Mixed media on canvas
We do a lot of camping and hiking throughout the Cariboo/Chilcotin area. In all our favorite places we see endless stands of dead burgundy pine trees which touch me with their fiery beauty and leave me with an impending dread as to the eventual impact not only on the economy of the region but to the land and the waterways.
As a painter, I find it necessary to document and comment on these drastic changes. Several years ago I began the Guardian Series to remind viewers that we must be the guardians and not just the developers of our natural resources.
In my painting The Fibonacci Sequences I begin with the underlying mathematical sequences that inform the structure of pine cones, their spiral patterns hold the ancient secrets rediscovered by Renaissance mathematician Leonardo of Pisa also known as Fibonacci who studied these patterns as mathematical sequences. These patterns inform the way the limbs grow from the core and even the texture of the bark; how a tiny seed released from them can create species like pines. He discovered that nature endlessly weaves these formulas into this elegant expression. Artists and architects then and now often design work based on these principles.
One of my prized possessions is a little wooden abstract sculpture carved and given to me by my son. One day while looking at the trees in my winter garden, I happened to notice my sculpture in the window guarding the sleeping scene which reminded me of the Madonnas illuminated in Gothic cathedrals. This started me on the Guardian series. The statue with its spiral whorls and patterns exemplifies not only the wood’s myriad functional uses, but its beauty.
Now that we are in the midst of the pine beetle infestation, the thought of pines threatened in the overwhelming spiral of global changes, makes these trees more precious to me than ever. In the painting I indicate pines may only be preserved as amber remnants that may be blue from the bacteria spread by the pine beetle, but it is my fervent hope they will prevail just as they have survived countless challenges for millions of years.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
cast handmade paper, pine beetle sawdust, wood pulp
The death of the pine forest due to the proliferation of the mountain pine beetle has produced a profound change throughout the interior of British Columbia. My response to the intense sadness created by the increasing spread of red in my small corner of the world is to try to recreate the forest in my own way. It is ironic to use pulp which contains fiber from healthy pine trees and combine it with sawdust from dead pine trees to produce these twenty-four cylinders reminiscent of pine trees.
What will remain?
Ft St James
Sowchea Elementary School, Grade 7
Ft St James
I have lately been informed of global warming, and how the world is getting warmer and warmer and how there are hotter summers and warm winters. Pine beetles live in cycles, they die off in the winter when it is extremely cold and repopulate in the summer, spring and fall. But since it hasn’t really been cold in the winters, the pine beetles live through the winter. The forests are turning from green to red. It has already devastated many towns, cities and communities like Fort St. James. The trees are like matches, giant matches waiting to be struck. Waiting to destroy families, both animal and human. It doesn’t completely look ugly, it is almost like a sign, a sign that says, This is what will happen to us, if you don’t help stop it. Just think of what will happen if the whole landscape, the whole world is red. We don’t want our planet earth to look like a second Mars do we? At least I don’t. We need to protect the trees, and by protecting the trees we also protect the animals and the ecosystems and we also protect ourselves.
ink & embossing on aluminum
When we hike or wander through the bush around our home near Smithers, we often see the aluminum markers left by prospectors, forest companies, and consultants. Whether half-hidden under a fallen claim stake in the alpine or trailing bright flagging tape in an apparently random line through thick bush, they signal our shifting interests in what the land can give us. Only rarely can we predict what will result. The pine beetle is only one threat to our much loved valley. These three poems explore the uncertainty about that threat, one that has become reality for many of you, a reality you are already living with, adapting to.
Ft St James
My piece has a close relationship with the theme of the” Red and Blue Beetle Exhibition.”
I have painted a scene from our own Woodlot. I’m showing you my personal feelings of how I look at the Mt Pine Beetle devastation on our Woodlot.
I have a conflict of feeling as there is contrasting of colors.
This piece shows a road and red dying trees. But what I see is a road that I helped build with our cat with skill and planning. I see the shadows lying across the contours of the winding twisting road that was built on steep terrain. I see the bright red trees dying with a last stage of blazing beauty. Set against a hopeful optimistic blue sky. I have a sadness that all will gone soon and anger of the vast waste. Knowing that in my generation the pine will be consumed. Yet I can’t help admire the beauty that caught my attention that day.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Acrylic Painting and Collage on Metal
Vulnerable to your attack
You emblazon your mark upon our skin
Summon the frozen sword!
