I fight the River


I fight the river

this circle becomes




stretch out that line

suddenly it is:

3 - 4 - 5

then 0; the mirror.


Dots and streaks become

the horizon where

pink is the one miracle

until the pale green

smashes pure cobalt.


the wind challenges my eye

it runs at it

then veers away

to sharpen

the water a steel blue

suddenly the warmest gold

at my toes tickle

the entire world  green -

it all turns infectious

but just for a moment

until I decide on a cloud

right in the centre

easy there

something to anchor

the scene until

it all explodes.


Why I paint the River


I started to focus on the  Ottawa River because of the rich violets and rust colours that underlay the reflection of the sky.   I paint from a limited number of locations.  I do this because I do not want to focus on landscape features beyond the surface of the river. I believe that reference to the shoreline takes away from the unique stamp of the water. The turbulence and pattern of water flow emphasize the abstract pattern of the paintings. 


Many residents assume that the rust colour of the Ottawa river is pollution. It has a deep brown purple colour due to Tannins that enter the river through wetlands. 


I recently read a statement from the Canadian painter Mary Pratt about water. She says that water does, by it own reality, run free, lying like a skin over most of the planet. The river carries rainwater back to the ocean. In doing so, it carves and reshapes the land.


The Algonguins lived for thousands of years along the Ottawa River. Here are a couple of statements they made about the transformative quality of the Ottawa river:


Muxumsa Wunchènewànk, our Grandfather in the West. He was placed there to control the power of water. He brought a watery and softening influence to the Creator's vision. He gives us autumn, gives us death, and readies us for renewal, and gave us the waters, our life's blood, healing, intuition, emotions, dreams and visions, and rain.


Muxumsa Wapànewànk, our Grandfather of the East. He was placed there to control the power of the wind. He gave forth breath and mind to the Creator's vision. He gives us springtime, the breath of life, birth and new beginnings, and brings forth the light, the winds, our minds, creativity, knowledge, music and songs...