A Child's Wonder, 18" x 72", Acrylic on Canvas

When I consider deeply the process of my imagination as a child I get a feeling of digging deep in to its physicality, injecting it with my creation and being bounced back out in the blink of an eye. Little ugly doll wrestlers are all of a sudden in a battle royale. The stick is now a rifle. The undercover agents are going to pull off a coup. The secret spy cave base is only navigable by its operatives. My feet as they land underwater and throw up clouds of sand are the feet of a giant tramping over an alien world. The currents of the river are the currents of the wind and I am flying through a vast canyon.

Transient

These worlds were beautiful and precious and timeless and my windows in to them seemed so short. This piece reminds me.... of the essence and simplicity of the creative act. How everything gets so complicated but at its root it is just the flow. Dive in, jump out. Play.

Somber Man, 18" x 72", Acrylic on Canvas

A number of years ago when I worked for one of the major camp and catering companies in the BC & AB oilfields I was sent on a mission to deliver an envelope containing 'condolences' for a recently deceased chief of what I think was the Dene-Thah native band.

I was unclear on protocol and was simply told to go find a particular band member, give him the envelope and leave. I felt that at the very least I should try to pay some authentic respect to the man who died and his family as well so I stepped in to a line where I thought I could do this. I'd never seen a dead body before and much to my discomfort this particular funeral was the wake-style Catholic version. I soon came face to face with a man who's spirit had long since left his body behind. I kept wondering if he was going to wake up, open his eyes. He looked a little pale but nothing drastic, mostly he looked like he was in a deep sleep. I think my eyes tried to play tricks on me when I saw his chest move. Before I could completely melt down in some maudlin hollywood psychosis I was moved along by the flow of the line to pay my respect to the family. I felt malice and spite from them. Who are you and what right do you have to be here was in their eyes. I felt fear and shame.

Transient

There was a small area where music was being played. It was somber and sad and out of tune. The leader of this musical group stood out for me; he had the eyes of a zealot. Gaunt & haunted; I couldn't help but think his atonement was regular self flagellation. He strummed the guitar with barest effort and sang in somber tones about the forgiveness of the lord and prayers for the lost souls around him.

I left feeling hollow. I greased a palm for the financial benefit of a corporation that was clearly masked by the concept of sorrow and concern. I bore witness for the first time in my life to the truth of death. I felt torn in the conflict between christianity and indigenous tribal & spiritual process. It was truly discomforting

Vulnerability, 48" x 72"

This was formerly "Landscape". The first painting I did in 2011. If you find the description of it in '2011 works', you'll see that I was thoroughly confused by its meaning and wasn't sure "who it was for".

Like "All the Rage" being recycled and rebirthed in to "Rage", a much more distilled and honest variation of the initial expression, I believe "Landscape" becoming "Vulnerability" is in the same vein; that at the time of initial creation I could only catch a ghost of future understanding.

'Vulnerability' is absolutely about its namesake. I take tentative steps in to the world with the intention of doing so unarmed, giving up the weapons of racial privilege, sexual privilege, economic privilege; knowing that I AM ENOUGH. It is terrifying to be exposed like this but I know I must be the change I want to see in the world.

I hold an image of my relationship which has given me the strength to get this far. Encouraged by my partner's work, encouraged by her own explorations and her courage to bring a torch in to her shadow world and look these beasts in the eye. Encouraged by her love and support; knowing she's got my back, knowing that to her, I AM ENOUGH.

Shadow Work II

I came within an inch of painting over this piece in the beginning. It was making me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Thankfully, one of the skills I've been developing is if a situation, conversation, music or image makes me uncomfortable, guaranteed it will lead to an enlightenment if I can just bare to follow the feelings through to their source.

Once I made the decision not to fight, the wall dropped and the flow began and I was able to clearly identify the forms and colours. In choosing to not fight, to only accept and give vent to that which needed venting I was able to witness my shame, my darkness, my dishonesty, my deviousness, my gluttony, my inadequacy. As I brought each one out a little release happened. At one point while I was working I started to bark like a monkey in complete satisfaction. Seriously!

