Sunday, October 31, 2010

Daily Practice 304/365

Title: "The Four Yachtsmen"
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The girls and I went on a little outing to a local park for a walk in the woods. As we walked down to the lake from the parking lot, we came upon a group of about 10 men wading around in the water with these miniature sailboats. It seemed they were here for a friendly regatta, which was sailed according to strict rules. And yes, although each man had a remote control, it only worked the rudder on the little boats - they went under wind power. E. and I went for a walk along the forest trail, but Z. stayed behind to watch the sport. Here you see four of the yachtsmen following their boats along the shore, making fine adjustments to their rudders to try to get the most speed they could out of the breeze, and to maneuver for positions as they came close to the marker they would turn around at.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daily Practice 303/365

Title: "Rising From the Line of Demarcation"
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It's a place of dark mystery; where obscure tales ebb and flow; the give and take of sea and sky constantly shifting. There's odd comfort to be found here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily Practice 302/365

Title: "The slightly goofy guardians"
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Every year, there are always signs of halloween spirit at the university. Some enterprising lab rats set up this display of jack o'lanterns to greet students coming for a lab session. Some students dress up in costumes each year, keeping the fun of the weekend even though their trick-or-treat days are over. Fun times!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daily Practice 301/365

Title: "The Shunning"
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I love the spatial relationship between these four trees as soon as I saw it. One of the trees stands away from the others, a little aloof in its erect posture. The other three seem to be clustered together, taking strength from each others company but looking a bit uncertain in their decision to cast out one member.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daily Practice 300/365

Title: "The Golden Light of Fall"
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I was at a gallery opening a couple of weeks ago and during conversation, someone said to me how much they loved the fall. That simple statement cemented an instant rapport between us, because fall is definitely my favourite season. I love the sweet/saltiness of fall - the warm days and cooler nights, the cycling between brilliant blue skies and storm clouds, and the transition of colours as fall progresses. Today I realized that the quality of light is something as an artist I appreciate about fall. Even at mid-day, the filtered light has a golden glow to it. The diffuse light on overcast days can really draw out the colours of the leaves against a dark, stormy sky. There just seems to be endless magic in the air on fall days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Practice 299/365

Title: "Aroma"
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I'm very blessed - both my wife and her sister are wonderful cooks. Today as I came into the house, I smelled the most wonderful aroma - my sister-in-law's cabbage dish. The way the cabbage is cooked with onions and pepper brings out a surprising sweetness in the cabbage. I knew as soon as I walked in the door what I would make as my daily image.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Daily Practice 298/365

Title: "The end of colour"
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It was a dull, dreary day today with a wet chill in the air and rain coming down. Harbinger of the coming winter. After a day spent indoors at work, finding the range of colours in this composition at home was a welcome tonic. A good reminder that while winter might seem very monochromatic, there is colour to be found.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Daily Practice 297/365

Title: "From across the bridge"
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Yesterday's storm gathered and broke with strong winds and lashing rain at about 1 am this morning, with remnants sweeping through the area during today. We had a long, languid Sunday morning together, culminating with lunch out at a small, cozy restaurant followed by a walk on a favourite path on the other side of the harbour. As we walked along, the clouds grew again, the wind became stronger and colder and there was some intermittent rain as we reached the car. A lazy afternoon in front of the fire back at home capped a perfect late fall/early winter day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Daily Practice 296/365

Title: "Gathering wind"
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Rain has been predicted for the past few days, but hasn't really appeared. The winds blowing through the region have cleared the air just over the water, giving a feeling of the sky lowering. Off in the distance, there's a greenish-gold glowing light just above the Olympic Mountains. We stood on the edge of the point, the gulls flying in front of us at eye level, the stiff breeze in our faces a mix of warm and cold air.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Daily Practice 295/365

Title: "Intertwined"
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I find the natural shapes of this tree very eloquent - I see beauty in strength, in texture and in form.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daily Practice 294/365

Title: "Everything, and nothing"
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The world is vastly immense in comparison to any problems one encounters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daily Practice 293/365

