"Pictures should be inspired by nature but made in the soul of the artist.
It is the soul of the individual that counts."
"You will have to experiment and try things out for yourself and you will not be sure of what you are doing. That's all right, you are feeling your way into the thing."
"Look at the earth crowded with growth, new and old bursting from their strong roots hidden in the silent, live ground, each seed according to its own kind ... each one knowing what to do, each one demanding its rights on earth. So artist, you too from the depths of your soul, ... let your roots creep forth, gaining strength.
~ Emily Carr ~
Emily Carr is a Canadian icon, known mostly for her colourful paintings depicting landscapes and aboriginal scenes from the west coast. She was also a writer, and I am inspired by her words as much as her paintings. Her legacy comes to mind whenever I begin to doubt myself as an artist. I re-read the quotes above and let their meaning soak into my being.
She broke through many barriers of her time to become a famous female painter, but her perseverance and quirkiness are what speak to me most. She was a bad-ass woman!
Carr did not fit into the refined society she lived in, nor the strict English, Presbyterian upbringing she had as a child. She was fired from her job as an art instructor after only one month, for smoking and cursing at her students.
She struggled as an artist. Despite studying art in Europe, her gender stifled any public recognition or appreciation for her talent.
To make a living, she stopped painting entirely for decades as she ran a boarding house.
She had a soft spot for animals and underdogs. She kept many pets, including a monkey named Woo, that she bought after witnessing it being bullied by older monkeys in a pet shop in Victoria.
Carr was a late bloomer. She did not start painting in the style that she is most remembered for until after being mentored by Lawren Harris, of the Group of Seven. This speaks to me of her openness to life-long learning, the collaboration enriching her and enabling the evolution of her artistic style.
Her career, or at least the recognition of her talents as an artist, did not begin until she was 57. I identify with that, perhaps too much, being a retired woman who put painting on hold for decades as I pursued a career in teaching and counselling. I am also in my fifties, and feel like an emerging artist.
This image was inspired from a combination of a still photo taken from the short film, "Bone, Wind, Fire" (2011), and one of my favourite Carr paintings, 'Above the Gravel Pit' (1937).