Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 28

Bird out of Paradise, 10"x8", acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. $150.
Bird out of Paradise, 10″x8″, acrylic on canvas, © 2014 Donna Grandin. Sold

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!







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4 thoughts on “Daily Painting Challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days. Day 28”

  1. Hi Donna – I’m so enjoying reading your blog posts. I decided this weekend to check out all the many artists that I had missed through the 30 days because I was so busy painting and uploading and posting… Your art is beautiful! I used to live in Hawaii, so your paintings remind me of that tropical paradise of my youth. Then I saw you were from St. Lucia, I went to High School in Switzerland with a guy who built a resort there. Small world and then of course I laughed at the TCK. I can sort of relate, but not quite. Anyway, I agree with Leslie, you are an amazing writer!!! And artist!!!

    1. Thanks Karin, I’m so glad you visited! Comments like yours and Leslie’s make me glad I decided to release my inner writer. I usually try to keep her under lock and key because she can be so chatty! But denying her is to deny a key part of who I am … I thought of myself as a writer long before I thought of myself as an artist. Although as it turns out, the most interesting thing I might have to write about, is being an artist!
      The guy you went to school with, was his name Nick? St. Lucia is a small island, I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents (who still live there) know him.

      1. No, his name is Pascal. I think the name of the resort was Jalousie. I only found this out a couple of years ago, when I found out he had written a book. Do you think your parents know him?

        I’m glad I came back today to see your new painting. I checked the place below the comments so I would get notified if you commented, but that didn’t happen. 🙁

        But I will keep checking back to see your comment back to me. My website is knaylorpaintings.com, if you would like to come on over and visit me. 🙂

        1. Hi Karin, I’ll ask, but even if they don’t know him directly, they’ll know people in common … it’s a small island. Jalousie Plantation is now called Sugar Beach Resort, it’s a big deal in St. Lucia, located in a UNESCO World Heritage site, and last year actor Matt Damon & wife rented it out to renew their vows.
          Not sure why you weren’t notified about my reply, it’s supposed to work automatically. I will take another look at your website, I thought I’d left a comment there, but maybe it got lost – it was a busy month!

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