Saturday, August 11, 2012


As I'm busy procrastinating about things I really should be doing, I thought I should put up another picture from my favourite form of procrastination, which is sitting outside and sketching the people and things that matter.

And no, that's not a pixie whispering in Arlene's ear, she had leaned over briefly to pluck more hair from the endlessly shedding Corgi.

For those looking for other worthwhile forms of procrastination, I suggest this wonderful article by Simon Schama on the late Robert Hughes.

Both Schama and Hughes are excellent writers, which is increasingly uncommon in the art world. Anybody who has had to endure wading through the artspeak of press releases, curatorial and artist's statements, is probably familiar with this.

It turns out that someone has does some hard research on the subject; their results were published recently in Triple Canopy under the title International Art English. It's worth reading; unfortunately Triple Canopy uses the most wretched format I have seen on the web (except, perhaps, Facebook Timeline).  So if you are too lazy to work through that, there's a good summary over on HuffPo.

Happy procrastinating!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Goodbye, Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes, whom Jonathan Jones justifiably calls  the greatest art critic of our time, passed away on August 6. From his book The Shock of the New:
The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible, to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness, not through argument but through feeling, and then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning. It's not something that committees can do. It's not a task achieved by groups or by movements. It's done by individuals, each person mediating in some way between a sense of history and an experience of the world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Plein air, and a little sketching

Last week the plein air group was hosted by Mary Lou out at Duncan's Cove. A very kind host, and a great place to work! This is the first time I've had a chance to work from the town side (usually I head down towards Ketch Harbor), but having a place to rest and retreat (and a bathroom) was wonderful. And lots of good artists to work with.
I settled on a view looking out on the gut between the mainland (to the right) and the island (to the left, I can't recall its name):

The fog was in and out all morning, which is an effect I quite like to play with.

Meanwhile, I've been spending a lot of time sketching - just heading out and drawing whatever targets of opportunity happen to present themselves. Most of the motivation originally came from specific problems in line and tone I have to address in my own practice. But it's also been strongly motivated by a quote from Picasso I came across - "Nobody has any real importance for me. As far as I am concerned, other people are like those little grains of dust floating in the sunlight."

Well, (and pardon my language here), he may have been an honest asshole, but he can still go fuck himself. (end of bad language). Declaring war on that sort of attitude - which seems so prevalent today - seems quite a useful enterprise!

I like doing difficult and challenging work, but there are times when one really has to look around and think about what really matters. What makes life worth living? You see it everyday when you wander around a place like Halifax - family, friends, children, dogs, flowers, the ocean and sky. Buskers and cormorants. Whatever.

I quite like trying to get a sense of these things when I can.


Island at Duncan's Cove

Finn and Shorty

Young Cormorant at Sullivan's Pond

Finn and KC Waiting

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drawing from life

I trace the smooth oval of your face,
the breath of hair along your ears,
and the firm roundness of your half-closed eyes.
Down along the strong, prominent, proud nose
to the swelling of your lips pursed in thought,
I trace; down across the boundary of your jaw
along the neck to the still supple shoulders, arms, and hands -
hands made for work.
Then back, centering, to your narrow belly, and up
to pause forever along your breasts.
You look up from your sudoku and laugh;
I put down my pencil and smile in return;
You know my thoughts,
As I do yours.