Painting as metaphor

Recap of September and October: • took painting lessons • started next counselling course • applied to a couple of juried exhibitions;  rejected! • Attended the openings to see what got in • got organised to take credit-card payments, via my cell phone no less • went to Algonquin Park • came home and painted and then painted some more

This is one of the pieces I completed in October; part of my Threshold series. It’s titled  Where the City Meets the Forest. Acrylic on Canvas. 24 x 30.© Gwen Hayes_Where the City Meets the Forest_ Acrylic on Canvas _ 24 x 30



©Gwen Hayes _ Leaf Dancer_Mixed Media on CanvasPleased that my painting Leaf Dancer is being displayed in a group show at the Elgin Winter Winter Garden Theatre with Opera Atelier, in November 2012 alongside, so I’ve heard, some great painters such as, as Margaret Roseman and several others I’m anxious to meet, including Frances Ferdinands, Pauline Bradshaw and Rita-Anne Piquet. Cool. And isn’t the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre a beautiful heritage building.

Also attended ART TORONTO which was brilliant. Have a look at the Art Toronto catalogue.  The ultimate goal. Be there.

I’ve been painting in watercolour a lot lately and find that it prompts plenty of metaphors for other aspects of life and work. The quality of my painting is directly related to the calibre of my drawing (skill and thoroughness) and my presence to the task at hand. I love that watercolour has a built-in requirement to allow drying time or in some cases to work without stopping over longer periods of time; an exercise in mindfulness and learning to pace myself. Wait. Walk away. Just be in the flow.

The process of painting offers many opportunities for reflection and allowing. The use of a resist for planning areas to keep clear makes me think of personal boundaries and things like booking time for your self into your calendar.

The way colours behave the way it loads onto a brush, how it blends, and the degree of transparency, opacity or luminosity is so unique – reminds me of relationships and how people think, feel and behave – and aren’t we all unique. The technique of ‘picking up’ colour after it dries to open up the light makes me remember the idea of gratitude.

The way each brush is constructed, its features and purpose… the right tools for the job. The texture of a surface and huge advantage of a best-quality paper contribute to the process in ways that remind me of a strong personal foundation.

All of that together influences  the quality of my work; how the paint absorbs, sits or floats across the surface of the paper… which makes me think of how we learn. It all made me think, ah yes, I have plenty of opportunity to dance in the moment. Writing that made me laugh because for years my mantra has been “true calm, applied knowledge and a dance in every moment.” Something to strive for.

Quality Control & Commitment

Well okay, so all wasn’t sweetness and light in the studio for a day or so. I got a bad batch of pre-coated canvas, something I’ve never experienced before. I always insist on 100% made in Canada for my canvases but ended up purchasing a brand I don’t usually buy (Gottrick) from a store I don’t usually go to, and I have to wonder whether these canvases were actually imported product.

None of this would be quite so annoying if the canvases weren’t large and expensive, and I hadn’t wasted a full jar of gesso, half a jar of paint and half a day trying to figure out what the problem was. Contacted the manufacturer who confirmed a “Yes, unfortunatly I have a bad batch. Now I have a good product. Really sorry about that.” Geez. Worth my while to take it back? No. It’s a long jaunt to that particular store and way too much time out of my day, so I’ve taken it off the stretchers and will start over.

And with that trouble behind me I decided to step up and buy an entire roll of 10 ounce canvas from Curry’s Art Store, a gallon of gesso and a whole bunch of stretchers — quality control and inventory. According to my calculations I should get between 30 to 37 large paintings out of this roll. Now that’s a commitment. Wonder if I’ll be able to lift that roll!

Until next time.