The Art of Subtraction with Steph Krawchuk

Steph Krawchuk is a painter based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her work is largely autobiographical and documentary, painting the people and spaces that surround her. This is evident from her past work of portraiture, still life, and cityscapes. Krawchuk has an upcoming show at Art Placement May 30th-June 25th 2015. Along with her building paintings, new work focusing on lines and abstraction will be available for viewing. Reception is Saturday May 30th at 2pm in the gallery at Art Placement. I had the the opportunity to do an interview with her in May of 2015. The transcript and some of her work is below.

Artist Website

Art Placement Show Information

Amanda Leigh: What is happening with your upcoming show?

Steph Krawchuk: It’s going to be about half buildings, and half abstract paintings.

AL: Why half and half?

SK: I think that when I knew I was having a show, I was doing buildings, it’s mostly what I do, and it’s a lot of lines and shapes and colour. Then during that process I just wanted to see what I could do with forgetting about subject matter and just making those elements. Some of them are on canvas, and some of them are on paper being framed.

AL: What was the drive to strip it down more, to ‘lines and shapes and colour’?

SK: I was curious about what I could do, I had never really done that before and I’ve been painting for over 10 years. I’ve always been interested, and generally speaking when I look at art or art history what I love is a lot of abstract expressionist sort of stuff, so it seemed natural to try this.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Follow II”,
2014, Oil on canvas,

AL: Are there specific artists or time period that are influencing this new work?

SK: When I was looking at abstract stuff, I definitely went to Willem de Kooning, he’s like a feast of information, his whole career is pretty awesome; Brice Marden is another artist who did a lot of line work, which seems kind of easy but is not; and Stuart Davis, who has actually been called one of the first pop artists even before Warhol, he was doing these abstract shapes which are so cool and colourful. Those are three people I’ve been looking at, but also: Rothko, Pollock.

AL: With these abstracts, are you doing them freehand or basing them off of still life or the forms of buildings?

SK: It’s just the bare canvas and seeing what happens. I start by putting down lines quickly and not really thinking about it. With the buildings and the portraits it’s all about adding and subtracting until you are sort of at peace with what’s there. With these[abstracts], it’s almost another level of that process, it was very frustrating. I couldn’t have done the larger ones on canvas without doing smaller ones on paper. I’m really grateful to Art Placement, the gallery that I’m showing with, because they had a drawing show and they were totally open to looking through these sketchbooks, and I did these maybe nine years ago, I’m not even sure. The gallery took them and they framed them, and that was very encouraging for me. I mean I didn’t think these were awesome, but it was a start. I’m just very pleased to see I can do an abstract painting on canvas, because a year ago I couldn’t.

AL: What were your frustrations a year ago?

SK: It’s a different way of handling paint. It’s hard to describe. When I’m doing a building, I’ve been doing them for seven or eight years, so I have an idea of what I’m doing, where I’m going, what it might look like. The buildings also exist, they are downtown, and I know what they look like. These [points to abstract canvases] are completely made up, which maybe could be easier, but I don’t think that it actually is.

AL: Are you still trying to resolve these issues in your abstract practice, or have you become very comfortable?

SK: This is still really brand new. This show for me feels like the beginning. I think I want to start working on larger scale abstract paintings; it’s part of that process where I started doing smaller ones on paper, then moving onto bigger ones. With the differently handling of paint, it’s almost hard to tell when it’s starting to look “good” with abstract work, its tricky, it’s very bare.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Blues”,
2014, Oil on paper,

AL: Space plays a lot in your abstracts, compared to your building paintings that are full of the building itself, the street, the cars or trees.

SK: It takes some experience to get that space down. The original abstracts I did were very messy partly because of this, and I was kind of discouraged, but what for whatever reason I’ve talked to other artists who have said starting with paper is a more forgiving medium, and I’m not really sure why. So I started with paper and acrylic, which I think was a quicker and more forgiving process, rather than starting with oil. I then layered it with oil paint so I could have the finish that I’m used to. I feel like now I have a better grip on these paintings, but you still can’t be too confident, I’m still kind of slightly confused when I start. That [points to an abstract] took a while to do, and sometimes I still look at it and say “what the hell is that?”

AL: Depending on what type of mood you’re in?

SK: No I like it, and people that I’ve showed it to quite like it, but it’s very… different.

AL: Have you had any palette issues, with colour?

