Thursday, December 30, 2004


Was out for a brew or two with friends Ric and Acting Artist and talked blogging for a bit. It's about time Industrial Art focused on industrial-related material and ongoing art activities. Although I did say earlier that I didn't call myself a photographer, that hasn't kept me from hoarding thousands of images that might "just be useful" in the studio some day.

So take a look at Diapositive - my photoblog of pictures not yet painted.

Gearing Down

I love the colours in the wood and the almost etheral effect the flour has on the gears. This was taken years ago on a trip to the Gaspe, when we stopped in at one of those historical places where the actors wear itchy scratchy clothing and spend all day milling a bag of flour. Then they go home and buy bread at the local depanneur.

Quebec: Flour Mill

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Toys in the Attic

In a big snit about not being able to go skiing in Quebec with my family, I decided to liven up house-and-pet-sitting, not by cleaning up and doing laundry uninterupted, but by buying myself a digital camera.

Huge big grin.

Toys for Christmas

Monday, December 27, 2004

Winter, Christmas and Tsunamis

I got a wonderful new toy for Christmas - a dedicated slide and negative scanner - one more reason to stay glued to the computer.

It's also -26C as I write - another good reason to stay glued to the computer.

And it was with horror that I read today's freshest blog link.

Mother Nature, in her wisdom, may be teasing me with frostbite, but she has unleashed a tsunami, claiming 20,900 lives in Asia yesterday.

Apparently, tsunamis are "invisible" until they reach shallower ground, when a 10 metre wall of water appeared without warning at the seaside resort of Chennai, India.

The magnitude of destruction is unfathomable; complaints of predictably cold weather simply disappear in comparison.

A succinct, well-written blog by Vivek says it all. He has also posted sites where help/funds may be donated for relief.

Update: From the About Guides
An overview of the situation and background information on tsunamies.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Buffalo and snow

When I moved to the Toronto area, I'd been disappointed more often than not with the season these guys called winter. Coming from Ottawa, 25 - 30 cm snowfalls weren't rare, and -25C temperatures were still cold, but not the conversation topic a mere -10C and a meagre 10 cm of snow begets.

The difference of a few degrees warmer in temperature is the difference between snow and freezing rain. Toronto has the most roads to clear, some 5,100 kilometres (3,170 miles), roughly the distance across the country. And over 5 million people in the G.T.A. who are still learning to drive.

Ottawa: average winter temperature of -10C and an average 221.5 cms (87 inches) snow
Toronto:average winter temperature of -3.8C and an average 130 cms (51.2 inches) snow
BUFFALO, NY - Generally milder than Toronto, but they get an average snowfall of 93 inches. Now that's snow!

Thumbing through the stats, though, it seems that Syracuse NY tops the snow bound list with an average of 108 inches of snow....

Let's think skiing, shall we?

Sketchbook: Buffalo City Hall

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Buffalo City Hall

I love this building. For some great photos and some history, see Buffalo as an Architectural Musem.

Groundbreaking was started in 1929, with the building finished in 1931. There are themes of the Iroquois nation, the development of the Erie Canal, the United States's relation to Canada, (can't find any evidence that speaks to me of that, except maybe that you can see Ontario from the top floor?) and the pioneering and industrial spirit of Buffalo's citizens.

Not a lot of people were working around 1929 - 1931, so that accounts for the idealistic nature of some of the friezes.

The architect, John Wade, was the sone of a tapestry weaver and was born in Hoboken NJ. In 1926, the City Architect's plan was deemed unsatisfactory, so the job went to Wade, who was only 33 years old at the time. In terms of style, he called it "Americanesque".

Today's City Hall occupies the site of Samuel Wilkeson's residence, who was mayor of Buffalo in 1836. Oddly enough, his house wasn't demolished for City Hall, but for a gas station in 1915. How times have changed.

