Sometimes light emerges from unimaginable darkness.
When the pandemic gripped the world and sent us all into lockdown, three Trinidadian women artists ventured out of their homes and out of the gloom to find the light abundantly clear in Gran Couva, in Central Trinidad.
“2020 started with covid19, and I had just finished breast cancer surgery,” said Greer Jones-Woodham.
“One day, I met Karen De Verteuil in the grocery store. She suggested we paint in Gran Couva, and that was the beginning of my healing.”
Soon, Beverley Fitzwilliam-Harries made the trip to Gran Couva as well. The three artists explored the lush greenery.
“Being in the landscape was important,” said Jones-Woodham. “It was powerful getting out of our own space and into another, unfamiliar space.”
“I learned to see a place I am familiar with through their eyes,” said De Verteuil. “I saw things I never noticed before.”
With an artist's eye, they framed scenes that captured their imagination and began to paint.
A traveller’s palm, unfolding like a giant fan, captured all three artists' attention. The flaming red flowers of a Macuna Bennettii vine burst from the greenery and onto Jones-Woodham’s canvas; a banana tree pops into view in a De Verteuil painting. Fitzwilliam-Harries painted begonias, crotons, torches, lilies, ferns and hummingbird flowers. They painted in full view of the Picmock trees on the hillside.
“We used a lot of green in our paintings. We were all romancing turquoise and cerulean (blue). We played with red and orange,” said Fitzwilliam-Harries.
They arrived in Gran Couva early in the morning with canvases, paint brushes and paint – oil for De Verteuil and Jones-Woodham; acrylic paints and acrylic markers for Fitzwilliam-Harries. Jones-Woodham kept her supplies in a toolbox.
“If you see the chaos and confusion that came tumbling out of that box,” De Verteuil laughed.
They spent the day following the light circling and penetrating majestic samaan trees and a Bottle Brush tree.
“In covid, we were always searching for beauty. During that time, the soul couldn’t have been more depressed,” said Jones-Woodham.
[caption id="attachment_998279" align="alignnone" width="683"] From left, Karen De Verteuil, Beverly Fitzwilliam-Harries and Greer Jones-Woodham during a recent photoshoot. - ROGER JACOB[/caption]
In the solitude of their surroundings, they noted subtle changes in light happening around them.
“We were always watching the direction of the sun and where the negative spaces were,” said Fitzwilliam-Harries. “I learned so much about the use of light and the effect of heat on colour. The grass is so light – almost white– so I had to use my imagination and use mauve and red to capture what was happening. I learned how to walk through a garden and create a space to work and the camaraderie sent us on a trajectory we didn’t have in town.”
It was their escape from a pandemic and an emotional awakening – a deeper appreciation of the environment they all loved; more awareness of the vivid colours of that landscap