Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Small Wonder!

December 13, 2012

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Low Tide, Bob Wakefield, 11×14. oil on canvas

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Prada, Bob Wakefield, Oil on Canvas, 14×18 inches

Normally, I wouldn’t post a painting complete with frame, but these two paintings just beg for frame recognition. The paintings by themselves would just not be the same.

Bob Wakefield is one of about  20 artists in the Fort Gallery artists collective in Fort Langley, B.C. The show Small Wonder! is the pre-Christmas, salons-style exhibit that allows the artists to bring out their non-series paintings, their small works, trials, sketches, etc. They are beautiful and they are affordable.

Wakefield was originally a student of Susan Falk, who is also with the gallery, and they work in thick impasto and expressionist style.  Falk’s is showing some farm-related imagery – a painting of a red barn, a large drawing of a sunflower, and a painting of her beautiful little iris-rimmed pond that is just big enough for a small row boat and a gaggle of geese. Pond Study is loose and dramatic with autumn colours contrasting with an ultramarine blue.

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Pond Study, Susan Falk. 24×12, oil on canvas

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Two paintings from the series “From the bus: Coquihalla“, Veronica Plewman, each 6×8 inches, acrylic on board.

Plewman is showing 6 paintings from the series, “From the Bus: Coquihalla”.  The paintings describe the area near Merritt and Kamloops in British Columbia where the highway cuts through the mountain pass on Highway 5.  Plewman has captured the wonderful quality of colour that sings through a snowy landscape where, to the unschooled eye, one might be excused to think that there was just white and dark. She paints the blues, rusts, ceruleans and yellow greens that sparkle through when a bit of winter sunshine illuminates the hills. In these small paintings, she manages to describe the mightiness of the mountains and the detail of soft fog captured between the hills or a stand of bare alder with their raw umber branches. These are simply jewels of craftsmanship and vision.

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Search, Bloom, Shine, and Drift,  four prints by Edith Krause, , approximately 9×12 or 10×10 inches.

Several of Edith Krause’s small prints from “The Butterfly Effect” series are available in the show. I wrote about them recently so if you would like to see samples of those, go looking back a post or two.  Search, Bloom Shine and Drift are new works to the gallery and have quite a different feel to them. Krause creates prints with great attention not only to the inherent ecological message but also to the texture and surface qualities of her work. She pays great attention to finishing detail. These works are simply  perfect in craftsmanship.

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“Inukshuk” Pat Barker, Acrylic and Mirror on board. Approximately 8×8 inches.

With Inukshuk, Pat Barker gives us a preview of her upcoming show. She experiments with materials and includes bits of mirror in her design, enhancing the feeling of ice and snow.

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Carolina Poplars, France, Kristin Krimmel, gouache,  6×8 inches approx,

There are a number of works by artist Kristin Krimmel. This early gouache of hers describes the lines of trees along the roadside in France in the Department of the Marne.  Another landscape she offers is a watercolour of a farmhouse near Montpellier. It’s inspiration in style is an adaptation of the pointillists method or working. By overlapping small strokes of pure colour she blends and nuances the image to represent the special heat and light qualities of the Languedoc region on the Mediterranean.

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The Mas, Kristin Krimmel, watercolour on Arches paper

The surrealist of the group, Olga Khodyreva has contributed this fluid image:

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Drama, Olga Khodyreva, Gouache and ink on Paper. 12×12 inches.

It’s reminiscent of Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and Picasso with it’s tumbling figures.

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Winter wandering, Jennifer Chew, 8×10,  Velum and charcoal on wood panel.

Winter wandering describes fine branches emerging from snow. There is a delicate quality of calligraphy in this finely composed drawing.

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Salmon Glacier, Fiona Howath, 11 x 14, Silver Gelatin photograph

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Fallen Giant, Fiona Howath,  Silver gelatin photograph, 11 x 14

Fiona Howath is an upcoming photographer whose work, in this exhibition, focuses on the natural landscape. She has crisp focus and  captures exceptional lighting. Detail is as important in the foreground as it is in the back. I particularly like the feathery quality of the ferns in Fallen Giant and in Salmon Glacier, I find the light/dark composition is excellent with the cloud, white above the mountain, casting dark on its slopes and brilliant sunshine delineating the character of the geological formation.

