Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Becoming Story, Uncovering Self

I draw darkness.

The 4B pencil leaves a slick glide of graphite on my paper and I feel the damp air, cool with dew not yet fallen, clammy on my thin, child shoulders.

I pause here, mind open. Behind me the infinity of dark forest, tall selves of trees shifting and whispering deeper darkness against the night sky above.

My bare knees locked, toes dig into the gravel between rough patches of grass, looking for warmth from the earth under my feet.

In front of me the paper sucks up lines and slowly becomes one with the heavy night air in my mind.  In front of my shaking child-self, the door opens. A woman's arm bars the lamplight from within as it slides across the porch and down the dusty steps.

I wait in the moon's cold glow.

I am here forever.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Growing and Idea Fom the Ground Up

When pencil hits paper, sometimes it's nice to just let the point wander, doodle aimlessly and see where you end up.  At other times, the memory of a moment or the quirk of a facial expression in the mind's eye insists on becoming more.
More tangible, more rounded - and when I spend time with that thought, I find more accrues around the point of the pencil and more still until there is a character and the pencil is tracing the line of something which - when followed, becomes story.

Here are some moments which grew out of childhood memories - of making things with zeal and determination, lots of tape and a very little idea of HOW to make the thing at hand.  - of the slope of a hillside falling away in front of me and the vista of possibilities all there, waiting to be set in motion. - of handstand competitions among siblings, of waiting, waiting waiting... (oh, being a kid involved so MUCH waiting) and best of all, the hug of someone always ready to join in and take at least half the blame.

The story and the thumbnails are all developing at the same pace, and are becoming a book dummy.
A few of the finished illustrations were entered - and accepted - into this year's CANSCAIP Illustrators Art Exhibit held for two weeks around the Packaging Your Imagination seminar day at Humber College just a week or so ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A good day

Working away, developing drawings in support of a lyrical text but today I run into a roadblock. From a quick sketch that has the right feel but the wrong proportions, I redraw and redraw again. Every iteration pulls farther and farther from the vision I hold in my mind.

Taking a break for lunch.

Regardless of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of day this happens to be, any day where you can find time to do something you love and enjoy the feel of the sun on your face is a good, good day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Making friends - Tiny Friends, that is. Pocket Dolls.

When I was small, I loved tiny toys.  the kind that would fit in your palm or pocket and when Kiddles were the big thing, I craved one with every fibre of my being.  My neighbour had a whole collection.  My best friend up the street had a few, but I only wanted one.  Just one.  And when one was finally mine, the sheer delight of it eclipsed everything else... and at this distance I cannot recall who gave it to me.  It was most likely my Godmother, since she was one of the few people who would ask what I wanted for my birthday and who bought me something new.  In our large family, most toys and clothes were handed down.  I had two regular sized dolls, both passed on from a friend who no longer wanted them.  Two!?  How could one properly love and play with TWO dolls, much less give them away!? I felt vaguely guilty at how fiercely I loved one when the other was tumbled upside-down among the bedclothes or blocks, and wondered if the dolls themselves minded.  I thought they might.

So when dollmaking crept in to my imagination as an adult, it was always with the idea of something tiny.  Something you could slip into a pocket, take along in a car, and where if you had three or four of them, they could all be played with at once, a whole adventure of dolls.  (I'm pretty sure if you look it up, you will find that is the term for a gathering of more than one doll.)

I began with one.  A prototype.  Loved all 3 1/2 inches of her, from her touseled blue hair and smudged nose to her tiny unformed turned-in toes.  And she was so special a little thing that I put her safely by until I could make her a friend.  My children have learned to dread it when I say I have put something they ask for in "a safe place". It means they may not see that thing again for a good, long while.  And so it is with Doll One.  Onesie is safely snoozing somewhere.  Snug and secret.  So I made Twosie.  She had no hair.  I simply could not decide what colour her hair should be.  But she had a wide, sunny smile and a bright yellow dress to match.  She seemed so HAPPY I had made her.  And although she stood beaming at me under my lamp, watching me work for a long while, eventually she must have gone off to find her friend, because she disappeared.  I know one day while turning out a drawer or unfolding tissue from around some precious thing in a box, I will find the two of them making up stories, telling dollie secrets and enjoying themselves wonderfully together.

But I was still without dolls.

And I had a craft show to attend.

So I sat down with fabric and my weensy template and drew out a whole dozen dollies of different colours.  And I stitched, stuffed, painted and stitched some more.  I took three along on the drive to the craft show, stitching their hair on the highway between Toronto and Kingston as the early sun barely cleared the dashboard, and four more the week later, who came downtown with me to an artisanal store here in Toronto where others like me have brought work together to be sold.

And again, I have no dolls.

So I'm stitching again.  Making Tiny Friends to send out into the world in their little matchbox beds to make friends and make magic in quiet hours and hushed corners - or possibly get up to zany tricks and antics in circuses they cause to happen around them.  I wish I knew.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Unfinished but not abandoned

August 31, 2015

Today's doodle, photographed and posted on Facebook bobs up in my mind.  Twirls lazily in the mental current and glints invitingly.  I know what it is about, this bottle whose contents entice and yet bring reluctance... is a memory.  19 years old, of a kettle rinsed, and a boy just two, demanding both it and a tea-towel.  And rubbing industriously.  Sometimes action is needed to help thoughts gather, become solid, so I don't interfere too soon, but eventually I ask - why all that rubbing, when the kettle is clean and dry by now?  My older son replies very seriously: "It is to give the genie a chance to come out.  Like knocking on his door."

Ah.  In that flash between the boy rubbing a kettle and his words falling on my ear, a story falls into my head.  About how we become.  And how we lose some of what we could be, over time.  And possibly, tenuously, how we might regain some of what we have lost, to be our whole selves.  Or more whole selves.  Perhaps.

I said to my son: well.  That gives me an idea.  Quite a story, in fact.

He laid aside the tea-towel, kettle resting on his Osh-Kosh little legs and asks: Can I have that story?  Is it mine, because I gave it to you?

Yes, son, of course.  It is your story.

And now, 19 years later and rolling around in my mind, first draft in the back of a drawer for years already, it is more relevant and more his than ever.

And it comes out in doodles.  In flashes of memory, bits of insight where I realize WHY something I wrote had to be so indeed. 

And possibly, even, what might come next.

Although, as with most really good stories, that part is never certain until you read it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dream of Flying - Fleeing Mice - WIP for Toronto Art Crawl Liberty Village Sat Jun 13 11-6

Couldn't sleep.  Got up over an hour before my nice, early alarm because my toes were dancing and my mind was already well on its way to today's buzzzz at the Art Crawl in Liberty Village. 

These last few days I've enjoyed filling out my display with small pieces, sketchbook images growing into paintings.  This one just made me grin - and got all kinds of music playing in my mind. (And the first person who tells me the name of the song in my head wins a prize.)

The idea - of being able to just lift into the air and leave problems behind - is an age-old daydream.  Trouble is, your problems might just be able to do the same thing... and then, if you are fat little mice, you look like this:

Come down and say hi if you can.  I'll be the grin behind the table at the corner of Liberty and Pirandello.

Hope you all have a fabulous day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I.F. - Airborne - A Dream of Flying - Work in Progress - Prep for Liberty Village Art Crawl outdoor show June 13

I clearly recall the sensation of lift and wonder that comes with a dream of flying.  The bliss with which it colours the day after waking. The sense of possibilities, endless and unknown which I carry around with me to this day, a gift from that dream.

Night washing away in the dawn is yet part of the dreamer, the flier.