Since 2007, when the Town of Gander's art procurement program was launched, local artists have been able to submit their work to the town for consideration, and a panel of three judges will pick a number of pieces to purchase with its 1,000 dollar budget. Submissions can be of a variety of mediums from paintings and photographs to glass, metal, and wooden sculptures. Artists must have lived in Gander for one year to be eligible.
This year's selections were “Edge of Forever” and “They Won't Be Home Tonight” by Terry Morrison, both prints from acrylic paintings; “Wild Daisies” by Jeanmarie Stuckless, which is an original oil painting on slate; and “Salvage” by Lily Jones, which is a print on canvas from an acrylic painting. Honourable mention was given to Cassandra Gallant for her portrait of Danny Williams, entitled “Pondering the Outports,” which was completed just days before Premier Williams announced his retirement. It was noted the Town would have loved to purchase this painting, but its budget would not allow it, as it was valued at more than the four winning submissions combined.
Mr. Morrison's piece “Edge of Forever” is a four panel painting depicting a lighthouse scene, the white lighthouse contrasting against the ominous dark purple evening sky, which gives the viewer the feeling of an impending storm. White waves lap against black, shiny rocks. Mr. Morrison said the painting began just as one panel but he felt like something was missing so he added the other panels until he felt it was complete. He worked on the painting over two years, and said the biggest challenge was matching the colours of the sky and rocks in each panel. Mr. Morrison's second painting “They Won't Be Home Tonight” is an extremely emotion-evoking piece, it shows a raging sea of large waves, and a dark sky. An empty wooden fishing dory sits teetering in the water, its former inhabitants presumably lost to the storm. There is a light source peaking out through the dark sky, barely illuminating the stark scene below.
“I think it represents who we are as Newfoundlanders, and not only that, but anyone who tries to make a living under dangerous circumstances,” said Mr. Morrison. “Things like this happen sometimes.”
Ms. Stuckless' piece “Wild Daises” show a collection of flowers in a bed of green, the bright, summery flowers and blue sky in the background contrasts with the dark grey slate canvas. The oil paint gives the work a texture that you can see, each blade of grass jumps out at the viewer as if it was living. She said flowers are one of her favourite things to paint.
“You don't have to go too far to get inspired here.” - Terry Morrison
Ms. Jones' painting “Salvage,” inspired by the town, shows a piece of land jutting out into the sea while two stark white saltbox houses contrast with the grey spring day feeling, which is accentuated by an iceberg drifting out to sea. All the plant life remains brown and the air looks heavy and damp. Ms. Jones said it took her about a year to complete her painting, she was working on it from a photograph, but actually took a visit to the town of Salvage to get more detail about the scene she was painting.
“I really like the mood,” she said. “It made me think of those raw spring days when everything is grey, after a rain.”
Apart from submitting the winning paintings this year, the three artists have more in common. They all get a great deal of inspiration from the landscapes and nature of Newfoundland.
“You don't have to go too far to get inspired here,” said Mr. Morrison.
All three began painting as adults, Mr. Morrison said he began about 10 years ago to prove to himself he couldn't paint and surprised himself with his abilities. Ms. Stuckless and Ms. Jones are good friends and began painting together about 20 years ago, after convincing a friend of theirs to begin teaching classes. All three artists also paint regularly in groups. Ms. Stuckless and Ms. Jones have painted together for the past two decades in Ms. Jones' kitchen, and Mr. Morrison paints with a group of four that he met in an art class at his office.
“It's really good to paint with a group because you can critique each other's work and learn much faster. I found it a really good atmosphere,” said Mr. Morrison.
“It would be really nice if we had a place in town for group painting where you had good lighting, like a room where someone could bring their materials and paint with other artists,” said Ms. Jones.
“A place where we could all go and exhibit our work would be great,” added Mr. Morrison.
The three artists are still fairly new to painting, it's the first time any of them have won awards for their work. Ms. Jones said she really enjoys the experimentation aspect of painting, and she and Ms. Stuckless are always creating new challenges for themselves.
“After Christmas, our challenge is going to be the human body,” she said. “The big thing is to always challenge and try something new when we were in classes it was very structured but now the canvas is ours.”