Sketchy!

Mama – In Progress
Ink and Graphite on Paper

Today I thought I’d share with you a work in progress. I draw, but rarely consider the drawings a finished work of art. I’m trying to overcome that self imposed bias. I’m thinking about adding a few washes of colour to this piece once the inking is complete.

In working on a few pieces like this lately Ive found I’ve had to let go of the crutch of colour and paint (which it really can become!) and rely on the concept, the learned skill of a steady hand and deliberate mark making. I’ve had to allow my idea to be stripped bare of it’s multi-hued clothing and stand on it’s own.

Creating art tends to draw my focus inward and I inevitably begin asking what other crutches I’m using in life, what other ways am I “dressing things up” so that I don’t have to look at the stark truth.

Am I being honest enough? Am I being open enough?

It’s in the the places we feel most vulnerable that we have the opportunity for the most growth so I welcome the questions. And, just like getting down to work on a drawing, I can get down to work on being more loving, supportive and giving to those around me, but even more importantly, to myself.

That’s right! All the good qualities you want to share with other people, just heap them onto yourself. Give yourself patience, time, love, motivation and ALL that awesome good stuff.

If you’re selfish with yourself, how can you be generous with others? Well, let’s be honest- it all starts with you. Be healthy, happy, joyful and super cool. Then spread it around like Nutella.

Can you dig it?

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From the Archives

The Old Saint
Mixed Media on Canvas
2009

I painted this last year for a friend who really loves art, collects art and is just a good all round guy.

It’s an old spiritual man, a saint, listening to the whisperings of the spirits of the land. In Old Europe, Christianity was pretty much the only option for spiritual expression, so I really respect these old saints who tried to do what good they were able in their time. They were deep thinkers, clear writers, and really did their best to peer past the world we take for granted to understand the wonder that connects it all.

In front of him lies an illuminated manuscript. As Stephen King has said, telepathy exists and we call it books. We can literally read the minds of those who wrote their thoughts out for us.

I believe everyone has something to offer. The problem is we think we have to be experts or create the Most Amazing Thing Ever! If everyone who put themselves out there thought that, we’d live in a truly desolate creative landscape.

Whatever you have to give, give it now. There’s no better day to offer your gift than today, and whether the audience is great or small doesn’t matter. The truth is, whatever you do will pass through the years, through the generations and one day just might be the thing that changes someone’s life. We can never know what it will be or when it will happen.

So just create!

Offer what you can.

And let it go.

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From the Collection of the Artist

Caleoni
14″ x 18″
Mixed Media on Canvas
2010

This was painted half in Hawaii and half in Canada. It was my first time being overseas and the experience of Oahu really touched me. My time there was very special for me and I came to understand something amazing. When I first arrived, I was struck by the sheer humidity of the air, the gentle feeling on my skin. As the days passed and I walked in the valleys and along the beaches, as I swam and soaked in the sun, I began to see the spirit of the land, the energy. I saw the underlying currents of the winds, the water, the rock and soil. The entire island came alive under my feet!

I couldn’t delay. I bought paints, canvasses, supplies and sat in the hotel room every evening, painting away, the song of the island birds coming in through the vast windows.

I felt like a Black feathered Corvid out of my element and yet completely at home. A stranger in a strange and welcoming land.

My wife and I were talking about children, the possibility of a daughter. In that place of renewal and peace I imagined the child of our dreams, perhaps not this physical form represented, but I hope it captured the spiritual essence of what that child might be.

Since that time we have settled in at home and we are expecting a son. Perhaps that daughter is in the future, but for now, just knowing that a new little life is on it’s way, feeling him dance and kick in her belly, fills me with a wonderful joy.

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Snow Snow Snow

Boreal Morning
12″ x 16″
Mixed Media on Canvas
2010

Life in the North is a different kind of thing. Where I am, we are just on the verge of the Great White Expanse. In my journeys up to the Northwest Territories and throughout Northern Alberta there is one thing I’ve come to understand and appreciate.

They make them different up here. Like a Raven we’ll caw and complain but in the end, we get to work. We live through the mountains of snow and ice, we help dig out our neighbours, we still do our jobs and take care of our families.

Sometimes we’ll get that far away look, that thousand yard stare, and everyone who lives here knows what it’s like to get that need to go, to leave to walk away into the wilderness and never come back. I think it’s the balance we have to strike between our animal nature and the demands of a modern life.

Yes, it’s cold, people die of exposure, tips of ears or fingers can freeze away if you get caught in it, but it’s also our blessing. We don’t flood, we don’t shake, we just freeze. And the spring always comes. Is it possible that one day, after we’ve wrecked it enough that it will all change? Of course. Maybe one year it will freeze and it will stay frozen. It’s happened before to this earth of ours, and it can happen again.

