Fresh start

The number of magazines out there which will not consider any poem or writing which has seen the light of day in social media or on a personal blog has effectively ended by posting poetry to instagram and facebook for the foreseeable future. How the twenty or so Facebook friends I have and the few hundred Instagram followers (actually about 60 on any given day) could negatively impact the likes of a magazine are beyond me, but that is what it is at the moment.

In a way this gives me a new start. The past year has seen some of the best work I’ve ever produced and I hope to improve. Future submissions to the magazines I’m targeting cannot come from work which has already seen the light of day, however briefly, on social media. Going forward it will be new work submissions only. At the moment I have twenty-seven poems out to various journals and magazines. When those are all resolved one way or the other the whole file will be archived. A new one starts today.

Before I start submitting again I need to get a body of work ready to put into a rotation. At my current rate of two, sometimes three, poems a week it will take a little while to have enough and good enough material to work with. I’m actually looking forward to it. Fingers crossed, it might work out for the best.

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Art can sometimes be a funny thing. Of late my painting and drawing have fallen off and my writing out put has increased. Through the beginning of the year it was the opposite, but then again I had a project to work on.

It’s been a year since my first piece was picked up by a gallery, a reminder came in the mail from Stewart Hall that they would be accepting three pieces for consideration in the near future. After quick consideration I’ve decided to submit two graffiti pieces and one depanneur, though I am thinking that maybe three graffiti pieces might be a better idea. Hard to tell.

The Snowdon Stairway that they took for rental last year will be coming back to me and I will have to see if Richard still wants it.

There are some ideas kicking around the attic of my brain for more paintings, but really I need to focus on figure study and drawing. Good drawings and good composition lead to good paintings. So that’s where I need to focus. Knowing that and doing that are sometimes different things though.

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First full size poem – painting


Blueberries poem and watercolour

Since May I’ve been writing all my poetry in small Stillman and Birn 3.5 x 5.5 sketchbooks and doing very rough illustrations for them. This is the first one I’ve transformed into a full size painting with the text. Looks like it worked out okay.

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Summer’s done

Summer for most everyone in North America ends at the end of August with the return to school. The eight week shut down of schools in a digital age doesn’t make much sense but the inertia of the practice is beyond resistance.

The cooler weather has started to set in with mornings in the low teens making for near perfect running weather. This weekend is my first weekend off since the last week of July and I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a year of working pretty steady. Since last July I’ve had thirteen days off the longest break of which was three days which is what I am getting this weekend. Three day is a pretty good rest. It allows a little recharge without so much that it’s hard to get back into working again. Despite the old saw that no one ever lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time at work the reality is that work is pretty much where we spend our lives. The whole trendy idea of work/life balance is something that never was and is never likely to be.

Both our children are back in school. Our daughter continuing on in Studio Arts and our son back as an adult student doing maths. Neither contributes to the household expenses which is fine so long as they are in school but it does mean the the chances of my getting more time off over the year are limited. I did keep 4 vacation days in reserve just in case though.

I’ve started painting with casein – two sketchbook pages so far. It’s an interesting paint. I’m interested to see what I can do with it. Her Heart Poetry has picked up a poem for their micropoetry annual coming out in October which is kind of cool. I’ve got poems out to four journals at the moment and one prose piece is out there too. The very long short story Concrete Memories is with two male beta readers at the moment. I specify male because all my other gamma and beta readers were women and I wanted to see how men feel about the story. So far they’ve had it for longer than I would have thought necessary to read fifty pages which might mean that it does not hold their attention. If that’s true it’s good to know now it will effect how I try to market it in the future.

So long August – hello September.

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Another pick up and a rejection

Fortune passes everywhere.

I received notice that another poem has been picked up this time by a New Zealand based journal – just one poem of the three submitted, but it’s the third journal this year so no complaints. On the flip side of that another notice came in today – very nicely worded and encouraging, but rejecting the children’s story Donna’s Bear as being too confusing for the target audience. They must know the market – they’re the publishers. They were encouraging about submitting more work so there’s that.

On the painting front – since the art show I’ve only completed a handful of paintings, but tons of practices sketches as I work on gesture and heads. James Gurney’s Color and Light made it into my hot little hands recently and I’ve been digging through that. It’s a real treasure trove. This is my most recent completed painting from a photo I took on photo safari with artist Jayne Keefe earlier this summer.

Paul Boutique Music Store

Paul Boutique, The Plateau

Still sending out poems, still painting and drawing, still working two jobs, and have to say even when the bad news comes it’s still fun.

