Painting through grief, into light

Flowers emerge from a chaos of brush strokes in Jeri Lynn Ing’s abstract paintings. It’s a metaphor that can easily be applied to the artist’s own life.

Flowers emerge from a chaos of brush strokes in Jeri Lynn Ing’s abstract paintings.

It’s a metaphor that can easily be applied to the artist’s own life.

Ing began creating works in Flower Talk — Full Bloom, now showing in the Coconut Room cafe in Sunworks, to help her find solace after a painful series of personal losses over the past two years.

She recalled not thinking much about what she was painting at first. “I would just paint my grief every day … As my life evolved and things happened, I would just paint my way through it.”

Her emotional trauma started with the death of her older brother from an aneurysm at the age of 52 in August 2013. It continued through her mother’s long, ultimately unsuccessful, cancer battle.

After delivering a eulogy at her mom’s funeral in July 2014 that mentioned her mother’s love of gardening and flowers, Ing suddenly realized what was coming out of her expressionistic renderings: She was subconsciously creating symbols of growth and renewal.

“It was not a conscious thing. I didn’t set out to paint flowers … It just was my way to get through this,” said Ing, whose losses continued in early 2015.

There was the death of her mother-in-law in February. Then, her seemingly hale father succumbed to heart failure just a day before an exhibit of her flower works opened in the white gallery next to Sunworks in May.

The stress of all this contributed to another casualty — Ing and her husband separated just before the oldest of their two daughters started university.

There’s really no one to talk to when life deals you so many blows, said the Red Deer artist.

“You can’t talk about it in public. You can’t talk about it with our friends. I didn’t want other people to feel they had to carry my burdens … You go to a place of grief and grieving. It’s a dark, but very human place.”

Once again, daily painting sessions helped her get through. “The art saved me. It made me stronger,” said Ing, who began to see parallels between the seasonal rebirth of flowers and human resilience.

“The seeds germinate, covered in darkness, then wait for light to bloom.”

Ing’s bold, dynamic artworks were created with brush strokes that scream emotion — from sadness and anger to joy.

She often applied thick layers of paint abstractly, turning her canvases in every direction. A light, opaque colour was used to sketch in the negative spaces at the very end, giving definition to her flower and vase shapes.

An emotional evolution can be seen from early paintings, such as the sorrowful Sunflowers on 37th Street, to the black-bordered mid-period paintings of Roses Are Not Always Red and Come What May, to seemingly happier ones.

Her latest, Untitled # 1, 2, and 3, have a looser, less representational feel. But there are still many layers to them, said Ing, much like the hidden emotions simmering in people we see every day. “There’s so much to see underneath the surface.”

The artist, who has exhibited in Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, maintains she never gave any thought during the creation process to what people would think of these pieces, which were painted for personal rather than commercial reasons.

But she now hopes their “raw” authenticity strikes a chord with viewers who may be going through their own issues.

“When you go through something difficult, it can catapult you into the creative process. Powerful emotions can push you forward.”

Ing’s paintings Flower Talk — Full Bloom will be displayed in the Coconut Room until February.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

editHeadline 1for files…

(double-click to edit)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read