Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In The Beginning…

Throughout this blog, I have been sharing stories about events that are presently going on in my life, as well as stories from my twelve-year history of being an artist. Today, for no particular reason, I will share the story about my first painting.

It was getting late in the year of 1995 when I first began to question the world around me. I began to wonder about pollution, as I was now surrounded by so many highways and freeways, filled with thousands and thousands of drivers, everyday. I thought about all the garbage that I saw at the ends of people’s driveways and made small calculations in my head, trying to figure out how much waste is produced daily in this town, in all the towns in Southern Ontario, in all of Canada, in all the world – my mind staggered. I was wondering about all the clear-cut forestlands I saw while driving down back mountain roads during my British Columbia visit in 1991. It may be silly, but I thought about all the people living in this area, using their toilets, and I made small calculations and wondered where it all went?

As these questions floated around in my head, I also began to find some answers. I read a number of books that shared different insights on a variety of subjects and a fuzzy image began to form in my mind. I felt like I was in a bit of a dream when Joanne came home from work and I had a large canvas propped up against the front of the television, busily sketching with a pencil.

By this time in my life, I had completed many, many architectural renderings and blueprint sketches – that was what I was trained to do. I had completed a very small amount of paintings – usually on a hard board – and most of these had been school assignments. I did not consider that I was an artist – the thought never occurred to me to claim that title and so I was just as mystified as Jo’ when I looked up from behind my first canvas.

I told Jo’ that this was to be my first and last painting. I wanted to create one painting that spoke of our world’s need to change – to stop environmental disaster and find our true connection with the life forces of the Earth.

A Post Industrial Dream

The sky, on the right side of the painting, was meant to symbolize wallpaper. I wanted to express the fact that our lifestyles have taken us out of connection with the real, breathing and vibrating forces of Nature – we have built around us, a fake reality. The sky, on the left side, shines with all the light from the setting sun – our real reality – and it is reclaiming its position of value… in a post industrial world. The three buildings symbolize our office buildings, apartment buildings and factories. The factories are belching their filth into the skies. This filth falls to the river and land below, filling them with poison. As the river flows away from industrialism and into the post world of the future, the waters become clean again and sparkle in shades of blue. The land is covered in veins that connect to the water. This symbolizes the interconnection of our water cycle with all things living – and that includes the person standing with his arms raised to the heavens. His body is constructed only of veins and all of these veins are connected to the veins on the landscape. This person is the spirit of humanity and he is drawn with inspirational thoughts about the indigenous people that have lived on this planet for so long – living in harmony with Nature – not stripping it of life for a few plastic bags. Humanity needs to learn how to recapture this ethic of our past in order to continue into a positive future. There are three trees that simply represent one aspect of Nature. They were drawn with thoughts of monks and their meditative ways of connecting with Nature.

This painting is my dream and hope for the future. I dream that humanity is strong enough to be humbled by Nature’s gift – not to feel shame for all the bad things we have all been apart of, but to feel empowered to realize that now is our time for positive change and thoughtful action – to create a global environment that is truly united in its ability to celebrate all the differences between each one of us.

This was not my last painting…

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Many years later, Joanne and I were preparing to leave London, to begin our art adventure across Canada. It was the last day of my display at a downtown gallery and I was in the process of packing up the artwork when Wayne – the owner and supporter of my efforts – introduced me to a few of his friends, that had come to visit. His friends enjoyed hearing a few stories about some of my paintings and then we chatted about what they do. They were Native Canadians and they told me stories about the work they do with the children of their community. They told me of their Friendship Centre and about some of the art activities they create for the children. Wayne began to tell them of my upcoming art travels and they were very excited for my wife and I. I made a joke about all the stuff that we had to squish into our small van and then I was suddenly asking them if they would like to have ‘A Post Industrial Dream’ for their centre. They didn’t believe me…. “Seriously,” I said, “It would make me feel great, knowing that my art will be appreciated in such a wonderful space that is enjoyed by kids”. That was the last time that I saw those people and the painting. I hope that it has and will continue to delight people for many more years… wherever it may be!


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