Now for the next painting….
Flooding, Strait of Georgia, Red Line 04: Embracing the approach to painting of Jules de Balincourt
I started from an intuitive place with no plan or sketch, just a haunting idea that comes following the recent flooding in British Columbia and witnessing the amount of debris that ended up on our Mayne Island shores. I have a very old night terror of being in a car that slides off the road over a steep bank into the Fraser River on the way to town where we lived when I was a child and then the car starts to fill with murky water. My earliest memory of this nightmare are about the age of five and it repeated itself every few months with further embellishments right up until sometime in my mid thirties when in my dream state I somehow figured out how to get out of the sinking car and float to the surface. Then the nightmare never came back except as a waking memory now and again and when watching or reading about flood and mudslide victims.
Using Jules de Balincourt’s practice of responding to a previous painting as counter balance, I set last week’s plein air painting at the corner of my eye as a memory aid for the thoughts and feelings from that morning. Balincourt, born in Paris France in 1972 and now living and working in Brooklyn New York, uses the analogy of painting as if on a road trip, stressing the ideas of not knowing where you will be or what you will see along the way. It seemed fitting as I was thinking of the people who had been trapped between the mudslides on the highway. No matter how carefully one plans a road trip, the unexpected is always possible. This is true of painting as well. To embrace this aspect with a sense of freedom and freeing oneself to the process is the Balincourt way. So I began my quick painting sketch of an idea…
There is a deliberate ambiguity of scale and content in this painting. We do not know the actual size of the the logs or the raggedy Anne doll which are sometimes bigger than the children that pack them around. We don’t know if it is even a doll or if its muddy and surf-battered existence is actually an unintended emotional self portrait of the painter. I suspect the latter but I am too close to the painting to be certain. The water has a heavy quality that was purposefully left as a reference to the effort that is required of the sea to clean and absorb this recent weather disaster. The only preplanning for this painting was to measure in the horizon line and I knew from the start this would be another in my Red Line series.
The painting was completed in one painting session with the brushes never leaving my hands as I worked standing at the easel in my usual manner and moving back and forth from the canvas and allowing the painting to emerge without interference. Is it a “good” painting? Probably not. However, it gets the nightmare out of my subconscious again and resting lightly on the canvas instead. This is always a good thing for a painter who has always had horrific, yelling-everyone-awake, leaping-up-in-bed, nightmares. I generally paint for self-comfort and hope. In its way, this painting is still this. The sun still came up. We are still there as the viewers to view its glorious rise in in the face of adversity.
“Flooding, Strait of Georgia, Red Line 04” by Terrill Welch 9 x 12 inch walnut oil on unstretched canvas