April 20th, 2010

Weird and Wonderful


Last night I watched Basketcase (1982) courtesy of a friend’s video collection, and was reminded of both Jan Å vankmajer’s Little Otik (2000) – which has higher production values but is just as strange a story, and Jeffrey Sconce’s article “Trashing the Academy: Taste, Excess, and an Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style”. I highly recommend all three.

The “monster” in the basket is not very scary, although he’s terribly violent, and his stop motion rampage is pretty wonderful. Check out the terrible lighting – including telephone wire shadows cast across faces, the bad hair pieces, and the non-stellar acting.

April 13th, 2010

Body Count Drawings

Now that spring has sprung, my mind has turned to new tricks and slasher films: there are new signs of life (such as pollen) bursting out everywhere and most slashers strike in warm weather. For these reasons I don’t plan to set foot outdoors until late fall, so I’ve plenty of time to teach myself new skillz including drawing! Though not exactly new, drawing is a skill I’ve forgotten to exercise for approximately 15 years. It’s probably like riding a bicycle, but the last time I tried that I fell flat on my face, scared the crap out of myself, and left the bike equipment where it lay.

Here is a sneak peek of details from the first of my drawings, in progress, titled Body Count, Friday the 13th.

body count drawing 1

body count drawing 1

body count drawing 1

body count drawing 1

body count drawing 1

body count drawing 1

For those who are curious there are 11 deaths (athough 3 took place in the past and it is revealed that 1 of the “dead” may in fact be “undead”).

April 4th, 2010


Apparently it’s Easter and I am sitting in my temporary studio which is really a parlour in a possibly creepy old white mansion on a very run down street. There is moss between the stone steps leading up from the street and an electric yellow forsythia just outside one window. Through another window is a tulip tree, the kind I used to call magnolia, with half-opened magenta buds. I hear fire trucks in the distance and the older gentleman owner of the house, whom I haven’t met, is singing Candle in the Wind with radio accompaniment and working in the yard which is filled with antiques – his worn t-shirt says rocket in my pocket, in red.

I’m watching slasher films from the 70s and 80s for a series of drawings I am working on.

Its all very lovely, like spring…

tulip tree

March 24th, 2010

Total Eclipse Of The Heart or You And Me Could Write A Vampire Romance (And Maybe We Should)


This will be a summer of hot-blooded romance for vampire fans everywhere.

June 10th marks the release of Eclipse, the third in the Twilight series – and those folks don’t waste any time. If the trailer is any indication there will be much pouting and much swooping over majestic Northwestern mountain scenery. Edward’s perfect vampire eyebrows once again go head to head against werewolf-next-door rivalry. How is a (mere mortal) brunette to resist?


Hot on those heels on June 13th (coincidence?) the Southeastern variety vampire shapeshifting saga True Blood, starts up for season three and if you really can’t wait you can watch the production videos, which take the bite out of pretty vampire boys William and Eric fighting over the (fake) blond living object of their undying affections.

HBO Eric and William

Speaking of eclipses, Bonnie Tyler in her 1980s video Total Eclipse of the Heart, looks mighty vampirical as we storm through 2010.

And this just in via Flavorwire’s interview with Mary Gaitskill,

Why do you think vampires are so prevalent in popular literature right now? What does it say about our desires?

~I think they are perennially popular. They’re very sexual. I think people have a fear and fascination with sex as a form of devouring, especially psychic devouring. There’s also a feeling of people starving for deeper life, like blood. The feel empty and they want to find something to suck. Vampires express out need for substance, closeness, and intimacy.

Oh Nosferatu, you poor out-dated creepy monster.

March 3rd, 2010


In Banff today I took a pilates class, ate lunch while enjoying a jaw-dropping view, sat in the steam room, worked ever so briefly, soaked in the nearby hot springs with new friends, and ate an elk burger with pineapple. That’s what I call an artist’s retreat.



March 2nd, 2010

The Other JM

jill mcdonald

So happy to learn that the other one makes nice happy baby prints in fun colours! I feel instantly relieved of any and all previous guilt. Very nice!

March 1st, 2010


I’m in Canadia, as certain American men I know like to call my homeland. Banff to be specific, for a short artist’s residency. I pulled into the parking lot and spilled out of my car, spellbound by the full moon rising over the Rocky Mountains. When I could breathe again, I saw there were two very quiet elk a few feet away from me. I have never before seen elk, and we stood watching each other.

I was born in this province – this is the closest I’ve been to my birthplace in many years. Very nice to be home, especially after Canada won hockey gold.

February 24th, 2010

Zombie Writers

dawn of dreadfuls

During my sabbatical I am taking a creative writing class. Oh yes, I’ve been moving the brain in new and mysterious ways, highly recommended. I may one day need to write a play about philosophical zombies and sock puppet identities, for example. Perhaps it will be a musical, featuring bands of ukeleles. I am stockpiling skills.

Friend and gallery owner Michael Rosenthal recently sent me a story by Donald Barthelme (1981) titled Zombies. It brings to mind the lesser but greatly hyped Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

And speaking of that marketing success, Dawn of The Dreadfuls, the prequel to Pride and… is coming hot on its heels next month, following the “post-script prequel” trend haunting all manner of horror lately. The cover for Dawn… is above.

February 20th, 2010

Somewhere over the Ukelele

I am learning Tip Toe Through the Tulips, on the ukelele.

With any luck I will one day be as good as the late great Tiny Tim, my ukelele hero. For anyone else desiring some ukelele skillz, here are load of free Ukelele scores. And an online tuner.
Update: my friend Adie pointed me to chordie.com, for even more Uke-playing fun!

And now, some inspiration…

Tiny Tim’s Tip Toe Through the Tulips:

Nick Lucas’s Tip Toe Through the Tulips:

In other Ukelele awesomeness, virtuoso Jake’s Ukelele Gently Weeps:

And the also late and great IZ plays Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

January 19th, 2010

So long Buffalo, and thanks for all the blood

RedRum, Jillian Mcdonald
RedRum, Jillian Mcdonald

RedRum, my show at Hallwalls is up and running now through late February. It features a new video, also titled RedRum that features young ghosts and houses that drip with blood.

Dear Buffalo,
Thanks to Hallwalls for everything and curator John Massier for the fabulous production assistance; the students at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and Jam Vafai for being my crew and actors; Joan Linder and Paul Vanouse, Julian and Colette Montague, Sandy Ludwig and Mark Kerwood, and Dennis Maher for lending their homes; The Buffalo Soundpainting Ensemble for creating uber-creepy sounds and introducing me to the ocean harp; Gerry Mead and Cori Wolff for lending paintings from their collections; and Debbie and Gary Hill for hosting me. Buffalo, I miss you already!
~love, Jillian