Category Archives: Art

The Art of Living and Loving

'Undercurrents' © Janice Iniskimaki Tanton 2014. Oil on linen. 103"x133"

‘Undercurrents’ © Janice Iniskimaki Tanton 2014. Oil on linen. 103″x133″

This has been a tough week. Lots of friends and people that I love had a challenging time in their workplace and lives, and it spills over to others in ways that might not have been anticipated or considered. The end result is a lot of uncertainty and change and we all begin to fear the future a bit, and question our relationships, the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of it all. We awkwardly try to find ways to help…or completely avoid a difficult situation.

Folks all react differently when traumatic events occur – a health issue, a job loss, a relationship breakdown – any magnitude of frustrations that come along with this thing we’ve been given, called life, but in the end, I truly believe we want to all understand and be connected in good ways.

My experience is that you never know what people are going through. Not really. You can empathize and sympathize until you are blue in the face, but we never really know what we are all going through…unless we ask and create a relationship, and subsequently – meaning. For me, that is what painting is all about…asking, creating relationships and acting from that.

Can I ask you, Dear Reader, to join me in a an art action?

What I am asking you….is this. At your leisure, have a conversation with a stranger – someone you may bump into on the street, in the grocery store, anyone that you don’t know. Be forward – ask them…How are you? Really? Ask them about themselves. How is your day going? Get as deep as you can and just be aware when it become uncomfortable for you – for there is learning in that. Find out what you may have in common and wish them well. At the end of the conversation, ask them to do the same and tell them they are engaging in art…the art of living and loving.

Sometimes, we are all …just waiting to be asked.

I would love it if  you could share your stories here with me. That, I ask.

“Be kind. Love is the only way through.”

Happy International Artist Day To You!…And a big fat Happy Birthday to Picasso & Me! Let’s Do Cake.

International Artist DayWho knew it? Today has been declared International Artist Day. A big thanks to Alyson Stanfield for posting on this and letting me know – I’ve been so busy painting at The Banff Centre in a residency, I didn’t even know it! There is something to be said about creative time…and something to be said about keeping your radar ears on. Today is the day we move all these fresh new paintings out of my studio in Banff and back into the Canmore studio for finishing touches. Boy, am I celebrating on so many levels!

"Foothills" ©Janice Tanton 2008. Oil on board. 8"x8"

“Foothills” ©Janice Tanton 2008. Oil on board. 8″x8″

Given that October 25th is Picasso‘s birthday….and also MY birthday, I’m sure next year, I’ll be a lot more prepared to party!

Guernica - Pablo Picasso

“Guernica” – Pablo Picasso. I remember the first time I saw this. It moved me and made me think.

Surprises! :: What Art Can Do To Make You Change Your Perspective & Perception

Kevin sent me a link to this wonderful video this morning. It had a couple of “surprises” in it. First of all, I thought he was sending me a link to gardening tips for the mountains. Despite the beauty of this place, I’ve been totally frustrated since moving here from the east and miss my farm and garden. Twice, I’ve had tomato plants freeze on me in the middle of July. Our discussions as of late were around building a raised bed or deck greenhouse. We have very little land area around our leased home and the restrictions the leasing company puts on us to do anything are archaic. We can’t even have a small dog, never mind a chicken or two. I admit getting frustrated by this and keep looking for a way to rebel.

My sad little garden

Surprise! Tomatoes didn’t freeze this year.

Surprise on me. This is an artful little way to bring a bit of the garden back into my life, a project by Steve Wheen….and I think I might try a few “guerilla gardens” around town for therapy.

Art can cause us to think – to make connections between things that we would not necessarily connect but yet upon discovering them, seem to be totally obvious. The beauty of art like this lies in it’s ability for us to change our perspective and perceptions of the world around us – to imagine the seemingly unimaginable and to make change where change is required. Good art holds a mirror up to ourselves and shows us our backsides….what we normally cannot see, or do not want to see! This IS…a beautiful thing, if only we take the time to look. – Janice Tanton

And by the way, I have managed so far to keep one large potted tomato plant alive and bearing fruit this season! I might be “surprised” enough to have one delicious toasted tomato sandwich with my family this season.

Small victories….small victories.

ART :: What is it?

Temporary Installation: "CAMP - Land Claim" over "The Big Head" in Canmore, AB.

Temporary Installation: “CAMP – Land Claim” over “The Big Head” in Canmore, AB.

The beauty of art to me, is it’s many faces.


















Temporary Installation: "CAMP - Land Claim" over "The Big Head" in Canmore, AB.

