Roy’s Remains

We went to the Dundas Place Arts Festival yesterday and although there were more people than I expected there could have been a lot more considering this city has a population of 400K! Still it was great and we had fun. It was a lovely and perfect day for the festival. The first thing we came across was the salsa dancing outside of Che Resto Bar! So nice! I took a video and wanted to share it on Facebook but can’t figure out how to get it from my phone to photos on my computer. I don’t do FB on my iPhone but I was able to share it on Instagram. 

Reg and I bought 4 books for $10 from Roy McDonald’s collection which they called “Roy’s Remains”. I always thought he was a prominent local author but turns out he only wrote one or two books. The fact that people thought he was a famous author was a local myth. He was actually an eccentric person who did busking in the form of poetry readings outside of Joe Kool’s and Toboggan and was dubbed the Mayor of Richmond Row for a time. He loved to meet people and would talk to everyone but what I learned yesterday was that he was a voracious reader! The number of books he left behind was phenomenal! There were shelves and shelves as well as a whole trailer full of them on the street out front of Attic Books. He wrote in the cover of each book where and when (including the time of day!) and how much he paid for it along with the name of the sales person who sold it to him! He wrote in them and made notes and marks and underlines and arrows in many of them. I bought a book that he had purchased two copies of for himself – first the hardcover book and then the paperback which is the one I bought. He even bought one as a gift for another person. He had written in the paperback that he had purchased the hardcover first which he had in storage but he it was so good he bought the second copy. It is called How To Read a Poem, (by Edward Hirsch) – something I’ve wanted to learn more about for some time now. The other book I bought was a hardcover called The Art of Growing Older, by Wayne Booth. Both of them have writings and poems written by famous poets and writers so I’m interested in reading them. 

I looked Roy up on wikipedia and found he had been a drunk and lived quite a raucous life for awhile in Montreal but gave up the booze on his own and stayed sober when he moved to London. Contrary to popular belief he wasn’t homeless. He lived in (and owned) a house on Wellington Road at Whetter. It was the house he grew up in. One of the books I looked at he had written in it that he had to buy from the bargain bin that day (it had a tag on it 5.99) because he only had $14. Wow! It’s as though books were like eating for him. More important than food! 

At first, when we bought the books, I assumed he was a prolific and respected author but when I found out different once I got home I felt a little ashamed for being so taken with the idea of owning books he had owned. But then, as I thought about him over the evening and nighttime, my mind changed and I started to really think about what an interesting and important person he was just for being him. People loved and respected him because he was so friendly and interested in meeting and talking with, and listening, to them. He was also referred to as a philosopher and that he was. He loved to chat with university students who went to the bars on Richmond Row. Often his clothes were shabby – he didn’t spend money on clothes much apparently, and he would sometimes repair them with duct tape. His beard was long and at one point reached below his waist. There was a quote where he said that his was the longest beard in Woodstock in 1969! 🙂 

He died peacefully in his home at the age of 80 in February of this year. The article didn’t say how long it took for him to be found but someone eventually called the authorities because he hadn’t been seen in weeks. I hope he didn’t suffer. It’s kind of sad such a social person had to die alone. And it’s obvious he too struggled with the fact of aging as evidenced in the book I bought. He only bought it in 2014 so it was obviously something on his mind and possibly he wasn’t accepting it all too well either (as I am). In fact he had quite a few books on self discovery and self-help. Not the usual schmaltz you see on the popular shelves but a very large number of books on philosophical topics about life and living. So I’m happy I got a couple of his books after all especially considering they were topics I am interested in! Kind of amazing how I found these two books out of the huge number that were there! 

We also went into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and the first doctor I saw on one of the plaques was Dr David MacLennan! Wow! I worked for him at UofT – well I should say I took care of his payroll and other expenses as he was professor emeritus and still had an office in the BBDMR (Banting and Best Department of Medical Research). It was so cool to see it and read about him. Other than Dr MacLennan there were other names of doctors I recognized from when I worked at UWO (now Western University) and a few from UofT – probably ancestors because there are professors there now with the same last names who are likely descendants! It was so cool and so interesting and I never even knew it was here in London. Can’t believe we lived here for so many years and never went to see it before.

I chatted with Sandra and Chris and Dan Tamborro at the TAP (TAP Centre for Creativity) tent. Dan was doing live painting and there were a couple of easels set up for passers by to try it. A few did throughout the day but I tell you, if this had been TO it would have been so crowded it would have been difficult to get a spot to join in. Sad – London has a way to go before it ever matches up to the enthusiasm for community events like in TO. But bonus for us as we get to enjoy it without the huge crowds. 🙂

I’ve registered for Dan’s Urban Landscapes in the Core again which will start on October 2. I just love the opportunity to paint outside with other artists and I love Dan’s work!