There are lots of paintings from each of the artists. As one is sold, it goes away with the purchaser and another gets put up.
I encourage you to go see the show and maybe even treat yourself to a painting. They are reasonably priced and there is lots of variety. Also there are several smaller items – greeting cards by four or five of the artists, fused glass tree ornaments (Judy Jones),  chap books and other small gift items.

Also featured in this show: Richard Bond, Lucy Adams, Doris Auxier, Fiona Howarth, Dorthe Eisenhardt, Judy Jones.

The location is 9048 Glover Road, Fort Langley, B.C. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, and the show closes Sunday December 23rd.

Don’t forget to check out the web-site too:

www.fortgallery.ca 

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Windows – Larry Green, Maggie Woycenko

January 25, 2011

Gallery artist,  Maggie Woycenko and guest artist Larry Green showed at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley, B.C. in January 2011.

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Myth, Roofing paper, art paper and paint on canvas, Maggie Woycenko

I’ve photographed  Woycenko’s Myth complete with shadows because she has been exploring with paint, canvas,  paper and thin sheets of aluminum, producing works that defy the second dimension and edge into the third. She tells me these are the result of a voyage of discovery into an area where she has not worked before.  She’s flirting with sculpture but she hasn’t left the flat surface behind.

In the Christmas group show, we saw her first invasions of the picture plane with small wooden windows inset into the canvas. Now the piercing is not formal but more free-form. And following on, the images get more and more dimensional.

Street Noise, Maggie Woycenko, Oil on Canvas with wooden inset

Reveal, Maggie Woycenko, oil on aluminum on panel.

There are many things I like about Woycenko’s work. Everything works all at once. That is, the surface of her paintings are developed with an implied texture, although the painting is applied thinly, and her colour sense is excellent. She has her own colour identity in variations of gray, usually a subdued range of colour, but nonetheless expertly modulated. She knows how to mix paint and marry it on the canvas. In addition, she always has iconic images ( the windows, the coloured balls, the letters) sufficiently in evidence to establish a spatial composition which assures the eye is restful but watchful while contemplating the work. And now this sculptural element is present, with the forms creating shadows on the wall that holds the work; and the balance of flat to form is harmonious.

Small Talk, Maggie Woycenko, Oil on canvas 16 x 16

In the work, Small Talk, I have the sense that she has captured the idea of a visible and evident surface personality with an underlying secret, the red, being exposed by this thin layer of metal  opening up a can of sardines, so as to speak,  and letting the Pandora-secret out.

Works, Maggie Woycenko, oil on canvas with various added papers.

If this work is just preliminary to a future series, perhaps bigger in scale, I am eager to see how this series develops, matures, morphs. This series is already very rich and self-contained as is, but knowing the artist, there is always more exciting work to come.

Larry Green

Sspaciousness, Larry Green, mixed media

There are two hanging boxes in the window of the gallery. Each has glass walls and one side that is open. The first is called Spaciousness and has butterflies suspended in it.  The second, Invisible walls, has two dragon flies. The idea behind them is about beauty and confinement. The butterflies and dragon flies do not realize they are trapped since the walls are invisible.

Invisible Walls, Larry Green, mixed media

Through this work Green seeks to express the difference between space which is a defined containment and emptiness which is not contained.

The remainder of the works are essential two dimensional in the sense of being flat or almost flat; but these works are intellectual works and in that sense of the expression, anything but flat. What you see is only the beginning of the meanings that are implied, suggested, divined.  They invite the observer to meditate upon the possibilities.

Selfother: Confusion, Larry Green, mixed media

In Selfother: Con-Fusion the image speaks about relationships where people fuse together in mystical union. The Self becomes the Other into a single entity, the Selfother, no hyphen. At same time, this leads each individual to new feelings, new ideas, new introspection. As the two personalities fuse into a relationship, the original, separate identities undergo change  producing a state where the outer known face may seem the same but the inner face is in the process of new-definition.  It’s not exactly clear what it is. It’s edges are blurred and the core is out of focus.

