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Born and raised on the west coast of beautiful British Columbia, I spent my childhood in the forest. Growing up on acreage of densely wooded forest with a good sized creek and miles of trails throughout the surrounding area. My parents and I lived quite rustic for a time, living in a small cement block building that was previously used as a slaughterhouse for rabbits. We had no bathroom facilities or running water and our heat came from our gas range in our makeshift kitchen. We lived in this for three years while we built our log house. After moving into “the Big House” I still spent most of my time outdoors. Preferring the wind in the trees and the search for salamanders to television -rain or shine.
I have always drawn and sketched. Mostly birds and mammals. I remember drawing mice, eagles and horses at my kitchen table when I was about five years old. Drawing has always been a large part of my life and who I am. I do it to relax, to decompress and always for the sheer joy of it. My mother was a beautiful artist and she and my father encouraged me to pursue art throughout my life. I took some night classes in my teenaged years that I found very helpful in my development as an artist. I learned about light sources, positive and negative space, composition, depth and so many other things.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a professional artist. I would enter my art in the juried art competitions in the local country fairs winning firsts and best in show every year throughout my adolescence. My work would be on public displays in the community through my school and some community groups as well. I made money between jobs doing pet portraits and murals for small businesses and children’s bedrooms. I even painted windows at Christmas time one year. After I graduated, I had less time to focus on furthering my art and it took a back seat to the rest of life as a young adult.
Up until my thirties, I mainly only worked in pencil and pen and ink. I experimented with water based paints, but really never took an interest in color. It wasn’t until I moved from the Lower Mainland of Greater Vancouver and into the West Kooteneys of southern BC, that I began painting seriously. The inspiration is overwhelming living where I do now. Being far removed from any amount of civilian life at the base of a mountain amidst the pine, larch and fir forests with no shortage of wildlife. The calmness and serenity of a simple life filled with hard work and dedication is what drives me. Living on acreage means there is always something to do. Getting and chopping firewood, maintaining the usable land and outbuildings, including the 150 year old pioneer cabin I now use as a woodworking shop.
My first true painting was “What Was”, (the stellar’s jay on the totem pole). I completed several more over a two year period including Shadow and Light, Homecoming Wren, Autumn Blue, Threes a Crowd, Sunset Spirit, Plains Master, Fresh Tracks and a few others. I have always been very inspired by artists such as Robert Bateman, Terry Isaac, Carl Brenders and Daniel Smith to name a few. Studying their work and working out techniques by studying the brush strokes and compositions. In 2017, I sent an inquiry to Robert Bateman asking for a critique. I was asked to send some photos of my work and he personally called me one morning and he went over some of my paintings with me. He gave me some very flattering compliments on my skill and ability. Using words like “masterful” and “exquisite” and even saying that I paint like he does. I just about fainted at such compliments. He was shocked to learn that I had only been painting for two years and with no formal training other than my drawing classes. He also gave me some very helpful tips and suggestions that along with improving my paintings but adding to my confidence as well.
I work seasonally in the tourist town of Osoyoos in the summer and I paint in the winter. In deep snow and freezing temperatures for three months, I like to be indoors with my wood stove, music and little bird Sqweeker who brings me much happiness. She even loves to sit on my easel all day as I paint. I don’t have internet, cell phone or television at my house and I choose it this way. The impersonality of the internet and soullessness of social media have led me to give up the things that a lot of people cant seem to live without. My home is my sanctuary and I like it better without the stresses that the internet can bring. I am never bored, but I do have a very healthy collection of movies and shows.
I have continued to paint in the winter season in my home studio in my cabin in the woods. I gather ideas and photos of subjects and areas I want to paint. I hunt in the fall, but find I spend as much time looking for good photo ops as I do game. I always paint from my own photos and living in these wild places and exploring the back country gives me an endless supply of references. Hunting has also taught me the behaviours and patterns of the animals and places I paint. Allowing me to better understand how all species live and grow, in turn I can create a better more accurate painting. There is such diversity of wildness within a hundred kilometres from my front door. High alpine forest and steep rocky mountain slopes, lush river valleys full of green and life, lakes and waterfalls. Secret canyons and small hidden mountain lakes and hot, dry, arid dessert. All giving a plethora of adventure in search of my next work of art.
When I start a painting, I have a somewhat completed picture in my mind, wether it be a scene or subject I have come across in my travels or simply an idea of something I have dreamed up. I prefer to paint large paintings. They are a challenge and the more time I spend on a piece, the more passion goes into it. When I’m deep into a painting, the whole process is almost consuming. I listen to my favourite music or a podcast on something that really peeks my interest and can spend hours in my own world. Hours can pass and I hardly notice. Painting has become my centre. It helps me focus and calms me.
Every painting speaks to me differently, and each one is a little piece of me. I have always felt that a painting should be something not easily seen in life, but also something believable and realistic. I like to construct a scene that gives the viewer a sense of what is out there if enough patience and time is given to the moment. Don’t just pass by that little stream. Stop and see what's really there. The feeling it gives you to surrender your senses to the wildness. I try to capture that. I may not always include a bird or fox. But most times, the animal is just an accessory to the bigger picture. Animals dont always dominate their surroundings. Mostly, they are one with everything else. Just living in the moment. Perhaps a quality we as humans have let slip away. My paintings are an attempt to reunite the viewer with that ability to just be in the moment.