The great outdoors is an endless source of inspiration for many artists, but it’s tricky to make the images inspiring for the viewers too.
Enter Tessa Nunn, Lynn Malin, Angela Grootelaar and Gail Echlin. The fantastic four have joined forces to create one of the most brilliant and intriguing landscape shows around. Opening tomorrow, The Colours Within explores themes of environmentalism but can easily be enjoyed without the social issues.
Nunn says she only takes to the wilderness to find solace. This peace and connection with nature brings her to consider the environment along with infinite new sources of imagery to paint. One set of tall works (that she calls a cryp-tych because it’s like a triptych except with four panels, not three) is a sight of Central Park. She was studying in New York in September 2001 and needed a way to heal psychologically.
She describes the large scale and panel format as “slicing it up which is symbolic for me of ‘the crying Earth.’
“The idea of what the painting actually symbolized for me and what I hoped people would get from it is a place of quiet, solitude, tranquillity.”
She serves this well as even her soft brushstrokes and pastel-like palette instil a sense of calm, despite the underlying tone of a pillaged planet.
Where Nunn goes for the soft touch, Echlin aims for hard and fast. The plein air painter lays the acrylics on thick using bold colours with big brushes, admitting that speed is of the essence.
“I’m a smudger from way back,” she laughed. “I’m an old expressionist. It moves faster when you can be out there because everything is coming in at you and it’s like you’re not even working, you’re not labouring at it.”
Sometimes, she says that capturing the fleeting beauty of nature means keeping the bugs that get stuck in the paint. She still manages to create some lovely and striking images that are reminiscent of being lost in a forest.
Grootelaar is renowned for her unique art. You’ll wonder where on earth she could find blue and purple trees. The simple answer is that it’s artistic license, a combination of expressionism and Fauve art. “The Fauves were the ones that really started to play with colour to the point that they were called ‘wild beasts.’ The starting point is how the landscape impresses on me and I get a sense of joy in looking at a certain composition. The Fauve influence comes in later when I’m in my studio and I start applying colours.”
The true odd woman out here is Malin who veers away from traditional wilderness scenes with paint and canvas. She uses translucent Lexan and a more vertical approach to her subjects. Her bird’s eye scenes take a little more work to understand but the calligraphic marks represent both natural and manmade patterns. Essentially her works show the war of words between the two.
“I’m interested in the process of man’s gridding and ordering and nature reorganizing. There’s this process of order and disorder. Even if you put grass on your lawn, the weeds start coming up. The natural part of Alberta comes back in.”
The Colours Within
Exhibit by Gail Echlin, Angela Grootelaar, Lynn Malin, and Tessa Nunn<br />Opening reception tomorrow evening from 7 to 9 p.m.<br />Artists will be in attendance<br />Show runs from March 4 to May 1<br />Profiles Public Art Gallery<br />19 Perron Street<br />Call 780-460-4310 or visit www.artsheritage.ca/gallery for more information.