Artist in Residency Application

June 11th, 2016

News for out next Artist in Residence program will come out shortly. Please stay tuned!

 

David Lidbetter: The Colour of Winter

June 5th, 2016

“Late Lies the Wintry Sun”

Now that the gallery is up open and running, we’re excited to announce our first solo exhibition of the season. From now until July 20th, come experience David Lidbetter‘s The Colour of Winter. 

“Tea Lake”

David works from a simple premise. He heads into the wild to find his inspiration, but he doesn’t seek out the conventionally picturesque. He looks for scenes that evoke strong emotion, often feelings of isolation and solitude. You can sense his reflective attitude toward his work as he visually ponders distance, depth, and looks for colour in the muted landscapes of winter.

“New Year’s Day”

This winter saw David out in the bush, taking sketches and impressions of Algonquin in winter. “I love the surprising natural sense of balance and design found in landscape,” he says. “The line, the abstract space and fractured colour are what interest me most.” Anyone who’s examined the cracks in the exposed rocks along the trail or looked through the angles in bare tree branches knows what he means. There’s a disorganised symmetry to nature that David captures perfectly.

“Narrow Way”

 We can’t wait for you to experience this exhibit in person. Take in David’s work 10-5, seven days a week until July 20th!

“Northern Sky 2″

June 1st is Right Around the Corner!

May 25th, 2016

In just one week, we’ll be opening our doors for the brand new season, and 2016 is going to be a great year. We seriously can’t wait for our family of art fans and friends to spend some time with us in the awe-inspiring surroundings of Algonquin Provincial Park. And we have some very special announcements to get you excited for this year’s program…

Our 2016 exhibit, Metamorphosis, promises to be fertile ground for conversation and inspiration. This season we’re fascinated by the idea that stasis is a fiction and all life is change. Across biology, ecology, and practices of internal well-being, the art we’ve chosen reflects big ideas. If all life is change, what does our experience of stillness mean? What roles do science and art play in understanding change, and how can they work together? In what ways can we guide change to make things better in ourselves and the world?
Come experience our 2016 lineup of artists and ponder these questions with us!

David Lidbetter, “Morning, Brewer Lake”

We’re very excited to announce that our featured artist for the month of June is David Lidbetter. We’ll be profiling this painter who’s rapidly becoming one of the most potent forces in Canadian art. His muted tones, ingenious takes on perspective and proportion, and all-season passion for Algonquin Park make his work the perfect launch into Spring at the gallery.
We’re thrilled to have David with us, so stay posted as we highlight his work throughout the month of June!

As we hang the new pieces and put the finishing touches on the space, we’re also gearing up for all the things our friends have come to expect. Take in art classes in our gazebo, where you can paint birch bark canoes or learn landscape painting in the style of the Canadian masters. Shop for the perfect gift in our boutique, or stop in for an artist’s talk.
Follow us here on the blog or on our social media channels to stay updated on everything happening at the gallery. Our Twitter is @AlgonquinArt, and you can stay informed on our Facebook page as well! We’ll also be sharing moments on our Instagram, @AlgonquinArtCentre, and keeping abreast of art news, travel, and nature on our Tumblr. There’s a lot of ways to keep in touch and stay informed, so follow us across all of our channels!

All in all, we can’t wait for you to join us and make 2016 a summer to remember in Algonquin.
Experience art in the park!

Off-Season Artists: Andrea Ross

April 28th, 2016

With the off-season drawing to a close, we’re at the VERY LAST Off-Season Artists post! If you haven’t been reading along, that’s when Alex, the man who considers refreshing his web page as refreshing as the spring breeze after a long winter, interviews our artists and unpacks their process.
In this installment, we speak with impressionist landscape painter Andrea Ross!

Andrea Ross and her piece “Shake It Down to Earth

So first off, where are you from? What was your experience of the Canadian landscape growing up?
I was born in Oakville and growing up my family cottaged on Skeleton Lake. I did many canoe trips in the Georgian Bay, Port Severn, and Algonquin areas, so rocks, water, and trees are fully engrained in my enjoyment of the outdoors.

