Artistic Expression Blooms
The Desire for Joy,
the Great Outdoors, and Gathering Together
By Rebecca Wood Barrett
As we emerge from a year like no other, it’s fascinating to see how adaptability, technology, and an enduring passion for art have enabled artists and galleries to thrive. “I would say production, painting, and creativity has skyrocketed in this past year,” says Liz Harris, owner and director of the Adele Campbell Fine Art. She adds that artists have found peace in the studio, knowing they are creating something that brings someone else joy.
Technology is the bridge that has enabled artists, galleries and collectors to come together. “Artist Laura Harris is a great example of someone that is really using this virtual realm to create this experience to highlight her work to engage with our clients,” says Liz Harris (no relation). Although there’s no substitute for seeing the highly textured, drippy, and bold colours of Laura’s work in person, the artist has leveraged videos and Instagram to connect with fans and buyers. In videos, she almost appears to dance as she paints. She has a physical, vigorous practice that translates her emotions about what she feels for the natural world into her artwork, as shown in the acrylic “Honestly, All I Need is a Weekend in the Mountains.”
One of the recent art-buying trends that Liz Harris has observed is an intense desire for scenes of nature and luminous colour to enhance mood — whether to calm or excite. Kerry Langlois’s nature-inspired paintings, such as “Lost Lake,” instill a sense of serenity through her buttery use of acrylic and glossy resin. “You know, people want that lightness, that brightness. They just want these elements of joy in their home,” she adds. Langlois is a next-generation artist who burst onto the scene this past winter with her first solo exhibition, held virtually through Adele Campbell Fine Art. Her minimalist, monochromatic landscapes sold out in three days in a flurry of excitement. adelecampbell.com
The bright, joyful “Gatherings” series of paintings by Jane Waterous simply radiate energy, and are popular now more than ever. Art connoisseurs wishing to commission a custom “Gathering” painting have had their family members and even their dogs included in one of the circles. The tiny human figures join together and dance with full-body commitment, in the shapes of circles, hearts, and words, as in the painting “Love 3263.” Up close, the dancers are revealed to be daubs of thick, luscious paint that rise from the canvas. “Her work is about love,” says Tara Wolters, business manager at the Whistler Contemporary Gallery, “and it’s about bringing people together.” Employing acrylic on canvas, the simplicity of the paintings belies the three decades of commitment Waterous has invested in developing the process and series.
Being able to view art in person offers a “wow” factor that is hard to replicate online, and it is a criteria that Wolters says is an important aspect of the gallery’s curation. Mesmerising movement and chameleon-like colours are central to the “Canvas on Edge” series, which combine painting and sculptured canvas. Created by Stallman Studio — the artist duo of Jason Hallman and Stephen Stum — the artworks are made by painting strips of canvas and then arranging them on their edges in swirling patterns, like the many blue-hued “Starlight Manifesto.” If you walk from one side of the canvas to the other, the experience turns into a discovery of rippling colour and texture. “This is the first time that I’ve ever seen someone think of the idea to put canvas on the edge,” says Jessica Wardle-Twitchen, art consultant at the Whistler Contemporary Gallery, “and then just by doing that, you instantly create a three-dimensional illusion where the artwork is moving with you.” whistlerart.com
There is, undoubtedly, a desire by many of us to return to the places outdoors that we love. Artist Charlie Easton’s plein air studies are deeply influenced by his time spent on his property on a remote island off the B.C. coast. “He’s an example of one of the artists that we represent that is really out to experience everything of a place, and paint and be inspired by that,” says McLaughlin. Easton’s smaller plein air sketches and paintings later become the inspiration for the larger canvasses he paints in the studio. In “A Helby Sea Stack,” you can feel the immense pull of the Pacific Ocean and relentless forces of the wind, while bubbling clouds sweep toward the quiet tide pools waiting for the next West Coast storm. mountaingalleries.com
Perhaps the greatest gift artists and their work give us in this time is the hope that we will soon return to the wilds, the open night skies, and the gatherings we all long for.