With these 2 paintings making their journey to the Vancouver Mainland next week,
I've transitioned back to commissions for 4 icons, all Coast Salish in theme, which will take a few months.
After that, I will be returning to another canvas which I had drafted and base-coated a year and a half ago. I had a 12"x36'x1.5" canvas on hand and I wanted to do another one of this size. The closeup facet for this one is from the mid section of the Haida, Sidegate totem in Melbourne, Museums Victoria Collections. [ Item X 17074 Carving, Haida, Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Islands, North American North West Coast, British Columbia, Canada, 1901 ]
As the size doesn't allow for the extended eagle beak, I had to crop the image. "This totem has figures carved out of the wood: from the bottom, grisly bear, eagle, killer whale and frog."
The following, is information from the Museum's website:
*Important to note that this totem pole is now the focus of inquiries from the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay LLnaggay in Canada.
'It comes from Skidegate village in the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Canada. It was obtained in an exchange with the Field Museum in Chicago despite the report by their director, George Dorsey, that Baldwin Spencer had 'refused many offers of exchange [due to] the extreme rarity of Australian artefacts'. Objects from central Australia to the value of '100 pounds' were sent to Chicago in 1908 and the totem pole arrived in Melbourne in 1911. Charles Frederick Newcombe was the original collector of this and other totem poles at Skidegate village. He was commissioned by a number of museums in Canada, USA and UK to collect artefacts from along the British Columbia coast from the First Nations people of the Haida, Kwakiutl, Nootka and Salish, and Dorsey engaged him to collect for the then Field Columbian Museum from 1897. However it is most likely that the totem pole was collected between 1901 and 1905 along with the others from Skidgate village, which were distributed amongst museums across the world - namely to museums in Sydney (presumably to the Australian Museum), Cambridge, Kew Gardens, Liverpool and the British Museum in the United Kingdom, and Chicago, Brooklyn, Pennsylvania, the American Museum of Natural History and the University of California in the United States America. During the last one hundred years at this museum, the pole was cut into two sections in order to fit it into the store rooms, and only in 2000 were these two parts reunited when it was placed on display in the public galleries of the then newly opened Melbourne Museum. It remained there until last year and is now back in storage. The totem pole is now the focus of inquiries from the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay LLnaggay in Canada.'
So, moving forward again
November 3, 2020:
I was pleased to finally find a plaque online for the Everyone's Grandfather Totem, with the carver information which I had been searching for since 2014. I am happy to finally include it here:
November 3, 2020:
'Wolf Totem Pole: Everyone’s Grandfather’ was raised at the Fairbanks University of Alaska Museum in 1988. The pole honors the wolf clan and was named by George Dalton, Elder of the Kaag Waan Taan (Wolf) Clan. The 20-foot pole is made of western red cedar from Ketchikan and features the three figures of eagle, wolf, and bear. This particular totem pole honors the traditional teaching method of a master artist working alongside his apprentices.
* The reference photo of this painting was taken by Patrick Endres. But to date, I was told that carver had passed but I've been unable to get his name. Seems like accreditation for the Indigenous artists is very different in USA, and their names are very difficult to track.
Looking back at my previous paintings, I've gradually found a bit more information about the totem in Alaska, but I still Have questions, especially about the time frame of the pictures on the totem and the actual Wolf section. The first images that I found and which caught my interest, and which I initially mistook as a totem having been stained in black. My first 2 paintings were facets of the Wolf, focusing on half of the face and the eye: the first in 2015 and the next in 2017. In 2017 I came across another image of the Tlingit Wolf and recognized the features as being the same but it had vivid coloring. Had the totem been refurbished, or was this a photo from the totem's early life. But since, I found out that the totem was located next to a university parking area, and then assumed that the black I was seeing was in fact sooth from car emissions.
November 2, 2020: Tlingit Wolf completed.
I am pleased to say that that the Tlingit Wolf has been completed and varnished. My son will be taking some high res shots of it in the next few days, allowing me to post a jpeg here soon thereafter. For these two paintings, I will coughing up the money for professional scans to have in my archival file for future use. This is something I'd always wanted to do for my body of work in both the iconography and paintings, but given the time span of my career, it has always been a combination of the costs involved,and whether there were any available photographers that were set up for this type of work.
Here's an idea of the painting, taken with my iPhone... Not ideal but gives you are sense until I have the final image. I'll be adding more background information on the original totem and about the time span this particular photo within the totem;s life span, and why it is so different from the earlier paintings I did in 2014, 2015.
If you like the work and the series in general, this artist would dearly appreciate your help in sharing with others, so that they may also come to know it.
Oct. 13, 2010:
The Tlingit Wolf is underway once again. This stage is the development of the undertones.
For some background information on this totem, here is the link to the Journal entry for the painting done in 2017.
