The Story

Vargas Morning

Location: Vargas Island

vargas-morning

Nestled behind the calm waters of Tofino Harbour, and the misty peak of Lone Cone Mountain, Vargas Island is the perfect escape to solitude. A friend of mine moved here some years ago to fulfill a dream of living off the land and off the grid. Moving into an abandoned cedar cabin with a resident cat, he began to transform this hidden place into a home again. Fighting back the ever-encroaching rainforest, he created gardens, trails and cut many cords of firewood to last through the winter. A cedar sauna was fixed up and cedar shakes were split to repair the cabin and workshop. On crisp winter days we foraged for mussels and clams in the bays at low tide and spent hours stoking the sauna and cooling off in the ocean. No other home I’ve stayed in has felt so peaceful and connected with its environment. My friend now makes beautiful cedar driftwood furniture and has a thriving garden in summer months to share with the community. This painting is of a giant red cedar tree growing next to the cabin. It is early morning, and smoke from the fireplace lingers in the first beams of sunlight that cut through the canopy. This ancient tree, standing tall after hundreds of years of winter storms represents the strength, determination and ancient wisdom we all need when living in the wild.

 


 

Secret Spot

Location: Longbeach, Tofino

secret-spot-full

 

West coast winter…a time when the elements reclaim the land and the locals come out to play. Days turn from blues to greys as rain sets in for weeks. I once asked my friend in Ucluelet how many days it had been raining and she told me three months. Frozen wetsuits in the morning, howling icy winds, numb bodies, it’s all a small price to pay for the energy and beauty that this season brings. Icy snowy peaks dot the jagged coastline and the flow of tourists dries up for another year. The coast comes alive and local people connect out of survival and love. Days get darker, nights get longer and some don’t make it, dreams of warmer waves drag them away. But for those who stay a family is born, and the ocean delivers. This painting is of a cold January day at Longbeach, near Incinerator rock. The storm had just passed and the swell was one of the best I’d seen that year. Beaches steamed as the sun warmed the hard sand and waves finished their long journeys. I really wanted to show the common bond that people share in the places they love. I named it “Secret Spot” as a joke because almost everyone who has been to this part of the west coast can pick this spot out.

 


Nuchatlitz Sunset

Location: Nuchatlitz Islands Marine Park

nuchatlitz-sunset

The Nuchatlitz… known for its hidden bays teeming with wildlife, mind-blowing sunsets and sacred burial sites, is a sea kayakers dreamland. This isolated group of islands is a provincial marine park and home to one of the largest populations of sea otters on the west coast. In the summer months hundreds of otters come together to forage in these calm waters, forming massive floating rafts. Hidden from civilization, this unique corner of the coast is only a half day paddle down winding inlets from the small forestry town of Zeballos. It is a place that is very sacred to the Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous populations whose ancestors are buried in a number of caves on outlying islands. Whales, porpoises, and sea lions play in the protected coves and channels. Vivid sunsets melt into starry nights and glowing phosphorescence covers the shores. The Nuchatlitz was one of the first places where I travelled upon returning to Canada after backpacking overseas for two years, and it has since inspired me like no other place. This painting is of one particular sunset, which lasted for well over an hour. I sat on the rocky shore of an island with a few bald eagles and watched one of the most incredible displays of colour I have ever witnessed. Beds of kelp shone black over a painted ocean that mirrored the heavens.

 


 

 Sombrio Sunset

Location: Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

sombrio-sunset

Sombrio beach, the epitome of the west coast lifestyle on Vancouver Island, where towering Sitka Spruce shrouded in mist meet glassy winter swells that pulse across the Salish Sea. A few chimney foundations are the only remnants left from the thriving pioneer community that called this river mouth home. Chickens, goats, free spirits, and wave-riders moved in midway through the last century and created a lifestyle all of their own. Numerous waterfalls and river mouths pour out from this beach, shaping the breaks as the river and tides flow. These sets, pouring in from across the Pacific, are the most consistent during the winter months. They meet the rocky points and ledges along this southern coastline and release. Eagles fly overhead, grey whales feed in the bays, and bears comb the beaches. Campfires dot the shores, and smoke twists and climbs to meet mists that coat the rainforests. A land always damp, vibrant and fresh, with sunrises and sunsets that turn to tapestries of fiery colours as each day begins and ends. Whether you are a hiker, kayaker, or surfer, the Juan de Fuca Park Trail that weaves its way from China Beach to Port Renfrew is a truly beautiful and unique place. This painting is of the view looking out over the Sombrio River mouth from the suspension bridge on the trail. The surf that day was perfect and the sun had just set making for a mesmerizing backdrop as greens turned to silhouettes.


