Tag Archives: Haida Gwaii

2015 – A New Year, New Outlook and New Works


"The Harvest" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“The Harvest” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

It’s been a long couple of years battling breast cancer, but I’m now feeling like I’m finally back on the horse. 2015 is looking like a brand new horizon and to ring in the new year, I’ve been back in the studio almost working full time. It’s a great feeling to finally have some control back in my arm and painting hand, and I have more paintings in my head than I could possibly paint in four lifetimes. I suppose that is what I love so much about  painting – it never gets old for me, and I’m always stretching, learning something new and finding that daily meditative space that only the canvas can offer.

I wish for you, a wonderful and fresh new outlook for this upcoming year, filled with beautiful artwork, good health, and happy days. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop now.

"Metamorphosis" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“Metamorphosis” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

Watercolour Journal Workshop with Janice Tanton at The Banff Springs Hotel

Janice Tanton sketch journal - Haida Gwaii, Burnaby Narrows

A page from my sketch journal – Burnaby Narrows, Haida Gwaii. ©2014 Janice Tanton

I’d like to invite you to join me for a morning of fun and art that is personal to you. This simple technique of ink and watercolour will be something you can use all your life to create and record those moments of importance in your life.

Throw away that Instagram and Facebook post for a quick sketch and some penned thoughts

that will stay forever in your mind. This workshop is suitable for ages 9 – 99+ and total beginners. Even if you say you can’t draw a straight line or a stick drawing, this workshop is for you! As part of the wonderful Banff /Lake Louise Tourism springstART Festival, I look forward to welcoming you to my home territory! Check it out – lots of great workshops by artists who live and work in the valley, including soapstone carving!

Date: April 19
Time: 9:30 am – 12 noon
Place: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Norquay Room
Cost: $31.50 plus meagre supplies

How to register and short materials list available here:




PRESS RELEASE :: Janice Tanton Represented by Canada House Gallery, Banff, Alberta

Canada House LogoAlmost a year after discovering I have breast cancer, I am so very pleased to announce I was welcomed with open arms by what I consider to be the most dynamic gallery representing Canadian artists anywhere in the nation.

A year ago, I was wondering if I would live to see the next Christmas with my gorgeous family, never mind creating new work. This year will mark their 40th Anniversary – a stunning achievement in the promotion and exhibition of such noted artists (and my heros/heroines) as Alex Janvier, Kenojuak, Bill Reid, Jane Ash Poitras and so many others.

"Xuuajii,St'aw & The Forest" - ©2013 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 60"x76"

“Xuuajii,St’aw & The Forest” – ©2013 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 60″x76″

For the past few months, I’ve been working slowly but surely through some very intense pain to create 7 new works specifically for Canada House Gallery in Banff – right here in our own backyard. What a beautiful fit.

I am honoured and inspired by the professionalism and encouragement of the staff, and the first three completed major pieces from my Haida Gwaii collection have been placed in their very capable hands.

My family and I would also like to thank Elizabeth Williams (RMT), Nathalie Trottier (Physio and Osteopath) and Sue at Rocky Mountain Rehab for the hours and hours of work and faith it’s taken to get me in shape enough literally, to lift a paintbrush. Special thanks also to my friends Jennifer Bain-Houck and Cori Brewster, who encouraged me never to let go.

Tomorrow morning, I head into surgery once again for a full second radical mastectomy. A step backwards for a step forwards.  I know it will be another tough road, but for today, we celebrate!!!!!

Won’t you please join me and raise a virtual glass to life, Canada House Gallery and to celebrate some new beginnings with our family.

"Old Masset Breathing" ©2013 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24"x48

“Old Masset Breathing” ©2013 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24″x48″


To see more new images, please visit the website:

Canada House Gallery
201 Bear Street
Banff, AB
T1L 1B5


Rock the Boat! One Artist’s Experience in Haida Gwaii

Tanu'u Woman. ©2013 Janice Tanton. Digital print.

Tanu’u Woman. ©2013 Janice Tanton. Digital print.

