As I begin writing, I am somewhat hesitant given that this is my very first blog entry. Add to this that I also find myself doing so just as I have completed another painting, which I titled ‘As Winter Dreams’, and which I plan to give some insight to my inspiration. Doing so is also first time for me.
I will begin with a couple of possible conjectures. Perhaps one could suggest that there is significance in the relationship to the painting’s title and visual theme, or, perhaps it could be suggested as relating more to where I find myself, given that I as an artist, am passing through the winter season of my own life.
In a very small way the painting does bare witness to one of my life long loves, especially when it comes to an artistic subject that has always drawn me into her throughout my life; landscapes. Experiences of places as images have always been a source of rich inspiration ever since I was a boy. I can easily recall when I first saw my first images of the Canada’s celebrated landscape painters, each having documented Canada’s birth and in images chronicled her journey towards maturity. I as an artist have always desired to do the same, and have done so.
Upon reflection, there have been only three main thematic interests that have found their way into my creative spirit. The first is the landscape of the Kootenay regions of southern British Columbia, where I was born and raised. On slopes and meadows of her mountains, or as I made my way to her highest peaks, I could always find refuge and a sense of ’self’ in nature’s beauty. My forest and mountain excursions during my teenage years helped me cope with the daily tensions resulting from being part of a dysfunctional blended family. Escape as solitary walks and hikes can be translated in to the why I so easily identified with the romantic notion of the loner landscape painters, such as Tom Thompson, Emily Carr, and always, his majesty Vincent van Gogh.
The second theme, which was destined to grip my soul as I crossed into mid life, was maturation psychology. As I made every attempt to come to terms with my troubling past, I willingly undertook a new journey, one of introspection as I inched my way along my inner shadowed pathways leading to self-discovery. Embracing psychology, mythology, and the archetypal images discovered in, and through the writings of Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz, provided a new inspiration and I was driven to respond to my inner need to give voice, as a visual artist must do. My inner compass chose the mythopoeic as my means to imagery mapping for my own memories and experiences of life past and present.
My third theme was and is modernity as modern abstract art. Abstraction came as a result of me growing, and somewhat maturing into a young man due to living in the latter half of the 20th Century. I, like so many of my generation had a burning desire to out run the historic past, and if at all possible, we would skip over the problematic present, as we vainly attempted to image the future. It turns out that by the time one has reached mid life, one realizes that life is much deeper than youthful assumptions. So, here I am as I as an artist, a life time committed to being a pigment martyr, who also happens to be an aging man, who has painted another painting titled ‘As Winter Dreams’ . . .
My painting’s inspiration: Over twenty-years have past since my father passed away. One of his final requests was that I must look out for, and to take care of my ‘Ma’, my stepmother. This I did! It was my honour and joy to do so!
Ma always looked forward to celebrating Christmas with our family at the home of my sister Geri, who lives in the Kootenays in the southern part of British Columbia. I would drive Ma 628 KMs along the snowy roads into the small Kootenay city of Castlegar. Once there, we celebrated the season with friends and family, and one week later, we would make our return trip home to the Richmond and Nanaimo located on British Columbia’s Pacific coast.
Ma loved those snowy drives. On the way into the Kootenays, she always wanted to listen to her favorite Christmas carols on my car’s sound system, so every year we did. Periodically she would break into voice and sing along as though she were in a church choir. With our Christmas behind us, we journeyed a long our snowy route back to the coast. I would keep Ma amused with a supply of bingo scratch cards I would purchase. Slowly and methodically she revealed each number. If Ma won a bingo prize, she always claimed it for her own. There isn’t enough attraction in a stack of bingo scratch cards to span 628 KMs. So, in Ma’s quieter moments, I would ask Ma questions about her life. I felt as though I was driving and having a history lesson all in one.
My ears were dedicated to Ma’s stories, but my eyes were always focused on the highway. Snow covered mountain highways always require of driver’s to remain attentively in a state of stressful constant awareness. Then there is the accumulative physical discomfort due in part to the fact that they do not make cars for drivers of my height. When my body demands I do so, I provide it relief; I obey by pulling my car over to the side of the road. I then grab my camera, and I step out into the snowy winter wonderland intent on stretching the kinks out of both my back muscles and legs as my eye surveys and ingests the landscape.
One of my favorite respite spots was, and still is, at Sun Valley, a small ski village tucked into the mountains between Princeton and Hope BC. Near by is Cedar Lake. Every winter the lake freezes, and I like and old lover who is another year older stops, and once more my soul volunteers to witness the falling snowflakes teased into responding to those seasonal winter winds.
Combined as one, they all seem to be waltzing as one hypnotic twirling winter cloud, as circling guests of snow-covered mountains surrounding and hovering over the iced hidden lake. My Ma may have passed away a few years ago, but our shared memories revisit me each Christmas. My memories and I still make our solitary way along those familiar highways. But now, when I stop to take my respite, as I find myself facing Cedar Lake, it is as if those snowflakes as winter clouds, and I have become ‘one’. Suspended in the frozen quiet we celebrate life passed and coming as winter dreams.