Sunday, 17 March 2013

Day Above the Avalon

Above the Avalon, o/c, 36"x 48", Emma Butler Gallery

He had heard of that civilized smile from that state of mind.
But you can't find it here, above the Avalon.
No burning of witches.
And no persons gone missing.
Unless by the hand of the sea.
The fisherman thought that victory of reason and tolerance took its time reaching their court of justice.
 If it ever did.
So the fisherman asked him if he had ever laughed. 
He said: "No, I have never made ha ha."
And he smiled as he said it.
The fisherman then said that he faced the wrong direction.
"Enlightenment was behind him."

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The life and Times of a Palette

Palette, oil, wood, mediums, layers of time, biographical history

Palette : in the original sense of the word, is a rigid, flat surface on which a painter arranges and mixes paints. A palette is usually made of wood, plastic, ceramic, or other hard, nonporous material, and can vary greatly in size and shape....

 From the original literal sense above came the figurative sense by extension referring to a selection of colours, as used in a specific art object or in a group of works comprising a visual style. This second, visual sense is the one extended in the digital era to the computing senses of the "palette".


For a proclaimed 'Realist', it has always struck me as a not so gentle reminder that the very object that I have a creative relationship with in order to paint; that is an object I rely on, is in itself an abstraction. True it is a facilitator of sorts; a bridge between the idea and the canvas, but it is also and literally a molten, gnarled, gummed up, pock marked, cavity ridden, concave, convex, organic object that grows concurrent with my own explorations. It has been a partner in crime so to speak since that fateful day twenty six years ago I needed a flat surface to mix some paint on. What I came across at the time was a dismantled piece of furniture - a book shelf to be precise, that I thought would suffice for the time being. At least until I could purchase the traditional hand held palette so common in art supply stores. Well, I never made the purchase, nor did I wonder what objective I had in mind at the time. I just knew I didn't like holding onto a palette while painting, and this book shelf would have to do.

 So, it has gotten me into trouble, held my hand while blind folded I stumbled toward the figurative cliff  - nudged me back from the unintentional conveyance of misconception and pretentiousness, and has on occasion gloried with me on a few rare days when the object of my profession has made some personal sense.  

I have never scraped off my palette after a days work, which may account for the reason it weighs about 35 pounds now. Hard to believe? Not really. Think of it like the birth of a child. It comes into the world in the predictable way, takes on similar traits to its creator, a likeness in accordance with the painter's own colour choices and idiosyncrasies. But then something happens. As it ages it starts to estrange itself from the painter, assuming physical traits of its own. Challenging the painter to adapt to its own surface and peculiarities. In effect to develop a rapport with  it as each painting progresses, conjuring up its own personality.

Palette, oil, wood, mediums, layers of time, biographical history

Evidently, the layers tell the true story. But we can't see them and neither can the artist. The paintings are the realisation; the by- product of a concept channelled through the imagination, but the memory of the painter's creative ally has covered that other journey up, sealing it in a concoction of oil and dirt; more ore less forcing the painter into a forgotten state of memory. Perhaps this is one of the beautiful qualities of the creative process.

"Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow."

William Blake

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Mr. Bully's Meat Room

Mr. Bully's Meat Room, o/p, 24"x 20", Steven Rhude

On occasion I've stumbled across shops or small businesses exhibiting vernacular signs with paradoxical qualities. I usually don't enter them for fear of disturbing the preconceptions they generate for me. Years ago I recall encountering a place called 'The Optimist Shop' in the Lunenburg Shipyard. I knew going in may leave me with a sense the motif could lose its lustre. So I stayed on the outside, preferring to let my imagination conjure up a variety of meanings that would instead remain fixed as possible anecdotes or a bigger truth, compared to a reality that may not be so favorable on the inside. In short, I had no desire to dispel the illusion the shop exterior created for me as a painter.

So, I will probably never know Mr. Bully, or what his meat room looks like inside. But since I only stumbled on it by chance, I know that it does exist, is located in Petty Harbor, NFLD, and is probably only known to his customers owing to its isolated location. He must be somewhat proud of his trade as evident by the decorated door frame replete with cleavers and antlers, his name and number. But if you're not content with the exterior, give him a call sometime, or better yet, pay him a visit - in Newfoundland truth is always stranger than fiction.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS.