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An altitude of gratitude

Fresh off the easel - 24x12, oil on cradled birch panel, this is "My Cup Runneth Over".

I've spent parts of the past year preparing for a solo exhibition. The show "From Palate To Palette: The Contemporary Food Still Life" features nearly two dozen paintings - a dozen of which had never been shown outside the studio before this show.

The end of summer was a blur of working, reworking and putting final touches on the last of the pieces. What I expected, when it was all done, was to feel a sense of relief. There was some of that, of course - but more so was a tremendous sense of gratitude.

So many artists never get the chance to have a solo show. I am very thankful for the opportunity. Gurus and scientists alike say one of the keys to happiness is the cultivation of gratitude. Not every day has brought success on this uncertain trail that is my art 'career'. But even when things aren't working out as hoped, the tremendous support that I get from my better half, loved ones, friends and collectors makes feeling thankful an easy frame of mind to achieve. No matter the altitude to climb, scaling the mountain is a lot less daunting when you know someone is there to help you get up should you trip and fall. If you have that, give thanks.

The solo show project having been put to bed, thoughts of gratitude were foremost in my mind when time came to look for subject matter for a new painting after a brief hiatus from the easel. My cup runneth over... My 'process' - for lack of a better word - when looking for something to paint is often driven by a sense of immediacy. What am I thinking about or feeling at this very moment?

I've been fortunate to be exposed to the works of some amazing artists here in Vancouver. Better still, I've had the opportunity to study with some of them - including Mark Anthony, a graphite master draftsman. His love of renaissance art is a constant source of inspiration. One of the foundational skills artists in the renaissance had to master was the ability to paint draped fabric convincingly. The examples I've seen in Mark's classes have made a huge impact - so much so that a few months ago, I bought a large piece of satin.

My intention is to eventually explore figurative work - the human form draped with fabric. But, as it happens, I'm not ready to let the still-life genre drift away just yet because... well, as Sammy Davis Jr. sang "I've gotta be me". Playing around with the composition for this piece, I ended up putting in the chrome teapot because - well, refer to the previous sentence.

I realize this painting tips over into the 'surrealist' realm a bit but, I feel, not so much that the viewer will be thrown off. My hope is that this image communicates the idea of abundance and gratitude in a way that words cannot. Part of being an artist, after all, is allowing yourself to experiment and explore and see where things end up.

So far people have been willing to come along for the ride. Just one more reason why "My Cup Runneth Over".

See you around the studio.

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