Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birth Song

Conway Twitty      My Birth Song Top Hit:  It's Only Make Believe

Yesterday, I visited one of my favourite young bloggers, andrea joseph's sketchblog,
 and she indicated that she was born the year John Lennon had a hit record.

I checked my birth song and it was "It's Only Make Believe" by Conway Twitty.  I have to admit the top song of the year "All I Have to do is Dream" by the Everly Brothers was a favourite.  I'm such a romantic.

What is yours?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Matisse: A Travelling Man

Matisse            Photo:  Carl Van Vechten 1933
A short while ago, a group of my artist friends and I eagerly took in Henri Matisse:  A Celebration of Light and Line at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) which is showcasing over 170 pieces.

The work spans over 50 years of Matisse's career with the earliest print dated 1900 to the last created in 1951.  The traveling collection originates from the home of the Baltimore Museum of Art's world-renowned Cone Collection.  Some pieces are being shown for the first time in this very exhibition!

The majority of the work emphasizes printmaking: colour prints, etchings, monotypes, aquatints, dry points, lithographs, linocuts, and wood cuts showcasing an amazing economy of line.  Sprinkled throughout the gallery are hand-made books, paintings, sculptures and drawings.  my friend, Linda, and I are especially intrigued by the unbound books of poetry guarded under glass.  How desperately we want to pull them out from under and fondle every leaf!

Later that same evening, touring curator Stephanie D'Alessandro mesmerized the audience as she recounted the artist's process and methods.  She spoke with such passion about her "boyfriend" Matisse that the hour flew quickly.  We were thoroughly inspired by the theory of succession in The Bathers and The Back!

If you have an opportunity to see the collection please do.  It is well worth it!  We plan on taking in the show again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Project Runway: 1, 2, 3, 4... Season 5!

Auditioning fabrics in my studio     Photo: Margaret Braun

Oiy!  I can't help myself!  I have begun Project Runway Season 5!  Please don't tell Glenys. 

Like any good mystery I can't help but wonder "what's next"?  The garment challenges and reactions of the designers makes me laugh and/or groan within every series.

I ask myself, "How can I translate their exercises into my artmaking?"  This has become an interesting and stimulating venture for me, too.  The possibilities are endless.

Keeping with my reuse, recycle, repurpose and upcycle theology I chose fabrics and paraphernalia from the Edmonton Reuse Centre.  It is always exciting because of the unknown contributions donated by a multitude of local gifters.

I have decided to begin with an abstract concept which will eventually take on layers.  There are several obstacles to overcome:  colour unification; combining different fabric weights -- transparent next to upholstery next to satin next to velvet;  prints containing white or light valued-colours may pop too much so I may have to stain them; and integrating intriguing details, accessories and illustrative assemblages.  Blending all these elements together in some engaging way can be perplexing.

Well, off I go.

As Tim Gunn would say, "Make it work".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I am Hooked on Project Runway!

I have a little bit of fabric in my studio           Photo:  Margaret Braun

For those of you who know me well... I KNOW... you are shocked!  Not only do I not watch television -- I don't own one!   I do not read fashion magazines and certainly do not follow the current trends.  I enjoy my own style.

How did this happen you ask.

Well, it all began four weeks ago when I attended Drop-in-Drawing.  Half-a-dozen fashion design students from Marvel College joined us.  After the drawing session, my friend Glenys and I acquainted ourselves with this creative bunch.  One young man, whom we assumed attended the college, spoke with great confidence and fashion finesse.   Not so, he was a tag-along boyfriend.  Glenys and I were amazed!   His drawings were outstanding AND he had the fashion lingo down.  We asked him how he inherited this ability.  He replied that Project Runway hosted by Heidi Klum taught him everything he knows about the fashion world.

Because both Glenys and I do not own a television the students had to described the reality show to us.  My friend and I laughed!  We decided to borrow the dvds from the library, get together on a regular basis to watch the series, learn fashion speak, eat popcorn and turn our new-found knowledge into a winter project and eventually into a body of work.   (giggle...  "body - of - work"!)

Surprise!  There are    s   e   v   e   n    seasons in our public library.

That is a  LOT  of popcorn!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Drawing by Margaret Braun

I love my birthday!  Family and friends from near and far send their happy wishes and sing the birthday song to me.

I always create a special day for myself.  Okay, maybe three or four special days of celebration.  This year is no exception.

For me, a birthday is a time to reflect over the past year and plan the beginning of a new year.  I am continually blessed and rich with family and friends.  This year I am grateful for experiencing  the tremendously exciting new opportunities that were presented to me.  It certainly has been outstanding and I am looking forward to a full and fabulous year ahead!

As I envision the future, I would like to share a scripture verse with you.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.  Philippians 4:8.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Artists and Poets: Melissa Jay Craig

Melissa Jay Craig demonstrating the finer points of bookmaking   Photo:  Margaret Braun

I was thrilled when I saw that Steve Miller had posted an interview with Melissa Jay Craig on Book Artists and Poets (also available on iTunes)!

I have mentioned Melissa Jay Craig from the PBI Workshop several times in my blog.  She is a very creative and innovative book artist and a wonderfully warm and funny instructor!

I assure you that you will love Melissa, her work, website, blahg and the interview.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thank you Alberta Craft Council!

