You can’t transcribe a flower. Instead, a flower inscribes itself within until you feel its cool corona against your arm, smell its perfume, and sense its joy. A flower–bud, bowl and blossom–is its own reason… These were things that registered as I stood viewing Joseph McLaughlin’s oil paintings.
A dozen years ago Joseph’s house burned down. In his new place, surrounded by bone-white walls, he sat with the question about how–on paper-thin resources–to bring the comfort of colour and light, and the feel of home to a house. His answer was to paint a single flower on a large canvass and hang it on in his living-room wall. That was the beginning.
Today, with that original canvass having profusely flowered to its edges, and his home now filled with completed paintings, Joseph is holding his first exhibition. An exhibition he needed to be arm-twisted into participating in, owing to the strong attachment he has with his paintings.
There is joy in these paintings. There’s a kind of spontaneous celebration that attends all of his works. I asked him about this and he told me he usually only paints when he’s in a good mood.
It shows. And for Joseph, it works. His echoing greens, his blues of twilight, the way he generously spends colour reminds me of William Blake’s sighting of "…a heaven in a wild flower."
The exhibition which includes paintings by Darlene Adams is entitled Vibrant Earth, and is at the TU Gallery. It runs from June 20 to July 4.
One more thing about Joseph is that he works for Edmonton’s Hope Mission–has done so for several years. His current position has him looking after part of the Breakout recovery community program.