Category Archives: Paintings

The Artist’s Daughter – Classical Realism

"The Artist's Daughter" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 14"x18"

“The Artist’s Daughter” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 14″x18″

I’m pleased to present the finished work, “The Artist’s Daughter”. Featured in earlier posts, and the subject of a process video (see links below), this has been an important work for me – not only because my model and muse is my daughter Grace, but because it was my first concentrated effort in creating a figurative work in a classical style.

The Artist's Daughter: ©2012 Janice Tanton. Graphite on paper. 18x14.

The Artist’s Daughter: ©2012 Janice Tanton. Graphite on paper. 18×14.


This piece will be included as one from my private collection in the upcoming solo exhibition, “Ordinary Alchemy” at Bluerock Gallery, opening August 4th, 2012.  Stay tuned to this blog for further information and your exclusive invitation!

Here are the earlier posts for this work, featuring video progressions if you are interested in the process and development:

The Initial Sketch

Video – The Artist’s Daughter – DAY ONE

The Artist’s Daughter – DAY TWO

The Artist’s Daughter – DAY THREE



Shake It Up :: Get Loose :: Work The Muscles…I Can’t Do The Same Thing Forever.

"Watches Morning" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 9"x12"

“Watches Morning” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 9″x12″

I get bored easily. It’s a fact. I can’t paint the same thing in the same way and I was never cut out for office or factory work.

I’m an artist.

Any time that I spend a lengthy time working on tight, classic work…it’s too much for me. My creative muscles atrophy; my brain keeps me up all night and I feel like I’m trudging along, thermos and lunchpail, to my shift at the factory studio.

What do I do to beat those art boredom blues? I shake it up. I get loose. I work the muscles, and I make a complete change in the studio and intentfully work up some loose, spiritual and more abstract canvasses. I love this type of work, and I love the classical realism. Anything with paint interests me – I just can’t eat the same thing every day, no matter how good it is for me.

"Walks Into Day" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 9"x12"

“Walks Into Day” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 9″x12″

Can you?

"Makes The Stars" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 10"x12"

“Makes The Stars” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Mixed Media. 10″x12″

These new works incorporate gold and silver leaf as well as some sculptural paste ground, with oil. In a few days when they’re air-dry, I think I might try a resin coating on them….or not.

The Artist’s Window -Creating Onsite vs.The Studio.

"Window - Near Marco Island" - ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 6"x8"

“Window – Near Marco Island” – ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 6″x8″

The Site

There is a big difference in working on site, with all of the sensory input of the moment. Sound, light, colour, smells…they all ADD to the moment of rapture when creating the work, and for me as an artist, there is nothing quite like that pure energy of creating the “feeling” of what you have in that one moment and place.

This painting, a small 6″x8″ work, was done alla prima, plein air on a secluded location near Marco Island in Gwaii Haanas. Nothing that I do to it can ever convey the moment – the smells, the calls of the birds, the feel of the mossy ground upon which I sat or the small black and yellow caterpillar that I remember crawled across the root of the tree where I sat.

For me, this painting will always contain all of those sensory experiences. Even the sense of urgency that I would need in order to get the painting done in a timely manner to join my travel companions – these are all the things contained within this painting.

Sadly, we can’t always be in all those places for the length of time that we desire. This was the case in Gwaii Haanas. There was so much to see, and I could have spent years just in one place on Haida Gwaii creating and painting what I felt, what moved me – the sights, the sounds and the spiritual supernatural that is ever-present.

For completing this work, the studio is the best way to be able to continue to convey the feeling, the spirit and sense of the time spent in that place. As artists, this is our task, and it’s not always an easy one.

"Into The Woods - Bag Harbour" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 11"x14"

“Into The Woods – Bag Harbour” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 11″x14″

The Studio

This piece is a different “window” for me. It is the first piece that I created offsite from Haida Gwaii, and in the controlled space of the studio – a comfy chair, a bathroom, a hot cup of coffee in my hand and all the time in the world.

With decent photographic reference, I’m still not able to get a clear idea of the full colour range afforded by the jungle of Bag Harbour, or the life, the energy or the timeless urgency of the place. Having been there, I’m connected to the time that I had there, but the time it takes to snap a photo vs. sitting on the ground, feeling the energy, observing the colours for an hour or more and creating a work onsite are never the same.

It’s still full of memories for me, and hopefully, I can open this window in my studio and let those feelings all spill into the painting.

I have a question…okay….maybe I have three questions:

As an artist, do you prefer the studio or painting onsite? Why? What are the merits of both?

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


Hot New Major Works By Janice Tanton At Effusion Art Gallery!

It’s been a very busy month in the studio for me, and I’ve got the first of some brand spanking new pieces hitting British Columbia tomorrow.

