Friday, November 30, 2012

'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace



Ink Ocean: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

Ink Ocean is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

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With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.




Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.

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 brendaclews.com

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photos from HOWL at Q Space last Sunday



The Nov 25th Howl at Q Space readings went very well. Here are a few pics taken by my beautiful niece, Tara Clews. We did set up a video camera, and I'll likely upload the clip.

The arduous task of memorizing what I was going to read seemed to work. I was lucky - my son, brother and niece came. And a couple of friends. We had a larger turn-out than expected on Grey Cup night.

Many thanks to Nik Beat for creating and hosting this series, 'Howl at Q Space,' and to Luciano Iacobelli for offering the space and serving us delicious coffees and other treats. My fellow readers and singers, Jennifer Hosein, Penelope J. Smith and Josh Smith, and Laura Rock and others, were terrific! A wonderful night, all in all.



I've never seen that look in my eyes before. ::smiles:: To the left, J.D. Kruger on his very smart Android superphone; the back of beautiful Tara Clews, and Nik Beat sitting to the right. Of course I pick a frame in the video where I don't look my age and aren't making weird expressions of grief and passion and tormented love and so on. Lol. Rather, the mad poet look. Surely that's it.

"...all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise."

Ok, not quite Coleridge's Kubla Khan, but hey! Poetry in Toronto. It's HOT.

Come to the next 'Howl at Q Space' the last Sunday in January and see for yourself.




Sometimes I can't resist playing in Photoshop; it's one of the few ways I relax. Not sure what filters, or what order I did whatever to arrive at this point.




Nik Beat at Q Space Nov 25, 2012, hosting his poetry and music series, Howl at Q Space, held on the last Sunday of every month from 7-9pm in Toronto, Canada.




Jennifer Hosein reading at Q Space. It's quite an incredible shot. You can see so much in her eyes. So much passion, really from the centre out.



The beautiful Jennifer Hosein, a featured poet at Howl at Q Space Nov 2012.

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 brendaclews.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charcoal Poems still-in-progress


Whew, this is a much better image of my painting. Still not quite there, but I'm working on it.


Charcoal Poems, work-in-progress, 2012, 5' x 5', charcoal and oils. 

I think this was shot at 40mm on my niece's macro lens with f-stop 3.5, some cloudy daylight coming in from a window on the right and daylight bulbs on clamp lamps with paper towels clipped to them to light the painting - and it looks like the top wasn't lit too well. The colour seems quite good - and you can well see here why I need to downplay that lilac by painting over it in whatever ways work to my eye (a beautiful colour but it does not fit the palette of this painting) - the upper part, what was left after I rubbed off all the purple paint, and the two lower sections had white scrubbed into them to dim the lilac.

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 brendaclews.com

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Performing Ink Ocean Sunday Night at Q Space


The poem that emerged from this drawing, Ink Ocean, is the one I will be performing Sunday night. Today, for the first time, slowly, halteringly, I recited it from end to end, so there's hope that I will be performing rather than reading it.

I attended Norman Cristofoli's chap book launch last weekend, The Fall from Eden, "a book about the transformation of humankind, the manifest destiny of our failure as a species to live in harmony with our environment, or even with ourselves." The Open Mic was called the “Apocalyptic Open Stage,” and he asked us to "bring a poem about the Apocalypse, the Mayan Calendar, The End of Days, Revelations, Nostradamus or any other end of this calamity of humanity."

On Open Mic, I performed the first section of Ink Ocean, on the Gulf oil spill, and reciting it from memory went over very well. So I was inspired to make the effort to memorize the whole poem, which will fill 8-10 minutes.

My son and niece, Tara, are coming, and I'll get him to babysit a video camera on a tripod, and Tara is a kick-ass photographer, so I've asked her to take photographs.

I'm one of four featured poets at HOWL at Q Space, 382 College Street, this Sunday evening, Nov 25th from 7-9pm. Q Space is a bookstore, cafe, and hosts literary readings and art shows. It's also the home of the publishers, Quattro Books and LyricalMyrical Press. Do come out, have a tea and a slice of cake, and enjoy some wonderful readings and songs by the features and on Open Mic.

 Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/oOl2a
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 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Feature at a Toronto Poetry Reading on Sun Evening, Nov 25

I will be one of four hot featured poets next Sun evening, from 7 - 9pm, at Q Space, 382 College Street, College and Borden, just east of Bathurst, along with Jennifer Hosein, Penelope J. Smith and Josh Smith at Nik Beat's Gaddist Poetry and Music event. There is also an Open Mic after our readings.

If you're in Toronto, or vicinity, do come out. We'd love to see you! Q Space is a cafe, bookstore, hosts literary events and also art shows - at the front end, behind are the publishers, Quattro Books and LyricalMyrical Press. A fabulous little treasure in the heart of Toronto.

I'm honoured to be reading there.

Here is a little charcoal sketch I did of Stedmond Pardy reading at the last Gaddist Poetry Event.




Last night I took a quick iPhone pic when I was down there. The whited-out sign says, 'Quattro Books.' It extends quite far back inside and can accommodate up to 50 people. (Take a look at blogTO's pics, way better!) Do come out for an evening of poetry and music, enjoy a tea or coffee and a slice of cake. We'd love to see you!!



Location on Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/oOl2a


View Larger Map

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 brendaclews.com

'White Wedding' at The Keyhole Sessions

Finally just did a photo shoot of this series. The Keyhole Sessions, 13 November 2012, and the theme was, 'White Wedding.' The Madame herself posed, and wore her wedding dress or various undresses of it. I had to leave early to be on Nik Beat's radio show, HOWL, to promote our poetry reading the following Sunday, so did the final drawing in a few quick minutes. Some of them (1, 6, 7) have had a bit of work; most are as is from that evening.


1- Women and Paper Lanterns, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, coloured conte crayons, archival art paper.


2- The Madame I, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.


3- White Wedding, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, archival art paper.


4- The Madame II, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 11" x 15", charcoal on primed cotton canvas sheet.


5- Woman, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, archival art paper.


6- Women of the Ocean, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 16" x 13", charcoal, coloured conte crayons, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, archival art paper.


7- Two Women, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 15" x 11", charcoal, Cretacolor aquarelle oil pastels, India ink, primed cotton canvas sheet.


8- Three Women, Brenda Clews, 13 Nov 2012, Life-Drawing at The Keyhole Sessions, theme: White Wedding, 15" x 11", charcoal, India Ink on primed cotton canvas sheet. I was rushing out to be on Nik Beat's radio show to promote an upcoming poetry reading and stopped at the back of the room, threw a canvas sheet onto the bar, and drew as quickly as I could. Painting this one might be fun.

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 brendaclews.com

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Drawing from the last Keyhole Life Drawing Session

Another drawing from the Keyhole Sessions 'White Wedding' on Nov 13, 2012. Untouched (I may tinker later on), charcoal, 11" x 15", archival paper. A 10 minute sketch. Click to see larger size.



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 brendaclews.com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Scraping Paint Off

Remnants of the purple paint that I have just rubbed off my large painting. No idea why the iPhone camera is reading some blue - it's pure purple, through and through.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

'Two Women': life drawing at The Keyhole Sessions

I forgot to set my computer to record the radio show I was on, along with Jen Hosein and Pen Smith, to promote our poetry reading on the 25th. Oh well. It was a busy day. The show was truly wonderful, though, and I will share it as soon as I get a copy.

But I did go to the 2nd last Keyhole Sessions life drawing event and have a few drawings to show. Rather than filling one post with them, as usual, because they're coming to an end (only one more session), I'll post one at a time.

These are the raw sketches, before I do anything to them. Of course, I'll post any that do get worked on as well.

'Two Women,' 2012, 15" x 12", charcoal, water-soluble wax crayons and oil pastels, India ink on canvas sheet.

