I just picked up this canvas that has been gathering dust downstairs, and again wondered, “Is this finished or not?”
To give a little background on this piece, it actually disguises a painting underneath that I gave up on, and turned it upside down to try to salvage it. Hillcrest Cottage is the theme of the painting: the house where my great grandparents raised my grandpa and his sister. During our childhood, we walked over to visit my great aunt–who lived there her whole life–almost weekly, so I have a lot of memories associated with the house.
Collaged onto the textured surface, I’ve included copies of a picture of the house with farmers standing in front of it, and a photo from the 80s of my sister, my cousin, and I standing by the sign that says “Hillcrest Cottage.” Perhaps the most exciting element for me is the letter from my Great Grandmother in about 1909 when she decided to name the house.
What I love about mixed media is the opportunity to build interesting surfaces using texture and all sorts of found objects. Adding artifacts or meaningful items to a collage is a great way to display them–otherwise all this stuff is just sitting in boxes–but it also puts a wrench in my creative process. If I’ve already gelled a letter or scrap into the painting, I am hesitant to cover it up. Perhaps this painting still needs another element (or to lose something), but chances are I won’t take the risk to find out because I’m attached to everything I’ve put into it.
I first started working with mixed media painting in 2004 at Emily Carr with Diana Kubicek, which I would definitely recommend to anyone! I loved how it freed me up from doing realistic watercolours, which was the style I had taught myself in my early 20s. But mixed media presents me with a whole new series of challenges – a totally different way of thinking and many decisions that constantly need to be made. You have to take risks, be bold, and at the same time be contemplative.
I was very excited to see that Emily Carr University has now added Advanced Certificate programs, including Illustration! I will definitely add this to my future wishlist!