at this point, we are alarmed

myadviceisdontxmyadviceisdont_4xmyadviceisdont_1x

my advice is don’t; mixed media, canvas board, 7 x 9.5 inches.


thatwasitxthatwasit3xthatwasit2x

that was it, that was everything, we just ran out of time; mixed media, canvas board, 7 x 9.5 inches.


Etsy will soon raise the transaction fee on every sale from 3.5 to 5%. It’s getting a little corporate over there, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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summer, and still working

cgtn79_7xcgtn79_5xcgtn79_6x

cigar-tin story, Ending 79. a cigar-tin story is a mixed media artwork –– an empty dessert cigar tin that has been repurposed as an art object, with an original painting on the cover and a short story inside (this piece is the ending of a revenge story).


thisisthethirdtimeiamcomingtoyouxthisisthethirdtimeiamcomingtoyou4x

this is the third time that i am coming to you; mixed media on masonite panel, 12 x 8.5 inches.


supermooncgtn2xsupermooncgtn3xsupermooncgtn4x

cigar-tin story, Super Moon Active Aggressor. the story in this one is about memory, haunting, and perception. it’s a bit of a horror story.


slipperyself_fullx

just trying to get ahold of my slippery self; art print from an original pen line drawing, digital print on photo stock, 8 x 10 inches, 200 g/m2, 53 lb • 9 mil


Summer is here but I’m still working. In fact, I’m trying to lean into June to get as much done as possible, then let go for the rest of summer. Things quickly go sideways in July and August anyway; Canadians might embrace everything that winter throws at them, but in their sticky red hearts they long for summer the way little kids used to dream of Christmas. And it will be a million degrees in my studio.


Many people commented on how downcast yesterday’s Tinyletter sounded. I really didn’t mean it to. This happens to me quite a lot, whether it’s the seriousness of my face or my tone. Perhaps I do write a bit grey. Regardless, I do not intend to be so glum––especially when the sun is so glorious in the morning.

art is a house that tries to be haunted

That’s a quote by Emily Dickinson…
“Nature is a haunted house––but Art––is a house that tries to be haunted.”
…which I probably only half understand. I mean, my degree was in Political Science, and I barely got that.

But I like the idea that art is both spiritual and invented, something natural but designed. It certainly is that way with me, in that anything I accomplish is at least half luck or accident.

The image above is from a hand-pressed monoprint; this is printing an image to an unstable receiver (such as wax) and then pressing that to photo-weight paper. It’s completely uncontrollable and you’ll never get the same image twice.

You can see the entire image here.

cigar-tin stories number eight five // no i don’t

This morning an eight year-old told me that I am the worst person in the world who makes her breakfast. Considering that I am the only person who makes her breakfast, this is a strange, abbreviated list. Sitting in the dimmed light (“Too bright! I can’t eat when it’s too bright!”), half perched between her chair and the dining room table (despite my repeated requests for sitting flat on her bum, so she won’t fall off, which she has done before, several times), complaining about the blackness of the grapes (“I don’t like black grapes! Stop buying black grapes!”), wearing a sweater that I had told her not to wear to bed, she was merely being consistent with her behaviour over the long weekend—a constant kind of commentary/half-arguing about everything. If I asked her to, say, tidy up the floor of her bedroom and pick up a few things, then she would immediately ask how many things, and argue that she was playing with that, and anyway first she has to go get something from the basement. Right now. It could be as simple as me stating that it was cold out, and that she needed to wear a hat, which would immediately set off a string like, All my hats are dirty or Mom said I could wear a beret or My coat already has a hood and so on.


The day before, while working together at her craft table, painting some art books (hers was about Harry Potter, mine was about some unloved monster named Paul), we listened to a podcast about space, and at one point someone referenced Star Wars.

“We should watch that sometime,” I said.

“No, we shouldn’t,” she said. “I hate Star Wars.”

“You have no idea what it’s about. Anyway, I think you’d really like it.”

“No, I wouldn’t.”


I did an informal poll about the Easter long weekend, and the people who like it tend to be people with older kids. For them, it’s a true holiday, with their teenagers sleeping ’til noon and then slumping off to a friend’s for the rest of the day. Whereas for little kids it’s just four more days of the world pouring sugar into the blazing inferno of their egos.


“There are many times in life when you do not want to argue or even comment,” I try to say.

“No, there isn’t,” my eight year-old replies. “Like when?”

“Like when you’re trying to cross the border,” I suggest. “That’s a good example. You can’t argue with a border guard. If you even get smart with them, then you’ll find yourself sitting in a little room for five hours while they take your car apart. And then they’ll still make you turn around.”

“They can’t do that! That’s not fair!”

“Who said anything about fair?” I ask.