Green has created a deep framed box to express this state of being. A photograph of Green’s face is clearly visible on the front piece of glass while at the back, a less clear copy of this image covers a piece of glass. Lined up with the centre of the piece of art, the face is quite clear, but move to one side and not only do you see the slightly confused image on the mirror moving as the observer does, but the observer also sees his own reflection mixed up in it all. It’s a clever representation of the Selfother idea.

The Movement of Attention, Larry Green, mixed media

In The Movement of Attention, there are six images of nudes in a grid. Different body parts are highlighted in colour in each of the six. It implies that the observer of the body (the artist) focuses on different parts at different times, giving emphasis to those that arouse attention as one’s eye scans the subject .

Artist looking at Patron looking at Nude, Larry Green, mixed media

In Artist looking at Patron looking at Nude, there is another photographic image of Green’s face superimposed with the same linear drawing of a nude as in The Movement of Attention. In this image, the artist is looking out at the Patron (the viewer) and the nude stands between them, figuratively, on the surface of the artwork. Again, very clever! The artist is not absent in this work of art but very much present, obliging the observer to take into account that the work did not magically appear, but was conceived and drawn by its creator.

In Illumination the message is that a subject can be considered as forbidding or uplifting. The meaning we put upon an image is coloured by the mood of both the artist and the viewer.

The future? Larry Green, Mixed media

In The Future? the artist ask us to consider where we think we are going in the future. Messages overlay the photos set in a window frame.  Do we want clean air, clean environment, electric cars? Or by our inaction, will we end up with a ruined planet.  The photos contrast the possibilities before us and reminds us that the choice is ours.

There are two photos in the back room. Abject Ignored and Abject Realized both show a beggar on the roadside. In the first, two women pass by, ignoring him. There are words that acknowledge the various items in view just as the women, in passing, would have had to observe – curb, cobble stones, etc.

Abject ignored and Abject Realized, Larry Green, photograph

In the second, there is a statue of a figure with a book in hand. Death is on its shoulder.  By inference, the statue is representing the abject figure’s hopelessness and spiritual death.

Named Windows, this exhibition of  Green’s and Woycenko’s work is intriguing,  because there are layers and depth of meaning to each work.  The common thread of the windows helps to  unify the ensemble.

Eggs for breakfast

December 20, 2009

I’ve been feeling cut off from my writing and posting of imagery. So much goes on at this time of year that we can easily get distracted from our main purposes.

This morning when I boiled up two eggs for breakfast, I was struck by the reflections of these eggs in shallow water. I cook them in a small fry pan, mostly by steam, which is just one of my little ways to reduce energy consumption. The stove doesn’t have to heat up so much water ergo less use of energy.

And, no, I’m not depressed to be posting almost black and white photos of eggs.  I really was excited about how subtle the egg form is and how it catches light.  I was equally excited about placement of them. In some of them, there is a faint reflection in the bit of water that remains in the pan. It’s elegant!

So here they are:

Michael Levin – Evidence

October 2, 2009

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Code, Michael Levin, ultrachrome photographic print on aluminum

There’s a new exhibit at the Elliott Louis Gallery in Vancouver showing the work of Michael Levin.  It runs until October 20th.

If you like simplicity, spareness, austerity, meditation and silence, you will like this work. It’s photography, all in gray scale. There’s not the slightest bit of colour.

There is a stillness in each of the images. All of them are ultra chrome prints flush mounted onto plates of aluminum which is a beautiful contemporary way to present photos. They stand out from the stark white wall by an inch or so, thereby creating a shadow, the only framing that they have.

One might be forgiven if they found the images simple. They are, in fact simplified by his photographic process which, by long exposure, somehow eliminates the unnecessary, the transitory,  leaving a minimalist feel to all his works. But these works need time to absorb.  A work like “Code” appears to be low flat rafts covered by tarps.  There are two long ones and two shorter ones. Given the title, they seem to allude to bar coding, or perhaps refer only to the mysteriousness they create, lying separate and isolated from all other imagery on a fog-flattened sea. The horizon is just barely visible half way up the picture plane.

