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Painting: I still need a place a to go…

I’m a bit on the fence about posting this one, because I feel like it still needs work. Sections of it work as smaller paintings, but as a whole I think it’s a bit disconnected. However, I AM posting it as-is because I just pushed another painting WAY over the edge of no return, so I’m trying to practice some restraint. I don’t want to screw up two paintings in one day. So here it is…

“I still need a place to go”

Acrylic & Pencil on #140 d’Arches watercolour paper
Size approx 14.75″ x 22.25″ (approx 37 cm x 56.5 cm)

The title is part of a song recorded by Neil Young, “Helpless”…


My interpretation:
I stepped back from the painting at one point and saw rock shapes and water emerging… rapids, with a kayak perhaps, or maybe fish or leaf.
The rock shapes reminded me of the large granite boulders of northern Ontario, Canada. I partially outlined them with blue to signify the edge of the sky… and a little bit later this resonated with me in the song lyrics  “Big birds flying across the sky“.
Early pencil marks were enhanced to represent pine forests. Zooming out, the piece also started to resemble a map featuring Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and the border between Canada and the U.S.

The song “Helpless” recorded by Neil Young came to mind, leaving me feeling nostalgic and a little bit homesick for my home & native land. Here is an excerpt:

“There is a town in North Ontario
Dream comfort memory to spare
And in my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there

Blue, blue windows behind the stars
Yellow moon on the rise
Big birds flying across the sky
Throwing shadows on our eyes

Leave us helpless… ”



As this painting started to develop and speak to me, I was also reminded of the many motorcycle trips I took through Ontario roads and highways with towering rock and pine and crisp blue skies and chilly mornings. The highways were coarse but evenly maintained and I could feel the crushed stone beneath my tires. Hard to describe, but great riding. And great memories.

painting & photography © deb davies thorkelson / April 16, 2015

14 replies »

  1. I love the pairing of your painting with the song – for some reason I always associate this song with the idea of feeling helpless in the face of large environmental/societal changes. For me, the energy and movement in your painting fit perfectly with that feeling, of things changing before our eyes. Beautiful work.


  2. I’d seen your interpretation.
    What I like is that there is a harmony to this landscape and a sense of space. I see both trees and pylons, a tension between natural and human. I like that you made it but then had to find your narrative within it.


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