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Why I Love Art


Art offers an opening for the heart.
True art makes the divine silence in the soul
Break into applause.
                        – Hafiz

This morning I was eating one of my most favourite breakfasts (Kaz-made fried rice left-overs, an over-easy egg and black coffee), and thinking about how to start this blog. I was almost on my last fork full when I realized that I had been all up in my head and almost missed the deliciousness of my breakfast. Rats!
But wait, this sudden wake-up call brought me here, to the start of this blog.

Cardinal and Vivaldi - Autumn
Cardinal and Vivaldi – Autumn April 2018

In a nutshell, art is one way that I can savour the moments and can, from time to time, “break into applause”. See how that works? No? Well then please allow me, if you will, to explain with a journey through my recent works. Hold on! For me, journeys are never a direct path.

This past year has been a continuation of my quest to Draw Music. After my ‘Eureka – Drawing Music’ moment a year ago, I’ve been on the look out for the next steps.



The Image

The creation of Cardinal and Vivaldi – Autumn turned out to be the first step. It led me to explore the meaning and power of ‘image’. This work was designed for a friend who loved Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and whose favourite season was fall.
The almost mystical appearance of a cardinal in their back yard was from a story about her, lovingly told by her husband.  The cardinal, for him, symbolizes her spirit and love of nature. The combination of her music and this image shapes the piece.



Drawing Silence 1
Drawing Silence 1 March-April 2018

Drawing Silence

Another road taken was this one, drawing silence.
A sure way to uncover new ideas is to ponder the what-ifs. What if I drew: the space between, or emotions, or story, or silence? This time I chose silence.

The most silent time, for me, is during my morning meditation. Nisargadatta said:
“Meditation will help you find your bonds, loosen them, untie them and cast off your moorings. When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.”

I know that although I find physical silence in meditation, there is precious little internal quiet. Much to my surprise, drawing this silence vividly reveals how very “noisy” an experience silence can be. Hmmmmm.

Thank you, Franca.



Drawing Story

I have experience, Because She Cares
I have experience Sept 2018

After image and silence came story from the spoken word.

In August of last year, I was fortunate to have attended a live performance of the spoken word and poetry called “Because She Cares” by Lori Chambers. This work is unique in it’s own right. The design concept involves Lori’s PhD study of 10 women who shared their stories of their experiences as African, Caribbean and Black women engaged in the HIV response both “back home” and here in Canada.

In my series of her work, 15 pieces were drawn to the rhythm and sound of the words during the performance. Overlain are two circular symbols to reflect the experiences told through the poems. The top symbol is from West African Adinkra. The bottom shape is Japanese Kanjii (from my heritage). The colours are from of the fabrics worn by African, Caribbean and Black women.





Going Big

In September I heard some haunting beautiful music on Pondercast.ca (#20 – Altered States). The piece “It’s Magic” by Masayoshi Fujita was particularly compelling. I found his website (masayoshifujita.com) and 18 pieces I wanted to draw.

I remembered an art book I bought in 1990 called “The Conversation” by Jean Michel Folon, design by Milton Glaser. It is a 40-page fan-folded continuous water colour painting that extended out to 20.8’. Perfect.
Visual Impressions – music by Masayoshi Fujita

Visual Impressions, Masayoshi Fugita
Visual Impressions music by Masayoshi Fugita

18 pieces of music, 10 pages, 12” x 100” (More than any other of my recent works, this one has opened up big opportunities to stretch, innovate and experiment.)



Painterly Drawings

Death Star 2 of 3, Star Wars, TSO
Death Star 2 of 3

My most recent work was drawn during the “Star Wars – A New Hope in Concert” musical performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The 26 small drawings gave me the time to be immersed in the slow process of developing the style. Four things happened to me while working on this piece.