One year ago today, I left Canmore for Haida Gwaii and a life-changing artist’s residency at Gwaii Haanas National Park. In a month’s time, I learned more than I could absorb, met new family and friends, saw, touched, smelled and heard things that were literally Super-Natural and was inspired and welcomed with open arms by the Haida Nation and the islanders.

I yearn to return there – more than anything in my life that I’ve wished for. I need to show my family everything there that I experienced. I’d move in a heartbeat. The inspiration has taken me a whole year of thinking, battling and painting to begin to work out. Haa’wa to all my friends and family on HG. I think of you every day.

In this short year, Harper’s government has slashed funding to Parks Canada and as a result, the same program that inspired me so, is no longer in place. No mind. I’m more determined than ever to express the beauty and mystery that just one oil tanker spill could destroy. All this time spent sick has given me time to think, and once I am on my feet….well, let’s just say I’m making it my life’s work.

Pledge to something or someone important in your life. As an artist, this is your duty.

Rock the boat.

Ruby Slippers, Chemotherapy, Magic Wands, Make-believe, Hemingway & Haida Gwaii


Ruby Slippers

My one way ticket back to Kansas

When the reality of life is too much, as human beings we have our imagination, our made-up, make-believe worlds to help us navigate the unimaginable. For artists and creatives, I can only think that we are somehow super-charged with imaginations – for the best, and for the worst. This week, I found out I’m facing 18 weeks of chemotherapy. That’s scarier than any Stephen King novel yet. What frightens me most is not the random invading cancer cells that MIGHT be in my body, but the side effects of the poison that the wicked witch is about to unleash. I will not recount the details so that you, dear reader, might be spared the nightmares that have plagued us all week. Far worse than the flying monkeys of Baum’s imagination, things like neuropathy are unimaginable for me. How can I think of the possible nerve damage to extremities – hands, feet, well-trained artist’s fingers and hands. @#$%

I’ve been searching for one good reason – just one good thing about chemotherapy to get me through this, and it was through an idea that Grace The Good Witch had this week, and a fancy red pair of running shoes I spotted yesterday.

Grace said to me, “Mommy, I know what we can do – let’s just pretend that you have a fever for a long time.”

Brilliant. I can go with that. “It’s just a fever.”….but the “let’s just pretend” is even better. Why didn’t I think of that? Let’s just pretend…and this nightmare too shall pass.

Only the fear or more horrible side effects can get me into the dentist’s chair, and there I was yesterday. Tense….I imagined being on North Beach in Haida Gwaii while the scraping and scratching went on. After awhile, it turned into the sounds of crashing waves, seabirds and the wind whispering in the seagrass behind me. Ta da….done.

Feeling like maybe this whole, “Calgon, Take Me Away” approach might be actually working, I stopped in at my friend’s shoe store. A pair of red leather running shoes just jumped off the shelf, onto my feet and remained there. Oh dear….I really am leaving Kansas on a cyclone.

My Magic Wand

My Magic Wand

Yesterday was sad for me. I had an exhibition of some paintings opening at the Kaay Centre, Haida Museum in Haida Gwaii and I so wanted to be there with my friends and fellow artists. Wicked Witch Tests kept me from them. However, once the ruby slippers were on my feet, it seemed that suddenly I was with everyone if I just clicked my heels together. Following the yellowbrick road, I went into the Kitchen Store….and there on the shelf, a red wand in the form of a compact kitchen latte frother jumped RIGHT into my hand. AHA!….this shall be useful to create those magic concoctions to keep me healthy and protect me as I venture into the Witches’ Castle! My friend Birgit, the Good Witch of Kitchen Store also found a special concoctor guaranteed to make me smile as I brew the herbs and tinctures to battle the evil chemo sickies. (stay with me…..)

Papa's Reads - Ernest Hemingway

Reading Papa

A little further along the yellow brick road, I happened upon Josey, The Benevolent Witch of Bookery and there I found what I was looking for – food for the mind, the Great Oz Ernest Hemingway bookery themselves to carry spells of imagination of the great seas and wars.

