In the Works

by Cat B on February 28, 2015

Lots happening here. My new book, The Drawing Club of Improbable Dreams, about how to start and run and drawing club, will be published by Findhorn Press October, 2015.



  Meanwhile, I'm back to the studio and brushes are out! When writing projects take over, it can be hard to make art so very happy to be diving back into it. Will post what I'm doing soon. At the end of August I'll be filming my first online class with Carla and Steve Sonheim. They do a first rate job of creating really useful and inspiring classes. I'm thrilled and honored to be working with them. My class will be about using sketchbooks and starts in October. It will be a six week class with lots of great experiments we can share. A new website is in the works, one that will have my books, art and classes in one place. 'll keep you posted on new classes, new art and what is inspiring me as an artist. Thanks for visiting!

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Sun Records / 33 rpm Long Playing

by Cat B on September 18, 2014

record A In the spring, I started work on  Sun Records, a "record company" that plays only visual music. It's my homage to music, especially the blues, which has been such a transformative part of my life and of the planet's too, I think. I spend a lot of time wondering about how we can get to that place of transformation and how to make art that might inspire happiness and peace, if possible. This is a very humble effort, of course, and one triggered by memory. No one listens to vinyl records any more but I love the idea that they were called "long playing" and that great music, or good messages, can just keep spinning around endlessly! There are 12 "albums" in the project. Back in the seventies, when I was in my very early twenties, I was living in Montreal, an art and music imbued city. I loved rock music already but had only a vague notion of the blues. One day a love affair went awry and I was feeling like shit, just heartbroken and way down in the dumps. A friend of mine, in an act of great kindness, convinced me to go out that night and hear some blues. Howlin' Wolf was in town and she said I'd be feeling better after hearing Wolf. I didn't really believe her but went along anyway. Howlin' Wolf was one of the fiercest and most moving of blues singers; he howled and he raged. He did what a polite Canadian white girl couldn't—he poured out his feelings with every fiber of his body. He raised his voice. He shouted and howled. He was already in his sixties the night I saw him and ill with kidney problems. That day, he and his band had driven all the way from Chicago in a couple of beat-up station wagons with all the instruments and amps squeezed in. The show started a bit late that night. When the band was warming up, Hubert Sumlin, Wolf's great guitar player, stepped up to the mike to apologize for the tardy start. He smiled and said that they'd been driving all day and when they'd arrived they'd had to take Wolf to the Royal Victoria Hospital for a session of dialysis. He said the nurses were so kind to Wolf and the band was so grateful they'd taken such good care of him. He said that Wolf was a great man, still willing to give it his all even though he was ill and we should all give him a warm welcome, which we did. Shouts and howls went up with the applause. Hearing this, seeing these people, feeling their good humor and grace in the face of such travails and hard travel, I felt my own sense of spirit open and my sadness loosen. Wolf then lumbered onto the stage, sat himself down on a stool and without a word began to play his guitar with an urgency that made your hair stand up. Twaaaaaaang. Over and over, so loud you couldn't think. Then he started singing. Whatever blues I had that night, or had ever had, were cleansed by his singing. He carried our suffering away with his voice. You could almost see people lighten up as the night went on. We knew Wolf had suffered loss too, had failed at love, been cheated on, lost out. We knew he had money problems and broken health. That he was tired. We knew in a way that set us free that  whatever we faced we are not alone, ever. And whatever sorrows we faced would pass as mine mostly passed that night absorbed by the sound of one man's heart and history, and a whole race's history. It gave me perspective, a chance to stand outside of myself and see a bigger picture. Now this spring, lots of years later, I got the idea to do Sun Records. How or why ideas come, I can't really explain, but as I get older I see that ideas that come to me encompass many aspects and learnings from the whole of my life. Nice to get older! When ideas for art or writing come to me, I try to do them straight away as I feel quite honored to receive them really. So, I began. But then all sorts of things happened in our lives here and in June, when I went away on a teaching gig, I had to leave the project half finished, alas. This week I finally got to pick up where I left off. Of course, I am not quite the same person I was in June. Everything changes, us too, and I find I see things a little differently, draw a little differently and mostly, today, I'd lost my technical mojo in laying the type down. The technique I had going for me in June seems not to work as well in September. But tomorrow I go back to the studio keeping the faith that things will move along as they are meant to. So, almost there with Sun Records and a new idea has already arrived. Feeling very blessed.

