My Canada Project

A few weeks ago I introduced my next project on the blog: The Provinces and Territories. It is coming to life already: I have started 3 out of the 13 canvases (because the other 10 canvases had to be ordered in- they best get here soon as I’m on a roll!).

This is a new process for me, because after my last few paintings, I realized that for the final product to be it’s best, it’s a good idea to hash out a “rough” version to play with form and colours. Already I’m seeing improvement in the gallery canvases, and those little boards are ROUGH but FUN, and have already saved me from making mistakes on the 14 x 16 inch canvases.

Another motivating factor in my painting, that is new with this project, is listening to music. I’ve always painted in silence. However- the power of painting to Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind” while painting Canadian Landscapes… a totally surreal experience. This inspired me to pull out all the Canadian Classics… The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, City In Colour… and from my Jasper experience: Cadence and Nathan. I’m finding it highly motivating and feel like I’m painting faster and better then ever.

The paintings I have begun are: Yukon Territory “The Journey Begins”, Alberta “Prairie Sun” and British Columbia (not yet titled). Thank you to friends and family who have contributed their photos for this project. I am still looking for photos of Ontario, Quebec and Northwest Territories. Spread the word to fellow travelers and/or photographers!

And now… a break from art until next week.

The Provinces and Territories | Canada Project

I’ve had an idea brewing for a while now, about a Canada painting project. The idea solidified when I saw this image floating around the internet:

canada newfoundland labrador iceberg doreen dalley

This photo blew my mind about Canada. I instantly wanted to hop in the car and drive as fast as possible to Twillingate, Newfoundland Labrador. Of course, this was not possible so instead I contacted Doreen Dalley and asked permission to paint from her photo. I want to capture the majesty of this incredible iceberg, and Canadian Landscape.

That was how the project was born: what else do I not know about this country? What have I not seen, that others have (that I might want to!)? So I put out an invitation for people to send me their favourite photos from around the country. Funny enough the territory I thought would be hardest, was my first respond: Nunavut! I still need images from the Northwest Territories though, if anyone has some to share?

I have done enough traveling out west, and around Ontario, to have collected a huge amount of photos. However, I really want this project to not be about my travels: but instead to be about people around the country coming together in a collective project. Each painting, will give the photographer credit, and they also have the option of adding a small story (even just a sentence or two) with photo.

The photos I have collected above are: Northwest Territories (Jennifer Poole), Nunavut (Jennifer Shymko), Prince Edward Island (Carrie Freake), New Brunskwick (Emily Smith), Nova Scotia (Laura Sanders), Albert (Maggie May), and British Columbia (Robyn Cowan). Notice no Mountains? I’m pushing outside my comfort zone haha.

I choose the pictures based on the feelings that come to me, and the flow I see in the ability to paint them (how they compliment my style of painting). So many people have sent me INCREDIBLE images, and I am so grateful. Keep them coming, you just never know what might hit me!

The two photos above are mine, driving through Manitoba and Saskatchewan on October 31st last year. What a grey, boring drive! But something about these two images, I really love. I am not too eager to use my own photos (so if you have a Manitoba image or Sask image you’d like to share, send it my way); I will use these if nothing else has jumped at me over the next few weeks.

In conclusion, I am still looking for a few photos: Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Territories. Please do not be shy, send as many as you like, I am happy to sort through images.

Ontario has been the hardest for me, perhaps because I have seen so much of it, and this province of mine is so large and has such a vast diversity in it’s land. I have a ton of images from Ontario, and people have sent so many gorgeous photos, that have come close to the “ah ha!” but not quite the flow I need… and it’s made me think: what do I want to capture about Ontario? …Wild flowers! If anyone has an image, of a field of wild flowers (yellows, oranges, purples, blues, greens, etc.), with open skies above, and maybe some tree silhouettes… please forward them to me. I will be so grateful. Of course, you are welcome to send me anything, I am open to changing my mind if something else clicks.

