I do not visualize images in my mind. I make my art in order to see it. I ask my work to teach me, knowing that nothing is only what it seems but also something else. This poem is one of my oldest teachers. It came to me in 1972 while listening a lecture about Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language at the University of Oregon where I was completing my PhD.in Art Education.
In a painting of space
Of light and light, you paint to be alive.
Every part, and every part between the part is whole
And you are artist enough to call forth it riches.
For you there will be not past indifferent moment
There will be no forgotten place.
I have remembered these phrases again and again across the years of my art-making. They remain the ground upon which my choices for ways of working are made.
I moved to Cortes Island in 1990 from Halifax, where I was teaching at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, because one cold dark morning I was shocked to not recognize myself in the mirror—I looked so tired and stressed. I gave up money and career advancement to become an overeducated oyster farmer who paints large photo-realist images of nature, makes frame drums for shamanic journeying, and continually creates the Journey Oracle card deck.
I compare my best painting moments to singing Opera. I strive for making that elegantly floating line of pigment unfurling like an effortless aria, all the while knowing years of discipline and practice are supporting the voice, and the mark.