Autumn. Like the season, this painting is rich with color. It’s applied in short brush strokes so that the eye wonders around the painting, blending and filling in. It’s a painting that engages not just the eye but the imagination.
Like the change in season it depicts, this painting marks a time of change in Emily Carr’s life and work. She painted it in France, in the Fall of 1911. She had traveled there to study new ideas and learn new techniques, to find new ways of seeing and creating. She wanted to take her work in a new, more satisfying direction.
So in France, far from home, she studied under other artists – John Duncan Fergusson, Henry Gibb, Francis Hodgkins. From the teaching of each one she took ideas and techniques which became the foundation for her later work. She learned to work more loosely, to experiment, to use color in new ways, to try to capture the spirit rather than the look of a place, to work more abstractly, work with the paint and canvas.
I’ve learned a lot from Emily Carr – from the words she wrote, from the few paintings of hers I’ve seen, from the many reproductions that give an idea of the rest of her work, from what I know about her life, from this journey. Among the things I’ve learned:
- Follow your own vision, and learn what you need, wherever and whenever you can, to help you along your journey.
- Work for acceptance, but be prepared for rejection – know, understand and explain your own work.
- Be resilient – when life places roadblocks in your way, work your way patiently around them.
- Above all – observe, absorb, illuminate!