A painter can sometimes keep it simple and say that the painting painted itself. On occasion, this may even be the case. But not for this 40 x 60 inch canvas. It came with intentions that were sparked by a conversation with David Sandum, a Swedish painter and print maker living in Norway. He is also the author of the award-winning memoir I’ll Run Till the Sun Goes Down. We have been colleagues and friends for more than half a dozen years, or at least as much as one can be when living an ocean apart. The context for this painting was a dialogue following the latest in a series of terrorist attacks, this time it was Nice, France. The anger, bewilderment and confusion was felt bone deep. When one is a painter, there often seems to be only one thing that can be done in a situation like this – paint. So, I made a commitment to do a painting while meditating about World Peace. My next work was a large seascape from my recent travels to Prince Edward Island. It seemed a fitting subject for this exercise. Here is the resulting canvas from these painting meditations that took me several sessions….
Blooming Point PEI a meditation on World Peace – 40 x 60 inch oil on canvas
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In David Weale’s book, Whatever You Say – The talk of Islanders 1975-2005, he tells us about a mother on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island who use to warn her children to never to turn their back on the ocean. Upon finishing this painting, I believe we can also say “never turn your back on World Peace” because, like the sea, World Peace is unpredictable and, if we do not have one part of our being paying attention, at all times, we can find ourselves in real trouble. We imagine we know both the sea and World Peace. We believe we can navigate these every-changing landscapes without scars, tragedy and loss. But mostly, we only think we know our shadow selves, the dark side that is within each of us and part of the collective character of humanity. We fool ourselves into believing that the horror is from elsewhere, from an “other” that is separate from us. With every wave that meets the shore, the sea demonstrates how this is not so. The land and the sea are both part of the same whole, neither is constant, neither is willingly to give in to the other. Both are changed with each moment. Yet, for brief passages of time, we can gaze at the grand view and see what is possible. We may even be comfortable and turn away from our collective struggle between the separate parts of the same whole. We forget that the land can suddenly pushes up from forces far below the surface and displace the sea. We ignore that the sea can be tossed in vicious storms that tear at the cliffs and topple large chunks of red dirt and stone into the waters. We tend to hang on, baffled by the interplay of our own contributions and those forces which we do not have any control. The concept of World Peace is possibly like this relationship between sea and land.
When we focus in on the details, we experience how the landscape disappears and can reshape itself into something much less recognizable.
What, at a distance, seemed solid and full of substance can become fluid, overlapping brushstrokes, loosely shaping the moving water and drifting sand dunes.
This painting is of an extraordinary place called Blooming Point in Prince Edward Island, Canada and it is a meditation about World Peace – holding the space, brush stroke by brush stroke, with all its complexities. Thank you David Sandum for your spark of inspiration and your frank thoughtfulness on this subject and so many others. This painting is dedicated to you.
Update Sept 7, 2016: Currently showing at the Farm Gate Store on Mayne Island, B.C..
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