SK: Not exactly, but when you look at this [abstract painting with greys] it’s subdued in colour compared to a lot of stuff that I have done. I struggle with busyness. I’ve been wanting to refine my painting, which I think has happened in the past couple years. Sometimes my paintings are busy and colourful, but I’m also learning less is more.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Cambridge Court”
2015, Oil on canvas

AL: Why have you been so eager with bright colours?

SK: I’m attracted to it I guess, I think people are attracted to colours, it draws people in very quickly, but maybe people can be turned off by it too. I’ve always found colour to be a way of communicating, I don’t exactly know what, but maybe as a way for people to get engaged with my paintings. It’s very immediate, whether you like it or not it’s there, it makes you look at it.

AL: I think everyone, regardless of art training or background or anything like that, can talk about colour.

SK: Everybody has a relationship with colour. I think I kind of use that in a way. I once saw a Van Gogh painting in New York, and that’s when I feel I really learned about colour, because it was a portrait, and I really didn’t even like the painting to be honest, but the colour in the background was this lime green, and you were fixated on it. That sold me on the impact that colour can deliver. You don’t even have to like the painting.

AL: I think that speaks to space again, the painting was of the figure, but that background played such a large roll for you, larger than the “focus” the painting.

SK: I mean if you look at my portraits, it’s always a flat colour behind. It’s almost in all my paintings actually, people say that my buildings are almost portrait-like.

AL: Why are you so interested in painting Saskatoon, or cityscapes?

SK: I’m interested in documenting what’s around me. I don’t think too much about it, I don’t want to paint a picture from a photo of some other city I’m not living in. I live downtown, I walk around a lot downtown, I work downtown, and so it seems like an obvious subject matter. There is so much information in a scene; there are so many lines, there’s so much opportunity for me to paint.

AL: Are you interested in architecture?

SK: I’m interested yes. I love travelling and see different cities and buildings, and making paintings of it. What interests me the most, and maybe you can tell from these paintings, are buildings with character. Stuff like that is just waiting for me to do a painting of it. I could just take the scenes of Saskatoon for granted so I have to look a bit into… what I’m looking at. Through these paintings I feel like I’ve gotten to know so many little details that people probably don’t notice. I look around a lot, I kind of love that.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Parkview Facing the Street”,
2014, Oil on canvas,

AL: Do you find that people connect to you because of the city paintings?

SK: Sometimes I’m commissioned to do a painting, but there no doubt some people do like to see Saskatoon like this.

AL: In the buildings in real life, these facade colours are so neutral these small details almost disappear into each other. You’ve been able to achieve really picking and choosing your small detail to focus on, while kind of blocking everything else with colour.

SK: That’s exactly it it, I was thinking about a write up Lorenzo Dupuis, a painter I did a show with, and what he said is I don’t get overly detailed with these buildings, but like you said, what I’m interested in I highlight. I paint a door, a window, a sign, as a focus and that’s how I pare it down.

AL: Do these little details relate to your influences we talked about earlier?

SK: Before this show along with getting interested in these abstract painters which I’ve always cared about, but looking more at those three I mentioned in particular, I also briefly got interested in pop art, and that’s the point in art history I usually start to get disinterested. I realized though, that I like painting signs, and restaurants, and I just figured whatever. I sort of embraced that I maybe had some pop in me too.

AL: It’s not something that you have to dislike

SK: No no, but the pop artists were doing these almost meaningless paintings, almost with no emotion because they didn’t like the abstract painters and that their paintings were full of emotion.

AL: Are you using your paintings as a vehicle for emotion?

SK: Not really. When I’m painting it’s more about the process, about refining the painting, and the use of colour. I never really thought of colour as being a subject matter. You know, you go to school, they set up a still life, and we’re all thinking we need to reproduce this thing like it is, and you can do so much more. I think that’s why painting is so frustrating the first year, because what we think what we need to be painting is so limiting. I was taught to never use black lines, so a lot of my earlier work is really colourful… with no black lines. I am still using colour, but you can see the old work is a lot ‘louder’ with it.

AL: You’ve really taken colour and run with it, while being able to break some rules and add in black lines.

SK: Yeah, and maybe colour has been my first endeavour, and still is, but now I’m really interested in focusing on how much I enjoy and am interested in lines, and where that can go. Along with colour, lines are the process of these abstract paintings, and with lines come shapes.