That night, as my good friends gathered in Haida Gwaii to launch the show from our Gwaii Haanas trip, I felt the love across the sea, the mountains and the rivers. Tucked into my bed, ruby slippers by my side, my Cowardly Lion lovingly read “The Old Man And The Sea”. I clicked my heels, drifted off after Chapter One and found myself in Haida Gwaii.

Today, I face the nuclear MUGA. No worries. Got my wand, my rubies and Ernest.




The Kendrick Ladies with their beautiful smiles, in front of some of the works in Haida Gwaii

The Kendrick Ladies with their beautiful smiles, in front of some of the works in Haida Gwaii

And here is my dear artist friend, Darrell Oike reading from the message and poem  I sent on the wind…

Darrell Oike reads

Artist Darrell Oike reads my message and poem to accompany the opening of the Haida Museum exhibit. Photo Credits: Clint Kendrick

“Cancer has a way of turning your life upside down, although those of you that know me well, know that it’s picked the wrong person to haggle with. Death…or the threat of it, is all that is keeping me from you today.  I did a bit of retail therapy after an appointment and picked up some “ruby shoes” this morning. I’m wearing them now. I wish, like Dorothy, that they’d transport me out of Kansas and into this room, this Oz…this…….. Haida Gwaii.

My time in Haida Gwaii and Gwaii Haanas National Park was sacred and special. From the time I arrived there, I knew that I needed to bring my family to see this incredible place and know it’s people, it’s flow and it’s lifestyle. That will happen soon.

While the land, the sea, the flora and the fauna all play largely in the mind when one encounters such abundance and diversity, I’ve come to ponder our place, our integration and our responsibility as human beings to change how we are – to rebalance –  in order to maintain the synergy with all that is around us. The ancestors and those that came before us knew this. We have just to deeply listen to ourselves, the land and the sea to find the good way again. This is the way of the artist.

No artist worth their salt can engage in deep research and subject matter from a distance. They must be immersed, involved and see themselves as part of the work, the place and the spirit. Anything less is just clinical observation – which as science, has it’s place, but in art….requires the immersion of the soul, the heart and the emotion.

With an eye to the objective – the representational, but with a paintbrush filled with movement, spiritual guidance and immersion, I seek to create new works that describe three aspects of Gwaii Haanas – the real, (the touchable), the spiritual and most importantly the supernatural – the space in between where I most often find myself. I seek to integrate myself and my family members in those works in order to explore responsibility and identity within the context of those three worlds that I feel and see in Gwaii Haanas and all of Haida Gwaii. At home in my studio there now sit no less than ten monumental works in progress integrating the figure, the landscape and the sea of Gwaii Haanas and Haida Gwaii.

It is with love that my family and I wish to thank those that guided me safely through this wondrous place. A huge thank you to Parks Canada, Christine and Terry for championing such an important program, Heather for taking it outwards to the public beyond and to the Haida Museum Board Members, Nathalie, Jenn and Jennifer who so skillfully engaged us as a family. This partnership is important. It needs to continue to welcome those of us who come from afar in a touchable, tangible experience.

I want to thank Tana Hooper and Clint Kendrick and their families for welcoming us with arms open, keeping us safe, fishing me out from the Pacific Ocean and teaching us so very much in such a short period of time.  Both of these dedicated Parks Canada employees should be commended for their passion, their professionalism, guidance and passion around this program. They have both continued to be sources of information and research as I begin a larger body of work.

A special thank you to Benita Saunders for her incredible hospitality while I was here. It is an honour to have stayed with you and I am forever grateful. I felt welcomed and loved and well cared for by this entire island community before I even stepped foot off the fairy. Haa’wa.

To Fanny and to you Darrell, as you now read these words, I am proud to call you brother and sister. I am in awe of your insight as artists and human beings and I am forever in your debt for your teachings. I know we will work together again soon…..(I’m writing the grant….ha ha!)”

