First Chocolate Easter Egg

First Chocolate Easter Egg

I just had to share this picture of Conor looking at his Easter egg yesterday morning. He enjoyed playing with it, and kept putting the little pieces back in the egg cup, but he wasn’t sure what to think of his first taste of chocolate. However, he was completely thrilled by the little Easter egg hunt we prepared for him afterwards. He ran around with a little blue basket collecting paper eggs, exclaiming “more and more and more!” He was having so much fun, we had to keep re-hiding them.

As for me, I celebrated the holiday by dressing up as a big turquoise egg. Or at least, that’s what everyone –including Conor– agreed I ressembled, with only two months before I’m due.

Two People in Venice, Oil on Canvas by J.Pohl, 1998
Two People in Venice, Oil on Canvas; © Jennifer Pohl

I enjoy working from life, from dreams and from memory, or simply letting the paint lead me, but every now and then a camera can be a very useful tool (and especially in bad weather) to help record fleeting light and candid moments.

But the world is a changing place. Photographers are being sued for images published in magazines, perhaps because a fuzzy figure sitting on the steps in the background of the main shot got greedy. I know of one brilliant photographer who has given up taking pictures of people he doesn’t know. I understand that individuals have a right to privacy and to protect themselves from exploitation, but I have to wonder how much great art is being lost because of an increasingly sue-happy world. Since paintings are not as literal as photographs, painters may have a little more freedom, but today artists often question their first instincts in new and not always positive ways.

It’s true that there are times when being a five-foot-four and unintimidating female in a small town has undoubtedly allowed me to get away with more than my male counterparts. Indeed, I find myself approached by so many curious people while trying to concentrate at the French easel, or wandering around with a camera, that a friend joked that I should start mumbling to myself so people would think I was crazy and leave me alone.

Most people are generally flattered when I ask to record their image or paint them, but sometimes reactions are far more interesting. I remember stopping on a bike ride to watch some workmen refinishing a garage floor under the light of a single bulb. It was a painting waiting to happen, or so I thought. Before I had a chance to say anything, one of the men got up and ever-so-slowly pulled down the door so as to not scare the crazy lady with a camera.

In any case the couple I had spotted eating in Venice Pizzeria saw me and smiled. I signalled to them that I would like to take a picture, and talked to them to briefly explain what I was doing afterwards. Perhaps carrying around D*I*Y Planner photo release forms might be helpful, but I have to wonder if asking for a signature would put more people on edge these days. Two People in Venice has appeared in commercial, artist-run and public galleries, and so far this couple has been nice enough not to sue me.

Renate Pohl, stylist for Electra, 2005
My sister working as stylist for Electra 2005

I’m about to play the part of the proud sibling, but I can’t help it! Colin Maclean for the Edmonton Sun writes:

Renate Pohl’s setting for the Studio Theatre production of Howard Barker’s Scenes From an Execution is a marvellous creation. It’s a three- level, industrial- strength erector set that, in a play about art, could be a painting itself.

You can read the rest of the rave review, and more details about the production.

After graduating with a gold medal and a BFA in theatre several years ago, and having acted, directed, toiled at an insurance company, worked as a popcorn girl, taught in Japan, and also dabbled with the likes of astrophysics, my brave and beautiful sister recently decided to go back to school to complete a masters in theatre design. She’s now teaching at her university to help finance this dream, and is on the verge of finishing her thesis.

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from Renate. Last year she sent me a picture of this very large study of a Vermeer. That it was done in set paint was all the more impressive, and I think you’ll have to agree that it’s none too shabby for a first major attempt at painting.

Large study of Vermere in set paint by Renate Pohl
Study of Vermeer’s The Glass of Wine, Set paint on Canvas by Renate Pohl

In between all this, she took time off to visit us and paint Conor’s nursery. Now she’s made plans to go to England later this year, to see what other adventures await. I look foward to hearing all about them!

Knight Street, Oil on Paper by J.Pohl, 1996
Knight Street, Oil on Paper; © Jennifer Pohl

In this spirit of today’s Illustration Friday I’ve decided to post as promptly as possible. I love to walk, so cars passing me often seem pretty speedy.

Friends may laugh at the thought of me and the concept of speed. I tend to work many pieces over months –and sometimes years– reworking, layering, and letting the work breathe so I can go back with new eyes and keep the colours fresh. But this tiny piece (the first of my night scenes, and my first to appear in a commercial gallery) was done in a single sitting the day it was to be installed, and the minute it was finished I called a cab to deliver it just in time for the opening. Sometimes it’s very hard to stop painting. I take solace in the fact that celebrated painters like Ross Bleckner have been known to ship wet paintings, and Turner was said to retouch and varnish his paintings while hanging in the gallery. More recent examples from the night scenes series can be seen in my new online gallery.