Drawing animals and people in my early youth, I applied a method introduced by my fourth grade teacher.
Using chalk to make a grid pattern, we reproduced her holiday poster image, that had been drawn with corresponding chalk grid overlay.
Ever since, while working in realism, I see a grid pattern of the image in my mind, drawing within one grid square at a time, detaching mentally from what the image is in order to see it.
Methodically Illustrating using form, line, shadow, the realistic image comes to life upon completion, when the “grids” connect to make a whole.
When I started painting, applying the same approach produced work that felt disconnected and lacked the depth of substance I hope to achieve.
After years of exploring I realized, what I needed to achieve in painting wasn’t about mimicking detail, but creating experience. Not illustrative, but immersive.
I stopped dissecting sections of imagery, and started focusing on the experience of being in the scene, feeling it. The work began to evolve.
( View new Studio Tour video, click link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kftJpejnjQk
Unlike applying the grid compartmentalized approach, this process requires unique awareness of what is happening on the canvas at all times, and yet, concentration on each brushstroke.
I focused on emotional content, how shape, colour, light play, impression of imagery could reproduce the feeling of being present in the landscape.
Surrendering to that, letting go of desire to “make it photo like” .. changed everything in the work, and how I felt about the work. The art felt less about creating, more about channeling a subject’s energy.
It’s rather like drawing a kite while it lay flat on the ground before you, or grasping the kite mid-flight, feeling it’s soaring momentum and the strength of wind’s power.
As a self taught painter, focus wasn’t technique, but emotion. I imagine how feels to be in the landscape, not just what is in front of me, but what surrounds me. I feel ‘immersed in the subject’ before my brush touches the canvas.
In my drawing, subjects would come to life upon completion. In painting, “life” is immediate from the beginning. It’s energetic, raw, dynamic, vulnerable. I work on the canvas like a bee in a garden, darting, tasting, savouring, everywhere at once.
Drawing people and animals, subjects are captured in moments of stillness, in time, a moment in the story.
Wilderness painting is pure motion. It’s an ongoing event. It’s cyclical, the birth of blooms, and aging forests. Wilderness is homecoming experience with the strength of humanity’s bonds.
Landscape art is beautifully universal.
I observed a wide spectrum of reactions to my animal and portrait art. They either loved them, or couldn’t relate at all. Some were fearful of wildlife subjects, and hunters were attracted to it. Sometimes this felt unsettling.
Portrait work created different divisions. The moment a person is placed in a landscape painting, the story becomes about that person with the Landscape secondary.
Painting landscape without people allows the viewer to be present fully in the landscape, to connect with your own story.
Portraits may unknowingly segregate. The story isn’t always understood or relatable. This also felt true for paintings of villages/ buildings, often desired for decorative appeal, rather than as subjects of substance.
Children didn’t enjoy or relate to subjects of people, elders desired soothing images.
If I were to be a career artist, working on a public scale, intention needed to be positive, relatable for any age, demographic, a positive immersive experience for everyone, not create fear, be symbolically obscure, or unconsciously divide and offend.
Life giving nourishing to body mind & soul, nature has strong human ties. Nature art is non discriminating, requires no written language, and understood without a title.
Science suggests surrounding yourself in nature, indoors and out, delivers powerfully positive benefits.
I thought about how I could create that experience for those not able to be in nature, or those who had forgotten. How could I bridge gaps not only within humanity, and include diverse demographics, but also the gap that seems to be continually widening between humanity and nature.
I didn’t see a need to duplicate in paint what a landscape photo does. I do see a need to create a connection to experience in a powerfully emotional way.
How much do we relate to nature in this time?
Does humanity connect what is happening on a global scale with nature sources necessary to our individual and community survival? Have we forgotten these very real wilderness places not only exist, but are the substance of thriving?
Saturated by imagery, have we become numb to what images may represent? Photography is available at our fingertips, do pictures become just a quick swipe left?
What does it take to capture us, hold us in positive experience, change behaviour, improve health, wellness, a sense of connection…what do we savour and immerse in?
It is my hope, my art offers this kind of experience.
All three new paintings will be available for purchase at the Hambleton Galleries in Kelowna BC. They will be shipped along with another new painting in progress, as soon as they are dry. Thanks again to Joshua and his team at the Hambleton!
Early work here exhibited, most have been previously sold.
I haven’t included this spectrum of previous work before in one collection online. It’s given me time to reflect on the many genres I have explored, and feel good about this incredible journey in art. When people ask ” Have you attempted… buildings, people, animals.. etc” I can happily say, Yes, I have,.. and I have found my home in wilderness.
Wishing everyone joy & wellness, thanks so much for your lovely letters, your questions and for welcoming the art into your spaces.