At the end of a heavily wooded laneway in Muskoka sits an inviting post-and-beam home and studio/gallery of visual artist Janice Feist. Impacted in elementary school by the life of post-impressionist painter, Vincent Wilhelm Van Gogh, Feist’s paintings reflect his love of landscapes and his bold application of colour and texture. However, it is impressionist John Singer Sargent who most influenced Feist’s painting style.
Interplay of Colour, Texture & Light
From her earliest memories, the artist loved sketching—mostly animals. As a young teen, Feist first learned about the concepts of foreground and background by painting scenes in the windows of her family home. In high school Feist enrolled in a theatre arts class where she discovered a new freedom of expression through acting and, especially, set- and costume-production. “I loved the way light could change everything on the stage and make a different scene.”
The artist’s interest in the interplay of colour, texture, and light has carried through to painting. A keen observer of her environment, she notices how shadows play with the colour and textures around her. Back at the easel she integrates these observations into her work.
According to Feist, “painting has become another voice for me that speaks things that I can’t express very well verbally.” She says her process is more of unconscious activity, something she feels more than thinks about. When she gets into a painting, everything else disappears. “It’s a real break from the stresses of the world.”
For the Love of Horses
Feist’s love of animals is evident in the portraits of both domestic and wild animals that she brings to life on canvas. Of late, however, her passion for horses, developed from her childhood, drives her work. Currently, she is preparing a solo show, For the Love of Horses, to be held at the Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge. “My earliest memories are sensory; I still smell the sweet aroma of hay and straw in a barn, the scent of a horse, especially when stroking a horse’s neck under its mane, and feeling the softness of a horse’s muzzle in my hand.”
Today Feist’s home gallery displays expressive landscapes, poignant animal portraits, and energetic still life paintings. No matter the subject, there is true magic at work on her easel. From a still, lily pad-filled lake, to a distant farmland scene, to the soft focused eye of a chestnut horse, the sensory quality of her art draws in and immerses the viewer. And herein lies Janice Feist’s success as an artist—her ability to channel her passion through brush, palette knife, and paint to breathe life into an inanimate canvas.
For more on Janice Feist and paintings, please see JaniceFeist.com
About the Author: Muskoka writer and visual artist Wendie Donabie paints pictures with words and flavours her creations with alliteration, similes and metaphors. When words won’t do the job, she turns to her easel and paints what stirs her heart and soul – most often her love of the natural world. Wendie has published work in magazines and in poetry and literary collections. At this time, she is working on a murder mystery set in a forested resort area somewhere in North America. Wendie is co-founder of Muskoka Authors Association, operates Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery and is one of the organizers of ARTrail Muskoka. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and www.WendieDonabie.com.
Images & illustrations courtesy of Janice Feist.