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Empress Hotel- Morisot

The painting that seered my mind while in Europe was Berthe Morisot’s ‘Jeune Fille en Gris’. This is a small painting size-wise. But it is a huge painting in terms of what Morisot acheived. The subject matter is of a woman lounging on a chaise lounge. She is wearing a grey dress and the chaise is grey as well. Almost exactly the same color of grey. Being almost the same color would normally mean that one form would meld into the other. And this happens except for the fact that the form of the woman can be utterly discerned. Her bust, her waist, her hips- the viewer can sense the form, the youth and suppleness of limb. Plus the details of the dress. I stood in awe and asked myself, “How the heck did she do it?”.
I stood and dissected. I went away and came back. After all thought and examination, I feel she did it through brushstroke. The brushstrokes of the dress are different ever so slightly, but enough to make a difference as how the brain perceives the line and the form. I have never seen another painter acheive this feat and I am in awe of Berthe Morisot.
The painting was at the Musee Marmottan in Paris. It houses a huge collection of Monet’s work donated by his son. The bulk of the remainder of the collection was donated by the daughter of Georges de Bellio, doctor to many of the Impressionists.
This is Morisot’s first retrospective and here again is yet another turn in the wheel of patterns. In writing this, I was checking on the spelling of Morisot’s name only to discover that she died, not in the same year, but on the same date as Emily Carr- March 2nd.

Live from the Empress Hotel

I have been gone away for 3 weeks visiting Paris, Barcelona and Ireland. An amazing trip for sure but what is burning on my mind to relate is the official announcement that the exhibition entitled ‘Double Take’, will open at the McMichael Art Gallery in September, 2012. It is an exhibition of almost 100 original works of over 50 Canadians from the collection of The Portrait Gallery of Canada. The portrait of artist Mary Pratt that I painted for my ‘High Tea’ series is owned by the Portrait Gallery and was chosen to be part of this show. “Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing Canadians”, spans over 400 years of portraiture.
For me, this is yet again another lesson in ‘you never know what can happen’. I received a phone call almost 3 years ago asking my permission to include the Pratt portrait in this new exhibiton curated by Carolyn Cook. The show would open in 2012 in Charlottetown, PEI and then tour for 2 years but showing at the McMichael was never mentioned at the time. My friend Lawrie emailed me this past April, to say she had just seen the exhibition in PEI and had no idea that my work would be included. Seeing my work there, altered her perception of me.
So it is important to exhibit. It is important to let the work leave the studio. And it is wonderful to feel grateful when something turns out to be bigger than initially imagined.

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