Shortly after my recent move to the Hope Island community, west of La Conner, Washington, I found myself online searching for information on local artists. I wanted to find a painting for my new home to celebrate my retirement and return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I had lived in the 1980’s. When I found Gary Giovane’s website I knew I had hit the mark! After purchasing two of his works I also commissioned him to bring his Celtic fusion influences together for a painting I envisioned of seals frolicking in a kelp bed. Hence the resulting: “Hope Island Selkie Folk”. In Scottish mythology “selkies” are beings capable of changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin. I have been visited a few times by a seal, or seals, swimming just off the beach below my deck. I love nature and wildlife and all that it has to teach us. Being a Pisces I am also very fond of the water. I am hoping the addition of this beautiful, new painting to my home will entice these aquatic creatures and serve as an invitation for further visits. If a mysterious and handsome stranger, with webbed fingers, just happens to show up at my door – so much the better!
The design of the seals incorporates both Northwest Coast Native and Celtic design elements. We wanted to keep the primary formlines twilight blue and the secondary Archibald Knox-inspired entrelac designs black. Bull kelp stalks, with their flowing blades, form the background kelp forest and actually were inspired by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo's famous pre-Art Nouveau chair design. I made the frame out of red oak using pegged, hand-joined, mortise-and-tenon construction methods. I used the Japanese technique (shou-sugi-ban) of charring and oiling the oak to finish the frame.