On drawing blind:

I have a hard time with the starting sometimes. Okay, all the times. Even if I already know what the first step should be. Even if I’ve already started it the day before – next day, same thing. Walk into my studio, and the fear bugs descend and try and keep me from moving. Ever been there? Yes of course you have.

But! We still get shit done, because there are tools to get past this! Starting rituals are great. Little steps you take daily so that starting is just another step, like putting on your running shoes the second you get out of bed (don’t worry, I’m not that disciplined.) My ritual just underwent a fall shift and I’ve added a really brilliant little exercise I recently stumbled into. In my head I call it double-blind contour drawing. blind contour etc_1

BLIND contour drawing has been one of my favourite exercises since forever. With that one, you draw the contours of your subject, without looking at your paper – not once! The trick is pretending your pencil is actually touching the thing in front of you as you move your eyes around it. This is great for loosening up and subjugating your doubt monster, since there’s no option to draw the object the “right”. It’s also a really beautiful way to observe and quiet.

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(I suspect this was a leaf, since I don’t own any birds)

But what’s double-blind contour drawing? The next logical step, of course – close your eyes entirely! Every morning, and sometimes before every new task, I do double-blind contour therapy. I start by choosing the first task to work on for that day, item 1 on my intention list. Then, I locate paper and close my eyes. Instead of following the contours of an object out in the real world, I visualize the project I am starting, just that first little minute part of it, and I draw that. Sometimes I just draw myself making a phone call, or looking pensively at a piece of wood, or whatever the first order of business may be.
double Blind contour blog post_3So, duh, it just ends up being a bunch of squiggledy lines. But, by the time I open my eyes, something miraculous has happened. I have a clearer view of what I’m about to start. I know a little more about where it’s headed. I have already taken the first step, completely risk free. And you know what? The fear is gone, because I tricked some little part of me into believing that this thing I have to do is safe and known – because I’ve already drawn it and absolutely nobody died.
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So I offer to you, next time you’re in doubt, put your pencil on your page, close your eyes and imagine what you need to do. Picture the completed task or yourself in the middle of it. Draw that. Be as loose or as detailed as you wish. After a couple minutes open your eyes and laugh at your drawing, then leap into action.

Like me, you will probably end up with a handsome little pile of nonsense drawings, but you might also end up with enough peace to start your day.double Blind contour blog post_1

On getting my work to ask the hard questions:

The other week at an opening there were a number of you who said “I can feel the conflict between industry and nature in your work.” This, in its way, made me sad, for in making the work I felt a harmonious combining of the two.

But the artist makes only one half of the work. The rest is all you, and I am so privileged to learn your side. It lets me know who you are, the other, and how I can talk to you. To state your thoughts lets my work know you and dialogue back.

Leaf Filled

I noticed – hey – I know now what that person feels about industry/nature. My work asked them that question and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was trying to tell them something. But my work had other plans. It was curious.

Meditation cushion print

A thing that comes up in my reading/listening a lot: the idea of making art based on questions, not answers. Answers and truths are illusory. This is a controversial stance. I’m not placing it as an argument but rather a hypothesis. In my experience, personal truths (are there other kinds?) are transitory.

Seasonal trees block

Out in the people world, I find it difficult sometimes to talk to people about — people things. I’m not very good at it. I mean about families, spouses, heartbreaks, haircuts, injuries. These are relevant and important, but I am private in ways and just not very good at sharing back.

On the other hand, I am crazy to learn what projects/ideas/innovations/science/stories/techniques/places/spaces/perspectives/mind-tricks keep you awake at night. You know what? Sometimes its really hard to get people into those conversations. I learned a secret pass-phrase to get right in there, but some things are just tricky.

decal blocking x 2

So I’ll get my art to do it. Then go places with it. It’ll be my wingman.

Hey guy, my art says. Quick, what do I make you think of? Wear it all over your face.

On the white glow of the lightbulb:

Watercycle Sketches_0001

A sketch is such an immaculate conception. Before colour: form. A curving mass of lines. Possibility. Perfection.

The curse of being an idea-generating machine is that no creation will ever be as perfect as its conception

I know that once I take the mathematical entity off the page it starts to flaw, to differentiate. Even now, it is a pure white ruse. It is the idea of a thing.

White Lightbulb Blog Post_1

The debate – will you breathe life into that symbol and make it concrete? The source of all delay.

A sketch is like an object of the mind, perhaps impenetrable to others but immediately provocative to the artist. An artist looks at their own idea and sees the possibilities in flux. It is a great excitement.

White Lightbulb Blog Post

An object of the mind is non-communicative. In must be translated. It must be narrowed into a coherent statement and transmitted. It must be painted with actual colours and not all the colours at once.

Leaf toy_2

Because the white of the page contains the full spectrum of outcomes for that take. The terror is that none of the options are the full entity. You can never fully communicate what the mind sees in shapes. You can never fully say what you mean to say. You are compelled to try a different angle on another day. But by then you are changed.

