Red Deer artist Jeri-Lynn Ing spent nine months painting abstract canvases to try to discover what music would look like.
She had been listening to the eclectic CBC-Radio 2 Shift program, which features everything from Adele to Vivaldi, and was inspired after hearing radio host Tom Allen describe one of Mozart’s compositions. “He was saying, ‘If only you could see the music . . .’ ” she recalled.
In the process of painting along to the radio show, without preconceived notions of what she would end up with, Ing discovered some liberating truths about what art and painting mean to her.
“I gave myself nine months to let go and see if a change can occur,” said Ing, who is a co-owner of Gallery IS with partner Erika Schulz. “I wanted to let go of old ideas and teach myself something new.”
She hadn’t counted on finding out that abstract painting is a road she wants to continue following. But somehow it’s more satisfying, said the artist, who will display her new works from Sept. 2 in an exhibit also called Shift at the gallery at 5123 48th St.
“I loved it. It was a joy to me,” said Ing. She found non-representational painting to be a release from constrictions — including commercial concerns about what might sell, and even her female, self-imposed desire to please.
While Ing hears a lot of talk about what customers like and what they don’t, she admitted that she now cares more about whether she’s happy with her abstract paintings than whether other people understand them or find them interesting.
In fact, none of the abstractions in the show are for sale.
“You’re painting for yourself. It’s freeing,” said the artist, who has taken art courses at the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan College and Red Deer College. “It just feels innate. It feels like the true way for me to express what I want to say.”
But the path to deconstruction wasn’t an easy one for someone used to painting landscapes or portraits. “It was a struggle. It was very difficult,” Ing admitted.
There was a period when she was compelled to make sense out of the random paint dabs she was applying to the canvas. Several of her acrylic paintings contain hidden dogs faces because Ing couldn’t resist adding a nose and eyes to shapes that resembled canine heads. “That was a kind of silliness,” she said of the impulse that led to Dog Day Abstract and Dog Day 2.
It was a fellow artist’s suggestion that she try painting with her left hand that led to a kind of epiphany. “My paintings became more loose, more dynamic. . . . As soon as I started painting with my left hand, I was totally able to let go of images.”
Ing’s Red Abstract pulses with energy. Her latest, Growth, came out of “a very organic process” that Ing said she wants to further develop.
While the painter, who’s sold works to collectors across Canada and the U.S., can’t say she’s done with depicting images, for the foreseeable future, she said her heart lies in the abstract.
The exhibit Shift will continue to Sept. 30.