Inside an artist's mind by Brenda Kennedy
The Glengarry News, October 11, 2017 Reproduced with permission
A hot summer morning and I've just cleaned the studio. That's what I do when I'm prepping to start a new painting. Call it procrastination but I think of it as ordering the mind. I would like to do a couple more paintings, as I don't have enough for the upcoming exhibition. But that's always the way it is before a show: never enough work or never good enough.
The small studio is crammed with supplies and various things that I've painted or thought about painting. Every surface is a museum of strange objects, years of collecting. There is hardly room to move among the boxes, bags and baskets cluttering the yellow shelves and spilling onto the floor. It's almost a physical manifestation of my art mind, always busy creating interesting ideas -- many never happen but it's good to have the necessary materials on hand. Just in case.
Stacks of paintings lean against walls and fill containers -- a reminder of where I've been physically and mentally; what hasn't sold; and how I desperately need more space. More than one artist has said, "We don't have careers, we have storage problems."
My studio is above the kitchen and enjoys the woodstove' s rising heat during the cold months. Because it's on the north side of the house it never seems to be too hot in the summer either. The one window transmits a moderate but steady amount of light, neither too bright nor intense - a soft light, good enough for me to paint by. I can see the good side of the falling-down barn, an imposing wood and metal barrier that blocks the distant view along the north side of the property. But from my studio, I can see beyond the roofline to the fields and far away line of trees where sky meets land.
Scanning the workspace, I focus on two small plein-air studies on a top shelf. I think of the challenge of capturing the subtle beauty of Glengarry skies. I never quite succeed but in the process of trying, I come to know what I am observing and it is pressed into my brain a little deeper. I never look at the sky again without a pang of recognition. I've been there, studied it and still -it evades me.
There is something addictive in the anticipation and excitement of beginning a new work. It doesn't always carry through to the end, but keeps me hanging in. Somewhere along the journey, perhaps half-way, I start to have some concerns that this may not be the best painting I've ever done but, hopefully, it will be better than the last one. By the end, it has lost most of its allure and joins the collection of works don't quite measure up to the elusive standard I set. Making art is a never-ending process guaranteed to always provide a meaningful experience -- except for when it seems meaningless. And it does get that way from time to time. I travel to Mexico regularly because I am compelled by the light and the colour. I've been several times and visited different parts of the country. Last winter I travelled to Guadalajara where there were many white buildings bisected by intensely blue and cloudless skies. The images I carry home of strong sunlight and cast shadow on warm stucco walls stay with me and later become the subject of paintings. It's a way of prolonging the experience and provoking memory. Wandering the narrow cobblestone streets of Ajijic, I search for and find the flat, bright gaudy colours, the decorative pattern, and the intense light: a facade that is already a painting, a simplified form lending itself to abstraction.
Recent works by Brenda Kennedy showing at the Alexandria Library throughout the month of October.