The growth and colours of Spring got me thinking about this oil painting I made a few years before 2010 (I neglected to put the date on it). It’s a fantasy of abundant life that I recently brought out of hiding and onto a living room wall. I hadn’t thought of making strings of flowers before looking at the work of the great Japanese woodcut artist, Shiko Munakata. Though this painting is nothing like his prints, the idea to have cascading flowers and fruit came from some of his joyous work.
I have loved this autumn. Last week, I was on the grounds of Todmorden Mills Heritage Site to see an art exhibit and enjoy the still colourful day before the more muted part of autumn arrived. A few years ago, I started experimenting with black and white photography in the fall just to see what would arise in a season that is so much about intense colour. I did this again last week and came up with this photo that looks, to me, a lot like a painting although I didn’t plan it that way. It’s not edited, except to decrease the size for the blog post.
It’s federal election day in Canada. In honour of that, and after voting earlier this morning, I’m posting this portrait I painted of our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in 2009. It was autumn then, as now, and I happened to have some ornamental gourds in my apartment. I placed one of them on his head to counteract his severe nature and policies. He is running for reelection today and we’ll know later if he and his Conservative Party will remain in power.
I’ve been very affected by the report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that came out last week. The widespread extreme abuse of aboriginal children by the government and churches who ran residential schools was aptly named cultural genocide. In addition to presenting chilling historical testimonies of survivors and noting the thousands of children who died in the schools, the Commission presented many recommendations to address the ongoing effects of racism on the entire society–aboriginal and non.
The painting in this post is one I made in 2008. I send it out to honour the aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Last week while looking through the sketchbook in which I found the artwork for my previous post, I came upon a drawing I had forgotten. A few years ago I used the drawing as a starting point for an oil painting. The painting was, in its style, unlike other work I had done. In the painting, the little bird in the tree has disappeared and the animal on the ground is now walking alone.
A phrase just came to mind: Alone and the road before me. I knew I had heard it before somewhere. Then I remembered the magnificent poetry of Ghassan Zaqtan. One of his poems is Alone and the River Before Me, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah in Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me. That line had morphed into the one that I thought of.
Here’s the drawing and the painting.
Here’s another painting that I don’t have hanging up at the moment that was good to see again as I was organizing the art give-away I held. I’m keeping this in my collection. I painted it in 2009 with water soluble oil paints on canvas. It was one of several expressive works I did–meaning that I allowed it to develop as I went along instead of planning it ahead. This is a favourite way I have of working that I’ve returned to over the years.
This past weekend, I held an art give-away. Over time, I’ve sold some of my work, but after decades of making linocuts and woodcuts plus painting, sewing and felt making I have accumulated a vast amount of work. So, I decided to keep a copy of each print for myself and to offer the others as gifts to those who wanted them. I also included a few early drawings, some paintings and wall hangings. It was a great experience. My plan is to hold give-aways every few months until I make a serious dent in what I’ve been storing in boxes, portfolios and closets.
In preparing for the event, I began organizing and carefully storing my work in a way I hadn’t before. The process of reviewing my life’s work to date has been worthwhile. At times I came upon works I had forgotten I’d made, such as the gouache painting in this post from the 1990s.