The Start of Something New
Hello my lovely folks, hope all is finding you well. Summer is finally upon us here in the Prairies of Canada, its been a few solid weeks of sweltering humid days and I am LOVING it! Our winters are so incredibly harsh that you have to appreciate each beautiful summer day.
Now for the first time in my artistic career, I have finally completed a series of artwork.
My first completed series.
This is a big deal for me because I typically have the attention span of a goldfish, which can definitely be seen when you look at my list of half-started series (there are a lot of them..).
This body of work features my favorite grouping of animals, the African Big Five. For those who are not familiar with the Big Five, the group consists of five animals present in Africa that are considered to be the most difficult to hunt. They also happen to be some of the deadliest. The members of this group are the African Elephant, the Lion, the Leopard, the Rhinoceros and the Cape Buffalo. I've held a huge fascination for the Big Five years and was lucky enough to spot all but the leopard on my recent trip to South Africa.
Each of the pieces measure 11"x14" and have been created with acrylic paint on canvas panels. Typically I go for a more matte varnish for my work but these babies got the high-gloss treatment, which heightens the contrast incredibly.
They were incredibly fun to create, its very relaxing and cathartic to slash bright red paint across an otherwise greyscale canvas. They felt like a release, and their rawness was almost a physical sensation in their creation.
I suppose in a way that these five pieces are fragments of my soul and psyche. Two separate conversations in the same day earlier this month have led me to realize that I need to change the way I look at my own work in order to really feel something. It sounds rather abstract, in reality it is, but it struck something in me, something real. I have been so uptight in my work, planning everything down to the brushstroke, and my work wasn't breathing. I felt little to no connection to it because it didn't reflect the initial energy and emotion that I felt. It was too structured in its creation, no flow of life.
Sometimes tough conversations and realizations are needed in order to open your eyes.
A colleague of mine has been giving me "art prompts", as we have been calling them (and I return them, giving her appropriate prompts to help push her in a direction that holds some education and learning). I had a moment of clarity and realization when the anxiety hit me during her suggestion that I jump right into a piece with zero planning, zero initial thoughts, zero reference. Panic. I wish I were exaggerating, I felt legitimate anxiety butterflies at that suggestion. Reflection upon that moment drew up one conclusion: let your work breathe.
I'm still in the very early phases of making some changes to the way I work. This series is the first bit, the first taste of relaxation. I'm not implying that my style will flip from refined detail to the chaos that you can see in these paintings, but hopefully will instead contain a cathartic edge.
Painting should purge the soul.