Sketchbook: Buffalo NY

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kevin Scanlon: Industrial Photography

From Boing Boing:

Kevin Scanlon's heavy industry photography

Photographer Kevin Scanlon has spent the last thirty years chronicling the elegance of railroads, steel mills, and heavy industry throughout the country. He shoots steel mills -- active and silent -- West Virginia coalfields, and the dwindling railway systems in America. As the gallery intro says, "His images capture an important historical era that spans the end of the twentieth century into the new millennium." He loves this world, and chronicles it with a sense of belonging.

I really enjoyed the steel mills photos especially - but then I'm partial to steel mills anyway. These have more of a "fire in the sky" attitude - the warmth of a working mill (as opposed to the desolation of an abandonned workspace). Wheeling-Pitt South reminded me especially of younger years in Sudbury.

Buffalo NY: Building Detail

Monday, December 20, 2004

Thinking of warmer days

It was minus 27 C this morning. Read someone's blog from one of the territories complaining about wimps and weather. Wanted to ask him this morning if this could be considered at least "chilly". Turns out that Ottawa was -44 C (factoring wind chill) this morning, so I thought this sketch of summer tourists might just balance the equation.

Sketchbook: Tourists at CN Tower

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sketchbook Pages

There can be a lot of fuss over artist's sketchbooks. The past few years have witnessed a plethora of variations on the theme, from pre-packaged scrapbooking kits for people with more money than creativity to those interested in journaling and collage with a variety of "goals" in mind.

My sketchbooks won't close anymore because they're stuffed with anything I'm interested in, or think I might be interested in. The last handful of pages are blank, primarily because the spine of the book has broken. They're also stuffed with To Do Lists, woes and wails, and paper paraphenalia. They're my "Steelmaking for Dummies" pages; "Chemistry for Idiots" pages (like this talc one) and so on and so forth.

This is what curiosity looks like.

Sketchbook: Gears

Sketchbook: Talc

Friday, December 17, 2004

Lord of the Rings

Geared Up

Gears are an interesting analogy for all sorts of things - "in gear" and you know things are going well; "out of gear" and in your head you hear a noise that approximates fingernails on the blackboard...

What fascinates me is the mechanics of changing speed and direction. This image is a little soft for my liking, but getting there in terms of composition and colour.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Toronto: Gas Tax

Toronto: RGB


I don't consider myself a photographer, but I use the same eye for photographs that I use for painting.

I still think that picking up film is as exciting as opening Christmas presents, and the anticipation - especially if it's been awhile since the film was shot, is alarmingly physical.

Might not even wait until Christmas for a digital camera - I had the honour of using a friend's on the way home from our Second City Sundays - and am sitting here, lovingly going through all these pictures of a drive I take for granted - seeing things for the first time.

The intention, of course, is to use this stuff as reference material for collage, but I can't help taking a tweaklet here and there with my photoediting software. The one from New York City needed some heat, blur and contrast, and today's took a little crop here, a little colour pushing there, a straightening nudge...

Not really to "fix" a photo, but to see if it can go just a little further, say something just a little bigger than when it was taken. That, and it's much easier to double click the mouse than to haul out glue and paint at 11:00 on a Sunday night.

Toronto: Red Bricks, peeling paint

Friday, October 29, 2004

In control

In an earlier post, I mentioned some reasons for artmaking and suggested that being in control of one area of one's life is of paramount importance.

To be honest, I thought everyone must entertain similar thoughts, but it escaped me that some ffolks may find greater comfort in routine and conformity - the very thought of being different would be downright frightening.

I do agree that there's some insecurity (okay, a good deal of insecurity) when it dawns on you that you may be flying in a different direction. Always asking yourself if you should turn around, or perhaps compromise a little?

To my great delight, this gem from Robert Genn (check out Painter's Keys)

But even though it may be up to you there can be an ongoing disappointment that your honey is not as good as it could be.
And there's no passing the buck. One of us observed that how an artist might see and feel about his own performance is at the root of a great deal of the grumpiness and prickly defense that
artists put out.
Together with this understanding is the idea that artists need constantly to be in the fight against uniformity and conformity. As Glen Van Ekeren noted: "Creative people exhibit a continuous discontent with uniformity." Taking control implies building your own fortress and fortifying your own building. It's not easy. John Hall said: "I want to be different. Just like all the other different people I want to be like. I want to be just like all the different people and assert my individuality along with others who are different like me." By being different we can grab the thin brass rail of control. Then Joe said, "That puts contentment at risk, but that's when the good life begins."