Of course, that begs the question. How much can be attributed to the artist’s intent and how much to the viewer’s own experience? Once an artist lets his work go, that is, exhibits it, then he becomes subject to the viewers interpretations as much as he subjects the viewer to his own visual statement, largely unexplained by words.

If you can’t get to see the show, there are a number of images to be seen at this site:

http://www.elliottlouis.com/dynamic/exhibit_artist.asp?ExhibitID=386

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Biwako, Michael Levin, ultrachrome photographic print on aluminum

Though the compositions are widely varied, each is a study in balance and equilibrium. Each image is selected with designed elegance to serve the vision of this young artist.

He has already won prestigious awards for his work – Fine Art Photographer of the Year both in 2007 and 2009 Prix de Photographie in Paris. He also came first in the Fine Art and Professional Fine Art categories at the International Photography Awards in New York.

The only thing I haven’t figured, from looking at this good sized exhibition, is how he links the title of the exhibition with the work.

If you are in Vancouver and have a chance to drop by the gallery which is on East 1st Avenue a block east of Main and one block north of Great Northern Way, you will also get to see some of the other emerging artists and mid-career gallery artists. – Lourdes Lara with her poetically titled imaginary landscapes; Mark Tulio with his high realism portraits and still life works; and Dimitri Papatheodorou with his minimalist abstracts done meticulously in oil on panel, to name just a few. It makes for an excellent show.

Golden ears from the Alouette dike

August 15, 2009

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cut against a bank

of  cumulus

the granite grey slopes

bared by the summer heat

lie, languid as lions

after a saharan feast

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thick wads of cloud

inch across the sky

unruffled by the breeze

that whispers

in the marsh grasses

What I was hoping for

June 27, 2009

I planned my garden for colour. I’d love to see a butterfly or two.

When Elizabeth came for her drawing lesson on Tuesday, as she was drawing the foxglove beside the lilies and this is what we saw:

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I got colour, n’est pas, but better than I hoped, I have butterflies traipsing through my yard. This one stayed quite a while and allowed me to photograph it while it explored the bright orange petals. I like the background fill in this one. It sure brings out the  sunshine in the flower

Here’s a slightly different view.

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The butterfly is more fully defined  in this one.

One of my readers has let me know: This is a Tiger Swallowtail. Isn’t she beautiful?

Photos through the windshield

January 28, 2009

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I have been chastised for taking photos through the windshield many times.  From a photographic point of view,  this activity comes with built-in hazards, especially since car washing is one of my least loved chores.

Taking photos through glass is already not cool, but glass with mud spots, insect splatters, rain and dust drops, et cetera, gives photos that may actually focus on windshield texture rather than your intended point of view. However, when travelling at thirty clicks on the highway with nowhere to pull over, it beats not getting the picture at all. The results are somewhat random. I throw many of them out (which is the blessing of digital photography).

Luck is in if you hit a red light with traffic backing up far enough that you don’t have to include the mechanical aspects of the intersection – wires, traffic lights, lamp standards, walk and don’t walk signs, and the like.

On my trip to Vancouver the other day, I managed to take full advantage of the zoom capacity on the camera to isolate some pictures from the industrialization of our byways.

Also, my friend and I went to a concert of Spanish flamenco music out here in the boonies. The venue is a very modern “farm” house built in the post and beam ‘Sixties style with a huge “family” room that is used to seat about eighty people. There are 30 acres of farm surrounding it.

The day was cold and crisp. After two days of low lying fog and this freezing weather, a beautiful coating of hoar frost covered every little twig and branch. Driving up to the entrance,  I could see a million opportunities for beautiful photos that I knew I would not get to take. My concert companion was driving and after the concert was in a hurry to go elsewhere. There would be no patience to let me click my way to heaven.

I must say that the scenery was of the “pretty picture” variety – grasses coated in rime, hoar frost on the branches,  traditional farm fencing, trees in the distance with a light coating of white, a pale blue wintery sky.

Parking at this place is limited so we got there a half hour early so that we could park close to the house, it being very cold out and neither I nor my companion wanted to risk the icy walk to the front door from any appreciable distance.