Pen Drawing    by Margaret Braun
Can you imagine my surprise when I discovered the latest edition of Alberta Craft Council's newsletter shared my blog with its readership?  How kind.  Thank you so very much!

Since 1980, the Alberta Craft Council has organized exhibitions, publications, marketing ventures, education projects and information services for its members and the general public.  They support contemporary and heritage crafts as significant art forms that contribute to Alberta's culture and develop an Alberta craft sector of creative, skilled, viable, and sustainable craftspeople, studios, businesses and networks.

The Alberta Craft Council  has taken fine craft into an entirely different direction other than living room decoration whether in clay, wood, glass, fibre and/or metal.  Craft makers now are as likely to come from fine art schools like ACAD and Emily Carr as the hobbyist tradition. The newer, emerging artists are pushing the boundaries in different directions. The quality of work is really amazing and just keeps growing.

What do creatives have in common?  The love of material and process, experimentation, ideas, cultural expressions, and personally made objects.

Thanks, again, Alberta Craft Council for your recognition of my blog!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why draw with your non-dominant hand?

Ink Drawing of Verne with Non-Dominant Hand by Margaret Braun
Because it’s fun!  When I draw with my left hand, the non-dominant one, I forget all technical questions.  I have just one thing to focus on, the hand following the eye.

The process itself is a little awkward.  Your non-dominant hand draws slowly and is clumsy. That’s okay.  Remember this hand did not go to school and is seldom asked to write or draw.  It takes a little bit of patience and lots of willingness to just accept what comes.

As an aside, my brain’s usual chatter turns off as I engaged my left hand and it feels as if a formerly untapped part of the brain is engaged.

The research in Creative Journaling by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D. shows that, right handed or left handed, writing and imaging with the non-dominant hand gives greater access to the right hemispheric functions like feeling, intuition, creativity and inner wisdom and spirituality. When a dialog occurs between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, both emotions and thoughts are more fully expressed and understood.

Non-dominant hand drawing has been used in art classes for many years as a way of loosening up. It helps you to relax and draw what you see and feel. Try it yourself!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Drawing with the Non-Dominant Hand

Ink drawing with non-dominant hand  by Margaret Braun
Sylvie was modeling at "Drop in Drawing" the other day.

I mentioned to Curtis how, at East Coolee, we drew portraits with our non-dominant hand.  I suggested that we might try.  Curtis was game.  We were surprised and delighted by the results and had a great deal of fun! 

Try drawing with your non-dominant hand then send me your results.  I would love to see your drawings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Handmade Book: Binding

Handmade Flax Paper, Music Sheets      Photo:  Margaret Braun
It is exciting to use discarded found materials such as old music sheets.  I love using a needle and thread. 

Handmade Flax Paper stained with coffee    Photo:  Margaret Braun
Hand stitching, binding the signatures together is also a peaceful and meditative act while making handmade books.  In this small 2" x 3" book, I soaked the flax paper in coffee to get a sense of "old" and "yesteryear" whereas
Handmade flax paper               Photo:  Margaret Braun

I have left the pages of this book pristine knowing full well I will experience the joy of marking it up in a variety of ways!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Handmade Book: Preparing the Signatures

Handmade flax paper                              Photo:  Margaret Braun
Tearing paper, folding paper, creating signatures of a book is peaceful and meditative.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Thank you, Father God, for my loving family, my fabulous friends, this rich life I have been given and beautiful country I live in!  I truly am blessed!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

What are you grateful for at this moment?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Marjorie Wood Gallery: Coolee Show

Thread drawing, hand-made paper made from sage
and mixed medium on canvas by Margaret Braun
"Interactive Coolee" is now showing at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer.  The show began 25 September and will run through to early November with the opening 01 October 2010.

Over the past three autumns, members and friends of the Alberta Society of Artists visit East Coolee for a painting weekend in mid-September to early October.  "Interactive Coolee" features artwork made on location and artwork derived from the experience of working with this impressive form in the central Alberta landscape.  The exhibition presents paintings, drawings, photographs and abstract inspired from the landscape by 18 Alberta Artists.

The artists participating in the celebratory art exhibition "Interactive Coolee":  Margaret Braun, Peggy Arnett, Pam Wilman, Donna Miller, Carole-May Coty, Glenys Switzer, Gordon Ramsey, Frances Olynyk, Verne Busby, Karen Arnett, Jean Blackall, Linda Morrow, Nadien Cole, Morry Katz, Danielle LaBrie, Eileen Heidler and Billie Diane Avery.

Read about the fun we had this year in the 18 September 2010 posting!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

WANTED: Steve Miller!


Steve Miller is coming to Edmonton!

Artist Steve Miller is a professor and coordinator for the MFA in the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama.  He spearheads the Paper & Book Intensive Workshops; is the originator of Book Artists and Poets podcasts found on iTunes and Juror of 500 Handmade Books by Lark.

Steve will give two public lectures sponsored by the University of Alberta Libraries, Department of Art and Design, and the School of Library and Information Studies. His first lecture, Generosity of Spirit, will coincide with the opening reception of The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) at 5:00 pm 4 October.  A second presentation, Collaboration with Cuban Artists, is scheduled for 5 October  also at 5:00 pm in room 2-09 Rutherford Library South at The University of Alberta.

By the way, if you would like to read about the fun, friendships and shenanigans that took place at Paper & Book Intensive Workshop 2010 in Maine this year read  my postings dated 4 & 5 August and 8 September.

