Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting Going: "Saanich Morning" (re-post of Post 1)

Please note:  This is a rerun of my first instalment dated Jan. 31, 2011. Being new to all this I deleted it by mistake. There's no convenient "undelete" button, but the system had saved a draft. Since this one was intended as the introduction to my blog, and since you may not have had a chance to see it before it disappeared, here it is again. I'm learning!

Every picture tells a story, they say. There's also a story behind every picture. The story of my triptych :Saanich Morning" begins, in a sense, with its end, since I sold it, and then lost touch with the buyer. All I have left are the byte-deprived images shown here. I don't even remember the exact size of the paintings--something like 14 inches square each.

That ending, though, was a beginning for me. This was the first artistic work I ever sold, in the spring of 2005. In that same year I retired from the job I'd been doing for over thirty years, graduated from art college, and rented a studio space with other artists. These momentous events, along with the birth of my first grandchild the year before, set in motion my life as a senior citizen: I was officially an artist and a grandmother.

You never know who may turn out to be an art purchaser. On that day in 2005, the contractor who had been renovating my kitchen was packing up ready to leave. Gazing around my living-room, he asked if the paintings were for sale. In a state of shock I managed to stammer out a very modest price for "Saanich Morning," and even had the presence of mind to clarify that I would charge him for three paintings, not just one, even though they were bolted together.

The paintings' story had begun a year or two before, one glorious late-summer morning on the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. Drawing back the bedroom curtains, I was enchanted to see a deer just over the fence, also just getting up. I grabbed my camera and snapped the deer three times, as it rose from its bed and moved away through the arbutus trees.

The hasty shots of a moving target were not very good photographs, but I have found that that can be an advantage when painting. It's all too easy to be enslaved by detailed information. Trying to make an exact copy never works--a painter has to invent what the camera doesn't reveal. And anyway, there's no point in transferring to paint something which is perfect as a photograph. The experience of using my snapshots as the basis for paintings taught me a lot about working in a more impressionistic manner, with thick paint and lots of texture.

My paintings often start from a visual experience that carries a powerful emotional charge. This is what I hope to convey to a viewer, though I have learned that the message received may be quite different from the one I thought I'd transmitted. Looking at the images of "Saanich Morning" I can still feel the warmth of that summer day, my excitement, and my gratitude for the good fortune of looking out the window just at the right moment. I know that paintings of deer are a bit of a joke in some circles, because the subject has been overdone; but for me the sequence of events I painted is a meaphor for my own movement into a new phase of life. I hope the man who bought the paintings still shares my special moment when he looks at them.

Next time: Theatre of the Absurd: "Sleepless at Mervyn's"

To see more paintings please go to:

1 comment:

Louisa said...

So glad you are blogging your work, Judith! There are so many great stories attached to the paintings.

Am I your first-ever commenter? Yay!