A report prepared for National Defence, by CRG Consulting in 2013, notes that many buildings dating from the British Imperial Era generally “feature projections such as parapets or end walls, chimneys, pilasters and brick corbelling. . . .a number of buildings still retain their original eaves troughs with decorative conductor heads and rainwater leaders.” It was undoubtedly these architectural features which captured my attention as I wandered through the dockyard’s haphazard medley of historic buildings years ago with my camera. The photos were mislaid for more than two decades. I found them again and began developing these paintings in 2018. The evolving group are an interesting mix–a juxtaposition of the visual coloratura inherent in nineteenth century architecture with reflections of the undercurrent of conflicting emotion arising in a non-serving voyeur. This duality of perspective is perhaps most evident in Stop/Arret.
Symbolic use of various design elements is evident in many of my paintings. In “Stop/Arret” I have used an overall red masking colour to instill a sense of unease. Ominous red coupled with transparent layering of architectural elements suggests the multi-faceted response dockyard scenes often evoked in me.
This is an interesting studio shot for a host of reasons. Next to the easel and re-purposed for studio use is an old hospital table. It works perfectly at either the drafting table or my easel. I even use the hospital table as a stable platform for a camera when I don’t feel like setting up a tripod for studio photography. The height is adjustable—it is on casters and has an open arm design which means I can have it close to any work area. Another interesting accoutrement is a stack of wet panel boxes my woodworker husband Don Mazurick made. Seen here in use in the upper left, the panel boxes are modular, stackable and portable. Each panel box holds four paintings nicely separated so there is adequate air circulation. I generally have as many as six oil paintings in progress so these panel boxes are awesome in my studio. In the studio when I paint with oil my approach generally involves building layers of texture and transparent colour before doing opaque, scumbled or maybe more textured layers. It is a slow process. Pictured on the easel is an as yet untitled painting in progress. In this case the painting is from my CFB Esquimalt dockyard series and has just received its second transparent layer. If you are curious about the small metal cups upturned on the palette these are simply restaurant supply cups I use to cover blobs of paint when I don’t feel like cleaning the glass palette between sessions.
New exhibitions opened throughout Casa on November 7, 2020 among them is a solo exhibition of my landscape paintings in the “Passage” gallery space. This presentation of landscape includes: traditional framed plein air paintings in oil; small, landscape-themed abstract colour studies, also in oil, and four contemporary, mixed-media studio landscapes. Exhibitions continue until December 21st. Casa is located in downtown Lethbridge and is open from 9 am to 10 pm Monday – Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
Viewpoints are an ongoing series of studio paintings unified by their focus on human-made landscape subjects which are geometric or architectural rather than organic. It seems that we attach far less aesthetic value to industrial sites or old alleys than we do natural places. Landscapes are something I enjoy painting and do paint regularly, developed either in the studio as contemporary mixed media work, or painted alla prima outdoors. Non-traditional landscape subjects also have grace and stories inherent in them just as worthy of artistic exploration.
I have been working on Viewpoints for several years now in tandem with other studio work. In terms of pure design aesthetics, graphic shapes and forms are a compelling point of departure in developing an interesting composition. Some are highly expressive or abstracted, others purely representational. Viewpoints often present drawing challenges but have also presented opportunities to explore different approaches to painting with oil.
Catwalk Salon is one of my favourite plein air street scenes. I painted it during Art Days several years ago. The act of standing on a street corner each afternoon creating art became my way of connecting with the spirit of Alberta Culture celebrations and usually signalled the end of my plein air painting sessions for the year. Fall colour is at its most splendid so it can be a magical time for painters. Although not entirely because of the Coronavirus pandemic, I opted out of plein air painting entirely this year and I miss it.
I may not have been out painting this year but my artistic focus sure has been on plein air in recent weeks because of my involvement in two exhibitions. A juried group exhibition of plein air paintings is ongoing at Leighton Art Centre until October 31, 2020. (Details about the Leighton Art Centre exhibition were noted in the preceding blog post.) I am also preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition of landscapes at Casa. The Passages gallery exhibition at Casa in Lethbridge is coming up in early November. At Casa I will be exhibiting plein air landscapes together with small, abstracted, landscape-themed colour studies. Probably four of my recent expressive landscapes executed in mixed media oil will also be shown. Details about that exhibition will be in a future post.
