Coffee with Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant

Saturday, April 18, 2020

It’s my duty as an artist to to mention the Woodlands Medicine painting founded by Norval Morrisseau and practiced today by Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant. The style has made a very relevant impression on me. This includes practicing the ability to X-ray Dreamtime and remember the House of Invention. It would be a great misfortune not to mention this source of inspiration. I have had a correspondence with Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant since 2009 around the same time I discovered Norval Morrisseau. The coincidence is very meaningful to me. It has helped mature and guide my own artistic process. I am honored to have Duncan as a friend and brother in the fellowship of art

Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant conversation in his own words

I started to do art in public school. I always was interested in drawing and painting. In time I realized I was quite good at it and was always asked to draw for the class room I always continued to paint throughout high school where I sold my first painting, it was of the rock band KISS. I did many rock bands and then I concentrated on motorcycles..I painted them on masonite board with oil based house paint. I also did many superhero’s and comic book cover reproductions. I then spent more time painting in the woodland style created by Norval Morrisseau.

Norval Morrisseau Painting and Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant’s notation on the Shaking Tent Ceremony

Eventually I developed my own style. I’m Ojibwa on Manitoulin Island and it is here where I developed my style of Ojibwe Woodland Medicine painting. I do not follow the color wheel or any training. When I went to college for art I learned more what not to do then what I was told to do, I let the brush take control and it is like automatic writing, my backgrounds which I do before I paint any subject takes me about two to five minutes to paint, depending on the size of the canvas.

Many subjects used in my art come from the sacred scrolls and rock art painted on cliffs throughout northern Ontario. The main subject is drawn out in a few seconds, like Norval Morrisseau I draw out ten paintings at once while the spirit moves me. It can be days even weeks before paint touches the canvas the all of a sudden the spirit comes and the art pours out. All the art I paint comes from the same place as Norval Morrisseau, from the house of invention. He said some day you will visit it, I did visit it one night..I dreamed I entered a great hall full of fantastic paintings and crafts as I walked through the great hall I noticed all of the art was mine..everything I ever done and everything I will was fantastic.

Nanabush at the Cliffs

I continue on with my painting and exploration of creating art and there are times I feel something some sort of’s hard to explain but I feel a connection to something really really old if something or someone is here while I paint. I will do a painting and later when it’s almost finished I’ll look at it and say to myself “I know what this is !” this is so n so or something in my past or a story, legend. Many paintings come out from someplace totally unknown to me and I’ll say wholly fuck! This is so n so..or I’ll start writing about a painting, a story and it’s like automatic writing..I’ll read what I wrote..a story or song or poem that goes with the piece and can’t believe I did it..

The Owl of Springtime . The story of the first Owl to return to Manitoulin after the great Purification Fire and how the Great Manitou gave the Owl the task of replanting the Island.

An elder told me the feeling I get of something old is the ancestors coming to watch me paint..especially if I’m painting them..of course I’m not in control, like Norval Morrisseau I draw out the painting in a few minutes..the same with the backgrounds. I look at them (backgrounds) for a painting and wonder where in hell did that come from? backgrounds take me maybe two to five minutes to do depending on the size of the canvas. I’ll do maybe three to five backgrounds in one session. I’ll put the paint on a platter and away I go, not even cleaning the brush doing all at once..then I’ll look at them and WOW this one has clouds or sunlight here n there or maybe a mountain a lake etc 30×40 canvas 5 minutes..where did I see this before I wonder..this is so familiar..then I think..from the house of creation.

Like yourself Mitchell, we create things that never existed in this universe. anyone can paint landscapes or people and animals but the work we do is totally from another dimension. I was in AA heading to a meeting walking from my place across town. I am not living in this house at the time. As I was walking all of a sudden a hole opened up on my left side just behind a window into a parallel universe..bright light shone through the window and it lit up the street. I could see everything along the road like all the detail of the grass and gravel. Then I felt hands pulling on my clothing like people trying to pull me in or trying to pull themselves through into this world. Then the window closed with a whoosh! The light reminded me of car lights. Nobody was behind me, no traffic..I think this happened in a few seconds but felt like took place exactly in front of the house I ended up renting and then buying. I think of it from time to time.

I’m quite interested in Quantum physics, dark matter, dark energy, the idea of fuzzy stuff as to what makes a molecule move a certain way and instantaneous. Another molecule a million miles away moves the same time, moves the same way as if connected and the idea of tests done on molecules that only work if there is an observer. I try not to have a favorite painting..I don’t want to fall in love with any of my art, if I did I would have certain pieces that are still here on my walls. Each piece I do will leave my place and be put out into the world. I let it go..sometimes I will run into one of them and it’s like seeing an old friend or family member.

The bird and the stone

I do favor some pictures of pieces. I did in the past and they are in my photo collections..The bird and the stone..not just for the composition but also for the story that was shared with me.

I was told about stones along the north shore of Manitoulin island..they came from the Lacloche mountains when they were as tall as  the Rockies,,the glaciers shaved them down and deposited  these stones all over Manitoulin, the stones are said to be a depository for everything that happened in the stones existence, The Stone is alive and has a day a bird landed on the stone very tired and quite old..The bird spoke to himself  "I am nearing the end of my life and have no one to share my experiences", the stone made itself  known and told the bird "I have seen a million sunsets..many animals have brushed by my face..many sunny days and cold winters I have seen..I have heard and remembered  the sweet language of the people it is all here stored in my spirit..some day I will be up on the top of the mountain and again at the bottom of the sea. I will carry inside me your memories my bird friend I carry all the memories..and when I become sand again all the memories will be released into the world!"

The painting shows the stone and inside the memories, the red spirit of its life.outside in the sky is the great Manitou spirit and the creator waiting for the bird to let go of its hold on its world and fly up in spirit. The painting shows the stone and inside the memories, the red spirit of its life.outside in the sky is the great Manitou spirit and the creator waiting for the bird, to let go of its hold on its world and fly up in spirit. It is known that rocks contain minerals and these minerals can hold onto events that happened in its presence..When the conditions are right some of these memories can be perceived and heard by people passing by or sitting near the stone…Like magnetic tape when drawn against a device it’s memories can be heard or like VHS tape it can be seen.

Repulsive gargoyle like face with powerful gorilla like arms lives a huge wild man roaming the north eastern realm of the Niagara escarpment frequenting the area of the a Green bush road and up to the cup and saucer trail and in the basin between the cliffs of Mchigeeng First Nation. One of the first white men to write about this creature was a Jesuit priest Father Rolland. Entire Odawa bands would not venture outside during a sighting..all living in great fear while the head man of each household sat with his rifle all night long he wrote. I remember my grandfather doing this one night when I was about five years old 1965, My grandmother yelling out Jimniddo and chasing us kids into the house just before sunset.These beasts are said to be quite lonesome and stealing people. Some say the beasts are full of remorse and great sadness turning into great anger.

The thing about doing Woodland Native is the color choices. We don’t plan the colors it just happens and the originator of this style of art didn’t plan on the topics he (Norval Morriseau ) just drew it out in a minute then painted it. Guided by the spirits.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: