With an exhibition in Qualicum Beach and a lull in my painting, I am using the break to revisit old pieces, a few of which have been in storage since I closed my Okanagan studio in 2005. I was happy with the piece below: “Summer’s Wreath” 48″x36″. It was part of an exhibition I paintedof indigenous plants after winning an Award for my Okanagan Arrowleaf painting — purchased by the City of Kelowna. These Oregon Grape grew wild on my property – and at time, as part of the theme, I was happy with the piece. On re-examiniation, after a long break and change in direction, I find it feels empty so intend to populate it with some lively birds.
Am just back from taking my exhibition “Birds in my Life” to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. It consists of 26 paintings on cradled wooden panels, in sizes from 8″x10″ to 11″x14″, which all fit nicely into a suitcase, making the move a simple one. It was with great pleasure that I handed my pieces to Iliana Hester, the vivacious artistic director at TOSH (The Old Schoolhouse gallery). I felt very pampered not doing a thing until arriving back two days later for a busy opening with an enthusiastic audience, live piano music, and sunlight pouring in the windows. I am now back home – until March 15th when I go return to collect the pieces.
A wonderful four day holiday in sunshine every day, with delightful new people. No new drawings but a promise to post fortnightly from now up, whilst at home.
Early birds designs are humorous, inspiring and irresistible. They prompt me to paint my own versions, setting them in green or other scenery. I began these studies as an art student in Peru, my work influenced then by pre-Inca designs found in pottery, intricate gold figurines and Paracas textiles (seen below).
My recent work grew from days in Britain, drawing medieval bench ends in East Anglian churches, for a book: Carved in Oak* launched with an exhibition of my drawings at Wingfield Barns, Suffolk UK. in 2011- Now I search for birds in ancient textiles, ceramics, paintings in museums, churches, medieval building, illuminated manuscripts in UK and Europe.
Many years ago, we stayed with good friends in Rio de Janeiro. Visiting friends puts a different emphasis on what one chooses to draw as time becomes influenced by diverse activities and people. Making memories.
After a night in Yakima, we headed south to the Columbia Gorge.
Driving south with my daughter, we were struck by ways the landscape varied every hour: scenic lakes and soft hills giving way to arid, rolling dry grasslands, then a meandering river.
At the end of my travels, I sit drawing, in a peaceful garden in Pinamar unwinding with a pencil, thinking about Salta and all I have seen. Next day, with paints I sit under this pine, listening to parrots chattering and squawking. These small green birds are wild. In summer, they party in a cherry tree once lower branches are picked and fruit has begun to ferment. The result: rowdy drunken parrots falling onto the lawn; their large messy nests must be filled with hung-over birds.
We descend from the harsh heights above Purmamarca, into a softer friendlier area, leading to Salinas. Wild donkeys live here, happily grazing, descendants of burros set free by the Spanish army drove mule trains, following the edge of the Andes south. They graze here as Salinas is pure salt, refreshed every year by rains washing fresh salt to evaporate here. The land can literally blind one. The road cuts straight across.
“Bajo la luz y se llevo todo.” The light dimmed and everything was swept away … when a storm washed out the road to Tilcara. The intense reds and ochre are complimented by the greens, make the land sing. Yet as I celebrate these colours, I am told this is a harsh, challenging place to live.
We climbed up from Purmamarca: Purma atop – marca is settlement. Mesas here are eroded into gothic cathedral-like shapes. They are bare of animals, we are told. Ines is sitting quietly in the back. At the summit, I ask how she is doing. OK, she smiles but she has a touch of siroche. Selfishly I feel fine.