Sunday, July 27, 2014

the scavengers

There's a story in here somewhere but I tend to go off on tangents even I don't expect - the story I was thinking of has no dragon-like beings. Even as this pair appear to be innocuous enough one can never be entirely sure about the intentions of dragons.

I may paint it, or I may just draw another. These days I'm having a hard time maintaining any creative focus. This could be blamed either on the weather (which has been wonderful) or on the news (decidedly not wonderful).

Til next time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

all at sea with Crow

In April of last year I wrote about a young man from Holland by the name of Boyan Slat who had devised a plan to clean the plastic detritus from the gyres of the world's oceans. Crow, who is off enjoying his annual mid-summer circumnavigation, sent me a letter:

My dear susan,

First the bad news is the garbage is still there - in point of fact, there's even more of it now than before. Young Slat’s plan, if you recall, is to deploy several V-shaped floating barriers that would be moored to the seabed and placed in the path of major ocean currents. The planned 30-mile-long arms of the V are designed to catch buoyant flotsam three meters below the surface while allowing my companions of the sea to pass underneath. “Because no nets would be used, a passive cleanup may well be harmless to the marine ecosystem,” he wrote in the feasibility  study. The idea is that over time, the detritus would flow deeper into the V , from which it would then be extracted. The report estimates that the plastic collection rate would total 65 cubic meters per day and that the rubbish would have to be picked up by ship every 45 days. Slat hopes to offset costs by recycling the material for other uses.

He's given me a picture of how one looks. I was delighted when I learned that the results of studies he and his team of researchers have done show that just one unit could remove half the plastic in the Great Pacific Patch. They've had great success with their first deployment and are now more than half-way to their goal of collecting $2 million for the next implementation of the plan.

I'm sure you'll agree to share this wonderful news with our mutual, and esteemed, friends. Now I'm off to visit my pelagic colleagues to let them know that help may yet come. The albatrosses, great auks and small, boobies, frigatebirds, gannets, murres, seagulls, penguins, petrels, and puffins depend upon clean seas. As do people. And fish. And sea mammals..

Warm regards to all,

ps: Please set aside some brandy and fruitcake to be shared on my return.

It's good to know there are people who don't take 'impossible' as an answer. After I read Crow's letter I found a few loonies down the back of the couch and made a small donation to Boyan Slat's website  The Ocean Cleanup. Whatever helps. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

no going back

A couple of weeks ago while digging through some old photographs I came across an out of focus snapshot of a picture I painted thirty years or more ago. I have no idea why I had polar bears and their lady guides climbing down a grassy bank, nor what they're thoughts and plans are regarding the young man and the other bear, but it must have seemed significant at the time. Anyway, what I did see was at least half a dozen things I'd do differently now that I have a bit more skill using watercolors. The first thought that occurred is that they should be on their way back to a land of ice and snow - a far better environment for the polar bears than a mossy slope. The next was that the composition would be much improved by losing the guy and the other bear. 

This is as far as I've got, and likely as far as I will get, with this project. Once I'd redrawn the picture and begun adding color it wasn't long before I realized I no longer had much interest in painting nubile young women riding, or otherwise interacting with, large and dangerous wild animals. What did I think happens when you try to hug a polar bear? Of course you know what happens, the polar bear isn’t going to be into it, and it’s probably going to try to eat you.

On the other hand there's a brave man named Kevin Richardson, a South African zoologist, who studies animals native to Africa. He's studied lions to such an extent that he seems to have uncovered the secret to not being mauled to death, as you will see. He has decades of hands-on experience studying how lions behave, and he was able to use that knowledge to his benefit (and ours) in an amazing way.