 

R.I.P. China Beach Surf Shack

Location: China Beach, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park

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Named after the creek that pours into the secluded bay, China beach is where the west coast truly begins. Giant Red Cedar and Sitka Spruce tower over head and trap the incoming mists from the Juan de Fuca Strait. Hidden waterfalls plunge through canyons of sandstone and glacial till, carving their way to the shore. On most weekends, you’ll find campers huddle up around camp fires and surfers paddling out to the points surrounding the creek mouth. When the swell is big and the ocean glassy this place can turn on and deliver perfect rides peeling through the chocolatey waters. Living in Victoria a decade ago, friends and I began construction of a driftwood cabin. Nestled behind a berm, tucked amongst the salal, it was perfectly hidden and protected from storms. Hundreds of surfers and hikers enjoyed the cabin over the years until parks staff ripped it down to reduce beach camping. Great memories in an ever-changing world.


Creatures of the Sun

Location: North Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino

creatures-of-the-sun-full

One of the most iconic surf locations on the peninsula, North Chesterman’s Beach is the first stop for Tofitians when the fall swells arrive. During the swell season sand reforms and creates banks along the sea bed. These bars create peaks and break up the incoming sets causing the powerful waves to peel and barrel left and right. On the right day, you’ll see surfers tucking into some glassy gems, with a nice light offshore feathering the spray. What makes this spot a truly unique and mesmerizing dream is the long spit of land that reaches out to Frank Island. At low tide in the summer, friends and I walk out and fish along the rocky shores. The once treacherous seas dissolve into tranquil pools, and we dive for crabs and spear lingcod and rockfish. An abandoned eagle nest rests overheard, grey whales weave through the islands and sea lions assert their dominance in the lineup. I don’t usually use other people photos for inspiration but this painting was an exception. I had the pleasure of meeting Marcus Paladino when I first started spending more time in Tofino 5 years ago. Since the days of being a grom and living in staff accommodation at Cox bay, he’s grown into one of Tofino’s most recognized surf photographers. I just love the way he sees the world and documents this unique culture through his films (Kooks) and photography published in numerous west coast outdoors magazines. I wanted this canvas to be a tribute to all the work he’s done, in and out of the water, through sunsets and storms, since he’s been a part of this community.  During the painting process I listened to the “Morning of the Earth” soundtrack on repeat for days to keep the stoke going and had to drive to Chesterman’s once and surf it to get a better perspective. It embodies everything my art company stands for, so self-titling this one was an easy choice. If you look really closely you can see the creators hand reaching around and embracing the wave riders as they head on home.


 

Barefoot Dreams

Location: Cape Palmerston, North-West Vancouver Island

Barefoot Dreams

One of the best parts of being an artist is making other people’s dreams a reality. This commission was dreamed up by a local mother who worked as a Forest Tech along Northern Vancouver Island. Her family spent many years exploring the North-West coast around Cape Palmerston. The abandoned cabin where they stayed was built by a local resident, and still stands tall after years of winter storms. Worn and bleached, by salt and sun, its wood mirrors the coastal skies and mists. Each window, a frame for the rugged shores and a beacon of comfort to the passing hikers. It’s in exploring these hidden gems that we can re-connect and feel a part of something greater. A place where imaginations run wild, and we beach-comb, forage and build driftwood shacks with a lust we thought was forgotten.


