Never Bored with the Boards

Bridge Yellow

It was one hell of a busy summer. I finished a novel and gave up on another one (for now, anyway). I put together a game and marketing plan for the world’s first free daily serialized coffee break novel (seriously, Google it). The novel is currently running on my parallel blog, The Weekly Man.

I also, visited Fundy Park for the first time with my bestie, Stephanie, and will definitely be going back. I discovered a lake I’d been wanting to see for years along with my friend, Nanook of the Nashwaak.

I also put together my first solo exhibition featuring my macro photography and board drawings. I did 37 boards last winter and lost over 20 pounds. They were addicting to the point that I would start right in on them as soon as I got home from work and forget abut things like eating and making a lunch for the next day.

I did the actual drawing at home but took the boards into the studio to paint and varnish them.

This is what they looked like in the studio:

And this is what they look like hanging up:

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I’ve visited the studios of many of my artist friends and it always fascinates me to see their works in progress and then see them on display with all the messiness of creation left behind. I think this is what many skeptics fail to see when they look at a painting and say something stupid like, “A few dollars for paper and a few dollars for paint…and you sell it for ten times what it’s worth.”

Bastards.

I hate these people with a passion. I’d like them all to work for me for free for one year. You know, doing whatever they’re good at and not being paid for it. Or being paid a couple of dollars an hour. On the other hand, these are most likely to be people who don’t do so well on their jobs because they’re not smart and they talk too much. Maybe I don’t want them working for me and just messing everything up.

So, with that aside put aside, seeing the work in progress gives you a true sense of the intense focus and commitment that goes into creating art. I’ve seen artists on the verge of collapsing from hunger and fatigue because they had a deadline for an exhibition and they’ve gone for days without sleep and they’ve survived on coffee and air.

And this isn’t always a matter of the artists not preparing properly. Often, it’s because the gallery or other venue has changed the rules, the dates, the physical venue or whatever. Or, preparing for the exhibit leads the artist into new areas and the temptation to add some of the new stuff to the exhibit. Fortunately, most galleries don’t allow this, or there’d be a lot more crazy artists jumping out of windows and off bridges.

For me, working on the boards was one of the most fulfilling and mystical experiences of my life. I believe that where there was life, there will always be life. Life is energy and wherever that energy has existed, there will always be some remnant of it…like when you cut down a tree, the tree’s life energy doesn’t just disappear…patches of it inundate the wood like shadows of the tree’s memories, and you can feel that energy in the boards even after they’re cut into useable sizes from the tree.

Before I start drawing on the board, I spend some time getting a feel for its life energy, and that’s what directs the tip of my gel pen to bring out the board’s story.

And the stories are never boring.

 

(BTW, the image at the top of the screen is one of the photos in the exhibit.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down to the Last Five

Boards Studio

It’s been several years since I started the first of these boards. So far, I have 32 but six of them don’t fit the format of the rest. So I have five more to go, with my target being 30. It’s been an addictive pleasure to work on them, but it’s also been physically and emotionally demanding.

They almost always have traces of chemicals or sap that ink just bounces off. These areas have to be rubbed down without ruining the grain and pattern of the wood. I tried various materials, but the only thing that works is facial tissue. It takes forever, and I could use up to a whole box of Kleenex on one board, but it seems to smooth the board down while removing any kind of moisture from chemicals or sap.

Boards Studio-2

I do this in the washroom where I have four lights up high and I can see any trace of spots that need to be done. Some people might ask, “So…you spend your evenings rubbing your wood?” To which I reply, “And boy, is it tough on the wrists and back.” And that’s before I even start to put ink to the wood.

Sometimes I start as soon as I get home from work and don’t come out of it until around 10 or 11 when I hear my stomach grumbling because I haven’t had supper. I’ve started eating larger lunches, but I’ve still lost over 20 pounds from lack of everything that I can’t coat with ink and wine.

Sometimes I’m quietly impressed by the way the wood grain suddenly bubbles to the surface when I stain the boards with red wine, but this weekend at the studio I was amazed at the grains and patterns that emerged when I put the urethane coating on them.

Boards Studio 2

Next step is to paint the edges black and then they’ll be ready for their photo session. I was thinking about taking them around the city and doing portraits of them sitting on park benches, in chairs at coffee shops, on the beach, in the passenger seat of my Soul. I’d like to put together a free photo book in Spark along with info on where they can be purchased (probably Saatchi).

board-3

Just five more and I can get back whatever life I had before this project began. Let me see now…oh right…watch an entire movie from start till finish instead of in 15 minute segments. And maybe a glass of wine will be left over from the boards.