Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Temagami and Me

(An Artist Should I Learn To Be)
Part VII

The Peaceful Warrior
Paper Collage on Drawing Board
14” x 20”

It had taken Alan and me over five months to plan and prepare for our ten day walk across Southern Ontario to raise awareness about the clear-cut logging that was planned for the Temagami forestland. We had overcome many obstacles and challenges and in the end we had completed what we had set out to do. A short time later, Alan and I laughed when we thought about the fact that we still hadn’t been to Temagami to see what we had worked so hard to protect!

We wanted to travel together, but our work schedules didn’t allow that to happen. Alan made his own journey to the Northern Ontario forest and had many wonderful adventures. Joanne (my then girlfriend and my now wife) and I prepared for our own journey.

We found ourselves in the heart of the old growth forest for three life-changing days! We enjoyed a peace that we have yet to experience again, since that time.

I was in awe of the energy that I felt flowing from, through and over the land. Untouched in over 10 000 years, the trees, rocks and water sand a song to me about ancient times. I listened more closely and I could also hear the beavers, birds and dragonflies humming a tune about future days.

Our days were filled with sunshine and our nights were a window to the heavens. The waters were clean and the air was fresh and pure. I felt uniquely special for being able to experience this land in this way with the one I love.

As we were hiking along old hunting trails, endeavouring to find our way out of the forest, I heard a whispering voice in the breeze. This echo of the wind that blew through the trees’ branches asked me to share this story of love and beauty with the world. I acknowledged this request with a smile and a nod of my head, though at that time I had no idea exactly how I would do this.

A week later, I had a profound dream. A dream that would open up a brand new world for my mind and my spirit. A dream that would pull the blankets back, lift me from bed and lead me to my drawing table.

Joanne appeared in the entrance of our living room, rubbing her eyes, wondering what I was doing up at 3:00 am. “I had a vision come to me, just now, and I felt the need to draw it while it still remains in my mind,” I stated. “Who knows?… I just might end up being an artist!”

The End

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So… there you have it folks! The end of the seven part story that tells the tale about how one man surrounded by many family, friends and supporters was able to learn about and share inspiration about the Temagami forestland, and how that experience changed his (er – I mean ‘my’) life.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed it!

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I mentioned in my last blog how Alan and I had estimated that because of all the media support we had received, around 130 000 people had heard of Temagami for their first time. A very impressive number!!!!

Since then, I would estimate that I’ve been sharing tales across Canada, with the help of over thirteen different newspapers, a few arts and crafts magazines as well as radio and television interviews. In each of these interviews I always share the story of my first inspiration – Temagami.

I would now estimate that with these additional media spotlights that the forestland of the Temagami region has been heard about and read about by over one million people from around the world – some of my television interviews have been broadcast as far away as Australia.

One man shares a message with millions!!!!! Not bad considering I’m not a sports celebrity or rock star!

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‘Peaceful Warrior’ was created using paper collage techniques (using bits of paper cut out of magazines) that I have taught myself over the many years. I love how colours can be manipulated to create so many moods and depths to an art peace – notice how the sky changes from a light blue to a dark blue as it recedes into the distance.

This is the story of one tree (I’ve always compared this tree to be me – so in this way this art could be considered a self portrait) standing solidly as a protector of the forest in the far background. The sky is tranquil, dotted with a few fluffy clouds. The river meanders peaceful by the sandy beaches and the rocky terrain. All the elements that are ‘Temagami’ are present in this artwork. The concept of ‘reflections’ is also present as we see a small portion of the tree reflecting in the river’s water.

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I’ve mentioned how each of these seven artworks ended up being given to my close friends and family. I really wanted to keep this one for myself, cuz I just love it so much. But, I had already chosen my most favourite of this series ‘Earth Angel’, so I had to find a home for ‘Peaceful Warrior’.

This was an easy task. I had actually negotiated its new owners before my yearlong art tour began.

To prepare all seven artworks for this art tour, many of them had to be mounted, matted and framed behind glass. This was a problem for me, cuz I didn’t have any money to pay for this service. I approached a local art/framing gallery and asked if we could make a deal where they provided this service and in exchange I would provide them advertising at each of my exhibits. The owners thought that what I was doing was a wonderful thing, so they gave me much consideration. In the end, a deal was struck where they would provide this service for me, but in exchange they wanted me to give them 'Peaceful Warrior’ at the end of my art tour. A deal was made and we shook hands.

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‘Peaceful Warrior’ really struck a chord in my heart. Maybe this was because I did consider it to be a self-portrait. Needless to say, I have missed it over the years.

Because I love it so much, I have felt inspired to recreate this image on a number of occasions.

Every time this image came to life, the story of Temagami was told again.

Yes – the image was altered slightly. I got rid of the rocks and the river because the technique that I was teaching was very difficult for these grade 2 and 3 students.

The techniques that I taught during these classes were meant to resemble ‘paper collage’, just using paint and brushes instead.

The students loved to see how all their colour blending created such an unusual yet striking texture when the work was complete.

The Temagami forestland has been thriving and surviving on this planet of ours for over 10 000 years. I’ve only had the pleasure of making its acquaintance just a short 16 years ago. Since then, I’ve learned how to use the lessons that it taught me in many ways, offering inspiration to my fellow Canadians as well as the many international readers of this blog.

Continuously, I hope and pray that more people will become involved in this story and the many countless other environmental struggles that face our global civilization, so that the Earth’s inspiration will continue to flourish for all future generations.

‘Nuf Said


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