For my 40 years of art practice, I have focused on nature and land-based imagery.
In the previous series of works, Arborescence, there was an environmental message. The subject was Deforestation. The works revealed devastation in areas where clear-cutting has taken place – even in our own country, Canada.
In the current series, C’est l’hiver, the message is not direct. But in focusing on forest elements in winter, there is the underlying concern about the general health of alpine trees and the habitat they provide for much of our hibernating and winter wildlife. Canada’s forests cover almost half of the country’s landmass and make up 10 per cent of the world’s forest cover. Forests are a crucial part of Canada’s natural heritage, wilderness areas and economy. With warmer winters come instability of climate, causing meltdowns, icy patches and loss of the endless stretches of snow covered fields.
Despite these environmental concerns, the visual aspect of winter can be breathtaking. The works in this current series are inspired by observing winters in the area of Mirabel, Quebec. What is seen has been internalized and then reproduced in compositions which suit the medium in which the work is created.
More recently my winter concerns have included renderings of wildlife observed in the same area: foxes, moose, wolves, deer, porcupines and racoons Faune et forêt. The medium chosen is silkscreen, for a more graphic approach. Silkscreen is a printmaking medium I once practiced for many years.
In order to convey the variety of emotions felt towards the land, trees, forests and now wildlife, I maintain a close engagement with the materials at hand. In the printmaking medium of both collagraphy and silkscreen, forms are rendered using a wide variety of techniques. Marks are permanently built up or engraved or drawn, in order to prepare for printing of each edition. Being a printmaker is a long, hands-on experience – producing a close physical connection to the imagery, the materials and most important, to the desired expression.
In the mixed media works, it is a more immediate tactile experience of using paint sponged onto textured hand-made paper: following that initial step, elements of printed collagraph fragments are collaged onto the prepared surface. The process demands creative concentration.
Moving from one medium to the other has kept both the eye and mind active as I have expressed my ideas, memories and thoughts about the different aspects of winter.
Gilles Vigneault wrote wonderful songs about winter: “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver”.