Dale Fairbanks: February 2013
I asked my friend and mentor, Kes Woodward, once upon a time long ago, “What is your favorite painting?” His answer struck deep and has stayed with me over these many years. With no hesitation whatsoever, he answered, “My next painting.” I knew then and I know now exactly what he meant, and I trust we are not alone in believing such in the vast field of artists.
When a painting is completed and off my studio wall, regardless of the joy, the pleasure, or the beat-down gratitude of a job finally done … I am finished, already moving on with great anticipation and expectation. There is nothing more exciting to me than a white, blank canvas stretched and waiting for my first mark, nothing quite as thrilling. Old paintings still hanging out in my studio drive me nuts!
If memory serves me, I do believe I have not sold a painting out of my studio ever, but I have sold many a canvas out of my house. Our home has beautiful light and is more about windows and the glorious Santa Rosa Sound than elegance and style. The ceilings in all but the living area are eight feet. I have large paintings, five feet by seven, five by five, and even a painting eight by six feet making themselves quite at home. My husband, who believes white wine chilled to perfection is essential to the sales pitch, is my gallerist. I am better at writing about my work and staying in the background. A potential client sees the canvas in context, so to speak, and the idea of a large painting in a bedroom or a kitchen becomes less intimidating.
The Berry Pickers are leaving home. I am happy to see them go, very happy that they are going to watch over a wonderful family, colored with the well-worn patina of raising sons. My client confided that she finds herself thinking, ”Well, we’ll leave that to the Berry Pickers,” when distractions arise and stir the pot. This is every artist’s dream come true. My husband may grieve the Berry Pickers’ departure; he has attachment issues. I cannot wait to fill the space with the unknown of a white, unmarked new canvas.
©Dale Fairbanks Oil on canvas 60" x 60"
Photography by Gary Langhammer Studio
Our son is returning to Alaska and the river Tanana, his truck primed and loaded, hauling behind an eighteen-foot Jon boat packed with cold-winter gear and provisions. It is May of 2008. The man, my boy, is twenty-one years old, fierce on the trail of a dream and old roots he calls home.
Crying like a fool, for what I am confused, I am slashing paint across a white fresh canvas before he crosses out of Florida. He has made sure in two months of packing that we would be glad to see him go.
The Berry Pickers appear unsummoned to remind me that this boy is formed and done with growing. They taunt me, call me his yoke, a reminder of his vulnerability, his fear. The Berry Pickers will see to him now and not in my fashion. They will leave him be, watch him out of the corners of their eyes, monitor his mistakes with no word, no opinion, no judgment. He will follow the trapping trail and disappear, and I trust with faltering faith he will return. The Berry Pickers understand he may not, and so they go about their business of gathering, gathering blueberries, salmonberries, lowbush cranberries for the long, impatient white of winter.