  1. Discovering the term “polytychs”. The 26 pieces are actually 13 pieces; 4 single pieces, 12 diptychs, 2 triptyches, and 1 quadtych.
  2. Hearing my beloved grade 9 art teacher insist that the work must extend off the page. I don’t remember her name but I do vividly remember her critiques.
  3. Mark Rothko’s field of colour influences and impacts.
  4. Being able to see ‘painterly’, one of my favorite art terms, in action.

This piece here is Star Wars: A New Hope (TSO Jan 2019) – #15 The Death Star triptych, 2 of 3

Next:

Travel

 

2010 Amsterdam cafe
2001 Amsterdam cafe

When the Moody Blues released their 1968 song; (Thinking is) The Best Way to Travel, I embraced the idea hook line and sinker. As the internet offered more and more on-demand wonders of the world and beyond, I saw it as my window to the world and was very happy to remain an armchair traveller.

… and yet, some how I have sketched my way from Victoria to Amsterdam to Cuba and back (see my travel portfolio).

 

 

 

 

In the last 30 years, I have been to; Vancouver, Dominican Republic, Vermont, Michigan, Atlanta (just before the 1996 Summer Olympics), Barbados, San Francisco, New York, New Mexico, Montreal, Salt Spring Island BC, Manitoulin Island ON, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, Newfoundland, Ottawa, and Cuba.

Lori has perfected Kaz-simple travel practices. On one of our early vacations, she found an on-line travel check list to counter my “I can’t leave my stuff” argument. I still use variations of that list, even for overnight trips. Another trick was to make the trips as Kaz-friendly as possible. All I really need to do is pack my bags with my stuff. Destination, transportation, accommodations, art galleries, and a relaxed itinerary are all planned out and booked. Time and cost were also part of my resistance story, but now that I’m retired, and Lori is characteristically frugal, these objections have gotten much harder to defend.

And if this wasn’t enough, we are very good travellers together. Neither of us have any fear of flying, we enjoy the same kind of things like visits to local attractions, galleries and museums. Neither of us go in for shopping and we have aged into a mutually comfortable and leisurely pace often discovering unexpected local gems. One of the best things is that we get a lot of café and park sitting time, Lori reads, anything in print really, and I sketch.

2007 Harvey Lake cottage outside
2007 Harvey Lake cottage outside

One safe haven for me was the Lyons’ cottage, Lori’s family cottage since the late 1970’s. It was always a warm and welcoming place. It never had a phone, but it did have hydro and, by  1993, indoor plumbing too. Until it was sold in 2016, it was always our go-to getaway place. Our first stay of the year was the May 24 long weekend, which coincides with Lori’s birthday, and our last stay was Thanksgiving when the extended Lyons family came up for the day.

The cottage was three hours away on Harvey Lake near Dorset, east of Huntsville. It is a small lake with 10 cottages surrounded by crown land. No one but Harvey Lake cottagers have access to lake or road, it so it was always a serene place to stay. The first thing I did when we arrived was  set up my art table (an old and reliable cottage card table) by the widow. The last thing I did when leaving was fold it down and put it away as part of my routine packing up.

2017 Fenelon Falls cottage tree
2017 Fenelon Falls cottage tree

Even now in this post 2016 era, cottage vacations are not gone. There are still one or two weeks or long weekends at rented cottages. One that Lori found is at Fenelon Falls ON, just an hour away from Uxbridge. It’s circa 1970’s cottage décor but comfortable enough. It also has Wi-Fi, good swimming and great cross breeze to keep away the bugs, even in May and June. It has  a patio table that is brought indoors to serve as my art table. See some of my Harvey Lake sketches.

And oh, did I mention that part of the plan usually includes a cottage country art studio tour.

 

2001 Amsterdam enroute
2001 Amsterdam enroute

From armchair traveller to actual traveller – it happened in 2001.

I agreed to go to Amsterdam for our 10th anniversary. By now Lori had truly honed her travel planning skills. Again, all I had to do was pack my bags. It was a pretty terrific trip and the next one I figured wouldn’t be needed for another 10 years for our 20th anniversary.