Not sure about manufacturing of my own wealth though...otherwise I'd paint to match people's living rooms. But otherwise, it's nice to know that I'm not alone being different.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A photographer after my own heart

These photos say what I want to say - go look!

Abandoned Places

These are haunting, lonely and beautiful photographs and truly have a sense of Heiddeger's worlds worlding,

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Blast furnace: A nice place for ideas Posted by Hello

Art making: getting even with the world.

Some people say that they're driven to produce their art.

I can't - I'm driven to distraction more often.

Some people say that it must be nice to have a creative outlet.

"Only if you're a Sunday painter" I say, because the act of creation often stems from frustration and or despair, and I work really hard to reduce those moments in my life.

Artmaking, to me, is prozac. A genuine distraction from the affairs of the foolish. A time to resolve frustrations, not by painting pictures or entertaining tortuous revenges, but time to determine EXACTLY how much respect I have lost or gained from those individuals who populate my life.

A time to relax from disappointments, little and large. They'll still be there afterwards, but I might as well hold something in my hands that, for once, didn't have a committee to approve it, didn't compromise my ideas to make it palatable to someone else, didn't do exactly as I told it too, but came alive and blossomed with a life of it's own.

It IS really difficult to stop, once started, to finish the launry, answer the phone, or go to work.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Defeat (Nonsense) Posted by Hello

There WERE No "Weapons of Mass Destruction"


How much money did that startling discovery cost?

War on terrorism....war on drugs....war war war war war.

It's not going to go away as long as there are people (the only true weapon of mass destruction I can think of).

There's always going to be bullies and victims, whether it be on the school yard, on the highways, in a marriage or in government. There's always going to be the reminder that Mother Nature is far larger and more powerful than mere humans, and that she, too, will take her victims. As long as we remain human, we remain an animal, struggling for food and shelter, marking our territories, mating and reproducing.

And, as long as we are human -

our struggle also gives rise to great literature, great art, great theatre, great music as well.

May grace be with you should you, for one moment today, steer towards greatness.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

0 degrees (or damned close to it)

I read somewhere of an artist who actually prefers to paint dying flowers - and if you look beyond the ordinary - Plant, Flower, Brown - sequence, there is something sad but still beautiful about the shrivelled bloom that once was proud in it's glory.

LIke a childhood in Quebec, for instance.

Or my waistline, for that matter.

Meanwhile, note to self - bring the houseplants in.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Celtic: Sculpture Tool box Posted by Hello

Bonne Fete

I've kept my clay carving tools in a Pampers Baby Wipe plastic box for 13 years. Out of the blue, our accountant gave me a beautiful wooden box and a set of mini-clay tools for my birthday last week.

It was truly the most touching gift - so appropriate. So I made it beautiful.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Life in a Northern Town

I'm not sure what I liked so much about living in Northern Quebec. Probably freedom - we played outside all summer over 5 square kilometres of bush, populated by moose, rodents of a small furry nature and blackflies. There was Glass Hill, Lightning Rock, and a ton of fool's gold to be had. When we got bored with that, we went over to the White Slimes and the Red Slimes before you got to the lake. We were called home in September to get stuffed into school uniforms. It was about a mile to school, and we came home for lunch. Mom always had soup and sandwiches.

Then we moved to Ontario because the grownups in Quebec were arguing. I went back to Noranda in 1990 and they'd put a fence up around the fool's gold because the grownups found copper. The Slimes were off limits because they were tailings pits and probably an eco-hazard or something.

My son was 11 before he was allowed to walk a kilometre by himself, and children arene't allowed to eat peanut butter in public places.

People in Toronto think that Barrie and the Muskokas are "Up North".

I still love soup and sandwiches for lunch.

Rouyn Noranda - Quand j'etais jeunne Posted by Hello

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