It gave me great joy to have found the courage to declare these shadows. Too many times they have simmered like a volcano and eventually exploded if I didn't give them vent. How many times have I sabotaged myself and others in this desperate pursuit of denial?

Not this time.

Propriety

Transient

One of the intriguing parts of my creative process is I don't always paint 'right side up'. There are often times when I will lay the foundation for a piece and have to turn it 90 or 180 degrees in order to find the image that needs to be worked on; such was the case for this piece.

A shrew dominates the upper left hand side of the piece, they tend to be ferociously protective of their territory. A lovebird is on the right, they are most commonly known for their tendency to choose a mate for life. Underneath these two is an aquatic scene with a spawned salmon, egg & a creature I can't quite figure out.

It's almost eerie how this scene reflects a moment that occurred when I was first painting this piece. My wife had tried to get my attention while I was in the initial 'zone' of foundation building and I bristled and closed up and wanted her to go away so I didn't break my flow. She had no idea what was going on and thought I was mad for something else. If you look at me as the shrew and my wife as the lovebird, it all makes perfect sense!

Scrutiny

Once again I stood at the canvas convinced I had nothing to say; feeling in a mediocre mood. Expecting mediocre work. I took a deep breath asked for guidance, focused on the canvas, waited a few moments and then like someone else had grabbed my hand the brush hit the surface like the cut of a sword and it was on.

It poured out of me. I knew exactly what to do each step of the way; as I was finishing one colour I would get a brain snap that was clear as day what the next colour should be and before I knew it (well, not quite that easily, I had to do three layers of pyrrole red for lack of opacity ;-) it was done.

I sat down and looked at it and felt great joy that I had channeled something pure. Honest. And as I lauded my accomplishment, I can describe it in no other way than it frowned at me and the magic I felt started to disappear and I realized it was calling me out. I was calling me out. Humbled, I put my feet back on the ground and felt gratitude to have created such a great mirror for my inner world.

The Invitation

The horse has turned his head and is looking at me, I am on his back. He is asking if I'd like to journey with him. The road is long and it leads in to the mystery. He says I shouldn't do this alone. He is power, grace, nobility, beauty, strength and freedom.

 When I first perceived the horse in this piece, I was not convinced that I should coach him out of the initial chaos of the paintings foundation. After turning the canvas upside down and seeing a mirror of him I ceased to doubt the process.

In researching horse symbolism and history it was interesting to learn that horses have been in partnership with us for over 5000 years and are probably one of the biggest contributors to the enhancement of our civilization. Honestly, I've been mostly afraid of them and not given them a whole lot of thought up until now. Only recently have I begun to feel on equal footing. I like this slow respectful development.

Transient

The Troll Under the Bridge

I've lived a week from hell. This piece was thwarted from the get go, everything in my life was going wrong; conspiring to stop me from painting. I'd started the foundation and I hated it, it was surely a mistake. I wasn't ready to deal.

My Aunt, Leah Hokanson, called and asked "how are you?". We've created a safe space to express ourselves to each other so I told her how I really was. How all this crap was coming up and how everything was wrong and how I felt I was failing myself and my family. She was drawn to offer a poem written by Rumi:

~~~

The Guest House 

This being human is a guest house. 
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house 
empty of its furniture, 
still, treat each guest honorably. 
He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing, 
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 
because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

~~~

My avoidance came clear to me. I had such an intense desire to not look, to push away, to deny this dark dark part of me that lives just under the surface. The harder I ignored, the harder I pushed it away, the stronger it became. It was wreaking havoc everywhere I looked.

At that moment of understanding, I began to paint and poured that acknowledgement on the canvas. It told me it was stubborn, undeniable, headstrong, unstoppable... like a moose. I opened the door and laughing, I invited it in. I let it and its environment take shape, I felt SO MUCH better. I realized as I was finishing that I was creating a container for it. My final gesture was to gather the remnants of that energy and give it to the canvas. Seal it in. Let its realness, its existence always be acknowledged, always be seen. Never again denied.