Free-swinging, Barefoot painter

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Eleanor Mackey, who studied with Hedrick at New School of Art, has arrived in a precise way at the considerable achievement of her one-man show at Isaacs Gallery. Marriage, four children and a farm in Oakville made the customary demands on her time. “But I make no pretense about it,” Mrs. Mackey admitted. “I selfishly made my own time, too, for painting.” Time was snatched for evening classes, summer sessions and the mental activity of thinking out ideas. From the time she was 5, Mrs. Mackey has coped with this need to draw or paint. Now that the children are from 10 to 17, she has been able to expound and explore her ideas. The summary at the Isaacs Gallery comes almost like a revelation in color.

Her canvases are huge. One, Trembling, measures 9 feet 3 inches by 13 feet 8 inches, and taxes one floor-to-ceiling area. “How did I know the exact measurements? I know the space it took up on my studio floor, and I had to know the exact size for the gallery.” She

paints on the floor of her Queen Street West warehouse studio, beginning with raw canvas. With an ordinary housepaint brush, she stands at center of her canvas and, with a tremendous encompassing curve, she paints one overlay after another.

Sometimes the painter’s intuitive understanding of the curve results in a predictable color sequence. As often as not there are accidents. This was the case of the burning central core of Trembling. But they are accidents which it delights her to control. In several paintings the floorboards show through the color stain, but the narrow vertical lines cut through the sweep of the curves as though one is the integrated warp to the woof of a fabric. “That’s the emotional excitement involved: To see what happens but to control it,” Mrs. Mackey said. “The edges of forms have always given me an emotional response. I suppose my present paintings grew out of that.”

The huge canvas, Trembling, is easily the most dominantly successful of the exhibition. A reserve was understandably placed on it at the preview, and three other canvases were sold opening night.


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