Monday, January 12, 2009

"The Side Door"


"When you follow your bliss...doors will open where you would not have
 thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else."
 ~Joseph Campbell

"The Side Door", oil on canvas, 72"x48", is the largest painting I have ever completed. It was intimidating to cover such a large space, and yet to many artists this size of painting is probably an every day task. To me, it seemed an ocean of white, my brushes appeared far too small to cover such an area. I am sure it was similar to the fear that some writers feel when they stare at the expectant blank page on their computer, typewriter or notepad. Personally, small paintings are comfortable. I addressed this in my note about "Self-Portrait, Renewed". I feel more freedom within the confines of a little painting. Large paintings seem to carry more of an expectation, as though they must shout their message. It was a great learning experience tackling this painting which was the last piece I completed for my "Passages" show in 2007 at Abbozzo Gallery. 

"The Side Door" appears in the background of the painting "Work In Progress", that I just blogged about recently. I wanted the two paintings to tie together visually and also enjoyed the idea of seeing "The Side Door" being worked on within another painting. I painted the two pieces in conjunction with one another but naturally "The Side Door" took much longer to complete. 

The subject once again is my friend Gayle and her beautiful house north of Burlington. This house is so special, so old, with such a history; it seems to live and breathe in concert with Gayle and her family. This house wants to be painted. I have captured Gayle and her house in more than half a dozen paintings. The entire experience of visiting Gayle at home is special every time. As Andrew Wyeth painted The Kuerners innumerable times over three decades, so I intend to paint Gayle at her stone house for as long as I am able. No matter what far reach of the continent I travel to, this special piece of land and the people who live there continue to draw me back. 

The porch you see on the side of the house is no longer there. Gayle's husband has since replaced it with a beautiful new porch (he is a woodworker). I am pleased to have captured the old porch before it came down, a little piece of its history kept intact. My aim with this piece was to ask the viewer to wonder where she was going and where she had been. I sought movement from the melting snow in a pattern of thaw that would circle around and lead the eye to Gayle opening the door. Where does that door lead? Can the viewer tell that the pane of glass in the lower section of the door has broken? I remember Gayle remarking about the broken glass and worrying that it might spoil the painting to have to paint a boarded window. On the contrary, it is precisely for that very reason that I wanted to paint it. It is the imperfections that are often truly beautiful. It indicates movement and life, that things are happening there, that it is lived in. I also used Gayle's poppy red hat once again as a nice splash of colour to bring the viewer's eye to her and focus there for awhile. Also the aluminum container by the door was fun to paint...I love to paint things just as they are and not shift things around too much. I would rather move than expect things to move for me. It is much the same as when models ask what they should wear...."whatever you enjoy and feels comfortable" I usually reply, though I do suggest that perhaps complex patterns might be avoided. I'd rather not go crazy rendering paisley or plaid. 

There are always little parts of a painting that are particularly enjoyable to paint. In this case it is Gayle's reflection in the glass. When I look upon it I still remember the very painting session that I painted that part, almost like when you are taken back to distance times when you smell something familiar. It is as though there is a creative fingerprint on that section. It has its own memory.

Exciting news! My next solo exhibition is pretty much finalized. If you can make it I would love it if you stopped by to see my new work inspired from a recent adventure in Newfoundland, Canada. This exhibition will examine the people and places I encountered in the truly magical land of Newfoundland. I hope to see you there!
                 
Heather Horton
Newfoundland Portraits
November 6-22th, 2009
 Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Opening Reception Friday November 6th, 7-10pm

I am posting sneak peeks of works as I paint them that you can see via my regular website
Have a beautiful day,
Heather
 
"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live."~Flora Whittemore

3 comments:

Peggi Habets said...

Fantastic painting!!! There is something a little unsettling about the figure and the cellar door, and yet it is a sunny beautiful day.

jamenta said...

Lovely painting HH. I like the way you emphasized the winter light reflected on the stairway's white paint and porch, which you did wonderful work with. The detail on the trellises are also nice, and reflect back on a time when aesthetics were more of a concern than today's modern home building ethos: cheap materials, and perfunctory passing respect to fake outside decor (or even a porch for that matter).

The painting has plenty of squares and geometric shapes, but broken by the young women whom my eye was drawn to - even though she's not even in the middle of the frame. It is interesting and perhaps the biggest surprise (which I like) that you paint her not facing you (or me the viewer) but at her backside - and she is moving away from camera.

So when I first viewed your painting - I felt a sense of vulnerability to her (I'm seeing her backside), emphasized as well with the way you paint her pants that don't appear to be fitting quite right. She is also wearing an earth-tone sweater, tan pants and those are not tennis shoes but brown almost mocassin like shoes.

It is interesting you include a bright red cap in the painting, and it reminds me of one of your other paintings in which you also highlighted the color in the hat. It seems to be thematic for you whether intentional or not. Despite the sense of vulnerability, the austere warmth of the earth and a beautiful traditional home, there is also color here - color to be noticed. I like the hope you give, the detail of the reflection in the window, and wish her well as she moves into what is probably an interesting basement or side-room.

jamenta said...

Lovely painting HH. I like the way you emphasized the winter light reflected on the stairway's white paint and porch, which you did wonderful work with. The detail on the trellises are also nice, and reflect back on a time when aesthetics were more of a concern than today's modern home building ethos: cheap materials, and perfunctory passing respect to
fake outside decor (or even a porch for that matter).

The painting has plenty of squares and geometric shapes, but broken by the young women whom my eye was drawn to - even though she's not even in the middle of the frame. It is interesting and perhaps the biggest surprise (which I like) that you paint her not facing you (or me the viewer) but at her
backside - and she is moving away from camera.

So when I first viewed your painting - I felt a sense of vulnerability to her (I'm seeing her backside), emphasized as well with the way you paint her pants that don't appear to be fitting
quite right. She is also wearing an earth-tone sweater, tan pants and those are not tennis shoes
but brown almost mocassin like shoes.

It is interesting you include a bright red cap in the painting, and it reminds me of one of your
other paintings in which you also highlighted the color in the hat. It seems to be thematic for you
whether intentional or not. Despite the sense of vulnerability, the austere warmth of the earth and a beautiful traditional home, there is also color here - color to be noticed. I like the hope you give, the detail of the reflection in the window, and wish her well as she moves into what is probably an interesting basement or side-room.