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Mark Making workshop

The Arts On TAP Mark Making workshop at the TAP Centre for Creativity last night was great! I really had fun! Dan Tamborro, our artist instructor is cool and we chatted a lot – he is such a friendly guy and I really like him. Humble too. No pretensions there. He had a good turnout – probably about 10 or 12 of us which is great. I was surprised how much fun it was to paint this way. I really enjoyed it and feel ready to tackle some more of this type of work in oil as well. All was done with tools other than the paint brush. Dan brought a few of his works and most of them were in oil. I actually preferred those but I must say that you can do a lot with acrylic and the nice thing is it dries so fast and doesn’t stain your hands or fingernails. You can just roll it off with soap and water when it dries. After I looked at the photo I realized I put some details in that one wouldn’t know what they are but they do provide interest and a sense of objects in the distance. I also like how my shadows from the posts came out on the left beside the road. I can’t wait to do more of this type of work! We worked from a photo that Dan provided just to get a general idea of the composition and values – not to render exactly. I got a chance to chat with a few people and it was interesting and nice to meet new people who love art as much as I do.

I met a guy next to me who has just moved here from Toronto. He loves London and enjoys going to the market and around town. It’s good to hear about people who move here from the big city and who love downtown. We need more of those to bring it back to life and I believe it will happen with all the new apartment buildings and condos being built down there. 

There was beer and wine available and I was a bit concerned about that before I got there as I am a non-drinker. but it wasn’t about that. A few people enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine but there was no sense of it being a big deal and I didn’t feel at all out of place. Many of us didn’t partake.

But the best part about this was how much fun it was to paint this way and how I love the effects! It gets me that rustic atmospheric look I’ve been wanting to tackle and achieve. I can’t wait to try more.
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Life Drawing session

Drop in was great yesterday except the model although an excellent model, had too many tattoos which affected the shadows and contours of her body. This made it so that I completed drawings fairly quickly as visual information and shadows were obscured by the tats. Except for the practice provided by the foreshortened poses, I found the experience boring. 

Foreshortened poses are always a challenge. One was particularly difficult where her foot was coming right toward me. I forgot to follow Brian Smith’s recommendation in his workshop to draw the closest body part first then move backward building on the distant parts. And the foot should be larger than one would expect to show it’s proximity to the viewer. I ended up having to lengthen the one leg even though it looked weird to me. (this was a 30 minute pose) Not so sure I did it very well but it was good practice.

IMG_1996.jpgYou can see where I had to re-draw her foot and extend the leg. The foot should be much larger. 

I do feel I am getting the “weight” of her body in the drawings. The feeling of weight and sinking into the surface she’s on. The one where she is sitting on the stool is my favourite. It was a 20 minute pose. Two are shorter poses – 10 (floor seated) and 15 (crossed leg) minutes.

I included one tattoo on the prone pose and added some colour because I was bored with that pose and needed to fill the 30 minutes. All in all a fairly productive session.

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Pride

Went to the Pride parade yesterday and it was great! It did rain for part of it but we kept mostly dry with our umbrellas as it came straight down. The parade was the biggest ever for London, Ontario, and except for one group of religious protesters at the entrance to Victoria Park, it was peaceful and full of love and acceptance for all. Interesting how people who proclaim to follow the Holy Bible behave with hatred and intolerance isn’t it? They are behaving exactly opposite to the messages of love and forgiveness in what they profess to be following. Just shows everything is subject to interpretation I guess and I have little faith in people – there are a lot of ignorant people around the world who use everything they read to support their own views and agendas. I don’t understand why people can’t just live and let live. 

We sat in a sunny area by a hydro pole so no one sat near us and it was great! We got a lot of attention and thanks from the paraders for coming and sticking it out even after the rain came – and lots of trinkets! When we went around the corner as the parade came to an end just outside the park the roadside was packed! It was a lovely peaceful and happy day. 

We stayed for Sarah Smith’s performance which turned out great. They had made a larger beer tent area right in front of the bandshell which wasn’t there last year but we were able to sit just outside it a little off to the side. There were tables and chairs all set up outside it so we didn’t have to stand. We got two chairs and could sit comfortably without our view being obstructed at all! It was really great. 

And this week, several times, with all the rain – like last year – we’ve had a number of rainbows we can see from our balcony. I took a pic just the other day. Seems even mother nature loves PRIDE! 🙂IMG_1959

 

Creative Block

Yesterday I was feeling discouraged about entering the upcoming square foot show. I couldn’t think of a subject or even medium and almost wanted to withdraw my application but then I decided to take the liquid acrylic paints and make another acrylic cells pour just to experiment. I took some of the old mixtures I had saved and added some others and it turned out pretty good. Yesterday, when it was wet, the purple was a lot more visible but his morning it is almost dry and it looks more black which I like even better. It is a perfect composition for the size of board. So I plan on doing another one on a white board using white as the heavy paint. This experiment really showed me what I need to do – the composition turned out so much better than the first one I tried last week using my heavier, artist quality paints. 

