Every so often, I require a diversion from painting, something that is still creative but different from the work that I usually do, a form of resetting, challenging and keeping me fresh. Recently, I chose block printing as my diversionary tactic. Having never done it before, it took me happily and willingly outside my comfort zone. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. Once the block is carved, the possibilities are endlessly exciting. Experimenting with a variety of papers, colours and layering/collaging can yield vastly different results. And each time that paper gets peeled of the block, my heart skips a beat at the reveal which is imminent. Here’s a sampling of some of my work so far.
Nests have long held me enraptured. Each and very year, birds of all sizes create the most extraordinary ‘sculptures’ in which to raise and protect their young. That they accomplish this without the benefit of opposable thumbs boggles the mind. My personal collection of nests includes ones made with grasses, mud and twigs but also using fluff, horse hair, binder twine, birch bark and Christmas tinsel. The opportunity to examine these marvelous architectural creations humbles and inspires me. Every couple of years, towards the end of winter when I am longing for warmer weather, I sit down and paint some little (4″ x 4″) nests. Here is a sampling.
Long interested in the exploration of water in my paintings, these investigations have included looking into water from various sources – lakes, pools, oceans. Each body of water holds unique characteristics, demanding different approaches. Some of my paintings are realistic but increasingly, they are nudging into the realm of abstraction, trying to tease out the essence or heart of each image. Many of these pieces were inspired by a number of trips to Canada’s east coast.
Deciding to do a painting a day is not an idea original to me. The amazing Duane Keiser started it a number of years ago and numerous other artists have followed suit. When I first heard about the idea, I found it fascinating but knew that it as not something that I was prepared to tackle at that time. But needing a little challenge, I decided to make a painting every day for the 56 days leading up to the fall (2014) studio tour. Here are the results of that venture.
The late German dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch was an extraordinary creative force. I had the good fortune to see her perform in the early ‘90’s and, despite the fact that she was a mature dancer at the time, she was absolutely spell-binding on stage. Her choreography inspired this series of paintings. The common thread throughout is that magical combination of support and surrender, something which showed up a great deal in her work and which her dancers embraced wholeheartedly.
On a recent trip to Paris, I observed pedestrians crossing the street four floors below from the balcony of my apartment (which, incidentally, was a five minute walk from the Eiffel Tower – so fabulous). Having been interested in the perspective of something seen from above for a couple of years, I was immediately taken by the sight of the elegant Parisians (and their dogs) passing by below. Not only that, but the pedestrian crossings, marked as they were by stripes on the pavement, made for a striking graphic background. This was the source of the inspiration for these paintings. There also happened to be a patisserie on the ground floor which sent a heavenly fragrance up to where I stood at my observation post; I get a craving for French baguettes every time I look at these paintings!
Explorations of both the inner world of individuals and those in unfamiliar environments hold a fascination for me.