Labels

My time is extremely divided and limited. I try to steal moments to fit in making my artwork.   I started to make little drawings with watercolour on these paper labels. They only take a moment and I consider them mini-meditations.

Recently, my beautiful, creative, intelligent daughter with hearing aids was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. Like the hearing loss diagnosis, it was a shock but it explained many things: her hypersensitivity to the way socks feel, her inability to transition from one thing to another, her unique way of speaking.

Then I realized that we are all labelled and have many of them. I’m working on making hundreds of these little label drawings, of random things that catch my interest. On a recent weekend at a friend’s cottage, my seven year old wanted to paint on some of these labels too.  I would love to see them integrated with the ones that I paint in a large installation–perhaps pinned on the wall, or hanging from threads, or in drawers and envelopes.

These labels may be part of us but don’t necessarily define us.

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Collaboration.

Image

Sometimes I get “stuck”. When I’m teaching a lot, grading, taking my daughter to appointments and not in my studio, I get stuck. I stare at a blank canvas (well, actually I don’t use a lot of canvas, but you know what I mean). But I have to practice what I preach: “It’s just a canvas”, I tell my students. “You are making the painting, the painting is not making you.” How much power that empty canvas can have over an artist is pretty incredible. It’s because it represents a multitude of possibilities that you don’t know where it’s going to lead. Yes. Terrifying.

I love drawing. Drawing is so immediate and almost primal. I love watching kids draw because they are so engaged in watching the mark take place on the paper. They are not thinking if critics and curators are going to see it. To them, it’s almost magical that this line is coming out of the crayon. It really is a collaboration between the mind, the crayon, the eyes and the brain.

So. To unstick myself and get back to what I love, I bought a huge sheet of heavy drawing paper. Four feet by eight feet. I put it up on my studio wall. And I let my kid draw on it. And then I draw in response to her marks. It takes all of my being not to say, “Oh don’t mix those complementary colours together, sweetie. You’ll make mud.” Or, “Um, I wouldn’t put a line there, it kinda ruins the composition.”

We are collaborating on this large scale drawing –her lines upon my scribbles, wide arches of muddy paint colours over my washes. I realize that because my kid is so much part of my life, and much of my life in the last year has been about dealing with her hearing issues, that I should involve her–really involve her, in my art and in a visual way.

Loud kids concerts

My daughter is hard of hearing. She was identified late at 3 and a half years old because she can hear mid and low frequencies but not high ones, like “s” and “f” and birds singing and tea kettles whistling. She got her first hearing aids when she was four. They have been  miraculous! I call them “magic ears”. Anyway, this past weekend in Toronto, we went to our school’s Fun(d) Fair, and our street’s rock festival and now this afternoon a kid’s rock festival. All of these events are really really loud. Now, you would think that for a hearing impaired child that would be helpful! But no! Hearing aids, unlike glasses with vision, do not correct your hearing. They amplify sounds. So, you can imagine if the concert’s too loud for me, what it would be like for her!

But she’s stubborn, and told me she was fine and wouldn’t turn off the aids or take them out.