The concert and demonstration of flamenco dancing was awesome.  No wonder the lady who was dancing was svelte. Foot stomping with such determined and complicated rhythm must just pare you down in a hurry! She kept it up for an hour and a half with only little breaks in the program for a guitar solo and then, midway, for a costume change. The dancer was  Michelle Harding and Juan de Marias was the flamenco guitarist.

I took a few photos before the concert from inside the concert hall through double glazing – the small greenhouse and the plant pots.  When we left, I begged my companion to slow down so that I could take pictures through the windshield.

“There are cars coming behind us. I can’t just stop. I’m going as slowly as I can. Are you done yet? Can I go now?”  I was happy that some decrepit looking seniors got in front of the car and we had to progress at their walking speed.  Digital photography does not like fast movement.

Click, click, click. It was a prolonged moment of frustration as the camera insisted on showing me what I had taken before it would let me take another. I couldn’t reframe and refocus fast enough!

Despite all that I got a few very nice pictures, not photographically clean – a few mudspots in the way –  but I have something adequate that I can use as references for painting, which is the chief aim of my photographic endeavor.

Here they are, farm ones first and then the last few were on the highway:

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Roofing

December 9, 2008

Roofers came and replaced my moss ridden roof this week. Thankfully, the weather was quite dry, but it was still clouded over and the light conditions being what they were , my photos didn’t work out as crisply as I would have liked. Nevertheless they will give me some great material for paintings and I think you may enjoy them despite their photographic lack of crispness.

I took photos to record the process , to show the under-structure of the roof, and then to record people working in their natural poses. I find that quite fascinating.

In this day of electronic information and power assisted everything, there are still some tasks that are manually done. Roofing is one of them. A computer can’t do this. It’s men with craft in their hands that construct this roof .

Recommended by several of my neighbours, Whonnock Roofing was the company that installed mine.  They have  a good reputation in the community having been here for two generations now; and they lived up to it. The boss, Abraham, kept me informed about progress during the installation and explained difficulties to me. At clean-up time, all debris was removed.  All the workers were respectful and diligent.

So I’m going to share these photos with you and hope you enjoy learning about the process as I did.

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This was the first piece of equipment that they unloaded. It powers their nail guns, I think.  The contractor warned me that if I stayed in the house, I could depart safely only if the compressor was off. They worked from eight until four thirty, and everyone broke for coffee at ten, noon and two.  At those times, the compressor was turned off; all the workers would be off the roof and I would have no danger of being hit by flying roof products.

I liked the honeycomb pattern of the metal guard as a background to the black shapes silhouetted against it, and then, the yellow is a nice cheery contrast to that.

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All the products came loaded on this truck. The men unloaded the 85 pounds per bundle Duroid shingles, rolls of roofing felt, pails of nails, roof anchors, and equipment  by hoisting manually. These were piled  in a corner of the back yard for later.  The first tasks were to cover the yard close to the house in tarps so that clean-up of the debris would be simplified; then set up of ladders; then destruction and removal of the existing roof that was tossed down over the roof edge into these tarps.

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There was a crew of  fourteen. The work is dirty and rough, so they wear dark clothing, steel-toed boots, hoodies to keep their heads warm in the early December morning, baseball caps underneath to shade their eyes from potential sun. These guys work in the elements with  whatever Mother Nature may bring on.

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These roof anchors are safety devices used for the steep slopes.

yy-016-smallThe men work as easily high above on a sloped surface as if they were down on solid ground. No vertigo or acrophobia allowed!

yy-018-smallLook how close to the roof edge this guy is, with such insouciance. He merits one of those “No Fear” T-shirts.

They wear rope and harness for safety and a big belt full of pockets that carries many of their necessities, rooftop.

yy-019-small1Tarps are spread out from the house edge to mid-yard to collect all the falling debris. If you are getting your roof done, I caution you to protect your special plants in the garden and mark out gardens that might not be obvious to a roofer. Protect small trees and shrubs that may break with the weight of roofing debris falling on it.

yy-022-smallHe nimbly climbs the ladder with tools or materials. The shingle packages weigh eighty five pounds!  Every bit of the new roof goes up the ladder on the shoulders of these men. All the old roof gets chucked off, flying through the air to be accumulated on the tarps below, and where close enough, tossed right into the truck’s large haul-away bin.