In closing, I’ll leave you with a poem in the languages I know…

Oki Niksokowa. Is dee daniko, Iniskimaki, itan  Makoyitsikin ikimopii Siksika

All My Relations – I am Iniskimaki, Sacred Buffalo Stone Woman, adopted daughter of Elder Tom Crane Bear, Wolfshoe of the Siksika Nation.


Greens and yellows as I have never seen

Roll, envelope and hold me

Life….and death….so close together

Waters, clear and dancing

Dangerous, abundant, changelings

Roll, envelope and hold me

Death….and life….so close together

Trees, Twisting, Spiritful and Overpowering

Wide, Wet, tall, growing on each other as if starving…or making love

Roll, envelope and hold me

Death…and life…so close together

Life…death….the space between.

Roll, envelope and hold me

This is my Gwaii Haanas.

Haa’wa Iksookapi Thank you

Janice Tanton and Moresby Explorers – 7 Day Power Painting Journey in Gwaii Haanas National Park & Haida Heritage Site

Bag Harbour, Gwaii Haanas National Park

Bag Harbour, Gwaii Haanas National Park

It’s official! On June 3 – 8th, I’ll be leading a group of 8 painters with Moresby Explorers into the wilds of…

Gwaii Haanas National Park and

Haida Heritage Site

Moresby Explorers Floating Lodge - Base Camp for Power Painting

Moresby Explorers Floating Lodge – Base Camp for Power Painting

Base camp for this seven day rigorous artistic journey is Moresby Explorers’ floating lodge, situated on the northern boundary of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. The lodge is rustic but comfortable with hot and cold running water, enough electricity for lights and camera charging and a flush toilet. Although there is no regular shower, there is an outside camp shower which can be set up if needed.

Comfy Living Room in the Float Lodge

Comfy Living Room in the Float Lodge

Canadian artist Janice Tanton is no stranger to Gwaii Haanas, having been an Artist In Residence for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in 2012. Her practice continues to focus on the beauty and spirit of this special place. A two-time Canada Council award recipient, Janice’s works have been exhibited across the globe. An Alumna of Distinction (Creative Arts & Design) from Durham College, she has taught from coast to coast and worked as Artist in Residence and sessional faculty at The Banff Centre, Red Deer College and Haliburton School of Fine Art. She has been adopted into the Blackfoot as the daughter of Elder Tom Crane Bear, initiated into the pow wow dance circle, is a tipi owner and has been given the Blackfoot name Iniskim-Aki (Sacred-Buffalo-Stone Woman).

Curious as to how to reconcile the wide spectrum of diversity within her communities and familes, her painting practice explores the ambiguous spaces between cultures, humanity, and the land.

Marco Island Painting Spot - Gwaii Haanas National Park and Haida Heritage Site

Painting on Marco Island, Gwaii Haanas National Park


Power Painting In Gwaii Haanas Itinerary

Day 1: We pick you up at the Sandspit Airport at 15:00, when the Air Canada flight comes in from Vancouver. We drive to Moresby Camp, a little more than an hour down the logging roads, where we keep our boats. Here we load all our gear into one of our Hurricane Zodiac Rigid Hull inflatable boats and travel for about one and a half hours to Crescent Inlet, arriving at the lodge at dinner time. After dinner, we’ll get to know each other and share individual personal goals for the journey.

Day 2: In the morning, Janice will give an overview of what to expect at the places we will visit and give a workshop in plein air power painting the authentic impressionists method, which will give you all the tools you need to capture and paint your passion, as you feel it in Gwaii Haanas. We will also discuss wilderness painting gear and wise ecological practices for painting in this environment; what to look for, how to be comfortable and create some comfort for yourself to do the best and most powerful work you have ever imagined. Let’s admit it a camera just can’t catch the emotion and feeling of a place the way that a well executed painting can. Janice will teach you a few skills to release your inner creative spirit into this painting space. We’ll also discuss a specific palette for the light, water, moss and trees in Gwaii Haanas, our studio for the week.
In the afternoon, we’ll head into the field to work onsite sketching and painting. Bring your camera and your artist’s journal.

