nostalgia
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Memory; Reality or Lie?

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Memories as a Reality

Memories as a reality? Are our memories truth or a lie? If it is a lie- can we rely on these memories to truly define us? Confusing questions, to be sure. But I am interested in how this relates to Art. My art. Memories are my inspiration, but I interpret the moment. A moment that is a trigger for you. So the ‘memories as a reality’ become more about the sensation of a moment in time. It becomes a doorway through which you can enter and enjoy the memory of a particular time and place.

Everytime we remember an event, it is different. Memory is not a reality, it is an interpretation. Much like a piece of Art. The transformation of reality into an interpretation is the reality. I find this difficult to accept. How can an event change, in your mind, when it actually happened?

I remember one thing. you remember another . We were both at the same event, the same place, but you remember it differently than me.

The memories we have of a certain time period of our life can be wrong. It may actually be a lie. How often have you had a conversation with your partner about a prrticular event and the stories are different? One’s perception of that moment is not the same as the others. Although I don’t know if this is a lie as much as an experience of reality through different eyes.

In the article Why are Memories so Different from Reality;

“A memory isn’t a perfect stored representation of the event. It’s not a photograph, snapshot, or movie of our lives. When we encode something we store salient aspects, things that stand out and things we find important. What those things are also depends on you, your past experiences, and your knowledge. Different aspects stand out or are important to different people.”

Impression becomes the Truth.

Following this, then the impression of the event becomes the most important feature. Much like a piece of art. It is the impression of the idea that comes forth in the painting. The bits and pieces that are put together to create the image are a transformation of an image through my eyes and mind. Much like a memory.

In the painting highlighted, titled Fairytale Escape, this piece goes into the realm of the adventure. I remember piling into my father’s car, as a child, and heading out to the campgrounds. Cooking outside, sleeping in the camper, the sounds of the woods surrounding us. It had such a comforting adventure. The reality, though, was a bit different. The weather, the breaking down of the vehicle, the fighting with my brother- all things that seem to wash away when remembering these excursions.

This painting is part of my Home Sweet Home series. A series that looks at the home as place of idealism. Impressions of the home that tell the story of the “home”. Each place conveys both comfort and isolation. We remember our home in particular ways- a place of love, of connection, but it is also a place where we are lonely and isolated. Two pieces of memory and identity that are critical to our well being.

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Just Show Up

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Show Up

“Just show up”, she said.

What does that mean today? What does it mean to be there, to act, to react, to give, to take and to be? It means that being in the moment and acting like you are producing and contributing is showing up. That being part of life, sharing your vision, honoring your talent, and giving it to those around you is showing up. Finally it means that making what ever you make becomes part of a wider world.

Working in the Rabbit Hole

As I work in the studio in January, I often feel like I am in a Rabbit hole forgotten by everyone. I have very busy days producing with0ut any conversation with anyone other than my husband and daughter over dinner. It’s  a life of isolation and speaking to myself. For many, this would be impossible to live with. I know that my husband and daughter would go a bit crazy if they didn’t have someone to speak to all day. For me, it’s different.

The creative life is just this. It’s about ideas, using materials to bring those ideas out into the world, and having conversations on another level with those ideas. The photographer Robert Frank said ” Look outward to understand inward”.  He produced the phenomenal book The Americans which looks at mid century life. Many images are about looking from the outside and trying to understand the inner truth of an intimate moment. A girl standing in an elevator with figures around her can be just an image. Yet this black and white image, with the dark figures surrounding her has a loneliness surrounded by people. An image that is is at that moment but is still timeless.

Searching for the Truth

So this concept of searching for the “truth” is a my goal everyday. Creating work that has a nostalgic approach brings in the memory component but it goes deeper. Certainly it speaks to a brief second of truth. The application of paint, the use of colour, the simplifying of detail all speak to trying to find what the “truth” is. Where is the story and how can I reveal this in this painting? Above all what is intimate moment am I trying to find and reveal to the viewer?

