"So I find words I never thought to speak In streets I never thought I should revisit." — T.S. Eliot
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by architecture, houses in particular. Whether a small cottage, perched on a hill, or a row of storefronts on a busy street, I am drawn to the way buildings create a little world of their own separate from the 'hustle and bustle' outside.
Like painting a portrait, architectural painting is largely about trying to capture a building's soul, which we catch a glimpse of through its doors and windows. It also gives me the change to explore the tension between built structures and their natural surroundings, in the way a tree casts a kaleidoscope of mauve hues on a white building.
Currently, I am working on a number of architectural nocturnes (i.e. night paintings), which are challenging my assumptions about how colour transitions, for example, from the dark, murky corners of a building's shadow to the glow of its interior light.
“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”--Pablo Picasso
For me, landscape painting is much less about painting objects--trees, fields, and clouds--than it is about capturing the sense of light and mood in a scene at a given moment. I am constantly amazed by the patterns of light and shadow in the landscape, and by how much natural warmth exists in even the coolest landscape palettes. More and more, I am noticing the complexity of colours in seemingly simple objects, like the range of mauves and blues, and even warm pinks and yellows, in snow.
To capture these effects, I like to exaggerate the colours of nature slightly, and use loose, painterly brushstrokes to create a feeling of movement. Detail and precision is becoming less and less important to me as I work harder to capture a sense of place, a place that the viewer can step into.
"Water is the most expressive element in nature. It responds to every mood from tranquility to turbulence." -- Walter J. Phillips
On its own, water is a fascinating subject for a painter. The water's own movements--currents, eddies, and ripples--together with what can be seen under the water and what is reflected in it, combine to create endless layers of morphing abstractions of colour. I am in awe of the fluidity of water, of its constant power to change and to reflect changes in its environment.
This also makes water a tricky subject to paint, because it can change in an instant. A passing boat can alter the pattern of ripples in the water, and therefore the water's reflections and highlights. Incoming clouds can change the surface from pale aqua to deep mauve. And the setting sun can transform a palette of cool blues and greens into a profusion of warm pinks and oranges.
"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."--Henri Matisse
I'm not sure I will ever tire of painting flowers. I am particularly drawn to garden scenes where a cluster of individual flowers creates an irregular composition, as much defined by negative space as by the blossoms, themselves.
Flowers and their foliage can easily be 'flat' subjects but I love to explore the subtle shifts of value and colour across the parts of a flower in shadow versus those in sunlight. Backlit flowers, in particular, create all sorts of opportunities to contrast desaturated colours with their bright, pure counterparts.
Small-scale paintings that stand on their own, as distinct from sketches or studies, can have a powerful impact. Small paintings create a sense of intimacy, often making the viewer more aware of her own space as well as the space in the painting.
Because small works call for being viewed at close range, the artist's hand in the marks on the surface--in the strokes left by the bristles of the brush, and the impasto-like quality of the paint--are more obvious, making the artist's unique style all the more apparent.
In the fall of 2013, I started painting some of the beautiful, historic homes of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Part aesthetic admiration, part historical documentation, I am captivated by the simple strength and beauty of these homes. Over the last two centuries, these homes have sheltered Niagara's earliest families, witnessed the creation of Upper Canada, and have been restored and preserved by the loving hands of their previous and current owners. What beautiful testaments to an important chapter of Canada's earliest history.