Born Sydney, Cape Breton Island,
Nov.15, 1955, I have been actively painting full-time since 1985.
Through the initial influence of my parents, I learned from an
early age to appreciate and embrace the cultural mosaic of the
larger world outside my immediate focus. Largely self-taught and
untrained as an artist, yet fueled by a variety of interests and
a vivid imagination, I have been intrigued with the art making
process since childhood. I was fortunate to have parental encouragement
and art lessons from a wonderful lady, Jean Jock, who allowed
me to explore within myself rather than attempting to fill my
young head with too much theory. This helped to instill in me
an appreciation for the power and significance of emotional substance
in the artistic process. "Substance before theory" has
since been my guiding light, whether creating a work of my own
or viewing that of others. Thus, I seek the natural aesthetic
in harmony with the artists personal raw vision.
That's me on the
right in the photo above with my good friend, Sidney Howard (d.1992),
famous woodcarver from Albert Bridge, Cape Breton Island. At the
time of this photo we were relaxing after a long day attending
one of Chris Huntington's outdoor auctions at his Lower Kingsburg,
Nova Scotia salt water farm. As an auction highlight, Chris had
arranged a special tribute to Sidney in honour of his birthday.
I have many fond memories of Sid and miss him terribly. The world
is so much smaller without his shining and ever vibrant presence.
Like a good many other
Cape Bretoners, I have had an on and off relationship with the
island of my birth. This ritual of "coming and going"
seems to be an inherent behaviour of island people in general.
Thus far, I have left the island and returned five times - initially
as a youth of 13 with my parents and brothers in the wake of the
economic blow to the island known as Black Friday - the closure
of the local steel plant. To mark this significant turning point
in Cape Breton history my parents struck a "Black Friday"
medal, now highly collectible.
Two years later we
returned to the island and settled in the tiny village of Baddeck
on the shores of the Bras d'or Lakes. My parents have since made
Baddeck their home, and my older brother has built a highly successful
business and raised his beautiful family here, without cause or
desire for leaving. My younger brother and I found it necessary
to leave and as a result have ventured into many divergent areas
of interest, both out of neccesity and intrigue.
Other than the obvious
economic necessity, my personal reasons for leaving the island
are complex, varied and seemingly irrational. Suffice to say that
I embarked on a journey of wanderlust and self-exploration - my
reasons for returning being equally as complex and seemingly irrational
as those for the act of leaving.