“The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.” ~James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Sometimes I have an idea for a painting that is particularly personal. The kind of painting that doesn't matter to me if it sells or not. The need to paint this or that object or scene is so strong that it overrides any thought of what people might think of it. Every painting I do is because I want to do it, but it is paintings like "Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Girl", oil on panel, that hold a special place in my heart because of its biographical roots.
This painting is a segment of my childhood bedroom. I have vague memories of my mother periodically standing me up straight against the door frame of my closet. She would have a pen or pencil and measure my height. It was done about once a year, this little ritual of ours. I know that the memory of each tick is housed in the back of my mind somewhere. Although I cannot remember each measuring, each moment of realizing how tall I was getting, of turning to look and compare my height to my mother's, I do know that somewhere in my mind that memory exists. I also know that the memory could be brought back to me with the direct pressure of a surgeon's touch, flooding back like water through an opened lock.
Today happens to be my mother's birthday, and I thought it was fitting to write about this special painting. She has always been my touchstone, my best friend. My parents are both incredible people, and this is why some of my most personal paintings involve them. Someone once said to write about what you know. I say paint about what you know as well. Having a well to draw from will always yield powerful results and an opportunity to know yourself and those around you even better than before.
I have decided that one day, when my parents move that I will remove this door frame. I'm not sure what I will do with it, perhaps frame it. A frame within a frame.
I visualize most paintings in my mind as a completed piece even before I begin gathering reference. In other words, before I even took the photographs that would help me complete this piece, I could see it in my head: the vertical door frame creating a nice tension with the horizontal panel, etc. When I took the reference photographs I was able to revisit my childhood and see where I was at 6 years old, 7 years old, until the day when I was taller than my mother. I recall wondering what that meant, what were the implications of me being taller than her? Would my world tilt or alter in some way? I had always looked up to her, and even though I now look down to her when we speak, she will forever be someone I look up to. Happy Birthday Ma. I love you.
“He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.”― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
This painting and many others will be a part of my upcoming solo exhibition in Oakville, Ontario. Here are the details. I hope to see you there!
New paintings by Heather Horton
November 2-17, 2012, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception Saturday, November 3, 2-4pm
Artist informal meet and greet Sunday, November 11th, 2-4pm