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Michael Dumas - 1st Place Winner - Light and Dark

Article ID: 54
Written by: Singular
Written on: Thu May 02, 2013 10:58 am
Article Description: Michael Dumas was selected as the 1st place winner of our Light and Dark competition
External link to this article:
http://www.asingularcreation.com/Forums/kb.php?a=54

We would like to congratulate the overall winner of the Light and Dark competition, Michael Dumas. Below are the images he submitted. To view them in detail, click an image below. Also, take a moment to learn a little bit about Michael by reading his bio below.

Image

Michael Dumas was born and raised in the small Canadian town of Whitney, situated on the border of Algonquin Park in northern Ontario, a wilderness area boasting almost three thousand miles of forest, lakes, and rivers. From childhood his art reflected the impact of his personal experiences, and close proximity to the bush and its inhabitants had a great influence on what he was compelled to portray. He worked for several years as a forest ranger in Algonquin, spending many months in the remote interior of the park. There is a heightened awareness that comes from experiencing isolation in an environment that is at once beautiful and inspiring, but can also be life threatening. He describes this broad spectrum of experience to be the stuff of inspiration and instrumental in building his personal view of the world around him.

In speaking about his working methods, Michael describes the importance of drawing to his art; My work is based primarily on drawing. This is something that I engaged in from a very early age, spending long hours filling page after page with observational sketches. A great many of these efforts are attempts to convey something of what I saw of living creatures, both wild and domestic. I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s place next door and letting myself into the chicken coop where I would spend hours drawing the hens and an aggressive rooster that I kept a wary eye on. As models, these birds were ideal for a beginner, as they often remained stationary or commonly repeated the same postures. Trying to do the same with wild things was a step up in difficulty, but some modest success here and there encouraged me enough to keep at it. In time, the sheer volume of my efforts created a sound platform upon which I would build a working practice that has become indispensable.

The briefest ‘short-hand’ style of sketching is used to create foundational sketches from life, or to quickly explore the possibilities of creating an interesting posture or composition. With more time and availability of good reference comes the means to create much more comprehensive studies and fully formed finished works. I still depend on life observations as a foundation for my drawings, but this is supplemented with museum specimens as well as my own photography. I have been fortunate in having been able to borrow specimens from a number of museums, or in the case of very rare species, to make notes while visiting the archives. In the latter situation I was also able to take photographs of the specimens as well.

The use of the camera to record reference can be very helpful, but I have never allowed it to become a primary influence. In fact I take great care to avoid reproducing the many specific effects that comes from the inherent optical mechanics of the camera. My first guide is always the way things appear through the naked eye. What finally makes its way into a drawing or painting is what I find compelling about the subject as it relates to the direct experiencing of it in real life. This includes the emotional or intellectual focus of what the experience means to me on a purely responsive level.

There is a heightened sense of things that comes with being immersed in concentrated real life observing. It effects both how the outside world is perceived as well as how one reacts to it. So when I choose to paint something, it is this state of awareness that I find myself remembering and focusing on to direct the progress of the work. Interestingly enough, to convey a convincing sense of realism requires a non-literal translation of the objects portrayed. This phenomenon is quite compatible with the act of endowing objects with meaning beyond themselves and which relates directly to the artist’s reaction to them. So, I find myself emphasizing and enhancing certain things, be it form, color, tone, detail, etc. that furthers my purpose for creating in the first place, and suppressing or eliminating things that don’t advance the thread of an idea that I am using to weave the completed piece.

Our visual experience is a combination of perceiving through both the eyes and the mind. We are creatures given to certain preferences over others. We pay attention and remember things that specifically interest us, and without conscious thought we edit out those things for which we care little. We are easily prone to exaggeration, to emphasizing things that we feel are important, while at the same time, blithely dismissing things that are every bit as real, as being of little importance. So, to create an extremely convincing painting requires of the artist a host of illusions, a deceit with the best of intentions. Furthermore, if this endeavor meets with success, the viewer will not see the means by which they have been deceived, unless of course they have been schooled to detect such things. Fortunately, this does nothing to reduce the visual effect and in many ways can even add to the appreciation of both the painting and the person who created it. It’s a wishful desire on the part of the painter that the latter should always be the case, but in the general course of things it must remain sufficient that the viewer simply believes what you are saying.

And just what would I have you believe? I am very much attracted to things that express the simple harmony of the everyday. In a shed behind Bellamy’s mill, two common house sparrows perch upon a pile of discarded flour sacks. Some areas of the cloth are ablaze in full sunlight, while others are only softly illuminated; the rest drop back into deep darkness. Oh, beautiful! There are many people who pass by but no one seems to notice. In the city of Arles, a gypsy man removes himself from the bustle of the city square and seeks a quiet spot. He trusts his little white dog to warn of intruders, and the dog watches me. I find myself In a quiet green garden located in a small rural French under the silent gaze of a marble maiden. She seems to be keeping a secret. A small bird forages nearby, unconcerned by my presence.

At home in my own garden, a young dove keeps close to his mother for security, but looks out with interest upon the wider world still so new to him. I know what that feels like. Today it rained and I’ve gathered some branches from the red currant bush that grows there, in order to place them into the painting with the two birds. I keep them wet, in response to the day outside my studio window. Some soil has been gathered too, and likewise kept damp, and I am reminded of my companion of many years, a wire-haired dachshund named Sassafras, who lies buried in this same garden. I experience a flow of emotion rise and fall as I paint, and find myself trusting that it will inevitably seep its way into my work. There is something precious and profound in the simplest act of being.

Michael lives in the Kawartha Lakes district of Ontario, Canada, with his wife Ellen, and seem to have been adopted by a feral cat and her five offspring. They have a daughter, Shae, who is also a talented painter. For more information on the artist and to see more of his work visit www.natureartists.com/dumasm.htm.
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