Inspired by people and events that have fed her soul, painter/photographer/writer Lyn Maxwell will reveal her latest art series in a month-long exhibition at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery.
Appropriately called Soul Food, the collection of some 47 pieces of art combine Maxwell’s love of painting and photography.
“It was just one of those moments, where I thought, why don’t I try this – and I liked it,” she says. “It’s hard to believe it’s an original idea, but I had not seen anything like this before.”
Using her own photos in all but two of the photo paintings, the talented artist applies a black and white photocopy of a person’s face to a canvas, then paints in the background.
“That was the style that evolved; the faces are frozen in time and the surroundings are painted,” she says, noting the idea came to her about two years ago. “The contrast between the two is what I think makes it work.”
Maxwell began the series in Mexico in November 2013 and says the size of the canvasses depended on what would fit into her backpack.
Most of the paintings are 11” by 14” with only a few being either smaller or larger.
“I do not call them collages; that conjures up cutting out pieces from magazines,” she says. “I refer to these as photo paintings.”
“The photos were taken in Greece, Mexico and here and reflect happy times; people and events and moments that, to use the expression from the title, feed my soul,” she says. “They were painted in Mexico and here in Salmon Arm.”
Several of the photos were taken on the Greek island of Amorgos, the easternmost of the Cyclades chain of islands, and one Maxwell and her husband John return to every year.
“I take photos and every day I take my drawing book out, but I have not had success painting in Greece,” she says, uncertain if it’s because of the contrasting values with the light and the architecture. “I also write while I am there. Writing and drawing both seem to come quite naturally.”
The writing includes a novel set on Amorgos with an interesting collection of characters that Maxwell spends about two hours a day crafting.
“It’s a bit of a thriller,” she says with a laugh. “In the spring I’ll go back and add to the story. It’s one of those things that has to be worked on there.”
While the Maxwells always stay in the same little apartment, one of their friends who lives on Amorgos takes them by boat to visit other Greek islands.
And while they have now visited some 35 island, Amorgos remains the favourite.
“There’s something about the energy and the people and the fact it’s a bit off the beaten track,” Maxwell says.
In contrast, when Maxwell and her husband make the annual trek to Puerto Vallarta, she paints almost every day.
“Mexico feels to me to be a land of colour and painting works for me there,” she says. “I take the photographic material I have taken in Greece and finish them in Mexico – in a courtyard with natural light.”
Response has been good from the few people who have seen Maxwell’s new series. She has been waiting to debut them in her exhibition that begins with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday, June 5 at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery.
Rather than having a title, each piece of art is tagged with a phrase that trails off… leaving the viewer the opportunity to create their own story as inspired by the image.
Maxwell’s exhibition runs to June 27. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Families are welcome to attend Family Saturdays to create a collage project together. Artist Trading Cards is Tuesday, June 9 at 3 p.m. Coffee Break and Artist Talk is from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 18. The talk begins at 2:15.