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My little painting "After a Long Day" is exhibited at the Lieutenant Governor's Suite at Queen Park, Toronto. The exhibit celebrates 150 anniversary of Ontario Society of Artists. I feel very fortunate, because only 30 paintings were chosen to be hang, with the reminders shown on the screen.
"After a long day" depicts a tired, indigenous woman keeping her head hopelessly down in sorrow, sadness, pain, or mourning.
Oil - 48x96"
I had hoped seeing Journey in person would measure up to the potential I sensed in it from the digital version I saw while reviewing submissions. It surpassed them. I felt it in my chest the moment I walked into the gallery to see the show in person for the first time.
The artist's approach to composition and brushwork is sensitive and restrained, demonstrating an incredible economy of brush. This is a term I learned from one of my university professors and it always stuck with me. It means there are very few marks that actually make up these figures. Without any rendered detail, they are still so recognizable, the right one in particular appearing elderly by the mere suggestion of a flat-cap and stooped posture.
The clever use of shadows provided me with an instant clue to the fact that they’re people and not just specks, as well as setting a mood of transition times - long shadows could be dawn or dusk.
This diptych makes bold use of composition, with these teeny tiny figures in this enormous space. And it’s necessary, this contrast. The enormous sense of isolation (or potential), of peace (or desolation) absolutely requires it.
The suggestion of ground in these brownish areas across the bottom is also important, as is the tonal variation within the white. Together they create a lot of possibilities of what this space might be - sand, or sky, or something more metaphysical - a point of departure, or destination.
The artist has to trust in themselves to communicate so much with so little, and in the viewer - to extrapolate meaning from these carefully selected cues.
To me, Journey is less a portrait of these two people - or perhaps it is one person at two moments in time - than it is a portrait of the space and time around them.
Katie Wilde, juror
It is so painful and difficult to learn and know what happened in the Residential Schools. It make it more painful knowing that all the terrible atrocities were done to children. Everything was taken away form them; their parents, their family, their customs, their home. How it is possible that people who preached God's Commandments, one says: "You will love your neighbour as yourself", could have committed all this crime.
I guess I wasn't the only one crying and feeling the pain. Just image families and indigenous people living with this their knowledge for more than 100 years and nobody was listing to them. Now is the time to uncover hidden truth. Hope it will happen soon.
It is hard to believe that, between years 1870 and 1996, when the last school was closed, more than 150,000 Indian, Inuit, Męetis children attended Indian Residential schools. How many of them died, we still must wait for an answer.
This is another Holocaust, Canadian Holocaust. Such a tragic ending to se many children, aged 4 too 16th. We came to Canada in 1982. As a family of four, plus one more on the way (our third child), Canada was our dream come thru. Now, I can't comprehend that in such a civilized country, Residential School were still existing! And during the same time, my children were going to school safe and free, and the choice of school was our, not someone else.
This little piece I painted maybe a couple, maybe more years ago. During that time I had in mind "Highway of Tears", Hyway 16, between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, which has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women.
I called it "After a long day" because it depicted a tired, indigenous woman keeping her head hopelessly down in sorrow, sadness, pain, or mourning.
These days I find its significance far more compelling.
When I think about my life, I see myself running a lot. Not when we were in Poland, not when we were in West Germany, but I started to run when we came to Canada in 1982. Running from parking lot to the Go train, from the Union Station to the office. Good that it wasn’t too far, just to 56 The Esplanade Street. And then the same the other way, from an office to the station, from the station to my car. Then, driving children to activities; swimming, tennis, jazz, you name it. Driving for groceries, and then again running from my car to the store. If shopping bags weren’t too heavy, running back from the store to my car. I wonder how many thousands of kilometers I ren during the years between 1982 and2020. Probably a lot.
Later when kids were older, we had our small publishing business, the story was the same. Never enough time to walk slowly. The only time I relax was about 2 am, when I finished my work, I set on the doorstep and smoke one cigarette. Everything around was so peaceful, no cars, no people, just me, empty street and my smelly cigarette. But somehow it relaxed me. Everyone who has its own business knows the problem.
