Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Rooftop archive 4 - dream drawings

Continuing with sorting through the rooftop archive, I took great delight in tearing up loads of life drawing exercises removing the proof that I can draw but really, at this point I hardly need proof! Of more interest to me, and thus kept, are the left-handed drawings I was encouraged to do while studying art at York University in Toronto. I think the following three drawings were from 1984 or 1985 when my professor for independent studies was sculptor Hugh Leroy. They are based on dreams/nightmares and I remember the b&w drawings being exhibited in the display cases of the fine art building at the time.

charcoal on paper, 56 cm x 76 cm

charcoal on paper, 56 cm x 76 cm

charcoal on paper, 76 cm x 56 cm

pastel on paper, 101 cm x 66 cm

Once I had regained my confidence and proficiency with my left hand, I was able to go back to my regular right hand and not be inhibited. I enjoyed using tackier media, such as this dream drawing in crayon, 101 cm x 66 cm, 

And of course, luscious and beloved oilstick!  Along with another two oilstick drawings (no longer extant) the following two works were exhibited on the walls of Calumet College lounge in 1985 as part of a two-person show with my friend Elizabeth Canfield.

101 cm x 66 cm

I didn't hear The Cure song till a few years later, but "A Forest" always made me think of this dream.

101 cm x 66 cm

For previous posts on the rooftop archives, look here, here and here.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Rooftop Archive 3

For previous posts on the rooftop archive, see here, here and here. One of the large portfolios from the roof archive had some large prints that friends had traded or given to me – some even inscribed “Happy Birthday, Lorraine” or “To Lorraine”.

This is an etching my good friend, Elizabeth Canfield created in our final year at CTS art school (1981). Although it is undated, I remember her working on it in the print room. It is the second print of an edition of four and the image size is 60 cm x 45 cm. 

This print is also by Elizabeth Canfield and is an undated photo-etching from when she studied printmaking at York University in Toronto (1982-1986?). It is entitled “The Ride” and is 45 cm x 60 cm. 

This etching is by my friend Jay Dampf (RIP) and is from our final year CTS art school printmaking class. Though unsigned and undated, I remember Jay working on this and giftng me the piece. The image size is 60 cm x 45 cm. 

This is a unique serigraph by Scott Gwilliams, who went to the same art school in Toronto, though in a different year than I. It is entitled “David” and dated 1983 by which time I was attending the fine art department at York University. The diptych image is 50 cm x 70 cm and dedicated to me for my birthday.

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Chinese New Year is this Sunday, January 22 and, as usual, we will celebrate on the Saturday night with a big feast of Chinese food. Quite a long time ago (last century!), I bought a Chinese cookbook and tried quite a few of the recipes. We always start our meal with a Phoenix Tail salad (a display of raw vegetables and egg slices arranged to resemble the extraordinary tail of this mythical bird) and sesame soy dip. I have given details of how to make this dip and arrange the salad on a previous blog, here. I also make Szechuan cucumbers annually to accompany this meal and give the recipe here. This year my husband put up all the decorations so things were in different places than previous years -- I liked the new configurations of decoration! The glass bricks that separate the kitchen from the entrance hallway are a great place to put things. Of course, there are also decorations on the door.

It is Year of the Rabbit this year (or Year of the Yin Rabbit, also known as Water Rabbit). For further information on Chinese New Year check out the Wikipedia page here.

Each year I make a simple drawing to cover up the original image on this elaborate decoration (it is originally from 2007 I think). In a previous blog I have shown a Year of the Pig cover up, but I also posted a picture of the full decoration. The decoration has always hung on the kitchen door, but this year it hangs on the living room door so can be seen when one first enters the house, as that door is directly opposite the front entrance door.

The kitchen side of the glass bricks is also decorated and the LED lights will be switched on during our feast. 

I have been asked many times why I celebrate Chinese New Year, since I have no particular Chinese connection. However, I used to live near Chinatown in Toronto and always enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere in the darkness of winter, late Jan or early Feb. When I moved to Ireland, I decided to continue this celebratory appropriation. It is an excuse to celebrate with good food and honour another culture. We decorate the house, and adhere to certain rituals of cleaning and luck. For further information on simple greetings that are easy to learn look here. Kung hei fat choi!

