Artists & Jurors
The Jurors (with many thanks from EALT)
John Maywood, Curator, Art Gallery, Stony Plain Multicultural Heritage Centre
Pardee Baydal, Editor, Alternative Trends Magazine
Margaret Reine, Naturalist & Educator; Secretary, Management Board, Lee Nature Sanctuary Society
The play of light in the world of wild nature and in rural landscapes has always had a magical quality for me. The seasonal variations of atmosphere, colour and form will always provide me with a visual feast. For me, a painting is not only two-dimensional, it represents the smell of fallen leaves in autumn, the calls of migrating geese, or the wet touch of fog clinging to marshlands on a September morning. My paintings synthesise my emotional responses, and I want to share the beauty, power and vulnerability of the natural world in which we are privileged to live.
Central Alberta is the land that has created me from its essence as I breathed all its seasons. I filled all my senses with its memories until I am its journey and existence. Because it is who I have become; when I paint this land I am painting my roots in all its diversity. When it is parched I am parched; when it is abundant so am I. The land shifts and changes, surviving all that man does to it with great losses to those who have memories of what was before. It is my joy to capture these images.
This collection includes some of my favourite prairie, valley and other rural places in northern Alberta, where I have traveled or worked as environmental scientist. My artistic goal is to express the specialness of places, whether mountains, streams, fields, or skies. I draw much inspiration from my work and travels, in prairie, woodlands and mountain areas.
My artistic focus is currently the ecologically significant Wagner Natural Area, a rare spring-fed calcareous spruce wetland. Its diverse flora and fauna include 2/3 of Alberta’s native orchids, and two Species at Risk, the western toad and short-eared owl. Creating a visual and sensory body of work related to habitats, flora and fauna is an extension of my passion for nature and respect for creation. Areas that we can conserve from our expanding urban and industrial sprawl are irreplaceable and immeasurable. My work draws attention to this very important concept, and inspires appreciation, to protect and preserve more of this precious earth we all share.
Birds have become a principle fascination, with their beautiful colours, amazing agility and interesting habits. Sculpture competitions require all but the eyes must be of wood. I usually carve shore birds as slicks (feather detail is achieved through painting). I’m also drawn to small songbirds, which require more fine details as the feathers are carved and burned, then painted. Besides research about the species and habitat, and the use of bird skins loaned by the Provincial Museum Ornithology Department, my ability to accurately portray a specific bird have been greatly enhanced through skills from my career as a dental technician/denturist.
Dean Tatam Reeves
Since sketching rural Alberta vignettes in pen and ink during family berry-picking trips along dusty roads around 1970, I have chosen to paint landscape subjects directly from nature. Returning year-round to explore nearby natural areas such as forests, wetlands and open spaces, I work quickly with watercolours or pastels to try to capture a specific moment in time and place. I have found that, while painting, the hours of sustained observation provide me with many treasured experiences and a much deeper appreciation of the natural world.
One day, I was photographing one small area of a weed-overgrown parking lot and it struck me – how much life exists within one square metre! In under a year, nature can be resilient, reclaim spaces, and sustain itself. Nowadays, the media bombards us with negative images of humans’ impact on the environment; but in my work, I try to reflect nature’s beauty that still exists, if we but look. We can protect more effectively if we envisage maintaining bountiful nature, than imagining what we may loose. Narrowing one’s vision to a square meter can bring nature’s beauty into sharper focus.
As we continue to enjoy the richness of the world we also continue to overwhelm it. One of Gail Seemann’s artistic goals is to help others savour the beauty of what the world offers, so that we will realize what we have to lose and might endeavour to preserve it.
The City of Edmonton has a rich treasure trove of landscape drawing sites. I have visited the River Valley and Whitemud Creek repeatedly over the last forty years. The deep, dark ravines contrast with the bright sunlight, high horizon and prairie skies, offering dramatic landscape motifs in all seasons. These nature sites are hidden gems, and having them so accessible in a big city, is wonderful for a visual artist. I have lived in the four largest cities in Western Canada, and painted and drawn within each – Edmonton’s natural areas offer many unique elements for expression in all artistic mediums.
I’ve been interested in art all my life – through practice, study, and teaching. Being an avid hiker, I have been able to converge my love of art and that of the outdoors. After retirement, I’ve pursued sketching and painting full time, both in the wilderness and in the rich and beautiful plains of rural Alberta. I even bought a couple of farms just to have my own retreats for painting. For me the bottom line is always the painting – and the excitement of turning a blank sheet of paper into a thing of beauty and meaning.
My quarter section of” Prairie Parkland” is 100 kilometers north-east of Edmonton, an area labelled the “Ukalta Dunes”. Most paintings are of this location or en route, in the Strathcona and Lamont counties. Direct contact with this environment restores the soul and energizes me. It is a privilege I do not take lightly. By using this energy to paint, I’m trying to express and save some of this experience for the future when such locations will be even harder to find.