I missed seeing how they got the plywood up to the roof. That must be a feat.

yy-026-smallThese nails for their power nail-guns were brought in a big ten gallon pail. Imagine the weight of it and then imagine carrying that up the ladder! They have the iridescent manufactured bloom on them, full of many colours,  that will fade after being exposed.They are held in alignment by thin threads of copper wire that spiral in this image, making for interesting abstract patterns of the their straight posts, the round flat nail heads and the coiled wires.

yy-029-smallThe men start at the apex of the roof to rip off the existing layers of shingle. Here is an exceptional picture where there eight of them prying away tile all at once. Not long afterwards, they started to spread out and I never captured so many at once in one frame.

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The tool they use is shaped somewhat like a shovel, but with sturdy indents like whale molars. These slide under the old tiles to rip up with a levering motion the long encrusted nails and shingles.

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When they get really going, the house shudders with their ripping and wrenching. It’s loud. Shingles begin to fly. If you are on the ground, you need to be alert!

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On my roof, they found that there was a layer of cedar shakes underneath the two layers of shingles they knew about. In the manner of Depression Era construction , this roof had strapping – long lath-like boards strung across the roof surface from rafter to rafter. From where I stood below, they looked to be about two inches wide by three eighth inch deep. These had to go.

In current day construction, three-eight inch plywood covers the rafters, so unfortunately for me, this unknown factor added to my final bill. The boss ordered up a load of plywood and the men unloaded them one by one into the back yard. A carpenter began to measure them up to fit the roof. Eventually there were these geometric pieces left in the back yard.

yy-108-smallHere is what the underpinnings of the new roof look like, complete with plywood sheathing. Now they start hammering the new layer of shingles on. They are Duroid, acrylic shingles, way better than the asphalt ones that were here before – much less prone to moss build-up.  It’s constantly loud as they pound in the nails. Another caution – take your framed artwork off the walls before roofers come. The house shook enough to knock two of these off my walls. Oddly enough, one was in the basement and one on the main floor but none on the floor closest to the roof. One survived without damage, but as for the other – the glass broke and shattered.

Notice the barrel formations at the edge of the roof.  When the fellows took the old shingles off, this was covered with newspaper! More Depression era economy! One of the newspapers had advertising for rental apartments for three dollars and twenty five cents, heat and light included. Now there’s a deal!

Fixing these was not so easy. Here, the workman has to work prone. One fellow said he’d only seen eight of these roofs in his twenty or so years of roofing; and for one younger fellow, it was the first he had seen.

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This is the last picture. You just have to admire this man’s courage to be working looking over a thirty foot drop and still having to concentrate on the manual task he is involved in.

You can see what my new roof looks like – it’s Castle Grey, looking a little ruffled for now, just waiting for a warm day for the shingles to settle in. All the moss and the little ferns that were growing in its predecessor are gone. The gutters are cleaned out.  The hole where the raccoon tried to take up residence is gone. Hopefully the basement leak is resolved. And I have a skookum new roof!

Maple Keys

October 19, 2008

Despite having a week to catch up on myself, it still feels like my house is filled with clutter. I have visitors coming on Sunday. I am very thankful for this because I know what it is like to not have visitors. Besides, it’s my reason for cleaning.

Since I retired almost two years ago – and yes, will someone please tell me where that time went – a major part of my life has been putting things away. I moved twice. I’m trying to downsize. Hah!

Yesterday was a rotten day, a low cloud, grey, depressing day. Wet. Rainy. Today the sun forgave us and came out in it’s autumn dress, casting orange over the trees.

Yesterday, I took Mrs. Stepford up to the hairdresser and we had time to look into the second hand furniture shop across the street. Then we parted ways – she to the hairdresser, I to the gym. When I saw her firmly ensconced in her hair dressing chair, the beautician clipping away at her curly hair, I went back to the car to drive away to the gym. R_R_R_R_R_R

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On the third try, I shook my head, took the key out of the ignition and went back into the hair salon.

“The car’s not starting. It did this once before. I waited for half an hour and the next time it just started up.  I’ll walk to the bank and do a couple of things and then I’ll try it again in half an hour. I’m not going to go to the gym.” I said to Mrs. Stepford as the scissors snipped at at steady pace at the back of her neck.