So we do what we must. We recycle, we eat less, we waste less. or at least we try. Will it be enough?

This vast wilderness is our home, and looking out at the mountains of snow I feel a soft calm. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but I know without a doubt that everything will be fine. We may have our long dark night, but out of the dawn we’ll see the distance, the puff of breath in the cold air, and at last the sunrise.

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Moon Shadows and Stuff

Solstice in the New World
18″ x 24″
Mixed Media on Canvas
2010

This past December saw the Winter Solstice arrive with a bang: a full lunar eclipse. Here in Western Canada, it began before midnight and ended in the early morning hours. I stayed up to watch the event unfold, as did many others. We are far removed from the days when such phenomena were frightening and unexplained and that can lead us into a sense that such events are unimportant.

Just because we can explain a thing scientifically, however, does not mean that we understand it or that it is simply another event of slight interest only because it is remarked on by a few people on either side of the scientific or spiritual fringe.

In other words: just because you are not aware of the importance of an event doesn’t mean it won’t affect your life!

We live in a time where an astounding number of people are awakening to their own existence and seeing that there is a curable madness inherent in it. The sheer waste we produce, both physically and emotionally is changing the face of the planet. This solstice marks that awareness and even better, the will to do something about it.

Some people still believe that forcing others to their viewpoint will make for a better world for our children’s children. Some people despair that nothing can be done anyway, so why get worked up about it? But some change themselves.

That’s it. Some people change themselves.

It’s really that simple. Behind all the fears, illusions, and defeats is one simple truth: to change the world, change yourself.

Speak more gently, speak your truth more clearly. Act in ways that are in keeping with your values. Like it or not, we are all responsible for the fate of our planet and for each other. We are all one tribe, one people, and turning our eyes away from the suffering our privileged lifestyles cause to our family in poorer countries only harms ourselves.

Be aware. That’s how you change. Changing isn’t a process of fighting yourself, of straining and stressing, it’s simply awareness. Be aware and the change will come as naturally as breathing.

Be honest. Be aware.

As the Sun, Earth and moon aligned, so too can our thoughts, words and actions.

As the Solstice marked the end of the darkness, and as it was broken with the moon slipping out from shadow into light, so too can our lives be illuminated by the gift of awareness.

Solstice in the New World.

Pretty cool, huh?

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From the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Travelling Exhibit: Halfbreed Mythology

The History of My People (Grandfathers)
Mixed Media
on Canvas
2009

This is another of the works currently traveling throughout Alberta. The show has been going for a bit more than a year and will continue for the next couple.

The works in this show tend to be a little more introspective and this is no exception. I tried to tackle a couple aspects of Canadian history here. The landscape is the coast of Newfoundland as it glides by the Nordic explorers who were searching ever further beyond Iceland, beyond Greenland, braving the oceans and the unknown.

Although L’Anse aux Meadows was a colossal failure as a diplomatic mission, it also marks what we can say is the first Euro settlement on First Nations land and the first contact with the Skr├Žlings who inhabited the place. The birth of a new conflict, or the slow beginning of an eventual cooperation?

This is the reason for the iconic image of the prow of a longship stretching up beyond the upper edge of the canvas. A vessel containing Pandora’s mysteries.

Below is a mythic Raven. One large all-seeing eye and two faces, representing both the worship and stories of Odin, the All-Father, and of the Trickster Raven. That there are so many similarities in these very disparate cultures has always been a source of fascination for me.

And below it all, a giant golden orb. The centre of the earth? A rising sun or moon in a starscape also serving as the water’s depths, an indication that we are adrift, sailing through an endless ocean of time and space, held safe on a tiny, spinning planet? Or a portal through our limited awareness and understanding of each other?

The sidebars display the decorative, goldworked images of dragons or serpents, physical incarnations of unknown fears and dangers. The myth was that there were monsters beyond our ken, beyond our knowledge, beyond our borders. On ancient maps you find the phrase, “here be dragons”. A statement serving as a warning to those who would dare journey out and further than our fears allow.

These dragons seem to stretch down, curling into a rising future: a Metis sash. A symbol of joining and blending together. The interlocking fibers and colours indicating an ability to set aside differences and work for the common good. A sash is awarded these days to people in the community who have offered outstanding service or have achieved something great. A mark of honour and representative of the best in all of us.

Through time and conflict and blood, we stand today together on this land, a vast array of personal and family and cultural histories leading us to this moment, our moment, our children’s moments. Who we decide to be, what we decide to honour, what fears we choose to conquer – all these things will determine the world to come. We have inherited our world from our grandfathers with its many opportunities and challenges. How will we honour this?

And what will we leave for our grandchildren?

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