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Foreword, by Arthur Black

I find book forewords confusing, don’t you? I get them mixed up with prefaces. Difference is, a preface is written by the author of the book; a foreword is written by a friend or admirer of the author—ideally, somebody revered and influential, like say, Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama.

Then there’s the spelling. I keep thinking it should be spelled “forward” but it’s not—it’s “foreword.”

Some books go forward without a foreword and maybe this one should have too, because Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama I ain’t. I’m a newspaper scribbler and a retired radio show host. On the other hand,I am definitely a friend and unquestionably an admirer of Carol Evans and her work—as is pretty well anyone who ever had the pleasure of encountering either. And I can’t do much harm, because Carol Evans really doesn’t need anybody’s words to attract eyeballs to her splendid labours.

Seems like divine overkill, but Carol Evans is actually as beautiful in person as she is on canvas. She’s an abidingly kind and gentle soul who punctuates her conversation with bawdy guffaws. She paints like an angel and laughs like Diamond Tooth Gertie. Ms. Evans is a West Coast girl, born and bred, and her art is pure West Coast, all mist and
sunshine, mountain scarp and tideline. She captures children frolicking in the surf as unerringly as she renders Haida elders with hard centuries etched in their faces. Eagles in flight and otters at play; a frog splayed out on a lily pad like a court jester in camouflage. An impossibly fragile rose; a fish boat doggedly ploughing a shimmering sea.

And oh, the water. Ye Gods, can the woman capture water. The glint and the glare of it; the lambent reflections and refractions of its flickering depths and shallows. Her brushes dance across the canvas, trailing water’s near-inexhaustible palette of colours, from flinty, unforgiving obsidian through blues and browns and ochres to the softest, yielding greens. It’s fitting that the medium she’s chosen is watercolour, for she colours the waters with astonishing clarity and a magical perfection that can make your heart do backflips. But she doesn’t think of it as “doing water.” She calls it “releasing the light.”

I asked Howard White, publisher of this book and a lifetime lover of all things West Coast, what he sees in a Carol Evans painting. “They open your eyes in a way that photographs can’t,” he says, “and in a way other paintings don’t either. Usually, artists ‘strip away’ when they paint a canvas. Somehow Carol manages to include more rather than less. I’m doing the book because I love her paintings. When someone’s work makes the hairs on your neck stand on end, I think she should be published.”

Amen to that. The hairs on your neck are ready for this—are you?
Turn the page.
Release the light.

Arthur Black, 2009