“Benjamin Shoreline”

I notice that in your work you tend toward auburn and muted pinks and golds, with a quality of light that seems a lot like the evening just a little before sunset. There’s a very peaceful quality to your paintings! What attracts you to that aesthetic?
I love the evening time just before the sun goes down when the air is still, the light’s low and at a right angle to the landscape, and the shadows are long. Colours become deeper and much less bleached out by the light. It’s a time when I like to venture out in my canoe or Kayak.

How about your influences? What artists would you say inspire you most?
I very much admire the work of Ottawa artist Philip Craig. Earlier I studied work by Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt as well as the Group of Seven—specifically MacDonald, Thompson, and Jackson).
My mentor, my aunt Eila Ross had a career as a medical artist and I completed a degree in Fine Art at the University of Guelph, concentrating on drawing with the thought that I would go into medical Art. After graduating Guelph, I decided that was enough school for me, so I took a different route and created art for pleasure.

“Hypnotic”

I understand that you’ve done a lot of work in pastels. That seems like a very different medium. How has that influenced the way you paint?
My first love was drawing and with the pastel medium—you can draw with pure colour. I have learned much about colour through my pastel paintings. My goal when switching to oils was to make them look like pastels yet do away with the framing that a pastel requires. I also wanted to work larger, and that’s difficult when you have to frame under glass.

“Sailor’s Rest”

There’s a really neat contrast between your land and trees and your water. There are these bold, broad strokes on the land and a real luminosity in the water. I’d love to hear about how you developed that style!
Generally, I work from drawing with paint to working up the shapes in the design, then creating the form in each major shape and finally working out the details in the focus area. Building the colour from dark to light and intensifying any areas I want the viewer to focus on. There is definitely a process with each painting which I try to follow. Sometimes this process is amazingly fast and in other paintings I slowly work through problem areas.
Sometimes to develop certain feelings I use a specific stroke and change the size and shape of brush.

“Good Footings”

In terms of your subjects, we see a lot of familiar views in your paintings from around Algonquin and the Muskokas. What would you say is your favourite spot in the outdoors?
Without a doubt, my favourite spot is right where I live on Skeleton Lake, but I do love Algonquin Park and am extremely happy to be able to get to the park within an hour and enjoy this fantastic, natural, unspoiled area.

And last but not least, what’s something we might not know about you?
I am a very keen 470 sailor and love to listen to classical music, especially when I paint.

“Hut Hike”

And that’s that for our Off-Season Artists series this year! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as we’ve enjoyed writing.
Now we’re hard at work getting everything ready for the new season, starting June 1st. Stay posted for updates and info about our artists and the activities we’ll be putting on this year. We can’t wait to see you!

Sarah Carlson: Perennial Threshold

April 11th, 2016

Over March Break, we and our partners at Algonquin Provincial Park were fortunate enough to host Sarah Carlson for the Perennial Threshold spring residency. She sent us her description of her time in the park, along with a few pictures of her experience.
Enjoy! 

The wilderness has always brought me great clarity and perspective. Along with a heightened awareness of my surroundings comes increased understanding both of myself as a maker and as a strand in the web of life. Hiking, paddling and climbing are frequent jumping-off points for the conceptual development of my work. Since the diversity of the landscape propels my investigation into human-environment exchanges, I immediately seized the opportunity of being the Perennial Threshold artist in residence at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Going into the Algonquin Art Centre residency, my plan was to cultivate a connection to place and to work on large-scale paintings in preparation for my April solo exhibition in Toronto entitled ReWILDING. This exhibition positions the Canadian Landscape as a site for questioning and (re)imagining relationships between humans and the natural world.

The beautiful yet unpredictable spring weather meant for multiple types of footwear, from snowshoes to traction aids to rain boots.  Hikes and plein air sketches were followed by hours in the studio/cabin translating my experiences onto canvas. I was listening and learning from the trickling creeks, rustling conifers and forest critters. It’s hard not to have multiple “Snow White” moments with birds landing on you and squirrels climbing on you while you’re taking a photograph or painting. I also had the privilege of learning from park naturalists and biologists. These conversations and experiences continue to resonate with me and I am excited for the new directions this residency has inspired!

It was amazing to watch Sarah at work. Her time was so productive she was able to finish some large-scale pieces, which are now on display as part of the ReWilding exhibit at Toronto’s Graven Feather gallery. For a special treat, we were fortunate enough to attend the opening last Friday!

