Amanda had contacted me earlier this year inquiring about my commission work. After some back and forth, she was torn over which building she wanted to have created. Both Sturgeon Hall and this home on Stockwell Avenue hold very special places in her heart. Rather than having to choose — because honestly, who actually only has one singular place that holds space in their heart? I can name countless wonderful places that hold meaning for me - I suggested we do two smaller paintings on wood panels.
I’m always excited to do commission work. I love a challenge and feel like I get to make a deeper connection with someone. The email exchanges that followed, and the reference photos Amanda sent had me filled with excitement, chills and butterflies all at once. I could literally feel how much she loved these places right from the emails.
842 Stockwell Avenue
Typically, I work on at least two or three paintings at a time. However, there was an intense magnetic pull calling me to complete 842 Stockwell first. Amanda had mentioned that she had lived in this home and it held very special meaning for her. She had mentioned her friend was in the band Fields of Green and he had passed away and would like some mementos worked into the painting. When I had asked for a couple of reference photos, she sent me an entire album of pictures! Inside and out of the house, the front yard, and the stunning back garden. All of this had me light right up! I couldn’t wait to get started on this piece, and I thought about it constantly when I wasn’t working on it.
While in the initial stages of sketching the draft, a friend of mine passed away. I spent the entire duration of this painting processing this loss and really through myself into it. It is incredibly hard to have to say goodbye to friend, especially when the loss is so unexpected. Tessa was an inspiration in so many ways, from her yoga practice, her healthy lifestyle, the way she followed her dreams and how she loved her baby girl. She was full of love and sass and could light up an entire room when she walked in. After the funeral, I went home and painted for hours and thought of Tessa watching over me, singing along to Janis Joplin. I was honestly so grateful for the timing of this painting because it truly helped me work through my grief.
There were so many wonderful details in the album of photos Amanda sent, and I probably could have done an entire series on its own of the house. Some homes just hold incredible energy. The placement of ordinary, everyday objects becomes an art in and of itself. For example, the ceramic cats in the window sill, the bikes against the fence and stairs. As an amateur gardener myself, but living in an apartment, I was blown away by the immense lush garden in the back yard — literally a field of green. I imagine sitting on the steps having coffee, or drinking a cold beer in the yard after a good few hours of gardening on sunny May afternoon.
The front yard of the actual house, holds the most magnificent tree, with the largest canopy of green that covers the entire home as you move into summer. In the trunk you’ll find RIP KT in a heart, as well as the Fields of Green logo noted in the foundation of the home. I added the ceramic cats, the bikes, and though I painted the front of the house, I needed to represent the garden some how, so I layered a garden in front of the shed. While none of the reference photos included chairs, I thought they would be a nice little touch, because I honestly can’t think of anything more satisfying than a cold beer in the yard after a successful day of gardening. Knowing the homes musical ties, I added a guitar to the front door. When I sent a progress photo of this piece to Amanda, she made one small request to add a cat somewhere in the painting. In front of the garden by the shed you’ll find “that fat coloured cream guy.”, his name is Dreamer, and he was a frequented the home on a regular basis.
Songs selected for this piece include a mixture of songs that remind me of Tessa and helped me process the loss as well as songs from Fields of Green.
842 Stockwell Avenue - Playlist
1.Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin
2. Back on the Chain Gang - The Pretenders
3. Flash of Light- Fields of Green
4. Trouble - Cage the Elephant
5. Sister Golden Hair - America
6. Frozen In My Shoes - Fields of Green
7. A Liquid Mouth - Fields of Green
8. Above It All - Fields of Green
9. Star Witness - Neko Case
10. Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix
11. Love For My Peggy - Valentino
12. Bye Bye Baby - Janis Joplin