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.