If you’re in the Toronto area before May 1st and cruising around Queen West, we definitely recommend stopping in for the exhibit. These huge canvasses are striking in person, and you get pulled into her otherworldly colours the same way you’re coaxed into the landscape when you’re out in the wild.  Find all the information at Graven Feather’s website!
In the meantime, this was such a successful partnership between Algonquin, Sarah, and the Art Centre that we’re getting more and more excited for our next round of residencies. We can’t wait to get our next one under way, so stay posted!

Off-Season Artists: Jan Wheeler

March 30th, 2016

Just in time for the springy weather, we’ve got another Off-Season Artist! In this series Alex, who spends his time pacing the vaulted halls of the internet, head reverently bowed as his footsteps echo into digital eternity, interviews one of our artists to learn about their process and personality.
This week, it’s landscape painter Jan Wheeler! 

So let’s get right into it. Your style is very difficult to pin down. Your landscapes are both very naturalistic but also otherworldly. There’s a monumentally static quality to your rocks and hills, but they all flow together in swirls and motion. How do you reconcile these seemingly competing elements so effectively?
Each piece sets out to share the rhythms and forces I’ve observed. There’s always an underlying rhythm, perhaps the strong winds of a storm, or a gently rippling breeze.
It’s that underlying rhythm that shapes the piece. Whether sky, water, rocks or hills, the wind flows over and sculpts all. Light and shadows from the skies flow over rocks and hills with the same force and rhythm. I work with all the elements together to create the choreography of the composition. The fluid lines and curving form draw the viewer’s eye smoothly through the piece so they too can feel the wind at play.

“Montreal River Harbour”

Who would you say were your influences in developing this style? It’s quite unlike a lot of other landscape painting out there.
A major influence for me was a contrary one: Cezanne. By that, I mean that while he explored planes of light and form in a landscape, I was aware of a curving form. I knew I had to diverge from his work to find a way to interpret what I was “seeing”.  The artist I consider the key influence would be Henry Moore, whose tumbling, flowing forms enabled me to see how I could develop the flowing movement I was trying to capture.

Paul Cezanne, “La Mont Sainte-Victoire” and Henry Moore, “Reclining Figure”

Wow. Now that you mention it, I can really see that. I understand you also have a great deal of different regional influences. You’ve travelled quite a bit throughout the world—Japan, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Italy—and clearly you’ve used your diverse experiences to hone your style. What overseas experience would you say was the most valuable for making your art what it is today?
I would have to say that my time in London, UK was most valuable. I was able to study the works of many great artists and explore my own interpretation of landscape against that inspirational backdrop.
I played with the curving light and form of London’s plain trees and the rolling hills of the South Downs. During this time of development I worked in an office across from the Tate Gallery, with a Henry Moore sculpture in its front courtyard. His fluid, smooth forms draw the eye through and around the three-dimensional forms almost without awareness.  Seeing his work in situ sent my mind racing through the possibilities of my own developing style by further exploring the fluid movement and rhythms of a landscape.

“Wind Sculpted Skies”

In spite of all that travel, more than any other subject the interaction between big Canadian waters and their skies seems to captivate your attention. I’m thinking of “Wind Sculpted Skies” in particular, one of your most ominous paintings and one of my favourites. What draws you to those subjects?
I’m drawn to the movement in landscape and want to capture a scene, not in its stillness, but in its living. Water and skies are rich with rhythm and simply captivating when observing. They’re a challenge for me with complex dramatic shifts that require complex choreography within the composition.
“Wind Sculpted Skies” is a scene from the shores of Lake Superior. The painting describes a long, age-worn rocky peninsula weathering once again the force of an expansive storm front. Strong winds drive and sculpt the sky, providing a rich choreography for me to work with.

There’s no place quite like Lake Superior, is there? On that note, you’ve done quite a bit of backpacking and canoeing. What’s your favourite natural space to get into in Canada, and why?
The north shore of Lake Superior never fails to inspire and challenge me. I’m captivated by the geologic forces in constant battle there, and on a scale that can be very hard to bring down to even a large canvas. Its geologic age gives it an underlying weight that resonates in the rhythms I observe.
For an artist who loves to work with stormy skies and turbulent water, the great lake provides me with a rich range of awe-inspiring moments.

