collapsing and having whole yard dug up with backhoe. The SMELL! GAH!)
 (No, really, take my life....please.)

PS...for those who wish to see: The Invitation



Monday, March 18, 2013


Then, yesterday, there was the man who stood in front of this sculpture and cried. I saw the tears. He said he couldn't explain why. It wasn't sadness but a feeling of profound peace this gave him. 

This is why I create. 
Not for glory or interviews or even money - altho' it would be nice to not worry over bills every single month on end - but in the hope what I make will speak to someone. 

We shall continue to strive to this goal.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shot Through The Art

There are many times in an artist's life that you are smacked upside the head with someone or some thing's statement rejecting what you have created. This rather constant act of soldiering on with your vision despite the slings and arrows of all and sundry (art critics) is what often makes me claim we are the bravest people around; ok ok, arguable point if you compare us to those who risk life and limb but in comparison to soul crushing bravery, we have no second. How dare we think we can compare our work to the standard of Caravaggio or Van Gogh - altho' these artists certainly bore their own soul crushing moments when alive, which is somewhat ironic when you consider the statements. Perhaps this is just 'the way it is'. 
Let us pause for a moment while I gnash my teeth over that. 
I've been beavering away the last 3 days from early morning to late evening setting up the major art show that happens out here in my part of the planet. The show is most generously hosted by the local pre-eminent resort Blackrock - certainly one of the most beautiful settings this wild coast has to offer. Our little Art Society kind of moves in and takes over their lobby for 2 weeks while we set up and show and then take down over 150 pieces of art, 2D and 3D, including a kid's section ( you always encourage tomorrow's artists). It's a massive undertaking and mostly done by a small band of dedicated volunteers. The end result is a show worthy of praise, especially when you think of how small this place really is.

Seriously now, that's pretty impressive.
(that's only a small section, by the by) 
Anylookattheprettypicturesway, all that work culminates in an opening night reception with the artists and the assorted invited guests convening into Blackrock's lobby for the first look and welcome to the start of the Art Show. It gets pretty loud and is exciting and everyone seems to enjoy themselves except for the person who never came to help but brought in artwork the last moment before show opening - to hang! - and then proceeded to tell me all the wrong places things were hung - but I digress. 
In the midst of this revelry, the somewhat local (Victoria) TV station roving reporter crew arrived to do a feature piece on the show. Wowzers! That was unexpected and cool. But here's the thing that has given me the point of this post - in my usual long winded-I'll-eventually-get-around-to-it way. When these folks originally arrived, they asked the organizer of this event to point out some Artists for them to interview. "Well," says S. "Marla here is one and she is very involved in the Arts Society and Show as well." "Great!" responds the Reporter, "What is your work?"
In the attempt to streamline this tale, let's revert to first person version: 
I took "Reporter" to my large painting. This is it:

Oh that's nice - was the response - do you paint koi from someone's pond in Tofino? 
Well no, says I. 
Oh Reporter intones, Well, we actually only want to interview Artists that are influenced by this area.

*   *   *   *   *      (this is the f*&#$ing gobsmacked moment   *   *   *

Now mostly when weird did-that-actually-get-done-to-me moments occur I generally go into some weird space that files the event in a handle-that-killing-shot later space. I went around and got together a bevy of great local "influenced-by-the-area" artists for the interview and went around being all 'listen to this!' to assorted people and laughed the whole thing off but really? Really, underneath the 'tough-little-know-it-all-bitch' exterior I project, the little artist is bleeding. 

