Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Boreal - Small Wonders - exhibition of small size original printmaking

a viewer looking at my work and also reading the short little stories that accompany each piece underneath.

Today my series of 24 new small studies on paper officially opened to the public.
The works are hung in the small corner public gallery space at the Baggage Building Arts Centre in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
This project commenced in the late spring of 2013 when I applied for and received a Northern Arts new works project grant from the Ontario Arts Council. 
My vision was to focus on creating a series of small studies on paper examining elements of the Boreal Forests of our region in the scope of flora and fauna.

Here is the artist statement: 

An image can relay many things, even from the perspective of a small size in comparison to a larger counterpart. It is my hope these studies that originate from a variety of original print based processes will encourage the viewer to come closer and develop an intimate relationship with each work.
The idea of “small” relates also to the actual subjects being studied, especially delicate tiny plant, mammal, insect, amphibian and bird species native to this region that co-exist with other larger forms of life found within the boreal forest.

Natural environments have been the main component of many of the images I have created to date. With this series I have continued explorations on this theme but with greater emphasis towards personal close up observations of select components of the natural environment.
I have utilized a range of printmaking techniques to achieve the final imagery. These include serigraphy, collagraph and intaglio (drypoint from acrylic plate both drawn art and photo based imagery on the surface of polymer plates). I have also paired hand-colouring with the intaglio plate based images.

The forests of Northwestern Ontario harbour a wide variety of plant, animal and insect life that are unique to this region of Canada. Many rare species have been able to adapt and thrive here due to factors created by historical geographic disturbances and unique climatic factors due to the influence of location between the Canadian North and the Great Lakes. Proximity to Lake Superior has also been a significant factor as it keeps the climate somewhat cooler in areas close to the lake.
Unfortunately conditions favourable for many of these species are being altered due to influences occurring on the planet such as climate change and the presence of man through resource industries such as forestry and mining and others. These factors have been playing influence towards the survival of many species.
Predictions made by NASA scientists in the fall of 2011 indicate that the Great lakes basin area of North America will be one of the most affected regions during the next few decades in the scope of climate and there will be noticeable changes in habitats directly related to conditions that were once favourable for species to thrive in. 
We may indeed see the disappearance of many of these unique components of nature. I feel that documentation of particular components of the natural environment found in this
region is an important issue worth examining.

My role as an artist in this case is to present you the viewer with a series of studies that examine established relationships between environments and habitation of species as they presently exist. It may also raise awareness that the influence our own species has on other forms of life found on the planet.

I did not use relief carving this time due to a shoulder injury that affected my drawing hand and arm. Holding a cutting tool and attempting to carve away a surface for prolonged durations proved to be extremely painful and I was forced to omit using this approach intended for creating a few of the images (that was part of my original vision). Therefore following approval of the changes for my project grant funding from the OAC more emphasis was directed towards exploration of photo images translated to plate etchings. After some rehabilitation I found that I was able to spend time applying watercolour and acrylic inks to these studies with less pain involved. I can happily say that I believe my injury is making a great improvement and I should hopefully soon be able to find full use of the arm for my artistic pursuits.

Caribou Lichen
photo etch with hand colour

closer view

I used the following techniques to create the 24 studies that are listed below:

  • serigraphy
  • collagraph
  • drypoint on acrylic plate
  • drawn/painted original artwork on film exposed to polymer plate
  • photo positive on polymer plate

The 24 studies feature represent five species that include mammals, insects, birds, amphibians and plants that are found in the boreal forests of Northwestern Ontario. They are:

red fox
woodland caribou
red squirrel
great horned owl
canada jay
red-breasted nuthatch
american white pelican
northern flicker
pileated woodpecker
american toad
western painted turtle
caribou lichen
scarlet waxcap mushroom
blue flag iris
wild rose
nodding trillium
smartweed (polygonum amphibus)
marsh calla (berry)
monarch butterfly
flower longhorn beetle

you can view all 24 images in gallery 6 in my website:

There is an article on the show in our local culture publication called the Walleye. Print copies are available free at many different locations around Thunder Bay and region but they also have the issues available online to view.
Here is the link to the most recent issue with the article about yours truly on page 29.
This project was made possible through funding from the Ontario Arts Council.