A friend recently sent me the new year’s predictions of Georgia Nicols. Georgia described the early 90’s as an eventful time for me because I had given up a lot and started off on a new path. No kidding. I left a career as an art educator at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and moved to Cortes Island to become, eventually, an oyster farmer and drum maker. Nicols concludes this review by saying “Once again you have entered a window when you will start to reinvent yourself, a process that will take until 2028.” Indeed. And here is how I can see that change coming.
It all started last May with a new painting: one with a old memory, and a new way of working. At the art college, a colleague once teased my photo-realist painting style by saying, “you should next do a painting of a photograph of one of your paintings, and take a photograph, and then do a painting of that photograph.” He thought this was very funny. I felt insulted and ignored him. But then 31 years later I find an astonishing photograph of a painting on a drum, and decide to do just that: paint the painting.
I begin doing my laboriously intense start-in-the-upper-left-corner style of painting with acrylic. Slowly building forms with a base colour and adding layers of detail.
Like watching a mold slowly grow across the paper. And yet this image is too peculiar to be so smooth and careful. Sometimes the only way to change is–just change. Besides, its not like the Canadian art world is watching me, clamoring for my work to be on exhibit and available for sale.
So I changed.
And worked a second painting over the first one.
Shapes ran together and became dimensional
as chalk blurred over tidy boundaries.
The background exploded into the foreground until nothing stayed steady.
Creatures shapeshifted as layers of colour
were scrubbed and erased
and scrubbed on again.
And I arrived at these first days of the new year with a decided tilt toward reinvention. A sea change happening. The change that manifested in the 90’s cast seeds sprouting now. I am not much of a gardener, but I do know how to farm the ocean. Apparently accompanied by a family member, who is, as a friend said when first seeing this painting,
“not your usual mermaid.”