Title: "In Richard Serra's Studio"
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This spool of metal strapping has been tucked away in the corner of the walk for the longest time. Brought for some purpose long ago, but completely forgotten. Seeing it reminded me of Richard Serra's work, the physicality, the industrial materials, the shapes. Some of his earlier pieces made of lead sheeting were leaned up against the wall, or stacked seemingly precariously. Having walked past this metal for many days, it's only now I realize that Serra's work is referencing the everyday images we rarely stop to consider and really take in.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Practice 292/365

Title: "The Three Sisters"
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Beautiful waifs, floating above the crowd, barely acknowledging each other.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Practice 291/365

Title: "Split second impressions"
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Fall is my favourite season - clear crisp days, cold nights, frost in the morning, all accentuating the vivid colours. Once again, another set of impressions is added to those accumulated over the years, strengthening the bond I have with this season.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Daily Practice 290/365

Title: "Chasing false memories"
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Everyone in the house had strange dreams last night, full of puzzling and surreal events. It's as if the mind is creating false memories, which these dreams chase after, knitting them into disjointed narratives. Although the images themselves are tack sharp, the meaning is obscure and fuzzy.
I've walked these woods numerous times, each experience is layered haphazardly upon the others.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Daily Practice 289/365

Title: "Looking east to the Cascades just after sunrise"
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People are drawn to sunrise and sunset for many reasons, perhaps the main reason being the sense of calmness and peacefulness one feels at those times. As an artist, I love the colour palette of the moments before the sun rises, and the few moments afterwards, particularly when the sun is hidden behind the marine cloud on a frosty morning like today. I have been noticing while out on my morning bike ride that the colours are getting quite interesting in the past week or so, and I made a point of taking a camera to capture those intense golds, oranges, blues and aquas this morning.
As a visual record for further contemplation, I am glad I have those images. But beyond their value as a reference for the colours, it's difficult to work those images into something meaningful that avoids the cliché of being one of a thousand million sunrise images we've all experienced both first hand and through the media. One of the other interesting things about images made during a sunrise is the large gradations of tones (or "values" as one refers to them with respect to colours), which is often subtle and lost in the overwhelming saturation of the colours themselves. But converting an image to black and white makes the composition more about tones and shapes, and less about plucking emotional strings with a sunrise image. I think the black and white image invites closer inspection, draws the viewer in.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daily Practice 288/365

Title: "The Cadence of Silence"
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In his book "The Sounds of Poetry", Robert Pinsky writes: "Every speaker, intuitively and accurately, courses gracefully through immensely subtle manipulations of sound...It is almost as if we sing to one another all day. We do not need to be taught such things: if they were taught in school, we would find them hard and make a mess of them....we have learned with the sound patterns organically, for practical goals, from before we can remember, without reflection or instruction or conscious analysis, we all produce the sounds, and understand them, with great efficiency and subtle nuance."
Pinsky points out that this ability we acquired inherently as we grew up allows us to appreciate the sound of a line of poetry even if we have little idea of its meaning. Everything he's written about sound is equally applicable to our acquired drive to make art in an unself conscious way as children - of course, until we meet that teacher in grade school, the one who introduces us to rules and conventions. I think the same effect occurs with our appreciation of the sound of poetry - ruined by the emphasis in schools on rules and conventions of poem construction.
The thrust of Pinsky's book is outlined in this passage: "And yet, having learned these graceful, peculiar codes from the cradle – the vocal codes that poets have used to make works of art – we can gain a lot by studying the nature of what we learned long ago without study: learning to hear language in a more conscious way can enhance our pleasure in lines and poems." Again I see a parallel with visual art: the untutored artist or viewer misses out on a world of pleasure and understanding by proceeding solely on the premise of "I like what I like" when making or viewing art. Making a more conscious effort to really look at an image, to ask oneself what works and/or doesn't work in making the viewing experience compelling, is a way to sharpen one's eye, to increase one's awareness of the ways in which art succeeds in communicating ideas and to strengthen one's own art practice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Practice 287/365

Title: "End of a cycle"
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As summer moves to fall, the transition begins from harvest to decay. One of art's great functions is to pay witness to these inevitable events, to keep them before us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Practice 286/365

Title: "Post-industrial geometry"
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As I was leaving the office, my eye was first attracted by the shadows of the ventilation vents on the far wall of the building. The repetition of line and shape by the shadows cast from other parts of the building helped to determine the final composition.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Practice 285/365

