Svalbard Gallery of Paintings

October 13, 2012

My new web gallery of paintings from Svalbard is now available for viewing  http://www.ateliernorth.com
                                                                                            The Wrath of the Ice Bear,  oil on canvas with rose quartz, silver  28×36 cm

Svalbard, an arctic archipelago situated between the North Pole and the north of Norway is 60% covered in glacial ice. The ice is a magnet for me and as I had not been near any for a few years, the time had come: I desperately needed a hit. The MS Stockholm, a small ship of only 40m drawing just over 3m allowed us much freedom in our exploration of this magical area. Ice, ice and more ice but also lots of walrus who were very curious and comical, quite a number of polar bear with whom we were very privileged to see at very close range, seal, reindeer and a great variety of arctic birds. The flora at such high latitudes look as though it belongs in a fairy kingdom. A place of tangible magic, a place of great healing for the soul.

Svalbard, an arctic archipelago situated between the North Pole and the north of Norway is 60% covered in glacial ice. The ice is a magnet for me and as I had not been near any for a few years, the time had come: I desperately needed a hit. The MS Stockholm, a small ship of only 40m drawing just over 3m allowed us much freedom in our exploration of this magical area. Ice, ice and more ice but also lots of walrus who were very curious and comical, quite a number of polar bear with whom we were very privileged to see at very close range, seal, reindeer and a great variety of arctic birds. The flora at such high latitudes look as though it belongs in a fairy kingdom. A place of tangible magic, a place of great healing for the soul.

Art Show Reminder “The Prema in all Things”

October 3, 2012

” The Prema in All Things” opens tomorrow, Oct 4.   For those of you who can’t make it, the show is open until Oct 14th. Be prepared to see the world afresh!

Gale Force 10, outside and within

September 24, 2012

Gale Force 10 will be on view @ my upcoming show:  The Prema in all Things  Todmorden Mills, Toronto M4K 2B9, 416.396.2819/October 3-14, 2012 /Wed-Fri:12pm-4pm/Thurs:12pm-7pm /Sat-Sun:12pm-4:30pm

We had quite a day of gales and the wind backed and veered for 24 hours which meant that despite our having changed course more than once, we could not escape the worst of it. Gale force 10 with hail and horizontal rains.  At one point early in the morning the ship rolled 43 degrees and at that very moment a Finn whale started to surface directly below the wheel house.  As we were more or less on our side we had the amazing privilege of seeing this enormous and rarely sighted whale which took our minds off whether or not we too would soon be swimming.

 

Ice Bear with Babes in the Fog

September 19, 2012

 

We were stuck in the pack ice in the fog in a deep bay. Distance and size of objects gets very distorted in this kind of light especially at high latitudes. After observing two different adult bears on the ice in quite close proximity to each other, we eventually spotted a mother and two small cubs some distance off but heading in their direction. We watched for a few hours as she made her way towards the others; her little ones trailed along behind, one in particular who was the daydreaming type and had to constantly be waited for. Watching how the little ones mimicked the mother’s every move, learning to hunt and to observe….we were mesmerized. We waited however with a sense of dread as normally male adults will eat cubs and there were two up ahead. In the end, calm prevailed and we speculated that perhaps the adults were the grown cubs of the same mother. It seemed to be the only plausible explanation for there being no confrontation.

Being Healed by Brasvellbreen

September 17, 2012

This painting “Being Healed by Brasvellbreen” comes out of my recent trip to the land of glaciers and this is one of the world’s longest. Hour after hour we sailed by this continual wall of ice, sparkling in every possible shade of white and blue, radiating healing energy. One’s whole being was completely absorbed by the presence and energy of the ice, nothing else seemed to exist or to matter.

Art Show: The Prema in All Things

September 14, 2012

Upcoming Exhibition

October 3-14, 2012 @ Paper Mill Gallery
Todmorden Mills, Toronto M4K 2B9 On Canada
Wed-Fri:12pm-4pm
Thurs:12pm-7pm
Sat-Sun:12pm-4:30pm

The Prema in all Things
It can be said that throughout the ages and across all faiths, there is a shared belief in a sacred love force that connects all beings, all creation. In Sanskrit, this love force is called prema.

This love force inside every atom causes electrons to move; charging particles,creating molecules which then create objects; from the simplest grain of sand to the most complex life forms, to the entire universe.

The planets stay in their orbit, the stars twinkle, the sun shines, there is reproduction in all species because of love. The charge within this entire creation is a power called prema, also believed to be the force of love in all its forms.

