Brenda Turnour comes by her artistic talent naturally. A fourth generation artist, she’s been painting since she was eight years old. Her great grandfather, W.A. Fraser was a writer and illustrator; her grandfather painted and carved birds; her mother created images for Hallmark cards; and Turnour sold her first oil painting at age 12. She won her first major art award in France while at the University of Caen for a pen and ink rendition of a ‘manoir’ – her prize was a camera.
A handful of the hundreds of paintings she has created are on display at the Dwight Public Library this month where she is the featured artist for November. The display, Vistas of Our Canadian Shield, showcases her love for natural landscapes but also includes a few of her personal favourites, like a winter streetscape.
Like many artists, Turnour uses different media to create but has her favourites – watercolours and acrylics. With acrylics, she likes to paint “large and loose” and completes many of these while staying in Lake of Bays. Her watercolours, on the other hand, have finer details and she likes them to be technically correct. They often portray architecture or people.
Turnour often paints landscapes from images in her head, rather than using a photograph as a reference, and uses artistic license when she wants to. In a painting of Tower Hill Park, for example, she has omitted all but the maples just because she could.
She assesses her own work critically and says with certainty those which will never win an award. But that doesn’t mean those works aren’t close to her heart. “Every painting takes something out of you. You become attached to them,” she says. And she remembers who has purchased most of her paintings. She shares her love of art in workshops and private lessons, and by mentoring emerging artists.
She mainly stands to paint, using her whole body, except when she is working on a watercolour using negative space – a technique that has the artist painting the spaces between objects rather than the objects themselves and therefore requires greater concentration.
“The energy you feel translates into your work. I like to think that all of my paintings have positive energy.” That’s why she says she “needs to be in a good place spiritually to paint.” And in all of her work she hopes to “capture the play of light and the essence and spirit of the subject matter.”
Vistas of Our Canadian Shield runs until November 30. You can learn more about Brenda at www.brendaturnour.com.