What’s interesting to me is that I don’t always know the source of inspiration or how to feed it, I’m just acutely aware of when I’m in the moment of it happening. When I have to pick up my idea book and write something down. When I obsess about a photo reference for weeks or even months awaiting the opportunity to turn it into a finished piece worthy of the drive that it instilled.
When those flashes hit, I feel, I create some of my best pieces. My Sable Island horses were inspired by a dream I had while trying to think of a good “horse based” subject to paint for an auction. My “Long Time Running” Gord Downie jean jacket painting was the 1st time my brain took me off the rails of the original photo reference to put added touches to the canvas that were specifically me. Then there was my “Facing your Light” painting.
Look at her for a moment and think about how she makes you feel. What do you think it going on in this painting? Write down a couple of words that immediately pop into your head so you can compare later. Remember art is personal but gather your thoughts and then see what I and others got out of this piece.
I consider this one of my 1st paintings to flow… literally. You can view the painting of this on my YouTube channel in a time lapse. What I love about it, there is no pre-sketch, it’s a huge painting and it just comes out non-stop in a single sitting. It was the 1st painting to me that felt like it had an energy of it’s own. Some how beyond what I had put in. I thought about the things I felt and that other people told me that they felt about that piece. Words I’d often hear used were strength. Peace. Faith in yourself. Looking up and forward to what great things are to come. Being true to yourself while the world is swirling around you. All the great possibilities of life are available if we want to believe we can reach them. All in all I think you’d agree, this is seen to many, and myself, as a very positive powerful piece. I had made people “feel” something.
I wanted to do it again. Could I make them feel the opposite way and still like the painting. This was my impetus for creating “Free Falling”. I had a clear image of my mind of my goal but gave myself some specific criteria. I wanted it to potentially be the same person as the subject of the piece. I wanted to use an almost an identical colour pallet. Then I wanted to flip everything else to the opposite.
Now here is my opposite painting. Take a look at it and let me know what you think. What are some of the things you feel? What are some of the things you notice? Write down a couple of words on this piece and then I’ll tell you all about the concepts I brought purposely to this piece.
(**ARTISTS NOTE** I’m going to be referring to these 2 paintings in comparison a lot, so FYL=Facing Your Light and FF=Free Falling)
I used a lot of literal opposites for this piece. One above the water line, the other below. From a landscape view which is wide and open in FYL the view is narrow and long portrait in FF. I even pushed this ratio of length to width so FF is 20% deeper than FYL is wide. I wanted that to be perhaps felt but not immediately obvious… to tighten that feeling of being pulled down in FF while you have that feeling of being lifted in FYL. The skin tones in FYL are warm while they are cold in FF. Here hair is up and in control in FYL while it is wild and free in FF. The light is above and movement is side to side in FYL. In FF the light is muddied out, really loosely painted at the top, leading to pure blackness below. While there is a strength and resilience in FYL, there is a sense of giving in or giving up with FF. I have a strong personal feeling and thought about who/what I was thinking of when I painted it (which I’ll share if you ever ask me personally one on one) but I will say that it was important to me that the figure was smiling when it was going on. Is the smile fake or just oblivious to what is happening? While there is only implied nudity in FYL, there is a certain level of titillation there that I don’t feel at all in FF. What do you think?
“Free Falling was 1st shared at my solo art show Oct 12 2019. I had a wide range of responses. One of my biggest fans said it was their 2nd favourite pieces I had ever made. Many said it was beautiful but I also heard words like “powerful”, “dark”, “sad” and my favorite descriptive word “heavy”. If FYL is light… then FF is definitely heavy.
In the end it is up to the viewer to determine for them if either piece has that elusive “feeling” I was seeking. It is up to the viewer if one makes them feel like one is opposite to the other. I do though now feel like they are eternally linked as each ones polar opposite.
Where do I go next? Tell me what you think.