Sunday, October 26, 2014

proof of concept

I was chuffed to be tasked with writing several articles last month for the latest issue of  EVE Magazine. I had contributed one biggish story for the previous issue and I took my newly expanded role to be an atta boy for my efforts.

I am quite proud of my role in the latest edition. It was a lot of work in a short period of time (which gave me a fast lesson into how the real life magazine world really works), but it was ultimately highly satisfying. And the stories aren't half bad either, if I do say so myself. 

With ink-stained fingers, I offer you:


Eat Village
Sentinels Unveiled / Doors Wide Open 
Safe Passage
Sound of Art. Art of Sound / Many Hands Make Art Work 
District Energy's New Warmth

Happy reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

attempting to art

These things I find very satisfying:
1. using up stuff or finding a new use for something
2. getting rid of crap
3. decorating a room
4. translating the image I see in my head, out through my hand and into the real world (this one is problematic and generally less successful)

This past weekend - the most glorious fall weekend I have ever seen in almost two decades living in this city - I was determined to take the entire two days off without even thinking about doing any (paid) work. Given how lazy I am, you would be surprised at how rarely this actually happens. I also was determined to use up some old particle board in the basement - along with a collection of old house paint - to make a large painting to hang in one of the bedrooms at the lake place. 

I was looking to create something woodsy, to reflect what we think is the true nature of the house. I wanted to make something that reminded me of roughly planed wood in some way. 

On Saturday, a drop dead gorgeous day, I pulled on a pair of cutoffs and a ratty old Toronto Maple Leafs tee-shirt that used to belong to the Spousal Unit and hauled the Offspring's long-abandoned Little Tykes easel out of the basement and into the backyard, along with seven or eight cans of leftover house paint and whatever wide brushes I could find that still had some malleable bristles. 

before ... wah wah wahhhh 
The spousal unit had already cut a sizeable piece of particle board for me, which I propped up on the easel and stared at in terror. Be bold, I told myself, be confident. The first few brush strokes were pretty decent - large, aggressive - but something happened as I moved the brush across the board. The broad strokes started to falter, become smaller and less assertive, until they finally petered out into little apologetic flicks of the brush. I tried to tell myself that I had created something vaguely like a winter landscape and that it was fine. But it wasn't. I kept adding paint. It got worse.

I was just going to park the botched painting in the garage and use it to store the lawnmower on, or something, but the next day was another fine fall day that you do not want to pass by. Emboldened and with nothing to lose, I covered the board with a new layer of base paint and started again. I kept my brush strokes as bold as I could, yet kept them restrained so that they ended as assertively as they had begun. I discovered that allowing two colours of paint on the brush at once (a factor of lazy cleaning more than design) gave the illusion of planed wood grain that I had been seeking, or at least a mild proximity.

I added a few touches of contrasting colour here and there and some black lines to give what I hoped would look like depth and I tried to stop before I turned the whole thing into one giant muddy brown mess.

after
I'm no artist by any stretch of the imagination, and I may never be able to paint or draw what is inside my head, but the final result of this attempt ain't too bad, in my humble opinion. I may not be able to truthfully cross point #4 off my list, but I can give it a tentative check mark for gave it a shot. And for now, that feels like success.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PDX percept

Bean bag toss games are rampant.

Portlanders are pathologically friendly. Passersby are happy to chat for as long as you want. Everybody thanks the bus driver when they disembark. The bus driver thanks everybody back. On one bus, the driver ended his shift mid-route by coming to the back of the bus to say good-bye to everyone and to thank them.

You CAN pickle that.

Everywhere is food. There seems to be a restaurant on every corner, but we only ever saw one fast food enclave. Food trucks take up permanent residence in food truck trailer parks that dot the city. Charming little places, they are, complete with twinkly lights, picnic tables with Trivial Pursuit games on them and covered eating areas with big screen tvs for when the weather turns inclement. And bean bag toss games, of course. Figs, tomatoes and Swiss chard were ripe and available for our use in the garden of the house we rented. The Plaid Pantry around the corner had really decent $5 wine and the $10 stuff was excellent.

Portland's curb-side recycling program looks really complicated at first glance, but ultimately boils down to put everything in a bin, we'll sort it out. I am still trying to figure out how to buy the gorgeous, roomy and drop-dead charming Craftsman house that we rented, or a suitable equivalent.

Portland has the most liberal freedom of expression laws in the entire country, our guide on the walking tour told us. Right on cue, a girl passing by raised her fist in the air and triumphantly yelled FUCK YEAH!

Gorgonzola fries. Powell's Books. Afternoons playing pool. Pumpkin beer. Really great paper bags with comfy handles at the grocery store. Record stores with subversive labelling. Backyard chickens. Long warm evenings morphing into nights on the back patio in the company of great friends, whom I wished all lived closer.

Put a bird on it. I will definitely return.