And seek this enemy within
Lightening, fire and blaze once more!
To drop our ash upon nature’s floor
Our steely knives can’t kill this beast
While ravenous upon their feast
Will this frenzied foray end
Before we’re free to rise again?
I travel 118 km of logging road every time I go to Vanderhoof so I see the actual condition of our forests. This painting was inspired on one of those trips where at 50 km. on the Kluskus FSR, a forest fire literally ravaged the dead beetle wood. Where once there was a thriving green forest, now there are blackened upright spires of the departed.
The determinate, whose value is the sum of all the products that can be formed from a certain number of quantities in a block; the beetle infestation has affected the forests not only in volume; but also because bug wood cannot produce the same quality of lumber as healthy green pine, and therefore their product value cannot be determined.
Past, Present, and Future
This small triptych is representative of the forest as the pine beetle continues its inexorable march
through the pine trees at an alarming rate. The green past was before the devastation of the beetle, when the trees where healthy and vibrant. The present shows how the forest is changing, with a spectrum of green to rust to grey. The future represents the dead trees that are left when the beetle passes (and in fact is fast becoming part of the present). The background of each painting is important to note as the colours reflect what is happening behind the trees. Although the forest is dying, on the far right side, in the future, the green is coming back. That is my hope.
Despite the devastation of the pine beetle epidemic in our forests, in amongst the rust red trees, I see lonely green pine trees standing against the onslaught. I am hopeful that some of the pine trees that are left will be the stronger generation to meet the demands of future infestations. The background colours are, again, important as they represent the death of the forest moving to re-growth and revitalization. That is my hope.
mixed media installation
I would like to install a piece which I have named 'Cull Pile' after the piles of 'garbage wood' that are left on logging sites for burning. This installation consists of a large pile of cardboad boxes, each bearing the likeness of a Beetle killed tree, branch, bark or needles. I plan to create these likenesses using combinations of conte, charcoal, possibly some printmaking, collaging techniques (paper, old magazines, also considered tree or pulp related garbage), and bees wax. Each of the elements used in this pile will make reference to the trees, or to a product made from trees, all of which is now considered garbage. I would like the 'pile' to be interactive in that people can pick through it and salvage what they can, just as they would a pile on a logging site. Whatever is left on the pile at the end of the show would be burned, just as a real cull pile is, hopefully in the parking lot, or somewhere close by where people can watch and react. I am hoping to stir a sense of loss for something that is beautiful, but that no longer is seen as useful. I hope people will mourn the fact that I have to burn my art, and that they might transfer those emotions to the loss of the trees. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between this installation, and the Pine Beetle killed trees, and I am hoping people will make those connections and ask themselves important questions about this issue.
I first noticed the pine beetle problem when the distant hillsides began changing from green to rust. Suddenly, neighbourhood trees began to change and our walking trails were lined with red. Homes that had been nestled in amongst tall pine trees were suddenly exposed….jutting awkwardly from yards strewn with haphazard, broken piles of felled trees. It was shocking, to see such devastation where it had been picturesque.
The community joined together, debating, discussing, wondering and working together as they struggled to come to terms and determine what choices lay ahead for their future. It struck me that the unexpected and unwanted drew everybody together, in a common need to understand and cope. Very quickly the ugly, bare yards were tidied up and grass and trees replanted, houses suddenly renovated. The need to replace the unacceptable and unwelcome as soon as possible was very symbolic. In everything, there comes a turning point, a time when we realize we must make a change in direction. There is also evidence of natural change and cycles in our brittle, red meadow, where one can find amongst the dead trees, the promising fresh green of new growth.
The paintings represent the various stages of the pine beetle infestation. I felt the forest’s struggle was such a powerful symbol of life cycles and love, and the pain, stages and promise of what can come within our lives. I combined the writing with the painting, because I think together they could create a more complete story. Words tell us one thing, and we can look at something and think we understand, but sometimes we need to put them both together to truly gain the greatest depth and understanding.