Temporary Installation: “CAMP – Land Claim” over “The Big Head” in Canmore, AB.



Spring Painting in Kananaskis – Moose Mountain

"Moose Mountain - April" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 8"x10"

"Moose Mountain - April" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 8"x10"

I’m thrilled that spring is (almost) here in the mountains. It makes for a better experience when outdoor painting.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Canadian winters and the cold weather, but I’m very happy when the weather isn’t -30 and the wind isn’t freezing my paint and my hands. Today, I had the chance to get out to Kananaskis Country and hang out at the log shelter for the Jumping Pound Demonstration Forest. Usually there’s no one else but me there, but I was joined by a lovely Swiss family from Cochrane today. As I was finishing the painting, they arrived and had a lovely picnic BBQ and even asked me to join. What a lovely day – something I’ll always remember when I look at this piece.

Here was my setup and painting location. Go ahead…..drool!

Moose Mountain plein air painting location - Janice Tanton, Kananaskis Country

Moose Mountain plein air painting location with Janice Tanton, Kananaskis Country, AB.

Connecting – Just One Reason Why Art Matters

CAMP :: The Lodge Series - "All Family Lodges" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"

CAMP :: The Lodge Series - "All Family Lodges" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"

Art Matters. It has a way of creating bonds between human beings that is beyond words. On those rare occasions when it happens with impact, it’s a soul-filling experience for everyone.

Sometimes it’s just not possible or desirable when you’re dealing through an agent  but a great gallery will foster a brilliant three-way relationship. With the middle man, you’re one step removed  from the relationship. Those new adoptive parents of that baby you’ve spent months nurturing, growing and creating are just a little bit further away.

Like all great parents, you raise those babies right so they go out and stand on their own. You send them off into the world not always knowing where they’ll end up. It’s a great privilege to know when they’ve found a new home where they’re cared for, loved and cherished…and it’s lovely to know where they live.

I care that the collector has as much information about my process in creating the work, the thought and materials that go into it, and the person that created it. That’s more than 80% of the reason why I write this blog..the other 20% is obviously therapy. Ha. Giving that back-story makes it all somehow more relevant from my point of view.  There are special moments and connections that I cherish.

About five years ago, I was out painting at Spray Lake, and while I was working on the piece, my family was playing on the shore of the lake – a large family gathered at the point near my painting location, and their lives literally walked into the painting and into ours.

Their purpose that day was to honour the life of a husband, a grandfather…a father. They spent awhile on the point in service and then scattered his ashes. That’s a moment in my painting life that I will never forget. I painted all of that in – I was suddenly a part of all of their lives and this event. When a young girl from the family wandered down to see what I was doing, she told me that it was her grandfather, and that this had been his favourite place on the planet. It’s pretty much one of our favourite places on the planet too. I finished the work, gave it to her and asked that she give it to her grandma. A few weeks later, I received the most beautiful note from the family but more importantly, it was the day and the connectivity through art to life and death that mattered.

The New Parents

Jeff Kovitz, QC with his Janice Tanton painting

Jeff with the newest addition to his collection.

Last weekend, Kevin and I were thrilled to connect again with Jeff Kovitz, who chose “CAMP :: Lodge Series – “All Family Lodges” to grace his residence.

Jeff had been searching for six years to find a piece that fit into his collection in a certain spot in his home, and was struck by the image of this work in progress that I’d posted on Facebook. That’s an early stage to feel those heartstrings pull. Six weeks later, when the painting was completed, I sent Jeff a jpeg of it. He wasn’t sure that it had “grown up” to be the piece for the two spots he thought it would work so we thought it would be worthwhile to at least try it out in the space and see.

Delivering the piece over to the house to see if it was a fit, my son Jacob and I were in for a treat as Jeff so graciously toured us through his home and introduced us to his magnificent collection and his lovely daughter Jodi who was visiting.

I knew Jeff as a friend and a colleague from his role as the Chair of the Board of Governors of The Banff Centre when I worked there as Program Manager for Aboriginal Leadership. We’d had occasion to have lunch together after he learned of The Community Fusion project and he graciously opened the film and exhibition for the project on it’s launch.

Jeff ‘s enthusiasm and care for artists, the artistic process and the state of the world is evident in his support of every facet of disciplinary study in the arts, and we’re grateful to know him. His love for the arts is evident, not only in his service and leadership capacity but in the beautiful and superbly self-curated works that hang in his residence, from the thoughtfully situated sculptures… to the music  by the invisible piano player on a wondrous grand (player) piano that plays magically throughout his home – a work of art in itself. Every piece has a story and a provenance.

