The Nature of Making Art

I have kept journals–diaries–on and off for the past 40 or more years. In the 1990s and early 00s, I hand wrote a huge amount in dozens and dozens of lined notebooks–mostly recording my dreams and feelings but also world events and my activities. I’ve been working on a big project, going through my journals from those years and massively editing them. By that I mean, I’ve been tearing out and shredding large portions of them while noting what I was going through at the time. Now, this may seem ghastly to some people, but it is extremely liberating to me. I am creating more room for myself at my current age, while remembering, but not holding onto, what my younger self experienced.

In the course of editing a journal this week, I saw an entry I wanted to record here. I wrote it in April of 1991 after attending an excellent painting workshop with the artist and teacher Sam Feinstein. I have always remembered the powerful nature of that workshop, but had forgotten his teachings about the nature of making art. This was my understanding of what he told us, as I wrote it in 1991:

About art making–you needn’t even believe in your creativity–do it as a way of expressing the life form that is particular to you, that is of nature and larger than you, that goes through you.  As a way of being authentic. Dreams and art are of the unconscious life force, bigger than us. Dreams are fleeting, art remains. Once a piece of art work is done, it is its own thing. It never was yours anyway. As its own thing, it is judged on its merits, apart from you.

Art is the spirit made visible through human beings reaching out from themselves, beyond themselves. Art is beyond our own feelings as we create.

Words to make art by!

 

The gouache painting above is one I made in the 1990s. I did it like a form of free association, attempting to allow whatever came to consciousness to find its way onto the page without censoring it.


Violet and Lilac

Last week, I printed the Sisters of Mercy linocut with the violet ink tinted with white. It’s on a pale blue Japanese paper with long fibres that I like. Then, on the weekend, I was out of town in Prince Edward County in Ontario. The countryside was filled with lilacs–lining the roads and lanes and in the small towns. Many were pale lavender but some were a deeper hue and even pinkish. As I admired their beauty and scent, I thought that the violet of the print had happily followed me into nature. The mercy of lilacs!

To see some of my work on etsy, go to artsofmay.etsy.com.


Final Proof–Sisters of Mercy

I have finally returned to the block print inspired by Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy. Though at first glance this proof looks the same as the earlier one, I have added a few details to the mouths and hands that I felt were needed. And I’m happy with the results.

The ink I’ve been using on these rough copies is actually a deep violet though it looks nearly black. So my next step will be to pick up white ink and see if adding some will bring out the violet more. I’ll show you the results once I’ve done that.

 


Dreams Drawing

I’ve been experimenting with drawing more cartoons. That process led me to a small drawing continuing with the theme of dreams that I began in my first cartoon. After having done a number of works that felt too controlled, I made a loose unplanned sketch that felt freer to me.  Afterwards, I added colour to the line drawing with pigment markers and some water soluble crayons. I think I’ll work on this theme further.  I hear my unfinished linocut on Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy calling me. Why have you left me and when will you return?  I haven’t answered yet, but, meanwhile, here’s the 2 recent drawings.

 

To see works in my etsy shop, go to: artsofmay.etsy.com.


Mirrors Card Deck Reprinted

This week my auspicious card deck, Mirrors of the Heart, has returned from the printer. It’s on thicker card stock with matte lamination. This time it’s black and white like the original linos. And, I’ve added a back to each card–a linocut of two birds. I’ve put the deck up in my etsy shop.


Dream Cartoon

Recently, I decided I’d like to draw some cartoons. I’ve started with a dream I had several years ago that captivated me for its strangeness. I’ve done a lot of imagining and writing since then on the Care of Latent Kittens Course. Perhaps you’ll see some of that here. I keep going over the writing and thinking it’s either fine or it’s terrible!

However, I had fun with the naive look of the cartoon and have been working on several others. If any of them work out, I’ll also post them here. I did the drawing with Faber Castell Pitt markers. I like them because they’re waterproof and non-toxic, so I don’t pass out from the fumes while working. I also love the array of colours and sizes to choose from.

 

 


Flying Cards

I’ve recently had various bouts of illness. During this time, I have slowly completed print ready files of the Mirrors of the Heart card deck and have sent them off to the printer. When they are completed, I’ll show you their new look.

Also, while resting, I’ve been reworking some more of my earlier art work. Here are 3 hanging ornamental pieces I’ve made combining segments of a woodcut I made in the 1970s and extra hand coloured cards from the card deck. I’ve also added decorative starched transparent papers that I wish I could trace to a distributor again. They’re the shapes growing out of the rectangles. If the papers look familiar to anyone,  please let me know.

I’ll be putting some of these pieces in my etsy shop soon.