What do you think about my two-minute drawing of Steve?  I think he looks at least 10 -- NO!  20 years younger (giggle).  Submit your drawings of Steve and I will share your illustration with my readers!  This will be fun!  I'm sure Steve will enjoy it, too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pen Pals

Ink drawings by Margaret Braun


I admit it!

I am a pen geek!

It simply is true.

I am forever on the lookout for the marks a new pen will make. 

When I find a pen I really like, I tend to get attached to it.  It seems most artists do.  There are a number of requirements for being "the" pen of choice.  How does it feel in the hand?  How easily does it slide across the paper?  What type of line does it produce?  Does it bleed?  Is it water soluble?  Point size?  Nib?  Marker?  Gel?  Ballpoint?  Rollerball?  Porous Tip?  Brush?  Is it reliable?  Consistant?  Black?  Colour?

Dan Price  author of Moonlight Chronicles has used Sakura pens for the last ten years and has never wavered.  John Copeland uses a ball point pen in his sketchbooks with great success.  Check his site under books.  Danny Gregory has his trusty nib holder and collection of nibs.  He has collected an arsnel of drawing implements and you can read how his entire original cast has changed over the years by reading his site.  Roz will try every pen once.  She is a wealth of knowledge!
My friend, Linda, draws with a well-worn branch dipped in ink.

Alas, it has been the experience of many, the "favourite" pen is discontinued and  a new one must once again be elected.  My  " favourite-pen-of-the-moment "  is the ultra-fine point BIC Mark It Pen.   I prefer black ink, however, BIC has come out with blue, orange, yellow, green and violet.  Hmm... violet ... I'll have to pick one up tonight.....

Do you have a present-day favourite?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Drawing from Creation

                                                                                                                                                    Photos:  Margaret Braun
This has nothing to do with art and yet it has everything to do with it.

Yesterday, in Edmonton, the thermometer rose to a glorious 27C (86F to my American friends).  After eight hours of working inside, I could hardly wait to experience the outdoors.  I went to my favourite park which my grandson has renamed "Hula Park".  People were running, strolling, feeding geese, photographing, writing, and cycling.

The evening sky rolled in dark charcoal clouds with burnt incisions of fiery fuchsia embers poking through from the sunset.  The pond rippled in colours of metallic copper and deep violets.  Throughout, the brilliant autumn leaves glowed in the landscape.

How does one replicate creation?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Show Us Your Edmonton!

Margaret, Robin and Brette
They met over breakfast while attending the University in Regina.  They would delight in their early morning meals; plan adventures and collaborate on their art.  That's how it all began.

Now, Brette Gabel and Robin Lambert travel to unknown cities to take strangers out for breakfast in an attempt to get to know the locals and the city they live in.  As they dine, they get acquainted with one another and talk about what their breakfast date likes to do in the city where they live. After the meal is finished, they ask their date to answer one question: "if we do one thing in the city today, what do you think we should do?".  It should be something that represents how the breakfast date sees the city and what they think other people need to know about the place they come from.

It was Day One and I was their first date.  Having to get an early start, my suggestion was to meet at one of my preferred eateries the High Level DinerRemedy Cafe was my first choice but they opened a bit later and didn't fit into our schedule.  I recommended that they visit for lunch or dinner.  We all ordered a delicious homemade granola that was topped with a thick creamy yogurt -- just seemed to be that kind of a day. 

Since I am a lifelong Edmontonian, I presented the couple with a pared-down list of approximately 30 suggestions of my favourite spots.  Our discussion was animated and lively -- only a mere two hours.  Ultimately, I sent the travelers off to experience Rainbow Valley Park in Edmonton's beautiful River Valley. The Park entrance welcomes you with a campsite on one side and a ski hill on the other.   "You are entertained by the rushing creek, beaver dams, wildlife, bridges and other forest loveliness", Robin commented in his blog.  If you check the artists' sites you will see by the photos and audio podcasts they enjoyed their time throughout the five day venture!

The duo was, later, interviewed on Radioactive on CBC Radio one in Edmonton.  They had a lot of fun during the interview and were invited back to recap their exploits at the end of their project.  They were also featured artists at Latitude 53 during visualeyes (21 September post).

I suggested they become friends with "Secret Edmonton" on Facebook that my friend, Jane, had discovered.  Perhaps there is one for every city....

If you had been their breakfast date, where would you have sent them?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sketchbook Project 2011

The Sketchbook Project: 
It's like a concert tour but with sketchbooks!

Organized by Art House Co-op who seeks to create large art projects that tie hundreds to thousands of artists together.  The newest incarnation of their Sketchbook Project for 2011 is possibly the most ambitious attempt yet.  Unlike other sketchbook sharing and interactive projects, this one gives each artist their own book to work with.  Each artist is sent the same blank Moleskine.

Anyone from anywhere in the world can be a part of this project.

There are 31 themes to choose from.  I selected "Down your street".

These sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country.  All books will be included in an exhibition that tours the following cities:  Brooklyn, NY; Austin, TX; San Francisco, CA; Portland, ME; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL.

After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library where they will be bar-coded and available for the public to view.  A specific book can instantly be found by person or theme.  Once recorded, artists will be able to track where on the tour their book is viewed and how many times someone pulled it from the shelf.  There will be a digital companion to accompany The Brooklyn Art Library.  The website will contain high-resolution, professionally digitized versions of the sketchbooks for you to flip through.

