About the Film

Beneath the Painted Surface is a 70 minute documentary film by Brian C. Taylor.


An artist from western Canada who loses her young daughter, paints her way through the healing journey and discovers a universal interconnectedness beneath the painted surface.


After artist Destanne Norris' young daughter Leah drowns in a river, an art show is arranged to celebrate her brief life, in her honor titled Leah's Gift. During that show, Destanne exhibits some recent work but also many paintings from the past. A few of them feature the location of Leah's accident and one seems to depict Leah herself, splashing in water. People ask Destanne how she managed to paint Leah into the picture over a decade before she was born.

Realizing she needs to be present and in nature to create, Destanne promises to use the memory of Leah to move forward with her work. At the University of Tasmania, she combines the idea of being drawn to water with that of water being a living consciousness: Bodies are painted pools, reflections of life in water. In the process of being awarded her Master's degree Destanne's work continues to mirror her life, her relationships, her place in space and time.

Destanne's paintings expand and grow, stretching from water, to land, to sky and out to the stars. The hard work and sacrifice of achieving her artistic goals isn't always easy for her, or her family. She continues to strive, with only the modest goal of making painting her full time occupation. With love, understanding and honesty Destanne shares her story to show that anyone can overcome any loss. Preminatory art, if there is such a thing, is a product of being present and open to whatever message might be hidden. The meaning can only come clear in the future. Accepting this meaning as elemental to her work, viewers can find some part of themselves in her art. 



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