On a recent trip back to my home state of South Australia, I spent some time with my Grandmother and before long, talk had turned to our creative endeavours. Shutter speed, aperture, lenses and data are the medium for my work, but for both my Grandmother and her Mother before her, canvas and paper, paint brushes and pencils are/were the tools of choice. Her talent is unmistakable and it always astounds me how humble she is, but I absolutely love her work. You could almost go so far as to say that I am a little envious, and how I would love to be able to do what she does, but if we were all the same, where would the fun be in that.
As the conversation flowed, out came the scrap book and we flicked through her catalogue of work. She explained that she paints and draws from photographs as she just couldn’t have someone to sit for the time it would take, nor does she really have the environment to do this. As we continued through the scrap book, the range from Wildlife to Landscape and then on to Portraits, I could see a pattern emerging and while there was an obvious range of styles (which I was impressed with by the way) there was one thing that held consistent from image to image. It was the eyes. Be it a human or animal subject, the eyes were bang on, every time! Deep, expressive and almost photorealistic, I could see right into them and it felt as though they could see right into me.
When she told me that the biggest challenge was not in the painting itself, but instead in finding the right image to paint. An image firstly suitable, but also un-restricted by copyright, thus allowing the resulting painting to be entered into competitions, festivals and to give it a better life, well… the next step was a no brainer. I offered some of my photographs and suggested a couple that I knew I had. On returning home, I set about finding these images in the archive.
The photographs in question were from a trip to Thailand back in 2007, I found the folder on an old hard drive, but I had no idea what else was there… Man! This thing was a literal time capsule of memories and it was loaded to the brim. With each click, I found another memory, another moment lost in time and completely forgotten. Some good, some… well… terrible actually, you see this was far from a good time in my life, but as I continued to search I saw everything differently to the way I did at the time. Certain images resonated with me in a way I know they never did before… and then it happened. I stumbled across that little piece of gold, an image I do remember taking, but due to the daily argument with my girlfriend at the time (gee that was fun), I’d ended the day feeling negative and for this reason felt the same way about the photograph. How could I? I LOVE it now!
The image was taken during a visit to one of the floating fishing villages amongst the Island chains in the Gulf of Thailand. This particular fisherman popped his head around the corner, smiled for the camera and disappeared just as quickly. Once forgotten, this now ranks highly amongst my favourites and I only wish I could pass a copy on to this smiling fellow.
Right, quick, I’d better send it off to Grandma and hope she likes it… and paints it.