This work concerns the colors of the state of Maine where I reside part of the year. The climate of Maine is similar to southern Finland. The colors of Maine are the deep blue-green conifers covering the mountains, the clear ultramarine of the sky and the even darker ocean, the reds, oranges, and grays of the rocks, the almost day-glo green of the lichens on dark trees shining on a rainy night, and the transparent whitish gray of the fog. I have asked myself the question, if the temperature warms, no, when the temperature warms, how will this change? The vegetation will change, the forests in the far north of Maine will change from blue-green conifers to mixed forests, and the mixed forests in most of the state will become warm broadleaf forests. Forests in Maine will look more like New Jersey or Delaware, a yellow-green vs the blue green of our pines. Many of the lichens will not survive. The sea level will rise, and some of coastal Maine will be flooded. We will see migration of both plants and animals, including humans, northward as the climate shifts. It’s already starting to happen.
In my work, I use these plants to assist my human hand. The human-plant interaction in the work reflects human-plant interaction in the world. My background as a medical doctor led to my interest in the concept of plants as medicine for the mind and body. I print and paint in multiple layers on canvas or panels mixing these found plant materials, collage, and human-made marks. I am fascinated by the unique marks that can be made with these organic materials. The fact that small elements of plant matter are incorporated into my paintings adds to this fascination. I reflect on the changing colors of these plant materials as the climate warms. I try to reflect that in my work, relying on the work of scientist who create mathematical models of climate change to speculate how the colors in a place might change. My current work is a series of paintings that uses these models to show in the leaves themselves how the colors might change. The place chosen is Acadia National Park in Maine. The plan for the work is to translate this model of the leaf to other places under threat of change due to climate warming. How will the colors and vegetation change in these places as the temperature warms? In using plants in my paintings I hope to create a link between the human viewer and the plant.
Perhaps my use of plants in mark-making can help us gain a deeper understanding of our relationships to the natural world and our commonality of DNA in a world in which we are increasingly in opposition to nature.