I’ll be delivering them to Effusion Gallery in Invermere, BC on Saturday, February 25th, 2012 and would love to connect and say hello to you if you’re there.

Weather permitting, you might also find me painting along the route. Feel free to bring me hot chocolate!

"Muskwa Kyayo - When Spirit Awakens" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 48"x60"

"Muskwa Kyayo - When Spirit Awakens" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 48"x60"


"Just Get Me There" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen 40"x72"

"Just Get Me There" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen 40"x72"


"Canoe - Can You?" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24" x 48"

"Canoe - Can You?" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 24" x 48"

Paint Fast, or Die! – How To Survive Painting Boredom & February In The Mountains

Deck Plein Air Painting Setup

Plein Air Setup on my deck.

I’ve been working on some very large pieces for a couple of months for the CAMP body of work. The works – some of them 8 feet long and 4 feet high,  require multiple layers of glazing, attention to detail and draftsmanship and an eye for subtle light and form. I’ve gotta say it…”UG…it’s boring the heck out of me and my Artist ADD has kicked in.”

To freshen up, and begin to feel as though I’m getting something done, I’ve taken to some quick alla prima plein air landscape work this past week. It’s a good feeling to hit the hay at night feeling like I’ve finished a piece!

One of the reasons I love painting outside is that it forces you to see and to paint quickly. Choices must be made in a split second if you’re working on fast-moving clouds, mountain sunrises or prairie sunsets. Not only that…but the mountains in February are damned cold, by anyone’s measure. Your fingers and your paint freeze and thicken up, so you MUST work quickly. You must look only at colour and shape and the rest will follow.

The plein air paint setup that I use isn’t yet what I’d call ideal, but I’m okay with it. I have an easel from EasyL which I find a bit wieldy for instant setup and capturing that quick moment. I’ve had it for quite a few years. This one that I have – The Versa… is too big for a quick “up and down”. I’m looking forward to the small pochade setup. I’ve got the tripod already, so have just ordered the small 8×10 box which should be easier to setup, pack in and out and move quickly.

I have a couple of Jullian French Easels, which I find incredible if you are going to spend any time on one location with one painting. It packs a lot of equipment but is way to heavy to carry in and out of remote locations. Great for teaching outdoors, or in the studio though.

Here are a few of the first attempts at cold weather painting that I’ve done:

February Sunrise from My Upper Deck ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 6"x8"

"February Sunrise from My Upper Deck" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 6"x8"


"Evening Sunset at Siksika" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 8"x10"

"Evening Sunset at Siksika" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 8"x10"


"Grassi At Three" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 8"x8"

"Grassi At Three" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 8"x8"

This last piece was done in the studio, from a photo and memory I had of an evening we spent camping on Agawa Beach in Ontario. Although it’s technically not a plein-air piece, the memory of the evening was so vivid and strong for me, that I feel it has translated well to this alla prima studio piece and I like the light in it. Having the chance to use some juicy, wet brushstrokes is wonderful!

"Agawa Evening Sunset"

"Agawa Evening" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen panel. 8"x10"

Obsessed I am, with My Model…

The Skin, The Bones, The Colour, The Spirit, The Substance and The Soul of A Red Canoe

Work In Progress - Red Canoe 2012 Janice Tanton. 40"x72"

Work In Progress ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40"x72"


"The Bones" ©2010 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 20"x16"

"The Bones" ©2010 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 20"x16"

There is something so sensual, human and humanistic about a red canoe. The design cannot be improved upon – it fits it’s designed function perfectly.

In mid-2011, I retired from painting them to honour the passing of William Commanda who encouraged me to paint them with soul and love, and to rest my painting arm and shoulder, as they take a very repetitive motion to complete. They now call me to return and I understand them more, having taken a time to rest and reflect on my obsession.

“How a canoe is traditionally constructed reflects the human form so perfectly.”

There is a boney structure to it – a rigid yet flexible structure that underpins the function and provides form. The skin – a canvas in many cases for the older canoes or actual skins of trees or animals with earlier indigenous canoes, the vessel itself becomes this representative metaphor of a humanistic art form for me. That the soul of it carries us through calm waters and turbid rapids and the colour red marks it as an object that is important and to be noted….that the spirit of all that we are can be contained literally and figuratively in this vessel….has me obsessed, infatuated and in love with it. The wood moves, breathes and has a life to it. It must be cared for in order to continue serving. It, in turn – serves.

The canoes I create honour my ties to both of my communities – indigenous and to my own personal heritage as I grew up canoeing the lakes of Algonquin Park and Lake Kashagawigamog.

This is one thing….that makes me human, and a student and servant of humanity.

Related Posts:

Undercurrents – The Red Canoe Series

The Red Canoes – Sacred and Modern