“Break in the Storm”

Speaking of getting out and working on pieces in the open air, one of the notable things about your paintings is their sheer size and ambition. When you’re in the presence of one, boy does it take over! What’s the process of going from mobile sketch to huge canvas like for you?
It’s great to hear that the paintings are connecting with you.
While on location I sketch, take photos and if I have colour with me, I’ll do a colour study for later reference. The scale and complexity of the scene usually dictates the scale of the final piece. The larger the scale of the scene and the more complex the underlying rhythms, the larger the final painting needs to be.
A final drawing precedes the painting, where I work out the rhythm in the landscape in a finished composition. This is important in order to have a consistent flow for the eye to follow; to draw the viewer into the underlying dance of the scene.
On canvas, I can develop the flowing scene more as the brush moves and blends the colour throughout the piece. The largest piece I’ve completed is a 48”x60”, which, if you know me, is as big as I am and that brings its own challenges.  The extra work is worth it though as a larger canvas lets me develop and express more dramatic and complex scenes.

And last but not least, just for fun: what’s something we might not know about you?
Well, over the years I’ve had encounters with a lot of wildlife: a bobcat, fisher, weasels, elk, bears and many more. But probably the most memorable was when I was kissed by a camel in the Saudi desert.
I was with my husband and a group of friends, heading across flat sands to the Red Sea for some snorkelling when we came across a female camel and her two youngsters.
We stopped some distance away and watched quietly, taking pictures. The curious young camels playfully approached, soon followed by the mother. Everyone in my group backed up out of range, worried about an attack by the mother.  I could see the mother wasn’t stressed and felt it best if I just stood quietly, making no moves.
The kids stopped before they reached me and looked on with curiosity but kept their distance. It was the mother who stepped up to me. She slowly, gently sniffed my face, my hair and then gently rubbed a cheek. She looked at me carefully one more time and then her incredibly long tongue washed my face in a big kiss. Astonished, yet careful not to move, I spoke to her quietly, thanking her, and watched as she and her kids went on their way.

“Shimmering Lumsden Lake”

That’s it for Jan Wheeler! She’s a delight and we can’t get enough of her art…
Check in soon for our next Off-Season Artists post!

Our 2016 Artist in Residence

March 18th, 2016

We’re so excited to announce that we’ve selected an artist for our Spring 2016 residency, Perennial Threshold.! Friends of Algonquin Art Centre and lovers of all things art and nature… meet Sarah Carlson!

Sarah’s an artist from the GTA with a BFA from York University and a close relationship with the outdoors. She’s explored the backcountry in every way you can imagine, from cycling and paddling to hiking and scaling rock walls!
Her work straddles a number of different media including painting, printmaking, repurposed objects, and collage, while combining seemingly disparate techniques like representative portraiture and geometric abstraction. Just now she’s fascinated by mystical encounters between the realms of the human and the wild. Her work treats themes of growth, decay, symbiosis, and regeneration. You can see why she’s a perfect fit for Perennial Threshold!
Just take a look at this composite piece, “Canmore Caribou.”

From March 11th to the 21st, our partners at Algonquin Provincial Park have provided Sarah lodgings at their Clarke Lake cabin. She’ll be able to use that as a base of operations for her explorations, art-making, and the much needed time in the wild that every naturist-creator needs.
Sarah will also be leading activities and demonstrations at the Visitor Centre at various points throughout the week and they’re open to the public. So stay posted for exact dates and times.
In the meantime, congratulations to Sarah. We can’t wait to see what you get up to in this beautiful part of Ontario!

 

2016 Programs

March 18th, 2016

We will be posting our current programs soon.

