Stories or Statements

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Waiting to Launch – one of the first pieces I painted from a photo I took.

I am not an accomplished artist, nor am I seeking renown.  This will not be a career for me.  This art exploration I am on is following its own meandering path, and a year and a half ago, the path diverged from decorative painting, to exploring subjects in more detail.

You seek, and get a lot of advice when you start this.  Youtube has been a font of tutorials, but I don’t want to slavishly copy them (as they advise you not to) because that is not my work.

The biggest and best advice – “You learn by doing.”  But after that it gets confusing.  Copy old masters; Don’t copy old masters; Paint from reference photos; Don’t paint from reference photos; It’s ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo; It’s not ok to trace  your reference sketch/photo.  You get the picture.

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Frozen Ghost – combines three of my photos to tell a story.

Some of my favourite pieces come from photos I have taken.  Notice I say, “come from”.  I consider it my right to modify as necessary, or not.  And being a new painter, each time I tackle a photo, there is a challenge to present something on the support that I have not done before.  Each time, I am learning something that I can use in future paintings.  But when I showed some of my pieces to an artist and art teacher, who has had a decades long career and whom I respect, I was told that my work, while nice, lacked emotion.  That has niggled in my heart for months now.  There are all kinds of criticisms that I would have expected (on brushwork or perspective, colour or composition), but not that one.  And I have a problem with it.

Each painting I do from my photos evokes a memory for me, and/or tells a story.  Obviously, someone else will lack the frame of reference for the story, but I hope that the viewer can get some sense of it.  Perhaps one day I will evolve to the point of making strong statements with a brush, but at the moment I am giving more of a recitation.  And that is OK.

So if you are struggling with what should be the “right” way to paint – stop struggling.

If it speaks to you, that is the most important thing as you grow.  And try things outside your comfort zone, but not all the time.  Remember, you should be enjoying yourself.

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First Freeze – an ATC I did from my photo of the pond where I live.  The challenge was to learn how to do ice.  But the story is of a particularly beautiful sunset in the place I grew up.  A moment in time that evokes the peace of this place when I was a child.  In this light you don’t see a lot of the changes “progress” has wrought.

 

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Look What the Sun Brought Out!

So I’m not usually independently adventurous.   I’ll find lots at home to keep me busy, or at least I’ll use that as an excuse.  On this particular day in April, the family was all either at work or busy and I was at loose ends, so I took my Nikon 3000 and went for a drive to a community down the shore.  It was a “large” day; bright sunlight, light winds, warm air.  These were the moments that caught my eye.

Our Spirit may be free, but our feet are Anchored to the stones of this place.

This memorial stands at the side of the road where houses clutch onto the rocks as though perched to take flight.

Memorial to a Parson’s son killed in action a century ago.

Every community here is built around its churches.  In this fore-yard stand various statuary, erected to do honour to those who have done honour to the community.  This is but one that stands fast and looks out over the bay.  By such markers did the fishers of old guide their punts and their souls to safer berths.

Progress defines new uses for old sites.

Wheels of cable, either steel or electrical, sit at the offshore supply base.  A deep, well protected harbour never goes out of fashion.  Just the materials seem to change.

Pun intended

There’s a boat under there!

As this fishing vessel guts and cleans its catch, gulls wheel and scream, fighting for scraps and gathering numbers until the boat is near invisible.

Neptune’s Daughter

Our marine tradition flavours everything – our music and dance, our stories and science, our architecture and art.  The Mermaids of Avalon are displayed in many sites, beckoning to the wayfarer, singing sailors to watery slumbers, dreaming longingly of the sea.  Symbols of our history, and of our mystery.