 

Release

Location: Great Central Lake, Port Alberni

Release

One of the things I love the most about living in the North West is that our environment is constantly changing. It forces us to be adaptable, and to embrace the energy swirling around us that is constantly shifting. In Tofino, we experience all four seasons most days, as fronts build, release, and dissipate. We sway with the energy, and get transformed with each new moment This change strengthens our characters, and allows us to really cherish the times of warmth and peace in the summer months. The cold and rain grounds our souls through the winter, as we focus on survival in hostile conditions. This energy and freshness life has is the thing I miss the most when travelling to tropical shores, and it’s what always pulls me home. Like the seasons our beings evolve through cycles, not a linear path like our mind have us believe. I was going through a really difficult time of change during the painting of this canvas, and I wanted it to symbolize the letting go of all the layers and masks humanity is trapped behind. As the trees shake off the past, so can we, moving forward and soaring high through all life’s struggles. “Release” was created for close family friend who wanted a bug’s eye view of the canopy, a perspective our society needs more of. It’s based off a grove of broad leaf maples next to Great Central Lake, near Port Alberni. These trees are protected from logging and are being sustainable tapped for maple syrup production by the Hupacasaph First Nations.


 

Grounded

Location: Cumberland Forest, Comox Valley

grounded

There are times in our life when we become ungrounded and feel lost in an endless sea of thoughts and fears. As we get older we tend to lose that connection we once had as children and the magic of the universe fades. For me I woke up one morning unstuck from the world and realized I was not my job, not my name, not my past, not my house, not my mind, not my body, I actually wasn’t sure what I really was and this scared the hell out of me. This grounding is essential for humanity because it connects us with our mother and it allows that life energy to flow through us with each breath. There is no better cure when feeling stressed than going for a walk, a bike ride or a snowboard through the ancient forests of Vancouver Island. Everything is one and when we separate ourselves from it we suffer. I painted this canvas when living in the Comox Valley and the Cumberland Forest was my backyard. The beautiful streams, the waterfalls, the incredible bike trails make this place truly unique and worth fighting for. This work represents staying grounded through life’s challenges, letting go and flowing with the energy of the forest. I donated 10% of my winter vending profits to the Cumberland Forest Society in 2016. The town is buying back the unseeded land that was unrightfully taken by the railroad and turned into private logging property years ago. If you would like to help save our forest you can donate money to http://www.cumberlandforest.com


 

Beachwood Sparks

Location: Based off a photo from the Nuchatlitz Islands

beachwood-sparks

Music and Surfing have played a center role in my life from the time I left home and started travelling the world. The free expression of surfing through water, mirrors the melodies of evening campfires jams on wild remote coastlines. It’s a medicine and rare expression that comes straight from our souls. Just at no two waves are alike, no two songs are alike either. Practice, hard work and determination allows the creativity of the universe to flow through us as we glide effortlessly through life swells and strings. Each wave caught or song played guides us back to the moment, a unique oneness that transcend time and space. This canvas embodies my own nirvana, a place of endless waves, sweet cedar smoke, and endless stoke. A dream cooked by campfire light, sprinkled with stars on the darkest of nights. You can follow my music project “Dream Fish” on Facebook and Soundcloud, album release coming this fall!


 

Sunset Surf

Location: Based off a photo from Montanita, Ecuador

Sunset Surf

I’ve always seen surfing as the greatest metaphor for life. It teaches hard work, determination, practice, patience, and most importantly an ability to connect with the cycles, rythms and energy of mother earth. In doing this we find our higher selves, cleanse and wash away what isn’t serving us. In the ocean, we must learn to be the observer, and flow with it in an effortless dance, never trying to control or fight it. This sea of nothingness where it all began, has been my home, my temple, my classroom and my medicine since birth. It’s an ever-changing world, stormy and calm, playful and dangerous, cold and warm, dark and inviting. Surfing is much more than a sport and that’s what makes it so difficult yet so rewarding. Humanity finds itself paddling out through set after set, getting pounded and sucked under over and over, because those few seconds of freedom, balance, joy and mindfulness transcends our domesticated personas. Each new swell offers the opportunity of remembrance, as we flow once again with the life force of Tao. Looking deep inside ourselves we are 70% ocean which creates a blank canvas for this positive life energy to stick to. This painting embodies the deep of love of these two oceans coming together at dusk, when the physical melts into the formless and the heart of the universe sets behind a soul released.


Peace in the Present

Location: Based of a beach in Victoria B.C.