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Back to the Studio

by Cat B on September 11, 2014

photo 2 It's been a super busy year here both personally and work wise. All this busy-ness—writing, design work, family travel—has kept me out of the studio all summer. When I'm away from the studio for a long time, I almost forget what it is I'm doing as an artist. I indulge in looking at other art, get into a kind of free-floating space and wonder what is possible. This can be good. New ideas sometimes come this way but it can also feel unanchored and uncomfortable. It's only in the doing that things gel, for me anyway. When I went in today, I started working on my record project which I started in the spring. I cut the records out of wood, painted them, created a singer for each then penned the words. I love the idea of songs playing endlessly, especially songs that say something. I'll post the series once the last touches are in place. Good to be back.  

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Drawing Workshop in Greece

by Cat B on August 10, 2014

Just back from teaching a workshop on the Greek island of Skyros, part of Skyros Holidays that include the arts as well as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and sports. It was  great to do this workshop and visit this sparsely populated island, see its varied landscape, and visit the ancient village of Skyros, home once to Achilles. And to meet the wonderful participants and the warm and welcoming Greek people. We always get so much inspiration when we work with other people. Here are a few shots of the place— IMG_4596                 IMG_4612                   hut kirtan IMG_4710 Skyros village                   photo   moonrise                                                                            

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The Drawing Club Summer Hiatus Begins

by Cat B on June 7, 2014

This morning was the last meeting for The Saturday Morning Drawing Club until September. When we make art together we share so much. The summer farewell is always tinged with a little sadness as farewells are. We'll all do our own thing over the next few months and when we get together again in September, it'll be great to see both the art and each other. This session we've focused mostly on drawing people. We're always trying to get out of our habitual patterns to encounter something new and wake up a bit, in one way or another. Usually I set things up so we have a couple of rules to follow. One might be that we make a portrait using a funky thick brush and almost dry paint. Something we might think we can't do. Or we might use charcoal and draw with our fingers. Or paint on plexiglass then press our paper on it to make a mottled impression. The rules usually make it impossible to fuss and get into that rut where all that comes through is our uptight desire to get things right. The rules tend to lead to drawings where we're simply ourselves. Here's a beautiful charcoal drawing by Deb Kaup— IMG_3626 And a few brush drawings of mine— #01 #10 #02 #03 #04 #05 #06 #08 #11 This has been an unexpectedly busy winter/spring for me so my posts here have been a bit sporadic. I'll be in England soon and exploring art with my friend Stoney Parsons, a painter and stained glass artist. Then off to Skyros, a tiny island off the coast of Greece where I'll be teaching drawing. I'll share some of the adventure here. Thanks for visiting!

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Drawing Class

by Cat B on May 5, 2014

photo

Every Saturday, the drawing class meets to explore drawing and art making.  We're exploring modernism, defined by Webster's as "a style of art, architecture, literature, etc., that uses ideas and methods which are very different from those used in the past." We don't often break with ideas and methods used by other artists but rather with our own preconceptions and ways of working and thinking. We're applying the concept to ourselves and getting out of our comfort zones as best we can.  This time: drawing with scissors using papers we painted ourselves a la Matisse but in a more literal and intimate way than he did. We were thinking of Mrs. Delaney too and her beautifully intricate as well as accurate botanical collages. And we were thinking of spring.

