Salmon Painting Series


Salmon Painting series: acrylic and collage on paper

I have long been fascinated by the various species of Pacific salmon, their sleek lines, well-proportioned bodies and silvery scales…. beauty and athleticism. I’m also inspired by their sense of purpose as they undertake an amazing journey. Salmon forsake the security of a quiet stream to head to the open sea where they remain for years. And having survived the perils of the vast Pacific, miraculously find their way back to the stream of their birth. I marvel at their struggle up fast rushing rivers, even leaping falls, determined to fulfill their purpose in producing the next generation. Working with this subject I’m able to place fish in relation to others and to place them in a number of environments and contexts. The process begins with pouring and scraping paint to create a non-objective ground. Fish shapes are cut, painted and arranged in a composition. Areas of the composition are enriched by magazine collage and by painting techniques such as pour, spatter and sponge.



Shoreline Rock Series


The Pacific coast is a place of great drama. From time immemorial it has been a stage for struggle, contested by forces of nature: fierce storms, pounding waves, scoured by sand. Rocks in the intertidal zone are host to barnacles and moorage to mussels. With each advancing and retreating tide the shoreline is clothed with aquatic plants and undraped, again and again. Boulders possess incredible character: marvellous textures, colours and striations, and many are polished to gleaming. Working on black paper, qualities of texture and light are enhanced. My inspiration for these choices comes from Dutch painters, Rembrandt, Hals and others who called forth light from darkness.



Eagle Series


The bald eagle is an icon of the West Coast. Sitting atop the food chain, its health and strength of numbers is an indicator of the health of the whole ecosystem. There is a romantic notion that assigns to the eagle, characteristics of fierce independence and nobility. In some indigenous cultures it is venerated and for countries such as the U.S.A. it is a symbol that stirs patriotism. My Eagle series involves the use collage — pulling together drawings, photographs, stencil prints, linocuts, collage and watercolour. The viewer is invited to consider each composition a narrative, a life history of collected moments and changing conditions. Each title provides a clue to how the story might be read.



Forces of Nature


The format of a diptych introduces a cinematic quality. Paired images invite comparison and the panels evoke concepts of time and space. There is a sense of narrative, involving the viewer in constructing a flow of events that lead from one to the other. You might read one paired composition as: “before and after,” “above and below,” “near and far.” The drawings are both abstract and evocative. I see a dynamic tension within and between the panels. Titles such as ‘’germination” and “wind/wave” suggest a struggle for space and resources in the forest and in streams of the British Columbia rainforest. Each work begins with watercolour stains that set a mood. These are overlaid with gestural strokes with coloured pencils. The process is playful and inventive. The process continues through accumulated strokes, blending and erasing until a form is found.



Formalist Landscape Collages


Formalism looks to the elements of art and the principles of design as a kind of visual language. Relationships of line, colour, shape, and texture are delicately balanced in dynamic compositions. In these collages there are references to nature. Some compositions stand alone as cut paper works, while others were studies for acrylic canvas paintings 150cm x 150cm and larger, accomplished with an airbrush. Surfaces are flat and textured. Without evident brush strokes there is a sense of anonymity, as though they appeared without human agency. I read these works as aerial views of landscape and mapping. Rigid lines imply measurement. Textures suggest nature, rock formations, foliage and sky. The flat colour in these small-scale works came from Color-Aid and the textured areas from glossy photographs. The clean lines and strict geometric shapes are meant to create tension and release.



Prairie Landscape Series


While living in Eastern Alberta I became a regionalist, feeling a deep need to respond to the vast plains and open skies. I came to know these experientially, hiking and cycling on country roads. I learned to appreciate this landscape that many regard as bleak and dry. I love its subtle hues and rugged textures. Other sensory experiences contributed to my appreciation of place: the surprising colourful blossoms of prickly pear cactus in spring, the fragrance of sage on a hot August evening, the call of a meadowlark in spring. Feeling no need for colour, I recognized my prairie was more about light, shade and shadow, and of course, texture. The prairie landscape holds many moods and personalities: rugged badlands formations, gently rolling river valleys, irrigation canals, cornfields, ranches, fresh cut hay, and so forth. My drawings were done using litho crayon, and to complete them, I relied upon my photographs that captured the fine details of the land and the sky. In one sense the photograph preserves a moment of time (while the resulting drawings took hours to execute) and yet looking at them now, it feels as though time has stood still.



Mining the Family Photo Album 1915-1965


It has been said ‘there are no young historians.’ Most of us have been so busy living our lives there is little time to pause and reflect, looking back with the objective of creating a narrative or storyline linking people, places and events. Now a retired professor from the University of Victoria, I’m able to undertake such a project.

I’ve been looking at the Dalton family photo albums, mostly black and white images, and selected individual or paired photos to be built into collages. The materials/media include found and created items and grounds that evoke an era or speak to the times. The result is a series of artworks intended to honour my family and preserve their stories. The work is my own perspective, of course, and like all stories, highly subjective.



Life Drawing


There is something about life drawing that I find exhilarating. Much like an athlete, the courageous artist must be fully present. Part of the experience involves acknowledging and embracing the challenges: Working against time for example, a pose may be 30 seconds, just time for a gesture on the page. A sustained pose may be 30 minutes or longer. Adjusting to such variations of time is part of the challenge. The model chooses the poses for group settings. Related to this, one’s position relative to the model stand means angles of view are not yours to choose. The human figure is complex and you may have to forget what you think you know about the human form and remain disciplined, recording challenges such as foreshortening. In the end, a measure of luck seems needed to capture a pose on a piece of paper and do so in a manner that seems fresh and not laboured. Achieving ‘a keeper’ can feel like a minor miracle. Despite the challenges (or perhaps because of them) life drawings can be very rewarding.



Photo Collage Landscape Series


When I first moved to Vancouver Island I used a camera to record my surroundings. Single shots fail to capture the rich complexity of the subject matter. This is not a new approach, it has been pursued by David Hockney, among other noted artists. The photos overlap at times, leave gaps at others, and have a sense of a cubist construction of space. Single images are shingled one upon another. Landscapes shift from ocean, streams, gardens, forest and ferry terminals.