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Aboriginal Art


Recently Added, August 23, 2012

Commission for client.

 Featured here, an Otter and Bass in the Woodland style. While the original was designed for the purpose of a tattoo, I deliberately change some of the tattoo designs to avoid the risk of piracy. A constant with my work, a lot of people like to nab the images [specifically tattoo parlors locally and overseas] without permission and little care to any of the cultural significance behind it. At least by changing the original, the client and barer of the image is still carrying the original and the significance.
Titled "Onigig sh-ashigan" [Ojibway].


Recently Added, June 5, 2011

Commission for client;
They wanted me to depict a family crest in the NWP style, all the while including the interior figures to a certain degree.
Featured here, Dog and Eagle.

It is to note that a common way some artist's depict the difference between a Dog and a Wolf will be with small, secondary features- such as the ears. I was taught by a local Squamish artist about that design variance. When I asked why his wolf seemed to have "backward ears", he clarified the former concept to me. I asked his permission to use the same concept, and he gave me that permission.


Recently Added, Feb 14, 2011

I was commissioned to design a NWP piece that featured a Seal. However, I was also given free levity to design the content as I saw fit.

If the piece I’m working on is personal to the client, then I like to know a little about them before starting the piece. Sometimes it helps to develop the content in a more personal and touching way for the client.
In this case, it was a personal experience that really pulled the concept together.
Looking close within the seal, you see a foreign body peaking slyly.


Recently Added, Feb 03, 2011

Last year I was commissioned to design an image in North West Pacific Formeline style based on someone’s dream.
After I was certain that not cultural taboo would be broken by designing the image, I was actually very interested to work on it; mainly because it’s main motif is something close to me personaly, and so I identify with it immediately.

I was taken by the description of all the crows harassing the mother figure for food, and the mother trying to chide her son into calming down.
I wanted to really have that element encompassed in the image; the Motherhood theme, the symbol of the Protector. But I also love the symbolic correlation to the birds, and that connection to nature. So I depicted a mother clearly relaxed and "smiling" with one hand up (the palm face forward is a sign of peace and welcome), second hand around her baby who is crying. This symbol is one of motherhood, and motherhood compassion and protection. A common motif in Aboriginal art.
Second, the ring of crows all around the mother- this visually helps that feeling of foreboding the child feels because of being encompassed by so many birds, but the relaxed figure of the mother puts the viewers mind at ease. Also, the birds are not foreboding, and their beaks- while open- not gaping wide... they are also seemingly making a pattern similar to rays of light off the Sun… and almost look like they too are protecting the mother, as opposed to serious threat.


Recent Update. Dec. 21st

Discussing what I was saying a day ago, one of the basic issues with North West Pacific Style of art, is being granted the permission to depict “out of the norm” images. As with the dragon, I had to ask special permission to depict the following:

After already straining my capacity to do mythic creatures [see previous post with the dragon], I even thought of myself bold and somewhat rude for going back and asking to cross one of those “final” lines- asking to draw an animal that was NOT local to this continent.
Instantly, I was refused. And I admit, I didn’t put up a fight because I walked in there already feeling as if I was asking for too much and just being “greedy”.
But luck [coincidence?] would have it, as all Native centers, locals, and organizations do- they were hosting Aboriginals from other parts of the world.

You see, it isn’t uncommon to find a Band hosting someone from another country- in the NCC (Native Canadian Center- where I work) we have hosted, Ainu, Sami, Maori, and even African Aboriginals of many varieties.
That day, the local organization was hosting a small presentation of Koori folk (I think there was a Nunga amongst them as well, not 100% sure) who had come with an art-presentation group. Like most cultures, creating performing groups to travel the world and present their culture on a world stage while raising awareness of their political plights in their home country.
I hung around for the performance [obviously] and lucky for me, one of my local friends was far more pushy and persuasive than I- and somehow began to inquire with the foreign troop if they would be interested in an “Exchange”.
This is one of those concepts in Native culture which I like the most- you see, “paying a price” does NOT refer to actually paying money. It usually means having to do something a lot greater than that, and when it comes to “exchanging” or “trading”- you might actually be trading a lot more than you bargained for.
My friend enticed the Koori men to want to see some of their homeland creatures drawn out in the local art style. They then asked what would need to be done in order for them to “obtain” that, and of course as most Native cultures usually do, immediately went to speak to the Elders. A “trade” was set up where the Koori men would trade some of their art [carvings] and songs in exchange for a few images drawn in NWP style. Like the NWP culture, the rights to carve or depict a certain figure will remain familial, or even personal depending on the situation. It was then set up that I would have to “trade” something in order to be one of the artisans to depict certain figures. I accepted, and was granted to choose one of the animals- I chose Kangaroo.

One of the reasons it took me SO long to post this was because I was completing the “price” for my side of the deal, and only finished them about a day or two ago. I would have waited for the post to deliver my part of the bargain before I did, but I was assured that I could after I had sent out the package, and not wait until it arrived.
Let’s pray that it WILL arrive safely, otherwise I’m going to look like a thief!


