Nature as Muse
By Kelly Drennan
"I love finding beauty in the bones of the natural land."
Some artists paint what they see. Some paint what they feel. Victoria Pearce does both and she hopes you, the viewer, do the same.
Her paintings contain florals and nests looking as fresh as if just plucked from the forest floor, or labyrinth-like waterfalls, rocks and trees that almost appear to move. They read like love letters but carry the mystery of a secret admirer. A single red flower stands proud against a blue sky. A flower with a bulb is attached to a nest and together they float. In past work, she was inspired by botanicals and nests. Each carrying symbolic references for Pearce. Throughout her artistic practice, she has hoped for a spiritual connection between the painting and the viewer. In her most recent work, she creates paintings that consist of many colourful lines she describes as "labyrinths". These lines carry an energy, and appear to flow around the canvas. They are tactile and at times resemble textile art. You can feel that Pearce has spent some time getting friendly with nature. And even though this style is much different from her flower and nest series, mother nature still remains her muse.
When did you first become interested in art?
I remember taking painting classes as a small child from good art teachers. They were a huge influence, especially Robert Bateman. He taught me how to see. We carried around empty slide casings to frame the world around us.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, my landscape series has me fully immersed. I do weekly walks on the Bruce trail with a good friend and my dog Sunshine. I explore and photograph the waterfalls in all seasons. My big orange rubber boots allow me to wade in the water and take photos to work from.
What inspires your work?
It depends which series I'm focused on. Both my floral and nest series deal with emotional and spiritual states. They each start with a poem or a prayer and are metaphoric statements whether or not it be the strength and courage evoked by a bloom viewed from an ants eye view, or a nest unanchored and floating, filled with references to various states of mind. The Labyrinth pieces reference the connection between all elements, be the sky, rocks, or water. The slow process involved in this series demands a full presence of mind in the moment. There are no large loose areas. They can not be rushed.
Can you tell us a little about your process?
The flower series start with a poem or prayer from which I choose a bloom which fits. It may fill the canvas high in the composition suggesting control and a groundedness, or be soft and open. I paint the sky, followed by the clouds, then the flower. Sometimes an abstraction, close up, and sky panel is added and must balance the other panels.
The nests are metaphoric primarily dealing with the life long struggle between security and freedom. From a child to a senior this struggle evokes images of clocks, labyrinths, money, fire, and elements of home and comfort.
The inspiration for the labyrinth landscape series seems to have jumped ship from the nest series. A labyrinth lined nest inspired the patterning in landscapes much to my own surprise and delight. The process is slow and deliberate. It starts with a coloured ground against which the composition is chalked in, then contrasting and complimentary coloured lines are freely composed within the landscape's shapes creating the labyrinths. I enjoy creating paths which draw in the eye through the piece.
Which artist/s have influenced your work the most throughout your career?
I suppose the surrealism of Magritte and the large simple flowers of Georgia O'Keefe. The landscapes are inspired by Casson and my lines of the shapes of the land itself.
If you were not an artist, what would you be and why?
Probably a teacher or a geologist. I would enjoy invoking the aha moment in students. I love finding beauty in the bones of the natural land.
How has your artistic practice changed over time?
It has constantly evolved as is obvious from my 3 series. I particularly like seeing how the creative process from one has inspired the other, often quite unbidden. It seems to get mixed in to my subconscious and emerge anew.
What is the role of the artist in society?
To poke and prod emotion and spirit. To draw in.
Do you have any advice for someone in school who is studying art?
Go for it.
What would you like others to know about your art that you feel makes it unique?
As a Reiki master, I am aware the energy a painting can connect to the energy of a viewer. The metaphor can change though depending on the individuals life experience and what type of journey they are on. The landscapes translate the "in the moment" energy and the labyrinth lines pull you in to follow along.
What mediums do you work with? Why?
Exclusively with acrylic as I don't have the patience to wait for oil to dry.
A lot of your work encompasses aspects of nature. What kind of experience do you want the viewer to walk away with?
I would like the viewer to be drawn into the image, to follow the path of the labyrinth as that metaphor of life and to contemplate the interconnectedness within nature. Also to observe the tension of the colour against the contrasting ground. It is always interesting to watch the colour change as more of the ground is covered. It is quite alive. Complimentary colours change dramatically in the process.
Can you tell us about the sacrifices and rewards of a long artistic career?
Depending on the economy, your income can vary and might need to be supplemented with other work. But the time in the studio is always a totally enthralling and immersive process. Within my work, only I dictate subject and process. That freedom is liberating. It is always a growth experience and something I am forever thankful for.
Victoria Pearce is currently exhibiting her work "In Between Land" at Earls Court Gallery, Hamilton.
You can find her at www.earlscourtart.com or at Earls Court Gallery in Hamilton.