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‘About Jeff’ – and Much More! ‘Within The Darkened Forest…The Finale!
by Sherry / December 21, 2022 / WILDLIFE, Protecting Our Local Treasures: Giving A Helping Hand

The Special Moment has at last arrived… The whole story of Mount Nemo’s ‘Jeff’ is now available for all to discover. It is my hope that everyone will take the time to read through the entirety of this important Message of Promise…

It’s official. I have finally reached the finish line! Since my initial concept of this project a full year ago and subsequently, its actual commencement in March of this year, my latest ‘Darkness’ painting is ready to be revealed. While its timeline drastically changed from my original intent due to a variety of situations beyond my control, I truly believe that everything has a time and place. And the time is NOW!

To that, I am pleased to announce that ‘Within The Darkened Forest’ has come to fruition. Thus, it is with great enthusiasm that I bring this special art project to the public.

A Little History On The Story Of ‘Jeff’

My original vision for ‘Within…’ was based on a very simplistic painting to include a few mossy and barren boulders; a handful of forest trees and ‘Jeff’, the endangered Jefferson Salamander. The design would represent the beautiful yet vulnerable Mount Nemo escarpment and be painted in a simple, concise fashion with somewhat embellished features.

Original Pencil Sketch/Study

However, as time passed and I continued to develop this piece, it became clear that it was morphing from the original closeup version to eventually encompass a vast number of additional elements. Its size and message became ‘large’.

Thus, while it ‘grew’ and as homage to this precious area, I made the decision to take the time to incorporate a variety of features known to this region including an escarpment forest; boulders; escarpment rockface; ancient cedars; butternut trees – and of course, the Jefferson Salamander – the original subject of the painting. Below are several of the phases.

Further, in maintaining the theme of my Endangered Species ~ The Darkness Series, which is designed to demonstrate the fragility that exists within our vulnerable flora and fauna, it was my intent that, those viewing ‘Within…’ would discover the various elements transitioning away from the light on the right and moving into the darkness on the left.

The ‘backdrop’ for the subject has been painted with deliberate boldness, portraying somewhat exaggerated and edgy realism through the use of rich, deep colours; strong, purposeful brushstrokes and boldly definitive lines. Where a calm serenity exists under bright skies – the solid escarpment, forest and mossy boulders hold hope. Sadly, that peaceful scene is gradually replaced with chaos and uncertainty. Purposefully, this piece has been created with thought-provoking intent.

Simply… The Jefferson clings to the rugged boulders. His damp lustre is no longer. A dullness replaces his normal sheen. He stares fixedly, questioning those who seek to watch him. With a glance into the depths of the boulders, one might catch another shadowy figure receding further into the darkness while desperately attempting to climb back from the abyss. Left unprotected, there could be an ominous ending should the trajectory not change. But one must hold onto hope.

Artist Statement In Relation To The Painting…

I spent my childhood and adolescent years in the rural part of Campbellville, Ontario, which is not far from the Mount Nemo area. Our home was nestled within our fifteen-acre parcel of wooded land that housed a tributary through the middle of the forest creating a perfect wetland. As a youngster, travelling via school bus, I became familiar with areas of Mount Nemo, Brookville, Moffatt, Lowville and other small hamlets through to Milton. My family resided there during a time when peaceful co-existence with Nature and humans was the norm. That was well before any expansion took place throughout the region.

Over the years, I have enjoyed creating paintings of the Wildbirds that thrived in our unspoiled forest. However, in recent years, as I watch the destruction of natural areas and its affect on the creatures within, my focus with art has gravitated toward bringing awareness to the plight of our wild spaces and species. I have chosen to create this series in such a fashion that the beauty of Nature’s magnificence can shine through while still reflecting the gravity of the situation.

To that, I am both humbled and honoured to have received a personal letter from Dr. David Suzuki. A UNESCO prize winner for science and world-renowned Canadian environmental activist, Dr. Suzuki is best known as the decades long host of CBC TVs The Nature Of Things. Widely recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology, his kind acknowledgement of my art and efforts encourages me to continue to fight the good fight. I am grateful that he also thanked me for ‘being part of a movement to find a different relationship with Nature…’ This is a commitment that I will continue.

For that reason, my art has now become my voice. But most importantly – their voice. And so, I have devoted my ‘Darkness’ series to our species and spaces at risk. But also, to the organizations that work tirelessly to save our fragile, wild flora and fauna. Thus, I have chosen to donate a percentage of net proceeds of all ‘Darkness’ products to my chosen organizations so they can continue their tireless work for the betterment of our precious Nature.

Finally, with an emotional connection to the areas of my youth, I was compelled to explore organizations whose mandate centres around the protection and preservation of many of our beautiful regions. I felt it only fitting to become involved with helping those attempting to protect the precious areas of my early life. Consequently, I discovered PERL and subsequently, CORE Burlington. It became clear to me that I would support these worthy organizations.

And so, arrives…

‘Within The Darkened Forest’

The small, shadowy creature clings precariously to the craggy boulder, resting cautiously, ever wary of the constant danger that threatens his home in the ancient forest. Fragile, vulnerable, his damp lustre no longer. Almost ghostly in the darkness, he moves toward others in the distance but pauses for the briefest moment to look back at those watching as if to plead – Why?

Powerful. Engaging. Haunting. And designed to draw attention this vulnerable Species At Risk and the place he calls home.

Species Information:

The Jefferson salamander lives in deciduous forests. Its range extends across parts of the northeastern U.S. In Canada, it is found only in southern Ontario, mainly along the Niagara Escarpment. This species requires intact deciduous forests with an undisturbed forest floor. These salamanders also need unpolluted breeding ponds that do not dry up in the summer. Habitat loss and degradation caused by urban development, draining of wetlands, climate change and some resource extraction activities are the cause of decline in salamander numbers in southern Ontario. Sadly, the Jefferson is classified as Endangered in Ontario. – This, we must change.

Endangered Species SPECIAL DONATION

My Message of Promise ~

Painting For The Cause … Protecting Mount Nemo & The Jefferson Salamander

My ‘Darkness’ series is designed to assist my chosen wildlife organizations and ‘Within The Darkened Forest’ is part of this special program. I am pleased to work with two very important organizations that are fighting to protect the Mount Nemo area, the beautiful Burlington Niagara Escarpment, its treasured inhabitants and the crucial farmlands of the region.

In a quest to help Ontario’s Endangered Species, one hundred percent* of the net proceeds of my original painting ‘Within The Darkened Forest’ will be donated (*in a pre-set shared fashion) to CORE Burlington and PERL Organizations for their ongoing effort in the preservation of natural areas and the Jefferson Salamander in the Mount Nemo area.

Additionally, a portion of the net proceeds of limited edition signed and numbered prints as well as other reproduction prints; greeting cards and other products that may be produced, will be donated to these two important organizations in a similar fashion. I look forward to providing further updates on items from this series. I hope that everyone will consider supporting our vulnerable wildlife and I would be honoured should some consider doing so through the purchase of my dedicated art.

There is so much uncertainty with our species at risk. Because of this, I feel it is important to speak my truth. That is…

To know the reason behind all of my ‘Darkness’ paintings is to understand their meaning. To understand their meaning is to know that action must be taken swiftly and without question or hesitation. To take action shows the depth of compassion for our wild species and spaces. Simply put, our precious flora and fauna deserve no less than our greatest attention. I hope that everyone will join me in a quest to save our beautiful wild Ontario and all of wild Canada.

Nature calls out to us for help. Let’s all remember…Together ~ For Them. And For The Love Of All Things Nature.
Thank you for taking the time to read about ‘The Story of Jeff’ and my reasons for bringing this story to life.

A Heartfelt Thank you to Everyone. Have an Artful Day! And Remember ~ SUPPORT NATURE THROUGH ART
Warmest to Everyone,
Sherry ~ artscapesbysherry.ca

And now, without further ado…