Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part four)

Those little lines. Concentric shapes stacked one inside the other like a Matryoshka doll. This element of detail came from my mother.

I can remember sitting in my livingroom on the loveseat with my mother. She was showing me something to draw. I know now that she was trying to buy a moment of peace. Little did she know she was giving me a background fabric to many of my paintings.

She took out a thin piece of paper and drew a heart. Then, inside that, she drew another. Another. Another. Another. Smaller and smaller the hearts neatly bordered by the prior one. Finally ending when the space was too small to draw another. She had my attention there.

She blew my mind when she went back to the original and drew a larger heart encompassing the whole thing. Then another and another and another. This prospect of infinity really attracted me. It reminds me of the Droste effect - I had a colouring book whose cover fascinated me. It featured a duck wearing rain boots. In one hand it held an umbrella, in the other it held a colouring book featuring an identical duck with an umbrella, books and colouring book with an identical duck, and so on, ad infinitum.

Then my mother switched gears and drew a loose organic shape, like a bubble wobbling in the air or an amoeba. She did the same thing as before, filling the interior up with tinier versions. Then she drew another shape beside the orignal, touching and conforming to it on one side. She filled it in as well. She continued, filling the paper with these shapes, all of them neatly fitting together like a puzzle.

She handed the pencil over to me and indicated that it was my job to complete this important task of covering all the blank areas with these undulating shapes. I took to the task with pleasure.

I think the peace I get from doing these shapes must be similar to knitting or other repetitive activities. I use that time to think and relax. I like how you can fill a space with these shapes and it reads as a grey, but is really black and white that the eye fuzzes together.

From that point onward, I have used this detail in many sketches and paintings - a simple gift from my mother.

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