Steph Krawchuk,

Steph Krawchuk, “Follow”,
2014, Oil on canvas

AL: In this new work it’s evident colour is playing less of an obvious role, when looking back at your contrast work, especially the red/green paintings.

SK: I use to love the old red/green combo, it was a good one [laughs]. The German expressionist movement, in the 30s, learning about that just left a big impression on me. And we grow up knowing what about art? And then you take art history and you see that people made naive looking paintings, people made paintings that kind of looked like kids did them, but they were experienced painters, there is so much you can do. Seeing the German expressionists was really inspiring to me; they were slightly messier, and angrier, which these [points at abstracts] are not. I’m realizing I’m kind of a clean painter, I don’t really paint out of the lines, it’s kind of contained. In university I realized that I was an expressive painter, but I’m not an emotional painter. I think its up to the viewer if they connect some sort of emotion to it, its up to the audience.

AL: I think that’s what a lot of people like. Maybe it’s not ‘the job of an artist’, but the by product of an art work is that you’re making something apparent, you’re showing something in a new way that is everyday to a lot of people.

SK: I really want my work to get people who don’t even know they like art excited about art, someone who maybe wouldn’t necessarily go to a gallery, or know anything about art history, I don’t think that you need to. I think it’s possible to connect with these paintings. I don’t think they’re overly challenging to the viewer, and they weren’t easy to just make at all, but I think for the viewer my art is maybe more accessible. Four kids own my paintings [laughs]. For anybody to get excited about my work is cool.

AL: It’s really important to be exposed to different kinds of painting, or art, at a young age. If they see them, maybe they can make them.

SK: And it’s nice to own original art. They grow up around these paintings, so they grow up with the idea that they can have original paintings too.


Movement and Growth with Laura Hosaluk

Laura Hosaluk is an artist residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She works mainly in but is not limited to; ceramics, painting, installation, wood, and bronze. Laura is a wonderfully bright and dynamic individual in and outside of the studio. I had the opportunity for a studio visit and to interview her in April 2015. Further biographical information about Laura and her work can be found on her website.

dolls and wood work

                                         dolls and wood work

doll limbs

                  more doll limb playfulness

Amanda Leigh: What are some ideas you’re playing with right now?

Laura Hosaluk: Something I want to utilize is the pin board. I’ve used it in past installations.

AL: What other pieces have you used the pin board with?

LH: There was a piece I sent to Toronto it was a wall cabinet, it was a floating cabinet it was made into 6 rooms, and it was lit. It was beautiful from afar because the light was shining through these little cabinets, so that would pique your curiosity, and then they were all individual rooms from my childhood. My father holds onto everything, all our drawings from when we were kids, I transferred them into the bedroom walls, and they had these little spyholes you could look through. And that was for my first show, called Purge, where I started to use the doll as a body, like a vehicle with a message. I would use poetry transferred onto fabric… you use fabric like muslin and print onto it, like little stripes. I wish I could find that doll… where would he be… oh, I burnt it! I might have. I purged it.

AL: Do you often destroy your old work?

LH: Hmmm… I could destroy more. Yeah there comes a time when I’ll just burn it.

AL: You said you were a collector and that you come from a family of collectors, so why do you burn the things you make instead of holding onto those? What does that do for you?

LH: It’s cathartic. It’s interesting because I’ve been running with the doll theme for quite some time, and I’m ready to start moving in a new direction. That’s why with these pieces here [points to current doll work] I want to have a quick show, flush it all out, and move onto something new. So I just recently burnt this old work, that was made up of more fabrics, and filled them all with dryer lint. It was a real process; every time I did the laundry, I had to collect the lint. Why I did that is because my Grandmother gave me all these old blankets, and when I laundered them they were disintegrating because they were so old, so they would throw this fat dryer lint and you could see that it layered like red/blue/grey, and that to me was exciting. In my mind I was like “I could produce so much dryer lint to fill up these dolls”, so I just kept laundering them.

AL: And then you burnt dolls with dryer lint? It’s a very flammable substance.

LH: Yeah. There was only two left, from that show, and they were just in the corner sitting, they weren’t really going anywhere… I didn’t sell them. They were from really dark periods actually, from the past, and I think that was really important that I let that go. I want to start creating art from another place that resides in me, because a lot of it comes from my imagination as a maker, that’s why I love my artistic process because its so much fun, and its ridiculous. It’s definitely self-directed and self-taught, and also having teachers that are self-taught and intuitive, you learn you just really need to trust opening up to that creative process. I want to start moving toward more playful and beautiful things.