Throughout my travels, I have experienced the presence of prema and felt the profound emotional impact of this connection to all things: most recently, the beautiful and endangered arctic animals in their awe inspiring yet threatened landscape, the ancient sacred sites cherished by all cultures and beliefs such as Petra in Jordan, or closer to home, the quiet peace and serenity to be found in the Don River Valley.

This new collection of paintings expresses my responses to the powerful emotional experiences of prema. I have chosen the genre of abstract composition which allows the viewer to go beyond representational description to the place viewer to go beyond representational description to the place “in between”, where the subconscious is uninhibited by verbal or visual clues, allowing a direct spiritual response of prema–love. Within the vibrant colour of each piece I have incorporated semi -precious gemstones, widely believed to magnify energy and promote spiritual healing.

My goal is to share the magic of prema with my viewers. By standing before theworks with an open heart and mind, my hope is that they too will experience the love that binds our world and our lives together.

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magnify energy and promote spiritual healing.

Desert Petroglyphs

March 29, 2012

Coming across petroglyphs in remote desert landscape always fills me with awe, and wonder, and excitement.  I somehow feel like I’ve just made an enormous discovery, like America or something.  The mystery of it all is very captivating.  So many questions and so few answers.

Musandam, Sultanate of Oman

These were all in Musandam, near a very tiny village.  The children seemed very proud of these petroglyphs and had an air of great importance when they led us to them.

Moroccan Sahara

The most incredible ones I have ever seen were in Algeria on the gorge walls of a dried up wadi deep in the heart of the Tassili n’Adjji.  These had rarely been seen by anyone other than the Touareg people.  They were life-size and depicted all the animals that we think of when we think of the teeming life of the Rift Valley in Southern Africa….proof then that this area had once been jungle.  There were huge giraffes and hippos, lions and horned deer-like animals showing humans hunting them.  These were all drawn perfectly in terms of the scale, dimensions and anatomy and went on for 1000’s of metres along the gorge.  I was absolutely spell bound…so much so that I forgot to take any photos!  I sorely regret this today but, there we are.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

There are a lot of depictions of camels, and often with humans aboard looking like they are at war as one sees  in the Jordanian petroglyphs.    These would seem to be more recent than the Algerian petroglyphs, when the desert landscape was already the reality for the people of this region and, camels as their mainstay which continues today.

From an artist’s perspective I always marvel at the skill of these primitive artists and wonder about their tools.  I wonder about their reasons for depicting the life, what they thought about, what inspired them.  Whatever the answers to these musings are, I’ll never really know.  What I do know is that I feel very connected to them, artist to artist, human being to human being and hence my sense of awe and wonder at the connectedness of it all, despite the space in between.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Ice, Beloved Ice

March 19, 2012

Lots of people in downtown Toronto are jumping for joy with the very early spring/summer we are presently experiencing. I’m talking about temperatures in the 20 degree range day after day…in March. Personally, it makes me quite uneasy but, still, one is thrilled to see the spring flowers and best of all, to hear the robin’s song…not at the usual 4 a.m, rather more like 6.  It is after all 6-7 weeks early and even the birds aren’t ready to leap unnecessarily into action early.

There is a big part of me, the part that comes with the uneasiness of the unseasonably warm temperatures, a part of me that cries for the lack of and loss of ice, my beloved ice. Its beauty has always inspired me with mysteries and magic and colours not seen quite anywhere else, in the same way.

Such awe and joy have never, in my life, been equalled although, being in the presence of the Northern Lights comes a very close second. I’m not sure what it is exactly, about ice that puts me into such a state of euphoria but, light is probably one of the principal components.  The refraction gives the  colours their special hues,and the light helps to shape the ice, transforming it.  The ice will sing or cry out, whisper or explode during these periods of change making  it seem so very alive.

Sometimes, there are windows, clear as clear can be, into its soul and sometimes….well… sometimes the blinds have been drawn allowing no secrets to escape.

I’m what I think of as an “Ice Being”. Most people do not know this about me but, I live my life thinking in terms of ice. If I see a certain colour of blue, I think what kind of ice that would be and where it would be found and when I had last seen an example. I buy clothes thinking of the colours of ice and I react to and purchase gemstones for the similarities they have to ice, the colours of aquamarine or those blue greys.  I listen for and search out sounds that remind me of what the ice would be doing if it were making that kind of sound. Certain textures and temperatures, and the kind of sliding that would be possible, if only I was in an ice field.  I relate in my heart to the animals of the ice in a way that makes me think I am one or have once been one…a polar bear, or a penguin.  And then there is the spirit bear, a blue bear rarely seen that lives in the old growth forests of Haida Gwai and I imagine an aqua coloured bear who has left behind his life inside the ice but not let go of his sacred colour.  Ah! so much magic.

