And Warms Our Skin Like Soft Exhalations

Lay Down Your Burdens
36″ x 28″
Mixed Media on Canvas

This is one of a group of paintings that flashed across my inner eye and I quickly sketched it out. The painting took me 9 months of labour to complete, growing at its own pace. I couldn’t have rushed it if I tried, and sometimes I did try. As it came closer and closer to completion I realized how much of my life was hidden in this piece like small bits of secret code, almost indecipherable. I look at it with a sense of satisfaction at being finished, and a sense of longing for the work to always continue.

There is a simplicity and a complexity to this piece. Some will see the hand as comforting, others will see it as threatening. What does it mean? I honestly don’t know. All I did was transcribe the already formed image onto canvas. Sometimes I feel like the Raven, defeated, hungry, hurt and weary. I just need to rest. And sometimes I feel like the Woman. Is my heart open, or has it been ripped out? Am I an angel, a mother, or a destroyer?

In the end it doesn’t matter. And that’s the way it works for life, too. All that matters is that there is a connection and a truth.

In the end, what else can we ask for?


Sunshine Breaks Through

Cree Teachings
24″x 26″
Mixed Media on Canvas

Sohkahcahkwewin ᓱᐦᑲᐦᒐᐦᑫᐧᐃᐧᐣ

It means having strength of soul.

I called this Cree Teachings because of the wisdom I have been honoured to receive from many teachers throughout my life. Some of the teachers hurt me, some of them loved me, and sometimes it was both. Here I have made the equivalent of birch bark, and inscribed upon it, painted on it, filled it with all the mysteries I know and then let it go. The four colours can be found on some Medicine Wheels, or not, and it doesn’t matter. I used the colours because they were healing for me, they were true for me. They are also the colours of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which would never have thrived were it not for the assistance they received from the many Indigenous people of Canada who shared their knowledge of how to survive in this country. The Company listened to how to survive, but they didn’t listen to how to live.

My main pursuit in this life is is to learn to live. To learn to set aside pain, to set aside fear. To instead embrace love, to be accepting and remove judgment as much as possible. I can only learn this through my interactions with others. We are each others constant teachers and students. The wisdom of the sky and the wisdom of a tree are no more or less significant than the wisdom of an ant or even the deep knowledge of an electron. By listening, always listening, we learn. Sohkahcahkwewin.


Clouds Clearing

The Face of Abundance
22″ x 28″
Mixed Media on Canvas

I made a little painting a couple years ago called Abundance. I loved painting it and wanted to return to the theme and explore the idea again. This time, instead of a sun it’s a golden being. Many people have commented on it, asking, “Is it the wind?”, or “I think it’s a soul about to be born.” The golden visage represents everything. Some would call it God, some Possibility, some Tao. I just know that it is. I feel it when I’m painting. We all feel it at some point or other. We feel it when we’re mindful. We feel it when we transcend the need to be patient and are just accepting. We feel it when we sit quietly, allowing our connection to nature flow through us and fill our senses, fill our souls.

I turn my face to the sun
The heat like gentle lips

Placed upon my skin
In benediction

There’s more than I can take
There’s abundance

…Rain or Shine…

Buffalo I
5″ x 7″
Mixed Media on Canvas

Have you ever gotten close to a buffalo? Have you ever looked into one of those deep, limpid, liquid eyes? Has that buffalo spoken to you? What did she say? Did she tell you about her dreams? Did she talk about her calf, the day it was born, how it ran! Did she talk about circling the children when danger approached, forming a wall of flesh, fur and love? Of the dust rising in the heat of the day – parched and dry – to let them know it was time to move on? Did she describe the exhilarating pace as hooves struck the ground in a deep, satisfying, earth shaking rumble? Did she tell you about the day her baby fell down, never to get up again, as the iron horse rumbled past with a clanging mockery of their own thunder? Did she tell you how they all disappeared, the people starved and fences rose to carve apart the land? Did she tell you those dreams?

Did you listen?


The Show Continues…

Wolf Vison
Mixed Media on Canvas
16″ x 20″

Sometimes words won’t come, or if they do they are insufficient. Threads that won’t weave, images that won’t stop and coalesce into form. Sometimes a painting goes so deep into dream it becomes difficult to tease out the simple meanings with which to clothe the chaos. This is such a work for me. I could say that Wolf is our clan, that I feel tied to animal life, that I am wild, contained only by strength of will, that at any moment I will turn from the city, from civilization, from the world of man and walk into the forest, never to return. I can talk about the vision fragments, of fire, of water rushing like sublime madness in my ears. Hearts beating, blood rushing, bodies racing, and then sky, endless sky and cool rain and the whispering winds. I can say all that and more and never have even begun. A howl wants to escape my lips just thinking on it.


