Monday, November 23, 2015

I Will Not Give You My Hate

This latest piece is something I needed to get out of my system. Technically, this isn't my best piece. I just wanted to get an image out. In any event, you get the idea. I don't really even know what to say about it anymore...

"I Will Not Give You My Hate"
20" x 10", oil on canvas

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thoughts From the Blind

I think about death a lot. Not because I’m rushing to get there or out of fear. But it’s something that all living beings face at some point. It’s also likely because I hunt that death is often top of mind.

Before I left for the first hunt of the season, the Syrian conflict was hitting mass media. The photo of a drowned young Syrian boy reflected in my mind for days. Even as I sat there in the woods, no one around but me, a couple of chipmunks and a squirrel, the image of that young boy represented all the things that are wrong with humanity. In the days following, I learned a respected community member and arts advocate had suddenly died. I was shocked at the news even though I didn’t know her all that well. But we’d had a discussion once about the demise of the Beothuks. I was impressed with her knowledge of indigenous culture and her empathy towards this group that suffered genocide at the hands of European settlers. I was immediately reminded of the lengths humans will go to for what they want.
And yet, here I was, waiting for a bear to show up to kill it so I could continue to live. The conflict is undeniable.
Death Mask of a Bear, 2015
12"x12", Acrylic, Gallery Canvas
For me, the value of a life is the same regardless if it’s for a human or non-human animal. I don’t consider myself on any rung of some food chain. I’m simply a part of the ecosystem I live in. However, all through school and even in university, we’re taught about hierarchies. It’s embedded in our psyches that humans are at the top of a pyramid, and some humans are close to divine. I’ve found that this concept is especially held by people who believe in some sort of god, regardless of religion. I wondered if maybe that was the problem. Not so much the belief in god but this idea of hierarchy and “food chains”.
It’s impossible for me to have an objective opinion on all this. Aside from thinking of myself as an active player in my environment, I also don’t believe in god or any kind of creator or spirit realm. I believe in the laws of thermodynamics (1 & 2) and that, when it’s my time to die, my body will become a part of the ecosystem I’m buried in. I don’t think anyone can really have an objective opinion when it comes to religion, beliefs, politics, life or death either. It’s just too close to us. That said when do we collectively stop to ask ourselves what the hell we’re doing to each other in the name of humanity? Where is the fine line between fear and offense?

Ultimately, we’re killing each other for our beliefs. We’re killing each other so we can have our idea of a better life (or rest ourselves assured that is the goal). We’re killing each other out of fear, rejection, revenge, greed, or some other perverse desire to rid ourselves of each other so we could ultimately gain from the death of others. When you stop to put that in perspective, isn’t that what we’re also doing with the environment? We’re destroying land and rivers and air so we can have a few more conveniences. You simply have to look at the bags and bins piled up along a suburban street on garbage day as proof that conveniences are top of mind for most of us. The thing of it is, we’re not really killing mother earth. We’re killing ourselves.
I’ll be the first person to say that there are just too many people on the planet for my liking, that the earth would do well without us and that humans are really just a virus. (There’s proof in our DNA that we’re born of virus.) As much as I would prefer to live in the woods, off the land and never see another city, hear another political promise, or learn of another human-created disaster, I realize that there are other people who share this planet and who have just as much right to live in peace as I do. As much as I would rather people have the ability to thrive in their own countries, I also recognize that my moral compass includes empathy toward my fellow humans.  And even though I have my own cultural ties and preferences, I believe that others have every right to explore the cultural practices they were born in or exposed to.
The piece associated to this stream of thought is “Death Mask of a Bear”. The concept is based on old world practices of creating death masks of those who’ve departed, to keep them and their memory alive. It is adorned with Metis style floral embroidery designs. It was created in honour of the bear we recently hunted, to keep its memory alive even after we’ve finished consuming it for our continued existence.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What I Learned From A Wood Duck

As part of my quest to take responsibility for my food sources and eat a more traditional diet, I spend a few days’ duck hunting in the fall. This year, I shot a Wood Duck that had a band on its leg. It’s my first banded bird ever. Wood Ducks are all special, beautiful birds but what this band represents is something that we cannot get anywhere else: actual details about the duck’s life. I couldn’t wait to report it and find out anything I could.

