Warp and Weft: Works on Paper
I am fascinated by the interplay of strong opposing forces and how each force is necessary for the existence of every other one. At an art residency many years ago at Atlin in remote northern British Columbia the forces of stone, water and ice, of uplift and erosion, were everywhere I set my gaze. Mountains, glaciers, lakes and the vast spaces between them moved in a harmony of creation and destruction. The scenery was intensely beautiful and moving. When I arrived I painted with watercolors, as I had been doing for many years, but the intensity of the panorama waiting outside my painting studio and the intensity of the forces moving in my life appeared to make color superfluous. It was as if the strong blacks and whites and the subtlety of the grays in between were able to more effectively chronicle that scenery and the journey that I had begun. It was not the absence of color; it was all the colors gathered together as the natural forces moved in their interdependent dance of attraction and opposition.
Over the years since being in Atlin I have returned to color when the subject matter calls for it or if a strong work in black and white makes it known that an incursion of color is needed. But I call upon the strength of black, white and the in-between grays when I need to call upon the full language to express the strong forces that are necessary for the existence of each other, and which still rise up within me. These forces are expressed so clearly in nature: water working its way to the sea; renewal in a magnificent tree that was struck by lightning; new life forcing its way into our world. In the natural world I have seen that what is struck down, crushed, cut or splintered is not destroyed, but rather remains and carries on even though greatly transformed.
I respond so strongly to the language of the natural world and I utilize bold marks on paper to embrace it. I am inspired by the resilience and transformative beauty of the land above and the supporting rock beneath. By using geological structures and forms in nature, I draw parallels between the human experience and the natural world. I incorporate images of resilience, defiance and reverence and make use of hidden images in code. Images and themes are revealed to me in the tactile and strenuous process of mark making.
By using acrylics, gouache, graphite and oil inks on the impressionable medium of paper, I can forcefully express my emotions against the opposing strength of a wall, floor or table. I rarely use a brush in a traditional manner. Most often I draw, scrape, pour, carve, twist and scumble the media with various objects, many of which are found in nature. I like to feel consumed by my art and prefer to work large, so as to be physically encompassed by the work. As a calligrapher and lover of line, each mark is meaningful to me. I love the energy and movement that goes into making each one. Much like a dance, my hand and body move with the rhythm created by each type of mark. It’s an exhausting experience, but a fulfilling one.