Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A few summers ago I felt a deep stirring for change in my work. A stimulating talk with Ren Brown at his gallery, followed by sloshing around in the waves at Doran Beach--& zap! New images came bubbling up from the unknown onto my sketchbook. They all had islands in them, & they all celebrated our nearby ocean waters, our northwest watersheds, & the distinctive species who lives here.

Soon after I started painting these ideas, I ran smack into salmon. I was jolted into a visceral understanding of what a potent totem they are--the key species of the ecology, economy, & spirit of the whole coast, from Monterey to Alaska, from the shore to the crest of the Rockies.

Other animals ranged from recognizable totems like fox, bear, & raven, to little noticed actors like sculpin, mole crab, & kinglet. Whatever I was painting, I had a new sense of purpose--of painting to call health to our neighbors & to our awareness. One day I painted a gull. I had underpainted the canvas orange, intending to cover all but a few bright highlights. Gull had other ideas--as I followed the painting where it led, I heard a raucous cry--"If you want to move people, get a sense of humor!"

There are now over 200 works--watercolor, acrylic, graphite, & linocut--in the Islands series. Many have traveled to new homes.The 3 paintings shown here are acrylic on canvas. Salmon of the Bliss Body, 18 x 24", is being shown at the Salmonid Restoration Federation in Garberville. Island Fox, 48 x 36", & Gull on the Beach, 20 x 24", are at my studio.