Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Disjointed State

I am definitely your typical night hawk. It's not that I don't get tired - I do...but my brain can go a few more laps than my body these days. I'm up late almost every night and if I don't force myself to bed at a designated time I could find myself up still when the sun rises.

But not all is wasted. For the most part I do work during the night. In fact it's my favorite time to work. The house is asleep and everything is perfectly silent aside from the hum of my computer hard drive and the occasional nose whistle from the Goose as he dozes at my feet.
There's also something about my disjointed know - exhausted body versus wired brain that makes for very rich ground imagination-wise. Thoughts and ideas are lucid and ever flowing. One mans exhaustion is another mans high...or something like that.
Today's pic is another rock carving of mine. This one has also been fitted with copper tubing so it can double as a water feature. It's designed to be hung on a wall, propped in a rock grouping or built into the bank of a pond. Very versatile.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Forget The Tree

Every year it feels like the weeks between September and December whiz by with increasing speed. I no longer need to look at my calendar I only need to check the showcase at the local big box store during my better than weekly visits. They will let me know when it's time...time to buy food for the lawn, decorations for Halloween, Christmas lights for the tree...oh and don't forget the tree. And even if I wanted to feed my lawn when more convenient or even practical there is no guarantee I will be able to find 'product' since the store in its infinite wisdom, of what's best for me, will have removed the lawn food to make way for the next big 'push'. In this case the over-sized inflatable characters and displays you would normally have to tune in to the Macy's Day Parade to see. After all nothing says warm holiday spirit like an eight foot inflatable Snow Globe, complete with blowing snow, tethered to the front lawn.
Today I wanted to post a pic of one of my favorite artists work . I never get tired of looking at pieces by Henry Moore.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Big Ole' Whatever

This is one of my rock carvings that I have turned into a wall mounted water spitter. When carving any rock you can either impose your own will and chisel away, usually done more so when the grain or the veining is what you seek to exploit as in the case of marble or soapstone, or you can follow the cues the rock is giving you. In other words to exaggerate what the rock already looks like. We've all done it. We look at a rock and think it looks like an animal or a face or a big ole' whatever.
And if you have never done it try it today with the very next rock, cloud or pile of mashed potatoes you look at. Ask yourself what does it look like? It's a great exercise for your imagination. Unfortunately it's a skill most adults lose especially in this day and age of motherboards and megapixels.
Ask any child to look at a rock and to tell you what they see. My guess is that within seconds they will rhyme off an assortment of critters real and imaginary. Something to be nurtured..."he who has imagination has wings".
In this case the rock was perfectly shaped for hanging on a wall with a great downward gaze which is what I chose to work with. After carving it was drilled and fitted with copper tubing to accept a water hook-up through the back. I can picture this mounted on an Ivy covered wall spitting into a hewn rock bowl.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Deja VooDoo

Okay this post is all about that little piece of weirdness that invades all our lives from time to time. You know when something happens that sticks in your mellon until you fall asleep and you find yourself thinking about it again when you wake up. It could be anything but the point is it is weird to you...not necessarily anyone else. Which doesn't really matter anyway since it sounds nuts when you try to explain it. I like to call it Deja VooDoo.

I've had many episodes over my lifetime and they range from odd to seriously freaky. This one is half way up the scale...somewhere around weird 'with a bullet'.

Anyways here goes, last Summer Jewel and I took a day trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton Ontario. I like to take photos of rock formations, boulder groupings and such so we made a special trip to the Rock Garden section of the park. I had my chance to take many photos and this pic above is one of the shots I took.

Now cut to a few weeks later and while searching rock photos on-line (yes I need a life) I came across this photo of a vintage post card. The shot was taken from the exact same spot that I took my shot. The plant material has changed over the years and the large sentry boulder has begun to lean with time but it is definitely the same spot. The date on the card is not visible but the blurb I had read dated it at around 1964...forty four years later and I was standing in the same shoes as this post card photographer - for just a few seconds. Not to mention the fact that I even came across this post card at all. Definitely a clear cut case of 'time travelling' Deja VooDoo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stuffing With Jelly

We all have wacky people that we know whether at work or in our 'hood. As I get older I find myself following an unclear path. Meaning my ideas are changing with age. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing as I am very open to learning and adapting and "not set in my ways" as the saying goes. But where does it all end? How different a person will I be in another twenty years from the person I was twenty years ago?

