Forest Floor, Douglas, ON
2020. Acrylic on canvas, 24×60″
“Lichens have been a foundation of life on Earth for millions of years. Lichens consist of two distinct entities living in harmony. Each partner, fungus and algae provide what is needed to survive. Can proud mankind learn from the humble lichen before it’s too late?”
– Symbiosis: Learning from Lichen—Ruth Bartlett
This ongoing series of paintings of lichen explores a micro-universe that grows on the forest floor, climbs tree trunks and limbs and sprawls across rock cuts.
I am a photo-based painter, and these images were captured on hikes in the forests of Ontario: in the upper Ottawa Valley, along the French River, in the Sudbury area and in Haliburton. As well, I have taken many photos of lichen during my winter vacations in Northern Florida and they too have become subjects for my paintings.
I was compelled to make these paintings because I was attracted to the repetitive patterns of the lichen, the variety of its texture and shapes and its infinite detail. By magnifying lichen as a subject for large paintings, I was interested in presenting them as other-worldly and alien, as if they were of another time and place.