In the meantime… I’m going to start some practice paintings on small canvas boards, and I am super pumped to start with those bold colours in Maggie’s Alberta Sunset. Stay tuned… I will keep writing about the process of this project over the next few months. I hope to have it complete (13 canvases all the same -medium- size) by December. One painting a week? I can handle that. I think.

Canadian Custom Art | Rocky Mountains

Last year a friend of mine drove through the Rocky Mountains with her family (one year after I started pumping out my Jasper paintings)… when she returned and shared her photos, I asked to use one to do a line drawing. Which I did, and gifted to her shortly after.

This year, right before my art show Vast Lands, she inquired about having a custom painting done, from the same photo. I was thrilled! She said she like the colours in my “Gaia” painting, so right after the show I got to work! It was easy for me to envision…

The funny thing is… I decided to use “ultramarine blue” to give some depth to the “payne’s grey” I have been using in a lot of paintings lately. I had no idea it would turn purple when I added white. It was one of those miraculous accidents, because both of us loved the additional purple in the composition (and I feel like I will be using ultramarine blue a lot more in the future).

The finished project has been a hit on Facebook:

20246079_1031584953643431_1973381634198403362_n

Thank you Elayne for the custom project, and sharing your passion for our incredible Canadian Landscapes.

elayne photo

 

The Invitation

Sometimes, as an artist, as soon as you see something you know you need to paint it. This has happened twice in my life now. The first time, was in August 2015, driving into Jasper (Rocky Mountains, Alberta) and I saw “The Chief” mountain range.

It happened again in November 2016 when I was walking towards “The Hoodoos” (Drumheller’s Badlands, Alberta). The Hoodoos are the main attraction in Drumheller, but it wasn’t them that had gotten my attention- it was off in the distance, in the smooth cream coloured rolling rocks, it looked like a woman walking into a cave. As soon as I saw this, I knew I would paint it. It was this feeling of being invited in, lead by this (imagined) wise woman, that stays with me since visiting this land (and sacred site in my opinion).

When I told a friend about the painting I was planning, and calling it “The Invitation” she asked me if I had ever read the book “The Invitation” which I had not. I recently looked it up, and found the poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

This powerful poem, goes well with this painting. It’s about going deep within: yourself, others, the earth, Life… Spirit. It reminds me of all my wise women friends, who have traveled with me and seen my wildness (A.K.A. crying at the overwhelm of this Earth’s beauty), and I feel so fortunate and grateful and humbled by their support. This painting is for all women, brave enough to walk into that cave. To walk into the unknown darkness, light a fire, and sit alone. You are my strength and my inspiration; and together we lead the way, inviting others to do the same.

 

 

Vast Lands ~ Art Show

Mark  your calendars for July 15th, when Jennifer Trefiak and I introduce our newest collection of paintings at “Vast Lands.” Please drop in anytime between 1-5pm at St.Mark’s Church in Port Hope.

The show is inspired by Canada’s water, land and skies. Paintings will include landscapes from the Great Lakes, Georgian Bay, Frontenac, Gatineau, and Drumheller.

You can follow our Facebook Event Page for regular updates: Vast Lands.

We look forward to seeing you there! Last year “Earth and Sky” was a wonderful success. We are so fortunate to live in a small community that supports the arts. Remember we always have something for every budget; and if you just want to come say hello, and talk art, we appreciate that too!

You can also follow our Facebook Pages: Jennifer Anne Burke and Jennifer Trefiak.

See you soon!

Old Photos to New Paintings

Tonight I started cleaning my studio space, so I can paint tomorrow. In the process of looking for my Hoodoo photographs, I discovered a gold-mine of photos from my personal travels and hikes going all the way back to 2003. As a result, I pulled a few old photos out and found a wealth of inspiration.

Gatineau (2003), Quebec:

gatineau quebec

Emily Provincial Park (2004) and Petroglyphs Provincial Park (2015), Ontario:

emily park kia

Frontenac, Desert Lake, Ontario (2016):

frontenac aunt nancys lake

Killarney, Georgian Bay, Northern Ontario (2016):

killarney on easle

And of course, The Alberta Badlands (2016):

hoodoos summer show

I am super excited for the next art show: Vast Lands. If you’re in the area (Port Hope) July 15th please come see what me and Jennifer Trefiak have created!  I will try to write another blog by the end of June to show the progress of these painting… but for more regular updates you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram @burkeuntitled.