This ….is art-full living!

Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir in Janice Tanton's studio

We so enjoyed this wine together in the studio.

Holding up the painting in the selected spot, I think we were all surprised at how well it fit – that it belonged right there in that very spot – no other home…no other place. If I had tried to create a work specifically for the placement, I’m not certain that I would have been successful – it was somehow meant deep-down for Jeff. Art finds it’s own way. My baby had found it’s place in the world and I’ve extended my family.

Kevin and I hung the painting for Jeff. It was the first time that we’d ever done this together and it was a special experience for both of us. There were a few laughs along the way, that’s for sure! Kevin makes the stretchers and stretches the linen for me so it was fitting for him and meaningful for us both to be a part of the final process of seeing it where it belonged. To celebrate the work, Jeff gave us a lovely bottle of wine. We enjoyed it together in the studio that evening, toasting our baby into the world and wishing well to those who would encounter it as well as it’s new caretaker. I have to say that I am truly more pleased that this piece is with our friend who has it, than I am that the painting has been sold. It’s good to know and serves my heart well.

The Relationship of Art To Life To Art To Life…

"Lie To Me"

"Lie To Me" ©2010 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x60"

This is what I love so much about art and it’s many forms – there are relationships everywhere. I have a relationship with the work as I think about it, watch it become reality before my eyes and create it. There are times when I can look at a piece that I’ve done, and remember the conversations I had, the meals, the music I listened to and the times and events in my life while I worked on it – those are the stories that are embedded in the work. For instance, the work above, “Lie To Me” was created while listening to Jonny Lang‘s music and named for the same song, “Lie To Me”. His music inspired me and by a freak chance (or perhaps NOT such a freak chance…) we met Jonny and his backup singer Jason Eskridge and had the opportunity to share a coffee and talk about the painting, the song and the connectivity between artforms.

I have a lovely client now who was so moved by this work, that she’s commissioned a similar piece…and I’m thrilled to work with her, because it’s the relationships that I know will grow as she sits for this work that will matter.

There is a relationship now with the experience we had while placing the work with Jeff, and there will be new relationships formed for him while it lives in his home. Art connects us and creates space for new experiences and dialogue. This is the true value of a work, whether it is a piece of theatre, music, writing, sculpture, dance or a painting that somehow moves us.

Oh yes. Art Matters.


Related Links and Articles:

Keeping Gallery Relations On The Up and Up – Alyson Stanfield

CAMP :: The Lodge Series – New Major Paintings Just Off The Easel!

I’m thrilled with what is coming off the easel for the painting component of the CAMP project, and so happy to share this work with you. Looking at this work on your small monitor can’t possibly capture the scale of the pieces, many of which are six feet long. The works have a musical score that goes with them, as well as an installation and media projection. I’m thoroughly enjoying the freedom of different mediums to create CAMP.

Watch for the launch of the CAMP project site nearer the end of this month by subscribing to this blog.

CAMP :: Lodge Series - "All-Family Lodges"

CAMP :: Lodge Series - "All-Family Lodges" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"


CAMP :: The Lodge Series - "Squash Sisters Lodge" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 30"x30"

CAMP :: The Lodge Series - "Squash Sisters Lodge" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 30"x30"

CAMP :: Lodge Series "Running Horses Lodge" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 30"x30".

Lodge Series "Running Horses Lodge" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 30"x30".

CAMP :: "On The Bow" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"

CAMP :: "On The Bow" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"


CAMP :: The Lodge Series-"The Brother's Lodges" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24"x48"

CAMP :: The Lodge Series-"The Brother's Lodges" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24"x48"


More about CAMP on this blog:

The Art of The Wait:  Tipi Camp– Part One

The Art of The Wait: Wise Practices in Tipi Setup & Life – Part Two

Tanton Receives Canada Council Grant for CAMP


Yin. Yang. It Takes Two…Baby!

Men are paint.

Women are canvas.

Paint adds colour. It changes when it’s mixed with others. Sometimes it’s messy. It needs a forIt’s made up of pigment, binder and a vehicle. Mostly a vehicle.

Canvas receives paint – sometimes. It’s strong but flexible. It can rot over time if not treated properly…or tear under pressure but usually holds up to all things and is remarkably strong. It’s made up of many different threads, running at cross-purposes. If you look closely, it’s complex but orderly.


Men are paint.

Women are canvas.

One without the other?

  • Less interesting.
  • Less colourful.
  • Less formless.
  • Less creation.

Men are paint.

Women are canvas.

Together, there is art.

Yin and Yang