Claydon exhibit at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach until Feb. 26

Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site. (Submitted photo)Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site. (Submitted photo)
Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)
Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)
Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)Plein air painter Darren Claydon on-site as he prepares an oil painting on panel board. (Submitted photo)

For plein air painter Darren Claydon, it’s important to get across the vitality of place for others to appreciate.

“I try to bring you to that place using a variety of colour and form and gesture in a very spontaneous fashion,” he said.

Claydon, from Savary Island, will exhibit his latest work at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach until Feb. 26, 2022. His show, which can also be viewed online at TOSH’s website, showcases 31 landscapes done with oil paint on panel board.

The majority of his work, he said, is done on-site out in nature, usually within a set time frame.

“When things are changing so fast in the environment and you’re working with a lot of paint, three hours is the range I like to work in.”

Most of Claydon’s work is done a smaller scale, given the nature of on-site plein air paintings. Smaller scale also lends itself to his process so he isn’t weighed down by large hefty canvases when travelling to different locations.

He also found that working within a time frame doesn’t give him space to overwork his art.

“When you work from a photograph, you can work it forever until you get it to look like the photograph. But I want it to look more like it was done in the moment.”

Claydon prefers painting on panel board since he finds the paint is absorbed less by wood than it would be by actual canvas.

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He found the paint slides easier across wood, giving his style a looser, more in-the-moment feeling. He prefers the paint quality to be visceral and almost sculptural, especially when working with “a good amount” of it on a smaller scale.

Although Claydon has been told his work brings a fresh perspective of the West Coast landscape, he still hopes to add something “old” to it – drawing on his influences such as the Group of Seven and Vincent Van Gogh.

“If it was good enough for Tom Thompson, it’s good enough for me,” he said with a chuckle. “I love what they could do with the material of the paint and the size that we’re working in. So I try to emulate some of that,” he said, adding he draws inspiration from historical painters.

Before putting brush to board, Claydon will do a preliminary sketch in either pencil or maker, using very gestural lines, and will try to keep that integrity in the painting when it comes time.

“I like my paintings to have a graphic quality, but not a flat graphic quality… I still want you to see the hand of the artist in there.”

Since moving to Savary Island nine years ago, he said his favourite subject to paint has changed to landscapes, but in the past he’s done plenty of portraitures and still life.

“I think my style lends itself best to landscape and allows me to be the most expressive. It allows me to manipulate the world around me, which I think my brushstroke and my technique really show.”

The TOSH exhibit is Claydon’s first larger solo show, however, he has had several individual pieces in group shows and a smaller exhibit on Savary Island.

For those that attend his exhibit in-person, he said he hopes viewers walk away with a better appreciation for plein air painting.

“It’s something that’s not done a lot anymore, but was something that was certainly done a lot in the past. I still think its a great way to capture the world around you and to try and give yourself the limits of being in the natural world.”

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

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