Monday, June 13, 2016

Watercolour Series 2016




Portrait of the Artist's Son, 2016, with and © by Brenda Clews, watercolour on 140lb cold press archival watercolour paper.


Show at Arcadia Gallery, June 2016. Paintings © by Brenda Clews. From left to right, Sir Jorge and the Dragon (2'x5'5"); Glam Queen Ballerina (2'x5'5"); Consequential Drawings (2'x6'); Arabesque ...twirling, undulating men (2'x6'); and Portrait of the Artist's Son (4'x3'4"). Watercolour and/or charcoal on Canson Montval 140lb cold press archival watercolour paper.

Since I hung these paintings as I was working on them in my apartment on a rig for a video backdrop, I knew they could easily be clipped. A visit to a lumber store elicited 1/4" PVC pipe; I cut the lengths, wrapped them in black duck tape. The 6' piece of plastic PVC pipe, however, curved like a crescent moon and was in danger of ripping the paper on the long paintings. With hours to go before installation at the gallery, I grabbed an old shower rod from my storage, and dashed off to Dollarama and bought a broom handle! I'm not happy with 'the look' of the hanging apparatus' of the two large paintings, but am happy I was able to hang them! Barring frames and glass, this is a good way to display them.

The paints used for all the paintings are the highest quality professional watercolours, Windsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, etc.

Each painting has about 6-8 layers of fixative and varnish. I followed Golden's instructions on how to varnish watercolour to the letter. First, 3 layers of Golden Archival Gloss, shake the can for 2 minutes, spray evenly, let it dry for 20 minutes, spray, dry, spray, dry. Then I took the paintings inside and painted a resistance layer on them to seal them further: Golden Soft Gel (Gloss). When that was dry, I painted one to two layers of MSA Varnish w/UVLS in Satin and/or Matte. The final finish gives the paintings a great deal of protection and the feel of the paper is quite strong. It is possible to remove the layers of varnishes with Golden's MSA Solvent (I did this a few times with test pieces and one of the paintings when I wasn't happy with the finish). One would never use odourless mineral spirits with these varnishes - either Golden's MSA solvent or a regular turpentine. I tested this on small paintings and both solvents, the MSA and turpentine, stripped the varnish without lifting or smearing or damaging the paint, which, of course, made me very happy.

In all, the materials cost for each painting is about $80.-$100., this includes the watercolour paper, many tubes of professional watercolours, and the expensive, protective layers of Golden's UV protection varnishes.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Portrait of the Artist's Son




My latest painting. Portrait of the Artist’s Son, 2016, 40” x 48”, watercolour on 140lb archival paper. It is in the show at Arcadia Gallery, which runs from June 4-19, and the Opening is Sunday afternoon, June 5, 1-6pm. Arcadia is a small gallery, 680 Queen's Quay West, at the foot of Bathurst, in an artist's co-op. The Facebook event page is here: Three on the Scene.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Three On The Scene: Upcoming Art Show




            


Next month, an upcoming show: Three On The Scene, paintings by Philip Cairns, David Bateman and moi, June 4-19th. Reception Sunday June 5th, 1-6pm. Arcadia Art Gallery, 680 Queen's Quay West, Toronto. I have done some new pieces for this show, and am sharing them with you. They may all be in the show, or not, depending on space.

Mark your calendars! Philip and David are accomplished artists, poets, writers, directors, actors, and I am delighted and honoured to be invited to show with them. My theme is celebrating the masculine.



Sunday, April 24, 2016

'Split Mask,' a videopoem published in CrossBridge!


Split Mask is a political poem. It is an interlaced, layered, multi-media piece that took 3 years to complete. It is about dictators and refugees, about the masks we wear, what the torn mask hides and reveals. It is about what I hear on inside of the mask.

My performance videopoem has been published in the inaugural issue of CrossBridge, an International Journal of Multidisciplinaryand Progressive Research. It's on page 21. The journal looks wonderful, and I'm honoured to be included. (The link will open a free PDF of the journal on-line; there is also a print version that can be purchased.)


direct link: Split Mask

Dr. Robert Caine sent an email responding to my submission to their journal, CrossBridge:

Your creative and artistic video is layered with powerful and thought-provoking messages that truly gives your viewers much to contemplate regarding an array of global issues....Again, thank you for your accomplished work.
Another comment that I received that I thought offered insight into Split Mask was from my friend, John Oughton, who I first sent the finished version to for feedback:

It's hypnotic. That prismatic beating heart, the overlays, the found stills and videos of suffering in Syria, the voice full of feeling... it made me realize that the split mask is a portal, not a disguise, a way to how everything/others are broken themselves, split from peace, from safety.


The story of how Split Mask arose and developed from a single burning image:

In the spring of 2013, an 'image' appeared in my mind of a 'split mask', and it obsessed me. Thinking I would have to build a mask from scratch, I put off constructing what I saw so clearly in my vision. But I found a cardboard base at an art store. I ripped it roughly and, with masking tape and cotton wading, papier-mâchéd it with white glue and water so that it was strong, and painted it white.

After the mask was made, I was compelled, in the way the muse compels, to write a poem so that I could create a performance piece wearing the mask for poetry readings. The poem was beating on the inside of my head and gave me no peace until I began to write it. The poem, 'Split Mask,' took a year to write, and went through a number of readers and poetry workshops until it was honed to the version here. The poem was completed in the summer of 2014.

