Friday, August 19, 2016

Exploring the Canadian Landscape with Mark Brennan

If there's anything you can say about artist Mark Brennan's connection to the rugged Canadian landscape it's that it's is a pure one. A naturalist in the truest sense, Mark's love and respect for Canada's deep woods and waterways comes through in every one of his paintings. His work doesn't just represent the wilderness he's engaging with but also embodies his experience with nature.

Mark on a trip to Northern Ontario.

In addition to his paintings Mark also records sound when he's in the woods, creating a multi-sensory experience. And don't think that weather is a deterrent to Mark - he camps all year round, even setting up a special winter tent with a heater where he can submerge himself in nature and paint all year round.

Snow at First Light, Drysden Lake, Pictou Co, Oil on Board, 10"x12"

Here Mark talks about his painting, Snow at First Light, which is a scene from Drysden Lake here in Pictou Co, Nova Scotia:

In the late winter I mostly stay close to home to paint on location. I had gone out to work one morning at a lake about 10km from my studio. The lake seems to run as part of a rough line where the topography changes and becomes mostly Boreal forest. This was what drew me, the Black Spruce swamp, the frozen lake and of course the first light of dawn.

Painting Snow At First Light was about capturing the most fleeting moment that morning, one that lasted perhaps a few minutes and then was gone forever. When I am alone in a place like this, at dawn, about to paint, I try to give myself to the work. I try to bring everything felt, heard or seen to this one focal point, this one birch panel to express a level of truth I had felt. I want to let the landscape flow into me and then out again in the form of a painting. 

 Mark also made his way to the Georgian Bay in Northern Ontario this past year:

Out on the Georgian Bay.

In 2015 I decided on a late fall trip to Killarney Provincial Park on Georgian Bay, made famous by members of the Group Of Seven nearly a century ago. The park actually became protected because of the efforts of several of these iconic landscape painters.

Georgian Bay Shoreline, Oil on Canvas, 30"x40"
 The painting, Georgian Bay Shoreline, was inspired just after arriving at the edge of Georgian Bay on my last day; I was soon to be heading East towards Muskoka. I had only ever seen glimpses of the Great Lakes before, mostly from highways or while on a train trip across Canada in the 1990’s. Georgian Bay reminded me of my insignificance, everything about this place was vast, the lake, sky, the granite shoreline. I remember climbing down over the worn rocks peering into the depths of this great lake listening to the waves breaking with a deep sigh . The light at the forest edge pulled the fall colours from the shore Maples; they shone with an intensity I was to see later in places like Algonquin and Killbear Provincial Parks. This place deserved to be painted. 

Both Georgian Bay Shoreline and Snow at First Light are up at the gallery right now along with other new work by Mark, like this stunning painting March Sunrise:

March Sunrise, Piper Lake, Pictou County, NS, Oil on Board, 16"x18"

See more of Mark's work online here and the rest of the show at the gallery until August 31st.