The little 1 and a half pound male duck was hatched and banded in South Carolina and flew a 1600km migration each way (twice a year) for the five years of his life. Because of banding, science has learned so much about species populations and so it is understood that, 75% of the time, ducks will come back to the same breeding and wintering grounds each year. It’s fairly safe to say that this little Wood Duck probably loved my favourite marsh as much, if not more, than I do.
Am I sad that I killed this duck to feed myself? For me, hunting is very emotional. The killing part is not a part I enjoy but I would much rather take the responsibility of doing it myself, knowing that it died as humanely as possible of my own hands. But I’m also very keen on knowing how the animal lived. With the help of science and the banding programs, now I know more.
I already knew that “my” marsh provides a healthy place for Wood Ducks to thrive given the population that come back each year. Even though I knew about migrations, getting information from that little band really drives home the kinds of distances these ducks go to. It reinforces the very real importance of wetlands and other habitat all along the flyways. It greatly opens up my appreciation for the life I took in order to nourish myself. That little band has given me a whole new perspective on the Wood Duck and that is something I have never found, and likely never will, from buying my meat in a grocery store. I am thankful there is still a bird banding program in the US. It's the kind of science that overlaps and informs us on the environment and so much more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Royal Canadian Mint Unveils Northern Lights Collector Coin in Canada's North

WHITEHORSE, Aug. 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - The final coin in the Royal Canadian Mint's stunning silver coin series A Story of the Northern Lights was unveiled today in Whitehorse with local community and First Nations leaders. The coin features a soaring raven set against a dazzling holographic sky lit by the northern lights.

Sandra Hanington, Royal Canadian Mint President and CEO, Ta’an Kwächä’an First Nation Chief Kristina Kane, the Honourable Elaine Taylor, Deputy Premier of the Yukon Territorial Government, and Dan Curtis, Mayor of Whitehorse, unveil the Story of the Northern Lights: The Raven $20 fine silver collector coin in Whitehorse, Yukon (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint)
"This new silver coin merges the old with the new, thanks to the Mint's unique achromatic hologram technology," says Sandra Hanington, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.  "Our employees have used their world-renowned expertise to bring to life two themes that have marked the experience of those who have inhabited Canada for thousands of years: the raven and the aurora borealis." 
This amazing coin is only the third achromatic hologram coin ever to be released by the Mint.  Struck into 99.99% pure silver using nanotechnology, the holographic sky lit by the northern lights makes for a truly unique reverse design. Artist Nathalie Bertin's raven image is inspired by First Nations storytelling traditions of the Pacific Northwest.
With a highly limited mintage of only 8,500 and retailing for $109.95, this coin can be ordered as of August 25 from the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or online at Starting September 1st, the coins will also be available at the Royal Canadian Mint's boutiques in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as through the Mint's global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.  
About the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada's circulation coins. An ISO 9001-2008 certified company the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit.

SOURCE Royal Canadian Mint
Image with caption: "Sandra Hanington, Royal Canadian Mint President and CEO, Ta’an Kwächä’an First Nation Chief Kristina Kane, the Honourable Elaine Taylor, Deputy Premier of the Yukon Territorial Government, and Dan Curtis, Mayor of Whitehorse, unveil the Story of the Northern Lights: The Raven $20 fine silver collector coin in Whitehorse, Yukon (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint)". Image available at:

For further information: media are asked to contact: Alex Reeves, Senior Manager, Communications, Royal Canadian Mint, Telephone: 613-949-5777,


Monday, August 10, 2015

News & Updates: Summer 2015

Photo credit: Louis Li Photography

What a crazy, busy summer it's been at the studio! From upcoming news and products to completed projects, it's been a fun-filled, productive season!

First, I completed the Artrepreneur program that was provided by the York Region Arts Council in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council and several of York Region's arts groups and municipal business centres. The photo above is of me during the final presentation stage. Aside from the out-of-home studio I long to build, I am also determined to publish a follow up book to the "Indiginesse" exhibition I curated in 2014. Why a book? Books are simply more accessible to a wider audience. As much as I would love to bring the exhibition across Canada, exhibitions take a long time, a lot of work and a lot of money to plan, organize and produce. Plus the book will also feature twice as many artists as the exhibition did.

If you'd like to know more about my business plan for the studio or projects related to "Indiginesse", feel free to contact me by email or call 905-868-8372. I'm especially interested in speaking to anyone interested in sponsorships or partnerships.

A small piece I completed 2014 has found its way to Italy (and around the world), both in book form and as part of a large group exhibition in the 2015 Venice Bienniele collateral events. The book is Contemporary North American Indigenous Art, curated by Jennifer Karch Verzè. It is published by Imago Mundi as part of the Luciano Bennetton Collection. The Venice Biennale events are happening from August 28 - November 1, 2015, at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy.

Illustrations from the "How Beaver Got His Flat Tail" will be republished in new learning tools for Grade 1 school groups by Nelson Education. Also, my piece entitled "It Gets Hot On the Rocks by Noon" will be published in print and online in Pearson Canada's "THINK History: Canadian History Since 1914", a textbook for Ontario Grade 10 students.