In the meantime, I had a solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto in January and February 2014. I needed one more painting for the show. For 3 days, just before New Year's, I turned my computer and phone off, and painted a 5' square painting, a self-portrait of the split mask and the art skeleton wearing the yellow lace that I stored it on. Earlier that fall, I had had one of those 'visionary' moments - I saw a large canvas with a diagonal mass of gold rising. 'Split Mask' is a copper and metal gold leaf, charcoal, graphite and acrylic painting and was ready for its early January 2014 installation.

In the summer of 2014, I was memorizing the poem, Split Mask, for a poetry feature at 100,000 Poets for Change in Toronto. I set up a video camera and performed it in front of the painting. This rehearsal became the core of the performance videopoem you see here.

Asked to feature at a fundraiser for a Syrian Refugee put on by the United Church in Toronto, I decided to show some of my unpublished videopoems. I made a very rough cut of Split Mask, adding war footage I found on The Internet Archives. Note: although I began writing the poem the summer the dictator of Syria began using chemical weapons on his own people, nowhere in the poem does it mention him or Syria specifically. The poem, rather, refers to these issues in a more universal way.

Wishing to complete the Split Mask video, a friend offered me a deadline to present it at a private poetry salon in January 2016, and so I locked myself away for weeks producing it. I added a number of effects. Looking through an old hard drive, I found various photo shoots in the split mask taken over the years (I use myself as model because I'm free - can't afford to pay actors or models). I also had an echocardiogram done in 2014, and obtained a medical CD of it because I wanted to use it in a videopoem - it was challenging, but somehow I transferred some footage onto my Mac (the medical imagery is Windows-based). I woke one morning knowing that I had to use that footage in Split Mask. The echocardiogram clips are untouched: the blue is blood from my veins, the red is oxygenated blood pumping out through my arteries, the pace is the actual pulse of my heart.

Split Mask, then, is a layered poem and performance videopoem.



I have a chapbook, Performance Poems (Epopeia Press 2016), with the poem, 'Split Mask' that I sell at videoperformances around town. Please contact me through my website if you would like to purchase the chapbook: http://brendaclews.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My latest painting




Arabesque, spiraling, undulating men, © Brenda Clews, 2016, Windsor and Newton professional watercolours, some Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolours, a little mixed media, all permanent pigments, 5'5" x 2', on Canson archival 140lb watercolour paper.

While still untitled, this painting is finished. It took about 2 weeks. I photographed the painting in direct sunlight to get the colour as accurate as possible. I prefer a photo taken in full spectrum light, of course, even if a watercolour painting should not ever be in direct sunlight. Out of direct light or in artificial light, the colours are deeper. This painting has 5 layers of various archival varnishes that are recommended by Golden to protect the pigment and which also help provide some UV protection for the painting.

Here is the original, untouched photo - I shoot in raw. The colours captured by my Canon 60D are surprisingly good, except the blue, which, while it is ultramarine, should be more towards the cyan range because it's watered down and other colours were mixed into it in parts. All the cameras I've used have problems with blues, I've found.

I tweaked some areas in PSE for the final version: the blues I shifted towards the cyan range, toned down the yellows and pushed them towards a orange-cadmium yellow a touch and slightly darkened the overall painting as it would be in a room - in fact, I always colour correct with the painting beside me to calibrate the colours as closely as I can. Still, in direct light, what you see is very accurate (though one would never keep watercolour paintings in sunlight - rather, on a north-facing wall or where sunlight doesn't reach). Taking the final photo was the one and only time this painting will ever be in sunlight.



Monday, February 22, 2016

'Performance Poems' chapbook is published!



My new chapbook, Performance Poems, will be ready for my performance videopoem presentation at Mount Pleasant Library on Thurs evening. 'the Performance Poems' (Epopeia Press, 2016) is a limited edition of the poems that I do in performance and that I have made multi-media videos of, and will be available for sale at the event.

On the back cover:

In 2013, Brenda Clews began performing poems that a repertoire of imagery, drawings, paintings, masks, choreographies of creative movement, had accumulated around. She videoed these readings with a tripod and edited them with a newly-found creative freedom. The subjectivity of the poet performing the poem is central in a personal nexus of arts - poetry, painting, dance, video editing - each of which comprise a different access to the same topic yet all of which emerge from an inner drive to produce a composite approach to a theme. Her oeuvre draws on the multiple resonances of intersections of writing, painting and videopoetry. Poem fragments emerge in drawings. Or a painting evokes a poem that is later inscribed in it. She may recite a poem while dancing it wearing a mask that has emerged from a painting. The poem, mask, dance, painting, soundscape and art house video editing, however they appear in a single piece, arise out of the same creative process. Each multi-media project is a contract of elements, a unity of multiply intertwining energies. The videopoem, then, becomes the stage where the entire show can play.

Toronto Urban Folk Salon
Thursday, February 25 at 6:00 pm
at the Mount Pleasant Library 599 Mount Pleasant Road (south of Eglington)
Featuring: Gannon Hamilton, Brenda Clews, Norman Cristofoli, Ann Elizabeth Carson,
Glen Hornblast, Kirk Felix and Jeff Orson

(Promise to hold a launch for this chapbook in the near future - and show a bunch of the performance videopoems - it's 40 pages, 7" x 10", and quite lovely.)




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Books to Come!


Good news. I received a contract from Quattro Books to publish my novella in the Spring of 2017 (my poetry book with Guernica Editions is coming out this Fall). Another publisher sent a response that made me feel that rare thing, understood as an author, and I consider it my first review: "We found your formal experimentation with "S*'s" characterization highly appealing, in the way it plays at the boundaries of poetry to reflect the sensuousness of experience. Overall, we felt it was an accomplished work."

My book has found the right home. Lovely to join the Quattro family!!!