Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Artist Statement

Today I am rewriting my artist statement.  It is difficult to find a fancy way to say "Winter is 7 months long, and I need to be outside.  Then I want to tell you all about how great it was out there, even though there were bugs and I got rained on a bit."  Also "quit building suburbs on top of all this great lanscape already".  Sigh.

It has been interesting to realize how much of my painting has probably come from my childhood in northern Alberta.  Even a simple trip to the city involved sitting in the back of the car for five hours staring at trees and farms.  I have never recovered from it.  It is one of the great sorrows of my life to be married to a man who hates sitting for extended periods of time and who seems largely unafflicted by the exploring bug.  The average number of road trips I go on in a year is almost one.  I plan to change that as soon as I stop feeling bad about renting hotel rooms.

The Canadian landscape really is magnificent, and it's not just the mountains I'm talking about.  The mountains are great.  The first time I saw them I thought they were going to fall down on me.  My monkey hindbrain just couldn't understand how those gigantic lumps of rock managed to stay up.  But actually it's the fairly ordinary contrasts of colour that really get me.  I remember walking around as a kid in late August or early September sometime and seeing the slopes above the Clearwater river golden with sunlit poplars, shining against a bank of dark clouds.  Or driving along the highway in the late afternoon and having the golden-reddish sunlight turn the larches a strange orange-green colour.  Or traveling by bus at twilight in the winter and seeing the violet snow-covered fields pass beside me, with tufts of dull golden grass popping out from the snow.  Crabapple flowering season.  Ice fog.  Eye-punching fields of canola.  It's those things that squeeze my heart and make me want to bring them home.

The other thing is that as one grows older, some of these things disappear.  I think that the last time I was in McMurray, the land across the river where I used to admire the trees had been clear-cut.  I have no idea what they're going to build there.  I don't really care.  It can't be as good as the poplars used to be.  These days I want to record things so that I remember them when they're gone.

These necessary blurbs that one has to write about oneself are sometimes more useful than one thinks.  I always start out thinking that I'm going to produce a pile of bullshit and end with a great deal of introspection (and some relief that I no longer live up north and don't have to talk to anyone I used to know in Junior High School).  It's good to be reminded of why we do this, on occasion, especially if things have been going slowly and one starts to lose steam.

As soon as the statement and bio are done, they are going off with a gallery submission and then I will begin work on another painting, knowing a little more about what it is that I want to record and why I want to record it.

It looks like my old college site is finally gone so I had to dig this out from the depths of my hard drive.  The trails where I used to go cross-coutry skiing with my dad and brother when I was in high school.  The winter may have been long and cold, but it sure was beautiful.

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