Acrylic on Canvas
September of 2003: Hurricane Juan chews a powerful swath from Halifax to Tatamagouche, snapping trunks, uprooting their earthen arms to the sky, and extracting great gnarly mouthfuls from the soil. Sparing the elms outside my big old house, the howl suspended the province of life and work. In morning-mode I took my neighbourhood walk under the hovering humid bowl.
Winter 2004. I return home from walking the dog. I revisit the setting in my mind. Too late to plead for mercy, this was a church destroyed – a cathedral to be rebuilt from broken trees. The thought matches my own brokenness and recovery which I find interesting.
The girl in the crescent moon pose is drawn in black permanent marker on the canvas. This is me, strong and stretching. I draw the crumpled roots and the fallen trees, sad and broken. I draw faint grasses and ferns, struggling but alive. Together we are stretching, reaching, and recovering. I apply paint in little daubs not committing to it just yet.
It takes me 10 years to work off and on this painting. The composition sucks. The colors bore me. I should do better. Why is this so difficult?
Finally in the fall of 2014, I set the piece on my easil. One last time, I say to it, then I will peel you from your stretcher and roll you up with the others I have forgotten. Then, from my small cluttered apartment, one morning ray of light reaches it’s pebbled shadows across the canvas surface. Like the promise for a good day, I reach for the brush and work to finish the Broken Tree Cathedral.
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