Once I receive my Moleskine, I will keep you up to date on the progression of my drawings.  I am inviting you talented people to participate in the Sketchbook Project 2011 and provide a link of your work to my site.

Isn't it going to be a wonderful adventure?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alberta Art Days the ASA Way!

Hoodoos near Drumheller the Dinasour Capital of the World  Photo: M. Braun

Alberta Arts Days 2010 finally arrived! Artists and organizations across the province showcased their talents in hundreds of family-friendly events this weekend. Most of Alberta’s provincially-owned historic sites and museums offered free admission. With so many different events happening in all four corners of the province, Alberta was abuzz with energy and creativity.

I began the art days weekend with my friends Verne and Glenys at 9:00 a.m.  Destination?  East Coolee, Alberta.

Every September, the Artists Society of Alberta (ASA) offers an interactive weekend at East Coolee, Alberta, approximately 19 miles east of Drumheller the Dinosaur Capital of the World. At one time, East Coolee was a bustling coal-mining town.  Now, a ghost town.   We house ourselves, each year, in the former brick schoolhouse that has transformed into the local museum of coal mining and geological exhibits along with George, the resident ghost.

Our first destination was Red Deer.  We were headed to the Marjorie Woods Art Gallery to drop off our work for an upcoming exhibition beginning 25 September.

Our next visit was to the library to see the works of local artists.  Then off to Gallery IS, Harris-Warke Gallery and the Velvet Olive Lounge.   We enjoyed the art and chatting with the residents we met along the way, however, our tummies were rumbling and knew it was time to eat.

So off we went to visit St. Mary's Cathedral a product of, architect, Douglas Cardinal.  As we approached the church we recognized the distinguishable lines of Cardinal's work.  The good folk in the church allowed us to explore the interior.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Our thoughts of lunch disappeared as our creative souls were fed by the feast of craftsmanship we observed.  The assortment of lines, shapes, materials, sculptures, lighting and textures used in the sanctuary was staggering.

After our visit, we retreated to the gardens and spread out our picnic lunch.  The day was warm and sunny.  The sky was blue and not a cloud in sight.   Surrounded by flowers and charming stepping tiles, created by the congregation, it made for a pleasant and welcome rest stop.

Painting at Dry Island Buffalo Jump     Photo: Margaret Braun
Off to the ferry and then to Dry Island Buffalo Jump to paint the landscape.  The area reminds me of The Grande Canyon, only smaller and greener.

After touching base with a few other artists by cell phone we packed up and headed off to meet our twelve artist friends with whom we were going to spend the entire weekend.  Our friend, Shelley, traveled from Vancouver to share in the fun. 

Edie lovingly prepares the meals for us every year!  What a lovely soul she is!  We ate and  caught up on the news of our lives.  Around 10:00 p.m. we decided to draw one an other's portrait.  We laughed and drew until midnight determining the next night we would all use our non-dominant hands.
After a brief but deep sleep we spent the entire day photographing, searching, exploring, painting and drawing.  A quick trip to Wayne was a must -- driving over the famous eleven bridges and a hike through the golden fields.

Once back at the museum, we feasted, shared stories and revealed our images of the day.  Later, as discussed the previous evening, we drew one another with our less dominant hand.  More laughter, ohs and ahs as the paint splattered, dribbled and mediums drew.

Sunday morning came all too quickly.  Off we went in the early morning fog exploring the landscape, photographing, feeding horses and wandering through the hoodoos of beautiful Dorothy,  another prairie ghost town.

The clock was calling us.  It was close to 10:00 a.m.  We decided to head back to an expectant mouth-watering brunch!  Just in time, too.  The rain came!  We collected into the cafe, engaged in conversation, laughter and sharing our newly developed work all the while savouring every flavourful mouthful of Edie's delicious cooking!

Photo:  Margaret Braun
After packing, hugs, and saying our good byes, Verne, Glenys and I ventured off to Drumheller to visit more galleries.  They were closed, however, we continued down the art walk viewing the work displayed in the windows.

What a wonderful weekend!  Good friends!  Good travels!  Good art!

How did you spend your artistic weekend?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kaleido Weekend a Success!

Arts on the Ave presented Edmonton with the biggest arts block party!

The Kaleido Festival experienced a marvelous weekend of art and community in the beautiful autumn sunshine!  Sunday was spent playing carnival games, dabbling in workshops, listening to live music, the Rhythms of Our Own Drum Festival and decorating the light post contest!  A whole lot of family fun was had for another year.

Not only do I enjoy taking time out to play, but, I also had the pleasure of spending time with some very creative artists.  I cherish our friendships, conversations and laughter!

Two Hearts (drawn with thread)   by Margaret Braun
 It is interesting to see how our personalities are so evident in our art.  The ever playful and fun, Amanada.  Her art definitely reflects her character.  As does the warm and sweet Crystal.  I was intrigued to see that she carved her images into the wood.  These paintings just popped out to life!

I also had a lovely visit with my incredibly talented friend Kat at my favourite of favourite places, Remedy Cafe.  She moved to Vancouver a year ago and we hadn't seen one another since.  Her abstract drawings hang in my office like portraits of her.  She feels close by that way.  Kat and I used to have lengthy philosophical discussions most often in her studio or mine at the University or over coffee at Block 1912.  We both felt very strongly about building a creative community.  The group "Down the Rabbit Hole" was born, thanks to Kat, and we managed to meet large numbers of visual artists practicing in a variety of disciplines.  It was an opportunity for artists to meet; discuss their work, thoughts, beliefs; and share their images with one another.

For the most part artists work in a vacuum.   By being involved in a community, we can encourage, inspire and inform one another.  It has always been my belief we can become stronger and are more likely to succeed in a community. 

Life is one of connections.  Whether its connecting through my work, face-to-face, facebook, email, a phone call or a letter, connecting with you is truly meaningful to me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kaleido Fun!

No-Tie Gala Art Show at the Kaleido Festival at Arts on the Ave         Photo:  Margaret Braun

The streets came alive last night with more live entertainment than you can throw a program at and over 200 works of art by 56 artists. I have 5 pieces in the Festival myself. The old Alberta Cycle Building hosted the No-Tie Gala Art Show.

If you were able to join us for the Kaleido kickoff last night, you may have caught Swiss Family Robinson on the outdoor screen in the brisk night air or heard the streets swaying to blues and bluegrass. The Bernard Boisvert Gallery saw many guests and the theatre began as well.

Today there are many, many highlights. The Avenue Central stage (9210 118th ave) boasts several acts, closing off the night with a dance-worthy Dehli2Dublin concert at 9:45 PM. Four theatre productions take place throughout the day and the sprawling Bernard Boisvert Gallery awaits as well, promising even more great music. The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse keeps the music playing with a fine roster of singer songwriters throughout the day. At various spots throughout the festival you'll find workshops, from paper making to yo-yo skills, and local artists and artisans selling their creations.

Sounds like a lot to do, doesn't it?  Haven't even mentioned the Artists and Landscape pieces yet. Watch for living gargoyles on the Nina Haggerty building, dancers on the wall, theatre in a car, a grand piano in the back alley and more.

You can also get right into the arts with Spill at the Avenue Theatre from 12-6 PM.

It all starts off this morning at 10 AM at Avenue Central (92nd street and 118th ave) with a free Pancake Breakfast. Come hungry for food, art and community to Arts on the Ave!  Check out the Kaleido Schedule for more fun!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kaleido Festival: Arts on the Avenue

Kaleido celebrates 5 years of igniting art into the community.  Together, artists and community members have continued to combine a healthy dose of passion and creativity  --  changing individuals, industries and ultimately a way of life while encouraging community to become both artist and audience in this weekend celebration. 

Vigil by Margaret Braun one of Five Thread-drawings showing at Kaleido
“Kaleido” is a word that is derived from the Greek meaning ‘the bringing together of colour and form to create beauty.’ The “Kaleido” Family Arts Festival brings the arts to Alberta Avenue accessibly and affordably, and supports the artists who create, inspire and entertain. It fosters community awareness and community involvement. The festival promotes diversity through multi-culturalism and inter-generational expression.

Arts on the Ave Edmonton Society is a non-profit, community based, grassroots initiative engaged in developing 118th Avenue into a community arts district. Begun in 2005, this creative coalition has experienced exponential growth with a current involvement of over 200 multi-disciplinary artists and invested community members. In April 2008 Arts on the Ave was the proud recipient of the 21st Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts.

Arts on the Ave has an impressive track record; it has successfully endeavored to establish Alberta Avenue as Edmonton’s community arts hub. It has worked to affect positively the members of the community, the members of Edmonton’s arts community, and the citizens of Edmonton, Alberta.  

Head out to the old Cycle Building on 118 Friday night to kick off the festival with the "No-Tie Gala" art show and sale.  You will discover five of my thread-drawings in the exhibition.  For those of you who haven't seen my swimmingly beautiful mermaid on satin for a while, she is on display this weekend. 

Join us as we find new ways to make the world a better place right here on Alberta Avenue!  Enjoy the Festival!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book & Art Time Travel

Lately, I have been missing my PBI (Paper & Book Intensive) friends.

I wish for a time machine to transport me back to revisit the moments at the University of Machias where Bernie Vinzani was the Ultimate Superhost.  Amazing Artist!  Fine Man!  AND an American who is a loyal CBC television watcher!  Grazie Bernie for being SO good to all of us!!!!!! 

The Four Emilys before the BIG Party    Photo: Margaret Braun
Naturally Hand-dyed Kozo Paper   Photo: Margaret Braun
I would love to travel back to Helen's Restaurant at lunchtime, gorging on fresh blueberry pie; listening to Steve serenade me with 'O Canada' at the airport when I first arrived; high-spirited conniving while making decorations for the banquet in Emily Martin's room; David Wolfe's 26 Letters:  Type/Image class printing on the Vandercook press with wooden blocks and carving images into Shinawood; my many friends including Laurie (a.ka. (名) 祖母 or ... Ama  that's grandmother in Chinese)  we worked together until 1 a.m. helping one another print our Broadsides;  Jan, a highly-talented and absolutely lovely soul who has practiced at the Rhode Island School of Design for 30 years...  we sat in Nancy's tree house eating our lunch sharing our love for sketchbook/journals;  disappearing into Debra Howe's class at lunchtime and late in the evening while secretly fashioning a Built-In Groove Case Book with my new "partner in crime", Lisa (we were known as the auxiliary students);  witnessing kozo paper transform into a multitude of natural colours in Tatiana's Japanese Natural Colorants for Paper class; watching in awe as the whales surfaced in the Atlantic on a sunny warm New Brunswick afternoon -- the air filled with the sweet scent of roses; visiting Nancy Leavitt and Walter Tisdale in their studios -- becoming increasingly inspired with every step, marveling at their environment, experiencing the magic of their art and leaving exhilarated; mulling about introspectively within the flower labyrinth where a large white steeple church nestled peacefully in the background; rummaging through the flea market on the canal; giggling with Frank Brannon -- everyone giggled with Frank; jogging over bridges and throughout the charming New England town; savouring two soft ice cream cones each day from the cafeteria... or five if it was in between session one and two; talking into the wee hours of the morning with Emily, my roommate; and playing with paper and paraphernalia at a table of five in Melissa's Inlays and Onlays class.

