AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT:
KISSED BY CARR
For years my teachers and colleagues at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach Florida, have described me as an Expressionist painter. “That’s your family,” one Teacher said. “Accept it”. But I can’t. I have enough trouble accepting my own birth family let alone accepting new members of a family I didn’t choose.
Before dawn one morning, I was listening to Willie and the Poor Boys on a Blues radio station. As I listened, I thought, I’m not just an Expressionist painter, I’m a Blues painter. So I thought, Label me a blues painter. But on reflection I realized it wasn’t true I’m not just a Blues painter, sometimes I am an orange or a violet painter; an Impressionist, a Fauvist, sometimes even an Expressionist. I am a rainbow painter. But I’m not just a rainbow painter, I am a Chi painter, an energy painter. I have always wanted to start a new school. Maybe that’s it. The Chi School of painting!
Although I have been a painter for over 30 years, you probably haven’t heard of me because I haven’t had to sell my work in order to survive. Except for the odd group show, I have kept my work for myself or for friends and family.
Art is my therapy. Before I became a recovered agoraphobe, I learned to hide well, trying to escape from the traumas from my past. Art has released me. It surrounds me. It befriends me. It comforts me. Each painting is a testimonial to my emotional survival.
In my professional life, I use art consistently in teaching, writing, art therapy, and counseling underachieving gifted children and adults, victims recovering from trauma; hospice patients and survivors of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. And like a plumber who unblocks a plugged drain, I unblock impediments to creativity.
Although I am a Canadian painter, I have spent considerable time living and painting in California (7 years), Florida (7 years) , Massachusetts (2 years), and Israel (3 years), I am like a sculpture in progress, padded with bits of clay from each location. But I am made in Canada. I am a salmon painter, swimming upstream, that’s why after having lived in Florida I returned to Canada but spend winters in West Palm Beach. I take painting classes at the Armory Art center with Miroslav Antic, Dennis Aufiery and Garri Katz, all masters of their media, each with a distinctive style.
I am a good painter. I am embarrassed to admit that I once wrote a poem about my painting, writing that I was “better than Emily Carr, better by far.” My parents owned an original Emily Carr painting. I didn’t like it. She was a Canadian artist in the early twentieth century and is considered one of Canada’s most important painters. Like our thoughts, viewing art is subjective. Either we like what we see, or we don’t. but like human interaction, sometimes, as we mature with knowledge and experience, we learn to love people we once couldn’t stand. When my parents died, a family member took the painting, the way my dignity was taken when I was a child. Emily Carr’s painting was a floral. I hated florals, until I painted one. Then I realized that florals are not just florals, they are the layered images of the artist’s emotions at a specific time.
Although I once suffered from terrible loneliness, I have learned that I am not alone. I now believe we are all interconnected like a universal jig-saw puzzle. The energy that fuels us is not just from this time but I think it is recycled and that we are all fueled by this nourishing, replenishing and shared energy, I feel like I have been kissed by the talent of Emily Carr. Because of her, I now know that my florals aren’t just florals either, in the same way that I am not just an Expressionist painter.
We each have many identities. I am a wife, mother, professional woman, writer and painter. My maiden name is Stein, and I think that was no accident, because I believe I have also been kissed by the wit, poetry and critical eye of my namesake, Gertrude. Perhaps Matisse has also pecked my cheek. I have other names too. I was “Antsy Pantsy”, an undiagnosed attention deficit child and adult. A native chief called me STONE WOMAN WARRIOR. I became STONE WOMAN WARRIOR. A pen name for writing and illustrating my children’s books is Dr. Smoorgasburger because I am a smorgasbord woman. My married name is Singer, legally joining me to my Norman. I have earned a doctorate My professional name is Dr. Singer. I believe we are all composites of our many identities.
I love to paint. I paint with my brush like I fence with a sword. Sometimes I use rags applying the paint in clots. I dance with the canvas and stab at my demons. As an artist, I also sit on a fence observing both conforming and bohemian lifestyles, attracted and repulsed by each. I am a writer. On canvas, my words turn into paint. I am in love with colour and have a colourful life. But I have also been called an elegant bohemian for my art and sometimes irreverent style. I am a playful but serious painter who believes that art has given me focus, purpose, a structured life, freedom to express myself and joy as an artist
Over the past several years I have written and illustrated three books for ages 8 to adult: “How Antsy Pantsy became STONE WOMAN WARRIOR”, “There Can’t Bee Two Queens in the Same Hive” and “I’m Jewish but Where Do I Belong? A meshugeneh family album.” My recent body of work-over a dozen large paintings, which I call “Seven Deadly Sins”, was shown in West Palm Beach, in March and a show will be held in Vellano, Italy in the fall of 2005. I have incorporated a play on words into each painting. Such as, “We pledge our SLOTH!”: “LUST or BUST” etc.
I am a crazy painter. Crazy like a fox. I am not afraid to release my craziness on canvas.
I know that I am a good painter, but definitely not better, not better by far, than Emily Carr.