Drawings, Charcoal & Soft Pastel

Precarious

Precarious is a series of drawings in charcoal and soft pastel on Stonehenge paper. It is about the delicate balance between life and death in landscapes once familiar but now utterly altered by human activity and carelessness. We have created a culture in which there is a constant flux between ugliness and beauty. We enter a state of grace through our art, writing, music, architecture, dance, yet we also leave behind islands of plastic garbage at sea and the hideous carcasses of industrialization that cannot be biologically reabsorbed into the earth.

The images in this group of drawings have a human presence evident in vestigial structures, yet there is absence too. The emotional impact of changes we have wrought on the planet cannot be denied. Brutal deforestation, fires, flooding, drought, accelerating rates of species extinction are disturbing, yet there is a fascination for them imposed on our consciousness.

There are events occurring that are dark, painful and contradictory, yet essential to contemplate and articulate. We have the capacity to reflect, to resist looking away. Precarious acknowledges the paradox of our ability to both create and destroy that exists within all of us. It is also part of my ongoing exploration of a deep connection with nature held by many of us. In a sense these drawings are both an expression of grief and a catharsis. The subject is a painful one that speaks to our vulnerability. There is beauty in decay, which is associated with nourishing new life. Yet will the immense changes taking place now lead to this outcome? What forms of life might survive? What others may unintentionally be generated?

There is material irony in this series about life on the edge. Charcoal is carbon, or burned and compressed organic material. Soft pastel pigments are mined. As such, there are elements of destruction within the creative process.


Anamnesis

The five Anamnesis drawings are a response to, and a record of, places I have traveled and explored. Anamnesis refers to memory, specifically the ability to hold something in one’s mind. The objects and locations I depicted in these images had left in me a vivid visual impression. All of them were either formed or re-shaped with great care by human hands. Some have remained, little changed for centuries, as memorials to those who made them.


Boreal Forest Drawings

Boreal Forest Drawings One, Two and Three are large charcoal works on Stonehenge paper. They were completed during an artist residency in northern Saskatchewan. I was captivated by the subtle beauty of the rolling landscape with its many lakes. The water, light, textures and sounds (notably the haunting cries of loons, and the wind) evoked in me a profound awareness of place, along with a consciousness that the boreal forest is under continual threat from climate change and the unrestrained plunder of resources. In these drawings my intent was to highlight the wonderfully textured tree debris found on the forest floor — knots of fallen leaves, bark and lichen — and its importance within the forest life cycle.

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Dorsal Papillae

Dorsal Papillae is a group of five soft pastel drawings on Rives BFK paper in black, white and grey soft pastel. I found the source for these images tucked inside a drawer in a WWII vintage metal flat file I purchased from the British Columbia government's surplus furniture store that was originally housed in the old Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. On a forgotten sheet of translucent paper were delicate line drawings bearing the heading, "dorsal papillae" (or cellular protrusions). These illustrations became the basis for this group of soft pastel drawings, as well as a number of my paintings.


Vestiges

Vestiges is comprised of a number of drawings in charcoal on Johannot paper. They were done in homage to the remains of animals and plants encountered during my forays into nature. I carried them back with me to reside temporarily in my studio. The title refers to the shadowy traces of living things that seem to endure even after death.

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Northern Drawings

Northern Drawings, executed in charcoal on BFK Rives paper, were inspired by my experience as artist-in-residence at the Atlin Art Centre in the far northwest corner of British Columbia. These five images are a direct response to the extraordinary character of the land there. In the drawings forms emerge from darkness into illumination and recede again into shadow.