But somehow since then I’ve been to New York, Vancouver, and Salt Springs Island, all before our 20th anniversary Barcelona trip. And since then to New Mexico, Boston, Chicago, Newfoundland, Victoria and Cuba. How do these things happen?

Stay tuned…

Through the Looking Glass


If you carry a frame, everything’s a picture.
And outside the frame, more picture.

And outside the more, more.

                by Ronna Bloom from The More
                      ronnabloom.com/books-index/

 

 

I had a friend who collected kaleidoscopes. He had a small collection, but I was fascinated and started my own collection. I love how they transported me ‘through the looking glass’, especially the teleidoscopes. They tirelessly frame, explode and rearrange the elements of my visual world, often inspiring me to explore my world differently. Sadly, my 70+ collection (photo above) is now down to only a handful (after the great downsizing of 2015) yet this handful is enough to keep the fascination fueled.

Circles

The chicken or the egg; I’m not sure which came first, the alluring beauty of the circle or exploring their many gentle qualities. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how much the circle inhabited my art, both as a frame and an image.

Plato stated, in his ‘Seventh Letter“… the circle is ultimately a mental construct, an idealized form which doesn’t truly exist. … the circle has no equivalent material reality.”  As universal metaphor the circle represents; motion – as in the circle of life, orientation, grouping, relationships, unity and wholeness, infinity, potentiality, perfection, balance, harmony, beauty, to name just a few. (from The Book of Circles by Manuel Lima 2017)

And so, for me, they remain a wonderful mystery.


This is the first piece I that remember where circles started to show up. Overlay was part of series that launched my passion with making art.

Overlay (acrylic on canvas, 18” x 25”, 09 1972)

 

 

Through the 1980’s circles continued to appear.


Scooping Water from Zenrin Poem, 1981Wh
en I’m 64  (20” x 13”, coloured ink on paper)
Seasons  (11.5” x 14”, coloured ink on paper) and
Scoop the Water  (9” x 6”, pen and ink on paper)

 

 

 

A few years ago, I mind-mapped this question of circles hoping to find some kind of answer to this fixation of mine, but to no avail.
I soon noticed circular images and influences everywhere; the enzo, mandala, labyrinth, crystal ball, happy faces, the wheel; in science, nature, philosophy, visual art, poetry, music, industry, technology – everywhere.

 

Windows

Unlike circles, the appearance of windows in my art is no mystery, rather it’s a design choice. My use of windows is about framing the image as well as a tool to break up and break down images and ideas to see what happens.

Unlike most people, I don’t find travel at all compelling.

When the Moody Blues released their 1968 song; (Thinking is) The Best Way To Travel, I clung to that notion, and still do.
When I started using the internet, I called it my window to the world, and still do.

My art room window and My Tree painting (2017).

 

Through My Balcony Window  (13” x 10”, coloured inks, 1982)
This piece is from my first window series. As the title says, it was, in fact, the view from my St. George St 2nd floor apartment.

Windows are the openings in walls and let air and light and possibilities come through. Windows are also the frame for an image to help guide the eyes and illuminate different parts. ‘And outside the frame, more.’

 

About 12 years ago, we were introduced to the ‘new’ type of board games from Germany, Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne to name a few. The pieces for these games were printed on thick sheets of cardboard and needed to be popped out. The remaining sheet made a perfect template tool of evenly spaced ‘windows’.

For pieces like this one, I start with an arrangement of ‘windows’ using my ‘perfect template tool’ and fill in the blanks. Each window is free to break up or break down anything in any way and still remain coherent with the whole. It’s a very pleasurable way to make art.

Cartoons

 

Artist I paint what I see child
Artist I paint what I see child

I paint what I see, child.
Gahan Wilson

There was place in Toronto in the early 1970’s called The Book Barn. It specialized in remaindered and second hand books, and housed rooms and passage ways of wall to wall books with old couches and chair and complimentary coffee. This where my art book obsession began. This is where I discovered the cartoon compilations of artists like; Saul Steinberg, George Price, and Gahan Wilson.

The work in this portfolio was inspired by those books.

Its Zen When
Its Zen When

 

 

 

It’s Zen When

In the 1970’s, my work was largely abstracts. I thought I’d like to learn to draw figures. While not at all attracted to life drawing classes, cartoons seemed a natural path for me. At this time, I was also practicing Aikido – “Henry” style. The mix of these two passions grew into this series. I am still so grateful for the teachings of and conversations with my Aikido sensei, Henry Kono.

Over 75 ‘Zen’ cartoons came tumbling out. In 1983, two of these cartoons were printed as posters by Seacraft Publishing.

Poof - Magician par excellent
Poof – Magician par excellent

 

A Bit of a Geek
When my writer friend asked if I would illustrate his Dungeon and Dragon’s – Who Will Survive the Terror of the Labyrinth (1980), I jumped at the chance.

Fast forward to today. I am in such awe of the graphic and CGI work being done today. The art in the Black Panther movie blows me away. If you are an artist and/or Sci-Fi-buff– have a look!

p.s. One of my claim-to-fame moments is my 1977 Timex Super Hero watch face designs; Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.

Reading
Reading

 

 

 

First Time Parents

In 1985, I had a baby. After my first full on year of parenting, I was itching to get back to art. Cartooning gave me the perfect way back.

 

 

 

a fine line
A fine line

Taking a line for a walk

I’m not sure where I first heard this phrase, but it has been bouncing around in my head for years and in 1987 it first ratcheted up the creative muscle. It was shortly afterwards I found a kid’s book called, Follow the Line by Demi 1981. I felt like I was in very good company.

 

 

Welcome to artbykaz.ca

 

artbykaz.ca, has been revamped and updated thanks to my fabulous partner, Lori. I hope to use the site to show some new and old work with a few reflections along the way. The next portfolios to be posted are; Cartoons, and Through the Looking Glass.

Thanks for the visit.
Until next time,
Kaz

Drawing Music

Eureka Music

 

Eureka Water

Eureka – drawing music, I’m almost sure…maybe.

 

After the 2009 Eureka [Drawing] Water moment, I started to look for my next adventure. Caught up in the wave of Harry Potter-ness, I imagined that I would next try to draw ‘that which can’t be drawn’. I experimented with drawing; poetry, the space between, 4 Buddhist Things and Zen painting. I eventually found that I needed to narrow my focus a bit.

 

Jazz

My mission to ‘draw music’ caught fire with the sketch 2014 Jazz. It appeared on July 2014 at the Beaches Jazz Festival. With pen in hand, I listened to the music and tried to envision how the music would ‘look’ on paper. At first, my sketches looked like a kind of symbols soaked non-music notation which then transformed into these plant-like shapes. As this was going on, I noticed an artist near the stage painting a largish canvas. I soon discovered that she was painting the onstage music. A quick sketch of her painting is in the 2014 Jazz sketch.

 

Jenny’s Song

 

A few months later the Windermere String Quartet concert season began. Live classical music was a perfect place to continue my experiments. Also in November 2014 I heard an inspiring acapella improvisation to the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl and the 2014 Jenny’s Song series came about, sound in the round. In the beginning of this year’s Windermere String Quartet season, I combined drawing to the music with sound-in-the-round design and voila, 2017 Music Art. The adventure continues.

 

When I’m 64

 

When I looked back, I found that my interest in the expression of music in art was originally sparked by a 1972 essay I wrote, The Music of Wassily Kandinsky. This essay was for a night school class given by the artist and teacher, Anne Lang. She taught me more about the practice of art than any other art teacher. This trajectory led me to explore variations such as 1981 When I’m 64 and pretty much anywhere my imagination can take me.