On Friday, June 2nd I traveled with a friend into Toronto to explore the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I have seen so many art exhibits over my lifetime (Klimpt, Van Gogh, Lawren Harris (lots of Group of Seven), Mystical Landscapes (which had so many famous artists) and this was by far the largest, and most enlightening for me. Also, the first woman artist where the exhibit was fully her own (even the Emily Carr exhibit I saw in Vancouver, was paired with modernist artist Wolfgang Paalen).
We were not allowed to photograph any of the art, so I don’t have a whole lot to share visually. Just a few key points to share about her work, that have re-inspired me.
- She worked with tons of charcoal, chalk and oil pastels on paper.
- She has an amazing ability to make oil paints look like water colours.
- Her lines are both soft and hard, crisp/clear yet blended so perfectly into her subjects and compositions (she played with abstract and expressionism, and created some very surreal paintings).
- She painted in Canada, Quebec’s Gaspé!
HER LIFE AND WORK:
I knew so little about this woman before the show. She is an artist who others have said my work reminds them of, and I never took it as much of a compliment (all I was familiar with were her flower paintings, which I always find a bore). It wasn’t until I saw her “Red Hills” painting at the Mystical Landscapes exhibit, that she really intrigued me:
After this I started reading more about her, and her love of nature, the desert, and her connection to the earth. Her move to Ghost Ranch later in life is what really resonated for me (I can very much relate from my personal experience of Jasper- something about the air, the land, the lines, the energy… it feels like home, like I belong there. But to move there? Not yet, haha…) – she is incredibly strong, brave, and so independent. One of her famous quotes:
“I have been absolutely terrified of everything in my life, but I never let it stop me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
So few people do what they want to do in life, yet here is a woman, born around the turn of the century, who uprooted to New York, married a photographer, and traveled. After her husbands death she uprooted again and moved, alone, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lived almost an entire century (1887 – 1986), painting and never afraid of living life on her terms.
MY PERSONAL INSPIRATION
This exhibit reminded me of the value of different forms of exploring in art- I used to do a lot of oil pastels and line drawings, but moved away from those materials as my paintings started to sell. My focus moved fully to acrylic on canvas. I can feel myself transitioning back to oil pastels, and charcoal sketching. I miss working with the simplicity of lines on paper. Georgia’s work looked so stunning framed, that I’m inspired to try.
Since my last show in December, I had already decided I wanted to start “softening” my lines in my paintings. However, I have been struggling with this. Once I saw this exhibit, something clicked for me. I could physically see and visualize how Georgia was able to create contrast and depth through sharp lines, and blending. I’ve been playing with this and you might be able to see the difference between last years painting “Silver Sun, Lake Superior” where I was starting to soften and blend, and this new one I’m exploring of “Killarney, Georgian Bay.”
I am feeling a bit desperate to start working in oils. The more exhibits I see, and more professional work I observe, and the more I paint with “sticky acrylics” the more frustrated I become. I’m still unsure how or when I will transition, but for now I will keep working with my acrylics on canvas, and explore more oil pastels on paper.
ANNUAL SUMMER ART SHOW – Vast Lands
So the ball is rolling for the next art show happening Saturday, July 15, 2017 in Port Hope, Ontario. I will be displaying with Jennifer Trefiak again, and we are very excited to share our new works with you. Please drop by if you can, between 1-5pm.
“Vast Lands” will include paintings from a variety of Canadian Landscapes, with Trefiak’s focus on beaches and skies, and my focus on Badlands (Alberta) and Georgian Bay (Ontario). I am trying to figure out how to make a 2018 Calendar for special orders too! If you have a favourite painting you’d like included in this project, let me know ASAP.
We look forward to seeing you there!