The pose was quite complicated and time ran out, as it always does. While it was a 25 min pose, I chose not to work on the correctness of the drawing itself; rather, I drew something general and then spent most of the time colouring it with water-soluble oil pastels. While I tend to think that I can do colouring at home, really I can't. It's best done on-site. Luckily, the painting had a half hour to dry before I grabbed a cab to get to Nik's radio show, HOWL. Later that night, at home, I added some ink lines. Sometimes I wish we could take reference photos at life drawing sessions. Here the cross-over of limbs and intertwining of figures in 3D space was hard to translate into a 2D sketch, and I can see that spending more time on the basic sketch itself would have helped. Adding colour in the time allotted for the pose meant I had to move on before feeling that the drawing was as good as I could do. Meaning, the figures are a little abstract - expressions of feeling, I guess. Still, I feel it's an okay piece in the style of colouring developing in these figure drawings from life-drawing sessions.

The photograph was taken in direct sunlight to get the best white balance, and you are also seeing all the detail; on the wall, however, it is a little darker, more solidified.
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 brendaclews.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On CIUT.FM for a short poetry reading tonight

I'll be on the radio tonight - Nik Beat's HOWL - for a short spot, a poem or so, a little yak (10 min), along with two other lovely ladies, Jennifer Hosein (who writes great stories and does wild paintings) and Penelope J. Smith (fluffy the cat's Mommy, also, as you'll hear, a Dali Lama approved lady) as we promote a poetry reading on Nov 25th in the Beaches in Toronto. It's going to be a bit of a rush for me - the 2nd last Keyhole session ever is tonight. That ends at 10pm, so a cab to CIUT 89.5 FM for Nik's show, which runs live from 10 - 11pm. Hope it all folds together seamlessly, that we have a great show, and that I do some interesting drawings too!

You can listen live on-line: http://www.ciut.fm/shows/spoken-word/howl/

I'll also set my computer on a timer to record our portion of the show; if it works, hopefully upload that tomorrow.

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 brendaclews.com

Friday, November 09, 2012

Pat Stanley: 'Convergence' at the Propeller Centre


In the back room of the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts, after the bright colours of Jane Murdoch Adams' Boat Series, her joyful abstract paintings, you are greeted with, surprisingly, unexpectedly, the massive universe. Its stars bear down on you.

I stood in awe, gazing. Then I decided to get a glass of shiraz and stay to gaze, to talk, to ruminate, to appreciate, to allow myself to be transformed in the myriad ways we are when we encounter art that speaks to us in the language of our dreams.

Do I mean soul touching? Yes.


'Spiral Galaxy M101 : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley

For what else is the magnificent universe of stars that we miraculously are alive in?

Pat Stanley's latest series of paintings, Convergence, are striking, ethereal, monumental in a deep philosophic way, mystical, Surreal, and yet they are also realist works.

She uses high resolution photographs from the Hubble Observatory as inspiration and guides for the imagery that she paints: galaxies, nebulas. She also has photographed the abandoned houses in whose skeletons she paints massive star bursts of light and energy, of mystical grace.

In this series of paintings, there are no people. In this series of paintings, our domiciles, our shells are abandoned, empty. Does she paint a post-apocalyptic world? I asked Pat this, and she said, "Perhaps..." But I could tell this was not her intent. She paints the dream of us in our emptiness in a universe bearing in on our memories.

When we are empty of the twitter of our lives, spiritual forces can sweep in with vision.

How can you speak in this room of silent ghostly houses and massive sweeping star systems? Gaze. Let the stars enter.

Her artist's statement:
CONVERGENCE is a meditation on space, time and memory. Hubble telescope images and abandoned structures are used as reference points to examine the tensions between phenomena in distant parts (and times) of the Universe to the remnants of our manufactured environment. Vivid renderings of galaxies and nebulae are interlaced with monochromatic images of deserted buildings and neglected spaces. The work is at once engaging and disturbing; immediate and evocative.



'Serenity Nebula : Osaca House,' acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.

