Emily Carr couldn’t paint 2


I had a dinner party at my house a few weeks ago and I said one of my many controversial statements.

“Emily Carr couldn’t paint”

I am such a trouble maker.

I was immediately challenged by my friend Alyson who said something to the effect that ihath doesn’t know what she is talking about.

That is when I got all excited and went on and on about how her paintings are boring and basic and lack any talent. How yes she had an exotic life style and yes she lived in the bush with native indians and yes she had a pet monkey and all those things are very cool. I respect the fact that she was independent and that she wasn’t afraid to cast social conventions and live out her passions. The pictures of her with monkey sitting on her shoulder are very cute. But non of this disguises the fact that the woman couldn’t paint and I have no idea why she is the most celebrated BC artist. Perhaps there are no other artists from that erra, perhaps she is being celebrated because of political correctness since she stuck totem poles in many of her paintings and maybe because she led an exotic life style people assumed that she must had some talent. Perhaps people in BC have never seen any real art and so were amazed by the only paintings they saw. But if you ignore everything else and simply look at her paintings, they are not that great.

Alyson wasn’t convinced furthermore she scoffed at my remarks.

That is when I got even more excited and said:

“Even I can paint better that Emily Carr”

Implying that almost anyone could paint better that Emily Carr.

Well! Alyson had a hay day with that statement. She started laughing out loud at me and insisted that my statement requires proof. She started teasing me infront of everybody else at the party, demanding that I produce a painting to prove what I had just said.

In the heat of the moment, I said “Alright Alyson, I will give you a painting, just give me some time”

Alyson told me that I had till June to produce a painting and that she would be the judge of the quality and let me know if it is better than Emily Carr’s paintings.

Everybody at the party was laughing at me and anticipating the sort of painting I would produce.

“Will you draw a bunny?”
“Will you draw a bear?”
“Do you think you can draw a flower?”
“Ha ha ha, We all demand to see it once you are finished”

My esteemed guests cackled in unison.

Me and my big mouth! ….. always gets me into trouble.

But, I had no choice, now that I firmly placed my foot in the mouth, I was gonna have to struggle to dislodge it from its place.

Few days after the party, I went to the arts supply store to browse. When the store attendant asked me if he could help me, I told him that I was just browsing, but really I simply don’t know anything about the painting craft to know what tools or thingies I would need. I simply browsed around in the store for about an hour, looking at all the different supplies and reading the labels to see what they are for. Finally, I made my decision. I bought a medium sized canvas, a box of acrylic paints and a set of cheap brushes.

I brought my loot home, placed the canvas on my kids easel, the one we use to draw in chalk and practice math and spelling exercises. I stared at the empty canvas for an hour with no idea what I should paint.

Finally, Aha! an idea! I remembered a performance I attended in December last year. It was a Rumi poetry reading by Coleman Barks and it was accompanied by music and dancing. The Persian dancer Banafsheh Sayyad, who was absolutely divine. Her movements were so elegant, feminine yet strong, she was breath taking. So I looked up her picture on the internet and used it as my guide and then added some details around the dancer, Peacocks feathers to symbolize creativity, flowers to add some joy and gravel and stones to add some earthiness into the mix.

The details on the dress are my attempts at disguising the fact that I can’t paint by confusing the eye with details so that you would notice it less.

So here it is. My Emily Carr inspired painting.

Emily Carr

Last Saturday, I presented the painting to Alyson while saying

“Emily Carr couldn’t paint and neither can I, and here is the proof”

Alyson was stunned, she couldn’t believe that I went ahead with it.

I was hugely flattered when she decided to hang it in her dining room.


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2 thoughts on “Emily Carr couldn’t paint

  • Anonymous

    haha u canadians…
    well your painting reminds me of my brother who is 10 years old(doesn't mean this is bad tho)…
    but..if i look at both artists i think, yes the paintings are very bad(:P) espaisially Emilys Carr who is considered a pro…a anonimus said this about Emily Carr :The bold, vivacious applications of paint, her mastership of the principle of Rhythm, and her cultural uniqueness are a few things that I'd say make her better than you are….WTF,where did u find all this things in her paintings..lol!!Anyway respect to all artists, sorry for my English i am from Europe so i need a little practise!

  • Anonymous

    I think it's great that anyone can post their comments and if one doesn't like Emily Carr, then that's okay. To say she has no talent though… that's questionable. I'm not talking brush strokes here. Let's assume that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. If that's true, then all the people that Carr has been able to capture, in the past and posthumously makes her a success and a great artist. It may mean technically as a PAINTER, her skills may not match that of another celebrated artist however, she's an artist that has been able to touch someone, or whose paintings have spoken to a voyer in some way. Art is so subjective and I think as soon as people make comments like, "So and so can't paint or what's his head had no concept of artistic technicalities," they know they don't mean what they say… they're just being contraversial and probably in need of a great debate – no harm, no foul.