30" x 30" Acrylic and grease pencil on paper mounted board
This week, in sweltering heat, I have been chopping and stacking firewood in preparation for a chilly fall and winter and it got me reminiscing. I grew up in a 3 story drafty wood heat farmhouse in the Cariboo where winters often lasted 6 months. My brother and I spent a good part of our childhood fire-wooding. We’d come home from school only to encounter a giant pile of firewood piled against the door. My dad’s idea of a funny joke because we had to move and stack the wood to be able to get into the house. We’d be miserable. Fingers blue and ruddy cheeks frozen, it was often 20 to 30 degrees below 0. It was however where I learned to be fascinated by extremes. Hot cocoa never tasted so good as after a pitiable session of stacking firewood. The experience was somehow heightened by the stark contrast between a cold and barren mouth now warmed by sweet maple syrup infused cocoa and creamy cow’s milk.
My artwork often travels back and forth between extremes. I spent my early years as an artist rendering charcoal and sepia toned figurative works, only to stumble across my obscene love for saturated colors straight from the tube. And then there were the years my figurative works were as sparse and simple as I could get them – completely unadorned and minimalist – save for my love of color. From a scarcity of adornment I went to the extreme of creating patterns under, in, and on the skin of my subjects. I don’t know what’s next for me. I do know my current work isn’t interested in realism and I can imagine that I will soon begin experimenting with an extreme version of disrupted realism, whereby I obliterate all edges of reality.
What has carried me forward for many years now is my love of color and the contrast between them. There was one body of work I completed that seemed to hold all these things in balance – complimentary colors, realism that shows sign of disruption, and simple patterns contrasted with complex patterns. They are sweet and disturbing. The following painting, Little Bird, still remains my all-time favorite.