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Cool stuff keeps happening.

I’m trying to keep the momentum going.

This past week I’ve submitted to another few magazines but wanted to revisit the coolness that has happened so far this year. The copies of The Soap Box – Home finally came in and I’m expecting the copies of Juste Milieu to arrive this week. No matter how I look at it the publication of the seven poems in these magazines is pretty darned cool in a year that has been pretty darned cool on the artistic front and I couldn’t be more pleased with it all. The Antigonish Review rejected my earlier submissions. I have poems out to Tin House, Ploughshares, The Soap Box (again), The Antigonish Review (again), Riddle Fence and Freefall. What I need to do though is to get back to writing some prose too – there’s a story that I’m tweaking and one that is partially written so who knows – maybe next year a short story too.

Juste Milieu Vol 1 No 1

The Soap Box – Vol 2 – Home

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A different project – an opinion

Let’s start with the opinion.

Someone I know congratulated me on the success of the Depanneur series and the show. It was nice, it’s always nice to hear nice things. They smoothly transitioned from congratulations to a question: when do you think you will start painting in oil? I said I wasn’t sure that I ever would because I like watercolour. They reminded me, from their standpoint at least, that serious artists all work in oil. I don’t doubt that serious artists work in oil, but they also work in a variety of other media. That watercolour is largely seen as a dated medium for Victorian women of the upper class is more of a PR problem than a medium problem. Ask any painter what they think about watercolour and even those who do not like it will concede there are things you can do with it that are impossible in other paint media. Still what can you do? Perception is reality in so many things.

I’ve started a new project marrying poetry and sketching.

A page from my Stillman & Birn pocket sketchbook

The idea is simple enough, illustrate poems I write with very rough watercolour sketches. The sketches have to be rough because if they are too intricate the black lettering of the poems will likely get lost. So it’s just thin washes and simple shapes. Nothing fancy. The paintings are literal even in the face of the most obvious metaphors. I’m looking forward to finishing my first sketchbook of them.

I’ve created an artist’s page on Facebook at and have a small following. Coming to the arts this late in the game I’m thankful that I have any following at all. That’s about it for now.

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A successful vernissage

Last night the much awaited, by me at least, Celebration 150-375 finally happened. Going in to the show with three paintings already sold was nice as was selling another painting on opening night. This is the one which sold last night


It was hot and steamy last night but the street traffic was good which lead to good traffic in the gallery. A lot of people complimented me on my ensemble too which was nice.

Me with my paintings. You can’t see it but the stitching on the shirt button holes, cuffs and collar is black.

One of the other artists, Jayne Keefe, shot a little video of the opening shortly after we arrived (just an hour and a half late – traffic was a bear) – if you’re on facebook you can follow the link below to see it.

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A little bit closer

Digging out is much harder than digging in.

Between the day from hell in April, and the expenses that have come along on our son’s health front, the fact that we’re still in the black is a testament to years of practice juggling the financially improbable. The only reason we aren’t in the red is because instead of paying the mobile phone bill as soon as it came in I’m holding off until Thursday – which will still be two weeks before it’s due but I prefer to pay as they come in.

A bit of luck at the end of June came in the form of the option to cash in seven days in lieu of taking them as vacation time. A nice bit of opportune timing and just enough to start to build back a buffer. How much of a buffer and for how long it can be built remains to be seen. Our son is planning on returning to school in the fall so there will be new expenses on that front. To be frank supporting three adults on the salaries I’m bringing in is getting a little straining after the hours cut back on the second job. I’ll find a way, I always do, but it would be nice if there was a little more breathing room. Thinking about money all the time can be exhausting.

On a more positive note the vernissage it on Thursday. Tomorrow morning I’m taking a vacation day from work and spending it at the MainLine Gallery hanging the exhibition. Then Thursday night after work it’s time to head downtown and stand around for three hours hoping to sell more art. Another piece sold ahead of the exhibition this past weekend which was nice. A third of the pieces in the Depanneur series readied for the show have been sold which means almost all my costs for the show have been covered – I might be a little in the red still but not by much. One more sale and it’s all black.


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Sheet of Coat of Arms Stickers

Bernicky Coat of Arms

Morrie Portnoff at Nunavik Graphics in Pointe Claire did a bang up job of printing up the Bernicky coat of arms stickers at a very reasonable price – much lower than any online service I looked at and the turn around was fast.

The stickers now adorn the back of each of the paintings for the Celebration 150/375 exhibition next week. I’m kind of exciting about the whole thing. I even bought new boots for the occasion.

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