Friday 10 June 2016

Life in a tide pool

Life in a tide pool is challenging, but this doesn't prevent a whole diversity of hardy plants and animals from surviving and even thriving in this tough environment. As the tide retreats, intertidal denizens must be able to withstand exposure to air. Depressions in the rock become pools of water, providing refuges for resident anemones, sea stars, mussels, crabs, snails, algae and the occasional small fish. As the tide rises, these same creatures must cling on as the waves wash over them. Resilience is key to survival in the tide pool.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Whistler ArtWalk and ice in a heatwave

The Whistler ArtWalk 2015 is here for the next two months, and there is incredible artwork to be found everywhere in the village, from galleries to cafes and restaurants. It is a definite must see. A multitude of artists are participating, and I'm lucky to be one of them. ArtWalk runs from June 27 to August 31, and there is more information to be had about what is displayed where from the Whistler Arts Council at

Eight of my paintings and prints are on display at the Millennium Place gallery, including several of my paintings about ice. It seems a bit silly to talk about ice in the relentless heatwave we are having at the moment, but  perhaps thoughts of ice have a way of keeping us cool on a hot day. I started the project in the winter, and have been photographing ice and painting its formation and melting. It was a way for me to connect with the world around me, and to tune in with the changes that were happening in my backyard. I've talked about some of those paintings earlier in this blog, but below are a couple of new ones that are now on display at the Millennium Place.

These two paintings are titled "under the ice" and "ice life" respectively. They are acrylic mixed media paintings that not only reflect on the texture and pattern of the ice itself, but also incorporate species that are directly dependent on ice.

The two prints below are a little different and are a result of my playing around with a new technique. I photographed some frost that had formed overnight on glass, had the photos printed on watercolour paper, and then painted on top of that. The results are on the abstract side of things, but I liked the technique enough that I may try it in a larger scale in the future. The prints are titled "through the glass 1" and "through the glass 2". They are also now at the Millennium Place gallery.

I hope to see you all at the ArtWalk this year!

Friday 19 June 2015

In Vanuatu

I'm just back from doing a bit of work in one of my favourite places: Vanuatu. After spending time there, I am always in awe of the innovative ways in which small remote villages manage their marine resources based primarily on traditional ecological knowledge. This knowledge about how the marine environment functions has been passed along through generations of living closely with, and depending on, the resources of the ocean. And it has resulted in management measures, such as periodic fisheries closures (tabu areas) that are intimately tied to cultural and spiritual practices. These types of village-based systems provide the villagers, as custodians of their land and sea, control over activities on their fishing grounds, and they can quickly adjust their strategies based on environmental changes. Traditional knowledge and practices eroded over the colonial period, but have recently been revitalized in villages around Vanuatu.

The collage below, titled "what lies beneath" is made up of a screenprint and a woodcut, depicting boys playing around a coral reef. The learning about the environment starts in childhood, through play and instruction from elders.

The photos below are from a cultural festival in the small village of Aneityum, where the school actively teaches traditional knowledge to children.  The kids learn everything from how to build traditional sailing canoes and cyclone houses, prepare famine foods that keep for a long time, to how to respectfully relate to older villagers. This allows them to be resilient, drawing on both the wisdom of ancient ways and contemporary innovations.

Monday 6 April 2015

Sacred Headwaters

This new show at the Millennium Place is well worth checking out! It is about issues surrounding the well-being of the Sacred Headwaters in BC, an area with rich biological and cultural diversity. The area is also under threat from proposed resource extraction, including coalbed methane. The show is open from April 7 to June 7 (and even includes two of my paintings...). There is a social on April 27th, with Tahltan Nation storytelling and some short films. More at

Below are the two pantings of mine that will be included in the show. All paintings and other artworks in the show are interpretations of the nature photography of National Geographic's Paul Colangelo. The first painting is called "flow" and the media used include acrylic on canvas; and graphite, charcoal and crayon on paper. The second painting is called "water is life" and the media used is acrylic on canvas and paper.

Monday 16 March 2015

Spring has sprung

Spring came early this year for us in the Pacific Northwest. While this is concerning on many levels, today I am succumbing to the pure joy of sunshine, colour and flowers. The quick watercolour below, thus far untitled, is my celebration of spring renewal.

Acid seas

Acidification is one of the scariest threats to our oceans. The sea and its creatures have evolved in an ocean with relatively constant acidity, creating the rich web of life that many of us view with awe. For about 300 million years, the ocean pH has, on average, been around 8.2. This started changing with the industrial revolution and the resulting rise in carbon emissions. Oceans have taken up as much as half of all man-made carbon dioxide over the past two centuries. When carbon dioxide dissolves into sea water, carbonic acid is formed, resulting in higher acidity. The higher acidity, in turn, is detrimental to any creature with a calcium carbonate skeleton, such as coral reefs, sea urchins, many shellfish and so on. When acidification acts cumulatively with pollution, overfishing and other impacts, most sea creatures will have trouble adjusting.

This set of two mixed media paintings titled "acid fish" and "jellies" represent different stages of thriving oceans. While jellyfish will survive many impacts that would be devastating to less robust biodiversity, it is still questionable whether they will be able to withstand acidification.

Ice revisited

This winter has been warmer than normal, and the unseasonal temperatures have been reflected in the formation and thawing of ice on our local lakes and rivers. Now the ice is mostly gone, and I am trying to keep its memory alive through photos, prints and paintings. The acrylic painting below, titled "thawing" is another one in my series depicting our ephemeral ice.