How do you capture an inspired view of the River? In memories? Perhaps digitally, or yesterday on film? Alice Burton’s memories are captured on canvas and exhibited in art galleries, close to home in Toronto and Montreal, or touring in New York, Europe, and South America.
This month her latest exhibition opened at the Galerie Jean-Claude Bergeron in Ottawa. The Exhibit will run to April 26th and features new works. “Her vibrant colourful landscapes bring some life and warmth after a never-ending winter,” suggested gallery owner Monsieur Bergeron. And so they do.
I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception, as well as visiting Alice in her home and studio, high on the cliffs in Ivy Lea, overlooking the Niddery Islands. The views from her windows form the basis for many works. However, her paintings also take us far beyond the St. Lawrence River to India and China.
Her art career began as a young child, as she knew she loved colors and would happily spend her allowance and later her salary on art supplies. However, practicality took over, leading to a public nursing degree from McGill University. Her artistic talent was soon recognized when her supervisor asked if she would decorate the St. Michael’s Hospital windows, for the holidays!
Over the years, she took art courses at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art, printmaking at Humber College, and eventually began her serious art studies; graduating in 1987, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Painting & Drawing from York University in Toronto.
The Burtons, for many summers, came to the Thousand Islands by boat from Toronto. Then, after many summers spent on sailing expeditions in & about the Islands, they settled on purchasing a cottage at 'Swift Water Point,' about 20 years ago.
In 2004, her exhibition, Downriver Series, opened at the prestigious Moore Gallery in Toronto. The works, completed over a single year, depicted all four seasons in the Thousand Islands. As she stated, “The works were inspired by the landscape and the majesty and never-ending movement of the Great St. Lawrence River.”
In 2006, a new painting series Riverworks opened at the Moore Gallery, where she continued the visual interpretation of the Islands and the St. Lawrence River. One of her paintings in that series, “High Water”, served as inspiration for a new work completed this past year.
“I took on a daunting commissioned work, for a client, with an architecturally designed home, in the 1000 Islands. It was my largest work to date. The clients’ great room was 23 ft. high; the wall next to the fireplace 9 ft. wide. We decided on a work 12 ft. high & 7 ft. wide. As it turned out, the constraints of my building required me to trim 4 inches from each dimension.” Alice recalled, “This work was a more disciplined approach, but still a great learning opportunity, with an emphasis on colour, texture and line – and it had to include a St. Lawrence Skiff!”
Throughout my visit with Alice I was struck by her imagery, her passion for reflections, and her creativity. Her home is filled with whimsical collections and memories - many of which, thankfully, are captured on canvas for all to enjoy.
2014 Acrylic on canvas 46 X 56 in
2014 Mixed media on canvas 20 X 40 in
Silk Road and Beyond:
In 1998, I was indeed fortunate to travel the fabled route of the ancient Silk Road by rail, from Beijing to Kashgar, in the westernmost part of China. The very mention of the words “Silk Road” stirred up my western imagination, with images of ancient Chinese dynasties and sensuous delights. As an artist and history buff, I anticipated the journey with relish.
(Several paintings from this collection were exhibited at the Jamie Kennedy restaurant - Royal Ontario Museum from June 4 to September 1, 2002.)
1999 Acrylic and image transfer on canvas 30 X 30 in
Inspired by my impressions of Japan – both the importance, the Japanese place on their own seasons, and the spare yet eloquent simplicity, of much of their art and design – I began a new series of works that reduced the elements of the Canadian seasons, to their bare essentials.
I wanted to paint, not only what the seasons looked like, but how they felt, to succeed in “the momentary capturing of an essence or mood.” In so doing, I completed the circle of my artistic journey: I found that I had to have some recognizable features of the Canadian landscape in my works.
2004 Acrylic and charcoal on canvas 43 x 69 in
I spend a lot of time highway driving. On these journeys, the mind goes into neutral, but the eyes are open and they observe. The trees pass by, continuously and intermittently. They are in my peripheral vision. Small, big, deciduous, evergreen, red, green, yellow and leafless trees. They become a combination of observation and memory.
2010 Mixed media on canvas 22 x 28 in
I spend a lot of time highway driving. On these journeys the mind goes into neutral, but the eyes are open and they observe. The trees pass by, continuously and intermittently. They are in my peripheral vision. Small big deciduous, evergreen, red green yellow and leafless trees. They become a combination of observation and memory.
Four separate paintings pictured together. “Crimson Shore” “Shoreline Red Oxide” “Winter Shoreline” and “Dawn Shoreline” These paintings appeared in the Shoreline Exhibit
To see all of Alice Burton’s work: www.aliceburton.com
By Susan W. Smith, email@example.com
Editor, TI Life.