It was a small paperback book about artists and their studios that affected me immensely. The book presented an eclectic list of now famous artists in their studios. The images of the artists working and relaxing, serious and yet playful took me into their world. Their many paint tubes were scattered and mangled, the brushes and canvases were covered with paint and their intimate world of creation was inspiring to a 16 year old. This was a world that was foreign and yet compelling. The black and white photos recorded an era, like a documentary film, revealing the lives of great world figures. These artists became my mentors and heros. Within those pages, my creative fire was lit and through the years the embers would never go out.
It was the end of the 60’s, this was an exciting and unique time. It seemed like everyone I knew was looking for new ideas of expression. Something new was in the air and self expression was utmost in my heart. This was when my personal statement in art started to emerge but not knowing how to use paints, I played with pastel and charcoal. Although life was full of struggle in school and the structured path was failing, then a new art class was introduced into the last year of my high school, I excelled with joy. I did not see the connection then as I just wanted out of school. My anti-social ways were strong but the excitement and possibilities that art offered pushed me into the next step. Art was expressive, this was what really excited me. There was some unknown destination I needed to explore. But what and how?
"I'm going to an art school", is what a friend said one summer night outside the DQ, and you can go. All I needed was a portfolio. I was so encourraged by his remarks. I practiced and prepaired samples of my artwork so to be excepted into art school. Initially my goal was to render the form, to copy paintings from books and make a recognizable likeness. Those influential artists that excited my vision were known as the Impressionists and they did wonders by expressing every-day-life scenes. Their paintings were energized with light and colour, they were showing the world a new way to see. They had invented a new language. Each mark and colour had a life of its own, and expressed joy and excitement. This was an uplifting and personal view of the artist and of humanity. I was searching for this joy to create. This was what I craved for.
The FLQ revolution was always in the news, soldiers stood gard with machine guns just across the street from the Museum School of Art where I attended classes. The Super Realists show in the museum next door to the school had a great influence on me. I marveled in their detailed renderings. They captured my excitement and showed the way to a new visual language. The alternative was abstract painting and that was too advanced for me, so I thought. But that view was to change later. After three years of art school and personal success I ventured out. Now the violent revolution was over, life and culture endured. The museum and galleries prospered and they were once again the vibrant heart of the city.
I found work at an advertising studio and later went into printing graphics as a fulltime graphic artist using new artistic tools... pens and rulers. I enjoyed working with cameras, film and printing plates. In the evenings I developed realistic watercolour and egg tempras and headed along the path of the super realists. My goal was to express the observations of everyday life. My art world was to be as the realists viewed the world, and this offered new mentors like Hopper and Wyeth. I viewed painting as a more realistic and controlled form of expression with
This painting was exciting for a while but as the years went on this became like a ball and chain rather than a freedom of expression. As time passed the newness and excitiement of art seemed lost, the road of dreams were a faded memory. Graphic work was now with computer with eletronic digital brushes. Somehow constant stress and illness eventually go hand-in-hand. Indeed the times had changed in Montreal. It was time to move west.
I painting west coast scenes and rode my vintage motorcycle on many curved roads. Suddenly life can take a drastic turn and can change quickly. Serious illness has one such effect. But out of this can come so much good and I was blessed with that outcome. I changed my awareness and my outlook was to live each day like it was the last. It was not the time to return to art, my energy was still low. I worked as a freelance graphic designer working from my home office. I also volunteered and helped give birth of a non-profit organization whos focus was healing and with this became more of a self-awareness. I embraced life and continue to pursue my path.
One day the time seemed right to get back into art. Out with a friend for a coffee we noticed a local artist was teaching oils. I had never really explored oil painting, that was the catalyst I needed for the next step.
To be continued.