Tag Archives: Gwaii Haanas

“Ordinary Alchemy” on Friday the 13th!

"Apache" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24"x30" Work in Progress

Work In Progress – “Apache” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24″x30″

Well, after shaking it up a bit, I think I’ve successfully been able to get a little looser on my figurative works.

After a week of feeling quite unsuccessful in the studio, these two under paintings came VERY quickly on the evening of Friday, July 13th during the onset of a massive thunderstorm in Canmore. It was one of those crazy maelstrom’s that carry spirits – good and bad in the electricity of the air like I’ve never seen.

There were actual moments this week when I thought trading my painting smock for a ball cap and uniform to sling fries at Mickie-D’s was looking attractive. Thank goodness I stuck with it and let the magic happen.

I am a huge Stephen King fan, and have recently been listening to his audiobook Duma Key – the story of a supernatural occurrence that turns a victim of a horrific car accident into the Rembrandt of the Florida art world almost overnight. King’s stories always inspire with their rich character development, turns of phrase and fantastic otherworlds. Perhaps that bit o’ magic was the final stirring of the pot, but I’m very, very happy with what brewed up in my studio last night during the storm of the century.

Since coming back from Gwaii Haanas, where the supernatural is run of the mill, I’ve been feeling twisted, chewed-up and generally mucked up, avoiding crowds…wishing for the company of trees and salt-water tide once again. I’m fairly sure a healthy dose of the super naturals came home in the Avalanche with me, because I just don’t know where else this work came from last night other than the edges of the “other” world between this one and that of the spirits.

In honour of the bard of the supernatural, I’m readying works for my solo show at BlueRock Gallery and entitling the exhibition, “Ordinary Alchemy”. There will be a mix of many old and new pieces – some from my “private stock”.

"Jicarillo" - ©2012 Janice Tanton. Work in Progress. 35" x 48". Oil on linen underpainting.

“Jicarillo” – ©2012 Janice Tanton. Work in Progress. 35″ x 48″. Oil on linen underpainting.


The Artist’s Window -Creating Onsite vs.The Studio.

"Window - Near Marco Island" - ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 6"x8"

“Window – Near Marco Island” – ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 6″x8″

The Site

There is a big difference in working on site, with all of the sensory input of the moment. Sound, light, colour, smells…they all ADD to the moment of rapture when creating the work, and for me as an artist, there is nothing quite like that pure energy of creating the “feeling” of what you have in that one moment and place.

This painting, a small 6″x8″ work, was done alla prima, plein air on a secluded location near Marco Island in Gwaii Haanas. Nothing that I do to it can ever convey the moment – the smells, the calls of the birds, the feel of the mossy ground upon which I sat or the small black and yellow caterpillar that I remember crawled across the root of the tree where I sat.

For me, this painting will always contain all of those sensory experiences. Even the sense of urgency that I would need in order to get the painting done in a timely manner to join my travel companions – these are all the things contained within this painting.

Sadly, we can’t always be in all those places for the length of time that we desire. This was the case in Gwaii Haanas. There was so much to see, and I could have spent years just in one place on Haida Gwaii creating and painting what I felt, what moved me – the sights, the sounds and the spiritual supernatural that is ever-present.

For completing this work, the studio is the best way to be able to continue to convey the feeling, the spirit and sense of the time spent in that place. As artists, this is our task, and it’s not always an easy one.

"Into The Woods - Bag Harbour" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 11"x14"

“Into The Woods – Bag Harbour” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 11″x14″

The Studio

This piece is a different “window” for me. It is the first piece that I created offsite from Haida Gwaii, and in the controlled space of the studio – a comfy chair, a bathroom, a hot cup of coffee in my hand and all the time in the world.

With decent photographic reference, I’m still not able to get a clear idea of the full colour range afforded by the jungle of Bag Harbour, or the life, the energy or the timeless urgency of the place. Having been there, I’m connected to the time that I had there, but the time it takes to snap a photo vs. sitting on the ground, feeling the energy, observing the colours for an hour or more and creating a work onsite are never the same.

It’s still full of memories for me, and hopefully, I can open this window in my studio and let those feelings all spill into the painting.

I have a question…okay….maybe I have three questions:

As an artist, do you prefer the studio or painting onsite? Why? What are the merits of both?

Black Out…Speak Out – June 4th, 2012!

This post was written on May 12, 2012, as I prepared for my trip to Gwaii Haanas. Today, I’m somewhere completely remote and totally off-grid in the very waters that the Enbridge Pipeline issues threaten. Thanks to the miracle of technology, have written this post today for it to be published while I’m away. Yeah!