I find writing an essential form of personal expression. I’m just beginning to paint, and enjoy the soft shades and subtle details of watercolours. I chose the blue stained wood for a background; I find the discolouration is actually quite beautiful. To me, it shows that even in devastation, there can still come forth a beauty. That is also the thread of thought I used for the short writings on the forest and love. We can always look back and see what we should have seen, although quite often it is too late to turn back the tide. I believe that with the forest, and our lives, we need to look, to learn and to keep the lesson and move forward with faith.
Acrylic on canvas
Towering coniferous trees and deciduous sentinels evoke thoughts about this land that we share with nature. As our winters warm, tiny beetles have painted red pine skeletons against the blue Caribou sky. Words drift through my mind: “timeline”… “treeline”… “deadline”…. We are at a crossroad where we must understand the interconnected nature of our lives with our surrounding environment. It’s essential to make choices that will protect and enhance wellbeing for the intricate web of life. In “Deadline” I have incorporated elements from the wilderness place I inhabit. On a base of plaster on wooden panel are layers glazes of acrylic paint over areas of wood ash, earth and pine needles. Can you sense the elusive tales swirling through this dying forest?
Circumfusion 38 - at the edge of the woods
Acrylic on Canvas
Circumfusion 38 – at the edge of the woods
Was created by applying blue paint to the trunk
of the beetle kill tree described in the poem above,
then moving the blue and red painted canvas
over the wet, peeling bark of the trunk.
at the edge of the woods
of the woods
tall and green
it waved in the breeze
at the edge of the woods
where the lawn meets the trees
taller than most
but one of so many there
it hadn’t stood out
until needles turned red and the trunk became bare
growing up beside us
while children, too, grew through the years
from infants to toddlers to teens to adults
it was there through our fun and our laughter and even our tears
weathering the storms
on those chilled winter days
and the parched night air of some thirty Julys
always there, we could see it, through the early dawn’s haze
always there in the shadows of night
when the sun slipped away and we rested in bed
but soon only a stump will be there to tell
of the tree that towered green among the living and now is just blue and red
Pine Jolly Rodger
Acrylic paint on canvas
Pine Jolly Rodger is a representation of nature taking back the forest. The theme of Piracy is used to represent the fact that nature has its own agenda separate from mans rules and that it will do what it will do. The Firebird, Salmon, Beetle and Bear are shown living with the trees knowing that they will participate in the change.
Dagmar and William Norton
Dead Pine Wood, Stone, picket fence, bench
Dagmar and William Norton are passionate curators and collectors of art. Creation of art was a purely private affair for them. The Pine Beetle Epidemic has drastically changed their life on their 400 acre Ranch in Prince George, BC . Within 4 years they lost their entire pine forest. Norton’s way of dealing with this devastation is inspired by their harmonious being and consciousness of what is happening around them. Embracing the land, the people and the future, Norton North Ranch offers today accommodation to guests and tomorrow an interactive trail.
“Hugged to Death”will be a permanent monument on the Ranch along Norton’s “Philosopher’s Path” to remember the death of eighty percent of BC’s Pine Forest.
The title of the Assemblage shall not serve as points of reference for that which is depicted , as we are dealing not with the main problem of humanity; reproduction of life, death and resurrection, but with the expression of mankind’s feelings, questions, conspiracy and recrimination. Anger and recrimination are part of the grieving process which people are going through. Our anger is directed towards those groups whose self interest, envy, greed and ignorance significantly aided in the death of this great organism.
Relationship between the subconscious and the conscious of mankind is a central theme in Norton’s art.
The Last Supper
Glass mosaic (glass, wood, silicon, grout)
Beetles have hit the Cariboo region hard. Evidence of their work can be found on nearly every hillside. Haunting skeletons of red hint at a bleak future as specialists speculate about the most effective method to tackle the situation. Although they reek of death and destruction these shades of red, interspersed with green create a vision of beauty.
Atoll Of Hope
Photography, Sewing Machine Stitches, Pastel and Pencil Crayon on Canvas
round dance of surviving trees
or roundel of the fittest
if you will
dance sur-[(a)-round]-ing trees
a toll of what was
utopian view at nine in the morning
or was it ten
was it twenty – i-lands
no lands but Your lands