"Life is partly what we make it and partly what is made by the friends we choose."
"Wyll, Bay And Bloor", oil on panel, 9"x12", is one of several paintings that will accompany me to Ankara, Turkey next week for an art exhibition to celebrate International Women's Day 2010. This is a fabulous opportunity to help raise funds to help young girls receive an education in Turkey as 20% of the revenue from show sales will go directly to an NGO helping this cause. I am thrilled to be a part of such a venture! There are a dozen artists participating from all over the world and I will be staying with Canada's Ambassador to Turkey and his family while in the country. To say I am honoured is an understatement!
Wyll has very striking features, and, combined with the natural, direct light on her face, her eyes really are accentuated. She is wearing the same hat I have painted her in before..it makes her look like a Russian Princess I think. We also shot some reference inside that day, with fluorescent lights, but I preferred the open, bright quality of the exterior shots that I took of her.
This painting is another example of a simply rendered environment with more detail and time spent on the subject. But this painting isn't so much about where Wyll is...but who she is. Although the palette is pretty muted, I wanted to depict a sense of positivity and optimism with Wyll's expression and the direction she was looking. No matter the environment, the situation, the day, the place, anything, Wyll's amazing spirit and beautiful personality always shines through, and it is this energy that continues to draw me back to paint her, spend quality time with her and to nurture our friendship.
I thought that the people of Turkey might enjoy this painting that seems very 'Canadian' to me...around the world light really does look different, and her clothing, the street, the colours, all seem very familiar. I am taking other paintings, including still life pieces, landscapes from Newfoundland and another portrait with me to Turkey. I wanted to have a good selection of subject matter for the art exhibition.
Painting a piece this size demands a steady hand and good brushes. I find that with coffee and the pressure of rendering things on a smaller scale that my hand sometimes is unsteady and I have even caught myself holding my breath in order to paint the dark raspberry tone under an eyelid or the dark orange line that delineates the ridge of an ear against hair. As I posted on Twitter the other day, the act of painting a portrait is a very intimate experience. In the quiet and stillness of the studio I have time to spend studying the faces of people I care about, or sometimes kind strangers who have posed for me. Whomever is being painted, we have a connection with one another, and it is my challenge to render that connection to the best of my abilities.
I hope to have captured a small fragment of Wyll's magic in this piece. She's a rare bird, someone that makes the world a better place, and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to to paint her numerous times. The arc of a life can be measured in many ways, and for an artist it can be through the paintings we produce. No matter the subject, they are moments in our life that we have set aside to create these paintings, and the people depicted on the canvas have become a part of that history. I am so thankful for each of them...
"The language of friendship is not words but meanings." ~Henry David Thoreau