Wednesday 22 January 2020

Kingswood - large painting

Last spring I started a new body of work based on memories of the homes in which I have lived. I discussed the beginnings of this project here and here. I wrote further about this work in relation to printmaking here and again more about it here. But in the summer I began work on the large painting, Kingswood, representing the house in Toronto where I lived for about 18 formative years. The ground is not canvas, but a type of pressed cloth used for domestic blinds, so there is a type of floral watermark design throughout.

I had a lot of research pix on different flowers (hollyhocks, lilac, apple blossoms, and the tiny white hedge flowers whose name I don't remember) as well as floral sketches, and the main composition sketch that I worked from.

I quickly found out that the ground behaved very differently from ungessoed canvas - REALLY soaking up every drop of paint. I worked loosely and thinned the paint out with water and medium (a mix of matte and gloss).

I had already decided on the 3 figures representing various stages of my life: my very young self on my Communion day (though I neglected to include the bridal veil I wore, I was more interested in the fashionable purple cape made for me by my Mum), my teenage self who spent most summers reading on the front steps of the house. and my young adult self who left home. 

This is a large painting, so it was necessary to use the step ladder to reach areas at the top and I had a cushion to kneel on when working in the bottom areas. The composition sketch was affixed to the wall the whole time I was working.

Any marks made would be visible in the finished painting. This whole painting would also be about process, and I was pleased that nothing would be hidden

There were several lilac trees in the backyard - purple and white lilacs - but my especial interest in the lilac in my painting was the heart-shaped leaves. The crabapple tree bore inedible fruit, but provided great ammunition in our "wars" with neighbourhood friends (a laneway between streets was adjacent to our house, so it was a great fort from which passersby could be pelted),

A plaid shirt and "painter" pants were my favourite clothing articles for a few years in my late teens-early 20s until art school got the better of my fashion sense and long flowy skirts were replaced by punk and neo-punk black.

As planned, I finished and signed the painting by mid-December.

Kingswoodacrylic on pressed cloth, approx 228 cm x 200 cm, 2019

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