In 1990 I moved with my wife and family to Sooke, a fishing and logging community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I set out to explore the inspiration that the sea coast would have for me. It had taken me four years to make the change from the time I heard the question that day in the auditorium. By then I had completed ten years with the college. A friend and coworker had said, “I wish I had the guts to do what you are doing.” It was not self courage, but a faith.
For 25 years I have not felt the need to depart from painting mostly from life, on location, with watercolours. The approach I have learned is simple: look around, find a spot, get comfortable, get quiet, see all you can, forget about trying to make a masterpiece, and simply respond to the ever changing beauty around you. Granted there is a process. There were times when I thought of painting more as a curse than a blessing. The years of hard work and frustration that can bring you to tears gradually gives way to pure joy.
Years ago, an art dealer in Edmonton told me, “I can see you're on the right track, but you need to put more heart and soul into your work.” It was advice that I needed. I can't tell you how I paint without the permission to be a little philosophical. We all seek knowledge. For good or bad. To help people or to gain power over them. To prove or disprove the very existence of God. If it were possible to attain all knowledge, we would find that we had set ourselves a boundary that was much too small.
My journey began with learning to see more with my eyes, and to know more about painting, and it has been good. I must talk about a greater vision, that is intrinsic to the one just mentioned. Namely, to see with the heart and to know more about love. It sees into a realm that has no borders, where the impossible is possible, where dreams can live and the spice of life is poured out. Where miracles happen and broken hearts and bodies are restored. I ask myself, how can art portray such a place? Vincent van Gogh wrote about Christ being the greatest artist of all because he made a masterpiece not with paint, but with the human heart of flesh. What words can be used to conclude, when every thought says you are just beginning.
My surgeon told me a list as long as my arm of things that could go wrong, of handicaps I could be left with. He was preparing me for treatment of colon cancer in 2007. He then said, I think I can do a good job. Knowing you can't stay where you are, but reluctant to take the next big step into the unknown. Is there one other possibility to take another course. Faith without taking that step is dead, but once you have taken it, faith becomes very alive. And the unknown becomes ever less threatening. I am forever grateful to the people who carried me through this time