"I know not how I may seem to others, but to myself I am a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with." ~Plato
"Jim, Bennett's High Island", oil on canvas, 30"x40", is the first painting from my upcoming solo exhibition of Newfoundland-inspired artworks that will be on display from November 5-22nd, 2009. I have been surrounded by these images and ideas ever since returning from The Rock and I wanted to share one of them with you.
I have spoken before about how some paintings are deliberately constructed, envisioned in a dream or in a moment of inspiration. The reference-gathering for these paintings are organized, often shifted, frequently examined and sometimes re-examined. Sometimes they work and other times seemingly clever ideas must be disregarded. However, other times a little serendipity happens and you capture an image that you know will instantly be a painting. That is the case with "Jim, Bennett's High Island".
Two of David's good friends, Jim and Cyril, took us out to explore the surrounding islands off the coast of Wesleyville on the northeastern side of the island. We headed out in Cyril's sturdy Sea Runner boat and I managed to capture some reference of him that has become a painting as well. We chopped across the water across to Bennett's High Island, an island that David Blackwood has incorporated in his work frequently, an island surely filled with strong memories. There used to be a beautiful, old lighthouse on the island, which has since been replaced by a very practical, simple affair that pulsed red regularly every evening without fail.
The four of us climbed Bennett's High Island, each wearing the functional and necessary galoshes that would deter the wet and spongy earth from reaching our feet. Labrador Tea was everywhere, and there was an array of different seasonal berries underfoot as well. Partridge berries and blueberries were the most abundant as the very popular cloudberries (bakeapple) had already been picked and was rather scarce as a result. There were broken crab shells littering a clearing of exposed rock that Jim explained were the handywork of intelligent gulls who had learned to drop crabs from a high altitude in order to crack their tough shells. I marveled at their resourcefulness.
While Jim was climbing I had my camera ready to take a picture of whatever interesting composition presented itself. Jim wended his way up through the foliage and I took a few shots of him. His figure created an interesting shape as he negotiated the terrain and I knew that there was a painting that I could make from the reference as soon as I had shot it.
I remember how the skyline was interrupted by his jacket, the undulating green and ochre waves broken by his figure. It was a sparse but had movement. It was a deliberate path towards a place up ahead. I loved how it served too as a metaphor, and perhaps it is because of its spare composition that this element is emphasized here. I like that his face is hidden, as, ironically, it adds more of a personal connection for me. I can be Jim and so can you. We have been and perhaps we will be still. I like that we cannot see the lighthouse, that we cannot see what he is walking towards. As usual, the information NOT provided in my paintings is what I find exciting. I enjoy painting part of the story, but not all of it. If all of the narrative is there for us to see, what mystery is there? The fun is the guessing, the wondering, asking the questions that we will never know the answers to, yet we continue to ask them.
Regarding the exhibition, it has been a pleasure creating these paintings, reliving the moments of being there, trying to capture the essence of that time with the paint. It is a way to take the journey again, and when the paintings are all assembled in the gallery I think it will happen one more time. Here are some details about the show. If you are able to, please attend!
November 5-22nd, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception November 6th, 7-10pm
If you are interested in seeing any of these paintings please contact Abbozzo Gallery. They will be happy to answer any of your questions.
Take good care,
"Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking". ~Antonio Machado