A final shout-out here about Mortar and Brick’s exhibition which opened last night in Lethbridge. I made a point of seeing the work yesterday afternoon. If you have an interest in contemporary art, do make time to see the work on display there now. It is well-worth your time. One haunting painting in particular, by local artist Eileen Murray, captured my attention.
In The Open Air is the title of an upcoming exhibition hosted by Leighton Art Centre to honour the practice of painting outdoors or en plein air. As an avid plein air painter, I am delighted to see several of my paintings included in the exhibition. Among them, I painted Foothills Ranch Country, looking southwest alongside Highway 22, a few miles north of Lundbreck Falls.
Leighton Art Centre, which is located just southwest of Calgary, has several special events planned for the weekend of September 12 & 13 to celebrate their launch of In the Open Air and Alberta Culture Days. Check out the Leighton Art Centre website.
I was challenged by an artist-friend in the Calgary Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists to join other members in a daily painting challenge during January. The 32 small oils I completed last month are all to varying degrees, abstracted landscapes made with just a palette knife, using six premixed colours. A valuable colour exercise it proved to be – forcing me to think about colour relationships more deeply. If you paint or draw in colour, try this or a similar exercise to shake up your notions of colour.
I picked up designer paint chips from the local home improvement store. Each paint chip displayed three colours in combinations suggested by professional designers. I used two paint chips for each session. In other words, six colours. I premixed as closely as possible to match the paint chips and applied the six colours to describe landscapes – choosing a dominant, sub-dominant ranking down to accent colour notes. My rules were that I needed to use all six colour mixtures in each painting without tints, shades or blending. I allowed the white ground to show in some cases. However, as I continued it became more challenging to ignore white and explore direct relationships among the six colours. Since the designer colours rarely corresponded to a natural landscape I was also compelled to think more creatively and explore the gamut of colour characteristics. As seen below, it was also interesting to compare the difference made by my choice of which colours should dominate in cases where I painted two or more panels with the same colour mixtures. Some of the colour combinations proved to be unusual but quite lovely.
Donna Gallant is perhaps the most inherently creative artist I know. In her own words, “painting is as much about the process as it is the final product”. Donna’s generous nature in sharing new processes that excite her is well-known. She will be giving a demonstration of some of her mixed media approaches in Lethbridge next Saturday afternoon at the Allied Arts Council office/gift shop.
Donna Gallant’s mixed media art is both visually appealing and thought-provoking. Detail from, “But this is not all I can do”,a new work is pictured here. She may be reached directly by phone: 403.328.0536 or email: email@example.com
Mixed Media demo by Donna Gallant
Saturday, November 30, 2019 from noon to 4:00 pm Allied Arts Council Gift Shop/Offices 318 7 Street South, Lethbridge
Deanna Beaujot’s,“Spring Graduates”, pictured here was awardedthe Royal Talens Rembrant Award at the New England Watercolor Society’s 2018 Juried North American Open Show. The brilliance of her powerfully saturated colour first captured my attention in 2016 when we attended an artdevelopment class in Calgary. I am very pleased to congratulate Deanna on heracceptance this year as an elected member of Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. Not surprisingly, Deanna Beaujot also gained accredited last year as an Associate Signature Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Visit her website at https://deannabeaujot.com/
Normally held in Toronto, this year’s CSPWC “Open Water” exhibition will be held in Alberta at Leighton Centre, near Calgary. The Opening Reception is next Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. The exhibition continues until October 27, 2019. For the Leighton Centre address or any additional information go to: https://leightoncentre.org
At Dinosaur Park this June with Sagebrush Arts Society, I just had time for a few watercolour sketches. Curiously shaped hoodoos and colour in the sandstone, ironstone and mudstone layers of the badlands are visually compelling. During August I paint with an ad hoc group of artists from all over the province. Although the week-long plein air retreat was established decades ago by members of the Alberta Society of Artists, it is open to anyone so please feel free to contact me if you are interested. The region chosen this year was southwest of Calgary in the Turner Valley area. Our time was largely frustrated by rainy weather. The image here is an oil I completed by the side of a road near Millarville. A storm was moving in from the Rockies. I am heading into the Castle wilderness area soon for a few more days of painting outdoors and late September should see me painting outdoors again somewhere in downtown Lethbridge to celebrate Alberta Culture Days.