As a young family, we’d pack our camper with the bare necessities for life and, in the peak of our cold Canadian winter, head off for warmer weather in the south. Nothing was extravagant - hotdogs by the fire and fish and chips at road side stands were the norm. Some of my favourite times were spent in Fort De Soto Campground in Pinellas County, Florida. There, with the Gulf nearby, days would be spent building sandcastles. My sister fished with a stick, a string and a bit of bubble gum. She never caught a thing but it didn’t matter… we had oodles of time.
Evenings, we would skip dinner and head off to a local ice cream hut.
This series of paintings called “Road Trip” is reminiscent of those days when life seemed simpler and the days seemed longer. Each of the scenes is meant to evoke a sense of place. A line of laundry, a hammock or a pot of geraniums tells the story of staying put in one place for a little while; as though one might have the luxury of wasting time.
And, even though the life of a traveller is rather transient, once the Airstream or VW was parked, the awning pulled out or the tent staked, one had a home away from home; a sense of mobility without all the heavy weight of life and stuff can be quite appealing.
It’s my hope that these scenes bring to mind simpler times and perhaps even inspire them.
I grew up in a rose garden.
My mother’s rose garden, that is. Roses of every variety and colour poked out of the earth that surrounded our bungalow in Thorold. She had a way with roses. In fact, she may have been obsessed with roses. To make a rose bush from scratch, all she needed was a small cutting, a glass jar and about six months. As a result, our garden was brilliantly bright with colour and a great source of joy and pride for my mother.
So, when I think of roses, I always think of her.
Roses have never ceased to be significant in my life, even after my mother died and I moved from home. I was a professional florist for 20 years. Those days are done - I’ve since retired from the business but I haven’t lost my fascination with roses, especially those fluffy and gorgeous David Austen garden roses.
I’ve always felt that there’s a best practice in experiencing a rose. You see, there’s so much more to a rose than it’s outer beauty. For example, when I encounter a rose, I gently cup it in my hand and put my nose right up to the petals. Then I breathe very deeply. I exhale. And then I breathe again. I imagine all that beautiful scent filling up my lungs, making me just as sweet as a rose.
For my “Roadside Roses” series, I collected many photographs in my travels. Some photos are from the garden down the road from my home in Jordan Station while others are from the Village of Eutin in Germany and Flanders Fields in Belgium. (I found it interesting that Flanders is planted with red roses - not poppies, as one might assume)
Occasionally, I made record of the floral notes like you would at a wine tasting. I diligently smelled each rose, noting the unique differences from one bloom to the next. The red roses reminded me of herbs, moss and cut grass. The white ones brought to mind lemon drops and sweets from the candy store of my childhood. I wrote down many notes ... “watermelon, tart ‘n’ tiny’s, hot lips, cotton candy, green apples, cinnamon spice, vanilla and honey ” ... and so on.
You can see that I came to name the paintings from my floral notes.
The “Roadside Roses” paintings are an expression from my life and from my heart and I like to think they would make my mother smile.