ARTIST OF THE MONTH - APRIL 2018
DENISE MAC NEILL
Denise was born in Oakville Ontario and moved to Vancouver Island in 1991.
I’ve been an artist all my life and have been given a great “gift” to be able to paint the world around me. Vancouver Island and especially Nanaimo and its inhabitants offer an endless source of inspiration for me. Nature is the perfect subject to be transformed.
I have been in partnership with three Art Galleries in Nanaimo - “The Public Hanging” shared with my Father John MacNeill AFCA., The Intersection Gallery and many years with Art 10 Gallery.
I work in Oils and Acrylics and am primarily a self-taught painter with a background in Fine Arts, Commercial Art, Weaving, and Crafts.
My studies as a Commercial Artist, Community Support Worker, and Mental Health Worker have broadened my skills & experiences as an artist.
For over 25 years I worked with developmentally challenged adults, often finding creative outlets for their artistic endeavours. I have facilitated art classes and have enjoyed showcasing work and raising public awareness of unique and varied styles. “ Art is for everyone and has an empowering effect on building any individual's dignity and confidence.” Denise has won numerous awards for her work which are included in many private and corporate collections.
Known for her portraits of arbutus trees and local scenery, she is inspired by walking through her
favourite Nanaimo Parks.
This show represents six months of painting time through the winter months. I gave myself the challenge of 50 paintings in a six-month period and have learned much about my style and preferences. I enjoyed going to my studio daily, it became my job.
Walking the same local trails and paths over 5,000 times, I notice what others may pass. I am often stopped in my tracks by the awesome beauty - colours and shapes that change daily with the evolution of the seasons.
Nature’s willingness to be transformed makes it the perfect subject for exploring with its endless possibilities. I can “re-create” in paint and transform the structure. Groupings of complimentary colours, clumps of twigs or branches, a certain twist on a tree, all make up the beginning ideas of a new piece. Feeling inspired, I return to my studio and feel I am bringing the outdoors indoors and on to canvas.
I look through some of my own reference materials and pick something that speaks to me. I like to paint a scene more than once, allowing me to explore , to revisit and rediscover that natural subject in a new way. I start with the time, the motivation and materials to create.
My work starts from what I’d like to call the “big sketch”, the concept of the big sketch is keeping the paint, and the painting’s direction, loose and expressive, capturing the bold essence of the subject. I feel my happiest when connected to nature and a higher purpose when I paint. Time has no meaning, but disappears quickly. Working closely to my easel, my canvas feels like the inner forest, it’s biology and it’s DNA .
I have been given a great gift to see the world as an artist. I enjoy inspiring others to discover the abstract beauty in nature, and to also demonstrate the ease with which one can learn to paint.