Paintings: The first one is Judy Chicago "Feminine Rejection" - yes, it's blatent but it hit the spot for me.
The second photo is the Artsplash Art Show at Blackrock Resort in Ucluelet, B.C.
and the third is my painting "Water Music Number Two" Acrylic 24" X 48"


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Not THAT Kind Of Mother

In all our lives, there are, without a doubt, certain EPIC moments that we go through. Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce etc etc etc and many more depending on our own journey and definition of 'Epic'.
For me, apart from the oft times jaw cracking weirdness I seem to inhabit, there are these moments too.
My youngest son has proposed to his most lovely and beautiful girlfriend, just after Christmas and, aside from catching us all off guard, plunged the extended and myriad members of this family in to feverish delight with the ensuing marriage hoopla. For me (who is truly over the moon happy 'cause I adore his lady and excited beyond normal), it brings up the awkward topic of : 'what to wear'. 
Now, out there in cyber land are countless sites slavishly devoted to the provisioning of tonsorial extravagance to the 'Mother Of The.....' (insert correct gender definition) 
However, and this is where my path really goes off the regular one, it seems that these outfits, gorgeously lavish though they may be, are meant for, well, more, um, decorous ladies than the Artist I am so firmly entrenched in being. Seriously, wearing something that would make me feel like going to tea with the Queen is just not my thing. (although I DO love the hats!)
So I'm in a dilemma. The thing about being 'one of the Mothers' (and there are 3 of us: me the biological, J. the step mom and the actual Bride Mom) is the undeniable fact that all eyes will check you out. Now normally I would just go blithely on my way and not give a tinker's (oh the Brits and their colloquialisms), but my son has a bit of a button with his 'oddish' mum and as such, I don't want to make him fret on what is going to be a day of enough stress for him as it is. 3 mothers for god's sake.
Well, praise the Creative Spirit and all she stands for because I actually have found 'Art Wear' and there are some phenomenally beautiful dresses that fulfill my arty soul yet provide the glamour and photogenic decorum all could wish for. 
There is a catch.
 Of course.
They seem to be only available in Italy. 
.....*sigh*......we will continue to search. I have until Sept. 
The Painting: "Grandmother Knitting" by Edmund Charles Tarbell (I'm not even a Grandmother like this)

So, other than endless hours spent looking at fashions for the odd and square-pegs-in-round-hole types, I have finished my BIG paperclay sculpture:

"The Sound Of The Ocean Is There In My Dreams and I Sail and I Sail and I Sail Away"
Paperclay (home made recipe) Acrylic Paint, Impressed objects - Face = Air Dry Clay
32" High X 10" Wide (15.5" with tail) X 15" Deep 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stupid Human Tricks

In my life I've gotten myself into some .....well.....decidedly ridiculous situations. I am, without a doubt, completely without a sense of "perhaps this might be a bad idea".....and although I can be immeasurably embarrassed by my penchant toward behaving like an eejit, it has given me a great sense of the absurd and irreverence towards being a tight ass. 
Ok....witness the other day. 
I am not a fan of flossing - yes, all you dentists can collectively gasp here - I am more into the outlaw-slouching-dark-soul image of the toothpick. That little bit of string you floss with is, in my opinion, not up to the task of getting all those chunky bits residing between the valleys of my teeth and gums. (holy dentures Batman, what an image) Now this may also be an early imprinting upon my self of my father always fishing around with a toothpick deep in his maw but I'll leave that to the couch psychologists out there - and best of luck to ya figuring out this morass of a mind- moving along. 
So there I was, dutifully mining the mouth in my way, with my toothpick. Let's just take a small sideways jump here to mention that the toothpicks I use are somewhat crap, but that is what's available out here. And there are good toothpicks out there.
Right, so I'm trying to move the detritus when the toothpick breaks. And it breaks because I was trying to force it into the tight spot between the upper part of two teeth - as opposed to the space by your gum line, which is where you are supposed to be, I believe.  Recall the penchant to not thinking about bad ideas? This would be one of them. Yes, the toothpick breaks off jammed tightly between my teeth. I am now left with what feels like a giant jagged log in my mouth. 
This is when the imagination kicks in with visions of having to phone the dentist to 'fix' this idiotic situation and the resultant 'big talk'...I am not a fan of 'big talks". Who is?
So, we are determined we will fix this. 
Our first move? 
Get another toothpick to try to push out the fist toothpick.
Remember that 'not thinking about bad ideas'? This would be another one of them.
Oh yes, dear reader, that one breaks too. 
Now desperation sets in. THIS is intolerable. What can I do?!? 
Well, for the next 45 minutes...not kidding.....I used anything that seemed like it would be able to get those 'logs' out. A needle (and the thought of how bad that could've turned into, leaves me shuddering but there's that 'not thinking about bad ideas' thing again.) It didn't work. Surprise
I tried all sorts of things....thankfully the idea of a knife didn't cross my mind....eesh....when I reached for my sculpting tools. 
Not kidding again. 
These tools are small implements that are in various shapes that are curved or straight but all thin blades. 
Yes, I did. And it took me a while but I eventually got those toothpicks out. 
With blood. Not a lot of that but not nice. 
My tooth has been very tender these last few days and chewing is problematic but the damn thing is gone gone gone. 
And no 'big talk' well, except for the one I give if I'll listen. 

