However one wishes to interpret the phrase, it carries with it the notion that the act being described lies well outside normal usage and expectation. In this post... I wish to push that idea yet one level further. In artistic terms of usage, it might well describe alternate ways to present one's creations. or. It might well be used to describe the fact that a creation ... hung on the wall has been purchased and that it is indeed now... "off the wall."
Our Summer 2015 opening here at The Paint Box Gallery was a roaring success... with almost five hundred visitors visiting our shop over the three day weekend. Thank you Queen Victoria! I so9ld six paintings and one of Deb's beautiful large stained glass window creations also left the building for a new home. Along with these major purchases, numerous gift cards and other smaller and portable purchases also walked out of the Gallery. One could reasonably assert that weekend business was indeed quite... "off the wall"!
Amongst those sold paintings was one that was dear to my heart because it embodied a principle that I strive towards on rare occasions. It is easy "to simply follow the plow" in creating art.That is to say... to emulate the work of others, or to play it safe and simply paint to what sells in the marketplace. It takes courage to plod under one's own steam and vision in a new and untested direction... without guarantee of success or even possible sale of what has been undertaken.
I knew fully that the scale and the technical ability demanded in this mammoth project had lain outside my grasp for almost twenty-five years. Despite this fact, the "Idea" kept creeping into my psyche and my paintings and sketches continually for that that same period of time. However... I lacked the courage and the time to step up until one precise moment of decision.
In early January of 2011... that fear was overcome when I spontaneously I purchased the four four by six foot white canvases on which to lay out the design and composition for this project. It even caught Deb by surprise... because I had not discussed the project with her. She must surely have thought at that particular moment in the art supply store... that AWB was indeed..."off the wall". But to her credit, she never questioned the large ticket price... nor my creative intent. I needed those things from her! She never fails to deliver those necessary encouragements.
She even kicked in.., agreeing to tone the large gallery wrapped canvases with black acrylic paint - a huge job applying three separate coats of black acrylic paint on all tops and sides. All the while, I "played around" patching together photo and ink sketch pieces in readiness for laying down the composition. It would take many very early morning coffees of staring blankly at the huge "blackboard" strapped together by 1x2 inch strapping au verso... and sitting up on four plastic milk crates to garner the courage and confidence to proceed.
Finally... the "Idea" became distilled and revealed what seemed a logical plan of attack. White chalk carved out compositional lines roughly to create a very basic mapping. Very active vertical slashes and diagonals broke up the undulating rhythms of the restful horizonals: water ... hills and sky.
Painting seem to follow without a need to pause because I had "seen" these aspects physically and in my mind so many times in this special landscape. The trick would be to create the subtlest seasonal transition that was required between each of the the four panels to make the landscape read as real.
It required eight solid days of studio time for the work to reach its satisfying conclusion. But it truly took nearly thirty years of active painting and observation to permit/equip me to paint it. Now that this act was completed came what I knew from the onset would be the hardest part of the project - to market and to sell it. A canvas of this immense scale required a specific and very ample space to house it. It would also require a client who shared my painting taste and passion in creating this painting. Add to these limiting factors... that the cost would be "off the wall" to the average client.
This painting had opened shows in three good galleries and had hung in two very prestigious corporate spaces since its creation in January of 2011. I had never lost hope that it would find just the right home... a home where a heart like my own dwelled and would take full custody and enjoy it. This past weekend... my "off the wall" thinking and effort was finally rewarded. The quadriptych..."The Magnificence of Algonquin Park in All Seasons" was purchased by a long time pair of friends and avid collectors of my work. And with that purchase came permanent and unconditional "visiting rights" HA HA!
It has been purchased to be the central focus for their new home... soon to be constructed on their lake front garden property north of Barrie, Ontario. It will anchor the collection of eighty of my works that they have purchased over the years. I am greatly blessed!... Thank you Rolly and Grace - you do me a great honour in this gesture!
Ironically... Deb successfully owned and operated a gift shop in Brockville, Ontario at the time that I met her. I was blessed to become her creative and life partner... when she left her lovely shop... Off the Wall... to help me build The Paint Box Gallery into the successful and joyful enterprise that it has become through our joint passion and hard work together.
This quadriptych is but one of many "off the wall" artistic projects that I have concocted to "spread my wings" and to fly beyond my daily thought and creative patterns. I shall add a second post soon to share some other more zany and unconventional undertakings that I have enjoyed creating along my journey. Perhaps... they might inspire some of you to risk taking a new path and direction in your own work.
A mantra borrowed from a gifted thinker that I have long admired, Ralph Waldo Emerson, is one that I have heartily embraced and practised in both my creative and personal lives. It perhaps seems to me to be a fitting thought upon which to close today's post:
"Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen."
Good Painting... to ALL!!! ... Make it happen!