Valley-based oil painter Denise Lemaster brings new life to the Columbia Valley’s favourite landscapes, taking their basic frameworks and pouring her version of colours and shapes onto the canvas.
“When you live here, you feel inspired by your surroundings,” said Denise, citing the many weekends she’s spent soaking in Mount Nelson from Panorama Mountain Village that spanned the years when her ski-racing sons were growing up.
She continues to absorb the Rockies and Purcell landscapes from all angles, gaining inspiration on her feet as an avid hiker — and she sometimes paints right on site. But because the true scenery isn’t always within arms’ reach, her work is often based off multiple pictures and sketches of her subjects.
Through her vibrant imagination, Denise transfers her perception of the mountains onto canvas through stylized and simplified images, rather than photorealistic, she said. While everyone can appreciate the natural beauty of her mountainous subjects, interpreting them in a painting is always unique.
“It’s the way that each artist processes the image,” she says.
To best communicate her creative ideas, her tool of choice is oil paint, which offers the versatility she needs to portray her vibrant visions, she said. And though she often works with bold colouring, Denise most enjoys creating paintings that give off feelings of warmth. The qualities of the oil paint itself — buttery and slow drying — allow her to create strong layers of depth, said Denise.
After growing up around the valley, Denise gained a firm understanding of the artistic landscape while studying at the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and education, and a subsequent degree in environmental design. As a young professional, she lived in Calgary working as a city planner before returning to the Kootenays in the early 1980s when Panorama Resort hired her during its transition into Panorama Mountain Village.
Denise’s landscapes, particularly the locally-inspired pieces, will be part of an exhibit at the Artym Gallery that begins this fall on Saturday, October 11th and will also feature Roger Arndt and Branko Marjanovic. All three artists will be at the show’s opening day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
And, for the first time in her career, Denise will be featured in exhibits in the U.S. She’ll be busy touring this summer through galleries in Calgary and the northwestern United States.
To get a taste of her work before the Artym exhibit, check out her website at deniselemaster.ca.