Humpback Breach - Photo Courtesy of Moresby Explorers

Humpback Breach – Photo Courtesy of Moresby Explorers

Day 3-6: After breakfast we will take a packed lunch and spend most of our time in the field visiting ancient Haida village sites, small islands, mossy forest floors, under-canopy rainforest, intertidal life, cascading streams, interesting beaches and view the snow-capped San Cristoval mountain range. While in the field and back at the lodge, Janice will give you individual attention to further your practice and reach your individual goals as an artist. In the evenings, we will discuss our work of the day as a group and grow from the collective experience.
Janice will also be conducting workshops and exercises both in the field and at the lodge. Some of these include: A discussion of the artistic process, use of the camera for studio work following your painting experience, and the challenges to the outdoor painter. We’ll work on a specific and helpful guided journaling exercise designed just for artists which will help to bring your practice and your eye to the next level. We’ll have some time to discuss the business of being an artist, grant-writing, presentation and artist statements too if you like. Group critique sessions.
On our last evening in the lodge, we’ll hold our own showing, celebrate our work, review our goals and discuss our next steps as artists back in your own home studios. An intense painting experience such as this will last you a lifetime, so having a plan to work into the future is a good thing!

Day 7: After breakfast we will pack up and head back to Sandspit in time to catch the afternoon flight back to Vancouver. If you have more time on your visit to Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) you may want to rent a car and visit Graham Island.

Skedans Pole - Gwaii Haanas National Park, 2012

Skedans Pole – Gwaii Haanas National Park, 2012

How you should dress:
Because we use open boats it can be very cold and sometimes wet. You should wear warm, layered clothing, preferably synthetic (like fleece) or wool, and if possible avoid cotton as it is very cold when wet. We suggest you bring all the warm clothing you have as you can always leave some in the van if your guide thinks you have to much. You should also bring a warm hat, sunglasses and gloves.

You should bring your own raingear, especially a jacket, but we also provide heavy raingear and gumboots for everyone.

Although we do have some covered storage on the boat, your painting gear should be in waterproof cases or bags and you are fully responsible for keeping it dry.

Gear List:
Please download this detailed Painting gear list.

We have very limited space on the boat, so all your non-painting gear should fit in a daypack.
-Warm clothing
-Warm hat
-Towel and/or facecloth
-Sandals or light shoes
-Water bottle
-Change of clothes
-Personal effects
-Binoculars (optional)
-Alcoholic beverages (to have with dinner, optional)
-Gratuities (If our staff exceeds your expectations, optional)

Booking Information

Maximum group size is 8 guests



Price with taxes and fees.



June 3 $2450 $2670.50 7 Days 6 nights, 5 full days of painting Only 8 spaces

25% deposit will hold your space. The balance is due upon the conclusion of your trip.

Click here now to book on Moresby Explorer’s website.

SPACE IS LIMITED and with only 8 spots, we are expecting it to book quickly!

Prolific? Perfection? :: What does that mean for artists?

Janice Tanton's studio with works in progress at The Banff Centre.

Studio with works in progress at The Banff Centre.

How Much and How Good?

From September 10th – October 26th, 2012, I was a BAIR (Banff Artist In Residence) at The Banff Centre. During that time, I had access to incredible facilities, perfect studio space and the valuable interaction with other artists from all over the world.

Detail - Sketch - Bag Harbour, Gwaii Haanas National Park, Haida Gwaii.

Detail – Sketch – Bag Harbour, Gwaii Haanas National Park, Haida Gwaii.

I was focussed on starting to work through my research Gwaii Haanas National Park & Haida Heritage Site Artist in Residence. Things don’t always go as smoothly as one would wish. Delayed by a week getting into the residency because of an encounter with a deer earlier in the summer, our vehicles weren’t available. It was frustrating to want to “get at it”.

