I sometimes think people don't understand when I say that I had to get rid of detail in my paintings so that I could go crazy with colour. In my early years of getting into painting, I was trying to prove that I had 'skills' in my ability to represent something. That went on for quite a while and I did some good paintings that way. But then it got boring. The careful placement of brushstrokes was a very unimaginative exercise; it took a lot of time but it wasn't very difficult. I started to get jealous of my friends who were abstract painters. They could place large areas of innovative colour and shape on their canvases in ways that were exciting. I started to think I would like to do that. I wouldn't let go completely of my wish to connect to the real world; but I began to think I could do it differently. I realized that our eyes and brains can easily put together images from very minimal amounts of information; a few flicks of a brushstroke can create quite a good description of a face, and so on with other things. So I started to get brave. I created simple shapes to represent basic elements in a landscape, a tree for example, or a road beside a field. Then I could really play with colour! I could put a red or a blue or a green anywhere I wanted.
Nikola Rukaj Gallery in Toronto has placed some of my paintings at Arbitration Place on Bay Street. They will be up for June and July this summer. I hope they are aiding the discussions and 'arbitration' taking place!
Recently I sent some paintings to the Nikola Rukaj Gallery in Toronto. These particular canvases are abstractions derived from images of tree trunks and they were painted at the Emma Lake Professional Artists Workshop in 2009.
I am just packing to drive up to Edmonton for my exhibition there, "Totems", opening July 9, this Saturday at the Scott Gallery. There will be lots to see on the way, some of my favourite scenery and sources of inspiration.
To elaborate on how 'trees' can become paintings, here is an example of what can happen.
Recently someone asked me who were the artists I looked back on; which were the ones who had influenced me. There are so many that I can't even begin to say this one or that one was crucial to the course I took in my work. Here are a few who are presently tacked to my studio wall:
Agnes Martin; Georges Braque; Paul Cezanne; and Paul Flandrin. You can what they have taught me, whether it be in the trees I have painted, the road trips, the lakes, or anything else.
Several years ago I met Nikola Rukaj at
the retrospective for William Perehudoff’s paintings in Saskatoon. Later on when I met him at the Toronto Art Fair, Nikola asked if I would like to show
some paintings in his gallery in Toronto. Miriam Shiell started showing my paintings in Toronto in the 1980's, and Gallery One under Goldie Konopny and Sharon Fischtein carried on with that until 2008. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity, especially to show with a gallery that appreciated the work of a great artist like William Perehudoff.
Now I am pleased to announce the opening of a solo exhibition of my paintings at the Nikola Rukaj Gallery: