Art exhibit takes viewers into ‘the sticks’

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – Jaye Ouellette’s property in Arisaig sits in the middle of nature at its finest.

Joan Krawczyk is pictured with one of her pieces for “In The Sticks,” an art show at The Bistro depicting different tree scenes. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS

From her window, she can look out at an abundance of trees and watch the waves of the Northumberland Strait.

It stands to reason that after painting the ocean, she decided to try her hand at the next piece of landscape she sees every day.

“It’s more fun. I can make parts up,” she said about painting trees. “It’s more loose, and I enjoyed that.”

Painting waves didn’t allow for much wiggle room, she said. It required a certain amount of precision in order to capture the light and colour, while trees don’t need be as exact, she said.

Her latest exhibit, “In The Sticks,” with Joan Krawczyk explores the different style over nine paintings.

Both bodies of work encompass radically different vibes: Ouellette’s pieces radiate a bitter chill with the harsh, but beautiful realities of winter as it brings in the light on a sunset reflected on the snow and branches, while Krawczyk’s larger piece depicts a fresh dumping of fluffy snow in the middle of the forest.

“The feeling I get from them (the trees in Ouellette’s paintings) is that they’re going to take over the sky,” Krawczyk said.

Krawczyk also has five other pieces in the exhibit at The Bistro: a series of three small works that explore the canvas surface and traditional fall colours and a pair of paintings that show red dogwood in the snow.

“Visually, you get caught up in it,” she said of Ouellette’s work.

The pair met a few years ago, and developed a strong friendship and admiration for each other’s work.

Although Krawczyk hadn’t done landscapes in a long time and wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, she embarked on the challenge at Ouellette’s suggestion.

“Be brave,” Ouellette often says to Krawczyk.

It was a change for Ouellette as well, who had only done one other tree painting before.

She used to live in Toronto, working as a scenic artist for film and TV. This taught her a lot about painting, she said, as she was rushed and there was no room for error.

She stepped back from her career when she lost sight in one of her eyes after developing a fungus.

Now, she’s almost legally blind.

She moved to Nova Scotia in 2003, and has been painting in her home studio. She just finished up a different display at The Bistro with her wave pieces.

Krawczyk comments that Ouellette’s brush strokes stand out in her work.

“When you see the brush stroke, you get a feeling of the person,” she said, comparing it to someone’s handwriting. “It’s the fingerprint of the artist.”

She said brush strokes allow the viewer to jump into the work, and you gather a feeling about them.

“When you hide it, I feel the artist is hiding.” 

Krawczyk and Ouellette’s show continues at The Bistro in New Glasgow until the end of March.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: The Bistro

Geographic location: Toronto, Nova Scotia, New Glasgow

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