REALM OF THE WHALES ACRYLICS ON CEDAR W/RED OAK FRAME WINTER/SPRING 2021
One of the exciting memories of living down at Ozette over the winter of 1975-76 was watching the gray whales swimming northward during their spring migration. They were clearly visible from the beach and showed why the village was once so important in regards to the hunt. Since then, we had many opportunities to observe gray whales, often seeing them from our house on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Seeing and hearing a whale “blow” was always a great joy. The Makah word for gray whale (sih-xwah•wiX) translates as “itchy face” and describes their habit of scratching themselves on the rocky shingle. Their itchiness is due to the many parasitic barnacles growing on their skin. Their barnacle patterns act like fingerprints to identify individuals. These memories and bits of information led me to paint a group of three gray whales. This painting demonstrates my cultural fusion of Native Northwest Coast, Celtic, and Japanese art styles. The framework for the whales is based on NWC formline structures, the black entrelac secondary elements are based on Celtic designs, while the overall composition is based on Japanese aesthetics. The entrelac represents those unique barnacle patterns that set the whales apart. I made the frame for this painting 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.