It's all very exciting actually...this new freedom to become whatever I want. I've always told Jewel that when I get old and really nuts I'll be that guy in the neighborhood that steps out onto the back deck at 5:30 every morning and plays the bagpipes or fires a cannon while wearing rubber boots, boxers and a Top Hat. Followed up with a verbal broadcasting of a recipe for turkey stuffing with jelly beans - at the top of my lungs of course.
The reason I feel this will happen is because being artistically inclined I'm given a very wide berth to do as I please. Others are very accepting of crazy people as long as they have a talent for something. In fact Jewel usually 'has my back' in public and will justify my actions by quietly saying "it's okay, he's an artist" at which time anyone listening usually nods with acceptance followed by..."ahhh".

Now every community has one of these of individuals but we've been in this home for almost eight years now and I can't find ours so I've concluded there is a good a chance as any that it could be me. Try it yourself. Look around you if you can't find yours...your probably it.

My picture today is an English topiary garden. Half a century old by the looks of it. I have a huge interest in these gardens on many levels. The discipline needed to create them, the history and the sculptural appeal. And the fact that it's all outdoors doesn't hurt either. If I had grown up in England (which almost happened) I would have loved a job in a garden like this. Maybe in my next life...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pepe The Donkey

Another day another anti-climax. The Art Fair has come and gone and like Pepe the donkey following a carrot on a stick I am preparing for the next venue that has accepted me. Which in this case is the Canada Blooms show in Toronto being held in March 2009. The Art Fair was fantastic and it was great seeing everyone out and about loading up on one of a kind goodies for Christmas 'and the like'.

Whenever Jewel and I attend these events we usually hear of even more shows and venues, through the proverbial Artisan grapevine, and the Art Fair was no different. I am now aiming at what looks to be a great opportunity at a long running (51 years) Artisan show to be held right on the heels of Canada Blooms. It's juried and very competitive so I'll post my progress as it's available.

It has really been interesting for me to see no matter how much one delves into their 'art' regardless of the medium you can never get away from the business of it all. For me at least art is an escape where I can create characters and worlds of my own choosing. I choose the back story and future of each and every piece I do whether it's a script or sculpture. But now I find myself having to schedule, co-ordinate and promote for a portion of each day. I'm not complaining mind you but I'm also painfully aware that the clock is ticking. The one thing we have no power over is time and I have so much I want to do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So Called Gurus

As I prepare for my first indoor Art Fair I find myself brushing up on old notes - marketing, promotion and such. But I've always noticed that no matter what you read on the formalities of doing business there is something that is always overlooked. It's overlooked in classes, books and workshops. No matter what you are taught by the so called 'gurus' of the business world there is one universal truth that can shut a door in your face as fast as it can open it.

I learned this little tidbit from watching my Father make deals. If I haven't said it before I'm going to say it now. My Father was either the shrewdest or the luckiest person I've ever known. In reality the truth probably lies somewhere in between. He would take me along on many of his business dealings whenever and wherever they were held. Now at the time I had no idea of the weight of the transaction I was bearing witness to. Much of it due to the fact that I was around seven or eight when I started hanging out with my Dad. But more so due to the fact that the transaction was seamless and completely natural.

For example, one Saturday morning we ventured off to a 'meeting' with a supplier. I had no idea what this was for and probably didn't care but it was fun to dress in a shirt and tie, like my Dad, and go for a drive to another large Plant. Especially since being Saturday I got to ride in the front seat. When we arrived the Plant was closed except for the office but we were greeted at the door by an older gentleman also in a shirt and tie. My Dad shook hands with the other man and then introduced me. The other man now shook my hand. I'll never forget the feeling of being treated so equally.

We were given a quick informal 'walk through' of the facility which was a huge deal for me. To me this was Disneyland. Then we settled into one of the offices located near where we parked. So once the coffees were poured the chit chat began. My Father and the other gentleman began a friendly banter about the weather and then some generalities about current events all the while tightening and refining the conversation until observations about each others businesses were tossed back and forth like a beach ball. And was over. They both stood up at the same time and instinctively shook hands. It was like this whole thing was choreographed and rehearsed. I didn't hear a single mention of money or anything very specific for that matter.

As we drove away I asked my Father about the meeting and he responded by telling me that he had just bought a new roof for his Factory.