Just a few days after moving into the studio in Banff, due to extenuating circumstances, the Artists In Gwaii Haanas exhibition was going to be moved to late February. Originally, it was to open November 9th. Needless to say, this also caused a bit of stress and mental panic, as my well-laid plans were to work on Haida Museum exhibition first, and then move along to polish works for the CAMP show at OAG in early January, 2013, also hoping to include some of the work for Haida Gwaii in the CAMP show. Ey yi yi……now, while it looked on the outside as easier with more time, in fact, I had less time and more pieces to create! I also had to cancel plans I was making to attend a Master Class with the incredible Bo Bartlett at the incomparable Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts that would land in the last quarter of the Banff residency. Dang it – well, I’ll catch up with Bo another time. Priorities! Yes, I was disappointed in myself and the circumstances, but there’s only so much that’s physically possible.

“Downed Tree” – Sketch Detail: Bag Harbour, Gwaii Haanas National Park, Haida Gwaii.

Mentally, I think that was the button that put me into high gear, but sideswiped “plans” for works I wanted to create. This has an upside in that with shorter time, I didn’t have as much time to THINK too much and let that get in the way of the painting. After all, what I had really hoped for was some incredible time to experiment and explore as a painter. In the end, that happened anyhow. I did the largest, most expressive piece I’ve ever painted, now powerfully throwing out it’s energy in our living/dining room, waiting the final work on the figure.

Throw in two studio tours in that short period of time, and you have either an experimental recipe for disaster, divorce, high creativity or all the above.

I’ll let you off the hook and say that it was the high creativity that ended up working for me. Thank goodness – Kevin and the kids really were great at supporting the long nights, early mornings, laundry and household chores, although there was a lot of Subway meals going on. The only disaster that happened was the earthquake over the weekend in Haida Gwaii. Yikes.

I was a bit oblivious to what I was doing, I have to admit. Shutting pretty much everyone and everything out, I think I just became a painting, sketching machine. I didn’t realize it until several people that I really respect as artists and critics, on different occasions remarked at how incredibly prolific I was.

I still don’t see it – I admit hoping for more. 

While not everything is fully finished, here is the “count” which doesn’t fully quantify the intrinsic value of the residency for me, but sure does point to some kind of weird prolific production tendencies and desires, given the time and space of only 33 days. I think it’s good to step back and analyze your ability to produce work in some form. Maybe I need to give myself a break! Taking ten days now to totally rest and visit family and friends in Ontario….if I can get in through Hurricane Sandy.



Production Graph for BAIR Residency, Fall, The Banff Centre with Janice Tanton Total Number of Actual Working Days In The Residency: 33

Sketches : 129

Square Feet of 22K Gold Applied : 20

Embellished Giclee Works: 18

Yards of Belgian Linen Used: 17

24×36 Oil Paintings on Canvas : 3

Days Occupied In Studio Tours: 3

40×72 Oil Paintings on Linen : 2

40×60 Oil Paintings on linen: 2

72×96 Oil Paintings on canvas: 1



Time and Space : Priceless!




What does “prolific” mean to you?


Related Posts:

How Do We Measure? – 10 Meaningful Ways and 10 Stupid Ways to Measure our work as artists.

Artist Kate Smith: How do you measure success as an artist?

“Masters of Chicken Scratch” Blog by artist Dwayne Vance – “Measure Your Success”


You Can’t Fool Mother Nature – Alberta & BC Must Rethink Western Pipeline After Haida Gwaii Earthquakes & Tsunami Warnings

"Origin - North Beach, Haida Gwaii" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Work In Progress. 40x72. Oil on linen.

“Origin – North Beach, Haida Gwaii” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Work In Progress. 40×72. Oil on linen.

“It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature”

Tonight, in a turn of events involving a different type of oil, as “crude” as margarine when first introduced to Mother Nature, it’s pretty clear that she’s spoken loudly regarding her opinion on a western sea shipment and pipeline of oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to Kitimat, BC and into the waters surrounding that powerful island of Haida Gwaii to markets in China and beyond. At 3:04:10 UTC, at 52.769°N / 131.927°W an earthquake of 7.7 hit Haida Gwaii, followed by 14 aftershocks and counting at 2:52 am.