She described her process to me, and it is the opposite of what you would assume. She does not begin with a black background; rather, she starts by painting the galaxy or nebula on a white gessoed canvas. Then she adds the black background around it, the clusters and dots of stars. The whitened ghostly remnants of the houses and furniture are painted last. Yet the electricity and light and energy of the stars are what sweep out of the canvases at you standing before the edges of the starry night they portray.



'Universe in a Grain of Sand,' acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2012 by Pat Stanley.

"The Universe in a Grain of Sand," which was meant to be in the Propeller show, has 'been awarded "Best Acrylic or Oil Painting" in the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington’s 32nd Annual Juried Art Show in Bowmanville, Ontario, where it remains on view' her website informs us.

Its title is a riff on a famous poem by the 18thc poet, William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence":
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Which is a perfect poem for Pat Stanley's Convergence series.

Screen Capture of Pat Stanley's Convergence series at her website; most of these paintings are on view at Propeller right now.

If you are in Toronto, or close enough, do make your way to the Propeller Centre for Visual Arts on Queen St W. to see this show before November 17th, when it closes. Between Jane Murdoch Adams' bright and beautiful paintings, and Pat Stanley's vision and realist talent, you will leave richer than when you arrived.

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 brendaclews.com

'Charcoal Poems' painting-in-progress


Charcoal Poems, in-process, 2012, 5' x 5', willow charcoal, oils on double primed canvas.

These paintings are like writing. In the way that characters come to an author, I find myself getting to know the figures who have emerged and understanding what they are doing, what they are conveying, and how they are part of the visual imagination.

Written in the painting, The Charcoal Poems, which runs through the blue man who is floating, and by the ferris wheels, MAMA TOTO, and DISH in the STARS.

In the painting, to the right of the woman, some lines from Paul Celan's, 'In Prague':

The half death,
suckled plump on our life,
lay ash-image-true all around us -

we too
went on drinking, soul-crossed, two daggers,
sewn onto heavenstones, wornblood-born


My mother died in the middle of September this year, and I began this painting a few weeks later. There are references, I think. See the little woman the larger woman is attached by a red chord to? Like a mini-version, an inner child perhaps. I don't fully know what all the images are about, though, like remembering a dream, I am understanding them.

This painting is like working in a dream. Nothing at all like my usual process. I think it's almost finished, except for working on the white areas, which I'm thinking to paint with tinted pastel whites from the palette here.

Assaad Chehade, a masterful Surrealist painter who lives in France, wrote, in a comment of an earlier stage of this painting:
I don’t see - there - Marc Chagall or Frida Kahlo or Jean-Michel Basquiat.
I clearly see Brenda Clews with its artistic preoccupations (colors, Charcoal, canvas, and other elements) and its concern language, and even its musical relationships. A set (colors, words, music) can be influenced at a time - As they say the apostles of art.- but it has - already - exceeds any influence. Even if idolatry was introduced with writing, I don’t see any aspect of "icon" in your work. But I will go - without hesitation - to the narrative form. Which we call a sense, and not defend sense. Something that belongs to all visual cultures of the world.
Brenda, you are in the process of promoting the spirit of intellectual vision of the idea. You are currently working on a wonderful thing, it is not internal to the painted surface, but between the canvas and the viewer. Good continuations.
An update on Sunday, Nov 11th:

Worked on this all day yesterday, thought it was essentially finished. I was rather shocked this morning - the purple is not so bright under daylight bulbs at night. Not a great pic, but I don't have access to a better camera today. When it dries a bit, I'll apply a grey wash over the purple to tone it down somewhat - adding some Payne's Grey to the Dioxazine Purple wouldn't have worked, I don't think. A later wash will be better, but, with oils, you have to wait, and wait, and wait.....



(Although I have had the bright idea to put some fans in front of it and to leave them running all night - since I use water-soluble oil paints, which dry faster than traditional oils (at least for working, they still need 6  months to fully set), I may be able to finish this painting tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I'd like to start a new one - having discovered that my favourite size is 5' x 5, it will also be large.)
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 brendaclews.com