In the years following it became apparent to me that what I was watching that Saturday morning was two experienced business people doing nothing more than sizing each other up. Which brings me back to the universal truth I mentioned above. No matter how good the product or service is...people will only deal, when given a choice, with people they genuinely like.

At the risk of sounding like a greeting card it costs nothing to smile and be genuinely interested in the other persons venture or inquiry which in turn makes you more likeable. And on that note...

Today I'm showing a pic of a natural rock carved into a delirious grin. This is quite large at approximately 14 inches across and one of the first few natural rock pieces I sculpted.

Did I mention...only three more sleeps until the Art Fair at The Rose Theatre.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sleep With The Prehistoric Fishes

Only nine more sleeps until the artisan show at the Rose Theatre. Whoo Hoo. Unless of course you work in Film then it might only be five...but who's counting.

The actual date is November 22, 2008 when I will be flogging some of my work.

I'm enjoying the road my life appears to be following. I get to make things everyday. But I think for me the real buzz is the 'busting out'...the event itself and the public interaction. I'm very fortunate to of met some great people...both buyers and artisans.

Todays pic is a natural rock carving of a prehistoric fish fossil - my own twisted version of course.

And don't forget...Sat November 22 at the Rose Theatre... Be there or be square.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ascendo Tuum

I began to write my post with..."I woke up today to find old man Winter peering in my window", but then thought shouldn't it be old 'person' Winter? And actually 'old' can be kind of iffy as well. And what about Father Time or Mother Nature? Yikes. Political correctness is freakin' viral...modern day cooties. It spreads, infects and destroys indescriminately. In this case our language and ultimately our very culture no doubt.

I would like to believe that millions of years of brain sculpting did more than teach us to lift our knuckles off the ground. So what I'd like to propose is that the next time you are confronted with a 'politically incorrect' impasse turn to face the road seldom travelled and confidently walk forward extending your middle finger into the air and shout..."Ascendo Tuum" (Pron: 'as-send-o-too-um'). Which translates into..."up yours" but don't worry - not likely to be understood by too many. And in the case they do understand...their next thought will probably be..."cool, someone else that knows profanity in Latin". Now go forth and use your new powers wisely my fellow biped.

Todays pic shows one of my Lava Planters. This particular one is about 14 inches at it's widest. It's a light weight concrete mix that has been carved, burned and stained. In this shot it's overflowing with Succulents.

...later Alligator.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coffee And Pie

When I was very young my Father took me to many films. That was our thing...the movies. Followed by late night visits to a diner for his coffee and pie...I would have cherry Jello with whipped cream. It would be one of those great Father and son rituals that we indulged in every time a new war film opened at our local movie theatre. Which in our case it was the Westwood. My father loved war films and I soon grew to love them as well. Together we watched The Great Escape, Kellys Heroes and The Dirty Dozen to name just a few. One of my favorite movie nights included The Bridge Over The River Kwai. In it was a great line delivered by Alec Guinness that goes something like this..."There comes a time for every man when he realizes more of his life is behind him than ahead of him". And as my next birthday approaches I'm reminded of that line and the ritual I shared with my Father.

My picture today really defies description. I look at it nearly every day and when I do I feel beginning and no end. Just the way it should be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stupidity Has Its Place

For most of us we pluck away at our daily tasks without any thought about the bigger picture. By the bigger picture I actually mean the 'biggest' picture and that would be evolution of our species as a whole. But in reality the biggest picture is really like a mosaic...millions of tiny tiles, or pictures, working in concert to create the full image. That's how I wrap my mind around the whole concept. To carry the point even further I think that stupidity has a necessary place in evolution as well. I'll try to explain with a story...

Okay, so there were these three Cavemen. Now they were the wandering Nomadic type so basically they were looking for a safe warm place to set up camp this particular prehistoric evening. They came upon a steep rising mound and could feel the heat radiating from the crusty surface. As they scaled the rocky mound the heat increased. Very toasty, they thought to themselves and pushed on. Once they reached the top and could see the lip of a crater they stopped dead in their tracks. One brave soul, we'll call him UGG, stepped forward to investigate. He shuffled to the charred opening and peered down inside. This is great...he thought to himself, and as he turned to wave the others forward the crumbly lip gave way and UGG disappeared followed by a 'hiss' and a ribbon of steam. The other two Cavemen looked at each other backed away from the edge a few feet and began to set up camp. So basically as a whole we 'push the envelope' until disaster then we re-evaluate and modify our behavior. And my guess is that this is how it's been since the beginning of time. Sometimes bravery is really stupidity but as you can see from my historic account stupidity has its place. And in order to keep stupidity alive and well we mislabel it as bravery so as to keep a steady flow of 'volunteers' (see UGG). In fact we have even developed a system of accolades, such as medals and bestowed honours, usually posthumously.