Haida Gwaii sits at the juncture of three tectonic plates, with a total of 10 fault lines. A bit like Mother Nature’s weak and ticklish spot, if you will. In discussions tonight with friends from Haida Gwaii and across the planet, I believe someone said something like this;

“This is a seismologist’s wet dream. They’ll be years looking at the data from this.”

In short, this area is as unstable  as the San Andreas fault, with a powerful oblique thrust that will put some kick in your behind. In fact, in Terrace BC, near where the pipeline would run, friends there said that it was the biggest @#$)(* shakeup they had ever felt. Friends in Queen Charlotte City (Haida Gwaii) said it felt like running through a speeding train.

The first earthquake measuring 7.7 eminated from the heart of Gwaii Haanas National Park as you can see from this map. I was right there this past June – should be able to find a photo of it in the morning when I’m a little less adrenalin-charged.

Gorgeous, primal seas, ocean and forests teeming with life, energy and the fluid supernatural spirit….and tons and tons of garbage from the tsunami in Japan. I know it…I picked up a bunch when I was there, as 2012 Gwaii Haanas National Park & Haida Heritage Site Artist In Residence. My tsunami garbage cleanup including a half-full Japanese kerosene can floating in the Juan Perez Sound and a giant Japanese dock float cruising along the south end of Moresby Island near world famous Unesco World Heritage site and Haida Heritage site – Sgung Gwaii.

We’re kidding ourselves if we think that it’s just Enbridge that is spurring this western pipeline route. Think hard…the government of Alberta – nay….the government of Canada… needs to get it’s oil to markets, and those markets are big and powerful and carry a lot of pressure (China, USA) ….but none of them are as powerful as Mother Nature who affects all of us, all of the time.

"State of Interdependence - Alliford Crossing, Haida Gwaii" ©2012 Janice Tanton. 40x72. Oil on linen.

“State of Interdependence – Alliford Crossing, Haida Gwaii” ©2012 Janice Tanton. 40×72. Oil on linen. Work in progress.

Let’s take a wild trip and figure out what might have happened if an oil tanker was caught in the tsunami. No…let’s not. That’s easy to imagine and it’s way too close to Halloween to be drawing analogies of disaster, death and doom in 2012. The signs are everywhere. Open your eyes. Have a look at where dirty crude could land…and think about the land route from Alberta, across mountainous regions of BC in a steel pipeline.

Tsunami Propogation Chart - October 28, 2012. Earthquakes from Haida Gwaii.

Tsunami Propogation Chart – October 28, 2012. Earthquakes from Haida Gwaii.

What’s not easy to imagine is a solution to this issue. How do we think through logical, sensible, safe routes? How do we have sensible, authentic dialogues around solutions? How do we start thinking together with some form of honesty about this issue…together. I challenge Alberta and BC, and the government of Canada AND the rest of the planet to start thinking a bit more sensibly and listening to what is going on. Drop your thoughts about what party, corporation or not-for-profit that you’re aligned with, and spend that energy and time on solutions. I’m confident there’s a way….just not this one.

I’m signing off for the night – as folks in Hawaii evacuate their shorelines, I pray that the waters will calm. I pray that we’ll find a better way.

And I don’t ever want to have to say, “I told you so….but I did.”, said Mother Nature.



Related Articles:

Anatomy of an earthquake: what happened under the earth’s surface in Haida Gwaii
Haida Gwaii Residents Headed for the hills long before government posted warnings 

The Importance of NOT Being In Earnest – The Underpainting

Things are coming along well in my residency at The Banff Centre. With three  large paintings on the go at the moment, I’m well on the way to getting what I’d hoped for. The work you see below represents about four days of painting for me, also allowing drying time. This time period encompasses the original thumbnail sketching and all work to bring it to this point. Friends often remark that I’m very prolific, it doesn’t often seem nearly fast enough for me. There are more paintings in my head than I will ever be able to complete in my lifetime…and that does create a feeling of being in earnest. When I’m creating like this, it’s hard to sleep and maintain a regular family schedule – another source of anxiety!