White Lightbulb Blog Post_2

And that is fine. And I accept that.

It is better to say something than to live and die in the sheer white of possibility.

And anyway sometimes I am talking to myself.

Time Flies

The beginning of November marked the opening of “Foundation”, a show I am taking part in at the Saint John Arts Centre. Our special group comes together as a result of shared experience, the Sculpture Saint John symposium of 2012. We spent six weeks with six international artists, constructing six granite sculptures. We lived together and worked together and learned to communicate together. It was the most immersive experience I’ve come across.

That summer set me off on a mission to unite my chosen medium of textile, with my new-found love of stone, with my ever-growing passion for plants. From a personal standpoint, these three mediums activate different sides of my self. Textile for flexibility and colour, stone for strength and endurance, plants for energy and nurturing. I think of them as my prescription for well-roundedness.

From a conceptual standpoint, they make even more sense. Stone. The unyielding machinery which drives our planet. Plants. Lush and pulsing, they hold the very present moment. Textile. Almost impossible malleable, cloth is what makes us human. By combining these three primal disciplines I will evoke the kinship between man and biosphere.

I have begun through exploration, testing different ways of uniting these three. See below the initial designs, collectively entitled “Time Flies”. The final piece, “Necros”, is still in progress. In the coming days I will take you through the huge learning process of creating the first four. You can see the finished works at the historic Saint John Arts Centre until January 10th.

Page 18 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (1) - CopyPage 19 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (2-3) - CopyPage 20 - Insect Lifecycle Collection (4-5)

Timber Timbre

I like trees. They sound nice, feel nice, smell nice, act nice. They help me imagine nice things, like a world where all constructs are as self-sufficient and sturdy. A lot of my thoughts lately surround trees and their penchant for enlightening people.
Yerxa 161

Last weekend was Harvest Jazz and Blues time in my city. The whole downtown turns into a festival. I spent the weekend silk painting and quilting in the midst of torrential rain, happy music-goers, and fire juggling performers.

The piece I created was the first designed in my new shared warehouse studio, Fredericton Makerspace. There I feel full of gumption and efficiency. I tacked paper to the walls and swayed to Crystal Castles, conjuring up these dancing trees.
Dancing tree drawings WM

I’ve found the computer to be a swell friend where decision-making is concerned. I was looking to arrive at the purple/green/gray/brown tones of the bark on scaley spruce trees. I settled my colours, traced the piece onto silk, and then off to Harvest my skills.
Dancing tree drawing - Allison Green - Bottleneck Consensus

Some kindly photographers caught me working away. Talking to the passersby gave me a very romantic view of busking. A surprise to me, many felt my work spoke of female empowerment. That is not such a bad thing to have bleed from my art when I’m not looking.
James Walsh - Allison Green
James Walsh Photography

The musical brouhaha added rhythm to my brush strokes, the painted silk sparkled under incandescence. I already thought it a magical medium but my little alcove of light amplified this.
Emily Elizabeth Photography - Allison Green2Emily Elizabeth Photography

The next day was full of warmth and mud-scent while I quilted bark and ripples. Complete, I am pleased. It is my city at Harvest time; giant trees by the water, compelled to movement by the downtown vibrations.
Timber Timbre Tree Quilt WM - Allison Green - BottleneckConsensus_3

“Timber Timbre” will be up for silent auction at Isaac’s Way from Sept 22nd. Much of the proceeds will go to children’s music lessons. I hope it finds its way to a home full of song.

One goes up while the other comes down

The saltscape city has crumbled into the sea, but I’m sure it won’t be my last fling with crystal-making.

The show I took part in at Gallery Connexion, called “The View”, came down today. It was mostly for students at my school. I had a few pieces in it that I made last year while taking the Foundation Visual Arts program:

The piece below is a ceramic lizard eye. The nice lady who runs the gallery told me it looks like a vagina. Go figure.

This one is a cross-contour pomegranate I made from pen and ink in my first ever drawing class. One of my prouder moments.

This is a piece I made for art history, inspired by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. It is probably the largest painting I’ve made, and includes gouache, acrylic, acrylic gel, and copper foil. I painted it from a photograph of my very lovely and patient boyfriend, Warren. He is not quite as creepy-looking in real life.

The next thing I have on tap is the textiles show at the college. The poster was finalized this week. Perhaps a little more pinky than I would have chosen, but certainly eye-catching. It reminds me of a fairy tale landscape.

It`s going to be a beautiful show. I am lucky to be in a small department with exclusively talented people. It raises the bar for my own work and they are a constant source of knowledge and inspiration.

Having a little trouble deciding what to put in. I can submit three pieces for consideration. My paper quilt is a given, and I`m working on a mixed media nursery rhyme collection I have high hopes for. Other than that, either my digitally printed pillow, my dino screen prints, or my blimps and balloons pattern croquis. I`ll post them up here this weekend and you fine people can help me decide.