Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Grandmother With Knives"

"Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected."
~William Plomer

"Grandmother With Knives", oil on canvas, 24"x 18", is a portrait of my grandmother, who lives in Caledon, a little town north of Brampton, Ontario. She has lived on her farm for over thirty years. My grandfather (no deceased) designed it, had it built and in they moved. It seems like a lifetime ago. It is a beautiful house, made entirely of wood, with a vaulted ceiling, deep carpets and 25 acres of fields and trees surrounding it. Yes, sprawl is creeping nearer to the farm, but for now my grandmother spends her days reading peacefully on her couch, surrounded by her paintings, some artwork that the rest of the family has done, and an impressive library of books. She feeds the birds, loves her tea and lives a humble, happy life. 

The field next to my grandmother's farmhouse

My grandfather collected knives. I too have a collection of them and have painted them as well. You can see the painting here. My grandfather's collection was compiled over a lifetime of appreciating the beauty of a finely crafted knife. The kukris you see behind my grandmother were brought back from the Second World War when my grandfather flew supply planes over Myanmar. The others were bought or designed for him over the years by various knife makers. 
All of my life I have seen them on the wall and admired their simple beauty as well as respected their potentially deadly use as well. 

One day while visiting my grandmother she was sitting on her couch with the knives hanging behind her and it struck me how that juxtaposition might make an interesting painting. She was listening intently as one of my family talked, and I loved how her hands folded across her knees in a thoughtful way. I enjoy paintings hands, and foreshortening is always interesting to tackle too. I thought that to someone walking by it might prove to be a rather eccentric painting, not something that you would normally see on a wall. To me it was as natural as the way she was sitting, but to others it might stand out as something you don't see every day. 

The painting has a lot going on in it, from the pattern of the couch to the lines of wood comprising the wall behind her. Wood is one of my favorite materials to render, as it is ever changing, always shifting from one hue to another. It simply invites you to paint it. I also had fun painting the little stack of books beside her. It is a very personal painting, one filled with symbols from my childhood. An extension of the comfort and happiness that I experienced when I visited the farm while growing up hopefully comes across in the painting. Nothing had been shifted or changed when I took the reference shots. It was and still is, a moment in time that is very special to me.

Some paintings spring from your mind as if from a dream. They are planned and loosely designed within the framework of your thoughts so that you simply need to collect the reference as another step towards making the painting a reality. However others are of a different nature all together. They are the more biographical and personal pieces, pieces of one's life that have deep significance despite, and because of how fleeting they are. 

The pond behind the farmhouse

"Imagination equals nostalgia for the past. It is the liquid solution in which
 art develops the snapshot of reality." ~Cyril Connolly


Paintings for the Newfoundland exhibition are selling quickly, and the show is still months away! If you would like to see images of the paintings, or have any questions, please send me an email or contact Abbozzo Gallery.

Newfoundland Portraits
November 5-22nd, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception November 6th, 7-10pm


Have a wonderful day and take good care,

Heather


1 comment:

sugarandmedicine said...

I don't know where Caledon is, but I'll look it up on a map. I used to live in Caledonia, outside Hamilton. It was very rural and those photos with the flat skyline remind me of it. Now I live by a big chunk of carved rock called Elephant Mountain and between that and me is a lake. So, it's beautiful too.

Intersting story about your grandparents. B.