It is impossible to live in a country as broad and wild as Canada and not be influenced by the natural world and the vast uninhabited spaces. My most recent works celebrate and examine the overlooked and ordinary within the landscape. I want to capture a sense of place, but I tend to leave the grand scenic vistas for others and focus on the common things we often neglect to acknowledge as worthy subjects for painting. I paint the common, the everyday landscape, in all its glorious, mundane character, such as the tire tracks left at the side of a roadside turnout dissolving slowly in the rain.
I often pull over to the side of the road, or stop at a random spot along a trail, and I must find the idea, subject and inspiration for a painting from there. It is amazing how interesting, beautiful and overlooked the arbitrary can be. This method of finding inspiration lent itself perfectly to the Trans-Canada 150 x Two project, as it is based on the historically significant, yet physically arbitrary distance between stopping points along the highway.
I do not have a set style or painting technique, but I do have a consistent approach to art making. I look at the object or subject and decide how its essence should be expressed to the viewer, what resonates within me. I choose the style of painting that I feel best compliments and expresses what captured my attention and made the subject interesting. Some subjects demand a style, others suggest. It is not traditional or conventional to vary art styles, but I find the challenge of expressing each new subject in the style best suited to the subject and my response to it invigorating and refreshing. Using the same style, expressing myself in a consistent mode, becomes stifling, so I choose to use a variety of styles. I return to previous styles and ways of expressing myself eventually, as the image demands of me, sometimes using a tight, near-photographic realism or a looser, expressionistic flow.
I want the viewers to consider the beauty that surrounds them everywhere and to reflect, and perhaps acknowledge, its power. We take for granted the rocky roadside cliffs along the edge of the highway that we pass everyday on our way to work, or the fringes of wildflowers that line the ditches and berms. I was almost thirty before I actually saw Niagara Falls for the first time, although I was born in St. Catharines, Ontario and was a frequent visitor. It wasn’t until I was giving a guided tour to a cousin from the United Kingdom and experienced the sight through his eyes that I really saw the falls. It is that sense of new encounter, the sense of awe and wonder that I try to capture in paint regardless of the subject. What is it that makes this moment, this subject, this object unique? Is it colour, shape, texture – or is it the movement or the residual effect experienced when looking at it? The answer to those questions determines how the image reveals itself on the canvas.
I currently teach Visual Art at Lower Canada College in Montréal, Québec. Upon completing my art studies, I taught in Ontario for seven years and then went overseas for eleven years, teaching in five different countries around the world. I loved the opportunity to not only learn new approaches to art making and teaching, but to experience a rich diversity of art, architecture and cultural traditions in my travels. My artworks are included in many private collections in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, and the Philippines.