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Because of the duck

Nasturiums, originally uploaded by leyaevelyn.

My next exhibit is at the Secord Gallery in Halifax. November 9 to 30. So it is time to gather thoughts and paintings together, make some decisions. As I was walking through the woods with my dog Lila, the title, “Because of the Duck”, arose in my mind. I almost called Phil, the gallery owner, on my cell, but felt it wasn’t fair to the trees and brook. When I did talk to him about it, Phil asked me to explain. So here are my thoughts:

“Because of the duck” refers, elliptically, to the creative process and, in this case, how a painting comes to be. A few years ago, when I was teaching a workshop in abstract painting, I put some objects out on a table as a beginning point, a reference to start the wheels of the imagination. Among these objects were several toy ducks, small yellow rubber ducks. The exercise was a group process, where students rotated successively around the room, working on someone else’s painting before returning, eventually to their own piece.

One student began with painting a duck in the lower right hand corner. From that, the painting grew. Yet no matter what elements were introduced, by whatever student passing by, whether the painting was worked on upside down, right or left, the yellow duck remained as a focal point around which the painting turned. It was not a duck anymore. It had lost it’s original identity, became more integrated into what became mainly a blue painting. But that yellow energy, in that spot where the duck began, had an unquestionable necessity.

So much about painting is choosing, and how we choose is what ultimately makes the painting. Often the choices are not preconceived but spontaneous, arising from some necessity that speaks from its own will, not ours. The reality of the duck was because of the painting process. That duck had many visitors, each knowing and respecting its importance. The necessity of the duck was what made the painting sing.


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