Now I shall return to painting Crow and friends - perhaps there'll even be one with an old lady :) 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

crow on the range

It just so happened that I'd been working on turning another of Crow's sketched portraits into a colored image for his scrapbook when what should I find but the following piece of good news:

'A room full of surprised veteran B.C. Aboriginal leaders erupted in “cheers and tears” after the Supreme Court of Canada, in the most important aboriginal rights case in the country’s history, ruled that the Tsilhqot’in First Nation has title 1,750 square kilometres of land in south central B.C.'
from the Vancouver Sun on June 27th

'The Canadian Supreme Court decision gives full title to Yinka Dene of their land. Not all First Nations, just the 6 bands in the Yinka Dene Alliance. This probably means the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal to the Pacific Ocean is Dead. Yes Enbridge can route around the Yinka Dene lands, only at greatly added cost.'
from Daily Kos on June 27th

While this is definitely good news for the First Nations people and all of those who love and respect the land, Crow has his own opinion about what it will take for  things to improve:

I've yet to hear anyone say that they want no power/generation. Perhaps they're envisioning some sort of fairy-dust based power that has no environmental impact? No, that's not true, fairies are mass-raised in factory farms for their dust, it's a brutal industry....  ;) As everyone should understand by now you can't reasonably just move the problem off into some other corner of the world and say, "I can't see it any more, so problem solved!"

Ultimately, the only solution is to reduce demand. And that's where the focus needs to be. Humanity would do well to remember The Great Law of the Iroquois:

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

midsummer's eve with Crow

Crow was kind enough to pose again while the three of us enjoyed the view from his terrace in Alternate Halifax this week. In case you don't know already, AH is a large town that overlooks a very large ocean on the planet known as Alternate Earth, a perch from which Crow occasionally flies from to visit those of us who live on our own regular Earth.

Thought for the day:
Nature always gets the last word.

Happy Summertime

Saturday, June 14, 2014

back to my work

It looks as though summer festival time is on its way here; one afternoon a couple of days ago it was actually warm enough for us to take our coats off for half an hour while we walked around the park. Yes, things are looking up - at least in these parts, and, hopefully, where you are too. As you can see, Crow is prepared for the local Tattoo. But I did make him take his bagpipes down the road and around the corner to practice. There's only so much a person can take.

Speaking of how much a person can take, a few weeks ago I made up my mind to try out a social network. No, I haven't joined facebook or twitter, what I did instead was to return to Deviant Art - or dA as it's fondly called by members. My first foray there was in 2009 when I signed up, posted a couple of pictures, became overwhelmed by the sheer chaos of the site, then promptly ran away. This time I've managed three weeks and it's still pretty interesting - huge, yes, with 31,000,000 members - but, as you can imagine, there's lots to see. Some of the work I've seen so far is phenomenal - not all, but that's to be expected in an open forum. It's nice to see that so many people are trying.

What's even better for me is that it's participatory rather than being strictly an online place to post things for sale. It's good to be able to have conversations with other artists about their processes and inspiration. While I'm interested in a number of subjects it's not like I can engage in intelligent conversations about physics with physicists, music with musicians, archeology with archeologists, investments (hah) with economists, or the finer points of enlightenment with mystics. What I can do is talk about art with other artists now and then, even when we work in different media.

The other good thing is that I'm discovering some fresh enthusiasm for painting and maybe trying some things I haven't done before. Having only made artwork for the blog these past years my tendency has been to work faster than I used to do. We'll see how that goes - old dogs, new tricks.. you know the rest.

ps: It only took me a year to paint this one :) That's the other thing - drawings I never get around to finishing.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

other people's work #97

I haven't done an 'other people's work' post for a long time, but the paintings Kim Alsbrook are really worth a look. The project, called My White Trash Family, are miniatures painted on pieces of flattened trash rather than the ivory or expensive linen canvasses such items of self regard usually decorated.

Although the portraits themselves are very beautiful, she has certainly brought the notions of privilege inherent in great wealth crashing down to earth. 

 " ... a clutch of beer cans ... crushed flat. On the surface of each was painted a bust dressed in 18th century collars and frocks, and posed as if standing for Gainsborough himself. The aristocratic air of the subject clashes with the disposability of the medium to create an exquisite tension suggesting volumes about the nature of family portraits and the value of art itself."

— Savannah Morning News Review   

Statement from Jesse Brass on Vimeo.

Thanks to Kuriositas