Fay St. Marie is moving on.
Instead of continuing on with her successful Ukrainian paintings, the Parksville artist is returning to her roots as a landscape artist.
“I’ve taken a break from it,” she said of the series, which she started soon after a trip to the Ukraine in 2008 and now has 100-plus images in its catalogue.
“I felt I really needed to get back to my landscapes.”
Her latest show, which is at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply, showcases this homecoming. The canvases depict relatively open spaces in Ucluelet, Waterton National Park and Fogo Island in Newfoundland and Labrador, most of which were painted within the past year.
“What draws me to the coast is the wide-open spaces of the ocean,” said the artist, who originally came from the Prairies. “Being on the Prairies, I loved the sky and the vistas.”
Most of the images in the show were first captured as detailed sketches using watercolour, pen and pencil in St. Marie’s trusty notebook, which the painter takes with her when she travels.
“I like to do them right on location,” she said of the drawings. “That’s what makes them exciting.”
The excitement St. Marie speaks of is the “feeling” of a location, which she said she prefers to capture as opposed to a photorealistic image of a place.
“I’m not a realist painter; I’m not an abstract painter; I’m in between,” said St. Marie, adding that her work “looks more realistic from further away.”
This sense of excitement is further drawn out in the artist’s work as she puts an image on canvas. Using her initial sketch as a reference, St. Marie will then redraw the image while focusing on composition.
“I do a lot of sketching before painting,” she said. “It takes a lot of time.”
Once happy with the composition, St. Marie uses mainly acrylic paint to bring an image to life.
St. Marie also uses stamps, as well as other media like ink and paper, to highlight texture, light and mood. If you look close enough, viewers might even notice words and other “little surprises” hidden in the image.
“It’s hard to describe what I do,” she said. “I like a person to go into my painting and figure out how it’s done.”
You can look for yourself for the next couple weeks at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply, where St. Marie also has a still life painting and art cards of her Ukrainian series, both of which are in a similar style to her landscapes.