THE WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE
Maybe this has happened to you, but if not – imagine you are walking a dog down a tree lined path by a river in the middle of town, and a bear pops out of the bushes and scrambles across the path in front of you. You lock eyes and time stops for a moment. There is a huge burst of adrenaline that leaves you shaking. Everything is so intense. The sky seems more blue, every speck of dirt on the path is crystal clear, and the bear itself is seared into your memory. You don’t ever want to forget this moment. Later, you tell the story to everybody! I tell everybody too, but with paint.
Almost everyone knows of the Group of Seven. They explored and painted the Canadian landscape from 1920 to 1933. Believing that a distinctly Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature, they worked mainly from life in the Alla Prima (all in one go – sketchy looking) method.
Although I appreciate the modern art now flourishing in Canada, I love the look, colour and tradition of the Group of Seven, and strive to bring those qualities to wildlife art.
``Paint what you love with passion and conviction, and if it is not in fashion, keep painting until one day it will be.``
The bears made their debut in the mid 1990’s in the mountain town of Canmore, Alberta. The gallery now known as The Sunny Raven, carried my earliest bear art. I worked mainly in pastel on black paper back then. The style, vigorous strokes on a dark ground, developed from practicing wildlife and figurative imagery on colourful chalk menu boards for the local restaurants and cafes.
The style quickly grew to include acrylic and oil on canvas, receiving wider recognition at the 2001 exhibition at The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Bears: Imagination and Reality. At that time the majority of wildlife art was realistic, and it was a challenge finding representation in the urban galleries until Gainsborough Galleries, the oldest established gallery in Calgary, began carrying my work.
When colourful bear portraits by other artists began appearing in local galleries the focus of my work shifted from primarily bear portraits to a broader exploration of all the wildlife in the Rockies, as well as rural livestock. This coincided with a move to Okotoks, Alberta, a small town in the foothills, where deer roam the streets and moose encounters happen on the way to class.
Beginning in May, 2018, each painting will be input into a database on artmoi.com, and will have a unique id number. This database is for the purpose of tracking the provenance of the painting, and will include details and written comments on the story behind the art.
Otherwise, when not entering paintings into the database or teaching, I’ll be in the studio attempting to harmoniously unite wildlife and scenery in a painting for the upcoming Peace Parks international exhibition in Montana, or I could be painting something just for you.