While Johnson was born in Toronto, her family’s roots in the shield country of North Frontenac – specifically Bon Echo, Mazinaw Lake -- continue to serve as one of her prime sources of inspiration. Bon Echo is a stunning 100 meter pre-Cambrian cliff a mile long the rises straight from the dark waters of one of the deepest lakes in Ontario. This is a location that has drawn artists for centuries – from Algonquin artists who created pictographs along the meeting of rock and water, to the group of seven members who painted at this location during the heyday of the “Bon Echo Inn”. It is a magical Canadian landscape that Johnson sees as a powerful reminder of nature's spirit and poetry and a potent muse for ongoing painterly enquiries.
During her years at OCAD, she was particularly influenced by painting studies with Tom Dean. An inspirational line can also be drawn from Joyce Wieland, for whom she worked while Joyce was preparing for her AGO retrospective. Studies in Italy and Berlin have also influenced her work.
Johnson's painting plays with the techniques of the old and new masters, from de Kooning and Soutine to Tom Thompson and Susanna Heller. While her gestural approach shows an affinity for action painting, she also draws on elements of a Baroque aesthetic to add drama and emotion. Johnson creates theatrical worlds of wilderness landscape -- passionate dramas expressed with the visceral physicality of paint in a gestural dance.
I have been an active member of the Brush and Palette Club since 2002, participating regularly in its annual art show and sale and taking art instruction from innumerable artists through its workshop program. My work has also been shown and sold at Paint Ontario and Art and Soul Cafe in Port Stanley.
In 2016 I co-produced a local show called Home and Away that featured the work of 35 artists depicting Canadian immigration stories.
The subject itself is less important than expressing how the landscape feels to her. Donna would describe herself as a landscape inspired abstract expressionist. She has a romantic notion of herself exploring the Canadian Landscape one province at a time with her paint box in hand and a palette full of juicy oils. "Whether I am staring out at an open vista or I am just dreaming of it in my studio, I feel that the landscape calls out to me, like an old friend."
Donna's award winning art has been in many solo and group shows, as well as public exhibitions, and is part of private and corporate collections worldwide. Over the past decade her work has appeared in many publications, television programs and has been widely shared in the social media circuit.
As painters, we create the illusion of physical light by representing it as contrast with shadow or variations in value and colour on a two dimensional surface. Mood and story are affected by the impression of implied light source; be it directional, ambient, diffuse, or reflective. Too, how the intersection between subject and shadow is described will bring complexity and meaning to a work.
Painted light might also imply metaphor, unbound by its natural physical properties. Symbolically the use of light imagery might bring deeper meaning and emotion where effulgent light is used to convey spiritual illumination or knowledge. Some of my pieces will explore the threshold between these two iterations of light.
Sarah Hillock majored in drawing and painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Ontario. It was here that she received the Libby Steinbeck Alterger Award in Figurative Studies. Her work has been exhibited in galleries across Canada and is part of the permanent collection at the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery.
Sarah is interested in challenging the apathy surrounding the everyday encounter, whether it is with humans or animals. Sarah is able is to explore these interactions between humans and animals by mixing a minimal yet impressionistic background to draw attention to the realistically painted animals. The minimalist background also asks the viewer to complete the picture and to feel the painting rather than just see it. Sarah seeks out her subject matter in fields, farms, and other remote areas. For Sarah the animals she depicts are from fond childhood memories where she grew up in rural Ontario.
The subject matter that Sarah captures are not out of the ordinary. She makes her work captivating by merging various types of artistic styles such as impressionism and realism. Sarah uses bold, bright, colours with strong brushstrokes to add structure and form to her works. The final product is a unique aesthetic that creates an enticing experience for the viewer.
Sheila Davis’ work exposes the raw and natural Canadian landscape. Most of her work explores the forces of nature by looking at the contrasts between light, space, and texture, as well as how these elements come together to bring life and vibrancy to what many might consider mundane subject matter. For Sheila, the untouched Ontario landscape is something that speaks to her on an emotional level, adding depth and resonance to her paintings. Sheila’s work also has noticeable influence from West Coast subject matter, making her paintings resonate with audiences across the country. This often-overlooked landscape is something that Sheila is able to showcase the beauty of in all its light, texture, and vibrancy.
Sheila produces mid to large scale paintings that are expressive and gestural with saturated colours and a sense of dynamism. The resulting paintings are captivating and draw the viewer into the wild landscape. The natural elements of her paintings carry a real sense of movement and energy, often making the viewer feel as if they are seeing the landscape first hand, instead of in a gallery. Sheila creates her works by quickly applying transparent layers of colour, then combines this with splattered and dripped paint. She finishes her works by reworking each of the layers with opaque brushwork and calligraphy.
Sheila Davis is a self-taught artist who has been painting professionally for 23 years and is exhibiting some of her work in the upcoming exhibition, "In the Heart of the Wild". Sheila is represented by galleries across Canada and much of her work can be found in both private and corporate collections around the world.
There are so many types and techniques when it comes to the world of printmaking. We are lucky to have so many experienced educators introducing young students to printmaking in London. The exhibition contains work from teachers, professors and instructors including Helmut Becker, Ron Milton, Ray Jackson, Jen Hamilton and Ralph Heather.
London artist Ray Jackson is currently the printmaking and sculpture instructor at Bealart. He has been teaching for 14 years including time at Fanshawe College and Mount Allison University. He continues to be a practicing artist alongside his teaching position.
Helmut Becker, professor emeritus at Western University obtained education in Art & Art History at University of Saskatchewan as well as printmaking and drawing at University of Wisconsin. Helmut has taught Printmaking, Papermaking, Hand Papermaking, and Fibre Flax & Hemp Research at Nova Scotia College of Art, University of Calgary and University of Western Ontario.
Born in London Ontario, Ron Milton was head of printmaking at Bealart during his career. He studied at H. B. Beal himself and then at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. He has exhibited throughout Ontario and the East Coast of Canada.
In printmaking, sculpting, and painting Ron draws on imagery from books, museums, nature, technology and history. All are portrayed with a narrative feel and often with humour.
This exhibition also touches on the history of this diverse medium. In the front room of the gallery, Ralph Heather and Jen Hamilton’s work are hung in stark contrast to one another; representing both tradition and experimentation in printmaking.
Ralph Heather is a visual artist living in Paris, Ontario. He studied at OCAD where he first encountered printmaking and life drawing which remain strong influences for Ralph. During his career in graphic design, Ralph continued to pursue his artistic interests and now focuses full time on his artistic practice and teaching occasionally at Dundas Valley School of Art.
Printmaking has played an important role in art and culture historically and continues to be explored in new and exciting ways by many contemporary artists. The exhibition continues until July 7th.