This morning, as she finished her breakfast (including the hateful grapes), I asked her to clear her place. When she started to try to do so by carrying the plate with the outer edge of her palms only, I told her to put it down and carry it like a normal person.

“I can’t,” she said. “My hands are too sticky.”

“Wipe them on the napkin I gave you.”

“It’s too dirty”, she said. “It’s all used up! I don’t like dirty napkins!”

“No, it’s only half used.”

“No! I can’t do it!”

Which ended with her sitting in a chair facing the corner. This is the only effective response that I’ve found, because kids these days hate being without stimuli more than anything else. In fact, she held out for about ninety seconds before admitting that she could, in fact, carry the plate into the kitchen with sticky hands.


Later, on the drive to school, she asked me if it was possible to divide 3 into 14.

“Yes,” I said. “Any two numbers can be divided into each other.”

“No, they can’t. There’s two left over.”

“It’s called decimals and fractions, and you don’t know anything about that yet, but that doesn’t make it not true.”

“Blah blah blah blah blah…” she started to say.

Which ended with us sitting for five minutes of silence once we got to school. She was missing five minutes of before-school care, five minutes of snacks, five minutes of friends, and fun, and having to sit there was worse then Tamerlane and the Black Death combined.

“Are we done with the blah-blah-blah’s?” I asked, at the end of the five minutes.

In fact, we were.


I only got to the studio once this long weekend (another strike against it), so I have only one new work to share.

At least the rest of the week is short,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

cigar-tin stories number eighty three / / a Friday, in several parts

A Friday morning. It’s the end (finally, Jesus, the end) of Oona’s March break so I don’t have to make any breakfasts or lunches but my own. And that’s easy: coffee with cream. My brother-in-law is a believer in short periods of fasting so I’m trying it on; although I won’t make it to noon, I can probably last ’til 10, with more coffee and water along the way. Since starting this dieting business, I’ve lost nine pounds. I have until the end of April to lose twenty. I use my no-rushing, no-coercing, no-craziness morning time to write in my day planner. I am that person who is more or less organized because I constantly struggle and fail to be more or less organized. But soon I have to get going; Oona has a play date at a frenemy’s this afternoon which means her mom needs the car which means I need to go catch a bus. After a warm, hope-filled day Thursday, the weather this Friday morning is a rap across the knuckles, with a hectoring wind that cuts right through my light gloves. Several people at the bus stop are not wearing hats and some even have wet hair and I know I am getting old now because the sight of this makes me wince. On board the 502 Express downtown, things get eerily quiet; people are already working hard at avoiding eye contact. I listen to an Irish Times podcast about Russians being poisoned in Great Britain, then about the slurping volcano of buffoonery and sleaze in Washington D.C.; the musicality of the Irish accent somehow makes it all less deplorable. The walk from downtown to my office, especially the middle part going over the causeway, is loud and biting and wholly unpleasant. A guy in front of me, determined to try and smoke and have his coffee along the way, is experiencing the weather equivalent of being rolled into a wet rug and kicked by a gang of children.


A Friday working. I spend all day making minor, senseless corrections on a massive book that is murderous in its blunt length––all heavy, black-letter design and blustering irrelevance (I once had an American history professor who confessed that most military history is the intellectual equivalent of masturbating into the sink). The sheer volume of charts and graphs and things that have to be turned on their sides just to fit is brutal; I think I understand ideas around crashing ambition better than most but this is a bit obliterating in the futility department. By the end of the day I’m literally twitching with the sheer uselessness of the last eight hours.


A Friday evening. Friday evenings are hard. I’m tired. But if I can just get to the studio and fall into some work, things will usually proceed on their own simply by picking things up or taking them down.

I finish some cigar-tin stories –– here, here and here. I make a booklet about wolves (which I haven’t had time to scan or photograph––maybe next week). I remake a painting that has been asking me for something for quite some time. I finish a book art object about monsters.

I start a new painting, over a giant map, but there are some problems with working too wet, so it will need some going over. Also, I have this idea to re-fold it as a map again, incorporating those lines/folds as part of the image, and thereby transforming its nature as well (it could be treated just like a map, something to pin to a wall, or even frame). A more affordable, transportable art. I’ll probably write more about this next week as well.

Finally, I have to call it a day. On the way to catch the bus home I pass whole battalions of stumbly-legged blonde girls and pressed-together boys, all of them giving off the psychic energy of gophers, all half-drunk and carrying flats of beer, and then I remember that it’s St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, and I start thinking about drinking, and bars, and I have this weird errant thought about Winnipeg, where I used to live, in the long ago, for ten years in fact, and I wonder, is Winnipeg the Sammy Hagar of Canadian cities? Loud, wildly permed, all capped teeth and Mazatlan tan, largely ignored but standing directly in front of the speakers anyway?

Maybe.

I hope everyone survived their kids’ social calendars last week,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

p.s. This is a version of my regular Tinyletter, which you can subscribe to here.

cigar-tin stories number eighty-two / / memory ruins

Oona and I listen to a podcast about colours. One of the stories is about a woman who loses her sight, then regains it slowly, painfully, in a highly altered fashion, seeing like some prehistoric fish at the bottom of the ocean. At one point her brain begins turning on the colours of things when she’s told what they are; somewhere in our brains are tiny wires marked out for ‘blue’, I guess.


At the supermarket (always at the supermarket): a teenage girl, sullen in the wake of her mother’s endlessly stupid grocery shopping (“Why are you even buying that? I’m not going to eat that. This is boring!”), says, with little atomic lightning bolts shooting from her eyes, “Do you even know where you’re going? You don’t know where you’re going, do you?” Sometimes it seems like this is the entire world.


On Brownie night I serve Oona a quick supper––in this case it’s a mixed plate of grape tomatoes, sliced strawberries, vegetable crackers, seedless grapes, Polish sausage in bite-sized chunks, apple slices, cheese, toast with butter and jam, and cold chocolate pudding. It’s the cheese where I fall down; Oona won’t eat regular cheddar or mozzarella, she’ll only eat either when they’re mixed in a processed cheese string. Foolishly, I have broken these into pieces, and mixed them with all the rest. The censure is swift. “What were you thinking, daddy?” she asks.


I haven’t been posting as much art. This isn’t to say that I’m not creating as much, only that I’m experiencing some kind of glitch where I skip the last step, the packaging and presenting and posting part. I seem to have a lot of things lying around the studio, moving around but never put away and asking strange questions in their need to be finished off. But it’s always easier to start things than to finish them, isn’t it? At the start of things the world is yours. But finished things move away from you.


Part of this is down to organizing. Nothing of importance can be accomplished without organizing. I’ve heard. Unfortunately, the aspect of my brain dedicated to organization often looks like the forgotten remains of a bag of onions––all rottenness, brittle skins and some kind of plastic mesh where you can’t find your way in. And then as you get older, you just don’t care as much.


So much of my life these days is the giving up on things. I don’t mean this in any negative way; it’s more the ability to ignore the various circuses that roll through one’s cognitive suburbs. The noise, dear, and the people. I think instead about routine. I don’t want to buy anything. I have too many masters already.


Consumer society doesn’t really work so much anymore by pulling the old levers of advertising and having you want things; now it cultivates the need for adventure. It’s the difference, I guess, between the Cuisinart You and the Curated You. It’s just a different road to the same place. You’ll still require many products and devices.


Looking for music, I find a CD with the handwritten (Sharpie) label of ‘mixed for new’. It might be fifteen years old. The ancient JVC stereo in my studio was always cheaper than fuck, and these burned CD’s always have a secondary audio quality anyway, but I sort of love the heavy, low-fi sound: loud but somehow never sharp, never refined, as if coming from the end of some narrow memory tunnel.


At a children’s play where the kids read from scripts: it is not exactly a the-future-is-ours kind of moment. But the real play is called SELF-ESTEEM, and the velvet ropes are fiercely patrolled by organic-fed parents, all ecstatic applause and giant teeth, so I do not say a word.


It’s March Break, which should really be called Emergency Child Care Week. I take some holidays to stay home with Her Highness. The morning is for playing, the afternoon is for getting out. Yesterday it was simple: a giant walk that ended at a bakery. “But all these cookies have peanuts!”, my eight year-old complained, even though she is not allergic to peanuts and her aversion is completely based on some random comment by another manipulative eight year-old. In the end she picked out some lemon cookies and some shortbread with a jam centre. How awful.

Have a good March Break, everyone.

djb

Draw things, write things, paint things, make things.

p.s. This is a version of my Tinyletter, which I send out every Tuesday from here.

downtown fire escape

downtownfireescape8xdowntownfireescape2xdowntownfireescape3xdowntownfireescape7xdowntownfireescape1xdowntownfireescape6x

downtown fire escape

an original mixed media collage on cradled wood panel

9 x 12 x 1 1/2 inches

drawing, found paper, typographic elements, acrylic paint, colour-infused gel, pencil and marker

a very red painting that tells a frantic little story

packaged for gift giving

a perfect accent for a cubicle or desk, adding vibrancy and detail

sealed and protected with gloss varnish

three quotes for this one …

She’s mad, but she’s magic. There’s no lie in her fire.
~ Charles Bukowski

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Catch on fire and people will come for miles to see you burn.
~ John Wesley

shipped with care

everything from my store comes with an extra art surprise

OH MY GOD, IT’S A COLLAGE

original painting, home decor, decorating, fine art, wall art, collage, wax, monoprint, heat, flame, fire, downtown, escape, wood panel, gesso, acrylic, ink, pencil, wax paper, varnish, the moment of forever burning