Keystone 1 - 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 1 – 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 2 - 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

Keystone 2 – 26 x 26 Acrylic on Panel found objects

AL: You’ve been working with the doll for a long time, and it’s a body for expression. Do you feel you need to move away from it because the doll can only hold certain themes and not expand in the direction you want to go, or is there another reason?

LH: What I’ve enjoyed most about the doll was getting back to working with my hands. For a long time I was painting and really identified as a painter. Doll opened up for me a wider vehicle of how I can portray messages through different mediums. It started with hand building and sewing fabrics, stuffing them with lint, then transferring this idea to furniture. So they were boxes originally that mounted on the wall, and at that time I was doing bronze casting. What I really got curious about was how can I transfer this idea of doll into clay? Then I started pushing clay into latex molds I made to get that relief of the mask, and then I wanted to go further, so how can I create a slip cast? Now with doll I’ve refined my technical abilities, so I want to make my own objects to cast. I want to cast objects from my imagination.

AL: Do you have any idea what these imaginations are going to entail, or is that still on the drawing board?

LH: I wanna flush this stuff[doll] out first before I get too far. I’ve gone back to wood turning. Wood turning isn’t my strength but I would like to revisit that and that’s what I’ll be doing here shortly. Wood bending is new to me. My father has been showing me how to wood bend.


wood turning sculptures

wood turning sculptures

laura pouring wax into moulds

laura pouring wax into moulds

LH: I’m doing some work for my father. I poured some casts yesterday… I was going to pull some molds. These [wood turned objects] will then be realized in bronze. So they start with a wood sculpture, my Dads carving, and with these latex molds you pour your wax, and those will be cast in Pent, Saskatchewan. Our friend Joe has a foundry over there.

I remember always knowing I wanted to be an artist as a child, but my rational was like “oh your father’s an artist so you have to choose something else”. And just how… irrational that is.

AL: Why did you think you could have only one artist in the family?

LH: I don’t know, it came through so clear. My father always told me, “Whatever you do in life Laura, you’ve gotta love.” And so I was like, “I’m gonna be an artist,” then it was like, “oh but he’s doing that.” Maybe it’s because when you’re a child, what’s immediately around you is all you know, so you want to know more. So maybe I thought, “Do something different.” Which began this serious pursuit of what do I love. It always came back to working with my hands. I did hair dressing right out of high school for four years, which reinforced I wasn’t doing what I loved. I started tattooing, did an apprenticeship for a year, but after that I ended up working in a gallery representing other peoples art… and that’s when it was really clear I was unhappy. Sitting there, representing other peoples work when it was my work I wanted to be focusing on. I ended up back in Saskatchewan in 2007… I ended up back home, and began painting. I painted some really beautiful work, and I remember thinking “This is it, this is what I have to do.” I met a really good teacher at that time, Paul Crepeau, who was working with my father. He was working on stop animation and I became his assistant, I was moving all these little chairs for a chair show. 2007 was the year I started to take my practice more seriously. I’m excited about painting again, and drawing.

Here let me show you this drawing… I was sitting in a board meeting and making little lines… little lines little lines little lines. And here [points to large drawing board], I haven’t worked that big yet. I guess as a maker I’ve always made smaller, more intimate pieces.

large line drawing

large line drawing

AL: Why do you think you’re working big? Are you trying to push yourself out of your usual realm?

LH: I think it will be a great challenge to transfer these ideas on a larger scale. I have this one idea to build a large braid. I’ve been really interested in land art, planting grass and letting that grass grow and manipulating it then just leaving it on the land. So a 20 foot long braid, four feet or five feet wide. I think it would be beautiful to leave it in the land, and let the elements and the earth to take care of it.

AL: You said you like working with your hands, but these larger projects seem like they will produce more bodily movements. Have your smaller pieces hindered the ability to have a wider scope of movements, a sort of interaction with the piece if you will?

LH: It’s a more kinetic approach to the work, relation to the material and environment. The small pieces are almost so internal, so intimate, there’s so much going into it, so it’s complex, almost overwhelming. Whereas the braid is larger but more simple, with beautiful moving lines and a certain technique.

AL: It seems with the smaller work it has very much been a reflection of yourself, and sometimes a darker part of your past. With these bigger works, maybe part of that physical movement is part of the process, which translates a kind of beauty, and the process ties into the end result your trying to achieve.

