St-George Street in Annapolis Royal.
“Islands are magical places for me because I spent some of my childhood and
teen summers on an island on Big Rideau Lake in Ontario where I felt intimately connected to the water, the lake, and the wildness of nature on the island and where I had my happiest family experiences", says artist Violet Rosengarten of her work. “I feel drawn to islands which is why when I looked at my plein air paintings for this exhibition, I suddenly realized that most of my paintings have islands in them!”
It was Wayne Boucher’s “spiritual and glowing art” that inspired Violet when she and her husband, filmmaker Alan Collins, first moved to Nova Scotia from Toronto 12 years ago. “I really wanted to paint like him”. Her fascination with Boucher’s work led them to make a 45 minute film, “Drowning in Colour: The Art of Wayne Boucher” in 2012. And it was Wayne who encouraged Violet, “You’ll find your own voice one day”.
And she has. Recently Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal invited Violet to share her process and fascination with islands. An intimate group of six gathered in front of her exhibit “Some Enchanted Islands” – mixed media paintings that absolutely radiate with vibrant colour created from oil sticks.
Her process involves carrying her back pack full of supplies and a small folding stool into nature. When she finds a spot, Violet gets to work first sketching the composition in a book, then on to a prepared canvas texturized and tinted with a solid colour. On site Violet then applies the oil sticks like crayons and uses rubber ended tools to move the pigments around, even scratching through it to reveal the saffron, green, blue, or salmon pink underpainting.
An accomplished artist who has exhibited in solo and groups shows in Quebec and Ontario as well as Nova Scotia, Violet graduated with a BFA in 1989 from Concordia University in Montreal and began her artistic career as a textile artist, apprenticing with indigenous people in Mexico and Guatemala. To the amazement of the group in the Gallery, she brought out a jacket made of her woven fabric that a friend had turned into a flowy, long garment aptly named “Coat of Many Colours”. Her tapestries explore colour, texture and abstraction. Her scarves and shawls have sold at high-end boutiques in New York.
But Violet gave up weaving. “It takes a long time and is repetitive. Painting is direct and spontaneous,” she admitted. She added that she prefers to finish her plein air painting on the spot where she can capture a moment of the changing nature of Nova Scotia’s landscapes. Any studio work is done in the winter when she explores her abstract side. Violet notes that “abstract and figurative inform one another”.
The culmination of these experiences has resulted in a show where landscapes glow on the wall of the Gallery with more vibrancy than in reality, a phenomenon that begs to be experienced. “Some Enchanted Islands” will be shown at Round Hill Studio until September 29.