Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's In A Name

" On The Home Stretch " (sold)
24x30 o/c
included in " Happy Childhood " by Mary Ann Laing
April 21st through to May 5th
West End Gallery, Victoria.
Well, I made it.  I didn't paint those 20 I unrealistically set my goal at, but I did come through with the 10 I said I could paint in 4 months.  Now I know.  Now I know I can't paint 20 paintings in 4 months.  I wonder how I ever played along in those online 30 works in 30 days games.  That wasn't serious painting, tho, that was play with a time clock ticking, totally different. This has been an adventure for me in so many ways.  Each day I chose to get into that studio and back at it.  I didn't get up at the crack of dawn, but I did paint until after midnight.  8 hour shifts have to work for the individual.  I used to always paint at night while G was at work and once the kids were in bed, been through a lot of life changes along the way while I dabbed away with my Number 2 brush.  Maybe if I used a bigger brush I'd have 20 paintings.  But then they wouldn't look like I painted them, so I stuck with my own program.  I wish I had a dime for every time I told myself.. not now, Mary Ann, this is not the right time to try something different.  Another lesson learned, listen to myself, or, make sure to listen to the right things of my own thoughts I need to listen to, yeah, that's it.
I look at this show and think of my title for it.  Happy Childhood.  It really does all start there, how we feel about things, how we understand what living is supposed to feel like.  I know I am blessed with a happy childhood.  The impact of that continues to hit me on various levels.  Since Mom died two years ago, I think about our entire life together as mother and daughter.  I know our own memories are important to only us, no one can tell you your own memories are wrong.  Not the way we feel about them that is.  I may have filled in some blanks of some where's and why's, but I have no doubt about my feelings about my life.  A happy and well loved life.  Sure, there have been unbearable tragedies.  We were a family of a unique structure due to inherited traits, in my opinion.  I recall extraordinary chaos with no other sounds except shrieking laughter.  As well as rage and anger, a full spectrum of emotions, all of which seemed okay, we were strong, we survived, and boy did we ever have so much fun.  I cherish my childhood memories.  I think that's a good tribute to both of my parents.
Over the last 10 years I have been given the good luck to be able to go back to the place where I lived for my first 11 years of life.  I was able to return to that village called Bamberton, the company village that housed the families of the employees, like Dad, who worked in the cement plant.  I have accumulated hundreds of photos of this village that to me, still breathes the joy I remember as a happy kid.  I remember asking my dad when he was still with us(30 something years ago) about me going to the village to take photos to paint.  It's always been something I felt I needed to do as an artist.  This is many years ago when the plant was being phased out, and the village vacated, and the houses either being torn down, or removed to other places around Vancouver Island.  Dad told me then that I didn't want to see the village like that.  He said it was sad and depressing, not anything I would want to paint.  I remember thinking then, it wasn't the physical state of what the village looked like that I wanted to paint.  At that time, I was learning my own way of painting, a bit of a sponge taking from others, not really doing my own thing.  But in my heart, I knew what the purpose of being an artist really meant.  It has to come from inside.
I suspect most artists go to their easels with their own life story.  Viewers may see something different.  That's because we really only understand how we feel inside our own hearts about things, not someone else's heart.  The ability to connect to others through exploring my own feelings never loses it's magic for me.  I want my story to stir someone else's story.  I want my love of colour and music and playing and, and.. I want all those things I pour into my canvas to stir something personal in the viewer.  I want to be understood.
Do I ask for too much in life?  Probably.  It isn't easy.  These past 4 months have been stressful and tiring.  I have been buried in thoughts and paint fumes, at times carrying incredible guilt because I couldn't do Easter.  I have played over and over bad memories, self doubting trudging through uncertainties I can't even explain myself.  I have learned that what we see and feel often is compromised when extreme fatigue takes over.  I have felt like the child at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, who loses sight of all the magic around them when they collapse into a crying jag from exhaustion.  I get that.  I had a few moments of losing sight completely of any beauty and magic, knowing that once I had some sleep it would return, which it did.  I thought over and over about how much time I was spending on painting, how tired I was, how much work work work I was doing.  Then, I'd think of those construction workers on a crew building condominium towers for days and weeks and months.  Tiny dots that looked like ants on an ant hill, people who were putting in 10 hour days, standing on scaffolds, covered in dust.  Wouldn't they laugh out loud at my whining over my exhaustion from having to sit at an easel with my Number 2 brush for hours at a time?  Besides that, I wanted to do it, so stop whining, Mary Ann.
So many thoughts, now I have been set free, for a bit that is.  I can practice my singing properly again so I don't get "the look" at choir that I conclude means my sound could be better..(grains of salt, I'm smiling)  Now I can blabble away on bloggety lands again.  I took down the Christmas decorations today, okay... kidding, but there were a few still to be put away.  I schmoozed and puttered.  But I missed having a painting to go look at.  I am missing the call to paint.  I have another 10 canvasses waiting to be filled with so many things.  I may just go start one tonight, keep the wheels turning.
A big THANK YOU to Amy and the Hudons and staff at West End Gallery for seeing something in my work that they liked.  I so appreciate their encouragement, their patience, and making it easy for me to work with a gallery.  Gallery owners/managers are truly the unsung heroes, thank you SO MUCH!!

Mary Ann

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