Easy answer: they’re part of my local geography & history

“As Canada became more populated, small mills emerged to mechanize the tedious functions of daily life. For the Mississippi Valley region, wool became a way of life. By 1867, the Rosamond Mills employed just over 400 of the 3000 people living in Almonte, Ontario – and an almost equal number of women and men.” from Fabric of a Small Town, MVTM

Also, as I've said, I'm “warming up” for an exhibition at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum (MVTM), here in Almonte, in the summer of 2013. A few sheep paintings here and there won’t be out of place in my interpretation of the tools and stories from the industrial era of textile manufacturing in this locale.

But there’s another answer

One that I now realize began percolating months ago, when I bought a t-shirt at The Hub showing a graphic of four rows of white sheep and one back sheep in the corner of the bottom row. The caption under the image: Never the black sheep.

I didn't get it. For a while I thought it must be a typo. And then I started painting my sheep and months passed. I started re-thinking those words. It’s amazing how an insignificant event can attract the spirit. In any case, I’ve turned out the following on why I paint sheep:
 
People are often accused of acting like sheep – not thinking or doing for themselves. Yet ask a shepherd about sheep, and she’ll tell you each has individuality and specific personality traits. Meanwhile… sheep thrive in a flock.
 
My bunch of colourful, odd-ball sheep paintings draws attention to a choice we all have: to be like sheep. The stereotypical sheep? No?
Then find something that gets your crazy-sheep going, work it and make it your contribution to the flock. Be a blue ribbon champion, an inspiration, the outstanding sheep in the field, go meshuggeh, but still know this: you’re part of a flock.
 
But, never the black sheep, the sheep that leaves the flock stands alone and won’t get far.
 
(Post script: Being a black sheep doesn’t mean you have to be a black sheep.)

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AuthorJill McCubbin