June 4th, not surprisingly…is a momentous day for someone very special in my life. It’s Grace’s 8th birthday today, and I’m sorry that I’m not there with her but instead – thinking about her future and the future of my grandchildren and their grandchildren by examining what we have to lose in the battle between government, big oil and the human beings and creatures that inhabit this earth.

You may well recall Dr. David Suzuki resigned from leading his foundation because of the pressures of the Harper government and so-called “ethical” oil interests began to put on charitable foundations and political involvement.

As an independent artist, I don’t have either the protection…or the encumbrances of an institution around me, and I can speak out…black out…and stand up for what I believe in and for my children’s future.

rabble.ca logoThe article below was posted on http://rabble.ca on May 9th, 2012 by David Suzuki, and I’m re-blogging and sharing here with you. Please do me a favour and spread this message and as a gift for my daughter in my absence, do choose for yourself on June 4th…my daughter’s 8th birthday.


“Canada would be a different place without our 80,000 registered charities dedicated to everything from health to economic policy to the environment. We’d be much poorer without the two million employees and millions of volunteers who devote their time to causes that strengthen our nation.

Recent efforts by the federal government and its backers in media and industry front groups like Ethical Oil to demonize and silence legitimate organizations ignore the important role charities play in Canada. That’s why environmental and other organizations are joining with Canadians from all walks of life for Black Out Speak Out, launched on May 7 with ads in the Globe and MailLa Presse, and Ottawa’s Hill Times and culminating in a website blackout June 4.

Canadians understand the value of charitable organizations. Close to 85 per cent of us over 15 years of age (22.2 million people) donate to charities every year. Often, it’s to help people in other parts of the world. According to Charity Village, Canadians gave $20 million to the Canadian Red Cross, CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, UNICEF Canada, and World Vision within four days of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For supporting worthy causes, Canadians are entitled to a small tax break.

Canadians also know that our spectacular natural environment is crucial to our national identity, health, and survival, and that we can’t always count on governments and industry to look out for its interests. And so they give their time, money, and voices to organizations working on a range of conservation issues from habitat and species protection to clean energy and global warming. The David Suzuki Foundation relies on Canadians for more than94 per cent of its funding.

Canadians also expect transparency and results, which is why our funding and spending information is public. With the help of many Canadians, and along with friends and allies, we’ve enjoyed many successes. We’ve increased demand and supply for sustainable seafood, fought for habitat protection for animals such as killer whales, and ensured that invaluable areas like the Great Bear Rainforest and the northern boreal forest get increased protection. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve facilitated opportunities for Canadians to engage in important discussions about conservation of the air, water, land, and biodiversity on which we all depend.

It’s why we’re astounded by the increasing efforts to stifle so many people and organizations that devote countless hours to the often thankless and less-than-lucrative tasks of ensuring that Canada remains a stellar example of an open and democratic country with strong social values and a clean and healthy environment.

If we are committed to these ideals then it follows we should also value freedom of speech and opportunities for a range of viewpoints on matters of national interest. It’s fair to place limits on the extent and types of work organizations with charitable status can do. It’s fair to ask questions about donations and what, if any, influence they may have on activities. But it is unacceptable to try to silence people with smear tactics designed to discredit them and deny their funding.

If our leaders want to pin all their hopes and our future on a twinned pipeline through Alberta and B.C. to ship raw tar sands bitumen to China, then Canadians at least deserve a proper conversation about it. We’ve seen recent signs of hope, with the Alberta government calling for a national energy strategy, for example, and with people in the media and elsewhere questioning the wisdom of employing an omnibus budget act to gut environmental laws and attack charitable organizations.

With continued suppression of those who speak out about the environment and women’s and human rights, along with muzzling of government scientists and cuts to government scientific and environmental programs and departments, it’s clear we’re facing a growing campaign, in part backed by industrial interests, to silence opposition.

We expect and deserve better. That’s why we’re speaking out. Silence is not an option. We’re asking all Canadians to join us to help preserve two core national values: nature and democracy. Let’s keep Canada strong and free. Please visit the websites of your favourite environmental organizations on June 4 to add your voice.

Participating organizations include: David Suzuki FoundationGreenpeace Canada,Environmental DefenceEquiterreCanadian Parks and Wilderness Society,Sierra Club of CanadaPembina InstituteNature CanadaEcojustice, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.


All That Glitters…IS Gold!

Linen, 24k Gold Leaf and a Soul…

Work In Progress - "The Yellow Raincoat" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

Work In Progress - "The Yellow Raincoat" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

Work In Progress - "The Yellow Raincoat" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

Work In Progress - "The Yellow Raincoat" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

There are many things one thinks about in a painting. Often, it’s how to handle your chosen medium and how to best reveal the light in a three dimensional form on a two dimensional surface. Recently, I read The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant in preparation for my residency in Gwaii Haanas National Park. It caused me to think more deeply about my materials and the link between materials and the work being created and I have a painting in mind that I want to create when I’m back in the studio at the end of June.

