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About Art: Discovering the Joy

Painting by Janice Guinan
Painting by Janice Guinan

After the third death of a family member in a year and half, I felt too sad to paint and too sad to write “About Art.” What difference am I making by creating paintings? It all seemed so unimportant and without purpose. Deadlines for art shows and gallery submissions all seemed over whelming. As an artist so often your work is being judged and that work represents you. People like your art or they don't. Some can afford it and others can't. There are only so many minutes in a day and days in a life, and painting is time consuming so is it worth it? Is what I do for work, because it is work, really worth it? So much reflection goes on as you see another person you love pass on and you cling to the memories of what you have.
Midst all of this emotional turmoil I was working on an art commission I thought would be my last. A young woman, unknown to me, had contacted me to do a painting of her family home for her parents. Their home had burned down and only a few old photos remained of it. The most recent ones were taken as the house was engulfed in flames. Not very much to go on, but the love this young woman had for her family and their home spoke to my broken heart and I had to at least try to capture a bit of what they had lost.

Many details could not be determined from the photographs so I had to rely on the client’s memories of her home and try to capture them as best I could with paint on board. Once we got the architecture of the house right, the windows rebuilt and the correct colours of the shutters and door established, her home started to take its distinctive shape again. Then the personal extras were added; her mother always had a flag hanging by the front door (bears and birdhouses), her dad always planted yellow tulips and few red ones, planters full of flowers and a hanging basket always graced the entry. The last addition to the painting was of her and her little sister in a loving embrace on the front lawn. I could now see and feel that this was a welcoming home filled with love.

She gave the finished painting to her parents as a house-warming gift for their new home. She sent me the following email:

“I gave my mom and dad the painting last night. They absolutely loved it. I will be forever thankful that you were able to help me give them this gift that they will cherish forever “

Her words answered my longing question. What I do does make a difference, as it gives joy to others and love lives on. I am having a show at the MMFI Gallery at the Marigold Cultural Cenrtre during the month of November. The title is “With Wonder & Joy” because to discover the true joy we must first appreciate the wonder of it all. The opening reception is Saturday, November 4, at 6:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome.



Janice Guinan is a local artist. She can be contacted at

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