THE LOTUS POSITION
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario, is one of our favourite places. I visit them with my wife and fellow artist, Susan McCrae, on a regular basis all year round. We photograph the flowers for pleasure and find endless variety in the colours and forms of the blooms.
In the rose garden, by the teahouse, there is a man-made, rectangular pool with plantings of water lilies, reeds, arrowheads and other water plants. It is one of my treasured spots -especially in late summer. I am inspired by the flowers and by the reflections of the plants and sky in the pool, and how they vary with the light and the breeze. I have many photographs of the lotus leaves and flowers and hoped, one day, to create a series of paintings of these marvellous plants.
As I embarked on this project, I wondered about the media I would use. Oil? Soft pastels? When I went to an exhibition on modernism at the Art Gallery of Ontario, there were a couple of paintings by Picasso in which he combined oil with soft pastel. I don’t remember the names of the paintings, but I was instantly captured by the wonderful textural effects which could be achieved by combining these two materials, and I knew the answer. By incorporating pastel for the leaves and flowers which sit on the surface of the water, and using oil for the water surface and reflections, I hoped I might achieve a unique three-dimensional effect.
The ten Lotus Garden pieces are the result of my experimentation with materials and approaches and represent the core of the exhibition “The Lotus Position” mounted in the Headwaters Art Gallery (Alton Mill Arts Centre, Alton, Ontario). They are accompanied by a series of oils I painted to further explore the potential of the subject. Two of these paintings were purchased by the Ontario Government Art Collection well before the series was completed, and although not included in the exhibit, they are listed in the catalog.
Before deeming the series done, I re-examined my photographs and decided to include a few of them in the exhibition.
“The Lotus Position” has been adventure, and I hope that the results of my journey will bring pleasure to those who see the work. It is good to mount this exhibit at the end of a long Canadian winter. The lush blossoms and multi-toned leaves are promises of the summer to come.
Tony Marinus Vander Voet OSA CFS MPAC