Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Joyce Burkholder “There’s art in them there hills”

The hamlet of Wilno is nestled in the beautiful, rocky hills of the Madawaska valley and is home to Canadian Wilderness Artist Joyce Burkholder. Many refer to this area as God’s Country, and for good reason- the hills afford breathtaking views of the surrounding forests and lakes, and serve as a natural backdrop for the work of an outdoor artist. Joyce has dedicated the better part of her life to her work, “it has been, and still is hugely fulfilling to be a full-time professional painter of the stunningly beautiful landscape of wilderness Ontario.”

Born and raised in Toronto, Joyce attended the Ontario College of Art and Design (formerly known as OCA), an education that was to be just the beginning of a lifetime of learning. In her early 20’s, she made the decision to “get back to the land”, so she headed north, originally settling west of Wilno in the country near Maynooth where she lived for the next 25 years. It was about this time that Joyce found a cottage style building in Wilno surrounded by perennial gardens that would make a perfect studio and gallery. She says that this inspiration came from a visit to Sante Fe some thirty years prior where she came across Canyon Road, a stretch of “artist-owned galleries in funky little houses.”

Joyce is an award winning painter known for her outstanding and passionate landscapes of the Canadian backcountry, notably many from Algonquin Provincial Park. No fair-weather artist, Joyce goes out to paint on location in every season with all of the challenges this has to offer, be it hot days, rain, the bugs and the cold. Whether on foot, canoe or snowshoe, she heads out into the wild to paint. She has painted on beautiful winter days at temperatures of -30 - she recalls “the beauty and clarity of light is astonishing” yet, it gets uncomfortably cold and this can make the paint very thick and hard to work with. She says that she “loves the rush of arriving at an inspiring location especially if there is dramatic lighting.” Then the mystical work begins, as Joyce transforms her vision and tells the exciting story through the paint; her painting being an emotional reaction to her environment.

This emotion, her passion and her primal connection to nature certainly come through in her art. Painting on location gives her a fresh and spontaneous edge and allows her to convey that feeling of really being there. She works with oils, acrylics and watercolours, using many layers of this glaze giving her images depth.

Adding another layer to her work, Joyce shares her passion, “it is exciting, dynamic and inspiring, especially being part of an identified female trio of painters we branded as “Wild Women” who have all made a similar commitment to portraying and preserving our natural environment.” She says of the group, “joining together with Kathy Haycock and Linda Sorensen continues to enrich and expand my career in ways I never imagined...it is like everything gets multiplied by three.” The Wild Women co-authored a book, ‘Wild Women: Painters of the Wilderness’, which Joyce admits stands out as a great life achievement.
If you would like to see first-hand these award winning works of art, check out the Madawaska Valley Studio Tour this Summer (July 22-23) and Fall (Sept 30-Oct1), or for a more hands on experience, Joyce offers workshops from May to September. You too can get back to the land and paint on location in our beautiful Ontario wilderness.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

San Murata and the The Truth about Art

photo san-murata.com
Anyone who meets San Murata knows that he is someone whom you won’t soon forget. Lively, charismatic and honest; he is certainly a true reflection of his art. He currently lives in the small historic town of Grafton where he loves to paint the beautiful Northumberland countryside. He also enjoys spending time in Quebec during the colder months to paint. The painting on the front cover is a scene from winter, one of the things San says he likes most about Canada, particularly in Quebec.

San grew up in Japan, with admittedly a stricter social system, which encourages all children to work hard in school and go to university. San’s father was a banker and wanted his children to be professionals, so San studied at the University of Musashi in Tokyo, and although he says he wasn’t the best student, he graduated with a degree in Economics. He, too, worked at a banking job but it was always his dream to one day be an artist.

In the late 60’s, San travelled to Canada to “have a look around”, and he liked what he saw. He liked Canadian people and their free style, and decided to stay. He made Toronto his new home and further, made the transition from banking into the art world. He entered many art competitions and was soon recognized for his graphic design skills. This eventually lead to a career in graphic design for network television, a career that San admits was less about the actual art and more about the design and details that go into making a show.
photo san-murata.com
After many years working for CityTV, GlobalTV and the CTV National News, San was ready to realize his dream of becoming an artist. For the past twenty years he has been painting landscapes with a self-described ‘na├»ve style.’ His main medium is gouache – opaque pigments ground in water and then thickened with a glue-like substance. This medium is used to shape the relationship between the subjects on the canvas. The result somehow gives the viewer a felling about the painting – a feeling of joy.

Today, at 76, he still enjoys painting and says he is improving every day. He says “with age comes experience and with experience comes the truth.” He goes on to say that everything is finally beautiful, the truth opens up everything. Further, imaginations adds another dimension to it all. Painting for San is telling the truth; the truth that is in his heart. The love and passion he has for painting, such things are important and they come out onto the canvas. This is the truth in his art.

Although we have focused on his painting here, San is also an accomplished jazz violinist. Of his talents he says “whether on canvas or in a jazz club, I want to provide an opportunity to experience joy.” Indeed, he has succeeded.

San Murata is currently featured on the cover of The Link magazine. For more information about this artist please go to san-murata.com