Stay tuned for news from the Royal Canadian Mint on the last of three collector coins I designed for the Northern Lights hologram collection. A little bird tells me the release date is September 1, 2015. The others have sold out fast. Mark your calendars and check the Mint's web site if you want one!

Shown above: Left: Cover from "Contemporary North American Indigenous Art", Imago Mundi, Luciano Bennetton Collection; Centre: detail illustration from "How Beaver Got His Flat Tail", Nelson Education; Right: "It Gets Hot On the Rocks By Noon"

Happy to report that, aside from being published (see above), the original painting "It Gets Hot On the Rocks By Noon" (2014, acrylic on canvas) has sold in recent weeks. Other pieces that have found new homes include "Blueberry Picking" (2015, oil on canvas) and "Wedding Moccasins" (2013, acrylic on canvas), both shown above. Thank you to my valued clients and friends! I hope you enjoy these works for many years to come!

For more information on any of the items in this e-newsletter & other news, to view a portfolio, purchase any of the art on my web site or in gallery or have a commission made:

T 905-868-8372

The web site changes fairly frequently. Make sure you visit often!

Friday, July 24, 2015

A little something for a bride and groom

Image before framing. Title: "United" (2015) 12"x9",
mixed media on watercolour paper
This is a small piece I created as a gift to a young bride and her future husband. The meaning in the image is based on the sacred teaching of humility. It's also my special message to the bride and the young man she is marrying. I wanted to give her something empowering, that would remind her that her voice is as strong as her partner's, that a solid marriage means that no one's voice is ever higher or more important than the other's. In a true partnership, it takes humility and collaboration to create something lasting and bigger than oneself. Oh, and I included Orion's Belt (the three stars) that symbolize direction.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I love round dances

"Round Dance III" (2015) Digital File
I love round dances. I love everything about them. They move me, compel me. They are lively. They are peaceful. They are means of protest. They unify and are inclusive.

I love round dances.

What'll We Do With the Blueberries?

"What'll We Do With All the Blueberries?" 2014, Acrylic on wrapped canvas
I hope this newsletter finds you well and that you've survived the winter in good form! Pretty soon, it will be time to start painting outside again. More importantly, it'll be time to scout "the rocks" for one of my favourite summer treats: blueberries! I'll be back in Muskoka before too long, feeding off the beauty and nourishment of the land, as I continue working on my latest series of landscape paintings. (The painting above was inspired by a blueberry-picking trip when my brother and his family came over for a lovely visit last year.)

About the Landscape Series
The area I've been inspired to paint is special to me. It feeds me. As a matter of fact, I never, EVER set out to become a landscape painter (figuring there were enough Group of Seven-esque works out there) but this area is so incredible that the desire to study it has become stronger than me. (I even wrote a major physical geography paper on it when I was finishing my BEd a few years back!) I'm lucky enough to have a small cabin in the woods there with just enough room to work in. I'm looking forward to getting back there on a regular basis to paint, to enjoy, to hunt and fish, to learn and simply to feel alive again.

Over the winter, I've completed about a dozen pieces relating to my little piece of heaven. One of my goals, at this point, is to complete at least another dozen or so. By then, I should be able to pick and choose a solid offering to put on exhibition. I will be actively seeking exhibition opportunities when I'm nearing completion of the series. Hopefully, I will be able to bring these works to you to see in a proper gallery setting instead of just over the 'net. (Even great pictures can't really capture paintings, after all.) And if the work sells prior to that? Well, that's a good thing too! It simply means I can keep painting more!

New: Shop Directly On My Web Site!
Speaking of sales, I FINALLY created shopping carts on my own web site. Now you can buy my artwork and beadwork directly from my site at, in addition to visiting my fabulous representing galleries. A listing of available artwork direct from the studio can be found in the Fine Art section. You can also find available beadwork items such as the Trapper Hats and Moccushions© in the Traditional Art section of the site.

Contest! Help Me Pick Images for Card Packs For A Chance to Win!
Finally, I'm working on putting together a package of prints and card packs to extend my offerings and make them more accessible. Choosing which pieces should be included is proving to be a bit difficult. I suppose it's like choosing a favourite among your kids! So, I'm opening it up to you. Everyone who 
emails back with the titles of 5 images from my web site (or any of my work at my rep galleries or past work) will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive a package of fine art cards with envelopes of the top selection as chosen by you! (Contest Rules: Contest closes April 30, 2015. One entry per person. Winner will be chosen by draw after the contest closes April 30, 2015. Prize will be mailed once the art cards are selected and printed.)

That's all the news for now. Feel free to contact me with commissions, questions, comments or querries. Until we meet again, I continue to wish you well!