July 28th, 2011
If you’ve seen the show Portlandia you’ll understand the reference in the title of this blog post. They did a sketch called “Put a bird on it”, where they make fun of the trend of bird motif covered everything. It’s really funny and you can watch it here. I’m thinking it will be the working title of a new series with birds.
As I get back into the flow of creating new work I’ve decided to continue creating small collage using reclaimed materials. I’m focused on sourcing wooden boxes as the base for these collage, and will use scrap book pages, security envelopes, thread, and birds cut from an encyclopedia.
I’m continuing with a style I started working on at the beginning of this year mixing the patterns created by the type on the book pages with the blue prints of the envelopes. Both papers are ones I’ve saved and collected. The wood I’ve used as the canvas for this collage is the cover of a wine box I bought at Value Village. I’ll be using the rest of the box for another piece.
My focus with this series is definitely whimsical scenes with birds. But I also want to create these with reclaimed materials upcycled into art. The most difficult part will be sourcing appropriate pieces of wood, though I’m also considering doing these on book covers.
It feels really good to be making new work.
July 21st, 2011
One of my favorite group activities that we did on the Foodtree retreat was a game called Deer and Wolf. Our group did an early morning walk from Foxglove Farm to a nearby lake in the forest and this is where we played. We did this exercise in groups of four, with one person playing the deer and the three others as wolves. The deer was blindfolded and positioned in an open area, and it was the job of the wolves to try and sneak up as silently as possible and steal the deer’s tail (a bandana). If the deer hears a wolf and points in your direction, then you’re out.
I was part of the first group to play the game, with Sam and Jonny as my fellow wolves, and Na’ama as the deer. As we started I felt myself slowing down and concentrating on every sound around me. I immediately fell into the mindset of an animal, though I felt more like a cat than a wolf. Pretending to be an animal was one of my favorite things when I was a kid, so I thought this was a great game.
The purpose of the game is to remind you to listen. The deer has to listen for sounds of the wolves sneaking up and prevent them from getting too close, while the wolves have to be as silent as possible.
As I stalked Na’ama I found myself in a state of clarity and focus that I haven’t felt in a very long time. I was actively listening in a way I don’t normally, and what I mostly heard was silence. For the most part the sounds of my own breathing and heartbeat were the loudest things I could hear. I moved as slowly as possible being very careful about where I placed my feet amongst the dry grass and sticks, and used ambient noises to mask my movements when I could. My biggest struggle was trying not to laugh as I did this because the trickster part of me loves sneaking up on people (ask Boris).
This week I’ve been reminded of this exercise as I look after a friend’s dog who is blind. His name is Charlie and he’s been this way since birth, so for him listening is an important part of how he makes his way through the world. As I spend time with him I’ve found myself once again paying more attention to sounds in an effort to imagine how he “sees”.
Active listening is clearly an art I need to cultivate because too often I find myself distracted and unfocused. How often do I really listen without the constant dialogue in my own head getting in the way? Both situations are a good reminder to slow down, listen, and strive for clarity of focus. Too-busy-life be damned.
July 21st, 2011
Chris Tyrell is the author of Artist Survival Skills: How to Make a Living as a Canadian Visual Artist, and he’s just published his second book. Next week he will be at Opus on Granville Island to celebrate the launch of this book, Making It! Case Studies of Successful Canadian Artists.
Making It! explores the professional experiences of various artists through interview and panel discussions. The book examines business practices that have significantly contributed to the development of visual artists’ careers. Chris will deliver a short presentation and be on hand to sign copies of his book and answer questions.
I am one of the artists he interviewed for the book, and I feel honoured to have been included. I met with Chris twice last year, once as part of a panel of artists, and then again for a one-on-one interview. It’s great to see all of his hard work come together in print form. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
Date: Thursday, July 28, 2011
Time: 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Location: Opus Granville Island
1360 Johnston Street, Vancouver BC