I have been a professional artist for over 30 years. I am a figurative mixed media painter and printmaker but within this foundation is a quest for the psychodynamics of the work – the need to see beyond and yet, realize the moment and uncover the layers. My subject matter ranges from still life, landscape, theatre, and personalized interiors- I am deeply moved by color and light and form. You can visit my online portfolio and biography by clicking here. While my artistic adventures have taken me to so many exciting venues, recently for a solo show in Florence, Italy and for the past 10 years as the unofficial artist of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and now, as artist in residence at the Banff Centre, my heart remains where I live, in Montreal, Quebec.
The sweltering, humid, over powering heat did nothing to stop me!! I imagined I was Lara Croft in the Jungle Temple and sketched the giant roots as they overwhelmed the towers. I climbed to the top of Angkor Wat, I talked to the monks who posed for me and learnt about the here and now of Buddism. I found dancers before a performance in costumes and they allowed me to photograph them. I searched for the lotus ponds in bloom and visited a butterfly farm. My photos bear witness as do my water color sketches. I was in heaven.
This was to be one of our last days of our glorious trip. Please look at my entries starting from Nov. 2, (there’s 7 in all), to experience my complete journey in Vietnam and Cambodia. And stay tuned for my next blog entry where I will show how the photo references and experiences I have written about will make their presence known in my new work. Here I will present an anatomy of a painting: my process. And now – time to create!!!
On the bucket list of the peak experiences of life is Angkor Wat. This complex of temples in Siem Reap makes an ancient art lover of everyone, and I was overwhelmed. The scope and magnitude of these temples underscored that beauty is still beauty over the centuries. From the intricate carvings of the dancing women in sandstone to the rows of elephants and lions and demons, to the towers embedded with engravings, all punctuated with monks in saffron coloured robes, I couldn’t get enough.
Saigon is a bustling noisy city yet within China Town is a beautiful temple called “Thien Hau” that is brimming with carvings and incense coils and tranquility. I loved the smoke wafting around the reds and golds.
And as for the Mekong Delta – it’s a jungle out there!! More floating markets and boats painted with dragon’s eyes for protection and the warm smiles of women washing clothes in the Mekong River and children wanting to talk to us. The scenery and the faces must combine into yet another painting eventually. My water colors are my notes.
And yet, Hoi An was another place to enrich the senses – a 400 year old Japanese bridge, merchant’s houses passed along the generations and colourful lateens every where you go! I couldn’t stop making small watercolors.
How can I describe the mists and mountains of Halong Bay? I sat while the sun set in the bow of the Jasmine Junk, the river boat where we slept for one night, and painted with water colors the impossible hazy purples and greys. This must become a larger painting some how. Not to mention the long green stretches of the rice paddies we saw along the way before boarding.
On the way through the country side before the flight to Hue, one of this artist’s dreams came true – a trip to a small village where they make wood cut prints. I examined the technique with the master carver of these wood blocks and learnt some thing new -again!!
This trip with my daughter Tamara was to be our long awaited adventure – for her, food, interaction with the people, and scenery, and for me – culture, temples, pagodas, and national costumes! Our transit through Narita, Japan gave us a taste of what was to come… I was not only to be a tourist, but about to embark on an artistic adventure that would inform my work in the future.
What series to plan first? How about brides posing in multi-colored gowns in the centre of Hanoi, while women are chopping off fish heads to sell in the many vibrant markets all around the city? The local markets have the freshest of the fresh, from herbs to eel to rice products. The noise, the mayhem, the colors!! Or the hoards of motorcycles and scooters that bombard the streets without any regard to lights, stop signs, or pedestrians. No yielding, no rational order, yet all orchestrated as in a slow ballet of the Hanoi traffic. (Credit for the “slow ballet” phrase to our cook book author, restauranteur, and guide Daniel Hoyer @welleatenpath.com.) And then to top it all off, a traditional water puppet show! And I had begun my watercolors as memories of the atmosphere, the smells and the colors…