Jane Eaton Hamilton

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” – Lillian Hellman

Category: painting

New Painting.

‘Tops. Yes They Call it Tops’–painting by Jane Eaton Hamilton 20″x24″ mixed-media on stretched canvas
We are all full of sorrow, grief and fear. I wish you all the strength to bear what comes our way/your way with grace.
I’m not having any luck painting at night because writing is just a wily beast and it claws all the time from any day. Keeping up with errands and housework, too, is proving a chore.
 
The weekends are for art. Today I rearranged my home studio because it’s in a small bedroom and I’m really at the stage I need one of the big studio spaces available in Vancouver, so I can go large. In this studio I can’t paint against the wall, have a ladder to get to the high parts, have multiple works going at once, or even store extant pieces. So it’s all a hellish jumble without adequate storage systems. I reworked the layout of the rickety old tables I have to give me some mostly empty table space for flat work and hope that will help to make it manageable.
 
Meantime, this painting is what I’ve been working on.

Part of the studio jumble is dozens of old paintings where my reach exceeded my grasp. Things I couldn’t figure out and abandoned as under paintings or just flubbed. What a delight to repurpose them! I’ve had several “go-fix-this” days in the last couple months, and with a few exceptions I’ve been successful. There’s still more to do to this one, but it will have to wait as for some reason, tomorrow’s Monday.

Meantime, two major rewrites this week on old/newish short stories, which was hella hard but gratifying. This week fun things like submitting and accounting, along with trying to finish first draft of a new story.

To purchase a print (mug, shower curtain, set of cards) please see Fine Art America under my name or Hamilton Art. To inquire about purchasing originals, please contact me at hamiltonjaneeaton at gmail dot com.

I love watching art and writing play off each other

study for Ice Queen: Jane Eaton Hamilton

I have to work in perfect silence but for the chirping of the fridge the songs of the birds, because it lets my subconscious rise. I was working on a painting this morning where I’d worked a study, and without conscious thought, or really even without realizing that I’d done it, I bounded up to the computer and started writing a pandemic meets factory farm short story.

Literally, the two have nothing to do with each other.

The art is about the arcane but nevertheless still sometimes practiced habit of leaving babies out in the snow and sleet. I’d lately read a BC Back-to-School guide, where it advised parents to dress their children warmly as the windows would all be open, and I thought back to a time in my childhood.

I’d come home from half-day kindergarten during a snow and wind storm. I kept tugging my own hat out from my face to shield the wind. My mittens were covered with pills of snow turned to ice. I found my baby sister’s squeaky, big-wheeled pram on the back porch. She just stared up at me, expressionless, her big brown eyes registering nothing, her cheeks flushed, her lips shaded blue. I remember begging my mother to bring her inside, where I was then shucking off my coat and boots so I could melt in front of a heat register, but was sternly told that taking “air” was good for her and that it happened to all babies.

That made me wonder where the tradition came from. We didn’t put babies out in 100 degree heat, did we? So was it disease-related? Had it in fact come about during the 1918 flu epidemic and was never dropped (or from an earlier plague time)?

The short story, though, flows back to a tweet I read where a writer kept walking into the same spider web every morning, and the spider would just rebuild it. I wondered whether a spider could feel ennui or have an existential crisis. “I work and I work and I work and just seems to get nowhere. And why do I never catch a fly? I’m losing so much weight?” Something like that. It triggered work on the short story that anthropomorphizes animals. The story, so far called Mom and Pop, is part of a larger project of short fiction from factory-farmed animals’ perspectives.

 

Once again, spring, with the kanzen cherry blossom

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photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton kanzen cherry 2015

Labyrinth

I go outdoors into the corridors of plum and cherry blossoms, the florid wisterias with their dangling racemes, their whips you must cut back three times a season or they will eat your cat, your car, your house. Here on the street the magnolias lift their cups waiting for spring to pour itself down. I know what’s in there. I know they have crowns, Kinder egg treats, their surprises, their jesters’ hats with dangling gold bells. The air is tinted with scent of hyacinths: Carnegie, City of Harlem, China Pink, Woodstock. They grow ceraceous, stiff along their water-filled stalks, blossoms further apart or closer together depending on light conditions—in my garden with its parsimonious sunshine, they can only try hard, but they give off their kick of perfume, they string it out, they let me have it anyway. Spring is soft as cotton batten, and some moments it goes gaudy as a circus. Watch the chestnut leaf unfurl. Watch the Clematis coil around the stem. Watch the talented beak of the finch as it cracks a sunflower seed. Watch the spotted towhee peck, the variegated thrush as it hurries to hide itself. The sempiternitous sky carves its bowl of the possibilities up beyond the clouds where rockets shoot, where astronauts imagine, where Sally Ride rode her lesbianism into blue space, where Christa McAuliffe exploded when I still lived in the house with the climbing tree.

I kick off my shoes, pull at my socks. The crust of the earth is chilled under my feet, dark, but the wet flock of grass stalks, the brush-cut of green against my toes is a party, takes me into the scrum of childhood when lawns were made for kick-the-can and there was no Round-Up and the measure of a good summer was whether you got enough callouses that you could walk across sharp pebbles and how big a cannonball splash you could make. I spill my hand over a Kanzan cherry trunk, bark rigid and broken. I unwrap the perianth, the floral envelope. A whole bough is Kyoto in April, the Philosopher’s Path, the wandering maiko in their wooden shoes, pink kimonos and white faces, elaborate combs. The individual petals in my hands weigh less than air; weigh less than the eyelashes I brushed last weekend from my lover’s rose-pink cheek. The petals are translucent, pink, silky. I don’t lift my arms, but lifting my arms is what I mean, into the symphonic air.

