Friday, May 6, 2016

Caribou Migration - Mixed Media Painting

This mixed media painting celebrates one of the great mysteries and ecological treasures of the Arctic: caribou migration. It started with a small watercolor with an endless line of caribou depicted by masking.

This painting, one of several Arctic themed watercolors using masking of birds, mammals, and light, didn't quite satisfy me. It rested on a shelf until I began the Arctic climate series. Then it leapt up clamoring for a mixed media, mysterious treatment.

It's set in a shadow box made of a 1.5 inch deep frame turned backwards and painted deep blue. Ordinary aluminum window screen is stapled across the back. The watercolor is affixed to the screen. I handcut snowflakes from iridescent origami paper and glued them below the watercolor. Similar ready made stars are glued along the top of the frame. These express the beauty of cold, night, and navigating by starlight.

To tie the elements together in a story of seasonal migration, I added "curtains": black fabric screen to the left and white mesh fabric to the right. I flavored the winter-summer symbolism with blue beads on the left, yellow and white beads to the right.

Looks like the caribou are migrating from summer grazing to winter shelter.

I've always been fascinated by caribou. About three years ago I read the most amazing book about their migration, Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer. He and his new bride spent six months following a migrating caribou herd - on foot!

More than anything else, this painting is a prayer for the caribou and their continuing migration.