“Where will I meet you, then?” she asked a bit anxiously. We have our routines. Stepping outside of routines is upsetting.

‘The car’s not going anywhere. I’ll meet you at the car. I’ll be back before you are done. If I can’t get it started I’ll have to call the towing company. I’m sure your hairdresser will let me use the phone….” The hairdresser paused for a half second, looked up at me and nodded.

Half an hour later, when I got back to the car, it started as if nothing were ever the matter. Blasted vehicles! They are supposed to be dependable. But this one was beginning to be finicky. I had no choice but to fix it. You couldn’t sell a car that was not working unless it was greatly discounted. I wasn’t brave enough to drive the car far away without knowing it would start back up again to come back home.

But now I had a dilemma. I couldn’t leave the car running and go get Mrs. Stepford too. So I stayed in the car, got out my book selection that I would have used as a companion to my mindless aerobic cycling at the gym. It was Gabrielle Roy’s short stories about her grandmother – a charming recollection of childhood.  Eventually I saw the hairdresser stick her head out the door and I got out and waved Mrs. Stepford towards me.

The whole day was beginning to be a bummer.  One. It was pouring with rain. It was grey and wet out. Two. The car was broken.Three. I hadn’t been to the gym.

I’d lolligagged around the house all day on Tuesday as my first day alone in the house since early July. Then I’d done it again on Wednesday, only going out to put the recycling and garbage by the sidewalk for collection at six a.m.  and then, much later,  to bring it back in when the rain abated. I had a cup of coffee, looked at my e-mail and then went back up to sleep. I didn’t get up until ten and then didn’t leave the house all day. On Thursday, I stayed in and worked in the studio trying to get it operational. I did a bit of laundry. I didn’t go out at all. Not one bit. I was beginning to feel the effects of sitting too long. Sitting at the computer. Sitting to paint. Sitting to have dinner. Sitting to watch TV. I hadn’t seen anyone in three days and by Friday, had needed this outing.

I was looking forward to exercise on Friday, but that did not happen. Instead, I came home to call the dealership service department to get an appointment to fix my car and to call my friend who was going to meet me at the Langley Bead Show on Saturday. I wouldn’t be able to go.

All that grumpy stuff to say that, today I wasn’t going to take the car out, so I took the bus instead. I had to go take my paintings to the 1 for 1 show, a pre-Christmas, yearly exhibition at the local municipal art gallery. The title means that you can buy one painting for one hundred dollars, All paintings had to be priced between one and two hundred to be eligible for the show.

I found a cardboard box and put in the three paintings that had been accepted. There was lots of room left so I found an old feather pillow and put it in too, to keep the paintings from rubbing against each other. Then I sealed the box with packing tape and used a little black folding trolley with bungie cords to secure the box to it. I was ready to go.

It being Saturday, I waited half an hour at the bus stop before the bus came. It only took five minutes from my house to Haney Place, and it stopped only a short block from the gallery. I left my paintings, signed the contract then left my box and “wheels” in the curator’s office while I went over to the gym.

I had to be back before the new assistant left in an hour, so I upped the ante on all the machines and did half as much, time wise. I had another deadline. I could go back home on the same ticket if I was within the prescribed time limit and I was aiming to take advantage of that. For two measley dollars, for one Canadian Toonie, I could go up to Haney Place and come back too!

So there I was, waiting for the bus to come. On Saturdays, the buses are only scheduled every half hour. I got to the bus loop early, I thought, to be sure to be able to reuse my ticket for the return. The sun was shining, for which I was very, very grateful. I couldn’t imagine dragging around the paintings in the wet and trying to balance an umbrella at the same time.

While I waited, I looked about and took a few photos of electrical wires.

I have this thing about electrical wires. I find they act as  very interesting compositional breaks on a cloudless sky.  Then I took out my sketch book and drew a lad who was hunched over, sitting on the brand new black-enameled benches that had been installed at the bus loop. As time drew nearer, I put those things away. It would be too difficult to manage my largish box on wheels, a loose camera, a carry all and a sketch book if the bus came. But the bus did not come. And just in case, I fished out two dollars and fifty cents in case the bus came too late for my ticket. I let it jangle in my otherwise empty coat pocket.