LH: It’s also a very basic material. It’s nice to have space and lots of materials to work with, but the grass is simpler. I still have an interest in doing more bronze casting though, my own molds, making my own objects, and found objects. I can’t see myself moving away completely from found objects.

AL: What’s so appealing about working with found objects?

LH: Oh… the history I believe. Their have their own unique history which conjures up playfulness in my imagination. It creates a dialogue from me to my environment. I love engaging with the world this way. Like these beveled frames with shell art in my Grandmother made, I’ll probably hold onto them. I’ve been really curious about these lenses I got from value village, I’ve been collecting these.

Grandmothers shell art

Grandmothers shell art

found lenses

found lenses

AL: Maybe your not exactly looking for an idea, but is that what found objects provide? They might provide a sudden starting point?

LH: Yes, they provide something that piques my curiosity.

AL: Do you realize an idea right when you start collecting? Or do you feel that the collecting is important and go with it till something surfaces?

LH: Being self-directed and intuitive as a maker, I trust that my inner knowing is onto something so then the collection and the gathering comes, and from that I become more informed about the process and how it will reveal itself. Definitely part of how I work is an intuitive approach. Right away I want to make this [the lens] into an abdomen, which goes back into the dolls and the wall box… so is that maybe an intelligence of my own body, of my own self? It’s telling of me; do I need to go back into something of my own body, or my own being?

AL: Yeah, are you “just creating things” or is your unconscious trying to tell yourself something?

LH: Yeah, that’s kind of the connection to the land art. How can I be separate from this? It’s coming from me, it’s through me, and it’s an extension of me. So if I create from that place of beauty, that’s going to transfer into the work, and that will influence the world. I like what you said about the land art: its very physical. I think it’s really important we take care of ourselves, that we’re taking care of our body by moving it, feeding it well, taking care of ourselves mentally, and that’s what appealing about the larger work, it’s another way of feeling balanced and whole.

AL: And that’s the balancing, moving to larger pieces. The past pieces of yours are smaller and are full of mentality, but the larger pieces move towards the unexplored realm of physicality.

LH: And it requires a refined technique to work with the land; to make the grid, grow the grass, to secure the grass, manipulate it… and I can’t do it alone.

AL: Look out everyone, Laura needs you for grass braiding.

LH: Yeah [laughs] I’ve already started hunting.

AL: It can be very hard to do some projects alone, knowing people and having that support is an important asset.

LH: My exposure to the EMMA conference has been quite formative for me as a maker. It’s a gathering of 100 artists who come together, from a global community, who make works in a collaborative way. A lot of the times my making is very private, and isolated. So working on this larger piece of land art is good for getting involved with other makers.


dotted rocks with backings

                      dotted rocks with backings

rocks in wax

                                      rocks in wax

LH: This is something I’ve been doing a lot of: painting rocks. I meant to make earrings but I just kept going, they look really nice mounted in wax. This began with a daily walk, and looking for the perfect round rock for an earring. I get kind of manic in some of my processes, so I collected like thousands of round rocks, and smoothed them on a lapidary wheel, and started fastening little backings onto them, and then they led to a little series of mounted rocks and framed.

AL: This is very meditative.

LH: Yes, it is, I loved that. A lot of repetition. When I first started playing with dots on the rocks, we were at a little mini collaborative stonehouse on the Old Man River in Alberta, and I said, “I could do this forever.” And my Dad’s like, “No you couldn’t! You couldn’t survive off of dotting rocks for the rest of your life!” But it was just the meditative quality of it, how fulfilling it is to have that connection to the object, and to just be content. I have my purpose here, just to dot rocks! From here I can visualize a whole beach with dot rocks shoreline, but from here I need many hands, a hundred people.

This idea of doing residencies are really appealing to me; I would like to continue to foster my practice with people who want to work cooperatively and collectively, and to do some really beautiful projects that bring joy into this world.

dotted rocks on wood, framed

dotted rocks on wood, framed


Laura is curating pieces for a collaborative art project for Burning Man 2015. Here is the information to get involved.

