A celebrated Canada House classic and former Canmore resident, Page Ough returns to the gallery this weekend for a spring solo show.
Ough began painting with acrylics 27 years ago and has been with Canada House for that entire span, she said in an interview with the Outlook.
“I started with wildlife – birds and animals predominantly – and once we moved to the coast, I started painting squirrels and now I’m trying to find my way into the West Coast landscape,” said Ough. “With the animals, we are lucky, we’ve become familiar with some of the wildlife rehabilitation centres.
“They’ll take me into where the bears and lions are and I can get some really great photos to work with. And then because we’re hikers, we take lots of pictures on our travels.”
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she met her husband in Ontario, after which they lived in Newfoundland, New York, Calgary, Canmore and now Nanoose Bay, B.C.
“We’ve loved them all, but this is where we settled for now,” she said. “We’re more attached to each other and the outdoors than we are to four walls.”
Her latest show at the Canada House Gallery opens on Saturday (May 26), with a reception from 1-3 p.m.
“I love them – I was represented by other galleries and I’m exclusively with Canada House now,” she said. “They’re wonderful, they work as a real team, with both their staff and their artists; I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Ough began developing her technique after taking two workshops with John Seerey-Lester about 20 years ago.
“He taught me his technique, which is building up paintings in layers and then using washes or glazes,” she said. “Although my style changes quite a bit, almost every year, in the last while I’m driven to expand and grow and get bigger and more colourful. My palette used to be very earth-based, and I think it’s gotten much more colourful and stronger. And I’m trying to add new things in every year, so I’m not painting the same thing all the time.”
What captivates her now, and dominates this new show, is an exploration of the ocean.
“I’ve looked at the water here for seven years, and I think, ‘What colour is the ocean?’ It’s every colour, it’s everything, and so how do you paint that? It’s constantly moving, one colour moves into the other colour, and it’s elusive,” she explained. “It takes me a while to understand a new palette and a new place.
“We’ve been out here for seven years and it’s really taken me that long to feel bold enough to paint these great big water paintings – they were so much fun and a bit frightening, but exhilarating. I’m very excited about doing more of those. It seems like anyone, anywhere, loves to go to the ocean, and these paintings are just ocean.”
After 27 years, Ough continues to paint because she has to, she stressed.
“I paint because I have to, because whatever’s inside me has to come out,” she said. “It’s not a job or a chore, it’s what I do. I paint almost every day. I’m up early – sometimes as early as one o’clock in the morning, usually before three – and I paint quite a bit of the day.
“It’s simply what I do – I feel so fortunate and lucky – the old standing statement of find your passion and you’ll be a happy person, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done.”
The show includes an array of Ough’s work, including about 30 new pieces.