Just the Beginning, 30 ” x 40 “, acrylic on canvas, Danny Abriel
Where other landscape painters see blues and greens, Danny Abriel sees pinks and violets.
His arresting images zing with bold colour choices, line and pattern in Painted Poems, one of a trio of shows at Argyle Fine Art, 1559 Barrington St., to July 9. Jan Davison is also a colourist in her red-infused paintings of local hot spots while Catherine Bagnell Styles’s small Impressionistic paintings lean to soft blues with warm ochres.
Abriel grew up in a rural landscape near Middle Musquodoboit. “My youth was spent with windswept trees and farm fields and lakes and rivers.”
He drew as a child and studied at NSCAD University then set art aside. “I hit a point in life where I had a major life change. One of the things that very much helped me was to paint and to do something creative that was visceral, hands-on.
“I find painting very meditative.”
A hiker and kayaker, he paints places he knows well like Peggy’s Cove, Polly’s Cove, Grand Lake and the Wilderness Bluff.
“It has to be a place I feel connected to. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I need to have physically been there and spent time contemplating life.”
He saw the green tree flanked by two Dr. Seuss-like blue trees in Molega Lake Reverence as he was paddling on the lake.
“I kayaked 45 minutes plus to get to that tree and then to kayak back was against the wind so it was an hour and a half. It was worth it because I found this gorgeous stately tree at the shoreline.
“A lot of these places are within striking distance. I often take little hikes and have a handshake with nature and I’m ok to go back to everything else.
He is struck by a balance of elements in nature. “If I see a windswept tree and a small island or rocks in a lake or a pond, that to me is a perfect alignment and just talking about it makes me want to be at a canvas.”
Abriel – a professional photographer with Dalhousie University’s Communications & Marketing department – does not paint for photographic accuracy.
“I paint to convey an emotion or feeling. When you come around a corner or out from under a canopy and see a vista there’s a catch of breath. It’s capturing that feeling.”
His paintings are amazing for their movement in patterns and for unusual colour choices for orange, taffy clouds; flaming purple water beneath extreme sunsets and a tumble of pink rocks.
“There’s some play in the wheels as to how I choose colour or why. I like to have warmer tones – reds and violets – to have little spots of enrichment, of warmth; to move your eye around.”
Just as art-making is healing for him, his images are healing for viewers. “Any comments I’ve received have all been not so much on technique but on the way the painting makes people feel. People say this painting makes me feel happy or peaceful. It’s elicited some kind of emotion and that’s fantastic. I love that.”
Abriel is friends with Jan Davison, who introduced him to Argyle Fine Art, where she has exhibited for almost 20 years. “I am inspired by who she is and the fact she is an amazing painter,” he says.Ostrich Club, 20″ x 16″, acrylic on wood, Jan Davison
Davison celebrates local businesses in her show, Halifax Haunts, painting vivid, warm, graphic images with a great use of perspective, clean lines and passionate reds contrasted with cold, sunny-day blues.
The NSCAD graduate’s fascination with the city’s local architecture has led her to paint favourite restaurants, bars and stores Rousseau Chocolatier, Julien’s, Boxing Rock and Le Bistro by Liz.
Catherine Bagnell Styles’ delicate and charming paintings are gauzy, pastel-coloured images of buildings, rural houses and fishing villages with highly worked surfaces. She uses a palette knife to build layer upon layer of paint.
She is inspired by the French Impressionists in her paintings of France and the Maritimes in New World meets Old World. All Tied Up, 11″ x 14″, acrylic on canvas board, Catherine Bagnell Styles