The other day, while putting together my presentation for the Surrey Art Gallery, I came across some old photos that I had taken of a couple of my self-portrait paintings in progress. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the photos as I actually forgot that this was how I had created the image. My painting, The Return Home, was started in late 2006 and finished in 2007. I had begun the painting in London and brought it back with me to Vancouver. The trip to Vancouver had not actually been a planned permanent return, but it ended up being one, so I finished the painting in Vancouver.
I had been given a piece of oak to try painting on, and taking the size of the panel into consideration, I decided I wanted to create a double self-portrait. I was working with some photographs I had taken, and I had been torn about whether or not I wanted to stay in London, so I had the idea of the double self and the two sides of me – being in two hearts about coming/going. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I was permanently home and would not be returning to London to live, and that was when the background for this image emerged.
It was the year of the giant snow storm in Vancouver and a lot of the trees had fallen down from the early and unexpected snowfall. I felt like the fallen trees reflected how I was feeling at the time, rather dejected about my move back as I wasn’t ready yet to come home. The detailed Florentine pattern in the background was the first elaborate pattern I had painted and I remembered it being a painstaking process but well worth the effort. This was quite a big step forward in my practice, a major stepping stone to the detailed floral patterns now found in many of my pieces.
Another image I dug up on my computer was this photo of the set up from my London studio when I was painting She Wanted To Do More Than Just Pass.
It’s just a little sneak peek into how I was working at the time. This painting was the first part of my “return home”, painted months before I had to leave London, when I still didn’t know where I wanted to go next. It’s interesting to think of these two paintings as bookends to my decision.
These were some of the paintings that I talked about at the panel discussion at the Surrey Art Gallery this past weekend with Eryne Donahue and David Horvitz. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the event, as well as Jordan Strom, the Surrey Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Society Vancouver, for organizing the artist talks and reception. The exhibition, Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses, is on until December 16th.