I think this is my breakthrough painting from this challenge. The image is from a photo shoot I did a few winters ago where I wandered around my backyard taking pics of a Bird of Paradise flower. I think the concept is obvious, in fact I probably didn’t paint it earlier because I felt it was TOO obvious, but now that I’ve actually painted the image, I love it!
My original idea was to photograph the flower in different obviously-Canadian scenes, the flower personifying myself, and to use the reference to paint a series. However, I have lots of other painting ideas and projects, so they sat on my hard-drive biding their time. Now, I can see doing a series of different tropical flowers in snow scenes. And that’s just the tip of the ice-berg.
The original title that came to me was “Self-portrait for Antonio”, because recently I asked my Facebook friends if there was anything they’d like to see me paint during the 30 in 30 Challenge, and that was one suggestion.
Antonio & I met through a mutual artist friend in Paris in December when she & I were exhibiting in the SNBA exhibition at the Louvre. We had our first conversation sitting across from each other at a dinner table in an old Gaulish restaurant with boar heads mounted on the walls. The walls had embedded timbers and the “handles” on the front doors were the horns of some animal. Not really the place for vegetarians. But I digress … from my digressions. It was a private event for the Canadian and American artists participating in the exhibition, and Antonio is one of those people who likes to ask questions to find out what makes a person tick, and I am one of those people who lives for deep, intense conversations like that. It didn’t take him long to reduce me to tears, even though I saw it coming right from the first question.
That’s just who I am, if I feel there is a connection I’m more than willing to open myself up and be vulnerable. I feel that is the only way to learn, to gain the insight that leads to growth – spiritual or otherwise. It’s also why I held myself back from blogging for so many years. I write like I talk and while I might sin by omission, what I do say is usually the truth. The dam has broken though… a side-effect of the Challenge.
So, it was very fitting when Antonio suggested I paint a self portrait. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done one, and the last time I even attempted painting a conceptual self-portrait it was actually a back view (with me painting banana trees, with an elephant on my head, and an acrobat on the elephant. Another concept I decided was too obvious to pursue). I’ve been putting my career goals first in the last few years, going “balls out” and I’ve pretty much regained the 50 lbs that it took me two years – and many miles of running – to lose, so I’m not comfortable staring at my own image right now. When I came across the images of the Bird of Paradise in winter photo shoot, I thought of Antonio’s suggestion and everything fell into place.
This image is part of a deeper stream of thought that I will delve into in a subsequent post, especially if it develops into a series. A major theme for me is search for cultural identity, and I use landscape as a vehicle for this, but I think this painting is the best visual expression of this search that I have created.
I just want to put it out there, for the few awesome individuals who will have read this far (shout out to ma “tribe”!), that I don’t hate living in Canada, and I don’t wish I lived in the Caribbean. I am however, always happy to be hopping on a plane. Some time ago I came across an expression – Third Culture Kid – that explained so much about myself, and it was like coming home somehow. If you’d like to find out if YOU are a TCK, take a look at this great article. And the fact is, the very nature of me being a TCK, means that a significant number of my friends, even virtual ones, are as well!