Summer Begins…now!


It’s hot today.

So I’m outside. Answering backed up emails (story of my life), drinking a coffee and getting a little sunburned. The show went really well and I was so happy to see all the people who came out. My only regret is that I don’t always have time to talk to everyone that I would like. If all we had a chance to do was say a quick hello, well, at least we had that.


For those of you who couldn’t make it, the show continues until the 27th of May. If you’re in Edmonton, use it as an excuse to get outside. It’s 28C today and will be 31C tomorrow! Sooo good.

My Birthday was over the weekend and I went golfing (badly) with my soon to be Brothers In Law and we had family over for a really nice get together. It also gave me an opportunity to slow down and enjoy my time with loved ones and Loved One. Life just keepings rolling along, tickety tick in that all too real illusion of time. As I sit here in the sun watching the summer dresses float by I am reminded just how GOOD life is. An afternoon in the sun. Breathing. Old couples strolling along, young couples laughing nervously, bored couples looking at everything but each other…all faces of each other, of you, of me…dramas, played out as if we actually care about them, or as if they’re actually important.

I laugh in delight at Us. We human, thinking beings sure know how to expect things, and become disappointed if what unfolds doesn’t meet our expectations – which is almost always. The greatest moment in my life occurred when I realized that to stop getting nuts all I had to do was stop expecting. I just had to be. Be, observe, and refrain from reacting. I’m not perfect at it, but even a 10% improvement has made an enormous difference.

As you can see, spending an afternoon in the sun with me would have you frantically looking for your Blackberry or iPod just so you could escape and actually enjoy yourself!


Thoughts in the sun. Maybe I’m getting heat stroke.

Here are two paintings from the show, and the thoughts that went along with them:

Trade Offs
Mixed Media on Canvas
9″ x 12″

Without the Hudson’s Bay Company there wouldn’t be this show, Half Breed Culture. Without opening up trade routes and exploiting the land, without the Voyageurs, the Metis, immigration and so on, none of us would be here. While we sometimes revile our past because of injustices done the fact remains that without all those events our world would be unrecognizable. Some say for the worse, others for the best. In the end, it’s a trade off. Because of my personal genetic background, I can’t be angry at anyone. I can only accept the past. And since I can’t change it, what else can I do? What can any of us do but accept that along with the benefits came atrocity? All we can do is decide what to do now. Not we will do in the future, but right now in this living moment. What trade offs do we make? Are we aware of them?

This piece can be seen in many ways. On one level, it is my personal story, the items in it representing different concepts and events, but it can also be a discussion about exploitation of cultures, small pox, and ongoing social issues. Or it can be just a funny old crow who loves shiny beads and is sitting there with his beak full, satisfied.

All these possible meanings, all right on the money. And on it goes. This piece is exactly why I am so passionate about creating art: the conversation you have with the work all depends on what you bring to the table, and the conversations we have with each other open the doors to new ideas, new ways of thinking that had never been there before. We trade off one another and by doing so weave our thoughts, our hearts, together.

A Good Trade
Mixed Media on Paper
14″ x 11″

Somewhat of a companion piece to Trade Offs, this work continues the visual exploration of the concepts I was exploring. Here our hero sits wrapped in his blanket, warm and content, and maybe just a little bit proud! He earned this fine blanket. Perhaps he gave his furs for it, getting back an interesting, soft, beautiful covering. Maybe he has more and will gift them to those in need. Lightweight, portable, weather resistant. It’s a good trade.


A Show!

The Bearclaw Gallery Presents:
Half Breed Culture
New Works by Aaron Paquette

Opening: May 15, 2010
Closing: May 27, 2010

Artist in attendance May 15, 1-4pm

Abundant Treasures of the Spirit
Acrylic, Gold Leaf on Canvas
30″ x 40″

This was a labour of love. It took an incredible amount of time to paint, the fish undergoing so many slight revisions until we were all satisfied. The perspective felt a little tricky at first, but resolved itself as the plant life was added at the end. What is happening here? What has been discovered? What is this orb doing, what will it do? As with much of my work, this is not a moment of truth, a fait accompli, but the moment before everything changes. There is a hush and an anticipation. A curiosity! The wealth of this life is about to pour forth in unexpected ways.


So yes, it’s true. My first solo show in Edmonton City in a couple years is about to begin. I would be so happy and so honoured to see you come out and take a look at what I’ve been working on for the past while. I’ll be there from 1-4pm and look forward to it!



Bearclaw Gallery
10403-124 Street
Edmonton, AB


TEL: 1+(780) 482-1204
FAX: 1+(780) 488-0928

Gallery Hours:
Monday – Saturday
10:00 AM – 5:30 PM