At any given time, our world faces problems and crises that humanity struggles to address. Already this century is presenting a unique combination of challenges heightened no doubt by the immediate and ceaseless barrage of information presented by the internet. Like many people, and as an artist, I have watched and listened and searched for understanding.
My new series of paintings contemplates the paradox of "less is more" and the various interpretations of that phrase. The dictionary offers this definition, "to express the view that a minimalist approach to artistic matters is more effective, that there is value in simplicity and that more can be accomplished with less."
In a world of excess, less can also offer both relief and a solution. Having less of one thing can lead to more of another. Our lives are inundated with endless information, good and bad. Stepping back from this overload, offers relief and more relaxation. In another example, the endless demands of consumerism greatly stress our lives and the planet. Simply put, buying less, accumulating less, wanting less, takes pressure off of our lives and offers more freedom. It certainly offers relief to the planet. This interpretation of "less is more" can be applied to many issues including less confrontation, more peace. It begins with priorities and what is truly important.
My new work pares down the excess. There is a certain peace in the simplicity. The smaller focal point, the movement and energy of the organic black and white drawing, is relieved by the clean edge and larger mass of solid colour. Less is more. Less offers more.
Painting each work in this series is an exercise in meditation, the circular forms a reflection of the Zen ensō. Focusing on the form is enough, at once complete and endless, empty yet full. Another paradox to consider. Less is more.
These are my thoughts, expressed visually, offered humbly, but my joy comes from the individual interpretation of each viewer.
My "Earthlings" series has led me down a path I never expected. These simple figures have allowed me to express the essence of certain emotions and events in life. The challenge has been to infuse simple stick figures with a particular feeling, shaping how they live on the canvas. And as basic and childlike as these figures appear, they somehow communicate in a universal language. They somehow manage to touch others, very deeply at times.
I've been thinking a lot about simplicity lately, thinking about the small things that truly matter, and those moments in time that really put things in perspective. Life doesn't have to be complicated. We don't have to chase some imaginary ideal in our minds or constantly grasp for more. That pursuit can be exhausting and we might just miss something precious lying right in front of us. Thank you to all who have connected in some way to the Earthlings. That connection is why I love making art.
Membership in the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA) provides me with the opportunity to exhibit my work in a variety of group exhibitions across Canada. The 2021 Elected Members Juried Exhibition is currently being hosted by Gallery 78 in Frederiction, New Brunswick and is also available to view on the SCA website. The exhibit runs from September 10th to October 2nd and features 37 artworks created by elected SCA members from across Canada. It's an honour to show my work alongside such a diverse group of outstanding artists featuring a wide range of styles and subject matter. Take a moment and view the online exhibit here. Enjoy.
There is a beautiful simplicity to a child’s drawings. The meaning is clear. This is cloud. This is water. This is sun. This is grass. I recently completed four paintings initially inspired by my remembrance of how I drew as a child, and how so many other children innately represent the world around them. Beginning with simple line drawings, I then added color, but hopefully with the maturity to add a deeper understanding for what is cloud, water, sun and grass. At the same time, I did not want to destroy the original innocence. As adults we so often make our world far more complicated than it need be.
Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, these four paintings also represent the four elements of nature: earth, air, water, and fire. These are the materials that make up our world, that also compose all of humankind. We are one with this planet, and now as never before we are coming to realize how fragile and essential these elements are to our survival.
“We Breathe” is last, but not least, a meditation. Each painting is an invitation to stop, remember, and feel gratitude for life.
Upon this earth, we breathe. Beneath this sky, we breathe. Beside this water, we breathe.
Within this light, we breathe.
I was mesmerized by the power and potential of art from the moment I picked up a crayon as a child, the adults instructing me to colour within the lines. I’m still in awe after years of eager exploration and experimentation, studying and learning from so many artists I admire. I’m still striving to reach farther, to take chances, to create art that makes a difference. Happily, colouring outside the lines has become my mantra.
When I am working on any given painting, I need to stop occasionally, just quietly staring at the colour, the movement, the patterns and texture, letting myself wander over the canvas exploring all that has happened throughout the creative process. I might sit and let my mind just sink into the painting for even an hour or more. There are the technical aspects to consider. Does the painting work? But I am also listening. Is there more to do? Is the painting where it wants to be? Have I managed to convey whatever needed to be said, or remembered? There is no road map in abstraction. There is only instinct and impulse and letting go and trust. I remember a quote I heard many years ago that said that a painting is never finished, the artist just decides when to stop. When it feels right, I stop. And then, I can't wait to begin again.
Happy to share the news that my artwork is featured in the latest online issue of Arabella Magazine (February 2021, page 67). I'm in fine company with many wonderful artists from across Canada.
As their website explains, Arabella plays a critical role in presenting creative talent, arts organizations, products and services to the widest possible audience while providing in-depth, visually compelling insight into the best of art, residential architecture, landscaping, interior design and luxury lifestyle products and services. In short, Arabella is "For the love of all things art."
I also enjoy writing about visual arts and coincidentally an article I wrote about a very talented artist from Alberta, Keith Dalgleish, is also featured on page 119 of the same issue.
If you're not familiar with Arabella, check it out. It's a great read from cover to cover.
As an artist, you're never quite sure how people will receive your work, which paintings will somehow resonate with people. My series entitled "Earthlings" seemed to come at just the right time in 2020 and I was overwhelmed by the response. When a body of work touches so many people, it really means a great deal to know you created something that spoke to someone's heart or mind.
I was ready to move on to a new body of work, but once I stood in front of my easel, it seems "Earthlings" had just a bit more to say. So today I delivered three final paintings to 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery as a bit of epilogue or coda to the series. There is a message here I hope you enjoy.
Now. We're getting to the point where we can count down the days until the end of this year. A year unlike any other in recent memory. It began innocently enough. Then. Suddenly our world was swept up in a global pandemic. It's been sobering at times, but it's also brought the things that matter sharply into focus. I feel so grateful that I have had my art to focus on, something I can do in isolation and still share with others. Now. What have I learned? Change is certain. Humanity comforts itself through creativity. And art very often has a mind and purpose of its own. I simply listen and follow the inspiration.
What inspires me as an artist has changed over the years. Early in my career, I was drawn to the outdoors wherever I lived. Painting has always been a comfortable language to express my thoughts. Sketching and then painting landscapes and seascapes was my way of really looking closely, and then sharing what I saw. Now, as an abstract painter, I pull those thoughts from inside - bits of memory, perceptions, ideas, reflections on all of the information that each of us consumes daily. Allowing myself to simply respond to all those things through colour and movement and shapes has a distinct meditative quality, calming and yet contemplative. At times the work is instinctual, and at other times there is a distinct purpose that often arises in an instant of recognition. As I've said before, so often I feel that the painting leads me. That conversation fascinates me.
Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art