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

rooftop archive 2

 A few months ago I decided to go through a number of portfolios that were in storage on the rooftop section of the attic (the other side of the wall from my studio). I blogged about opening the portfolios and finding things here and wrote about some of the early works here.

Going back a little bit further even, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had held on to a few prints from CTS art school in Toronto. I think Blue Egg, an undated silkscreen print measuring 70 cm x 59 cm in an edition of 10 (this print is 10/10) is from late 1980 when I was in my third and final year. 

Also from my final year at CTS, though early the following year (1981) is an untitled etching. I did a test print of the linework before I added the aquatint.

 I remembered being teased mercilessly at the time by my friends/fellow art students for always painting and drawing sleeping subjects!

Although I did not pursue printmaking again till decades after art school, for awhile I enjoyed making monoprints - simply painting on the back of zinc plates and pressing them to paper with a wooden spoon as I didn't have access to a press. That summer of 1981 I became obsessed with tulips and I remember creating a series of monoprints of them in the basement of my parent’s house in the wee hours of the morning listening to an old record of Cream on a 1970s space-style Panasonic stereo. I loved the song Deserted Cities of the Heart, both the lyrics and Ginger Baker’s drumming. As I used the same zinc plate, the untitled works were all 38 cm x 28 cm. My good friend and cousin was visiting Toronto that summer and I gave her two from this series to take home with her – they are framed and on her wall in London to this day. Only those two, this one and one other from this series still exist. 

By time winter came along that year, my tulips became stemless and were more abstract. I remember creating this piece while minding a sister’s apt in downtown Toronto. It began as an oil pastel drawing within a matte frame and then I painted the surface with turpentine, so I am not sure how to categorize it (painting or drawing?). Untitled, 40 cm x 23 cm.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

rooftop archive 1

Happy New Year! Last year seems ages away now and before I got caught up in all the December activities, I had begun another purge by going through a number of portfolios and portfolio boxes that were being stored on the rooftop area adjacent to my studio. I blogged about that here and what had prompted the exercise. I never did find the specific drawing I was looking for, but this did lead me to find other things, properly document work, and finally, destroy quite a few unnecessary and/or substandard works. But here are some of the earlier works that I am keeping.

I destroyed most drawings from various life drawing sessions in Ireland (I decided I didn't need proof that I was able to draw!) but decided to keep this life drawing from my third and final year at CTS art school in Toronto. Pastel on paper, 81 cm x 56 cm, 1980

This graphite drawing is dated 1981 and measures 59 cm x 45 cm. It is signed as S. Lorraine (my first initial and my second name, as I am called by) and though not technically drawn as a self-portrait, I always thought of it as one. I find it interesting now as a precursor drawing to the work done for my first solo exhibition, held in Dublin in 1989 (I will do a future blog on that exhibition's work, which was also in one of the rooftop portfolios). 

Although this chalk pastel drawing is unsigned & undated, I am sure I drew it in 1983 either shortly before or shortly after my parents left Toronto to return to Ireland; it measures at 61 cm x 46 cm.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

Happy Christmas 2022!

Last Saturday evening we had our little family tree decorating event – listening to loads of xmas tunes, eating treats, and when finished, some relaxing time with chat by the fire and this year’s gorgeous wreath that our friend made for us. Happy Christmas everyone and all the best for 2023!

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Francis Bacon Studio

It seems like so long ago that I was in Dublin to see an exhibition at The Hugh Lane Gallery, but October wasn't exactly eons! I do like that gallery a lot, but for me it is a bit of a hike to get there, so I don't visit unless something really draws me to it. Regardless, any visit for a specific show always includes a gander at the permanent collection, which is fabulous. And a visit most certainly would be incomplete without peering at the Francis Bacon Studio in situ.

Since I have been busily cleaning up my own studio and having a good purge, I can only wonder how he did his work in the midst of such chaos. Personally, I need some order at the beginning of any new body of work - that period of time when I am tidying provides my brain with think-time.

Whatever Bacon's internal mindset was, however, he proved that he thrived on this exterior chaos. It is always a good reminder to me that every artist works differently and always with whatever they have.