Underpainting Detail - Stage One.

Underpainting Detail – Stage One. Terre verte allows for a luminous skin tone in the final layers. Setting the stage is crucial for success in this technique.

Getting an idea out of my heart and head is not always easy. Sometimes it comes together, and sometimes it doesn’t. I wanted to try a different approach to my work and underpaintings on this group, which are slated for exhibition from my Gwaii Haanas Artist In Residence experience. The colours on the underpainting are different from how I generally combine the subject and technique. I’ve taken an approach to combine the quick onsite plein-air experience with the more academic figurative approach. So far, it’s coming along, and I anticipate that it will provide the results that I’m looking for.

The underpainting can set the tone (literally) for the work, allow you to plan out in paint what you may have already done in the sketch, alter the scale, define the values and tighten the composition. I’ve never worked this large (40×60 and 40×72) with this particular underpainting approach. I’m very pleased with how it’s coming together.

Underpainting - 40x72 - Janice Tanton. Oil on linen

Stage 1 – Underpainting – 40×72 – Janice Tanton. Oil on linen

Working with terre verte, I’ve blocked in the underpainting for the figure within the landscape. Terre verte, raw umber or burnt umber are my preferred first value underpainting pigments.

Stage 1 - Underpainting - 40x72 - Janice Tanton. Oil on linen

Stage 2 – Underpainting – 40×72 – Janice Tanton. Oil on linen

In the second stage, I’m considering the seascape as quite a different situation than the figure, and have decided to work with a transparent red ochre as the underpainting colour. With regard to the temperature of the painting, I think of this as the “negative” phase in that as I work the painting, areas that are warm will ultimately be cool. That transparent red ochre will provide a beautiful visual foil to the cool greys and blues of the sea water and landscape yet to come. Conversely, the warm tones of the skin, underpainting with the ghostly terre verte always provide a rich and interesting flesh tone for me, when applied in a proven glazing technique.

"Mid Life Crisis" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel.

My onsite reference painting from Gwaii Haanas – “Mid Life Crisis” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel.

Have a look at the four images below. This piece is at the next stage. I am establishing the darks in the landscape. As the trees are very strong compositional elements, I want to have a good idea visually, of how they are going to affect the work. This section of the painting is based upon an plein-air piece that I did onsite in Gwaii Haanas in the area of Murcheson Lagoon.

Second Level Underpainting - Step 1

Second Level Underpainting – Step 1

(If anyone had told me 8 months ago that I’d be painting purple trees, I’d have thought them mad.) However – onsite, that’s exactly the colour that they appeared to be. Quite a magical place.

Second Level Underpainting - Step 2

Second Level Underpainting – Step 2

Here, I’ve started to block in the areas of the mossy ground. I’m looking for “what it’s doing”…how it flows and the motion that I remember seeing. Everything has life to it. Paint that life – paint what it is “doing” and your works will have a vibrance to them.

Second Level Underpainting - Step 3

Second Level Underpainting – Step 3

I want to show the earth as echoing the musculature of my model. It’s important to me in this painting, that we consider our relationship to the landscape so I’m working that feel in in on the middle ground area of the underpainting.

Second Level Underpainting - Step 4

Second Level Underpainting – Step 4

Here, I’ve gone a bit further with the detailing in the motion of the trees. There is a big tug upwards and downwards on many of these branches. When I was there, I recall a synergy of existance between the land, the sea and the earth. I’m looking to emulate that with the composition, and one of the ways to do that is with the web of branches. I’m conscious also that much of this branch work will be covered in dappled light and leaves in a later stage. Knowing what’s “under” it all is part of the planning and pouring of yourself into the work.

Underpaintings are like the bones on which to drape the muscles, organs and flesh of a painting. Considering what underpins the work, both in philosophy and physical structure is an important part of the process and ultimate feeling of the work.

…so much art to create….so little time….