Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Temagami and Me

(An Artist Should I Learn To Be)
Part III

Coloured Ink on Drawing Board
16” x 28”
November 2006

I left the Temagami information session in Toronto with a smile on my face and determination in my heart. “We will save this ancient forest!” I thought to myself, “We will!!” though I had no idea HOW.

One month later a curious event took place… It was my day off work and I was enjoying the sunshine as I walked along the Thames River Bike Path, here in London, Ontario. Along came this beautiful Husky dog, bounding my way, and close behind was her owner. I bent over to scratch Mia behind her ears and Alan and I exchanged friendly words.

Soon we were talking about the architecture of the future and being done with the subdivision sprawls that are overtaking this city. Alan was a recent graduate in the field of Aquaculture and he shared ideas about using this education to build a clean water existence in homes and communities that would benefit Nature. We both knew that these ideas would take decades to achieve. We both agreed that it was hard enough trying to encourage people to recycle and be nice to each other and here we were dreaming about PEACE ON EARTH and which ideas would lead us there. We both wanted to do something positive.

I told Alan of my most recent educational experience where I learned about the Temagami forestland, located in Northern Ontario and how this unique species of forest is being threatened with extinction by the hand of man. He listened intently as I explained how a natural forest breathes and lives. I asked him to join me and my ambitions to raise awareness about these issues with others.

I told of my most recent ideas inspired by peaceful warriors of the past. I wanted to create a walk, similar to other great walks that colour Canada’s history. This walk would be a tool to share the story of Temagami’s struggle for survival and to share a vision for peaceful understandings leading to positive action for future generations. Alan smiled. THE TEMAGAMI TRAIL TRIBUTE was about to be realized…

(to be continued...)

+ + +

To create my ‘Reflections of Temagami: A Group of Seven’ artworks for my then upcoming 2007 art tour, I was using the colour slide photos I had taken – while in the Temagami region - as my inspiration. But, I had to be very selective as to which photos I would use. In keeping with my idea, any image that I selected had to have a reflection in it.

This is the photo that inspired ‘Earthangel’. You can clearly see that the majority of this photo is of the water, with the forest being reflected on it. My main focus while taking this photo was to capture the reflection of the shoreline, with all the wonderful textures of the rocks. The reflected blues of the sky were an added bonus.

As with ‘Forest Breathing’, I felt compelled to rotate this photo 90 degrees. I spent many moments enjoying how this rotated photo filled my imagination with delightful thoughts and impressions. Within the rocky shoreline I saw head, chest and belly of an organic beast. The tree trucks were arms held aloft and covered with the greens of the trees to become wings for my rock being. This creature looked like it was flying through a sky filled with the deepest of blues.

Since this creature was flying, I thought that it was an angel soaring over the Temagami forestlands, filled with my prayers of hope for its salvation. Since its body was made of the rocks, soil, bushes and trees of the Earth I thought that the final artwork should be called ‘Earthangel’… my personal prayer.

So… I had my inspiration. Now I needed to figure out what medium and which style of rendering I was going to use.

I woke up one morning, and as I was rousing around I was wistfully enjoying a quilt that my wife had made and hung in our bedroom. This quilt is quite a delight for the eyes – it’s one of my favourite art peaces that adorns our walls. I became taken in by the colour shifts throughout the quilt – colours beginning in a mixture of purples, slowly shifting into dark blues.

The background of this quilt was made using squares. Each square was made using five different angular shapes. A lightbulb lit up over my waking head!!!!!

I used the same idea – just arranged slightly differently. This square – made up of five different angled shapes became the blueprint for the texture used to create ‘Earthangel’.

I allowed myself to be able to rotate this design to look like this…

… and this…

… and this, to allow me to have four possible ways to use this one design. This proved to be very helpful when designing the most intricate part of ‘Earthangel’ – the tree trunks/wings.

I decided to use coloured inks for this artwork. By adding small drops of water to my inks I was able to create the many different tones of blue used to create the sky. When looking at the above detail you may think that I used three or four different tones of green, but that is not the case. Only one tone of green was used.

One thing that I learned about painting with coloured inks is that deeper and richer colours can be created by painting an area more than once using the same colour. There is a limit though – at the limit an area can be painted only four times and then it becomes saturated. Any attempt to paint an area five or six times will see the drawing board being worked on, fall apart in little clumps of soaking paper.

By using this technique I was able to quadruple the number of coloured tones to be presented in the final artwork.

+ + +

As all of the seven artworks were being completed, I began to wonder what I should do with them. Should I put them up for sale? Should I donate them to a charity after the art tour was finished?

I finally decided to give them away to my friends, who I know would respect and cherish them. The first in this series of seven ‘Fallen Comrade’ was given to my parents. ‘Forest Breathing’ was given to my friend Jim Mikol – he appears in the above newspaper article. ‘Earthangel’ ended up being my favourite of the seven and so I decided to keep this one for myself. In a future blog I’ll continue to mention who the other artworks were given to.

Here’s ‘Earthangel’ as it appears on my dining room wall. This photo was taken just two hours ago.

But wait!!!! What’s this???? Who’s this bald guy???

Yup! It’s me, but what’s with the sporty bald look?

Indeed… that’s another story!


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