Oct. 11, 2020:
The Grizzly Bear Father has been completed and varnished. Now to get back to the Tlingit Wolf Detail. It was part of the Journey which I needed to return to after 6 years, needing to see where my technique had evolved to since. This Mortuary Pole Crest has always been a favorite for my son and I, and I will always cherish the days when I could visit it often.
Oct. 7, 2020;
Returning to the Grizzly Bear Father was more challenging, but not surprising. That was why I had decided to return to it as it was one of the first in the series, back in 2014. My technique had evolved greatly since, and even though this commission was based on that painting, I still remain faithful to the original Grizzly Bear Father Crest on the UBC MOA Mortuary Pole, carved by Bill Reid and Doug Canmer. It is nearing completion. The plan is to have it completed by week's end, and then get back to the Tlingit Wolf, the second of the commission (one of the more recent ones done in 2017), and one of the most complex.
Sept. 6, 2020:
It is enjoyable being back on these canvases. I'm not hurrying it as I get back into the method which I had created for the series. here are a before and after, the canvas as it was left in 2018 and, the progress in the beginning development of the undertones.
Reference pics of original Mortuary Pole, which I took in 2013, and again later in 2015:
Sept. 1, 2020:
With the Coast Salish St. Joseph icon completed, packed and ready for shipment, after a long wait since the Fall of 2018, the totem canvases are finally back up on their easels. They had been drafted and undertones added at that time, so they are really only in their beginning stages. More info to come once I've stared.
February 7, 2020:
The painting has been packed and on its way to its home in Conestoga, Ontario. Another journey of rediscovery, ever guided by the totem.
February 5, 2020:
Kwagiutl Ancestor Tattoo Totem Detail 2020
By Andre J. Prevost
Acrylic on exhibition canvas 24” x 36” x 1.5”
From a Kwagiutl House Post from Quatsino Sound, BC. ,UBC MOA
Carved by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Siwis (George Nelson) around 1906.
January 31, 2020:
It has been a long haul, between life and tackling a complex totem. But I am pleased to say that I will be completed this painting tomorrow and varnishing it at the end of the day.
My son is on standby for taking pictures of it on Sunday.
December 19, 2019:
The latest report on the Ancestor.
There have been a few delays along the way but there has been some progress in any case. I am using a different brand of paint seeing that the one which I had been using, has been discontinued. Along with changing a brand, comes the variations in how colours mix depending on the new paint formulas.
The other factor is the reality of aging, and how you just can't push like when you were younger. The recovery period from a long stretch of commission work and deadlines... the body was saying "Hold on. I need to rest!"
So with the commissioner happy with the progress to date, and Christmas upon us, I can focus on very simple Christmas for my son and I, doing the essential baking of a Tourtiere and a batch of soft gingerbread cookies.
I have a few other icon commissions in the works but my contact who does the specialty cutting for the panels, is recovering from surgery. So it'll be in the New Year when I can proceed with those. The challenge is always the home budget.
November 18, 2019:
Needless to say, I was very fortunate to have two major icon commissions come up as I completed the St. Juan Diego icon: a year's worth of work (and income to help on the home front). So the totems paintings which I had started, were stored in a large packing mirror box for later. *see picture under July 2018.
It is now November 2019, and I get to post another journal entry here given that the past year has been all about icon commissions (see those journal entries).
Having completed the 2 major commissions, and while waiting for funding on the next icon commission to be completed, I was commissioned to paint another KWAGIUTL ANCESTOR TOTEM from the Journeying series. But this one will have more of the image as it will be on a 24x36 canvas instead of 18x36.
It's off to a bit of a slower start as I get back on the bike after over a year. It gradually comes back as I go and rediscover the technique(s) that I had developed over a few years.
In addition to the Ancestor commission, I received word that someone had been inquiring whether I was still painting the Journeying series, being especially interested in the Tlingit Wolf painting. So I drafted another 24x36 canvas and began base coating the undertones for it.
It actually helps having two paintings going, as one informs the other as I move along
Following JD Stevenson Gallery's 2nd Anniversary celebration and reception last Saturday (July 21st), even though I am nearing completion of the St. Juan Diego icon, I first needed to select the next 2 close-up facets, that fit the canvases that I had: one 24"x36"x1.5" and one 12"x36"x1.5". As with all of the series, I leave to the images that call out the loudest. My son had mentioned how he liked the Grizzly Bear Father, which would suit the 24"x36", and there was a complex facet of a museum totem that had the strength for the smaller 12"x36". The drafting and initial blocking in of base under colours always take a few days. I've got them developed enough that I can return to the icon, expecting to complete it in the next day or so. (you can see the separate journal for the icon at
I will update this journal for the two paintings, including the background information for the original totems.