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Summer Days

Last year I exhibited a series of shaped paintings. I was feeling like I had reached some kind of cul-de-sac with my painting – I had painted myself into a corner, so to speak, and I needed to break out. Breaking out meant breaking from the rectangular picture plane and simplifying my images, trying to see how much I could do with very little. Among the broader shaped series was a smaller sub-series I called Summer Days. This one is about 19 inches tall. It’s acrylic paint on masonite.

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Summer Days, acrylic on masonite, 2017

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Claireville Conservation Area

I drove up to Claireville Conservation Area this morning to enjoy a good long walk on this most excellent day. Saw tree swallows, blue jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, cardinals, robins, house sparrows, song sparrows, red-winged black birds, grackles, a murder of crows and many goldfinch.

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Goldfinch

Here is the latest from Long Branch Mosaics. This goldfinch is about 44″ wide and 23″ at its tallest. It’s made with Italian glass “Smalti” tiles on a plywood ground and this work is grouted. Normally we grout our Smalti works but we don’t grout the ones we make from broken crockery and other objects.

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For the past several years we’ve been making a variety of mosaic works, including birds, bears and butterflies, many of them as commissions. We’d be happy to talk to anyone about make custom mosaic work for home or garden. To see more of our mosaics, visit the Long Branch Mosaic site.

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The Things We Used To Do

Today I’m going to begin what I expect will be a lengthy series of blog posts featuring paintings I have in inventory, and I’ll keep these posts together on the Eugene Knapik Paintings page here at 27th Street. Anyone interested in purchasing a painting, arranging a commission or simply chatting about the work can contact me directly by email. I have no immediate exhibitions planned so you can expect to see both new works fresh from the studio as well as a selection of works spanning back to the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000s. 

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The Things We Used To Do, encaustic on wood, 2016

The Things We Used To Do is part of series of encaustics (wax paintings) I made in 2015/2016 on shaped pieces of wood. I started by cutting the wood into various lengths, and cut each into rough capsule-shapes with a jigsaw. I then carved off the sharp edges so there would be a more or less smooth transition, making the entire visible part of the shape into picture plane.

I built the image up in layers, using a combination of pre-prepared encaustic colours as well as beeswax mixed with a small percentage of damar gum coloured with oil paints. I improvised the images as I built up  and pulled back layers of encaustic, creating, re-shaping and destroying images as I worked in session after session on a few of these capsules at once.

At a certain point, this one reminded me of cave paintings and I enjoyed that. Sometimes as a painter I feel making marks puts me in touch with the first painters, using images to make some sense of the crazy world around us. I came up with the title Things We Used To Do, which obviously refers to some unspecified past, and at the same time alludes to the 1954 Guitar Slim blues, The Things that I used to Do. I’ll finish up this post with Guitar Slim’s original recording, from YouTube:

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Lambton Woods

Today was the second of 9 nature walks in the GTA with Miles Hearn. I’ve signed up for these via the Toronto District School Board. The group met at the James Gardens parking lot. We walked along the Humber to about Dundas St then back through Lambton Woods. This is a really lovely spot. Miles has posted a report on the walk on his site. We saw 26 species of birds and as well I learned a lot about identifying various trees and plants.

There was quite a bit of eastern Skunk-cabbage on this walk. This remarkable plant grows fine in early spring icy conditions. Here are some photos I snapped:

Then there was this cutie, hanging out in a tree…

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We heard a killdeer coming from the river and started looking around until we spotted it. I was able to catch a decent shot of it….

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There are quite a number of different trees in this area and our leader identified many of them for us. Here are a few….the individual photos are captioned.

 

Some of the birds we saw today were at the edge of the range of my little point and shoot camera, but a caught a few shots of some of them.

It was a treat to reaquaint myself with this area. When I was a kid I used to ride my bike there (I didn’t tell Mom and Dad I went so far) and look under the rocks in the creek for crayfish. I had forgotten what a nice stretch of woods there is along the river.

 

 

 

 

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Bird is the Word

We have a colony of sparrows living in the condos we provided out back. I really enjoy having them around. They’ve been nesting and I think some of them are sitting on eggs. When the ice storm came the bird houses were swaying some in the wind. The ice pellets must have made flying really difficult too.

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There were a few of them perched tight to my neighbour’s garage, under the eves, trying to stay out of the wind.

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Now that the storm is over, they’ve been out surveying the damage and repairing nests. I filled the feeders and the sparrows feasted. Cardinals also came around and red-winged blackbirds and grackels, and the juncos showed up too, enjoying the extra seeds I spread on the ground for them. Like us, they can’t have expected an April ice storm.

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Power back on

Toronto Hydro reconnected our power tonight just before 10:00 PM. Good thing we have a woodstove in the room above the garage, which kept us toasty during the outage.

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reconnecting our power feed

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Meanwhile, my car decided to crap out this evening. I changed and was about to head up to tai chi class and I couldn’t get it started. I don’t think it is a battery-related problem. At least I was at home and not stranded somewhere.

I was talking on the phone with my brother the trout as the Hydro guys were doing their thing. Salvelinas said, “you know, I’ve always wondered how they can hook up power like that and not get fried.” I walked outside and asked one of the guys. The answer: “We have rubber gloves and fiberglass equipment and ladders.” That’s it. He said that was for home services. It’s a different story for primary feeds. Oh. “Yeah, then we use thicker rubber gloves that go all the way to the elbow.”

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Storm Damage

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The ice storm has done a lot of damage across the city, and we have a problem here as well.  A limb from a city tree came down tonight, hitting the Hydro feed to our house on its way down. This pulled down the mast for our hydro feed. Our power is still on, even though there is a live wire running across Twenty Seventh Street. A police officer is out front making sure nobody goes near it.

At some point overnight tonight, the hydro folks are going to show up and disconnect our power. I’ve got an electrician set up to be here first thing in the morning to repair the mast and arrange for the power to be turned back on. He was already here to check out the damage but there is nothing he can do until Hydro disconnects and we don’t know in this storm when they are going to make it here.

We’re fine. Our power may be off for a while at some point but it will be restored tomorrow.