Fire, Water, Ice and Snow: Oil Paintings

Artist Statement

My paintings are informed by the fragility of place in a rapidly changing global climate. “Fire, Water, Ice and Snow” is a series of visceral and immersive paintings in which I’ve explored four elemental themes to recreate for the viewer the essence of my experience within my local environment. I evoke mood and movement through multiple layers of paint and glaze, which, when combined with the play of light and shadow, suggest atmosphere, depth, transparency, or flicker. Swimmers, for instance, float below the water’s surface, evoking a sensation of weightlessness, a transcending of gravity that could be liberating or perhaps terrifying, depending on the viewer’s own experience. Vast expanses of ice-glow—translucent, ephemeral, and reflective—invite the viewer to tie on skates and fly across those magical surfaces. Snow falls on a wooded path at night, muffling conversation and obscuring shadowy figures, its hypnotic effect inviting the viewer to step through the picture frame into the night. The paintings of fire flicker and burn, pushing the viewer back. They represent a counterpoint to the paintings of water, ice, and snow. Fire has been a recurring theme in my work since I had to run from a forest fire while tree-planting one summer. These particular paintings are based on a permit-burn on a friend’s property. The fire stayed just this side of contained. I hope they feel hot and a little out of control.

Globally extreme weather, fires and floods, have become the new normal. Locally the experiences of snow and ice that I’ve depicted here are much harder to come by than they once were. So, while each of those paintings on its own is a celebration, it’s devastating to think that such experiences may become a thing of the past. I hope the fire paintings speak to that.

Jennifer Walton was the inaugural winner of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 1999. Most recently her paintings “Conflagration” and “Brush Fire” won the Juror’s Choice Award at the 2017 WADEM (World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine) Congress Art Show in Toronto. She is the recipient of many other grants and awards, including an honorable mention from the Kingston Prize, Canada’s National Portrait Competition, in 2007. She holds a BFA from Mount Allison University (Sackville, New Brunswick) and an MFA from Concordia University (Montreal). She lives in Toronto and shows with Abbozzo Gallery.