Organic Abstract

Laurie Near is a Canadian artist and teacher who is currently making an impressive impact on the local art scene. Carol Feeney, Executive Director at the Quinte Arts Council comments "Laurie is a brilliant artist who has won many awards including the Juror’s Choice Award at Quinte Arts Council’s Expressions visual art exhibit at the John M. Parrott Gallery as the jurors believed that her piece was the best in show.  When I have Laurie’s art in our gallery and gift shop, people are literally drawn off the street when they see her vibrant, unique work.  She is a very talented woman and great teacher with an exceptionally bright future in her field."
Laurie has held a life long interest in the visual arts and has early recollections of painting as a child, remembering “the eggy smell of the tempera, the rustling of that flowered plastic smock” and her feelings that it very serious play at that time. “I’ve never been afraid of a blank page or empty canvas.”

Over the years her passion for art has matured along with her style, which, as a relatively new and emerging artist, Laurie has managed to develop and form into a recognized signature form of painting. Laurie says that one might term this style as ‘organic abstract’, adding that she has been painting seriously and with focus since 2009. “When I first started with acrylics, the paintings were whimsical and bright; playful compositions featuring flowers, dragonflies, petulant cats, cat-ladies, pregnant figures…these ‘early’ compositions were used as a means to transition from the tight control of the photorealistic drawings I’d been doing at the time - and as a way to experiment with various techniques and acrylic colour combinations.”

Her current series according to her website, originates from a concept central to Zen Buddhism where “Satori” is described as a state of sudden spiritual enlightenment in which one becomes able to recognize and appreciate the “true essence or nature” of things. As a strong believer in basic philosophies regarding the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world, Laurie is an avid naturalist and ‘these works are infused with symbols, colours and shapes inspired by elements of nature.’ She adds “a sense of wonder and appreciation can serve as powerful catalysts for creative expression –spiny lobsters; fiery opals; a crisp white lotus flower; the peculiar habits of bowerbirds....there is no end to the list of amazing things around us.”
As an artist, Laurie is most inspired by writings, music and artworks. She describes herself as a voracious reader taking a great interest in artist’s biographies. “I'm not only interested in their artwork but also in their thought-processes and interactions with others and the structure and cadence of their daily lives.” She also tends to read texts which speak to ‘the human condition’ and those which explore issues of spirituality and interconnectedness. Music is also an important source of inspiration during her creative process and Laurie adds that she enjoys the simple harmonies of indie performers. Artworks also have a role in this artists inspiration. “When I first started to paint I was most taken with Klimpt and various Abstract Expressionists. With time, I’ve come to really appreciate the more elegant and understated work of Canadian artists such as Otto Rogers and Alex Colville.  While their individual styles are quite different, I have great respect for the quiet power of their neutral colour-palettes - and the underlying sense of spirituality present in their work.”

As a teacher, Laurie says “I strongly believe in the importance of providing balance between the passing on of specialized knowledge and practice time with tools and media - and real opportunities for risk-taking, creativity and self-expression. It's part of the art-teachers job to provide students with a variety of techniques to choose from, how to achieve certain effects, common pitfalls to avoid...however, focus too much on the technical and you lose the potential power and beauty inherent in more personal and spontaneous art-making. Fear can be a serious block to artistic expression; I’ve found that both youth and adults work best in an environment where they feel safe and supported, where questions and risk-taking are encouraged. It's important to understand that it's okay to make mistakes - and that frustration can be as much a part of the artistic process as the joy.”
The artwork of Laurie Near hangs in a number of galleries and in private collections
across Canada, the U.S.A. and the U.K. To view her work, please visit her Website: or check her out on FaceBook at LaurieNearART.

Janet Jarrell


  1. Great article. And I love the new look and feel of the blog.


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