Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Never Tear Us Apart

As I’m sure you can imagine, one of the greatest moments that an artist can have is when someone asks for a commission. To have someone say, “I’ve seen the kind of paintings that you create and I would love for you to paint a picture for me” makes me glad for the history I’ve created and I get excited thinking about the future that I will soon be realizing.

Earlier this spring, I was visiting with my friends Chris and Christine. I had brought a print of an artpeace that I wanted them to have. We talked about the print and other artworks that they had also recently acquired. Soon, Christine began telling me that she had been searching for an artist to paint a portrait of Chris’ mom. She had passed away a few years ago – after a long battle with the big ‘C’ – and Christine wanted to have a painting created in her memory. Of course, I said that I would be deeply honoured to be that artist!

I told them that I didn’t want to create ‘the usual’ kind of portrait with Chris’ mom simply positioned in the middle of the canvas. I wanted to create an image that had feelings in it, with something going on, a happy moment in her life. It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.

I found a photo that had both Chris and his mom in it. I was told that the photo was taken during Chris’ mom’s last birthday party. This made me realize what a significant moment this was. They were sitting side by side with Chris’ mom leaning towards him, slightly, with a simple background of leaves and trees. When I looked at this photo my mind was making the necessary croppings and soon I could envision the final painting…

The background took me close to two weeks to finish – working in my spare time and on weekends. By using this simple pointillism technique I was able to create an interesting backdrop that tends to fade into the distance, allowing the subject of the painting to take a more dominant position.

I worked very intensively to create the colours for the two faces. By adding just the slightest hints of black, the colours lost their magnificence and brightness to become more subdued and ‘Earthy’. The colours maintained their auras and composure to reflect a joy that held a deep, radiant mood.

The title of this painting is ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. Some of you may recognize this from a song title by INXS – off their Kick album, released in the mid 80’s. I often like to use the titles from Rock’n’Roll songs for my paintings. Since Chris would never want to lose the memories of his mother, I thought that this title would be appropriate. Also – LOL – the painted texture used on Chris’ neck and a small part of his mother’s hair are joined, thus making it impossible to separate them – LOL! I always like to slip a bit of humour into everything that I do.

This painting was one of the most challenging ones that I had ever attempted. Just two years ago, I would never have thought of creating a face with purples, oranges, greens and pinks. I’m not sure if this change has occurred because I’m becoming bolder as an artist, after these many fourteen years or if I’m simply trying to challenge myself to explore all the countless relationships that exist between colours.

Just last winter, I had created another commissioned painting of five dogs…

… and I think that this commission saw the birth of this new ‘Jim’ style of painting that seems to me emerging from my brain. These next few years should prove to be very interesting as I feel I’m becoming addicted to try to understand these new coloured relationships.

With each new painting, I push myself to explore this fascinating world of art and illusion. I could never find contentment to simply find a comfort zone to create in – I’m sure that I would become bored very quickly. If I ever found that I had created a painting that didn’t make me nervous, that didn’t make me question my ability, that didn’t fill me full of doubt, I’m sure that I would never again feel the pleasures of relief, joy and amazed satisfaction that I feel at the end of each progressive journey!


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