Feast for the Soul

The process of painting is visceral, engaging every fibre of my being.
Sight, smell and touch engage every step of the process.
 From the initial cut of wood designed for stretchers. 
Trapped oils from the fibres release into the studio air.
The aroma of raw canvas. The texture of woven fibres.

The feast begins once the act of mixing colours and applying them begins.

Come for Tea, Private Collection

Becoming an Artist

After high school I had chosen to continue studies through art. The first hurdle to cross on that path to higher art education was the entry portfolio. The portfolio was a formidable challenge because for the first time in my life I had to consider myself as an artist.

I decided  to see how art was made and what became of it once it was released to the public. At the time it wasn't out of the question to save a few hundred dollars and some air fare and travel to Europe. I also wanted to draw and paint along the way, to gather material that could fuel or become an entrance portfolio. For that purpose I took paper and pencils and watercolours. I saw art like I never seen it before. It was in the streets, in peoples homes it was everywhere. I met artists of all sorts, toured schools and museums and galleries and even made a few drawings myself along the way.

It turned out that my education was about to take an unexpected twist. While travelling through Germany I entered the divided city of Berlin. One day I passed through the wall into the east side and returned to the west again. Restoration work had taken place in some areas but devastation unchanged in thirty years since the end of WWII was appearent everywhere. The next stop on my journey took me to the city of Munich. I began asking other travellers about things to see and do while I was there and one suggestion was that Dachau was a must see.  I didn't know what Dachau was but took the offer and in the morning I set off on a short train ride from the city and into a world that riveted into my sole the moment I stepped off the train.

I didn't know what it was that I was seeing but some form of energy surged up through my body from the ground. A cold chill cycled over my skin and every hair stood on end. I soon learned that I had arrived at what remained of a World War Two concentration extermination camp, the infamous Dachau, which is one of many sites where so much pain and suffering and death was inflicted. Over the day I walked the ground, which is a monument, viewed the buildings and documentation of horrors inflicted on that site.

Reading, A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead recently, I recalled standing on the site of  Dachau that day. The thoughts that were previously unimaginable and my journey into the arts.

Book,  Home and Garden, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia  

Dreaming Paint

The first dream that I recall having as a child seemed to be in black and white. I also seem to remember animals and trees in that same dream.
 When I had my first opportunity to paint on a large scale in school we were presented with soup cans of water paint in rich primary colours and paper as big as ourselves. I painted animals and trees bigger than I had ever painted them before. 

Plants and animals have remained interesting to me.
As an artist planning ahead to include or exclude elements we eliminate the need to make choices along the way as much as possible.  Then there are times while working on site when you are in a magic moment. Surprise and wonder overtake changes that were unanticipated only moments before.

 One such day painting by a brook behind the house a muskrat jumped out of the water and rested on the snow covered shore. I cleaned and reloaded my brush and added the figure before I was discovered and the creature disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

Another day one January as we returned from the funeral of a friend I glanced to the site of the road just in time to see a sea otter enjoying sliding down the frozen bank of an ocean backwater cove. I held  the image in my mind and upon returning home and to the studio I recorded the image a memory of a friends spirit reflected.

It's funny that these same subjects appear over and over in my paintings even as other elements of my creative process change through time.