Friday, June 13, 2008

Salt Spring: sanity and salvation

“There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.”
~Emily Carr

I recently returned from a much-anticipated journey to Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. I went to visit my dear friend Anne in Duncan, across the way from Salt Spring, as well as to meet John and his family. It was easily one of the best trips I have ever taken. I feel like a changed person. It is a huge cliché but it is true. I made some wonderful friends and connections while there....friends who will make a move there easier when the time comes, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I spent a night in Duncan with Anne before heading to Salt Spring. We visited galleries in Victoria, drank lots of coffee and caught up. It has been two years since I last saw her. Her family are amazing people and we had a lovely vegan dinner of Anne's creation that evening.

I headed to Crofton the following day to take the ferry over to Salt Spring Island. The air was so clean everywhere. I noticed that when I woke up in the morning my lungs were clear with no coughing. I don't suffer from asthma but I really noticed the difference. My bed and breakfast on Salt Spring was idyllic....everything was frankly. I went to the market in Ganges on Saturday, met John and his family as well, went to his birthday party, met other friends serendipitously and just relaxed. I have been threatening to move to BC for years and now, after returning from this trip, I really mean to do it...most people I met there said "just get in your car and do it"...just take the leap. Leaps are difficult to take because friends and family are what root us to places. I do not have a large family and I can easily return to Ontario to visit. Being a painter is supremely flexible in terms of where one really has no limitation, as long as I can reach a post office to ship paintings.

Salt Spring is only 70 square miles and so I covered almost all of the island through visiting people and exploration over the course of the 5 days I was there. I noticed that everyone was just so naturally beautiful. It is as though the residents have been scrubbed with salt from the a good way. Like a natural exfoliant that has let their true personalities come to the surface. People stop and wait for you to cross the road rather than screaming past, casual conversations strike up anywhere and at anytime and there is a general feeling of relaxation about the place, despite the ubiquitous coffee shops everywhere. Be prepared for when you order a "small" coffee in BC....small is medium or large here in BC when you order a large they hand you a thermos of coffee. Just kidding. Also being vegan, I noticed that every single coffee shop had soy milk. I doubt I will be so lucky when Rob and I visit Newfoundland in September....needless to say I'm packing my own soy milk.

Upon returning to Ontario I really do feel re-energized creatively, body and soul. I tend to get myopic and depressed in my little studio here and this trip expanded my philosophy and horizons both. I had such amazing conversations ranging from ancient civilizations thriving and collapsing to the utter hatred for the three new Star Wars movies.

There is so much nature and wildlife out on Salt Spring that I will have to seek out new models and inspiration when I am there. The first thing that grabs your eye is usually something from the landscape. I have a feeling that my artwork that is produced there will definitely have the natural world included in some capacity. Almost all of the buildings have large windows, inviting the outside in constantly. The Old Man's beard hangs off of so many trees, indicating a healthy environment. I love the rain and clouds as well...though I'll need some strong studio lights to compensate for the cloudiness. Regardless I know that a new creative epoch is just around the corner...if all goes well I want to be there in 1-2 years tops.

For now I am going to get back down to it and complete three paintings by months end...if I can. A bunch have sold recently so I need to get more inventory for the galleries. Good times ahead.

Listening to: "De usuahia a la quiaca" by Gustavo Santaolalla from the Motorcycle Diaries Soundtrack. The man is a genius.

"To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change." ~Charles Horton Cooley

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