Elliott Louis Gallery Canadian Fine Art
Tom Forrestall
Alerted Cats
24 x 16 Inches
egg tempera on gessoed panel
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“Alerted Cats . . . Distant Island” Egg Tempera. April, 2011. The watercolour and drawings for this painting were done in the old St. Paul’s graveyard in Dartmouth, looking out over Georges Island to the breakwater and lighthouse, and thus to the North Atlantic beyond. I went back several times just to soak up the place and do another unrelated watercolour. The painting sucked me in and held me tight, so much so that it, (the painting) took on a life of its own. The real place faded from my focus and the painting took dominance. This is as it should be and happens again and again in all my paintings. One can see every brushstroke; they are always evident in egg tempera. One can see it very well in the texture of the grass and bushes in the foreground. This brush texture is one of egg tempera’s great appeals to me. I’m forever moving things about, adding and subtracting, bringing it more and more to order. I see my paintings as a stage I set up, everything is done for the sake of the art. This is no photographic recording of a place, this created work of art lives independently of the real place, and it lives with a life of its own. Photography stirred into painting is a kind of mannerism of the worst kind because it invades the whole creative effort and is most evident. The real place I always see anew and put my own unique spin upon it. A brief side glance can sometimes turn into weeks of work. The detail in my paintings is not the reason I paint. Detail is a secondary by-product of sinking deeper and deeper into a work, bringing out what I call a ‘Truer Realism’, a realism of emotions, of memory, of turning on all my senses to the place and how it comes to me. There’s a lot of poetry in my art, my human stamp is upon it, how I struggled, how I’ve reached beyond myself, how I succeeded. How I failed my vision but not myself for the very best, the greatest effort was grasped for. Egg tempera is one of the oldest of the mediums for painting. It is also one of the most permanent and in a unique way, one of the most beautiful. Hen’s egg yolk, thinned with a bit of water is then mixed into pure dry powdered pigments. The medium is so simple, so direct, there’s not way to change or improve it. Alex Colville taught it to me in 1956 and I used it in so many paintings ever since. . . It has never let me down, drawing is the root of all my painting . . . “I draw to fill my head, and I paint to empty it” -Tom Forrestall Dartmouth N.S.

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