One year, when I had greatly suffered, when my body was giving itself up, when I had lost all in the world there was to lose, except my life, and was losing that as surely as if I had a hole in my toe through which it drained, I heard a woman playing, on violin, Bach’s Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor, and I was drawn by the threads of music like a rat behind the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and I sank to a bench to listen, and was contrapuntally struck. Terror, relief. Pain, pleasure. Hatred, love. Sour, sweet. The labyrinth we all unwittingly walk, where everything horrible is eventually overwritten by beauty. Everything beautiful is eventually overwritten by horror.  And repeat.  I know this as a simple truth. This is ever reliable.

I was for the first time in a year of fear not trembling.

Instead of writing the composition, the way as a writer I was prone to do, or capturing the composition the way as a photographer and painter I was prone to do, somehow I became the composition indivisibly and then, just as mysteriously, I melded with air and breeze. I was still me, old and challenged and broken, and not me, too. I was as much the musician as I was her audience. The violinist drew her bow under an ornamental plum tree, white-blossomed, through which sunlight dappled and sky showed cerulean, and all of these things merged—Bach, the poise of her wrist, how hard she had worked to stand under this blossoming Vancouver tree on this too-cold spring day, the sunshine, my own sorrow and grief and sour-hearted blood mechanics—and I was saved. I had not been able to live, and now, via this merging of talent and music and blossom and chill, I could, again. Happiness filled me as if the hole in my foot had healed and instead had become a hole in my head, and the filling was as complete as the emptying. Where I had been but a shell, I plumped. My corpuscles danced. My mitochondria laughed.

A couple weeks ago, a friend hurt herself badly. Yesterday, there was a terrible home invasion, a harsh injury, on a street where I love people. Yesterday a friend wrote to say that even so people save themselves with minute beauty. I knew she was right. I have done this over and over and over again through my life, redemption (if you like, though I might call it retrieval, or restitution) through the communion wafer of nature, through the holy drink that is nature. People save themselves on buttercups under chins to say if they like butter. People save themselves with raccoon kits, bees’ wings, and bird babies in the eaves. These accidental evolutionary goodnesses. People save themselves with kittens, and lambs pronging in fields, and the slap of a horse’s mane on their hands as they ride barebacked through meadows. People save themselves with good cups of coffee or food.  People save themselves with tickles, with hand holding, just by meeting someone’s eyes. People save themselves with hikes or bicyling or long runs.  These spices of experience.  Fragments of mercy.

I am as dunderheaded as a person could be, but, yet, even so, even despite my flaws and weaknesses and losses, this reliable lift I feel because of the intricacy of a poppy unfolding crumpled petals, is there, is real, is find-able, is replicable, is mine for the looking. You won’t find it where I find it, because we are not the same person, but someday when the intricacy of terror and ruination lift, you will find it all the same–in a child’s giggle, a moon shadow, or in the way birch bark curls.

It is yours.

Femme au collier jaune

1946 Femme au collier jaune; Picasso

painting of Françoise Gilot with cigarette burn on her cheek–if we view this, are we complict?

I found this article by Claire Dederer useful in thinking through what has been an obsession without answer during my artistic career. Should we love the art and ignore what we know of the artist? Should art be held to standards? All I ever could answer with were questions.

What is art? What does it mean? Whose art? Whose history? What art was left out? This is as true of literature of course as it is of visual art or films or photography.

I want to see the world we’d have if the people who had been left by the wayside were white men. I want to see the films, read the books, look at the photography and visual art that wasn’t captured or wasn’t kept or wasn’t remarked upon. I long to know the world without patriarchy. Would it be better, or only different?

What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?

The Lesbian Paintbrush Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

Lydia Davis in acrylic

JEH Lydia Davis 2016sketch, Lydia Davis: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2016

JEH Aug 2016sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2016

I didn’t bring painting supplies with me on my summer trip, but I have acrylic delivered via squeeze bottle, my fingers and cheap but acid-free paper from the hardware store. So I doodle in bed sometimes at night when I’m half paying attention to an author on You Tube or a movie on Netflix. (Last night the cat walked right through Lydia Davis in black acrylic and onto my white duvet cover.)

Afternoon Delight

Finishing up the edits (thank you, first readers!) on the new novel to get it sent to my agent tomorrow, then followed that up with jive and painting.  Oh yeah.

JEHNude2015

Colour the world/What is art for?

Did you ever wonder where pigments came from?  This is a lovely resource for a peregrination into artists’ colours.

JEHParisdancer3

Jane Eaton Hamilton, Paris, 2014

The world in pigments.

Here is a video by Alain de Botton which I love very much.  What is art for?

What is art for?

Here are some paintings for your frame, Santa baby.

Send an email to janeeatonhamilton at shaw dot ca to inquire about pricing.  All works: acrylic on paper, various sizes.

JEHpainting1

JEHblackdress1  JEHnude1JEHnude2 JEHwhitepaper1

Ginko biloba

JEHGinkoGinko biloba: pastel on paper, 20×30 by Jane Eaton Hamilton

New painting

JEH_TornadoI made this today.  It is pastel on paper, 20×30.

The art sale continues until Dec 31.

JEH-5

PDF City

JEHAfter Shiele by Jane Eaton Hamilton November 2014

Hey, folks.  I just updated my “Pdfs of my work” page, so there’s a few more pieces to whet your appetites.  Let me know what you think if you read something!

New painting

JEHpaintingNov142014Well, this was fun.  This is acrylic on paper 9×12 using fine liner applicator and finger painting.   I am a little messy.

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