Calligraphy by Nancy Leavitt Photo: M. Braun

While assembling my books across the table from Miss Velma and sharing laughs, she would reminisce and tell stories about "back home".   Velma and Tom were a comical duo.  Tom's hilarious and surprising comments would spur us all into regular belly laughs.  He truly has a gift for finding humour in the "every day".   

Tom is the Executive Director of The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation.  "The Morgan", as it was commonly referred to, is an Ohio non-profit art center dedicated to the preservation of handmade papermaking and the art of the book with sustainable practices in an innovative green environment.  I wish I could have gone to The Morgan after attending the PBI Workshop.  Melissa had an exhibition of her sculptural books.  Brilliant and absolutely novel! 

I have to say, Emily (yes, there were four) was also very funny.  She was the "other" Canadian at our table. Her sense of humour continually sent me into bursts of laughter and, although very young, her thought-provoking comments amazed me.

Walter Tisdale's Working Table  Photo: M. Braun
Lisa had an infectious laugh which we heard all the time!  The mere fact that Lisa found most things amusing would be the start of her contagious laughter and ultimately everyone would follow! 

by Dorothy Simpson Krause
The other day, Steve Miller published another podcast in Book Artists  and Poets on iTunes.  He interviewed Dorothy Simpson Krause.   I was SO excited!  Dorothy had been a student in two of the same classes that I participated in.  It was such a privilege to meet her and a joy to brainstorm and discuss works in progress.   Dorothy is the author of Book & Art, a publication that I purchased long before I had the privilege of meeting the writer.  It was good to hear Steve and Dorothy chatting.  It occurred to me that conversation became the time machine for it transported me back to those sacred moments and places playing like a special feature in my mind.

Steve had interviewed a number of PBI lectors, educators and students while we were in Maine.

If you haven't had the opportunity to take in the podcasts, yet,  have a little listen.  Stay tuned for the interviews to come.  You will be pleasantly inspired.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drawing Ideas: Thoughts from the park

I sat, drawing, at a picnic table in the park this evening.  It was so beautiful!  Fresh air.  Bright blue skies.  The sun was shining.  It was a warm 26C.  The water fountains splashed and danced about in the large lake-like pond and the birds flew overhead singing and calling to one another. 

Found Feathers:  drawing by Margaret Braun
What a difference a few days make.

The smoke from hundreds of forest fires burning in British Columbia, setting a record since 1998, engulfed Alberta for four days.  We struggled in a thick, hazy atmosphere until the smoke cleared. 

While sitting and observing my surroundings, it was a precious moment in time.  I felt very grateful and appreciative of our good fortune having a beautiful summer day return once again.

After I finished drawing, I continued with my list of ideas.

70. Keyhole:  what would you see through a keyhole?
71. A figure in motion.
72. Contour line drawings of figures.
73. Contour line drawings of objects.
74. Several studies of eyes, nose and mouth only.
75. Focus on patterns.
76. Metallic object and everything you see in it.
77. Object of interest from 3 different angles/views.
78. Mechanical object.
79. Insides of a mechanical object.
80. A parade.
81. Crowded elevator with people wearing costumes.
82. Construction site.
83. View from an insects perspective.
Sole-searching:  ink drawing by Margaret Braun
84. View under a magnifying glass including the magnifying glass.
85. Scientist.
86. Self portrait with different items (flowers, door knobs, cutlery, etc.) instead of hair.
87. Write a large number or letter in the middle of a page and turn it into something (object, person, animal).
88. Use letters and/or numbers to draw your image.
89. Make a drawing.  Fold and cut (like a snowflake).  Open and glue on to another background.

What have you observed?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Drawing: More Ideas

Drawing of a jug I made   Ink Drawing & Photo: M. Braun

Haven't seen Raymond since he returned from his month-long vacation.  Will see him when we get together for figure drawing.

A number of my artist friends and I have been involved in figure drawing for over ten years.  We meet at Harcourt's Art Education Room.  The models are amazing!  So are my artist friends!  I enjoy and treasure the time we spend together -- the ease, the laughter and the peace I feel when I am with them. 

In the meantime, I will continue my list.  Please feel free to contribute your suggestions.

