Becoming an artist.
I was one of those kids who was sent outdoors in the morning in the summer and expected to spend the day outdoors. We lived on a large research farm and our house was surrounded by orchards, brooks, fields and laboratories. With 4 siblings and 4 next-door-neighbor kids, our days were pretty well filled with exploring, playing games and essentially using our imagination. The bumper guards on the car became our vending machines with gravel as our money; the overhead clouds became a non-stop movie with an incredible number of characters; the adjacent field full of devil’s paintbrush flowers made me aware of the incredible colours and shapes in my world. My father made a large garden overflowing with vegetables and flowers that could be viewed in the summertime from a hammock set up on the back porch; colour and texture everywhere!
At school during my early years, being an artist in class was very hands-on and messy – finger paints and clay; colour and texture. All of this exposure led to my strong life-long interest in colour, shape texture and a strong visual imagination.
Colour, shape and movement give inspiration to an artist
As if that were not enough, when I was 9 years old, our family moved from a semi-rural eastern Canadian province to a large ancient city – Rome – with a cacophony of sounds, sights, smells and different activities and the world of wonder for a budding artist. This new assault on my senses opened up new avenues of exploration with scooters, hawkers, flea markets, mobs of people and with an interesting juxtaposition of the ancient with the modern.
Enrolling in a school housed in an old villa with formal gardens and textured stone walls and gravelled paths jarred the senses further. Our art teacher, herself a gifted artist, allowed our class to wander the formal school grounds to view, touch the full grown trees and essentially draw the heavily textured bark from touch, or any other aspect that caught our attention.
Subsequent classes were just as inspiring; our class built an entire city of plasticine, with all the buildings, roads, people, trees, vehicles. Observation skills are honed and the combination of everybody’s different concepts made the project about as engaging and mysterious as a real city.
What I am describing is the origins of my curiosity as an artist and what is essentially the prologue of my artistic wanderings and insights, which cover both the natural and the man-made, the ancient and the new.