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Painting is a dance between intent and happenstance. When I paint, I need to allow the creative process, the unknown future, to guide at least some of the work.
I live and work in the Montreal region of Canada. I have painted and exhibited those paintings since graduating art-school in 1998.
In recent work, I have taken formal rules found in various forms of music and poetry, and applied these rules to my painting. These canvasses have a sense of rhythm, metre, and mood found in the inspiring art form.
Currently I paint robins, cats, and imagined spaces/landscapes. Layers and glazes of oil create a sometimes foggy effect; and time is captured within the weeks it takes to create these works. Fluttering time and space together, the robins are really something more than birds… though I really do love birds for just being birds! Similarly, cats are interesting and beautiful, evocative creatures.
A few years ago, I was captivated by a discussion about a poetic format.
I was jogging with a poet friend and we were discussing this format, the Ghazal. She was describing the formal rules of the poem, and how poets opt to follow, break, bend, and twist those rules. We talked about the deeper meaning of those rules, and how culture and time changes the poetic form. It (the poetic format in question) stays alive by adapting, yet keeping its formalities.
I was inspired to make a small series of Ghazal paintings.
To begin and function, I needed to decide how I would express the ideas of rhyming couplets, how to express rhythm. I worked out my system, and began. After and during working on these, I thought and wondered about other poetic forms, and how they would “translate” into painting. I eventually moved on to the Sonnet.
Using a similar approach, but not so free-formed, I painted lines. I painted the idea of iambic pentameter. I painted in “rhymes” (similar shapes.) Then I went to town. I came up with five different paintings using this form.
Again owing to my creative process, I was thinking ahead while I was focused on these works. What if I painted specific Sonnets? I grabbed my trusty old book of Shakespeare, and let myself be inspired by specific Shakespeare sonnets. I chose my works, and began each of these new paintings with an oilstick drawing, in response to the poem. I didn’t stick with the “format” idea so much as I had before, rather loosely interpreted in image what I was reading.
After having worked on them for what seemed to be long enough, I decided to let the Poetry Paintings rest for a bit. I painted other bodies of work. I did talk about these paintings with people, I did sell some, I did have opportunities to show them, scattered within group exhibitions. Then, this opportunity came to exhibit them all together for the first time. Once I realised I would be doing this, I immediately began working on another poetic format in painting: the Haiku. With the Haiku, I have opted to be a little pictorial, not so abstract in the painting. There is a hint of either landscape or nature in these poems/paintings.
My recent body of work (Meow Miaou) is directly inspired by two things: The Naming of Cats (a poetry collection by T.S. Eliot) and my experiences in being friends with, and looking after cats. Each cat has several sides to their personality, and each has a story. Actually, each has SEVERAL stories... the idea of "nine lives" is almost limited, compared to what the common housecat has experienced.
Cats live through Time (as do we all) and they experience things we could never know about, and never understand. We may sympathise with them, but looking upon the surface, we cannot know what lies within their experience and memory. We can empathise with an image of a cat, or their portrait, and see ourselves or our friends within the layers of paint (or within their eyes). We might be reminded of cats we have known in our past, or hope to meet in our future.