Burning man Sask-Playa info

Pamela Ollenberger’s “Many Feathers Flock Together: A Celebration of T-Bird”

This week at the Snelgrove is Pam Ollenberger’s MFA show “Many Feathers Flock Together”

Her work is a reflection and celebration of fond memories when Pam worked as a camp counselor at Camp Thunderbird, a camp for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Pam’s show looks awesome in the gallery. Her paintings are massive, colorful explorations of memory, where Pam uses a lot of different painting materials and techniques. With the lights being dim and calm the bright crayola colors seem to glow and jump out of her paintings. Each painting also has a sophisticated black frame. I don’t know if it was just me, but I really noticed the gallery floor during Pam’s exhibition. It could have been freshly waxed and buffed, but the bright rich colors of Pam’s paintings spilled out and reflected onto and activated the floor of the gallery.


Pam’s paintings gave me a load of feelings of childhood nostalgia. I went back to my own memories of summer camps as a kid. Allow me to reflect, summer camps are something sincerely special. The week (or two week) span of a summer camps feels as if it’s something SO EPIC. I remember coming out of summer camp and feeling like it was a month or two because the experiences were so rich and concentrated. Friendships were made, crushes formed, lessons learned, and camp counselors were always heroes. OK reflection over, sorry If you didn’t do summer camps as a kid.


My favorite paintings of Pam’s were here photo-transfer / painting collages.
The source imagery for these if pretty neat. Pam gave out disposable cameras to campers to document their day as they want you to see it. Her massive paintings look at little like a Rauschenberg without the pop culture imagery. There’s a lot going on in them so you can spend some time exploring the imagery. Pam also has painted over areas both additively and reductively.


Many of Pam’s paintings have recognizable elements with hints of an inner story. I’m sure that they have loads of meaning once dissected, or with Pam’s help.


Come down to the Snelgrove to see Pam’s massive paintings for yourself!
ORRR come for a drink and snacks at the reception Friday evening! Cya at the Snelgrove

Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman and Edna Oleksyn at the Snelgrove

It’s the end of the term 2 on campus and the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery is seeing the last of the BFA shows of the year. This week we have Jessica Sukut, Kaja Coleman, and Edna Oleksyn showing their BFA exhibitions.

Jessica Sukut’s “Reconstruction”

Jessica’s theme of her BFA show dwells on home and memory. Home is a great idea woth thinking about. Your home is your dwelling that keeps you safe, warm and comforted. You shape your home with colors, decorations and furnishings giving it a personality and feel that might create an emotional response. You spend so much time in your various homes that they might seem organic and alive, like an extension of the people that live there. Our homes are part of who we are.

Jessica looks at her memories of her home creating paintings that look like half built mental landscapes. I remember my previous homes, yet some details are a bit hazy and I’m sure if I spoke to one of my brothers we would have different recollections. You can see this in Jessica’s work. Her paintings are surreal toeing the line between dream and reality. Her paintings look like they’re from the head of an undecided architect: to do this she uses painters tape, mixes hard lines and sketched lines, strange vivid colors on top of solemn darks and greys, and -my favorite part- some unnatural physics. Jessica has some really cool work. There are some good layers that make them enjoyable to explore. She masks and weaves her over layers and under layers beautifully so that you question which is which. Which brings me back to the content. Is her work with painting over layers and leaving under layers go back to her treatment of memory? Do we have actual real memory (underlayer) that exists in some places but the rest of the details we paint with our own invented memories (filling the gaps with an over layer?) Hmmm. Good stuff

Some elements reminded me of buildings in a virtual world, like 2nd life. Things appear to look normal but other elements are skewed, unnatural hyper colored, and a bit strange; reminding you that it’s an imagined landscape


^aren’t they great?.

Kaja Coleman’s “A Matter of Material”

Kaja has a series of large scale mixed media drawings of X-rays. She became fascinated with X-rays after her son was diagnosed with a condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta that effects bone strength and elasticity of tissues. X-rays are fascinating: they show what we don’t see. They also create images that tricks the eye, the hardest densest materials -bones- appear light and to be floating. Just as you might wonder how an X-ray creates an image, you might wonder how Kaja does. She’s got huge drawing that she uses numerous materials. The paintings are clean but have a life history evident in the mark making, texture and materials that she uses. There’s cheese cloth in some of them that instantly reminds me of gauze, casts, and surgical procedures. She uses wax in some of her drawings, reminding me of sculpting and bones. Her materiality speaks to you.

Then there’s interpreting these drawings. It takes a skilled physician or specialist to properly read an X-ray. How does a gallery visitor read these drawings of X rays? First do they see them as X rays: discovering the unseen bones and making an assumption about the life/health of the person. Or do they see them as drawings: exploring the materials, expressive marks, maybe footprint -a history of the artist.