Recent Update. Dec. 20th

Hope everyone is having a great Holiday season!
Today I come bearing an interesting image:

As many people don’t' know, part of the North West Pacific tradition of art, is asking permission. A lot of non community members think it's ok to randomly throw together something that looks "in the style" simply because they can, and the style is "cool".
This is NOT the case. Aboriginal art is very deep rooted in the cultural traditions, and many of them have specific rules as to how one draws something, portrays something, or if they even have the right to.
I lived and worked within the community for 10+ years now, and if there is one thing I am STILL doing is asking permission. This NEVER stops.

When I was in Vancouver visiting some friends in the local Community, I had the pleasure of going down to one of my friend’s houses and attending a family gathering, that included a lot of members from their community.
During my attendance, I had figured that I would try and “obtain” some permission to do some artwork that breached out of the “norm”. After all, this would be a perfect time, as when the Elders and family gets-together, and they ask if anyone has something to get out in the open... now’s my chance.

Push comes to shove, I asked, discussed, reasoned, and gifted [paid the price] to get the rights to do some stuff. But there were 2 instances I REALLY had to discuss my POV and this picture is a result of one of them.

Most of the Elders were not pleased with the idea that European folklore would be depicted in this style. When I asked about some of the supernatural beings, they plainly refused. It was only after I brought up the fact that another NWP artist- who is half Irish in decent- already broke that barrier to design a “Dragon”, did some of the Elders shift their consideration. Turns out, it wasn’t that they were against me doing it; simply, they wanted me to fight for it.
That too, is a cultural mentality.


Recent Update. Dec. 3rd

The concept of transformation- and transforming into animals- is one you see regularly in the Oral Traditions or many Aboriginal cultures. Here, we see a human, transforming into a Wolf... the legs beginning to deform out of shape, and the last reminisce of the human body- the hand- is evident. The Hand is a symbol of Healing in Aboriginal cultures- Healing, Medicine, and Remembrance.
I wanted the hand evident to indicate that the transformation is a Healing one, and one of remembrance- back to a time we were inseparable form nature and from The Natural World.

In the image of the Shark, some of the shapes I used in the image were to induce the "water ripple" effect- multiple lines that look akin to waves and ripples. But I also mimicked and stylized some of the shapes to be reminiscent of the traditional fishing tools of the NWP aboriginals. It gives a very all-encompassing concept, what with the shark being a predator/fisherman of its own kind.


Recent Update. Nov. 26st

These next two pieces have very interesting approached to them respectivly.

The Husky seemed like an obvious depiction- similar by much to a Wolf, except for small variations that would make it unique; the colors would be the most notable, but also the small turn of the ears. While traditionally, you draw the ears with the "Feather tail" point facing back, I flipped it forward to relate a more familiar concept of "floppy ear" on a domestic dog. While not a trait of Huskies, it does help that subconscious relation to “Domestic” animal, as opposed to “Wild”.

The second is a depiction of a Buffalo. In Ojibwa "Bison" is called "Mishikode-bizhikeh". This is actually a compound of two words: "Fire" and "Cow".

The reason Bison are called this is because the plains on which they live are notorious for burning up- plain fires are common, and would make the Bison flee.
From here stemmed the term; whether it was because the Bison fleeing the fire would make them seem as if emerging from the fire, or perhaps the fact that they were also engulfed in the flames while running, or simply because the local Aboriginals were associating the local environment with the type of cow - it makes for an interesting term.


Recently Added; Sept 17, 2010

Recent Update. Nov. 21st

Back from the beautiful West Coast, and I can say that I am rejuvenated and inspired! So many wonderful little adventures, and now, I can start posting some of the artistic endeavors that came along from being in such an art-centric city like Vancouver and Victoria.

The series I am going to begin uploading from tonight contains the North West Pacific style of art, but coupled with a bit of a design challenge for myself. As opposed to working with line weight and thickness, I wanted to test my hand at using color and shape alone. While the concept was mono-chromatic only, some of the images may have more but not exceeding 3 colors.

Seen here, Blue Raven [Yaahl], and a Black Jackal.
While traditionally the animals depicted were local, I think I breached only slightly out of the norm to include some local animals that are not depicted in the style, and maybe a couple fantastic animals to boot.


Recently Added; Sept 17, 2010

Commission for Client.

I was thrilled to be able to do something a little different than I usually get commissioned for. Not enough people ask for the “non poplar” animals, which are actually the animals with dear reverence in Aboriginal societies- so I was excited to take on this project.

Featured here:
A Crested Toad does battle with an Armed Snake.
Each is juxtaposed to another- the Toad seizing the Snake from the back, all the while the Snake has the Toad by the foot.

I decided to use the mandela shape as the base for the image- simply because I wanted something that could symbolize the unity between two bodies at war- that is a paradox in itself. I also wanted to get that strained confining feel by trying to have everything “fit in the circle” that could also reflect the strain and the physical labor of a confrontation.

This has become a favorite piece in my neck of the woods. I’m considering to make a few more based on the same concept, as they are proving popular with the crowd here.


Recently Added; July 23, 2010

Included in this update are all the new images I have created since my last update to my old site, including the addition of a Theater Portfolio that I had submitted to an Aboriginal Theater company. That Portfolio includes some ethnic illustrations not found under any of my main categories. Very much worth the look!