Award winning painting

I was delighted to have two of my recent paintings juried into "Through Island Eyes II" with the Federation of Canadian Artists - Nanaimo Chapter Summer show. The following painting received the "Award of Excellence".

"MEMORIES LOST" Jill Ehlert © 2007    30" X 22" MIXED MEDIA ON PAPER

Memories Lost” is a loving memorial to my Mother who had dementia. As her caregiver for many years, this disease had an impact on both of our lives.  

This 30" X 22" mixed media painting on paper has an underlying cruciform structure that is offset to the right hand side. Deliberately positioned in the lower right hand quadrant facing towards the center is a photo transfer of a head in side view. This head from a phrenology chart displays compartments of thought and emotion modules in the brain. Phrenology was promoted as a source of psychological insight and self-knowledge, personality and character. This line drawing was chosen for its symbolism and strong graphic imagery. A photo transfer of long undulating black tree branches like neural pathways and blood vessels rise up out of the head groping and reaching to the top edge of the painting. This graphical union of head and tree branches creates a dominant vertical thrust in the painting.  

The horizontal axis of the cruciform structure crosses behind the tree branches in the top third of the painting. This strata-like division contains successive layers of imagery, a clock hinting at time running out, spirals broken in half, pieces of a crossword puzzle, distressed paper, bits of road maps, the up and down zigzag lines of brain wave patterns are also echoed in corrugated cardboard added for repeated texture and interest. Thought compartments are echoed here as well. 

The photo transfer process was chosen specifically for its graphic and layering qualities. This particular phrenology image is in the public domain and the tree branches are my own photographs.   

Layering is both an intuitive and conscious approach to my art making and be it referential or material, it is a formal element in this work. [1] 

Layered meanings of memory, lost identity, alienation, fear of the unknown and loss are combined with a rich layering process of acrylic paint, mark making, collage, symbols, photo transfer, veils of colour and erasure. 

A sensitive palette of pinks and flesh tone mixes, yellow ochre and unbleached titanium dominate the background and contrasts with the grayed down olive and golden green colour found within the vertical axis.  Veils of colour bridge levels of perception and knowledge. 

Gauze like material adhered to the background on either side of the head was chosen for its texture and psychological impact – creating a hint of interruption to suggest something is not quite right. The delicate weave and lines within the gauze directs the eye upward through this space. Washes of flesh-toned colour are applied, veiling what is underneath, it is foggy and uncertain and we can’t quite tell what lays ahead.