In the piece highlighted titled “At Last I Found a Dream”, the story is familiar. A romantic encounter watched from a distance. The old photographs embedded into the image bring to mind the black and white memories of other couples. Snapshots that reveal a truth of that moment. The couple hugging was from a vintage advertising for an insurance company. Taken out of context, this image still holds true.   Finally, by bringing pieces together to create a story that was not intended but is therefore the mark of a great piece.

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Surround Yourself with the Good

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Surround yourself with the Good

What does this mean? The “good” is the positive energy we get when we look or experience the positive. How do we introduce the positive into our life? We surround ourselves with good people. Mentors who tell us that we Can Do It. Most importantly we should make our environment enable us to have hope. That’s where  my Art comes in. Surround yourself with the good things of  the lightness of colour, the ideas of generosity, the beauty of the image into your home.  All things that inspire our view. All things that reminds us, on a daily basis, that life is Good.

As life throws us challenges we are often in a place of discouragement. The pushing through to activate and make things happen takes on more effort. The voice in our mind that “it’s just not worth the energy” to keep going is constantly there. How do you battle the negative? How do you push away these thoughts that there is no point to keep pushing? Discouragement is a motivator of inaction. If you just sit on the couch and not engage then nothing will happen. Your life is one of action so it is imperative that you create a life that is full and rewarding.

Build a connection to What Makes you Happy

Certainly activating change takes energy. You must first identify what is lacking in your life. I often go through my days, like a hamster, just producing and making things. At the end of the day, I summarize my list and look at what was finished. This makes me happy. Being a self employed creative person means that self discipline is a cornerstone piece of mental health. When I delay and procrastinate I have guilt. The feeling that I failed. So to avoid this, I have to make certain I look at my list and just check something off.

However, this does not address deep happiness. The stuff when you are hanging out with your partner and having a laugh. The stuff when you drive your teenager to school and have a moment of being let into her life with a funny story about a friend. Little things that I register in a moment. The things we take for granted. That taking the time to share a moment will reward us to be happier.

How Your Home Makes you Happy

My work brings clients that share personal stories. I have had several clients who want my work to remind them to be strong, to be active in their change in their life, and most importantly, to improve their happiness. Consequently, they see that they need change and my Art draws them to this need. This type of visualization is the key. Above all these clients look at my paintings and it brings them a moment of where they want to be. To be positive, to be resilient and to be satisfied.

In the painting highlighted, titled Into The Daybreak, the woman cycling is full of life. She rides into a world full of energy, hope and love. These small details of beauty creates an image that makes the viewer stop and register. That’s what is important. Look at your Art so you can  judge whether it inspires you. If it doesn’t then maybe it’s time for a change.

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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How to preserve memories?

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How to preserve memories? Memories that happen in a glimpse of time that we experience and take for granted at that moment? There are many moments that we try to recreate through a photograph, a short film, but the actual sensation can never be recaptured.

As the holidays descend upon us, many are recreating traditions in the hope of experiencing a moment from the past. Food, gifts, gatherings are become a way to recreate the bonds that families have. These moments of the past can never be recaptured. They can never be re experienced because of age, loss of family name and just time. As my family gets older and my children become young adults, I find I grieve the loss of their childhood. This time of year has reminded me that those moments when they were young were precious and brief. There is no way to go back except to share stories with them about the “remember when”. This is the closest I can get to reliving the memory.

All of these moments of trying to understand these feelings of loss are entwined within my work in the studio. As an artist who works in the realm of nostalgia I try to understand the layers of meaning behind an old photo. Who were these people who stand so straight for the camera? What kind of lives did they have? The object of this image has a different meaning to me than to the owner of this image. This is the tension. This is where I try to find a way to communicate the sensation of this time through my own artistic interpretation . This body of work looks at the nostalgic in an very personal way. It looks at the peons moment of experience.

In an article looking at the role that art has in memory, there is a discussion in the challenges that artists face in trying to find a way to capture a memory that honours the sensation of the moment.

In the featured painting I show, titled Flying Like a Butterfly, this piece brings to mind the vintage postcards of the waterskiing shows from the 1950s. The looking at the moment of time. One that was glamorous and fun and full.

 

 

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