February 01, 2017
Flower paintings and lyrical landscapes by Claire Sower
Claire Sower is an Expressionist painter, born and bred in Vancouver. Her impasto styled artwork – an irresistible collection of blooming artwork and lyrical landscapes – are sure to breathe new life into your home. We’re so pleased to welcome Claire as one of our Kabuni featured artists, and hope you enjoy reading as we delve into her story below.
Thanks to her father, amateur painter and arts enthusiast, art has always been part of Claire’s life. From the early years of observing him at work to stumbling across his old toolbox, he has had an influence on her in more ways than one. Chancing upon his palette knife one day 8 years ago would prove to be the missing piece of a puzzle. A bit of a eureka moment for Claire, she realized working with palette knives in an impasto style was the next step of her journey. Now her tool of choice, she believes the palette knife offers total creative freedom, evoking artistic effects which brushes cannot recreate. Part of the expressionist genre, impasto style is a textured technique where the artist applies thick brushstrokes/knife strikes to the canvas. Painting in this way creates an incredible effect where the artwork seems literally to come out from the surface. In this style, “the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas...colour in particular can be highly intense and non-naturalistic..." Claire whips up plenty of emotion and drama in her acrylic paintings. She applies wet paint on top of one another on the canvas, creating layers of colour. What does this do? Not only does it create real intensity of colour, but sublime texture and a three dimensional look. This has an intriguing effect on the light – the raised surface of paint reflects the light in new and dramatic ways. There’s a blushing sense of emotion in her acrylic oil on canvas, 'I love you no matter what'. The combination of reds, magentas and greens of vibrant foliage provide a stark contrast to the midnight, blue backdrop in this statement of unconditional love.
Many Expressionist artists have made an impression on Claire, including household names Mark Rothko and Henri Mattise. But she credits her biggest influence to French artist, Bernard Cathelin. An artist known for his paintings of bouquets, landscapes and portraits of women. Claire was blown away after seeing his work in catalogues. Immediately struck by his use of geometric shapes, rich textures, and vivid colours, his work has continued to inspire her since. Incorporating some of these elements in her own work, she’s invented own signature style – bold, colourful and whimsical paintings of peonies, tulips and rose bunches, and Provence landscapes. Both are close to her heart – flowers for their colours, geometry and composition – and Provence, for its sheer beauty. Captivated by the landscapes of this bucket list destination in the south of France, Claire often depicts the endless fields of lavender and breathtaking mountain vistas, such as the "Saint Victoire", in her work.
Claire believes that: “Human beings need art – we need the mirror art provides – to help us interpret and understand the countless facets of what it is to be human. Art also helps connect us...." She has always had an artistic eye, but life started out on a different path. Her sense of adventure led her to London in her 20s where she pursued a number of avenues, including fashion illustrations. Returning to Canada 10 years later, she resumed Vancouver life in a new career as a medical journalist. A hectic travelling work lifestyle across the globe then ensued with a demanding schedule of 7 months a year on the road. So what was the turning point? In 2009, she took up painting classes, thanks to a friend’s suggestion. Six months later, they found themselves renting a studio on Granville Island; the transition from journalist to artist snowballed from there, and she shot to success. She made her solo exhibition debut in 2013, before appearing on the cover of a national Japanese/ Canadian arts magazine a year later. In 2015 she exhibited in New York. Demand for her work continues to grow both here and internationally. She’s also been commissioned to produce artwork for Burt’s Bees and Wiley Press USA. Today you can find Claire hard at work in her studio in 1000 Parker Street, in Vancouver, Canada. With thriving sales in Canada, USA and Europe, she also teaches palette knife techniques for floral and landscape art.
Pop into Kabuni House this month, where you can get up close and personal to some of Claire's artwork.