Friday, January 25, 2013


 Available for purchase here.  $195

The Great Fire in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on July 8, 1892, is remembered as the worst disaster ever to befall that city.

Daybreak on the morning of July 9, 1892 revealed the full extent of the fire's devastation.

"When morning broke the thick clouds of smoke still ascended from the burning ruins, and it was hours before it had cleared sufficiently to admit a view of the track of the desolating scourge. A walk through the deserted streets demonstrated that the ruin was even more complete than seemed possible at first. Of the whole easterly section, scarcely a building remained… of the costly and imposing structures and public buildings which were the pride and glory of the people, scarcely a vestige remained; and St. John's lay in the morning as a city despoiled of her beauty, her choicest ornaments, presenting a picture of utter desolation and woe."
           st. john's after fire

There have been fires since, but none having the devastating effects that this had on the city.  Rows of tightly packed old wooden houses and a strong wind whips fire into a frenzy and there have been a few near misses in the not too distant past.

So what is the connection between this painting and fire?  I’ve been mulling over abstract or modern painting and dissecting the why and how of it to make it clear in my head. I’ll be writing another post about abstract art and my thoughts and ideas of how to get started with it for my own art group and will share some of those thoughts at a later date.

What I will share now is my finding that abstract art is not unlike most other forms in terms of construction.   There has to be a concept to start with and an idea of palette, otherwise you’re slinging paint around without any pleasing form or contrasting areas. 

                         1892 crop
For me, in creating abstract art, I become the medium and the painting shows me the path. Form and colour become intuitive and you just “know” what to do next.  It is the case with this piece.  It started out tamely enough, then a smear of modeling paste here and there, a strong pigment and a line and the idea of fire started taking over, just as a real fire would.
I have found that letting the painting guide me, as new age as that sounds, is a truth.  Until you experience it, you cannot know the freedom it unfolds.


Clipping Path said...

Fantastic arts designs collection. I think you are a brilliant artist. Thanks for sharing !!

Toni said...

Love reading your thoughts. Some abstract art I can relate to and some not so much. The ones that i don't relate to are the ones I feel the artist was just slinging paint and no idea of concept or color. Love your piece you show here. Thanks for sharing.

Jeanette said...

Clipping Path, thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoy my work.

Toni, thank you. I'm not an abstract painter, but I see the beauty in it and dabble on the edges at times.

It takes time and thought to create a good abstract that meets the same criteria that a representational painting would have.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

you would think that being canadian i would have heard of this fire before, seems like something they should mention in school

reminds me a lot of a rusted panel, but that might be because i've been painting a lot of rust lately. very nice colours on it :)

Jeanette said...

I don't really recall much about it in school to be honest either Jen. Perhaps its a more localized event. As an old city, fire has taken a toll several times. And the downtown core seems to lose a few buildings each year to fire too.

Rust is great, there's interesting colour and texture to it.