Edna Oleksyn’s “Transition”

From her paintings you can tell that Edna loves her family and nature. There’s the things you see right away. She’s surrounded by family love, there’s the painting Family Tree that has three generations together around a tree, and other familial portraits. Edna also has some love for the outdoors as she paints forests in all seasons.

But I think the trees in her paintings are her family and are a metaphor for the human life cycle. There’s a painting of horticulturists attending to and nurturing saplings in a tree nursery. There’s the beauty of trees in all seasons despite outward appearance of snow, and fall. There’s a tree roots anchored and clinging to a shore line despite threats of erosion. Then you think about family and you see her best paintings of new growth amidst old growth forest. You have some hope that after your elders are gone, they will live on through their grandchildren. There’s a broken tree, with new trees growing around it and a beautiful sun glowing in the distance. Yes, life might change, but things move on. These paintings are hopeful and are painted with love.


the reception is Friday night, come celebrate the end of term with a drink and some art!!

This week at the Snelgrove: Raene Poisson, Kayla Prive and Kendall Brandt

3 more BFA shows are up at the Snelgrove this week, all very different from one another.

Raene Poisson’s “Clouds N’ Shit”

Oh Saskatchewan. A place where flat prairie horizons are engulfed by the massive sky. There’s sky evvvvvveryyyyyywheeeeeeere.
Sometimes there’s clouds and most of us like to watch them. While watching clouds roll over the prairie, it can be fun to imagine the clouds as animals and shapes. Raene Poisson definitely likes to to watch the clouds. She’s taken a slight departure from the usual prairie landscape painter and painted exaggerated, imaginative, fantasy clouds in big vivid colors. Her clouds are big purple monsters, pink sheets and shape shifting bubbling goop.

Raene has an interesting approach to color in her paintings. Her skies are usually dark and slightly ominous, sometimes with streaks of bright sun breaking through the darkness. She has a thing for purples and pinks in her clouds that really makes them stand out in the dark skies. Then there’s the gold accents and metallic interference gels that really capture and move light through her paintings.

What are these about? Is there a message in her use of colors? Maybe they’re about imagination (clouds) and hope (sunlight) as they push through the despairing dark skies. .. Or maybe it’s Raene just playing around making Clouds N’ Shit.



^this one has a Schnabel feel to it as she glued on broken cups and plates to the surface.


Kayle Prive’s “A Look and a Listen”

Music and Art have been Kayla’s companions since her early childhood memories of listening to music with her crayola crayons. Kayla’s show merges music with visual art as she has created multi-media works of art that accompany specific songs. She’s even included a handful of mp3 players for gallery goers to listen to the songs as they explore her artworks.Some of her paintings are very literal, others take some teasing out.
Her memories of crayola are evident in her handling of color. Kayla’s show is an explosion of color that made me want to taste the rainbow and have a candy fix (conveniently, she included cotton-candy lollipops for the taking beside her guest book). Her paintings look like surreal, bubblegum pop, illustrations that are laden with symbols. I felt a bit of 70’s nostalgia, as I was reminded of trippy concert posters and The Beatles Yellow Submarine music video. Kayla might be an inner flower child. Kayla show has a lot of experimentation with media as he mixes in numerous objects and peculiar materials into her portrait scenes.





Kendall Brandt’s “Assemblage”

Kendall’s Brandt has an interesting painting/drawing BFA show that sticks out from the other two shows in the Snelgrove. Kendall’s work isn’t light and easy, and he’s using a more subdued natural palette.

Kendall has paintings and drawings of bodies and people emerging from or disappearing into a fog. Some details in his paintings are beautiful, lush and crisp while other parts are hazy and unfocused. There’s a huge feeling of unknown and a tinge of angst as the figures blur and disappear into their surroundings. It’s hard discerning what is going on because they are strange scenes of certain beauty but also some potent ugliness. Is he trying to mess with us? His figuration is really well done and pleasing to see and then he blurs them, has them disappear, or has them do something strange that makes you question yourself and how you are reading the image.

Then amongst these strange scenes there’s a painting of a cow. What’s that all about? With all of the states of human bodies and random body parts is Kendall addressing existence and mortality. In the long run, are we just bodies after our consciousness enters the fog of unknown.
Ask Kendall about it, and don’t be deceived by his funny nonchalance.






