Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Temagami and Me

(An Artist Should I Learn To Be)
Part II

Forest Breathing
Acrylic paint on canvas
24” x 36”

I was spending a bit of time at a local book store, searching for books that would explain why our environment was in such peril, when I spotted a small folded flyer that told the story of Temagami.

The Temagami brochure was filled with lots of information that peeked my desire to learn more. There was a phone number available for those who wanted to attend an upcoming meeting. After a few phone calls I found myself on a train bound for Toronto.

I was glad to attend a gathering of wonderful people, curious to find ways to become involved. I listened as slides were shown, to tales that explained the uniqueness of this forest. I learned about ‘species of environments’ and that Temagami was an OLD GROWTH RED AND WHITE PINE species of forest. I was shocked to learn that only 1% of this species remains on our Earth.

Temagami is the largest of the last few remaining stands. I had a difficult time understanding how this situation came to this critical point. It seemed obvious, to me, that under such conditions all actions should focus on the preservation and expansion of such life reservoirs. I learned that once an area has been clear-cut and the roots dug up and burned in lines of fire that stretch across the horizon that heavy rains wash much soil away leaving exposed rock where nothing will grow.

The moment when I became hooked by desire to find positive ways to protect this ancient history was when I learned how a forest breathes. The speaker began talking about all the animals, birds and insects that work in unison within a natural environment. She told how old decaying trees feed the roots of new saplings as they reach for the sky through the hole in the forest canopy that was created by the fallen tree from over twenty years previous. I thought about the forests that I’ve hiked through in Southern Ontario and then I understood the vast differences between a naturally balanced habitat and a managed tree plantation.

I still had a lot more to learn, but now I felt that it was time to do something… before it was too late!

To be continued…..

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‘Forest Breathing’ was inspired by a photo that I took while adventuring through the Temagami region. The photo was a bit overexposed and that gave it a washed out look – making it look almost monochromatic (one colour). When I turned the photo on its side, my imagination saw a variety of animal faces – almost like a totem pole. I found this inspiring and soon my paintbrushes became rather busy.

I decided to make the painting monochromatic, using only two tones of one hue. Those of you with a sharp eye will notice that a blue and a magenta hue also grace this canvas. These colours were added, in small doses, to make the painting just a little more interesting.

I painted ‘Forest Breathing’ in a style that I have called ‘contour’ painting – referring to contour lines that you can find on any topographical map. First I apply one strip of paint around a shape that I’ve traced onto the canvas – as my guidelines. Once that wiggley line of paint has dried I paint another line right beside it… and so on, until the entire shape has been filled it.


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