This photo was taken in Southport, Newfoundland by
my dear friend Peggy Hogan who used her hatbox pinhole
I am inspired by old rotten boats and wharves and stages. They sadden me. A life now gone. A time I remember as a child and young adult. Our family would drive 4 or more hours to spend a week or two at my Great Granparent’s house in Newtown, Bonavista Bay, Newoundland.
The drive was horrendous enough fro me, a kid who got car sick. I would be popping gravol and stopping for the sometimes, head over knees, outside the car. We didn’t wear seat belts then so I would lie in the back, head on a pillow and count the telephone wires. Half of the trip was dirt road and the dust would be coming in through the vents of the car. Everyone smoked back then so I would be nauseous from that, fingers out the window to get fresh air. When we arrived I would, as readily as I could, start my adventure investigating the landscape. Across the road from Nan’s house was a bog that went on forever. I loved the deep dark dank and sweet earthy smell and the springiness under my shoes. Now and then I would go down in the bog far enough to get my feet wet. The beach was close and I would delight in the group of Newfoundland ponies running wild. It was quite flat in Newtown. Lots of flat rocks to jump onto at the water’s edge. I would take a net down to Pop’s wharf. I’d walk the slippery rocks underneath where the eels liked to live and I would catch them. Of course I let them go too. I loved the salty breeze and the smell from the cutting up of the fish in the stages.
That’s all gone now. I don’t think there is a working wharf there, there may be. Lots of new houses gone up as summer homes. No smells and sounds of fishermen coming in with their catch. Much of the coast here is now like that.
This new piece is a rotten boat left in the water. Gone to live with the fishes. No caring loving hands to guide it to work. This is the under painting. I like to work in acrylic until I get the image where I want it. Layers of tranparents, shadows and light. Then the oils come out.
I thought I was done with this piece. Still the background was bothering me. Too vivid and bright. I didn’t feel the mood I like to portray in my work. I spoke to an artist friend and asked his opinion.
Darken the back, like you do with the others. I had considered this all too briefly a few days before. I took his advice and as soon as I started to work on it I knew it was right and my piece would tie up for me.
So. This is it and it’s at the gallery. Thanks Victoria for my title, “Carcass”
I have been living with this piece glaring at me every time I enter my studio. Something not right. I am sure if you ask any artist they will tell you it happens from time to time. The piece was cold to me. The boat was not speaking. I awoke today to see an image posted on Facebook with rocks that spoke loudly. I loved the blue hues. I decided those were the rocks I wanted. The change in the mood now is noticeable. The image I painted has a warmer feeling and depth and the boat is now central. I am sure you can notice the difference. There is still work to do but not much now. Some highlights on the rocks.
Well I am as close as it will get with this boat piece. I had to darken down the rocks to help the boat punch out. I darkened down the bottom of the hills behind also to give it a bit of depth, as unreal as it is. It’s all about mood, lighting, subject. What is the first impression before the critic gets in the way.
Often after spending hours on an area of a painting I will become dismayed. It just doesn’t work. Out with the turps and cloth and off with the work. Sometimes in doing so I am left with ghost images that speak to me. As in abstract painting. The rocks in this piece are being stubborn. I want to give them life but not so much as to take away from the boat. My work is known for it’s deep surreal shadows and highlights. I need the rocks to have the same sense of mystery as the boat does but not compete with the light. At this stage they are too dark for my liking. Some highlights are necessary. So…On with the background baroque or easy listening and out with the brushes.
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