35. Puppets.
36. Dragonfly.
37. Seashells.
38. Earrings.
39. Imaginary Alphabet.
40. Birthday wish list.
41. The sky.
42. Bubbles.
43. Reflections in the mirror.
44. Favourite animal with human face.
45. Favourite human with animal face.
46. Patterned cloth.
47. Lunch.
48. The Zoo.
49. What is in the rear-view mirror in the car.
50. Elephants.
51. Old truck.
52. Flowers in the park.
53. Eyes.
54. People in a coffee shop.
55. Items on a table.
56. Cute little shop.
57. An historical building.
58. Sculpture.
59. Objects through a microscope.
60. Photocopy an existing drawing, cut it up, paste to create a new work.
61. Junk food with wrapper.
62. A foot.
63. Something not pretty.
64. Part of any object.
65. Unlikely objects together.
66. Running shoes.
67. Velma's horse.
68. Tools.
69. Hands holding something.

Let me know what you have been drawing lately.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drawing List

More Feathers that I found in the Park     Ink Drawings & Photo:  M. Braun

I got stuck in the elevator today.

It gave me a chance to think about what I could draw tonight.  Sometimes I just don’t know.  Does that ever happen to you?

So I started making a drawing list. 

1. Ratty old feathers.
2. Drawing manikin.
3. A collection of my friends' hands.
4. Old cars.
5. Rollerderby girls.
6. Rollerblade boot.
7. Lunch box.
8. A favourite bridge.
9. Sketching supplies.
10. Houseplant.
11. Go to the park and sketch a different tree with each visit.
12. Holiday photos.
13. Make a small collage then draw the collage.
14. Something I made.
15. Several neck ties on a two-page spread with drawings on the ties.
16. Front of a stationery train.
17. Trumpet.
18. New pair of shoes.
19. Old pair of shoes.
20. Dancing shoes.
21. Canada goose.
22. Digger (that's what my grandson calls it).
23. Giraffe.
24. Street performers.
25. Latin dancers.
26. Glassware.
27. Leaves.
28. Design a new CD cover.
29. A favourite chair.
30. Interesting chair.
31. Antique chair.
32. Hair.
33. Bicycle.
34. A self-portrait and friends as playing cards: queen, king, jack.

Darn, I'm being rescued.  I'll continue this later.  Do you have any suggestions you would like to add to this list?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sketchbook Drawing

Feathers I Found in the Park       Ink Drawings & Photo by Margaret Braun

I made a bet with my friend, Raymond.  The bet?  Who will finish their sketchbook first!  This friendly “competition” has gone on for a few years and is designed to encourage the two of us to draw on a regular basis.  The “loser” takes the “winner” out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice (LOL!).

We trade our sketchbooks during the meal and discuss the drawings.  It really is the sweet spot of this whole exercise.  A year-long retrospective is revealed as we journey back into our memories and unfold each page.  We discuss what we see in one another’s drawings, the direction this evolution is taking us and encourage one another in areas we may not have recognized.  Then the bet begins again.

I like looking at other artists’ sketchbooks.  I first met Dan Price, over ten years ago, through his books.  They are little diaries of a hobo’s life.  I love his whimsical line and the short stories he narrates which are woven throughout the images.  I live vicariously through his experiences.

Through Dan, I met Danny Gregory who encourages people to draw while working through his own personal journey.  Danny has created world-wide enthusiasm for drawing causing people to pick up their pencils once again.

Roz is a friend of Danny’s and she has an interesting way of laying out the pages of her sketchbook.  She creates a multitude of challenges for herself and can describe the strengths and weaknesses of almost every tool and product an artist might use.  Roz also makes her own books.  I would like to begin making my sketchbooks too!

I also stumbled upon the Urban Sketchers.  Every time you visit this site, you can travel throughout the world without leaving your chair (although I would prefer to visit these places).  It has been so much fun seeing drawings from every part of the globe.

Who are your favourite sketchbook artists?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Upcycle: A Small Ecological Footprint

The City of Edmonton Reuse Centre    Photo: Margaret Braun
I have a strong sense and commitment to reducing my ecological footprint as a matter of daily practice.  

I come by it honestly.  My family are a creative and skilled group of Europeans who have been upcycling and repurposing as a way of life  throughout the generations.  I continue to believe in this practice and embody it in my art.   

Although upcycled art is the newest trend -- from potters to painters, from fine art to cottage crafts, artists and craftspeople have been doing this for years.  

Divine by Margaret Braun   Photo: Margaret Braun
The City of Edmonton established the Reuse Centre in 2007.  It accepts various items, free of charge, and makes available to organizations and individuals items that are not accepted for reuse elsewhere.  

I first learned about the Reuse Centre from artist and illustrator Crystal Driedger.  It is a unique place for artists.  I have discovered satin, silks, cotton, blouse and upholstery fabrics for the foundation of my drawings.  Beads, paints, jewelery, paper, crayons, fibres, wax, wire, wallpaper, buttons, thread, leather, needles, sequins, shells and yarn have made their way into my work.  
It is exciting to discover these discards that seemingly have little value.  Turning "nothing" into something results in beauty, resurrecting these undervalued materials with new vitality.  When placed in another contextual application, they experience a new genesis, bringing attention, significance and an elan vital.  I enjoy exploring a variety of materials to discover how they relate to one another, co-exist and merge together to create a dialogue.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kids Camp at Harcourt Gallery

Showing off newly made books   Photo: Margaret Braun
What fun we had today!

I was asked to be a guest artist at Harcourt House Art Centre's Kids Camp.   The participants were between the ages of 12 - 14.  Guess what we made?