Come by the Snelgrove to check these shows out. The closing reception is Friday from 7-10!


Corinna Wollf, Kelsey Treen and Jodie Unruh at the Snelgrove

There were three BFA shows at the Snelgrove up this week. The gallery has unity between the shows in that they’re all illustrative paintings that have a narrative feel.

Corinna Wollf’s “Between Worlds”

Corinna has taken an interesting approach to her BFA exhibit. She has created two tetraptychs (five paintings in an organized display) that mirror one another across the gallery. These two tetrptychs represent two worlds that Corinna is living in: the North American Aboriginal and European rooted culture.  During her travels researching Classical and Renaissance art through Italy, Corinna was moved by the Pallata Fountain in Brescia. The fountain was full of cultural value with symbols representing stories and myth. Corinna recreated the components of the fountain as a structure of paintings in her “Living Waters” tetrptych by adding stories and symbols that correspond with her identity. Mirroring “Living Waters” on the opposite wall is “Waters of Life” representing the culture and history of Aboriginal people.

Corinna’s paintings are filled with symbolism containing a multitude of narratives. Listening to Corinna explain her paintings creates an element of oral storytelling that enriches her work. There’s some profound meaning and allusions to events that Corinna explores in her work.


Kelsey Treen’s “Katabasis”

Kelsey Treen has created a series of paintings dealing with traditional myths conceptualized in a modern/futuristic context. Like Corrina’s work Kelsey has created paintings to communicate a story. She’s dealing with myths from multiple religions but attempts to unite them in her exhibition. I’d like to see more unity between her paintings to further link them together. Something like using similar main colors and accents or recognizable settings/characters would have been interesting.



Jodie Unruh’s “Creatures”

Recently Jodie Unruh made the switch from painting still-lifes to painting figuration. Her previous experience of still-lifes shines through in her new work. She’s painting figures collected from fashion magazines that appear porcelain and statuesque. It’s all in her lighting as she builds the light and shadows in layers exaggerating the planar quality. Then there’s the subject matter itself: Jodie introduces creatures onto these fashion statues disrupting the intended composition. They become strange and intriguing. Her paintings are of women elegantly keeping their composure despite the hives of bees, coils of serpents, gigantic crabs, or massive spiders that they are coexisting with. She’s turned simple images into strange scenes begging for additional narratives. They could easily be illustrations from a fairy tale or fictional world.

Looking at Jodie’s paintings challenge the viewer: how do you see these strange scenes? Are they still magazine images despite the additions of creepy creatures?  Is there some sort of hierarchy present  ie. are we concerned with the figure foremost and the creature after? Are you as comfortable with painted figures with the presence of these creatures? Personally, I hate spiders and I’m allergic to bees but I love Jodie’s paintings.



You’ve got the rest of the day to see these shows at the Snelgrove, or drop by the closing reception tonight from 7-9!


Andie Nicole Palynchuk “T’works” show at Green Ark

Once again Green Ark Collected Home is displaying some great art in their beautiful furniture/home design space (212 20th St. W


This time it’s Andie Nicole’s funky “T’works of Art” paintings. Andie graduated with her BFA show last year and hasn’t stopped painting in her wild style. The paintings showing in “T’works” is a continuation of her BFA exhibit where bodies and scenes are warping and disappearing inside a beautiful/mad world that are exciting to explore.
Her paintings are like a Where’s Waldo? where you initially find something but the more you look into them the more you discover. You’ll see abstracted bodies painted in a classical style amongst pop cartooning and rough Basquiat-like mark making. Her colors are mostly cool, with flashes of bright warm accents that really pop. Andie paints boldly in numerous layers. I’ve had the opportunity to see her works in progress and they undergo a series of metamorphoses. Sometimes the final painting only has clues toward the initial piece but it’s this depth that is truly captivating. Andie has no fear when it comes to painting. You see elements of a bold playfulness as she mixes all kinds painting and mark making methods. Some of her paintings she uses everything but the kitchen sink: acrylic paint, oil paint, pastel, chalk, oil stick, charcoal, and water inks. How she pulls it all together is beyond me, but you feel there is a certain amount of fun experimentation.  These paintings need to be seen in person to be appreciated. ImageImageImage

Andie’s reception is Saturday March 15, 7-10pm at Green Ark and are up until April 25th.
Some seriously fun and beautiful work by an up and coming Saskatoon artist.
Come check them out!!