Thursday, March 5, 2009

Walking With Friends

Walking with Ed along the Stampede Trail, near Healy, Alaska

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light."~ Hellen Keller

Painting is usually a pretty solitary affair. You sit or stand, you examine, you apply paint, usually without one word spoken to anyone but yourself. As I have said before, this solitary aspect can be helpful or a hindrance. It allows you to focus, it invites immersion into your task, but it can also produce anxiety too. Therefore getting together with friends is especially enjoyable as it provides an emotional and social counterpoint to all of that time alone. 

This morning I was thinking about how wonderful it is to walk with friends. Whether in the middle of nowhere in Alaska or down the street by your house, it doesn't matter. What matters is who you're with and the special connection that you have with that person. We are all worlds within ourselves, little universes contained within flesh and bone, and it makes sense that we would leave impressions and change the composition of those next to us with advice, opinions and a listening ear. Our interactions are as organic and impermeable as any leaf on the ground, but hopefully not as ephemeral! 

Hiking near Kanuti Hot Springs near the Arctic Circle, Alaskan Interior

I now have seven paintings completed for my exhibition in November. I am so pleased to see my walls fill up again, to see a whole experience grow piece by piece into its own, larger construction. I will put details of the show again at the bottom of this blog entry. I think that we all have places that we have visited that are almost constantly in our mind, even in a small nook of thought, but always there. Newfoundland inhabits a special spot in my heart and I really hope that this affection is transcribed faithfully in this group of paintings. I firmly believe that when you love what you do, when there is joy in the doing of your work, that others pick up on it. It is as though you literally can instill emotion into your work, a chemical reaction as authentic as any oxidation or exothermic event. 

Mel and I at the edge of the escarpment, Mt. Nemo, Ontario

Standing on Gulkana Glacier with Trevor in the Alaskan Range

Friends lift us out of pools of rumination that we sometimes slip into. They can soothe frayed nerves and alter our ways of thinking about things. They are a shelter for us and we can provide the same in return. For as long as we have walked this earth, places where people have gathered to share thoughts and nourish friendships have existed. Whether in a sunlit piazza or under the quiet shelter of a redwood, we need to commune with one another to be fully realized individuals. Friends are our touchstones and the anchors that we need when the gales become too strong. 

Billie and I on the beach in Virginia

The other day I was talking a friend and she made the astute observation that as our network of friends increases through travel, that our world grows smaller, but in a good way. It makes sense. If we live our lives in one room (as an extreme example), the world is larger than life, overwhelming even. But if we get out there and make some tracks, double sets, with people that we meet along the way, our world shrinks so that soon you realize that we are all connected more than we realized. I take comfort in that knowledge. 

Exploring Wesleyville with Rob in Newfoundland

As the spring starts to thaw us over the next few months I want to make a concerted effort to apply continued diligence in the studio but also balance it with a healthy dose of convivial communion with cherished friends and family. I think that work will feed off of play and vice versa. There is much to be said for spending time alone. There we recharge our batteries, distill our thoughts and form our opinions, and simply rest. Friendship takes energy, to give and receive can deplete us, but in a good and necessary way. However once we have spent a certain time alone we must strike out again, with dear friends, on new paths of thought and exploration. 

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends we choose". 
~Tennessee Williams

Here is some information on my solo exhibition this November. I hope to meet you there!

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

"Jim, Bennett's High Island", oil on canvas, 30"x40", 2009

"Cyril In the Sea Runner", Oil On Panel, 12"x16", 2009

If you are interested in seeing any of these paintings please contact Abbozzo Gallery. They will be happy to answer any of your questions.

No comments: