February 14, 2016
This was one of my recent paint commission projects.
I started this artboard for this piece after meeting with the client in May, 2015; yes that’s quite awhile for a project!!! After our initial conversation of what images and text elements to include in the piece, the client went on holidays for a few months. We did not re-visit the project until the middle of October. At this stage, we were just deciding on the poppies and the yellow field as it reminded her of Europe.
In between our conversations over several months, she mentioned her dad had served in Word War II and that is why she was attracted to the poppy images. (When I’m not sure about a subject matter to work on, I tend to go back to this re-occurring theme.)
I found this particularly interesting as I’m often relating my own life and upbringing to my clients’ life. This project began to take shape as we discussed what the poppies meant to her: her grandfather whom was from Saskatchewan and had eight kids volunteered to serve and spent six years in the war. It was something meaningful for her dad and she wanted this painting to be keepsake for her dad: a commemorative piece which exalted her grandfathers’ efforts to serve Canada.
This struck a chord deep within me.
The incorporated memories of World War II reminded me of my mother. She lived through the war in a small town called Wassanar, Holland. She was 13 when the war started and 18 when it was finally over. They were typical flower (tulip) farmers and had a field outside the village. They had pigs, chickens and all the resources to live a healthy and prosperous life until the Germans took over the house and turned it into a radio-broadcast station for the German forces. They plowed over their fields and subsequently paved it to park armored vehicles – essentially ruining their livelihood. They lived upstairs for awhile and my mother and grandmother served the German soldiers food. Some months later, they moved out and lived with my grandfathers’ brother….many children packed into a small home trying to make ends meet with no work, food and not enough heat.. She didn’t speak about the war all that much….only to say that they were starving at the end.
I pondered how to incorporate into the painting until the client suggested we use some of his letters and documents he sent home during the war years. I had copies of discharge papers, telegrams, photo’s and hand-written letters he send back home to his wife.
For me, this was only another conundrum.
I thought about it for a few weeks and ended up reversing the images and utilized them in the painting as well as down the sides of the cradle-board. You can see this in the pictures I’ve uploaded.
She said her dad cried when he saw the final painting on her wall.
She says the artwork is a constant topic of conversation when people are over for a visit.
The Little Brown Turtle
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