"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in
which you yourself have altered."~Nelson Mandela
"Michelle (Cumberland Ave)", oil on panel, 11"x14", began weeks ago, but I only completed it today. The reason for this was that in between the beginning brushstrokes, the blocking in of shape and tone, I traveled to Arizona, New York City and Turkey. It is a strange feeling to leave a painting that you are really enjoying working on. To see it sitting the easel as you pack your bags is hard. I have a quota in mind of paintings that I like to accomplish each month, each year, and I have to realize that this year there will be less paintings. I am ok with this fact because I will try to make the pieces that I DO complete count even more, and travel provides excellent perspective on one's life and career. Big time.
Recently I had a discussion with another artist and we talked about how travel affects our work, if at all. We both came to the conclusion that for us, traveling extensively has helped us realize what we want and don't want to paint. It is that paradox that I love to ponder: knowing what you DON'T want is just as, if not more important than knowing what you DO want. This also applies to art and the creative impulse.
Many colleagues and friends have asked if I will be painting people and scenes from my travels...I cannot definitively say "no" but these voyages have made me realize that I crave to paint the people and places that I have been painting for years. A yearning to return to the familiar has hit me, a desire to revisit old stomping grounds, see friends and models, walk streets that have appeared in paintings previously, and to paint the comfortable. Even comfortable is challenging. There is ALWAYS a new way to compose a painting, to look at a subject, to dive into the mysteries of how to paint and express ourselves.
Michelle posed for me and was so sweet and amenable to me asking her to look this way and that way. She had a whole selection of hats and jackets to wear, and I gravitated to this toque in particular. I loved the vibrancy of it compared to the washed out colours of that cold February day in downtown Toronto. This is the first time that I have painted Michelle. It is a fun process because painting someone new is just like visiting a new country...you are on unfamiliar ground and you need to learn what makes that place unique, what gives that person their special qualities, that individuality that is theirs alone. With some practice and a bit of luck perhaps that intangible quality can be felt in the final piece. I am happy and inspired to continue to try and do this...the act of painting, the journey is as much fun if not more, than the destination.
Speaking of new destinations, I am hard at work on new paintings to take with me up to Whitehorse in The Yukon Territory where I will be spending over a month in April. It is very exciting to take this step into solitude and in a new city in the Northern climes of Canada! I am so excited and know that some good work/writing and painting will come from this period of creative seclusion. Stay tuned and you can follow more frequent progress relating to my art and journeys on my Twitter page, found here.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of our exploring will be to arrive
from where we started and know that place for the first time."~T.S. Eliot