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April 17th at room83spring!

by Cat B on April 4, 2014

Very happy to be showing my sculpted heads at room83spring in Watertown, MA, just a short paddle across the Charles River from Boston and an even shorter bicycle ride up Mt Auburn Street to Harvard Square!  I started sculpting these heads last year when I first made some with my Saturday art class. Then I became engrossed at how each one has its own character. I started to move them around, make odd couples and arrangements. I saw that they, like we, are better together than sitting singly on their own. Opening day preview is Thursday, April 17th from 6-8 pm. Reception is Sunday May 11th 3-5 pm. I'll be showing with 4 wonderful artists—Maggie Stern, Frances Hamilton, Phyllis Poor, and Paul Angiolillo. Hope to see you and thanks to artists Ellen Wineburg and Cathleen Daley, owners 0f room83spring  for inviting me to show this piece— "Hanging Together / So Much Better Than Falling Apart."

o.o.t._evite_

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William Kentridge at ICA/Boston

by Cat B on February 23, 2014

It's the first warm Sunday in ages and we took a day out to see the William Kentridge show at the ICA/Boston. An absolutely amazing show that included powerful drawings as well as his film, The Refusal of Time. The film is projected on six screens in a black box room with wooden bellows in the center and a few chairs scattered around. It's impossible to see every bit of it at once. It was a totally enveloping experience—meditative, provocative, visually stunning, moving. The subject is time, the attempts to control it and impose order in an imperialistic way; also the march of history, its echoes into the now; the insurgency of spirit; how everything is floating in the universe of light. Challenging, thought provoking, life altering art. Do see it if you can. There's also a book but this is an experience. You can see a small clip at the ICA site. Some stills from the film...

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Skyros

by Cat B on February 13, 2014

From June 28th until July 18th, 2014, I'll be teaching on the tiny Greek island of Skyros as part of the Skyros holistic holiday program. For the first week, I'll be teaching Drawing Out of the Box in which we'll explore drawing using many different materials and approaches as a way to connect with the creative self. In the second and third week, I'll be teaching The Illustrated Word in which we make handmade artists' books with our words and images. In both workshops, we'll explore creative thinking and the many ways we can make art. We'll be looking to build on our own particular gifts and strengths as artists and to get many ideas to take home for further development. The course is designed for artists of any level, beginners too. We'll all have a chance to explore and experiment with making art in an open-minded, collaborative and supportive way. Each day begins with yoga and breakfast then three hours of art making. I've been a student of yoga for over 15 years and find it to be one of the most salutary practices for both the body and mind. I use many of yoga's ideas about the mind in my teaching, particularly getting centered, focused and aware of thoughts. Looks like there will be lots of opportunities for hiking and swimming too! Working with fellow artists is always a wonderful adventure as we discover so much in making art together. Working with fellow artists on Skyros is bound to be a grand adventure! It will be amazing to be in such a beautiful, restful place with so much sunshine and water! I can't think of a finer holiday—beautiful place, wonderful community of people, yoga, fresh food, fresh air, gorgeous water and making art in the company of others. If you're wanting an enriching art holiday, please consider joining us. First we fly from London to Athens where we hop on a boat (or perhaps a small plane) to the island of Skyros. Check out the website for all the details about Skyros holidays and to sign up!  Please pass on to anyone you know who might be interested. http://www.skyros.com

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Snapshots

by Cat B on January 14, 2014

In the last few years I've been taking snapshots. I've taken something like 1,500 in the last six months. I take these shots spontaneously without forethought when something "catches" my eye. Often I take several shots until I see what I'm looking at with greater clarity. Taking photos helps me see more of the wonders all around. I can be a bit oblivious without a camera. I don't use these photographs to make paintings; I'm not that kind of artist yet they seem to capture moods I seldom go to in my art or writing. The habit started when I got a small digital camera and has now become more and more a part of my creative process. Snapshots have stories to tell; they give me ideas. I have fun taking them and, for me, pleasure is a key part of the creative process. Here are a few just as they have come out of the camera, unedited. IMG_2964   IMG_2781   photo   IMG_2941   IMG_2945   IMG_2719{ 0 comments }