My latest work is a series of landscapes of the countryside surrounding Toronto. Looking for some variety to my current practice I decided to adopt a portable “studio” and paint landscapes outdoors. What I appreciate with this approach is the freedom of expression and exploration. Larger paintings are often built up in several layers over a longer period of time. This can inhibit the need to experiment and take risks when there’s so much time and effort at stake. With the sketches, however, nothing is precious and spontaneity only adds to their expressive potential. Without pushing for any particular look or “style”, what I’m after is a sense of immediacy and familiarity—the experience of time, atmosphere and place.
While looking for places to paint I often see the impact we have on the landscape: the refuse dumped in the farmers field behind the no trespassing sign; the Nuclear Power Plant on the distant shoreline; a field and forest being leveled for a new subdivision. It’s a painful thing to see, trees vanishing and giant box warehouses taking their place—and yet I can’t help but consider with some understanding that every generation must regret the loss of ‘what was’ as we make room for ‘the new’.
From this perspective these landscapes are also a form of documentary, capturing something fragile, unique and impermanent. Plein air sketches were traditionally thought of as ‘souvenirs’, reminders of a distant time or place—now capturing a closer space, yet lost or under threat of urban sprawl.
Painting – Oil