Friday, July 8, 2011

"Kerri, Aware"

Artists are like sharks: we must constantly move and continue creating or we will perish.

My time in the Midwest is drawing to a close, but I am pleased to have completed 2.5 paintings while here. "Kerri, Aware", oil on canvas, 18"x36", is the second of the trio. 

While here I have felt calm and able to approach the easel with excitement and enthusiasm each day. Calm, yes, but still the quiet voices that whispers "create, work, paint" are always echoing in my ear. I listen to them.

I do not kill myself with painting 10-12 hours a day. I know some artists who love to do this, but I know myself and that would be too much. I would become myopic and my painting would suffer. Instead, I choose 6-8 hours a day of focused time and when I feel my technique is starting to slip, or my eyes get too heavy, I stop. Always, always strive to place the paint as accurately and thoughtfully upon the canvas as possible. Otherwise you will produce milquetoast paintings. 

Two of the three paintings I brought with me here to the Midwest revolve around my friend Kerri and her house. Kerri is complex. She is multi-layered and has many facets. Kerri's mind is always moving, and she is one of the most insightful souls I have the pleasure to know. She has an energy to her that skips and whisks from one place to another. You can hear the cogs turning in her mind. 

So I find it ironic that I am painting her in a pose of repose. She may be sleeping, or maybe she is pondering any number of things. I think of Kerri as movement, yet she appears static here.

When we sleep, our beds become our world. Whether you are on an air mattress in a sleeping bag amidst the quaking aspens in central Alaska, or surrounded by deep duvets and mountains of fabric in Burlington, Ontario, we must traversr the landscape of our mind when we rest. 

I removed some things from the reference as I worked on this painting. I removed them so as to add important to the bat in the corner. I wanted the bat to be quietly there in the shadows. At the time when I shot the reference, I didn't really see the bat. But later I did, and I thought it must either be for home defence, or perhaps belong to one of her children. 

The second painting inspired by Kerri is a portrait of her room. The bed is now empty, the window is curtain-less. The palette inside is muted. The colours outside are a bit more vibrant and yet seemingly seen through a veil. Granted, this painting is still in progress, but I wanted to include it here to show the relation between the pieces and how they are quite connected. I find beds without figures in them just as intriguing as those with a person under the covers. 

Lastly, I have new friends here in the Midwest. They are fireflies. We have them in Ontario but they are elusive in the area where I live. Here, they are ubiquitous. I love them...they are evening companions that tread water in the air. They land on my hand and visit, then continue their voyage through the garden. Photographing them is tricky, but I did manage to get one shot, shown here. Have a beautiful weekend, wherever you are and remember to move as much as possible.