Having spent my childhood in the country I still feel that special bond when I go for a drive and see the beauty of the canola fields glistening in the sun, and swathes of grain in the field and the patterns they make. I feel the excitement when I see a beautiful grove of trees and the light and shadow bouncing off the trees. In the 35 years that I have been painting I continue to be in awe of the landscape everywhere I go.
I have been a landscape painter for over 40 years, and instructor with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension for 20 years. The landscape is my inspiration, and my strongest asset is seeing and observing landscape as an artist does. I find inspiration while backpacking into some of the remoter areas of Alberta and BC, as well as nearer home, for example, around local creeks and ravines. I search for subjects with strong contrasting values and interesting shapes, which form my painting foundations. Most recently, I’ve been painting along the West Coast Trail, Lake O’Hara, and lesser known areas
Jim Visser draws from a lifetime of living in rural Alberta, gathering inspiration from his love of the land. He uses his personal connection with his environment to convey the awe-inspiring vastness of the prairie landscape of Alberta. While still working with familiar themes, Visser is responding to the dramatic elements of space and light to produce a diverse body of work with accurately reflects the ever-changing Alberta Landscape. Visser’s approach to capturing the landscape is both realistic and energetic which allows the viewer to experience it as if physically present.
I was raised on a farm and spent most of my life in the country, and animals, art, and the western lifestyle have been a dominant love. I have always had the desire and need to draw, paint and create what I saw and felt. I formed my own techniques and style, which allowed me to share what I’ve seen and felt with others. I believe the biggest compliment for any artist is to touch the heart and mind of the viewer, bringing tears, laughter, and impacting viewers’ emotions. This shows our interpretation has created a very meaningful mutual experience.
Nature inspires me often when I am creating my artwork. The vibrant colors of florals are captured in many of my painting. Besides florals, I also enjoy exploring other subjects including: fruit, trees, birds, and other wildlife. The beauty that can be found outdoors is amazing to me and I am continuously exploring this subject as I grow as an artist.”
Edmonton has one of the longest urban stretches of River Valley Parkland in an urban area in North America. Having grown up in Edmonton I would often hike and bike in the river valley. Decades later I still enjoy exploring and painting some of these places as a tangible reminder that one does not need to go far in order to enjoy some great parkland and scenery. It may not be the same as a mountain vista, but the terrain and beauty that the river valley offers can be equally enjoyed especially so close to home.
As an Alberta based artist with a career spanning over 20 years, I’m particularly known for my urban landscapes, which aim for luminosity, welcoming moods, and evocative night scenes. However, after traveling extensively throughout the wilderness areas of Alberta, BC, and the Territories, I became alarmed by the disturbance and impact on wildlife and their habitat from residential, industrial and recreational activities, even in the remotest areas. I am convinced we need to protect habitat and corridors for flora and fauna, and believe that organizations such as the EALT are critical to the successful survival of wildlife and plant species.
Sabina Bonifazi is a pastoral artist, whose use of pastels, watercolors and acrylics, carries the viewer into the presence of paintings that reflect nature’s showcase. She paints with a passion and creative flare that captures the world around her in an insightful and photogenic style. Inspired by nature’s beauty, Sabrina’s paintings convey special moments and impressions of rural life. A self taught artist who began drawing and painting at a young age, she lives on a Parkland acreage and continues to challenge her creativity by playing with light and shadows, colors and angles, eyes and expressions.
I try to create paintings that touch my heart and make me fall in love again and again. Then, I can help others feel what I feel as the brush touches canvas, evoking the emotions that run rampant through me as I attempt to capture what I see as I view the glory of nature. I work in a realist fashion, striving to achieve that extra something that makes my subjects important and interesting. I strive to make my work the best it can be, and continuously seek new avenues to learn more and make my best become even better.
Susan Casault spent her childhood on a small family farm in central Alberta and has always felt a strong connection to the prairie landscape. Now living on an acreage west of Edmonton, Susan is constantly inspired by her diverse surroundings. Working in both graphite and coloured pencil, her evocative drawings range from close up glimpses of nature to prairie vistas. In the drawing Debutante, Susan was intent on capturing the intricate relationship between light and colour as this young birch reveals her finery.
My work deals with transformation and cyclicity, the interplay between the constructed
world and the natural world, and the way we perceive these realities. The intersection of
personal and public stories is part of that: what is left out of these stories is as important as what is chosen.
I was born and raised in Edmonton, and am deeply aware of the influence of the natural
landscape here on my life and work. My hope is that through my work, I can raise
awareness regarding the impact human intervention has on this delicate environment we call home.