Among the trees, Jodie Blaney finds a place that is both meditative and uplifting, a place where she can tap into “early memories of being in the forest.”
Her newest collection of paintings, titled Deep Forest Series, takes the viewer into the woods for a close-up, immersive experience, evoking a sense of settings that are both real and magical at the same time.
“My choice of subject comes from my own love of being among the trees,” says Blaney. “Being in nature allows me to access the dreamlike quality you experience as a child when you allow your imagination to fill in the colours or shapes.”
Another source of inspiration comes from the tradition of Canadian landscape painting, especially the Group of Seven. Blaney says she is particularly drawn to artists’ clean edges and distinct shapes like Lawren Harris and Emily Carr.
“Stylistically, I’m walking in their footsteps,” she says. “My paintings are not traditional landscapes, and they’re not abstract – they fall somewhere in the middle.”
Often described as “whimsical,” Blaney’s unique painting style of vibrant colours, strong forms and rhythmical compositions has earned her wide recognition from galleries, collectors and art aficionados across Canada.
The journey to becoming a full-time artist
Back in 2007, a chance encounter at a local gallery in Steveston Village, Richmond, inspired Blaney to consider painting full time. She had moved to the west coast with her husband when her son was born – after working in publishing in Vancouver and Toronto.
“I saw an opportunity to enter some of my work into a local show,” she recalls. “My work was accepted, and I sold the painting quite soon after.”
This success inspired renewed attention on pursuing painting and arts education opportunities at Emily Carr University of Art & Design, she says.
“I was very artistic as a child, but then I focused on my career [in publishing] and didn’t start thinking about painting more seriously until I was in my late 30s.”
Since this first show, Blaney’s painting career has evolved and became a full-time occupation four years ago, driven, in part, by demand for her art.
“I started to sell a lot of work locally, and people were asking me to work on commissions for their homes,” she says. “I got more and more requests, and this confirmed that this was a good direction for me to take.”
From nature to canvas
“I don’t have to venture far for inspiration,” says Blaney, who loves hiking and being outdoors. Her list of favourite places seems inexhaustible, including highlights in B.C. – such as Smugglers’ Cove on the Sunshine Coast, Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver, Pacific Rim National Park – and Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario.
While she sees her paintings as homage to the places she depicts, her process leaves them transformed. “I like to sketch in situ to capture the movement and energy that exist in nature,” says Blaney. “It is a kind of meditative experience for me.”
She explains that rather than being realistic, her sketches are stylized and executed in black paint, black ink or pencil. “I don’t decide on the colours until the moment I begin painting back in the studio. That’s when I infuse the scene with my imagination.”
Her playful approach translates well onto the canvas. People who buy her art often tell her, “‘Your paintings make me smile; they fill my house with joy.’
“That’s amazing to hear. It makes me happy,” says Blaney. “I try to exude a sense of joy and harmony in my paintings. That’s what I want to capture from the places I visit.”
Jodie Blaney is a self-representing artist who welcomes visitors by appointment to her backyard studio gallery in Ladner. Blaney will be exhibiting at the For the Love of Art in South Delta event Nov. 6-7 at Harris Barn, Ladner.