El Pelo, 2002
Acrylic on Textured Canvas
24 in x 48 in
As many will discern from the title of this piece, El Pelo was created with Hispanic inspiration. I married into a Latino family and I am often amazed at the richness found in all aspects of their culture. Their language is sultry, their food spicy and their aesthetics are bold. Whenever one thinks of a Spanish country, rich colours immediately come to mind. There are the vibrant reds of the Flamenco dancers, the popping yellow and pink of Mexican sugar skulls, the rich orange and blues of the Mayan textiles in Guatemala… I could go on forever.
Whenever my in-laws come back from a pilgrimage to their homeland of El Salvador, they always bring such beautiful hand-crafted gifts back for me. One day, I was truly inspired to create something of my own that paid homage to the bold, primitive aesthetic of these gifts. I actually had the canvas for this piece for quite some time before I used it. It was sitting on my floor against my wall so that I could stare at the blank surface every time I was in my bed. It’s one of my processes. I kept seeing a woman’s face at the bottom of the canvas but it didn’t really make any sense to me because I didn’t know what I was going to fill the rest of the surface up with. Eventually, I decided to take brush to canvas without a finished idea in my head. I wanted to, at minimum, paint the face that I kept seeing in my head. As is often the case with my work, I started painting and the brush took over. I started working in the curves of her piled-high hair and the next thing I knew, I was at the top of the canvas. El Pelo had revealed itself. I love it when that happens. I’m not sure that it’s very appropriate for an artist to say this but I really fell in love with this piece. In fact, I loved it so much that despite several offers, I didn’t sell it for over a decade. True story. I just couldn’t part with it.
Eventually, its true owner came along though. This lovely woman saw it hanging in my studio at an art centre and tracked me down (with some difficulty) over what I think was three months. When I met with her, I instantly knew she was a kindred spirit and that she loved my painting as much as I did. I truly wouldn’t have been able to part with it under any other circumstances. So, it now belongs to an avid art collector and phenomenal woman who resides in South Surrey, British Columbia. She actually showed me the special place in her household where she features El Pelo, and amongst her other art treasures, I believe it truly found its home.