In the days following his abrupt departure, I began to paint. At first, abstracts on paper, with deep inks, soft pastels and metallic pigments. Similar to the body of work I had created in the late summer of 2018. What should have been a cathartic healing release wound up making me feel worse. The further I dug into this new body of work; the deeper I crawled into my own head, down a rabbit hole of misery.
What had worked for me last year was certainly not going to work for me in this particular instance. I quickly realized that if I continued down this dark, moody, inky abyss I would probably never pull myself out of the state I was in. So, rather than forcing it, I let the dust settle. I gathered wood panels and new paints, and spent an entire evening playing with colour palettes on index cards. My body craved movement, so I grabbed my camera and hit the streets to find new things to inspire me. Painting ideas were sketched at Doc’s Pub while I guzzled coffee, and ate veggie burgers. Once I got home, rounds of abstract underpainting began and the outlines of houses were developed.
It wasn’t until the second or third painting that I had noticed a predominant theme. Each piece had a significant amount of pink to it. Pastel pinks, medium magentas, vibrant rose shades. So many shades of pink, in the sky, the vinyl siding, the mountains, the flowers, fences and trees. So much pink.
Colours have the ability to evoke different feelings and there are volumes of articles and studies on the affect certain colours have on a person’s mental and emotional state. For pink, a variety of words come up; love, happiness, nostalgia, romance, hope, affection, sweetness, nice, and harmony to name a few.
For me, and at that particular time working on the early stages of this project, I found the pink shades to be deeply soothing and healing. It is so grey and gloomy in Kelowna during January and February, even with the milder winter that El Nino has so kindly graced us with this year. Those shades of pink helped me work through winter and slowly, layer by layer painted my heart back together and helped me heal.
Some themes continue through this new body of work that have been prevalent in my previous series and stand alone pieces. As always, detailed colourful tree trunks and rocks, a circular full moon/sun figure in the skyline - sun or moon it’s up for your interpretation. The houses themselves can also represent the ideal life I’ve been yearning for over the past decade, to grow together with my partner in an old house loaded with character. Other symbols reflect my situation at that time. A singular tree stands tall and proud on 2045 Long Street, strength in independence. While a singular chair sits on the porch of 650 Burne Avenue, signifying living in solitude. The haphazardly placed coffee cup at 818 Wilson, represents me losing my mind at the time. Be it the weather, a state of grief or just pre-mature old age (all those party days from my 20’s catching up with me) - I had been misplacing things all over the place. My rose quartz bracelets left abandoned in not one but two separate office kitchens, losing my tea cup in my own apartment, forgetting postal codes or which locker was mine at the gym.
Yet, heart shaped cut outs appear at 818 Wilson. Despite being a hopeless romantic, I have never been interested in heart symbols. I have created anatomical heart art yes, but I’m attracted to the challenge of drawing the detailed veins and arteries. Heart shapes and symbols have always seemed cheesy and much too girly to me. There are no heart shaped necklaces in my jewelry box or heart patterned dresses in my closet. Perhaps the universe was showing me symbols of what I needed to feel whole again.
Examined closely, one can find “M + J” hidden somewhere in each piece. At times very faint, be it in a rock, a tree trunk or planter. Honouring what was, and what will never be.
I was so determined to finish this series before I left on my trip, and at the time, had no official home or exhibit lined up. I knew deep down I needed to finish this series in order to heal my heart and close the door.
Reflecting back on what happened prior to this relationship’s abrupt end, I never once lost sight of who I was, art continued to be my focal point. If anything, I’m stronger and much more grounded now than I was a couple years ago.
While I’m not one to air my dirty laundry out in public, I feel like this series wouldn’t be authentic if I wasn’t completely honest with how it emerged. I debated for a few weeks on whether to write anything at all. So much was omitted in those original drafts because the guy who left, won’t be reading this and everything I had needed to say went out in a handwritten letter months ago to no avail.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter who or what happened; it’s the art created in the aftermath that matters. And boy, am I ever proud of these six pieces.
Here’s to feeling whole again and embracing cute pink hearts.
This series will be on display from March to May 2019 at the Regional Okanagan Rutland Library Branch 301 Hwy. 33 West, Kelowna, BC V1X 1X8. Email me for purchase inquiries.