Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Artistic Accents

"Your style is the way you talk in paint."
~Robert Henri

I love accents...I love to listen to them and try to imitate them, usually poorly. I am fascinated by them. Why is it that we all have accents and yet we never hear them? Our ears easily discern even the hint of an accent in others, sometimes twenty years away from it's land of origin. They are fluid, they change and shift with time and the influence of circumstance. They are amorphous and yet take shape on the tips of our tongues. I have noticed that people who move to a new country pick up the local accent more quickly if they are eager to embrace their new home. Others retain their homeland linguistic nuances and they barely fade with time.

I think that we all have our own artistic accents as well. I have had friends and family remark on landscapes that I have painted, saying "now THAT'S a Lake Ontario sky"or that's an Ontario winter, etc. I suppose it is more noticeable in landscapes but even our colour palettes in still life or figurative pieces sometimes reflect our own personal milieus. Choose any contemporary or historic culture and there is invariably a consistency over the general body of art produced. So many things comprise our environments; the light, the structures, the people who dwell in these places. All of these elements, when drawn together and transcribed in art, form their own identifiable personalities, their own unique voices.

The leaves are beginning to form on the trees. Have you noticed? Well, at least they are where I am, here in Southern Ontario. It is a promising and beautiful sign, but also it makes me a bit rueful. You see, I love to paint stark, naked landscapes, trees devoid of leaves, horizons a rainbow of greys rather than lemons and limes. I love the monotone palette found from October to March. I will paint verdant vistas if I have no choice, but by nature I gravitate to simple, uncluttered and barren surroundings in my paintings. The reasons for this are just a fondness for that subdued palette...and frankly, I don't like painting all of those leaves :)

The Newfoundland trip creeps nearer. I must figure out the general plan and not try to do too much in a short period of time. I want to play it by ear to a degree and see how I feel in the tiny village where I am staying. I really enjoyed The Shipping News, so to know that Ms. Proulx wrote the book while staying in this cottage makes the stay all the more appealing. I look forward to meeting the local people and seeing if they are amenable to being painted. From the pictures that I have seen of The Rock, the stark landscapes and water-hewn cliffs look like somewhere I want to capture in my work.

I have not travelled a lot by comparison with my friends and family, but I would agree with the many who content that travel is the most effective form of education. I would be a happy woman indeed if I was able to have a great journey every couple of years and paint the people and places that I encounter along the way.

My movie tally rises slowly. I am at 62 films this year...108 left to go. Tonight I watched "Nanking", from 2007. It is a heartbreaking documentary addressing the attack on the city and the hundreds of thousands who perished and/or were affected by it.

Listening to: "Rise" by Eddie Vedder

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
~Lawrence Durrell


Zephyr Crossman said...

Speaking of trees you would probably fall in love with the Black Locust Tree here at our new place. I have. It has inspired creativity here with us. Hopefully we will do tea soon and perhaps you can see it before the leaves!!

Heather Horton said...

I would love to see your locust. They are lovely, haunting trees. We have some giant ones in my neighbourhood. Hope you are enjoying your new home!