I see Hamilton through the off-the-cuff snapshots I take with my phone when I hit the pavement, looking to find what I call Night Magic: moody, but brilliant skies divided by telephone wires, out of focus street lights, the scent of somebody else’s home drifting from a dark apartment balcony. Night Magic is Hamilton at dusk—the holy hours between night and day—injected into canvas. In square-format oil paintings, Night Magic spends time with the city in locations both widely recognizable to Hamiltonians and off the beaten path.
Walk with me by the sea foam green band shell in Gore Park, through a Westdale back alley, walk under Christ’s Church Cathedral looming over James St. North, and visit a favourite of my own—Sam Lawrence Park, sitting on the edge of the Jolly Cut—all painted at least somewhat out of focus, motion in blur, not unlike how my phone sees it, its camera struggling to take in the dwindling light. Hamilton is captured by my phone in canted, upward angles, framed by silhouetted buildings and reaching tree branches, and so I paint it just the same. When the city is balanced between light and dark, it is at both its most lonely and its most bright, its colours equally calm and energetic; There are dark, dangerously saturated blue-green shadows, soothing salmon-toned oranges and pinks in the sky, and sidewalks illuminated in muddy yellows. I paint these colours thickly in heavy brushstrokes, deliciously dragging the blurred city lights across the canvas.
I paint Hamilton this way in an attempt to share the peace and contemplation I find in Night Magic. I find something comforting in each excursion, every length of sidewalk that I put behind me. Like the evening twilight, this city is neither one thing or the other: geographically, it is severed down the middle into its upper and lower part by the stone of the Niagara escarpment. And so, though Night Magic is a sidewalk view of Hamilton, it is possible to explore both a dead end alley and a 50-mile view, depending on the sidewalk you choose to walk with me.