Inside the Ice/oil on canvas with amethyst, lapis lazuli, clear quartz,smokey quartz, pyrite

The day in Antarctica when I saw this turquoise iceberg, I was beside myself.  Never had I dreamt of such a wonder even existing, let alone in a world of only grey and white. It took my breath away and even now, thinking about that day, I almost lose myself in the remembered awe.

Floating Jewel,  Weddell Sea, Antarctic/ oil on canvas

The magic of the ice world fills my being with joy and amazement but, when I see summer in winter months, with a snow-less winter, it is with a heavy heart that I greet the warmth, a heart filled with dread for the fate of my beloved world of ice.

The Integral Beauty of Mountainous Dwellings in Musandam, Oman

March 11, 2012

Looking around me at all the new condominium towers here in downtown Toronto the other day got me thinking about the different kinds of structures in which people live that I have seen in my travels.  I particularly love some of the most simple dwellings, usually in remote places where there is no such thing as modern life. There remains a harmony between these people and their environment on which they depend entirely for their existence….a harmony that is visually undeniable and one that the modern world has lost.

One of these places, Musandam, is the most northern province of the sultanate of Oman. I couldn’t believe how their homes were virtually invisible and, in my view, more beautiful for that. These mountain people, living in rock dwellings, have their own language which sounds to the untrained ear to be a kind of very loud, high pitch cry.  Their nearest neighbour, a few thousand feet higher up or lower down the mountain, had to be able to hear this sound and to understand it no matter the conditions.  The terrain is so rugged that the people could not be scrambling up or down the mountain for any little thing so a language soon evolved which is still in use today, echoing up and down the mountainsides.

I love how these dwellings blend into the landscape making them very difficult to see. We had lunch here with Sheema, a goat herder and her son.  The view from inside was incredible, overlooking the valley with a direct sight line to anyone approaching.  There was no sound and not much light which would have made it somber during the winter months but when we were there, the cool,dark interior was a welcome break from the heat of the day.  We had a wonderful lunch…the generosity overwhelming from people who had almost nothing by western standards. They had their herd of goats, a roof over their heads, enough to eat and they seemed comfortable with who they were and their place within their community.

Lunch at Sheema’s, Musandam   encaustic on panel with rose quartz and pyrite

Sheema’s handicrafts  acrylic on paper with silver

The Energy Inside, Musandam    acrylic on paper

There was a wonderful, happy energy inside this dwelling which was a huge surprise to me; from the outside, it didn’t seem possible and yet, we had a very special time there and I left with a few of Sheema’s handicrafts which kept her busy in her quiet times…belts and bracelets woven in colours that blended into her world, whether reflecting the sunsets, the hardy, tiny mountain flowers or the rocks which seemed to drip with all kind of colours due to their high mineral content.

Yet, from a distance, these mountain dwellings and neighbouring animal enclosures were barely visible.  They made almost no impact on the natural beauty and flow of the land.  Such a different life from our modern one, such different sensibilities…..and….. such a different impact on the environment than we have on ours.

Petra by Night

March 3, 2012

I have not done a blog for many months.  I have been recovering from an accident I had just after I visited Petra. The visit by night, by candlelight is something I will never forget but the visit the next day somehow freaked me out vibrationally, so I changed my plans and went to the desert. There, I was travelling with a Bedouin elder by camel when we were set upon by smugglers.  My camel spooked and threw me flying resulting in a broken back, severe concussion, from which I am still suffering effects and, a rather grim hospital stay in Jordan.

Before this however, I had a wonderful experience in Jordan due to Ibrahim, my driver, my friend and eventually, my saviour. He showed me magical places close to his heart, the most extraordinary of which was the trip into Petra at night.  The guide was a friend of Ibrahim’s and three of us plotted so that he and I ended up way out in front of the others  who had come to experience this special evening.  He insisted that no one talk and that the main body of the group stay about 200 meters behind us.  It felt like we were the only beings on earth as we made our way through the long passage of the siq in the candlelight heading towards the Treasury.  It was a trip to another time, if not another world.  Eventually, the square in front of Treasury filled up and the evening became even more ancient as the music from another era began. Very very magical.

 The Treasury by Night                                                                                                                                                           Waiting for the Music

 These are two paintings that came out of that long erie walk through the candle lit, Siq. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of deja vu, a profound feeling of love and of homecoming.The Magic, The Siq at Night.  oil on canvas with amethyst, clear quartz  32 x 38″The Power, the Love: Night Visit , The Siq, Petra  oil on canvas with rhodolite garnet, pyrite 18 x 24″

For those who have never seen the magic of the Siq, here is an image of that wonderous minute when suddenly one arrives at the Treasury.


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