The picture: This is a fantastic artist : Donald Roller Watson and go check him out. You will be highly engaged. Not just the paintings but the titles he gives them. 
Here's this one:
"Cookie....(disguised as Meg)....yelled loud when she saw him...the flight from Egypt....inches from her mind.....(and on his way to the kitchen of the father).....where Meg had tried, repeatedly, to light a hot fire for the leg of lamb-the Easter ham-for the heat of the moment)....(but, foiled by the wetness)...."
This is the kind of mind that lives with 'not thinking about bad ideas'.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What's in the Tickle Trunk Today, Mizzez Art-up?

Well and well again. 
This morn when I went to my inbox I received a notice that someone had posted a comment to my Art Blog -( (or you can just click the link at the page top) (eesh) -  Anycanwemarketourselfsomemoreway, what has me all 'huh, who'da thunk' about this besides the overwhelming feeling of wanting to leap about like Jams after a spider because someone is looking and liking, is that it's no secret this whole 'bloggy' biz can become 'chore-ish' - you know, at first it's sort of a fun thing to write about all and sundry (I would say if you like to write, obviously) and then you just get the sound of crickets when you need some snappy topic to regale the masses with AND as well, to keep updating and maintaining an Art site when you are on DIAL-UP becomes a lesson in zen patience and often descends into the screaming hell of frustration akin to threading frayed wool into a small needle....well, my point is made after all that running on. 
The comment was posted after my "Spare Parts Sculpture" and was hugely complimentary and went on to say that they were going to recommend me for a blogging award.
......but, oh, the pressure.....!
So, other than the glory awaiting, we have been experimenting with making our own 'paperclay' for the sculptures I've been indulging in lately. This means breaking down paper to a fine slurry - here's the trick to getting a really fine slurry> BOIL your toilet paper. Really. You need to initially soak the roll for about 20 mins and remove the cardboard inner roll, squeeze out the water then transfer the resulting 'lump' to a pan (stainless steel is the best) add hot water to cover and turn up the heat and get it boiling for about 30 mins - keep an eye on it as it soaks up water like crazy and use a spoon to break it up into smaller and smaller bits. Then put it in a fine mesh colander to drain.'s where the experimenting happens.
My first batch I used in a mix for homemade paperclay I found doing research on the Internet. It uses drywall joint compound and glue and flour with linseed oil. That made this:

Not bad BUT! It was a very 'sticky' mix and made stamping into it troublesome and difficult. Was not completely happy.
So, yesterday I scrounged around in the chaos of creative ephemera I call my studio and found some "Aves Clayshay", which is as far as I can ascertain, dried clay slurry. Now this seems to be the ticket! It gives you a lovely surface that is very 'pottery' feeling and takes imprinting beautifully. I made my mix a bit too wet but that's correctable for next time I hope. Here's the thing tho!! You MUST keep unused mix in an airtight container in the fridge - because, as I found out this morning, it will dry out and you have a semi hard lump that you will have to reconstitute. Which I am in the process of doing.
Ah, the Art Life - trials and tribulations all in the name of creating! 

The pic at the opening is "Crayon Eater" by James Jean, whom I LOVE. I'd really love to get this as a tattoo. Maybe not with those squirting penises....but then again.....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not the First Time I've Done This

I was going through my old Facebook photo albums and found this from a couple of years ago....and, boy, am I glad I had it there 'cause I don't have it in my own pictures album on Picasa....a good reminder to save! save! save!

