Here are the English and French press releases for the exhibition "So Says - Ainsi Dit".  Thanks to Claudine Ascher for organizing such an interesting event.  I invite you to come and view the show which runs until May 24th, 2015.  

Artists were asked to document their process.  Mine follows after the press releases.

“You were doomed to put on a print dress and a rubber girdle and sit in a rocking chair on the porch….”

When I read Margaret Atwood’s quote, I was consumed by waves of memories.  


Memory 1:

I come from a small town.  My parents and I would often take short road trips in the surrounding countryside on Sunday afternoons.  Porches played an important role in rural areas.  After church Sunday mornings, dressed to the nines, locals spent their afternoons rocking and watching to get a sense of what was happening in the world.  If strangers drove by, as we did, they were eyeballed as outsiders who’d best not stir up any trouble. I will never forget those looks, a blend of curiosity, wariness, and xenophobia.

Memory 2:

There was a house I used to avoid in my neighbourhood.  A young woman who was obviously suffering, would rock wildly on her parent’s balcony and bellow like a sick donkey every 30 seconds.   I was afraid of her.

Memory 3:

Women’s issues have always been a concern of mine.  I think of how we have been portrayed over the years, waiting, always waiting; waiting for the men to arrive. 

What I found particularly interesting about the quote was the order in which Atwood listed things:

  1. Doomed
  2. Print dress
  3. Rubber girdle
  4. Rocking chair
  5. Porch
Doomed:  A woman is in an impossible situation that she can’t get out of, fated to wait and rock in perpetuity.

Print dress:  This is the kind of flowered dress I saw women wear on my road trips.

Rubber girdle:  Interestingly, the girdle is mentioned after the dress.  I take Atwood literally and place the girdle over the dress. 

Rocking chair:  I want it a bit warped and lopsided to underscore the mood.  She is forced to sit on a slant.

Porch:  It is old, faded, in disrepair.  Weeds grow through and around things.  They are out of control.

These are the changes the painting went through...  

On the left, the painting is roughed out.  I proceed to paint the girdle pink and to darken, (doom and gloom) the background.  

I outline the limbs and define where I want white trim.  

I add a dandelion on the bottom left.  (They are about to sprout on my property and I am dreading having to pull them out forever and ever.)  I vary the colours in each brick. The shoes are brown.  I decide to make them match the dress.  Final refinements include adding more weeds around the bricks and darker shadows in the background, trimming the left post of the rocking chair, and adjusting the arms and hands.


I am tempted to create another painting based on the "Doomed Cafe" initial sketch, which would take place in a social setting with lots of savoury (and naturally unsavoury) characters.  Who knows where it will all take me.  A small paper piece is in the works at the present time.