Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Big and Small

I have been cleaning my studio the past two days. It is a big, overwhelming job but not without interest. I am finding all sorts of things I had forgotten about.

I started painting when I was 18 years old.  I didn't study Fine Art in university but English Literature.  I started taking a neighbourhood painting course to serve as a creative counterpoint to my studies.  I was never told that I had an ability in art when I was in elementary school, to the point that I didn't take any art courses when I was in high school. I was more often told that I was a good writer. So I didn't expect to love painting as much as I did.  Even after I graduated from university and started working in the corporate communications field, I continued painting in the evenings and taking art courses. I even thought of getting a second degree in Art History but realized that the actual doing of it was what I loved the most.  It wasn't until I was in my thirties and in the middle of a burnout related to my corporate job that I realized that painting was what I wanted to do--all of the time.

What I am finding as I clean my studio is work from years ago. It's quite mindblowing. Some of it feels like it was done by another person and I guess in a way it was.  I have a ton of stuff but picked out a few that I thought you might enjoy seeing.

These three really surprised me as I don't have any clear memory of painting them. Isn't that strange? I am thinking that they were perhaps done during one of the evening courses I took at a lovely little independent art school that existed on Queen Street in Toronto in the 1980s. It was called Arts' Sake.  These are all on full-sized sheets of very ordinary newsprint paper.



I painted primarily in oil when I was in my twenties. The studies above would have been done during that period, so I was experimenting but hadn't made the official switch to watercolour.  That came in my thirties. At the beginning, I used to paint miniatures almost exclusively. I love things that are small and I love detail. Here are some that I still have from 1991 and 1992. They include scenes from my garden, Quebec, Ontario and travels in England, Australia and New Zealand. They measure 3½ x 2½ inches and smaller. (Some I like; some I don't.) I sold many of the paintings I did in this period.

The iris studies at the very top of this post were done in this same period too, although they are bigger.

This mosaic was the result of a class I took about six years ago at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal. I have taken several courses there.  We were asked by the teacher to bring in a watercolour that we weren't happy with, without being told why. I brought in a still life I had done of a tea pot, butternut squash and orange. When we arrived, we were told to cut the painting into squares (eek!), rearrange them and then add painted detail.  I added three tea bags, flowers and lines and the sentence 'I will make time for tea and art and tranquillity'.  It ended up being a piece that I like to this day.

This final piece is one of the very few 'full sheet' 22 x 30 inch watercolours that I have done.  Some artists work on full sheets all of the time.  I much prefer smaller formats.  This was also done during the course I took six years ago. If my memory serves me right, tears were involved. :)

My cleanup is still not finished. I'll post photos when I have everything organized. I'm already breathing easier as I walk up the loft stairs.

10 comments:

  1. love the glimpse into some of your older work

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    1. Thanks Margie. It's hard for me to look at some of them but interesting all the same. :)

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  2. A gardening post :)))
    These paintings are all very interesting, it seems strange to me that nobody when you were younger did ever told you that you were so talented !

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    1. You always make me smile. It's true. I've made my own garden! Had to. We are surrounded by ice these days.

      It's a real pet peeve of mine that children are marked on art in elementary school (I feel the same way about physical education). I think all children should be allowed to explore their creativity and the artist in them without being graded on structured art assignments. I'm glad that I found my 'joy' later, on my own.

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  3. I like the look of those Iris, the bottom watercolour is very big, gosh that would have difficult, the paint would be drying by the time you'd got from one side to t'other! I feel that all children should be massively encouraged in arty things, they mainly miss out altogether these days. At high school we had fantastic art teachers, so very encouraging. I feel you never stop getting better with art, it's one long progression, and should not be discouraged in anyone, whatever age! (my little rant).

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    1. Thanks Julie. Irises are one of my favourite flowers. Yes, you're right about working on such a big scale but I think my tears kept the paint moist. :) I agree with your rant. I took music as my art option throughout high school which was a wonderful thing, but it would have been interesting if I'd encountered one of those encouraging art teachers earlier on. On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing that I came to it myself.

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  4. You definitely have a gift for painting, it's quite a pity that it wasn't enhanced when you were a little girl/teen. Though I would say that art is absolutely NOT a priority of French school system neither, and that is quite shameful. This reminds me to make paintings & more with the boys during their school break (starting tomorrow evening)
    I love the mosaic exercice ! A good way to see your own work with new eyes, and to turn something you thought you didn't like into something you like ! Very interesting !
    oxox

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    1. Thank you Sonia. I did lots of crafts at home when I was young which is how my creative sense was satisfied. It's great that you paint and do crafts with your boys. Emma and Chloé have always been encouraged to use my art materials (plus their own) here and they were very lucky to have a fantastic teacher for some of their years in elementary school who made sure that every Friday morning was 'art morning'. Here, it depends so much on who your teacher is. xo

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  5. It,s a strange feeling when you look back in time trough your own paintings, how some of them reminds you a very special part of your life and the feelings you had at that moment! It,s the same with the music or the smell of some things ! But it is really nice to see your evolution with your paintings!

    I love that my children do also paintings and crafts! Everyone should have a hobby, and when you do your hobby your work than you are really lucky! don,t you think so?

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    1. It's true. There was a lot of nostalgia for me looking through my old work. I think it's so important that children are able to be creative in a free way. And yes I agree with you. :)

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave me a comment. I love reading them. -- Kathleen

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