Then, we had to place my beloved father, who got Alzheimer’s, in the nursing home. Since my father haven’t spoken English, we choose Polish home, Copernicus, in Toronto on Roncesvalles Ave. After each visit, I was heaving another cigarette, jus to knock me down. It was so difficult for me to accept that he was in the nursing home, not at home with us. Although I was waiting with the decision of placement him there, until he taught that he was on some kid of vacation, in the hotel, it was still difficult to accept him being there.
Then, years later, my mom, with advanced dementia and after breaking her hip, had to be place in the nursing home as well. This time she was in Mississauga, 15-20 min away.
Again, running, cooking her favorite breakfast, be there to help her dress, eat, take her for a short walk. We want her to feel as she was still with us, not in different place, place I call "the place with no return". In her last years, when her health deteriorated, she needed more help from personal, professional workers than from me.
In January of 2020, we celebrated my mom’s 101 birthdays. Her body was tired, she was tired. My
mom passed away on February 9th. And this was the day I stopped running. I didn’t have to cook breakfast for my mom, could sit at home slowly drinking my morning tea, read a newspaper and do my favorite sudoku still having my house coat on.
And ofcouse we all be remembering Year 2020 as a year that slowed everything down. Year of isolation, living inside our own bubble avoiding contact with children, family and other people. Everything changed. Life stopped, giving us time to reflex, to look into our own being, our insights and time to really appreciate small things we used to take for granted.
Do I miss running? I don’t think so. If I would be much younger, then maybe. But in my age, I appreciate a bit of laziness, just doing nothing. Sometimes watching movies on Netflix, news on TV, all Raptors games.
Now I can practice Yoga in the morning, have a lazy breakfast, drive to the studio as often as I feel like, have my morning tea there and start to paint. I think being lazy in matured years it is not such a bad thing.
These are my lovely parents. Without their tremendous help, we would be where we are now.
These are my lovely parents. Without their tremendous help, we would be where we are now.
Today my portrait of a woman, who struggled thru her life but overcome all difficulties and despite all challenges she “is still on the picture”, was not accepted into juried show. It is difficult to be not emotional about it. I am not the only one to feel down. Although I know cases when the same paining received a first price in one show and wasn’t accepted into the other. This knowledge should help, but it doesn’t in the moment. Tomorrow will be a new day, probably better. And I know that I am not the only one with similar feelings. To all artists rejected from the juried shows – let keep a good faith in the future.
"Sorrow of rejection knocked on my doors.
I don’t want to let it in.
With the closed doors I look into the future.
Music fills my heart."
COVID19 still effect my work. I have a difficult time to concentrate and create new paintings. Instead, I am taking my previous work and start to incorporate some changes. Tthese two paintings below, are perfect examples of my "work in progress" process, which not always turn out to be successful.
One, The Way, I decided to repaint one side darker. this is my first attempt and will have to add more of an active surface to the left side. It is already different than original, and I hope my final touches will make it better.
The other one, for now called a Blue Lady because it was the colour I started to paint the nude with. Now it is different, but I am not sure what will be my final layer of paint. I want to achieve a feeling of some kind of meditation, as she sits on the edge of a gorge and looks into its vast, deep, emptiness. On the other side of the gorge is another, different life, strong and maybe a bit disturbing. When I started, the best part of this lady was her head and her hair. Unfortunately I painted over it. Hope will be able to achieve the same effect as when I started to paint the figure.
It happened in Geneva Park during a workshop with an artist, realistic painter. We received a photograph and were supposed to create a painting by copying the image.
During this time, I was still afraid to put paint on flat, white surface. To overcome it, I used gesso to create texture and then stain may canvas.
Probably I was the only one who choose this image, everyone else choose pretty pictures and copied them nicely and neatly. When people were passing by my station I could almost feel their strange looks. Then, one lady came to me and said: “do not pay any attention what other people might say about your painting. It is good, it is not just a copy, it is different and has a special mystery feeling to it”. She made me feel much better. I wish I would have known her to say tanks for her words of encouragements.
I am back in my studio. It is such a different experience. Before COVID, Living Art Centre was full of life... kids, adults, teenagers. Now the corridors are empty. Sometimes when I bike there, I also bike inside, from the entry door to elevator and from elevator to the door of my studio. I quite like it. And I love being again in the building and in my space, surrounded by my mess and a lot of things which I really don’t need, but MAYBE I will use them in the future. To see Resident Artist Program at Living Art Centre go to: https://www.livingartscentre.ca/gallery/resident-artist-program