Celuclay over wire armature, hand sewn clothing from recycled materials, twigs, moss, beads and glass ball

There's another one somewhere so now I'm off to hunt it down.....

On a Roll!


Paparclay, slab built, sgraffito, stamped, hand painted and ephemera added
21" long X 11" high

...and we are having fun fun fun! The 'curious' thing about doing these sculptures is that yesterday, after posting the pics to my Facebook page (I get great feedback from the 'peeps' when I post my art there) I received a call from the Gallery owner (Reflecting Spirit) who said she had woke up thinking about mermaids and decided to do a show of them...and 'HOLA'! there were my pics.
Now is that serendipitous or what?!?
#3 now starting......

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Muckin' about

Slab built, hand painted, stamped, sgraffito and ephemera added
24" high X 12" wide

"SWIM" with fish

Hello, hello, faithful reader. 
I know you've just about given up on this blog - and who'd blame you? Not me and my procrastinating butt - really, I'm around - however what with the Flu and other stuff and well, let's be honest, a decided ennui towards writing anything....where does the time go.
Anymakesomemorelame-oexcuseway, I've still been creating! 
This is a sculpture in Creative Paperclay and if you haven't tried this stuff may I suggest you immediately leave the magic screen and run - don't walk - to your nearest Hobby Store ( Art Supply places have it too but it seems a wee more 'pricey' there ) 
SERIOUSLY in big love with it here! 
Am now working on sculpture # 2. 
At least you know I'll be back to post a pic of it!!

PS...'Sgraffito' is the term for things etched into a clay surface....and the root of 'graffiti'.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Blast From The Past

This morning on that new-age-newspaper FaceBook, someone posted the following paintings of mine from some years about 13....14....maybe even 15? It was a nice surprise to be reacquainted with my old stuff. And I am remembering just how much I loved watercolor back then. But the amount of 'fuss' it created to present your finished work was really problematical. I'm talking about the whole having-to-frame-after business, of course. I used to have a mat cutter and a glass cutter and a frame cutter set up in my studio and that took up so much space and mess that I'm not missing it one bit.
But every once in a while I look at my old watercolor paints and if I'm feeling really nostalgic, I'll smell my 'Rose Madder Genuine'.  
Ah, what changes time hath wrought.

If you click on the image, it will enlarge and you can read the poem I wrote too. 
Beach Hat
Sun Above, Shade Beneath
Walk Along A Shell Strewn Beach
Resonant Waves Never End
This is the Soul's Most Perfect Zen
Tideline Jewells, Ocean's Song
Gathered Here To Place Upon...

There's a proper term for this kind of poem that reads in a circle, if you will, but darned if I know what it is. 'Roundelay' pops into my head but I can't find it in my dictionary so I may be completely off the mark. I shall have to go to my poetry friends. 

And here's the other:


No poem. But I did some number of watercolors with poems back then. This was a collection of beach finds that all had some flaw, along with the broken coffee mug it made for a great juxtaposition. 

Kind of fitting for a New Year and musing upon what has gone before.....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Once Again - With Feeling!

Ahhhh.......a brand new day of a brand new year. Makes you feel the boundless possibilities of life ahead.....or I would hope that this is true for many. I'm cognizant of there being a great deal of misery and deprivation for a large contingent of humanity across our beleaguered planet. May we all try in our own way to alleviate this unbalance.......
Anymakeanewyearesolutionway, here be we the lucky and this new year gleams before us rather like a new canvas. The potentiality is vast, the outcome somewhat unknown but positive. Exciting.
For me, this year is already off to a resounding Huzzah! My first one person show at a prominent gallery in Victoria B.C. and ...... my son proposed to his lovely lovely joy of a girlfriend.  
Yes, I'm off to a good start! 
Here's wishing all of you all the joy life can bring. 
Oh, and unending inspiration to CREATE!!

The illustration is J. C. Leyendecker and his infamous "New Year's Baby" covers he produced for the now defunct Saturday Evening Post. His illustrations were instrumental in making a baby the symbol of a new year. How about that?!