For my picture today I have several individuals building a water feature. This is no doubt going to be gorgeous when complete. These individuals are really 'pushing the envelope' with this design/construction method. But in order to place the five ton capstone correctly they'll have to make sure the support rock does not shift when they lower it. They are going to need a 'volunteer'...see where I'm going with this?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Goose

It's Monday morning and I'm starting the week well rested for once. I have a huge 'to do' list today. The fact the clocks went back one hour makes it feel like I'm starting earlier. First up...the trees which are now mostly bare and gave me the chance to give them a good looking over for any damage and the like. I did find some 'Black Knot' on our Choke Cherry tree. The growth will have to be removed asap. For those of you unfamiliar with Black Knot it is a type of lumpy black fungal growth ~ very nasty looking stuff, that can collect seemingly anywhere along the branch structure. The only action available is removal of the afflicted branch well below the lump. Choke Cherry trees are absolutely beautiful and fragrant when in bloom so this is a small price to pay to keep it healthy.

For my picture today I thought I'd better give equal time to the other side of 'the Goose'. Here he is on his own less.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

10am Squirrel

There are certain moments or events in ones life that stand out as signposts or markers along the way of your personal journey. When you are acutely aware of everything going on around you in that few minutes, or maybe even seconds, and you know instinctively that you will remember this for the rest of your life. Sometimes they are good and sometimes, well...not so much.

This weekend I had a good one. I was invited, along with a dozen or so others, to a birthday dinner to be held at a fairly expensive eatery. Now what made this birthday dinner different was the fact that the 'birthday boy' was footing the bill for everyone...which in all likelyhood was several hundreds of dollars. And to top it off there were no gifts being exchanged. Here was this individual celebrating the anniversary of his 'birth-day' by giving instead of the more typical...receiving.

Personally speaking I'm a big believer in Karma. You know...ripple effect through the universe and all that. It also made me realize I had a long way to go in my own development. And that the 'realization' itself cast the next marker in my personal journey... well, that and the fact you'll never be alone on your birthday if you're the one buying.

Today I've included a picture of mans best friend and mine as well. This is 'Goose'. Not his best side but I love this shot. He's watching for the 10am squirrel which he terrorizes on a regular basis. He's a 75 pound English Bull Terrier and he couldn't be a bigger sweetheart...that is unless you're the squirrel.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dancing Skeletons

You have to wonder if there is any truth to the saying,"a guy thing". I guess being a 'guy' I'm probably too close to and therefore unaware of which of my idiosyncracies are mine personally and which are on loan from the 'club'. I never really bought into the notion that guys did a 'thing' that made them guys. Okay, maybe Three Stooges films...which I love and never fails to make Jewel roll her eyes...and leave the room. But even then I have to believe there are women somewhere in the world that love The Three Stooges. I mean they had wives right?

Anyways as I was walking through my local Rona for probably the third time this week I couldn't help but notice the similarities in the style of dress between fathers and sons. And I'm talking about sons that were little kids. Which I guess is why it never resonated before since the father probably dressed the little guy. And as soon as I made the observation it seemed like the floodgates opened and they were everywhere. Then I began to notice specifics not just to the father and son combinations but among the guys in general. Now in Rona you have to expect the tee shirts, work boots and such but while at the check-out I counted close to a dozen individuals wearing images of skulls in one form or another. Skulls on tees, on hats, on jacket backs. Hmm interesting...and as I pushed my lumber cart to my truck tailgate I noticed the trailer beside me had a Grateful Dead type skull decal displayed prominently. I then climbed up into the cab of my truck and twisted the rear view mirror to adjust my sunglasses and my favourite bandana of all time...that would be the black one adorned with mini dancing skeletons. Hmm...must be a guy thing.
The picture today shows a group of 'Boogas' as they wait patiently for some more sanding etc. These are all handformed concrete columns then chiselled and carved into what you see here. You can just catch part of the opening in the top where a potted plant is installed. This group ranges from 24 inches to about 36 inches tall.