" ... like all truly great works of art, hammering you with its whole before beguiling you with its parts."
from the British novel, " A Month in the Country" by JL Carr (1912-1994)
" Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself."
Samuel Butler ( "The Way of All Flesh". Since its publication in 1902 the novel has never been out of print. Butler was also a painter.)
" Looking at a painting is to submit to a state of heightened receptivity. It is to enter someone else's way of of seeing for no other purpose than to enrich our way of seeing."
Carole Corbeil (former Globe and Mail cultural critic)
MAY I INTRODUCE: Musings on various pieces
Koi Pond, Dufu's Garden, Chengdu
The elusive koi painting... I've tried for ages, unsuccessfully, to paint a version of the many lovely koi ponds I have visited and photographed. What I wanted to express seemed as elusive as the koi themselves! At last a painting has taken shape, one that was inspired while wandering with my son several years ago in the gardens of the revered Chinese poet Dufu. I love poetry so it seems fitting that a poet's koi pond should help me to find my elusive image.
Ever consider that you are better for wear? A Japanese art form kintsugi (keen-TSOO-gee) uses lacquer that is then dusted with golden powder to mend broken pottery. The idea is that the end result with its delicate filigree line, unexpected pattern and uneven surface can be more beautiful than the original pot. I love pieces that reflect this approach, the wabi sabi philosophy than extols imperfections over perfection.
Embrace Your Black Sheep
Recently, when a friend and I went out to bring her small flock of sheep into the barn, all six of them were spooked by the presence of two new horses in the next paddock. The nervous ewes refused to come in and milled about or fled to the far corner of their pen. Except one.
She knew that an evening bucket of grain awaited them in the barn stall. Suddenly she broke from the others, sprinted into the barn and happily munched up the prize.
Audacity, daring, a touch of recklessness. Doing what it takes to get the job done. Art, as in life, is sometimes rewarded by trying something out of step with others. Embrace your black sheep!
A Personal Calligraphy
Look closely at a water media painting and you can sense the movement of the artist's hand. Like most of us, I am drawn to those movements and applications that seem skilled and assured. It might be compared to looking at the artist's handwriting - a personal calligraphy if you will - that becomes distinctive and recognizable. Some painters "write" in a measured, precise hand. Others with a more lively flourish.
Painting with water media on luscious natural papers is a treat, one that I have returned to after many years of focus mainly on acrylic media. Water media, with its inherent desire to flow, puddle, sweep, sparkle, stop, run and pool has a language and a will all of its own! One that requires balance between control and abandon and one that facilitates paintings that suggest a uniquely personal calligraphy!
* Check out a variety of water media paintings in "ESSENTIALS"
When the first snowfall turns our world into a proverbial winter wonderland, it's not just humans that love to head outdoors to romp and play. On the farm the horses always had a great gallop and enjoyed lots of horseplay in the snowy fields.
Affirmations are positive statements thought to help overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. They help us to visualize and to believe in ourselves and can assist in making desired changes. Try this affirmation next time you are fortunate enough to behold trees alive with birds : "I welcome miracles into my life."
The rich surfaces and textural patterning of Gustav Klimt's paintings are universally appealing. My tiny painting (6x6") pays homage to his remarkable creations with their flattened shimmery patterns of nearly - abstract compositions. Klimt, a highly skilled tile maker, used his tiling skills to wondrous effect in his paintings, his creations combining both fine and decorative arts.
Vancouver (BC) is going to the birds! An official bird has been chosen (Anna's Hummingbird) and the city has pledged to create conditions for native birds to thrive. It will host the Vancouver international Bird Festival, August 19 - 26, 2018. The exchange between the birds that inspired my painting were not unlike many Vancouverite first encounters: some uncertainty, much curiosity and finally a " welcome to the neighbourhood!"
A recent painting holiday in France has re inspired me to practice plein air painting. There the country fields were splashed with red poppies - enhancing the stunning natural beauty of rural France - and since I've returned I've been painting the gorgeous poppies in my own garden.
: "Garden Guests"
Little darlin, it's been a long, cold, rainy winter... and yes, we were all dreaming of the sun, George. Anticipatory pleasures of a garden filled with flowers,birds and sunshine is what I tried to capture here in a somewhat whimsical style.
I have only recently discovered the fun of working on Yupo paper. It is perfect for working with a variety of materials and always leads to unexpected results. Warning! You will find the hours fly by as you explore the myriad of possibilities this surface provides. With "Snowbird" I mounted the finished work on a deep panel before applying a contemporary resin - like finish.
This highly textured panel transports me right back to childhood and the busy hours my siblings and I shared mucking around my grandparents' farm. Especially memorable rituals were milking time (including warm shots of milk for the barn cats) and gathering eggs (still warm from the hens). I painted subtle metallic outlines/halos around the animals, a bit like the religious icon paintings of Eastern Europe but this time with farm animals, not saints, gilded.
The colours, textures and elusive light of the autumn season inspire quick and loose studies. In this case the fall muse resulted in an abstracted version of weathered hydrangea branches, fortunately rescued from the pre-winter mulching purges!
"Poppy Garden With Finch"
Few encounters are as charming and as welcome as the appearance of finches in my flower garden. In this painting I wanted to convey a sense of both the mystery and delicacy of bird and foliage, enhanced by intense reds and by a shimmer of gold throughout. The heavily textured surface helps to convey the interplay of light and shadow throughout the garden.
"Roots & Wings"
"There are two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children: one is roots, the other wings." A recent family wedding prompted me to consider this often quoted, enduringly resonant observation. Consequently when the images of a hawk and a sheep took form on my canvas I began to understand them as visual representations - metaphors if you like - of those words I had been thinking about.
The painting is energized by loose applications of line and texture, suggestive of flight and freedom, but held in balance and supported by the limited palette.
A Poem for my Readers
It is a delicious thing
to write, to be no longer
yourself but to move
in an entire universe
of your own creating.
Today, for instance, as
man and woman, both
lover and mistress, I rode
in a forest on an autumn
afternoon under the
yellow leaves, and I was
also the horses, the leaves,
the wind, the words
my people uttered, even
the red sun that made
them almost close
their love-drowned eyes.