When George Michael Binns first arrived in Nelson 13 years ago, he felt like had left Babylon and arrived in a place of refuge. He somehow knew, instinctually, that he’d arrived where he needed to be.
“You stand on Baker Street and you feel like the rest of the world’s on the other side of those hills doing their crazy things and they can go right ahead,” said Binns. “The first day I walked down the street I knew this was where the spirit wanted me.”
He had a similar catharsis recently, when he started to experiment with his painting style. His nature-inspired work, which has been shown and celebrated in the Kootenays over 36 times in the past decade, was starting to dissatisfy him. He wanted to try something different, and found himself returning to the basics of composition: colouring mixing, design, composition.
But more importantly, he knew he had to get in touch with the spirit that had guided him here in the first place.
“I needed to allow it to come. I couldn’t force it, you see? You get out of the way and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m a co-creator with the big guy.”
This year Binns worked feverishly on his new acrylic paintings, which have a surreal, Salvador Dali-esque quality and a more stylized, graphic composition than his past work. At times, Binns said, his new technique feels so simple it’s almost like “paint by numbers”. He said he felt an assurance that the spirit was guiding his paintbrush.
Though he had more than enough to show for his planned library instalment, Binns embarked on a whole new creative mission a few months ago. He compared his newfound work ethic to an addiction, or maybe a form of madness. He spent 12, 14, 16 hours a day hunched over an easel, sometimes 7 days a week. He neglected his personal hygiene, stopped making social calls and even continued working through an eye surgery.
“I could feel it coming. This whole new body of work. This whole new style, technique. It felt so comfortable so relaxed,” he said. “I just couldn’t stop.”
Binns said creative work has never been about fame and fortune for him. He’s happy to slowly endeavour towards a greater creative honesty, and to immerse himself in the process. Though his work has been sold and praised, he said he still feels dissatisfied. Nothing has been quite good enough yet.
“But I’m still working, buddy,” he said.
Now Binns’ work is complete, and for the months of July and August his paintings will be on proud display at the library. Binns plans to swap in the newer work for the month of August.
For more information, visit George Binns website at gbinns.com