Title: "A return to the familiar"
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We arrived back home today, very tired but immensely happy about our whirlwind introduction to San Francisco. The garden is winding down here, but there are still the odd bursts of colour hanging on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Practice 284/365

Title: "Portrait of Zuzka sitting, SFMOMA"
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We had a busy day, walking up the Filbert Street stairs to Coit Tower, having lunch on Pier 39 and then riding the F line over to SFMOMA. Most of the museum was closed for a change of exhibitions (I missed the "New Topographics" exhibit by 1 week), so for a small fee we were able to see the 75th anniversary show on level 2. The room that I found most interesting was "New Figuration", in which abstract artists like Richard Diebenkorn, David Park and Elmer Bischoff turned towards figurative topics. I particularly loved "Adolescent by the bed" by Nathan Oliveira for the way it walked the line between straight figurative work and abstraction. I think seeing this work directly inspired this image of my sister-in-law, sitting on the rooftop garden café enjoying a latte and cake.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Daily Practice 283/365

Title: "Ruth Asawa Sculptures, deYoung Museum"
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The deYoung museum has an office tower with an observation deck that one can take an elevator to have a panoramic view of Golden Gate park, and the city of San Francisco. In the vestibule of the tower, there is a stunning installation of Ruth Asawa sculptures, each of which throws the most amazing shadows. There is something incredibly engaging about the conversation that takes place between the richly coloured sculptures, and the black, graphic shadows that they throw.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Practice 282/365

Title: "Insert Quarter to Watch Us Dance"
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While down on Fisherman's Wharf, we wandered into the Musée de Mécaniques, which has a collection of old games and curiosities. These fine gentlemen were willing to dance for a quarter. It was very interesting to see the range of games from this era that were designed to amuse people and part them from their hard earned money. Others that were quite intriguing included "What every married woman must not avoid", and "Don't Fail to See the 'Unknown'? (for adults only)". The museum also had an impressive array of coin operated video games, including Pong.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Practice 281/365

Title: "Bush & Powell Streets, SF"
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Riding the cable cars in San Francisco is an exhilarating experience. There's noise, the sound of the gears and brakes engaging, the smell of the pine brakes on the downhills. I like the representation of motion and light in this image, it captures that first experience of this great city in the evenings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another kleine pause

The girls and I are off on a little adventure. Will resume posting on Tuesday.

Daily Practice 280/365

Title: "falling"
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I love the quality of line in this image and the place the image occupies between abstraction and representation.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Practice 279/365

Title: "Culmination of a lifetime of autumns"
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Fall is my favourite season - there is a synergism between the vivid colours and the cool, crisp weather that enhances visual contrast. Taking a deep breath of the cooler air is very life-affirming; experiencing and appreciating the colours prepares me for the more muted palette of winter.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Practice 278/365

Title: "Listening to the silence"
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We experience moments like these each and every day. On a good day, we stop to acknowledge them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily Practice 277/365

Title: "Final harvest"
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The garden is well past its prime, the girls took out the over grown lettuce and left the tomato plants listing from side to side in order to get the last few fruits before it turns frosty. These specimens are trying to maintain a sad dignity even as some of them decay.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Daily Practice 276/365

Title: "Mr and Mrs Scotch & Soda"
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This slightly aristocratic older couple boarded the plane just after I did. The Mr. started up a conversation with the steward, along the lines of "my good man, could you bring me a scotch and soda". The steward asked him if he could wait until we were up in the air, but when the drinks cart came along, they both ordered coffee. I think the Mrs was keeping a watch that the Mr didn't get stuck into the bubbles early.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Daily Practice 275/365

Title: "Sunrise, den window, Dad's house"
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My dad installed this large window in the back den for my mother. She liked to sit here to watch the birds in her garden and to catch the morning sun. My dad sits there now after he gets back from his morning walk.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Daily Practice 274/365

Title: "Dining room, Dad's house, early morning"
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My dad has lived on his own in the house since my mom died in 1998. Not much has changed, but everything is scrupulously clean and neat. My sister and I aren't able to visit very often, and I don't think the dining room gets used very much. When my parents bought the house in 1964, this room was a bedroom.