Off-Season Artists: Rich Baker

March 13th, 2016

It’s here! Another post in our Off-Season Artists series, in which Alex, the guy who draws a fiery crucible full of molten data out of the web-furnace with his bare hands, interviews our favourite artists for your winter reading pleasure!
This time around, he speaks to one of
 our most fun and eclectic artists, sculptor Rich Baker

First off, it’s nice to speak with a southwestern Ontario boy with a love of the outdoors, not unlike myself! Can you tell me a little bit about growing up, and the process of finding your place in the artistic world?
I was born in Grimsby Ontario and enjoyed most of my teenage years living at the base of the escarpment in Winona. I spent a good deal of my childhood exploring that Escarpment. School, much to my parents’ dismay, was never a priority for me. My mind would always be wandering, to past and planned adventures of the outdoors: hiking, cycling, walking the orchards that surrounded my home with my trusted BB gun, anything but paying attention to the task at hand… school. This is where my addiction to the outdoors and wildlife was founded. Growing up, music was always around our family. My parents met while my dad was a musician in a band. I think my mom was a groupie… she would never have admitted to that, though! The professional music phase of my life didn’t start until I was in my late twenties. I like “left turns” in life, so I packed up everything and went on the road, playing for well over 13 years. Shortly after meeting my wife Jenn, I decided it was time to put the road behind me and get serious with music and try my hand at writing songs. As far as the music industry in Canada was back then, I was one of the fortunate ones. Landing some number ones, top fives and top twenties on the country music charts. It fuelled my artistic cravings for some time. But nothing remains the same… thankfully.

I have to say, you’re certainly one of the most eclectic artists we’ve had at the Art Centre. Artist, musician, sculptor… that’s quite a roster! The only common denominator seems to be creativity. It seems that you’ve settled pretty comfortably into metalwork these days.What made you decide to focus the bulk of your attention in that direction?
I’ll be perfectly honest: metal sculpture is a bit of an anomaly. I’ve had training in welding, but this art medium… it’s a complete fluke. I believe some of the best things in life come to us that way. For me, I believe that each piece I do is a story, something I’ve seen or witnessed, experienced first hand, or heard of in the news. To me, it’s quite similar to songwriting. Rather than putting pen to paper on what I have in my mind, I hammer it out in steel… country music gone Heavy Metal, so to speak!

“Clear Cut View”

Within metalworking, you have a huge focus on animals and birds. What attracts you to wildlife?
As I mentioned in the beginning, the outdoors has always drawn me in. If I’m not in my shop working, then I’m outdoors, hiking, exploring, and trying my best not to fall into the swampy areas that surround our home. If I’m not outside, as my wife Jenn will attest, I’m staring out the window or pacing the floor dreaming about getting out there. Out here, we reside in an area that is at the base of a wonderful lake and conservation area. I’m extremely fortunate to view an amazing amount of wildlife right from my yard. Deer, wild turkey, fox, coyotes, incredible majestic wolves, and, of course, numerous birds of prey. The birds of prey have always drawn me in, probably because of my love for flying. They soar over my house and call out to one another as I watch from below until my neck gets sore. Bald Eagles, Osprey, Red Tail Hawks and Falcons, they are all truly incredible to witness on a daily basis. Each time I see the different wildlife, it’s an inspiration in it’s truest form, right in front of me. I know I’m spoiled.

Now, you’re speaking to someone who spends most of his time dealing with paintings. Sculpture is a bit of a mystery to me! I’d love it if you’d take us through your process a bit. How does a piece go from inspiration to idea to structure to sculpture? What are the challenges along the way?
I am a very visual person. Each time I see something that captures my attention, the first thing that’s going through my mind is,”how can I make that.” Usually, I’ll toss the idea around in my head for a while. Then I’ll tack up as many pictures as I can of the subject in my shop, surrounding myself with the creature, living with it for a bit. Pictures work best in lieu of bringing the actual animal into my shop… I don’t believe they’d sit still long enough. I’ve discovered that I have the ability to look at a subject and figure out the anatomy. Where this ability comes from, is part of the magic of what I do. I don’t mean to sound evasive or vague about the process, but I just start cutting metal. As I’ve often explained, it’s as if my eyes are just watching (front row seat if you will) what my hands are doing, and it comes together. For each piece of the subject, I hand cut, hammer into the shape and then weld in place. I usually start with the nose (or beak) of the creature to get the proper sizing. This alone could be up to 10 individual pieces, carefully placed together. I then work my way back from there. I see and look for the finite details in everything I do; I am not an abstract artist by any means. This is always a challenge to me, to make metal look, well, not like metal. My goal is always to create the illusion, that the closer you get to one of my pieces, the more details you will see, as if you’re right up close and personal to the animal. That is what I strive for.