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Angry Planet

I’m still deciding on the orientation but to take the second photo this morning I had to stand on the other side to avoid glare from the window. (There is a bit on the right lower corner). Doing this has really stoked my confidence and my motivation. I think the composition on the right is so much better. Less is more when it comes to these smaller panels. I will keep this in mind when I do the white one. This was done with Purple, yellow, orange and black. The panel was toned with Zinsser Primer and then with black acrylic paint which I sanded to roughen it. I sprinkled some of the Pearl X gold on the finished pour but wish I hadn’t in a way. I can’t scrape it off anyway now so it has to stay. It does gleam when the light is directly on it so that might be a plus.

For the white one I’m going to use, white, blue, yellow and purple. I don’t know if I’ll add any orange – maybe just a dab or two – or maybe some of the rose gold acrylic paint. I am getting more confident that I can change things and play around a bit once it is poured on the panel. It doesn’t all have to be cells everywhere. I’ll decide whether to varnish or not later. I’m going to call  this one “Angry Planet”. 12” X 12” acrylic on birch wood gallery style panel. Now I’m motivated to do more!

Doing removes paralysis and the creative block!!!! 

Experimentation and Healing

Yesterday I tried an acrylic cells pour and it didn’t work out as I had hoped. I wasn’t that happy with the result on the 12″ X 12” panel. So this morning I scraped it down and some was dry but the thicker parts scraped off easily. Unfortunately I wasted more than half a tube of cobalt blue which is costly. It was hard to mix the heavy body acrylic paint as the instructor from the workshop suggested so I wouldn’t try that again. I would need to purchase more pourable acrylics like the cheap ones I bought from them. I won’t waste my money on good stuff and maybe not do any more except with the cheaper thinner paint. I found it harder on the larger panel too. I know it can be done but I probably won’t try it again for the upcoming square foot show I will be entering this year. I used some of the leftover paint to do another one on a 6″ X 6” canvas just to use up the already mixed paint. That one isn’t too bad but because the canvas hadn’t been gessoed it isn’t as smooth so I can just paint over it if I don’t like it once it’s dry.

Then I drew a quick sketch of mom from a photo I had taken a few weeks back. She was looking at me with an inquisitive and confused expression that I wanted to try to capture. I got it down in about 15 or 20 minutes and I am pleased with the result. I posted it on Facebook and an artist friend said that she always wanted to get the “person” inside down and that I had “nailed it”! (she knows my mom). I was flattered and pleased because I felt I had too. And coming from her it means a lot because she is a fantastic and well known artist in the London region. 

The difference in how I felt after doing mom’s portrait compared to how I felt about the acrylic pour was huge. I felt good and like I had done work I loved. Not to mention it was cathartic. I had trouble not crying the whole time. There was a tension  and a sadness in me while putting her image on paper. Pouring paint and hoping for a cool result isn’t the same at all for me. My passion is people and portraits and life and I think that will be my primary subject matter from now on. Sure I’ll do the landscapes in watercolour or abstracts and learn stuff. Landscapes can be fun too but it’s people and their personalities and character that really make me feel I’ve put down something meaningful. I’ve found my passion and plan to nurture it and continue to hone my skill in this area. I don’t want to make photo realistic drawings and paintings either. I want the character to show through. The emotion and personality and LIFE to show through in my work but in a creative way. I think I am beginning to get there! I do know it makes a difference to know the person. but there is a lot more going on here. Her decline is painful to watch but somehow it feels healing to face it in this way. To face and accept reality.mom Apr2018

Acrylic cells pour

I did another acrylic pour painting yesterday and it turned out really great!

It actually looks nicer wet and shiny but now has dried to a matt finish which is ok but there are a couple of pock mark indentations in a few spots as it dried. They aren’t too bad but I do notice them. I wanted to see how it worked on a deep edge canvas. I had to take a brush and smooth out the sides and spread the black over all the canvas sides. It might have worked better with more of a gessoed layer first but I wanted to try the canvas as they are when you buy them (manufacturer’s gesso layer only) and see what happens. I actually love this. I just used up the leftover cheap paint from the workshop that I already had mixed, so it should really be amazing when I try it with the artist quality paints. The orange also is a lot more vivid. This pic doesn’t quite do it justice but it’s ok – the effect is there. I look forward to experimenting more.IMG_0366