Tuesday, July 24, 2007

38° and Foggy for 48

For two days the temperature and the sky dropped in Pangnirtung. At first the fog sat on the ground, thick and full of drizzle. Then it lifted a hundred feet and made a line along the mountainsides like the edge of a square-dancer's skirt. Later, the wind picked up and the fog began to swallow hillsides whole. During the swallowing phase, I went out to paint and settled on a rocky outcropping, near a small stream half way up the hills, high enough to stay within the fog. A rock, elaborately dressed in gray lichens, brown fungus and a large ruff of flowers and moss, was the subject for the day. Nearby the recent moisture helped to bring along new blooms including drifts of fantastic pink and cream spires. Transported by the moment, I suddenly realized that the fog which obscured the hillsides to such romantic effect, could also hide a polar bear. I shouldn’t be too worried about polar bears, since they tend to stay near the coast, but Canadian Wildlife TV and a book I am reading about surviving Greenland in 1900 have brought them to life in my mind. Suddenly the Fog was less pretty, and I planned emergency responses to polar bear attack. First, I would offer my sandwich to the bear, and hope that the zip lock bag would cause confusion and delay the attack so that I could roll into a ball as recommended, or run. During an attack I thought it unlikely that I would roll into a ball, even though it is recommended, so I decided to grab the pot of paint thinner to use as a weapon as I dashed away, tossing it toward the face of the bear during the chase over the tundra. Reassured by the effectiveness of the pot of paint thinner as a weapon, I went back to work. Sure enough, I was attacked later that day, but by mosquitoes, who are attracted to the colors of paint and die in quantity on the palette and the pictures. Since they struggle and muck up the paintings, I remove them with tweezers. Worries of bear attacks aside, I’m still the predator at the top of the food chain.
Late that night, the fog was sent off by clear weather and lots of wind.


TCrawley40 said...

The mosquitos wallowing in paint make for really striking photographs! I thought I would mentioned that first before moving on to your paintings. I really appreciate your choice of color in your paintings. The lighter colors have an airy, chilly feel that is contrasted by the sharp dark colors that cutting in and out of the painting. Furthermore, I appreciate reading your thoughts on the conceptual nature of the space with which you paint. It captures an ideology that I wish a lot more people carried with them--a world where we live less divided by political boundaries than one where we live in spacial divisions prescribed by scientific measurements. It will be very interesting to see how your work progresses particularly with regard to the similarities and differences of these spacial divisions that we exist within. By the way, when you return back I have an interesting story to tell you about an artist that I came across a couple weeks ago when I was home in Oregon. We'll talk. All the best, Mike, and I'll be in touch.


Anonymous said...

I hope you are practicing that rolling up into a ball stategy on your time off..
And ICK on the mosquitos.. Aren't you glad you threw in a pair of tweezers??

Mammoth said...

An interesting additional aspect to your paintings with mosquitoes and evidence that they have been created in the arctic...I have discovered amber in Harrison Bay and a few deposits along the Colville river in Arctic Alaska, mosquitoes embedded. I spend each summer in the arctic as well and searching mammoth ivory for my work even though I as well work in oils. Bill Sidmore

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