“Phase Blaster”

Apart from your wildlife pieces, I notice that in the industrial pieces you have a tendency toward the use of found objects. That must be a very different process from your scratch built wildlife sculptures. Can you talk a little bit about what goes into making one of these fantastical objects?
These works, at times “Steampunkish,” allow me to use a different side of my brain. It’s like a puzzle to me. My wife and I enjoy spending time at auctions and junk yards, and it’s there that we find those unique and interesting components that inspire and become, well, anything. It usually starts with one certain piece. From that I’ll add to it, sometimes taking weeks, even months, to complete a vision. Usually, the hardest part is to know when it’s done, since the subject matter that I’m putting together is quite often fictitious. Making these type of works gives my mind and my hands a bit of a break. They aren’t very labour intensive on my hands; no cutting or pounding is usually required. I love ‘em.

“Screech Owl”

You also seem like a guy who likes to have a good laugh and some fun with his art. How does that sense of play enter into it?
I do like creating things that make people smile. I don’t consider myself a “serious subject matter” artist. I’m not trying to shock someone into seeing a point of view on anything. If someone laughs at, or with, something I’ve made, then I’ve gotten their attention, and as an artist in today’s “quick” world, I believe that’s a good thing.Today’s society is filled with a lot of painful, trying circumstances. I for one would not like to contribute to that. Art should make one smile; humour to me goes hand in hand with that.

And last but not least, what’s something fun we might not know about you?
I am a fishing fanatic, plain and simple. I was even fortunate enough to spend almost two years as a fishing guide along the Trent River system. I didn’t even mind if no one was booked for the day. That would just mean more fishing time for me!

“River Bank Bounty”

So that’s that for our friend Rich Baker! It was an absolute pleasure speaking with him…
Check back in soon for our next Off-Season Artists!

Off-Season Artists: Joseph Koensgen

March 1st, 2016

It’s that time again! Here’s our next edition of Off-Season Artists! That’s where Alex, who takes flight on majestic wings of Wifi, spends a little time talking to our favourite creators.
In this instalment,  he interviews painter, photographer, hiker, and conservationist, Joseph Koensgen.
Enjoy! 

So Joseph, I’d love to hear a little bit about what life was like growing up. Did you live in the Winnipeg area all your life? When did your fascination with the outdoors begin?
Yes, I have lived in the Winnipeg area my whole life. I grew up just outside of Winnipeg where there were many forests and fields close by. I was always an outdoors kid, wanting to explore, and I was just generally interested in being in nature. I always had a love of animals and any chance I could get to try and see some I would, with most of my observations coming from backyard birds at the birdfeeder. I also had the great fortune of many family trips to Riding Mountain National Park, a place I still frequent. This gem in Manitoba played a huge part in my love of nature as its untouched landscape inspired me then, and still does today.

I believe it! Part of that affinity for the outdoors seem to stem from a tremendous love for hiking. I’m guessing that came about when you were younger as well. Your Instagram is full of images of big-sky Manitoba from a natural, isolated vantage point. Where are your favourite places to hike? And aside from providing visual subjects for your painting, how does being out in nature contribute to your art?
I absolutely love to hike. Getting out into nature with a good trail and a camera is one of my favourite things to do, and my Instagram feed would give a pretty good glimpse of what I like to do and where I like to go. My favourite places to hike in Manitoba are Riding Mountain National Park and Whiteshell Provincial Park. A little closer to home would be Bird’s Hill Provincial Park, a smaller but equally enjoyable place to hike. Each season in these places offers something different with the pinnacle of colour and inspiration being the fall. Being in these places and getting inspired by a scene is what goes into my art. Seeing it and feeling it means I am able to put those things, as best I can, into my art. I’ve noticed that my best work comes from something directly inspired by an experience rather than something I’ve pieced together from multiple locations. Not to say that I can’t be inspired by many things, but a rewarding feeling is being patient enough to capture a scene as it happens, and translate that into a piece of art. There is always a range of emotions I experience when this happens and it’s a delight to see it come out in my art.

