The New Homeland is one of the latest paintings in my Western Series, which you can see here. The New Homeland is based on a Canadian immigration poster advertising settlement to the Canadian West (Manitoba and west). There is a very specific type of immigrant that seems to be advertised for in this promotion. Young, healthy, family and agriculture oriented, and of a very specific ethnic background. However, though this campaign from between the world wars was looking for a specific image of the Canadian immigrant to build a new homeland, there were a great variety of countries that contributed immigrants to the building and development of Canada. So I decided to set the poster against a background of some of the national flags (of the time) of the nations people left behind to start their lives over in Canada.
I’m not going to say I never take a sick day, but I thought I would share a picture of my ‘office from this past Friday. No, I am not a workaholic either. I know a cold usually gets worse before it gets better, so I figured between naps I would try and get something done. There might be a day or two coming up where I don’t have the energy for this either, and as an independent artist, if I don’t get it done no one else will!
Salvation is one of the latest paintings in my Western Series, which you can see here. Salvation is based on a Sifton era (1896-1905) Canadian immigration poster. The image depicts an angelic harvest figure which appears as though in a dream, showing the plenty and prosperity that could be had for the immigrant who braved the ocean voyage, the cold, isolation, and the breaking of the land, to uproot families and make a one way journey to Canada. Many of these immigrants would have spent generations never straying farther than 50 miles from home. I had to wonder what the conditions were like where they were coming from in order to make that sort of leap of faith.
Finding A Dance Partner is one of the newest paintings in my Western Series, which you can see here. This painting references an immigration poster advertising the charms of Canada to potential immigrants during the early years of the 20th century. Particularly, in this case, potential single female immigrants. During this time in Britain their was a great deal of discussion about the problem of the extra female population, for whom world conflicts had reduced the number of eligible mates. At the same time there was an imbalance (in the other direction) in the ratio of male to female immigrants to Canada. The idea of immigrating for better marital prospects, which the image seems to suggest is the idea, seems like a huge step. She put her eggs all in one basket and took the White Star Line across the ocean, but look at all the eggs she has to choose from now! This is a fascinating idea to think about coming from the first half of the 21st century, where love is still a huge part of life, but hardly the defining element of a woman’s life. Far from life and death, it is in some circles a game, even being played in front of television audiences.
I am not going to give you a lot of practical, solid investment oriented reasons as to why you should commission a work of art for yourself or your ‘organization.’
I could talk about the difference between having a professional trained in translating feelings and thoughts into an aesthetically pleasing visual expression, and an amateur snapping an off the cuff photo and having it ‘blown up.’
I could talk about honouring your subject with a one of a kind highly crafted and durable object.
I could talk about investing in both the status and worth of yourself or your organization, and the subject, through having it recorded in the time honoured manner of the wealthy, the noble and the pious.
But I am not.
Instead, I am going to talk about magic:
The real reason you should commission a painting, in my opinion, is because of the magical way it heightens your feelings about the subject.
I don’t completely know why, or how, but the act of having a professional artist invest hours, weeks or months, of their time, skill and attention into the interpretation of your thoughts and feelings in relation to the subject (a home, a garden, a pet, a loved one…) seems to imbue the subject with a certain magical quality of stirring emotion, even more than the photo that may have served as reference.
At unveiling, time and again I have witnessed unexpected tears as the individual sees the painting for the first time. Whether it is a gift or for yourself, I think this is what you are looking for when you commission an artwork, that recognition of the magic of feeling, time and attention.
What do you think? Have you commissioned an artwork? Why? What was the reaction to the finished work?