“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”~Anne Frank
Latham, oil on linen, 24"x36", is a mystery, and who doesn't love a good puzzle? She is a new and fantastic person who has come into my life and has made a lasting impression. She is extraordinarily intelligent and generous and I wanted to paint her as soon as I met her. The desire to capture someone on canvas is ephemeral, unpredictable and therein lies the fun: you never know when the pull to paint someone will strike.
Painting a friend, especially a new one, is wonderful because you get to spend time with that person and get to know them in your studio, away from the din and distraction that can be found in coffeehouses. Here, in the studio, with nothing but some Satie, my paints and my palette, I have this wonderful opportunity for creative interrogation: I am able to study form and colour, familiarize myself with the unique individuality that exists within each person I capture. It feels almost selfish. Now, admittedly, there are limits to the knowledge...I have painted numerous people whom I shall never know or perhaps see again beyond the reference shots taken in a far off land. However, whether through a cursory means or inspired by the tenure of friendship, each person has agreed to let their form and visage be rendered, and I do not take that allowance lightly. I respect it and I try my best to capture their essence, if possible.
Latham told me, after seeing this painting, that it is more like her than many photographs. I will never forget that comment. Thank-you.
The artwork that hangs behind Latham here is a compilation of work from two of her children.
Relationships with our parents are often paved with a gamut of emotions. This is a part of life as surely as phototropism pulls the sunflower out of the soil, as reliably as the acorn drops to the ground. Parents provide an essential framework around which we learn to interact with the world. It is a dynamic and organic process and there is a symbolism going on in the composition that I found quite compelling. Plus, I wanted to revert back to being a kid by painting like one for a short time(It was harder than I thought it would be). I loved studying their own creative output, their own special marks upon the world. It was really touching and to paint Latham, contemplative perhaps? in front of them made me enjoy wondering what exactly she was thinking about? Diapers? Taxes? Love? Expectation? I enjoy the not knowing. The mystery, the puzzle of what lies within each of us and those we love casts a spell that lasts a lifetime and it one of the greatest gifts of being alive.
As an interesting side note, Latham will have an opinion piece published in The Globe and Mail this Thurday, May 7th, 2009. It was an essay on the quandary of spending money, a good amount of it, on a painting. She purchased my 72"x48" painting "The Side Door" and her writing about that process is a very interesting read. If you pick up a copy of the newspaper that day it is in the Facts And Arguments section. You can also see Latham's blog here.
I have finished my tenth painting for the Newfoundland show. Time is marching on and I cannot wait for the show to open in November! I have included details on the show below.
Take care and best wishes from my heart to yours,
“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
November 5-22nd, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception November 6th, 7-10pm