Living in my head isn’t fun sometimes. A kajillion thoughts are there at any one time, and the only place I find peace is at the easel. The thought of this idea for a painting has been tugging at me for a month, and in the midst of all the crazy CRA stuff, and getting ready for the monumental trip….still, I couldn’t sleep for wanting to try something out: 24 karat gold leaf on a linen oil painting. In doing some research, I found a few contemporary artists who are working with this on panel…only one I could see so far that was working with it on linen. For thousands of years, classical artists have been using gold leaf to create works, religious icons, embellished architecture.

I spoke with folks from Saskatoon (to source out natural shellac), to New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto and finally….in Calgary. Everyone was generous with their ideas, techniques and information on materials. Here in Calgary, I found Jennifer at Mona Lisa Art Supply.  Jen knew quite a bit about gold leafing and when I explained to her what I was thinking as far as the conceptual thought for the paintings, she got excited and was very helpful in showing me a few ideas about how to go about it and the technical qualities of what I was proposing to work with.

Last night, I took the plunge in this painting…and am VERY excited with how this is all going!

The Yellow Raincoat ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

Work In Progress - "The Yellow Raincoat" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil and 24k gold on linen. 24"x 48"

Gwaii Haanas Marine – Parks Canada Videos!

Here is where I’m going for the Gwaii Haanas Artist In Residency program.

Gwaii Haanas Marine is Canada’s newest national marine conservation area reserve.

This stunning marine environment is cooperatively managed by Parks Canada and the Haida and is a globally recognized model of shared management.


The CAMP Art Project Site


By Land and By Sea :: Artists in Haida Gwaii – Gwaii Haanas National Park

I’ve had a few folks, including my astonished family, ask just exactly where it is that I’m going for this amazing artist’s residency. Here’s what looks like will be an overview of my journey in the upcoming month. I’m planning to drive from Canmore to Prince Rupert, BC and then take the ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate. From that point, the residency begins, although I know that there are many stops along the way there and back that are going to be of great interest to me!

Leg One: Land Travel from Canmore to Prince Rupert (Land)

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Leg Two : Prince Rupert to Skidegate via BC Ferry

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Press Release :: Janice Tanton Bound for Haida Gwaii – Gwaii Haanas National Park Artist in Residence 2012

Aerial View - Gwaii Haanas National Park - South, looking north on the archipelago

I’ve just been literally beside myself with excitement…giddy!…like a little girl for the past couple of days. I think I’ve come down far enough off my cloud now to be able to string just a few words together and pass along some very exciting news!

I got a call just before dinnertime on Wednesday from the Visual Arts Curator, Jen Wilson at the Haida Museum that I’ve been chosen, along with two other artists to be Artist in Residence for the 2012 Artists in Gwaii Haanas residency. I will be the “away” artist. I’m so honoured.

You simply cannot imagine how excited I am. I’d have to say this is one of the most pivotal moments in my life in having the chance to visit and participate in this incredible experience….and I want to bring you on that journey of discovery with me, through this blog and the CAMP blog (soon to be launched).

Responding to the call for applications earlier this year, I couldn’t help but vividly imagining the things that I would learn, the people and land that I would see and how beautiful it would be to fit this within my lifelong body of work. It’s truly a chance of a lifetime with a deep spiritual aspect for me. I have felt in my soul from the moment of learning about the residency, that I am supposed to go there. I’m learning, as always…to follow those little messengers inside of me. And here we go…

Artists in Gwaii Haanas is a collaborative effort between Gwaii Haanas National Park,  the Haida Gwaii Museum, and the Haida Nation. For 10 days in June, three artists (two artist residents of Haida Gwaii and one visiting artist) will be guided by a Parks Canada staff member into remote areas of Gwaii Haanas National Park. HOLY HAANAS! I’m so excited…did I say that already? PINCH ME!

Haida GwaiiWe’ll be journalling, sketching, making art and sharing our experience together at two public presentations in Masset and Queen Charlotte as part of the Gwaii Haanas summer Speakers Series. In the fall (November 2012), we are each producing a minimum of three works for a show, one of with will become part of the permanent collection to the Artists in Gwaii Haanas Collection at the Haida Gwaii Museum.

The two other artists that will form part of our group are Fanny-Pierre Galarneau and Darrell Oike. I am super-charged to meet both of these amazing artists and spend time with them in this sacred space and will bring you more on their work in upcoming posts.

Have you ever been to Haida Gwaii? If so, I would love to hear from you.