Nothing looks the same close up.
When studying natural wooded areas of Ontario, there was one main element that continued to single itself out against the backdrop of dense forest. This was the birch tree. The white birch bark so stark and striking in contrast to the typical browns, grays and green tones of the bulk of the growth, pushed my fascination to concentrate on specific studies of the birch and the emotions its presence created. With the aid of my camera, I was able to digitally capture stills of these white beacons and focused on compositions of shapes, shadows and plays of light that the trees, branches, forest and sunlight created.
Upon further examination, the birch revealed itself to be not just a simple palette of black and white, but rather a colourful canvas of blue-grays, peach toned beiges, creamy yellows, muted browns and deep mauve shadows. Strips of white bark that had peeled away continued to expose even more colours, as beautiful tawny oranges were revealed.
The crisp smooth white bark gets interrupted with sporadic black ripples of ‘braille-like” knots and both play in contrast to green and yellow teardrop-shaped leaves of summer and cool hues of blue in winter. This careful study pushed my paintings to capture a sense of realism within a backdrop of an impressionistic forest of shadow and light.
To study an object, discover its physical qualities through close observation, results in a strong bond. This deeper understanding also results in an emotional connection and attachment. Long study, can make inanimate objects feel all of a sudden alive with spirit and emotion. These intimate feelings and connections are emotions that I try to represent through paint, line, shape, brush stroke and colour.
As in every aspect of life, a quick glimpse will never provide all the answers or proper understanding. Through this series of birch studies I hope to instill the message of taking time to observe the beauty found in everyday occurrences of nature and life.
A professional artist since 1994, Anne Filiatrault has produced a volume of paintings for private collections, while her illustrations have been used by various design houses and major Canadian publications. The Birches collection displayed here is inspired by seasonal getaways to Muskoka and Collingwood with her husband and 2 children.
Anne is a graduate of Interpretive Illustration Honours at Sheridan College, Oakville, 1994, which followed a year of study at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, 1992, and graduation from the University of Western Ontario, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1991.
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