Artist Statement

My work has always explored elements of nature—not romanticized vistas of national parks—but the grimy nature that coexists with a sprawling human population in urban environments. I aim to elicit our primal human response to nature, on a strictly visual level, in a culture that has withdrawn from the wild. Photo perfect scenic landscapes fail—only stimulus that resonates on a more profound level can provoke the same reaction.

In my attempts to understand this reaction and what triggers it, the realm of migration and patterns of habitation come into play. The adaptation of humans, flora and fauna who reflect each other’s struggle as they settle into different environments and conform to new systems of existence.

My recent work ties in to my relocation back to my place of birth, Hamilton, ON. This city challenges me, with its complex history and population and the speed at which its landscape changes.

Negative space This series includes detailed, large-scale studies of my personal Hamilton landmarks—places that stand out for me. The painstaking technique I employ in these paintings slows me down and forces me to look at things in the minutest detail. Rather than painting the actual natural objects, I paint the negative space that surrounds them. To my eye, this approach results in a quiver that conveys a sense of life (2015-2016)

43°14'52.9"N - 79°49'52.6"W
Exhibition opportunity.
Four weeks to prepare.
No art making in two years.
Make all new work.
Boundaries required.
Small scale.
Subject limitations?
Within property lines.
My position on the front porch: 43°14¢52.9²N -79°49¢52.6²W

Thirty-six, small studies of my physical surroundings. (2009)

portraits In 2007, my painting took an unexpected turn into the realm of portraiture: the people who fit into the environmental puzzle; our features, expressions and body types that so often hark to our geographical backgrounds. Portraits have provided incredibly intimate understandings of the people close to me–family and friends who in many ways define my place in this world. .

mouth of the credit Sketches and large-scale paintings that respond to the primal human attraction to water. Within walking distance of where I live, I stand at the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the water heightens my senses; it compels me to explore, surround, and immerse myself. Lost in the rhythmic patterns of the lake's ebb and flow, I contemplate the life that exists beneath the water's skin of surface tension. Entranced by the force of waves as they crash against the shore, I endeavor to capture the lake’s power in paint. (1999)

stasis Forty small scale sketches, created during a month of train travel from Toronto to the West Coast of Canada, trace glimpses of the landscape as winter turned to spring. Most often depicting solid landmarks amidst changing ground covers, new plant growth, ice and the raging coast water of the Pacific Ocean. (2001)

course Seven large scale canvases distilled from the Stasis series that switched the focus from the solid stable landmarks to the continuous flow of change that surrounded them. (2002)

lilliane’s garden Small scale paintings on raw linen that document a historical perennial garden, eighty-six years of nurturing that had fallen to ruin in its last season, before ground was broken for a housing development. The responsibility to perpetuate the gardens' existence, to document nature imprinted by humanity, spurred me to capture every plant and flower that appeared in Lilliane’s garden in its final summer. (1999)

steel windows Mixed media on a cold-rolled steel ground that brings a raw heaviness to illusive images of shadows and shimmers of light reflected on the interior of a historic house, my home for six months, slated for demolition. These windows, understood as an opening in a solid wall, or as an area of space, rather than as a solid object themselves, still remain, though the house has fallen. (1998)

the trees series

“…to deny the ability of a tree to inform and even instruct one’s awareness, is to have turned one’s senses away… it is to ponder the tree from outside of its world, or, rather, from outside of the world in which both oneself and the tree are active participants.”

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Protesting the destruction of old growth forests deepened my apprecation of the life intrinsic to all trees. I joined and initiated grassroots efforts to protect endangered trees in the GTA with little expectation of preventing their demise, only the hope of heightening public awareness.

I stood between trees and men with screaming chainsaws. Trees that groaned as they let go their roots. Boles and outstretched boughs thundered to the earth where the ground shuddered and quaked from their impact. The sweet salty smell of spilled sap shocked my senses with its poignant similarity to our own blood and tears. Engulfed in a silent void, where no birds or animals dared remain, the sensation of loss overcame me. My initial empathy developed into a physical and spiritual kinship with these stoic monoliths.
(1997 - 2006)

of tongues in trees began during the months of winter, when many trees’ bared skeletons reveal crude attempts to make them fit human desires. Months of photographing led me to a stand of poplars that have withstood repeated assaults, assaults that reduced them to stumps. Yet the poplars prevailed and now form a hedgerow stretching almost twenty feet into the sky. In the scars of their severed limbs I found the imprint of life paths not followed. These trees, and their scars, provide the subject for most of the paintings in this series. (2006)