Pivotal Event #1 “Your paintings are cool.”
At first, I didn’t know that I was a painter. I had liked art classes as a child and had taken some watercolour classes in my teens, but by my early 20s, I had packed away my brushes and paints. My real love was black and white portrait photography fuelled by learning how to develop my own film at the end of high school.
However, it was painting, not photography, that was enlivened by my emotional response to external circumstances. When I was 23 years old, I moved from a warm-hearted small town where I could easily meet people to a large city, which seemed cold and lonely to a newcomer, and where the only person I knew was my boyfriend. It was a time of a lot of uncomfortable feelings for me–while I was very happy to be with my boyfriend, I missed my family and friends back home. On top of that, I was pinched for finances. I had only a small amount of savings to hold me over until I found work, and I felt somewhat trapped and limited in what I could see and do.
Even as I longed for connection, I was also longing for privacy–I was sharing a room in a house full of university students (some of whom are close friends today) and I felt as though there was no place to ground myself. The few tubes of paint and brushes I brought with me “called” to me so I dug them out and looked for surfaces I could paint. I painted on cardboard and on old pieces of plywood I found in the garage and out back in the alley. I painted on old sheets and pieces of pressboard. And I propped those wildly coloured abstract paintings up around my room to give me some sense of belonging there.
One day, one of my housemates stopped by my bedroom and took a look at my creations. “Your paintings are cool,” he said casually. “Why don’t you put them up around the house?” My paintings are cool? I hadn’t thought those splashes of colour might be something anyone else would care to see. I pulled them out of my bedroom and set about displaying them throughout the house.
Photo above: Blenheim Series 03, one of my earliest series, circa 2004