These artist statements and writing are my meandering thoughts about what I'm trying to do with my painting and some of what I admire about the natural world that is my inspiration.
My main interest is in landscape painting. For me painting is progressive and cyclical and must carry some form of message. I work in series of the same or similar subject material. The majority of my work is focused almost entirely on the forest. Representational images of the forest or rural habitat, the compositions are drawn directly from edited digital original photos. The colour and overall atmosphere are abstracted. I don't believe that art is anything more than abstract in it's definition. I draw and paint nature but I can't create nature with my work.
In June 2001, I visited Newfoundland and became interested in where and why people live in certain places. I did a couple of paintings based on small villages (Musgrave Harbour and Trout River) and the theme seemed to fit with my overall interest in the environment and our relation to it.
In January 2003, I went back to Newfoundland and photographed extensively looking for subjects that would further enhance this idea. The resulting paintings from this trip (Industrial Road near Port au Basque, Isle aux Morts, Parsonís Pond, Unexpected View, Rose Blanche, and Yellow Birches), taught me something about what I want to say in painting, and a new way to express it.
My style comes from woodcut printing and developing line drawings. My influences are David Milne, David Blackwood, and Picasso.
DREAMERS AND DAY DREAMERS
This series of paintings are a story about what if trees do dream? They are a progression from the physical world to the dream-state. And that being fixed to a rooted spot, living longer existences than us and being aware of the physical world, dream as an expression of their lives. I started to see that trees could have a much more animated life than any of us could imagine.
As part of our modern culture we are dominated by the idea of what reality is and why our reality is more important. Economically we as human beings have created our own importance, placing ourselves at the pinnacle of all life on this planet. We consume things and belittle their importance so as to rationalize and relieve ourselves of any moral negativity. We think of reality as being a set of rules that are based in the physical. Science is now more than aware that our rules donít always apply. Our spiritual existence is envisioned as an alternate reality that stirs a faith in something.
Dreams are a way that we experience other levels of existence. Some indigenous peoples share their physical worlds with a connection to other living entities by setting themselves in a dream state or vision state. This is a way of recognizing and connecting to objects or life forms that to us donít seem to have consciousness. This is a way for them to understand their co-existence with the rest of the world.
What if all the life forms that we think of as inanimate, exist to themselves as in a dream consciousness that explains to them, their life. Do they feel wonder or regret? Do they see and imagine, and what do they imagine their life as?
Dreaming is the perfect sense.
NIGHT VIEWS AND NIGHT LIFE
In the sixties Jacque Cousteau (of France) filmed extensively the under water world and seemed to discover something new in every sequel. He used beautiful colour footage to show part of the world that most of us had never seen. The images that took hold of my imagination were starkly high contrasted, from the pitch blackness, of great depths or of night time diving, using flood lights to feel their way and see what was there. Images of life seemingly frozen to stillness, things that might go bump in the night or inspire the imagination toward life forms of other worlds.
At night, driving along country roads in pitch blackness with only your head lights to guide you, Cousteau has me catching glimpses head on and peripherally, of fence line rows and small groups of trees that momentarily are caught doing something in their lives.
Digitally photographing my subject matter and then editing mostly for composition. The images of trees after night falls feel the same, flooded with light from a camera flash or car head lights they seem to show an other worldliness. Using Exaggeration, simplification, and contrasts and textures, the paintings have something of showing these trees in secret lives.
The notion of what a totem is, by definition a representation of a life spirit. When you draw, paint or carve something from the natural world you automatically try to imbue its spirit. Totems are a way of pointing to the future and of asking the spirit involved to help us see the road, path or line, we must travel. The mythology of aboriginals and their connectedness to the spirit world acts to isolate the rest of us from tuning into the possibility of direction. Old weather formed White Pines stand as totems, representing themselves as beacons of tenacity.
As a culture, modern people have brokered new forms of totem that have no ties to a spirit world. Economics and the symbols of power are their realms. Tall buildings represent the power symbols and structure of the urban landscape, economics and business.
Where I live in southeastern Ontario, there were once great old growth forests of mixed species of trees. The standout remnants of these vast forests are the small pockets of white pines that stand alone or in small groups and act as landmarks and reminders. Well adapted to their environment, they survive and accumulate the various scars and losses in their conflicts with weather and man. They have become natural totems telling us everything we need to know to understand how vulnerable we are as a species.
On the western side of Kingston, there was just such a small stand of older white pines that had survived the onslaught of urban spread, malls, and road construction. They seemed to be well placed or well left alone depending how you looked at them. I marveled at how time and nature had sculpted their shapes giving them a regal beauty and dignity. Then one day in passing by, they were gone. A car dealership had sprung up in their place.
Now I take photographs and paint the trees that still remain. Joni Mitchell was so right! They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.
WIND ROWS AND WORKING TREES
The places that are relatively treeless show the proof of their value immediately. Unrelenting wind steals moisture and topsoil and in the most extreme cases leaves in its path the dessert landscape. In our own self interest we grow windrows of trees to slow and eddy the wind. To help wind shade crops and section fields to lessen erosion. Tree barriers are used to lessen the effects of domestic animals on water sheds, tree walls to dampen noise and to screen the view and they become the view.
In Tuscany on the way to Florence most of the forests were stripped for agriculture. firewood and building. Working trees such as cedar and spruce trees are used as wind rows to protect crops and divide and define territory. The long line of trees that caught my imagination had a phone or electrical line running along through them and appeared to tie them together in a line and they seemed to be waiting for something. In Saskatchewan the wind is unrelenting and so once again working trees are planted to protect and shelter homes and crops. In the Netherlands driving from Amsterdam to Leeuwarden the land is an agricultural plain. There was a fog in the distance that was blocked in its path by the wind row trees. It appeared that the world ended just beyond them.
Tim De Rose