Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"What Frida Taught Me"

I want quiet feet on quiet floors and quiet fears behind quiet doors.

"What Frida Taught Me", oil on panel, 36"x24", was inspired by Frida Kahlo's famous 1938 painting "What The Water Gave Me". "What Frida Taught Me" began in Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory last autumn. I have painted my legs in a bathtub before, but this time, like every time, is different.

There are many reasons as to why artists have painted themselves in bathtubs. These are places where we are cleansed and they are also places of refuge. They are receptacles for our fears and concerns. There is peace to be found here. I began this painting with an idea of revisiting the theme of the previous piece, Quietus, seen here, from years ago:

I enjoy painting the natural world as well as things which cover us. Whether it be fabric or water, anything that surrounds us can serve as a metaphor. It can provide protection and can also wash away layers to reveal important truths. The water in my painting is symbolic of how our minds and bodies are able to have time to heal and reflect (no pun intended) in that place. The quiet drip of the faucet, the occasional creak of the house, these simple sounds become the backdrop for our thoughts as we sculpt our theories, weigh opinions, develop plans and dwell on sentiments. Quite simply, places where we are cleansed are crucibles for all that goes on in our minds.

Perhaps the composition of "What Frida Taught Me" is a bit strange to the casual observer. It makes sense to me though. Haven't we all sat in a similar places and looked down at our legs, faithful friends who have helped us through the world and not questioned why, but simply took us where our minds told them to go? They trust us, and we them.

I had gone on a long hike up Mount White with the Yukon Outdoors Club on the day "What Frida Taught Me" was conceived. I had fallen at the end of the hike but did not paint my injury into the painting. It felt strange to do so. I went with my gut and omitted the gore. I did paint the tan lines from my sandals which seem permanently etched on my feet from hours of hiking and exploring in the sun. This painting was the end of a beautiful, strenuous day. It was the opposite of the previous six hours of ascending and descending the mountain...

 Halfway up the mountain..

Walking along the top of Mount White..glorious:)

Two of my greatest loves are painting and traveling. "What Frida Taught Me" is a representation of many things, and those things change from day to day. Like Frida, I place my life into my painting. It is there to see, but less obviously as the direct symbolism in Frida's work. No my story is more subtle. Like Frida I believe our paintings are places to tell our stories, the painful ones and the pleasurable ones. She lived her life intensely and followed her passion. She "painted her own reality" as she once said. I agree with her. Paint what you know. Listen to that quiet voice, that inner child and and let that voice have the final word on your canvas.

"Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?"~Frida Kahlo