I noticed that Susan Gaylord, a book artist that I highly respect, teaches book making to children using recycled materials and took my direction from her site then added my own twist.

I brought a dozen different papers, paper bags, playing and bingo cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, borders, wallpaper, bingo dabbers, maps, cardboard, sample fabrics, magazines, stencils, keys, ribbons, and a variety of found objects.

The students created fat little pocket-sized non-stitched books that served as sketchbooks, journals, and small photo albums.

Everyone left the class happy!  I even got some hugs!  They all assured me that they would continue producing more books tonight since they were overflowing with ideas.  I encouraged everyone to look around their homes to reuse, repurpose and recyle available materials and take the remaining classroom items with them.

Even the staff were interested in making these colourful books.  I promptly received an invitation to the year-end BBQ and was asked if I could teach everyone how to make these fun little books at the event.

I have to admit, when I got home I had to make a small book out of a beautifully marked paper bag for myself too!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inlays, Onlays and the Ethiopian Coptic Stitch

It all began in Melissa's class at PBI.  Melissa is a fantastic artist!  I discovered her work before I met her.  In real life, she is imaginative, creative, funny, playful and full of life!  Just take look at Melissa's work.   I'll wait.  Really.  It's WELL worth looking at!  Seriously, I'll wait!

Waiting.... waiting.... waiting.....  Didn't I say she is fantastic???

Melissa taught us how to create the inlays and onlays.  This is one of my books.  It's covered with a sage green Japanese kozo paper, a snipit from a sofa ad, an orphaned earring, a piece of Melissa's leather and my broken lacy metal barrette.
Learning how to bind with four needles   Photo: Margaret Braun

I purchased Katie MacGregor's handmade paper for the inside.  It is cool soft green in colour with a beautiful "hand" to it.  You can't help but fall in love with Katie and her paper when you first meet them.  She is a beautiful woman inside and out.  Her paper making expertise is mind boggling.   And the variety of paper colours is astounding!  You can listen to Katie's interview on Book Artists and Poets.

So, all the elements were there but I had one problem.  I didn't know how to bind the book.

Luckily, I was blessed with the BEST roommate in all the campus!  Because of Emily's generosity, she taught me how to sew the Ethiopian Coptic Stitch.  One evening, Emily returned to the room around 12.30 a.m.  She had just experienced 15 hours in class working on a leather-bound late 18th Century French Binding.  It was nearly two before we got to bed that morning (not unlike any other morning) just in time to get up five hours later and repeat the process once again.  Emily is so dear, kind, intelligent, considerate, funny, compassionate, talented, helpful and hardworking.  (She didn't pay me to say this by the way.)  Like Katie she, too, is a beautiful woman inside and out!  Without her, I never would have learned how to bind a book with four needles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Art and Friendships

Two extremely exhausted but very happy friends
Hearing from Velma, yesterday, thrilled me.  I miss my new-found PBI friends and Velma is one of them.

What is PBI you ask?  It is the "Paper  & Book Intensive" Workshop.  You will only find top notch instructors teaching bookbinding, papermaking, letter press and a variety of other classes relating to the book arts.

I came across PBI through iTunes oddly enough.  I was curious to see if there were any bookmaking podcasts available.  What popped up but Book Artists and Poets by Steve Miller who resides with the University of Alabama.  He has interviewed nearly one hundred individuals in the book arts field.  That's how I came to know about PBI.  I checked the site and emailed Steve Miller for more information.  Upon his recommendation I applied to PBI.  The day I was accepted, I danced around my apartment with excitement unable to speak!

The day I arrived at the University of Machias in Maine I was even more excited!  Meeting so many interesting, goodhearted, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate book arts people --  I discovered a family of playmates!

Check out Velma's site:  She has a homespun approach to sharing her life with you on her blog.  You can feel her warmth coming through.  Her love of natural dying, bookmaking, paper making and farm life is spell-binding.   She kept a bit of a diary during our exhausting but exhilarating days at Machias.  I would encourage you to discover the variety of activities we were involved in.  It was a great deal of fun!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to My Studio

Margaret Braun painting her studio     Photo:  Malina Bird
Hi!  My name is Margaret Braun and I am a visual artist.  Welcome to my studio in western Canada!

My intention is to ponder and play through the process of art making using fibre, paper, paint, photography and found objects.  I love to observe, discover, explore, collect and combine elements.

Over the last seven years, my work has concentrated on delicately sewn figure drawings. The drawings produce a light and whimsical treatment stitching the contours with a simple straight stitch, yielding intricate and lacy images. The works reveal an early influence with textiles, the sensual and tactile nature of my art making. My choice of materials originate from found, reused, recycled and repurposed items which depict the figurative subject matter with articles familiar to women.

I am particularly interested in utilizing found items that seemingly have little value.  Turning “nothing” into something results in a beauty that resurrects these undervalued materials with new vitality.  When placed in another contextual application, as in my artwork, they experience a new genesis which brings attention and significance to their new found being.  I enjoy exploring a variety of materials to discover how they relate to one another, co-exist and merge together to create a dialogue.

I have a strong sense and commitment to reducing my ecological footprint as a matter of daily practice.  Coming by it quite honestly, from my family of creative and skilled Europeans who reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything, I continue to believe in this lifestyle and embody it in my art.

I would like to continue to expand my horizons and make new discoveries.

Please join me.  Perhaps we could explore this world of art together!