There were buses, surely, but not mine. “Meadowbrook.” the driver had said.  when I asked him what the return bus was called. Now, there was the  big 701 that came from Coquitlam. There were several smaller ones, for Ruskin, Albion and Whonnock, but no Meadowbrook. Time began to be long. Buses came that were marked, “Not in Service”. It was getting late. I’d waited forty minutes, standing with my cumbersome bundle.

Finally the C43 Meadowbrook came. I got in lugging my parcel, punched in my return ticket and it spit back out rejected. The driver looked at it, turned it over and sympathetically asked, “Are you a senior?”

I confessed I wasn’t. ‘Never mind, it’s only five minutes out. The buses don’t go so often on Saturdays” and he let me get on. The ticket went into a trash bin by his right hand.

I settled at the first seat behind the driver. I knew there was a stop just before Mrs. Stepford’s door, so I checked. Did this bus stop there?
“No,” said the bus driver. “The closest stop is at Laity Street.”

“Laity Street!”
“Well, is there a bus that does stop there?” I asked. “Laity Street is much too far for me to walk.”

“You need the C44 Meadowbrook,” he answered. ”

I sighed. I had been waiting for the wrong bus. I’d just missed it when I first came. I thought it was just the bus coming up and that there was different number going back. Moreover, there wasn’t a loading station for it. I got off the bus and started to look for the place it would stop. I’d been standing at the wrong bus bay. I never did find the little bus schedule on a standard for the C44 – those little grey  displays that look like modernized  Tibetan prayer wheels waiting to be spun as people pass.  I never did find a bus schedule or sign for my bus. I saw the bus coming and had to run after it, box and chariot bumbling and clattering behind me as I ran like the aging penguin that I am.

When I got home, I was glad to have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Then, for pleasure, I went out into the garden and trimmed branches for the Maple Ridge chipping program that comes and looks after tree yard waste once a year. It was relatively warm and sunny. I didn’t need a jacket. It was therapeutic after my bumbling afternoon, to cut masterfully into branches and stack them into the three by three by nine pile of branches that we are allowed to have chipped. I cut back the lower branches of the Magnolia. I kept the boxwood hedge at bay – it’s really aggressive  in it’s growth. I downsized the limbs of the Japanese Maple that Whistler had sawn off while he was here cutting them into regulation lengths.

I brought in a beautiful branch of maple with little red keys of an exquisite colour. I photographed some leaves with light pouring through them. I wrapped up the soaker hose and put it away for the winter.

Sunshine does wonders for a day. Especially an autumn day with the lengthening light in the late afternoon.

When I went in, there was a message from Mrs. Stepford and I phoned her back.

“Well,” she demanded, ” how was your first bus ride. Did everything go alright? It’s easy, isn’t it? It just takes five minutes either way.”

“Easy as pie,” I lied, brightly.

“What took you so long? I thought you were just going to go there, give in your paintings and come back.”

“Oh, I went to the gym. I had a chat with the curator. I took some time to get a good look at Christine Christie’s paintings that are up. You know….”  I trailed off.  I wasn’t going to let her know that I could barely manage a first bus trip on the easiest route in town.

“Why don’t you come for dinner? I’ve made my turkey soup now.”

And she did. She’s on her own for a few days while Mr. Stepford is away. And that was dinner, a fine end to a busy day – a glass of wine and turkey soup.

Which came first (And let there be light)

October 9, 2008

Whistler and I were breakfasting the other day when a shaft of glorious sunshine came through the semi-sheer drapes and joined us. Whereas we had eaten all the eggs for breakfast and there was nothing left to eat, Sunshine decided to light up the shells.

My theory in art has long been this”

It’s not what you paint, but how you paint it. You can make a composition from the most mundane things. It’s the underlying beauty of forms, texture and especially light, that make things sing. Capturing the effects of light as it happens is my favorite thing in photography.

So here it is. The “getting-in-the door” present of Sol, our breakfast visitor – magnificent light. And who would have thought that a broken egg shell could be beautiful?