This acrylic painting by Lisa Riehl is one of 28 that are on display at TOSH until Nov. 18 for her solo exhibit. — Submitted by Lisa Riehl

Nature from a distance — gallery in Qualicum Beach

Victoria painter showing new work at TOSH exhibit Oct. 30-Nov. 18

Lisa Riehl’s artistic style is along the lines of “less is more.”

The acrylic painter of West-Coast scenes said she has a deep love for the beaches, trees and mountains that make up the bulk of her work.

But her interest is not in exhaustively cataloguing every branch, stone and pine-needle.

Instead, her work is a distillation of the photos she takes as reference, with the aim of bringing people into the mists and sunrise mornings she paints, whether they’ve been there before or not.

Riehl has 28 paintings for a new solo exhibit at TOSH that she’s made to do just that. The exhibit, running from Oct. 30-Nov. 18 features some of her older work, but mostly new paintings from the past year, with several that have not been seen before.

Asked to describe her style, she said, “I paint fairly boldly — I guess impressionistic, where, from a distance, it looks like a real scene, but you get closer and you can see the individual brush strokes, and it looks a lot less real. It’s not high realism, unless you’re at a distance.”

But getting to that impressionism is a process that begins with far more detailed references.

“I take a ton of photographs wherever I go,” she said.

Those photographs make up the majority of her reference material, but before painting from them, she uses various Photoshop methods to change them.

“I find if I paint from a really complicated reference, I get bogged down in the detail and I don’t enjoy it as much,” Riehl said.

“I do make a lot of my design choices on the computer before I even start painting. It’s part of my creative process.

“So I will take the photograph and then I will edit them and I will simplify the composition, I’ll saturate the colours, maybe I’ll blur it a little bit and make it look a little bit more painterly before I even start painting.”

“My goal is (capturing) the feeling that I had when I was there, just the overall sense, the simplicity of the scene. So Photoshop helps me achieve that.

But the physical painting remains integral to Riehl’s art, she said.

“It makes me feel more connected with the scene, I think, to actually go through the hours of painting after I’ve spent the time getting what I want to paint ready to go.”

Another part of Riehl’s process is to sometimes paint over brightly coloured canvasses, leaving a bold orange or other bright, complimentary colour at the edges of trees or mountains.

Asked what effect she hopes her work will have on people, she said, “Not everybody is lucky to see those places in person, so I hope that they can feel the sense of what it’s like to be there. And if they do go to those sort of places, hopefully it will make them bring back the memories of when they were there.

“So if they can feel even just a little bit of the energy that I felt while I was creating it, then that makes me feel awesome.”

Riehl’s exhibit runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 18 at TOSH in Qualicum Beach, with an opening reception on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.

For more info, go to www.theoldschoolhouse.org/.

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