Mary Ann Laing

From The Studio

(posted on 13 Mar 2021)


Ah, over two months since I left a few words here.  I always have grand ideas for a blog entry, I wish I could remember one of those right now, no grand ideas on what might make an interesting thought meander.  It's getting onto midnight soon, my painting time, and since there is no good time to write a blog, I'll do it anyways right now.  The dragging gray months called January and February are over, thank goodness, not my favourite months.  Grim reminders of death of loved ones, trying times I recall thinking I'd never survive, but I did.  We mark one year since we were ordered to cancel most of the good living things we like to do due to the wrath of Covid 19.  Life is tough, and we keep on.  Yes, we keep on.

My last entry here was about nothing probably, but I do recall posting a canvas I was working on.  Well, that painting is done, and now down at West End Gallery, on the wall.  Happy story, we had our errands to do on Friday, a schedule, first stop the gallery.  I'm tired, oh big surprise, when have I ever said that before, when have I not is more the question.  Anyways, luckily our spot was vacant for us to park, so I quickly grabbed this painting I am going to post and ran into the gallery.  I rarely go in so it was nice to see Amy and all the gorgeous artwork IN PERSON!  Not knocking the glorious ease of online exposure and shopping, but gosh I miss so many of the in person things we used to be allowed to do.  After chatting for a bit, short catch up, a woman came over to me and asked if I was Mary Ann Laing who did the paintings on the wall.  I said yes, and she said they had just bought the one she was pointing to.  I nearly swallowed my face mask with a gasp of joy, HOW WONDERFUL!!  The painting they bought was 36x36, the one I brought down, 36x36, it can fit perfectly in that spot.  I'd say the timing gods were with me on Friday.  I rarely get into the gallery in person, if I painted quicker and had more new work that might help, but what are the chances for me to bump into clients buying one of my paintings, very slim.  


So here is the new painting I took down on Friday, the final product from the canvas in the photo I posted in my last blog.  Gerry and go driving every evening, some days both daytime and evening.  I know this is what many others are doing during this pandemic, but we have more reasons for doing so because it helps him when he's having his horrid "off" times with Parkinson's.  At first, being asked to go for a drive every evening was not easy.  This isn't a very big city, it can get rather boring, empty streets of Victoria, especially during the dark winter time.  We've found some good radio stations that play music we love, it's really not the worst ordeal in life, in fact, we've turned it into adventures.  My family members are pretty well pioneers of Victoria, Gerry's aren't, his family arrived in 1951.  I found archival Victoria directories that go back into the 1800s online, and have found addresses where my grandparents lived when they arrived in 1910.  I also remember so many stories Mom would tell me about her childhood days, so it's been fun to put those stories to the addresses we drive by that I found in the directory archives.  I suppose, in a way, this is a form of stalking, but it's fun.

Imagine these streets once being walked on by my grandmother as a young woman who just arrived from Scotland.  Imagine my grandfather labouring on those houses he built.  Imagine my mom playing with her cousin Vera who lived on Toronto Street in James Bay.  Imagine Aunty Audrey as a young girl with her sisters running out of that gorgeous house on Government Street.  Imagine them seeing Emily Carr walk by, which they did.  I know it's only my imagination carrying on from the stories Mom would tell, but it's so much fun.  I'm thinking I should paint the houses that remain, some of them have been demolished.  How lucky for me to have this endless history to visit right outside our door.  So many stories, so many memories, those are the foundations in all of my artwork.  I don't go on sight to paint, plein air painter I ain't, I think I could make a poem, or song, out of that.  No, I gave up on that effort, but that doesn't mean I have nothing to paint.  I do, and I doubt I'll live long enough to get them all done.

The above painting is from St. Charles Street in Fairfield, in the fall, obviously.  The horse chestnut trees that line the streets of Fairfield are MASSIVE, and so beautiful.  They have been carved into odd shapes over the decades to make paths for power lines and structures that have invaded their growing space.  Some of them live for 300 years.  Not sure if any of these ones are that old, but maybe Mom walked by them when she was little, or rode her bike by them.  Or maybe my uncle climbed one of them.  Dad grew up in Bamberton, I know which trees he climbed.  Is it silly for me to gone so like this?  Good, I was worried I'd lost my sense of silly.

Nearly midnight, time to paint.  A blessed life it is!!


Mary Ann