“Complexity is not smoke. It is a forest. In a forest I feel self-forgetful. I feel mortal with an animal body. I feel embraced by uncertainty, I feel the seepage and pain of human beings-marriage, loss, childhood, fathers, mothers, loneliness-buried there.”
– Henri Cole
Bushland Series Bushland Series is a body of landscape work in which I have come closest to expressing feelings about the boreal forests of northern Manitoba and Ontario in which I spent my childhood. It marks a dramatic shift from how I have usually approached landscape as a subject matter in my painting practice. For years I have used self-made wooden palettes. I would let them dry and then scrape them for further use. Recently, I became fascinated by their textures and random colours. I decided to work on their surfaces and my sense of possibilities of landscape as a subject matter expanded. Since then, I have discovered the term pareidolia: the tendency to see images in textured surfaces such as clouds or dirt. Working on the palettes enabled me to move beyond any urgency to represent landscape in service to my visual memory of it and instead, to discover images emerging from an abstract ground. This has allowed me to come closer to the embodied sense of place I had as a child and adolescent. It is in this way that I feel closest to Henri Coles’ assertion that “in a forest I feel self-forgetful. I feel mortal with an animal body”.