Georgia O’Keeffe | AGO

On Friday, June 2nd I traveled with a friend into Toronto to explore the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I have seen so many art exhibits over my lifetime (Klimpt, Van Gogh, Lawren Harris (lots of Group of Seven), Mystical Landscapes (which had so many famous artists) and this was by far the largest, and most enlightening for me. Also, the first woman artist where the exhibit was fully her own (even the Emily Carr exhibit I saw in Vancouver, was paired with modernist artist Wolfgang Paalen).

We were not allowed to  photograph any of the art, so I don’t have a whole lot to share visually. Just a few key points to share about her work, that have re-inspired me.

  • She worked with tons of charcoal, chalk and oil pastels on paper.
  • She has an amazing ability to make oil paints look like water colours.
  • Her lines are both soft and hard, crisp/clear yet blended so perfectly into her subjects and compositions (she played with abstract and expressionism, and created some very surreal paintings).
  • She painted in Canada, Quebec’s Gaspé!

georgia in gaspe

 

HER LIFE AND WORK:

I knew so little about this woman before the show. She is an artist who others have said my work reminds them of, and I never took it as much of a compliment (all I was familiar with were her flower paintings, which I always find a bore). It wasn’t until I saw her “Red Hills” painting at the Mystical Landscapes exhibit, that she really intrigued me:

georgia red hills

After this I started reading more about her, and her love of nature, the desert, and her connection to the earth. Her move to Ghost Ranch later in life is what really resonated for me (I can very much relate from my personal experience of Jasper- something about the air, the land, the lines, the energy… it feels like home, like I belong there. But to move there? Not yet, haha…) – she is incredibly strong, brave, and so independent. One of her famous quotes:

“I have been absolutely terrified of everything in my life, but I never let it stop me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

So few people do what they want to do in life, yet here is a woman, born around the turn of the century, who uprooted to New York, married a photographer, and traveled. After her husbands death she uprooted again and moved, alone, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lived almost an entire century (1887 – 1986), painting and never afraid of living life on her terms.

MY PERSONAL INSPIRATION

This exhibit reminded me of the value of different forms of exploring in art- I used to do a lot of oil pastels and line drawings, but moved away from those materials as my paintings started to sell. My focus moved fully to acrylic on canvas. I can feel myself transitioning back to oil pastels, and charcoal sketching. I miss working with the simplicity of lines on paper. Georgia’s work looked so stunning framed, that I’m inspired to try.

Since my last show in December, I had already decided I wanted to start “softening” my lines in my paintings. However, I have been struggling with this. Once I saw this exhibit, something clicked for me. I could physically see and visualize how Georgia was able to create contrast and dept through sharp lines, and blending. I’ve been playing with this and you might be able to see the difference between last years painting “Silver Sun, Lake Superior” where I was starting to soften and blend, and this new one I’m exploring of “Killarney, Georgian Bay.”

I am feeling a bit desperate to start working in oils. The more exhibits I see, and more professional work I observe, and the more I paint with “sticky acrylics” the more frustrated I become. I’m still unsure how or when I will transition, but for now I will keep working with my acrylics on canvas, and explore more oil pastels on paper.

ANNUAL SUMMER ART SHOW – Vast Lands

So the ball is rolling for the next art show happening Saturday, July 15, 2017 in Port Hope, Ontario. I will be displaying with Jennifer Trefiak again, and we are very excited to share our new works with you. Please drop by if you can, between 1-5pm.

Vast Lands” will include paintings from a variety of Canadian Landscapes, with Trefiak’s focus on beaches and skies, and my focus on Badlands (Alberta) and Georgian Bay (Ontario). I am trying to figure out how to make a 2018 Calendar for special orders too! If you have a favourite painting you’d like included in this project, let me know ASAP.

We look forward to seeing you there!