Sunday, July 17, 2016

The private lives of paintings

Summer's Child
40 x 30
sold to the right people

There are many reasons why I paint, and they are all about me.  I paint to explore concepts like movement or stillness, play, joy, and childhood; or to explore phenomenon like light, colour, texture, and visual vibration.  But, unless it's a commission, I don't paint with an audience in mind.  That way lies the madness of trying to appeal to an audience that I don't know and certainly can't predict.

So it's sometimes a surprise to be pulled out of the insular world in which I create only for myself and learn that my work speaks to the people who do me the honour of buying it.  Sometimes it surprises me with what it says.

"Summer's Child" sold last week to a vacationing couple who recognized their son, as he was as a young boy, in it.  Apparently the resemblance is uncanny.  Their son is no longer living, and the painting, which they saw in the window of Rendezvous Gallery, spoke to them with such force that they bought it and are sending it to their distant residence.

First, the coincidence of this couple even catching sight of the painting struck me as staggering: they live half the world away, but happened to be passing this particular gallery on a day that this painting happened to be hanging in the window. The window display in a gallery changes regularly; sometimes paintings are in storage and not on display at all.  The couple could have turned their heads to look at the ocean as they walked rather than in the window.  Or they could have chosen to walk down another street altogether.  But something brought the painting and these people together in a way that seemed fated.

But beyond this magnificent coincidence, I was struck by the fact that my work communicated something that went beyond anything that I was exploring when I painted it.  When it left my studio, the painting became its own entity, independent of my intentions.  It now has an energy and a kind of life that, while it originated in my studio, has little to do with me.   When I consider a painting finished, it stops speaking to me and I move on to another one, but these works go out into the world and are found by just the right people - often the only people - who will hear what they have to say.

That communication can take a short or a long time to happen, and I'm lucky to have gallerists that believe in me and are willing to give the paintings time to find their people.  


Kate Pearce said...

A painting needs to resonate with the people who buy it, and your story about this beautiful little painting of yours, perfectly illustrates how a work of art can find its perfect home. It's a wonderful thought.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks for reading and responding, Kate. I agree: paintings should touch people deeply, otherwise they're just decor.
Happy painting!

Connie said...

A wonderful story. Paintings are, indeed, quite powerful.

Ingrid Christensen said...

So true, Connie! It's easy to forget that as we toil in the studio.

Debi Murray said...

Your story really spoke to me this morning. I read it right after an email from a grateful recipient of a commission I did of her twin granddaughters - which is another touching story of how our paintings find their new homes. "God-things" I call them 😍 I so enjoy reading your blog - you seem to beautifully write the words I am thinking or feeling! Thank you!!!!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thank you, Debi, for reading and commenting, and for introducing me to the phrase "God things". That strikes a chord in me.
Sometimes I'm aware that I'm just making pleasing pictures, but on rare and wonderful occasions, I'm making God things and, like you, I'm grateful for the opportunity.

Happy painting!