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Two Warblers, Lake Louise
Coloured pencil, Image size: 12" x 12"
I observed these birds on a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains. I had, on
rare occasions, glimpsed the species during migrations through the Lower
Mainland. However, it was not until this sojourn to the places where they rear
their young during the brief alpine summer that the splashes of bright yellow
in their plumage made sense. I was immediately struck by the birds’ perfect
visual harmony with the weathered wood and acid yellow-green mosses of their
elevated habitat. Observing them, so well synchronized with their environment,
was an enlightening experience.
A few weeks prior to starting work on this drawing, I had another enlightening experience: the good fortune of seeing a collection of works by Claude Monet. I was deeply impacted by the iconic painter’s exuberance for art making, his deep connection with his subject matter, and the way his life’s journey was evident in the art he made. I could feel the effects of that experience percolating within me as I began putting pencil to paper.
As the drawing evolved, I came to recognize the twists and turns of the gnarled wood on which the birds were perched mirrored the complex life journey that I, like that ancient tree, have experienced—the times of growth, of peaceful contentment, of stormy turmoil, of setbacks and struggle; the dark, cold times and other times filled with warmth and light. My emotions flowed into every mark I made, and images within images became visible in the whorls of knots and patterns of lichen, evolving without conscious thought or intention. Not simply a depiction of birds in harmony with their environment, this piece is infused with an outpouring of my own emotional energy.