Inspiration for Paintings in The Highway Series

© 2017 Susan G Abbott - West Bay, Nipissing

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West Bay, Nipissing | Acrylic on canvas | 18 x 24 ins | $325 | 2017

People are asking me what inspired the works in The Highway series of paintings. That’s easy to explain in one way — it is the view of the countryside I can see from the passenger window of our car as we drive to various destinations when we travel in Ontario.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos from the car, putting my camera or phone up through the sunroof. (Not while driving!)  The horizon line you see in a car is invariably slanted, and this is starting to show up in my paintings.

When I was working en plein air (fancy artist term meaning outdoor painting) I was often right at the edge of a highway, because there is nowhere else if the forest is thick. Take Algonquin Park, for example — most of the time you are parked just off Highway 60, the main corridor through the park, painting something that is visible from the highway.

I did do some growing up in the prairies, and lived in Calgary for many years, so that landscape is always present in my imagination. And some of the works have that sense of spaciousness of the prairies, such as Big Sky, shown below. But they were still based on the Ontario countryside.

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All the inspirations are Ontario countryside with one exception, which was purely from my imagination, the diptych Avery Beach.  It is actually based on remembering English Bay in Vancouver. But it is called Avery Beach because I was studying the work of Milton Avery at the time, so the title is a tribute to that influence.

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From an artistic point of view, I am exploring the ways of capturing a sense of space, and the interplay of colors, while simplifying the landscape.

Some of my artistic inspirations are the works of people like these amazing artists:


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