Each one of us is born with a beautifully wrapped gift called the present. As children, we are one with each moment, and we fully open ourselves to the world around us. There’s no judging, dreaming, comparing or wanting because we are connected with the whole universe and fully complete. Then, as we grow older we create separate personas that are based solely off our past experiences and future desires. We forget why we came here and what mother earth needs from us. Without knowing why, I would always turn to nature when I was feeling unbalanced as a child. This would be my meditation and these escapes to solitude would reset my whole being. Whether its walking down empty coastlines, hiking through forests or kayaking through glassy waters, Vancouver Island is truly the perfect temple. This painting was a commission for a Victoria couple, and embodies that peaceful return to serenity. A timeless space, an infinite place, an endless breath, to remember our place.


China Beach Cedar

Location: China Beach, Southern Vancouver Island

I’ve spent five years on and off living around Victoria. It blows me away every time I drive out to the west coast that I can be in a city of a quarter million people, and then an hour later, be surfing a break in the rainforest alone. Some weeks I’d spend four days straight driving out to surf at China Beach and Sombrio. I’d drive through rain and snow all winter, sometimes parking my car on the highway and walking thirty minutes through a foot of snow to surf perfect uncrowded waves. China Beach has always been close to my heart because its where the true west coast begins. Shrouded in thick mists and campfire smoke, it instantly takes you from the city to another world. Giant old growth red cedars explode upwards, and a hidden waterfall at the end of the beach trickles downward with its calming flow. Surfers ride lefts, rights and heavy beach breaks, as swells stretch around the island and up the Juan De Fuca Strait. Like a trapdoor in the forest floor, it’s always offered me a quick escape from the challenges of the city, university and society. A place that always leaves you more balanced and refreshed, a stepping stone to roam, an Om away from home.


South Chesterman’s Sunset

Location: South Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino

This painting was the first canvas I painted when I got back from a long two-year adventure around Australia and Indonesia when I was twenty-seven. It was the spark that lit up a new path as a west coast artist. I was at a big cross road in life after being away for so long. I came home to a home that didn’t feel like home anymore. So, I began filling myself with the energy of the ocean, forest and mountains. I had fresh eyes and a strong urge to reconnect with a place that I had taken for granted. The west coast is a great healer, and soon I found it flowing through my brush and my guitar once again. I’d spend day after day, driving to China Beach and Sombrio River to surf, hike and camp. I got a job tree planting that spring in Port Alberni and I started spending all my days off hitchhiking to Tofino. I found a community of like-minded souls and finally felt like I wasn’t alone in the world. Artists, yoga instructors, musicians, surfers, photographers, and gypsies, all living a dream at the end of the road. It quickly turned into the best winter of my life and it fuelled my creativity like no other place on earth. Six years later, after the end of another cycle, I found myself back in Tofino pursuing art fulltime. One of the best feelings that comes with travelling the world is knowing what we have to come home to and being so grateful for this coastline. I normally paint from my own photographs but this photo caught my eye in the newspaper when I got home. It was from an article showcasing Tofino, and I’m grateful for the inspiration and path it has led me down since I returned.

Broken Sunset

Location: Deer Islands, Bamfield

Back in my university days I studied West Coast Archaeology through the University of Victoria. I was fortunate enough to work on a field school digging up a Huu-ay-aht Village on Diana Island in the Deer Group. We spent a few months immersing ourselves in the landscape and culture, trying to dream up what it must have been like living as a hunter gatherer hundreds of years ago. In my eyes, it must have been Valhalla.. Bountiful harvests, stories, music, dance, artwork and a deep connection to the spirit world and mother. As I uncovered an old whaling harpoon head made of bone and mussel shell from the dirt, I’d imagine the strength and courage it took to take down a whale in a dugout canoe. As I dug up a thick layer of sand laid down from a past Tsunami, I’d imagine the vigour and bravery it took to survive and rebuild a whole village. The power of their communities is rooted in a deeper understanding of the cycles, rhythms and sacred laws of this planet. It has allowed them to thrive in challenging environments for millennia. By listening to the earth, animals, oceans, and stars they are constantly guided, and in return know how to heal the planet. With all their needs met, they had the time to celebrate the great mystery of existence, and journey deeper into the themselves and the universe. As I sat in my hammock by the campfire on Diana Island that summer, I looked out over the Broken Islands with Ucluelet on the misty horizon. The air was perfectly still and I soaked in one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a great reminder that even when conditions aren’t perfect, the suns always there, setting just like it did for that village, burning bright for hundreds, thousands, millions of years. It’s those moments that pull us underneath it all, to a timeless place, to the light that never fades.

 

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