As much as I enjoy painting the canoes, they are also a great challenge. This one has a LOOOONG way to go and, in fact, there have been times when I was ready to paint over it. As you will notice, there is currently no canoe in the piece. The image is inspired by a photo that my 12 year old daughter took for me while her and her dad (my husband of 23 years ;) went camping southeast of Calgary near Vulcan, Alberta last summer. There were two kayakers in the water in lovely red kayaks but originally I painted them in too centered, too close, though now I wonder if I will add them in the distance or whether I should place a canoe along the shore. Always so many problems to solve when painting. For awhile I couldn't bear to look at it so it was leaned facing my studio wall but in working with other abstracted pieces I began to see a solution to my problem - well an intermediate solution...still have to work out the direction this will take but I'm happy I painted out the kayakers for now. The big thing for me is to remember to let go of the details until the end, and to keep working around the entire piece. This in-between time is sometimes difficult to share publicly because it always looks terrible, but it's the fun part for me. I find it difficult to look at a blank canvas so I stain it to remove the intimidation factor, and I also find the final details a bit scary for me...I'm afraid of the possibility that it will ruin all the hard work that came before it. This middle stuff is fun, it doesn't look great so doing anything is better than doing nothing.
While I've been pondering this piece in between working on it, I've also been reading 'Sanctuary Line' by Jane Urquhart who happens to be one of my favorite authors (along with Sue Monk Kidd, Elizabeth Berg, Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden, Miriam Toews, Elizabeth Hay, Carol Shields, Ann-Marie MacDonald...and the list goes on though I tend to lean a bit more to Canadian authors). It's a lovely, haunting story of a woman who returns to the family orchard in Ontario in her research of the monarch butterfly. Of course there is a tragedy that alters the family's history but it is a beautiful rendering of how our past shapes us and about the path to understanding. I'm also reading 'Imagine That' by Manuel Luz about faith and art - one quote that touches me is Thomas Merton's definition of art: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." I love that.