This set of passions also must tie into your work as a naturalist and conservationist. Can you tell me a bit about your background there? What led you down that path? What kind of work do you do in those fields?
It was a fairly recent addition to my passion as a nature artist. As I had grown in my interest and skill as a nature artist, I began to read and learn more about the concerns and conservation issues all around me. I then joined an organization called Artists for Conservation in 2013, which was doing something that I wanted to do myselfuse art as an avenue to raise awareness and money for the conservation of the natural world. And since then I have been involved in their annual shows and have used my art and sales for just that. I have also submitted art for the Ducks Unlimited Canada National Art Portfolio, which sells prints to raise money for wetland conservation. I have had the honour of being selected in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. This has been a wonderful experience, and I will continue to submit work, as well as work with other conservation organizations.

“Frost”

Moving on to your art, I notice a real visual unity in each painting. It’s something about the way you bring together your tones and compositions to make the wildlife one with their surrounding landscape. It really does remind me of encountering wildlife on a hike. It’s always an amazing moment, but without the accentuation or fanfare that some painters might add to their wildlife subjects. How did you arrive at that style?
When I was young, I wasand still amvery inspired by one of the great wildlife painters, Robert Bateman. I studied his work when I was young and well into high school. After taking a long break, I found myself wanting to do art again. I bought a camera and started up again, working from my pictures. I usually try and depict the animal the way I’ve seen it, in its natural setting without getting too lost into how I think it would act or behave. And the experience of seeing these animals is something I’m striving to recreate at the easel. Of course, I’m also interested in a pleasing composition, but I’ve hopefully steered clear of anthropomorphizing my subject too much. But there is a certain look to my art that I am going for. I like colour harmony and pleasing shapes and motions in my paintings. I like to keep the realism to a point to where you could say, “I’ve seen something like that!” I love hearing that, because if my art brings someone back to somewhere or something they’ve experienced, then I know I’ve captured it well.

“Calm”

In terms of wildlife, birds seem to be your most enduring subject. What makes them such a favourite of yours?
It started from a young age. I had always been interested in animals, and birds were very accessible because I could sit at the window and watch them come to the backyard bird feeder. It was a fantastic venture for a kid interested in nature. I would love to see what types of birds would show up and at what time of year. As well as researching what types of things would get uncommon species out in front of my camera. As I got older my affinity for birds remained, and I have been able to see more and more types of birds as my travels have expanded and the digital age of cameras has made it easy to capture. 

I notice that in your paintings—even when they’re a sweeping mountain image like “Across the Valley,” which I love!—you often seem to be working from a high angle or zoomed in close. It’s often a creature framed by the ground or foliage around them, without extending the composition upwards into the sky. Is that the focused photographer in you? The naturalist’s scrutiny?

“Across the Valley”

By the way, while we’re speaking of “Across the Valley,” where did that painting originate? It looks like parts of the Yukon to me.
I would say that is more the focused photographer in me. I do want to accurately portray the settings I choose, so the naturalist in me pays attention to that, but my art is heavily influenced by my eye as a photographer. Although, recently I have been inspired to expand my paintings into some more large and sweeping compositions that include skies and mountains. Mostly because of a recent trip to the Yukon, as you accurately noticed about one of the first paintings I did from that trip, “Across the Valley”. The Yukon was one of the most amazing natural wilderness areas I’ve been to. Huge mountains, large sweeping valleys, and thousands of kilometers of untouched forest. Truly the nature lover’s playground. Even though I have yet to really get many pieces out from that trip thus far, I’ve got a great number of ideas that include these huge skies. I hope to expand my work in that way for a few pieces as I think it’s good to continually change things up and be inspired by different landscapes. It’s also a good thing to keep oneself challenged by new and engaging ideas that at first glance, seem tough to recreate with paint, but would be very rewarding as a finished painting. 

I couldn’t agree more about the Yukon. If the word “epic” were a location, that’d be it! But just to finish up: just for fun, what’s something we might not know about you?
I have been playing the guitar for about 15 years. I started when I was a teenager and just kept it going from there. What I like to play is blues guitar. I’ve always enjoyed blues music and the great expression that can be done when playing a blues guitar solo. I don’t play as often as I used to, but I still enjoy it just as much.

 

 So that’s Joseph Koensgen! It was a pleasure to get to know him…
We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another interview, so stay posted, art lovers!


Algonquin Art Centre - Gallery in the Heart of Algonquin Park

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located at km 20 on Hwy #60

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