Big colour for big mountains at CAG gallery

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You won’t often meet a painter whose palette is conspicuously lacking the colour black.

But then, not every painter embraces colour like Leanne Schnierer does. In fact, colour – bright, saturated, vibrant colour – is at the very heart of Schnierer’s work, which will be shown in the Canmore Artisans Guild gallery in Elevation Place, Nov. 11-28.

Titled The Mountains Are Calling, Schnierer’s exhibition will feature a dozen large acrylic mountain landscapes and a number of 8 x 10 and 10 x 10 works (“My Little Gems” she’s dubbed them).

All the paintings were created in the last year, after Schnierer, a CAG member of nearly four years, committed to having a solo show.

An artist who splits her time between Edmonton and Canmore, Schnierer has turned her focus from cityscapes to mountain landscapes as she and her family have embraced part-time life in the mountain town.

As a graduate of the Visual Fine Arts Program at the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Schnierer first worked in large oils, including mountain landscapes, but made the switch to acrylics, “because I love the brightness of the colours. With the technique I use, acrylics work best; oils take too long to dry. And I wanted to challenge myself in a different medium.

“I just took to acrylics once I started; I like it when the colours just pop out at you. I like very bright, simple works and I work from reference photos I’ve taken, or several photos I’ve taken, arranged to make a composition more pleasing.

“I like to depict an actual place, not so much with realism, but expressionism. But people will recognize the locations.”

Once she had committed to the CAG show, Schnierer found she was full of ideas about what to create, and still has enough for another show.

“I had ideas in my head from different references and experiences and I’ve been working on this show for the past year.”

Working in Canmore on an easel, or her dining table or kitchen island, Schnierer works with an array of colours, but, similar to the lack of black, there are no brown or tan colours in her palette.

“I just can’t use subdued colour,” she said. “I like bright colours and Prussian blue is my black. Sometimes I make a tree red, it doesn’t matter what the colour is, as long as it’s pleasing.

“I start with a colour, then decide on more or different tones. I like warm and cold colours; I need contrast.”

Being the Schnierer is always working on new pieces, this past summer and fall, warmer than usual, offered inspiration as she and her family golfed and hiked in the mountains.

“It’s endless, really, what you can find to paint in this area. It’s so beautiful.”

Over the years, Schnierer said, viewers have often commented on her use of bold colour, with some calling it “happy art.

“Everyone’s different and people like different things,” she said.

Beyond her upcoming CAG show, Schnierer will also exhibit in Edmonton at the High Level Diner and at a Brewery District gallery.

With The Mountains Are Calling opening Nov. 11, Schnierer will be on hand from 2-5 p.m.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook