A Paintbrush In My Hand
Throughout A Paintbrush In My Hand Daphne Odjig’s story has been told by herself, as related through R. M. Vanderburgh and M. E. Southcoutt. As a product of an oral tradition that was still flourishing during her childhood in the village of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island in Georgian Bay, Daphne became a superb storyteller, in the tradition of her elders. It is this inheritance that she has built on as she told her stories to her two collaborators.
Odjig’s skills as a storyteller are reflected in the impressionistic introductions to many of the chapters. Her lively expression of events and activities in her life come vividly alive for Vanderburgh, who has maintained as much as possible the authenticity of Odjig’s narratives and tried to pass these impressions along to the reader.
Odjig’s skill in visual communication is evident in the paintings reproduced here. Southcott has tried to pass on to the reader the thoughts and emotions the artist experienced in the creation of these paintings. When the artist reviewed what Southcott had written during the process of their many collaborations, she acknowledged the faithful transmission of her processes and emotions.
Behind the public persona that Daphne Odjig has chosen to reveal in this book is another, more private Daphne. The reader may catch glimpses of this private person through her words and her art. The clue to what the artist is trying to convey in her book is summed up in her own words. "There’s nothing else that I like to do more than creating something out of my mind and heart, nothing else. I live it, I eat it, I breathe it. I once said that I was born with a paintbrush in my hand! Really!"