Two die-hard plein air painters in Canada’s Ontario province are the subject of a show at Artists on Elgin, in Sudbury, Ontario, until the end of June. 

The work of Sue Lampinen and Sharon Preen, two northern Ontario artists who clearly love to be outside, are in the spotlight for The Outsiders.

Sharon Preen captures a winter scene in Ontario.

“I am very fortunate to have ready access to some of the most beautiful areas of our province,” says Preen, an oil painter. “A short paddle and portage, hike or climb, and the sounds and smells of the forest and waters fill my senses. It takes only a moment to slip into the painter’s ‘zone’ and leave the rest of the world behind. One example that makes both Sue and I chuckle is an incident while painting the shoreline of Georgian Bay. I could see Sue was frantically indicating as quietly as possible that a bear was headed my way. It wasn’t totally registering as I was so absorbed in the final, most important brush strokes of my work. It probably was for the best, as the young cub loped past me, only a few feet away, intent on his destination, not at all aware of the awkward moment. Needless to say, we packed up and bushwhacked our way out in the opposite, more difficult direction, rather than risk encountering the mother bear on the same trail!

“This is a landscape that I know intimately and feel a need to share,” continues Preen. “It is not about painting a copy of the image before me but about painting my response to the experience of having the privilege of living in the midst of this unspoiled natural beauty. Maybe it is my voyageur ancestors affecting my passion, giving me a haunting sense of the spirits of the land, or maybe it is that these places speak a language that whispers to any who take a moment to ‘notice deeply’.”

Sue Lampinen painting on location.

“Our rugged landscape of rocks, trees, and water, combined with our progression of seasons, offers an artist limitless subjects,” says Lampinen. “Mist, snow, dramatic light, fall colors, and reflections on a still lake — I need not travel further than a few minutes, or just look out at the lake in my front yard, to see something I want to paint. A change of season will make a familiar location suddenly different, offering a new painting challenge. Painting during our cold winter months offers difficulties, but the beauty of a snow scene beckons. I have to paint with bare hands, as I like to use my fingers for blending,” says the pastelist. “So plein air days must be carefully chosen, with locations out of the wind and, if possible, in the sun for warmth. In the spring, mosquitoes and black flies are an issue to contend with, but again, location is key. A spot to paint on a rock in the breeze will do, but packing a bug jacket, just in case, is smart. We paint in the footsteps of Canadian painters, the Group of Seven, who also had a great appreciation for Northern Ontario. They especially loved to paint in the La Cloche Mountains, and many of their most iconic pieces were painted there. White quartzite and granite rock faces, sparkling clear lakes, and gigantic white pines practically paint themselves.”

“This exhibit shows off some the most beautiful areas around us,” says Courtney Natale, business promotions coordinator for Artists on Elgin. “Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in a city where we’re able to be so close to nature.” For more information, visit the gallery’s website.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here