Going natural

Keith Cornell’s latest collection reinvents the rural

Canadian inspirations seen at Into the Woods.
Canadian inspirations seen at Into the Woods.

Rural Canada has been the muse of many artists, yet its intrigue never seems to diminish. Such is the running theme within Keith Cornell’s Kingston exhibit, Into the Woods, at the Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery.

Bringing life to the venue are the paintings of Cornell, exclusively of Ontario landscapes. The pieces chosen for display establish a distinctly Canadian feel within the gallery.

Having grown up in a rural area of Ontario himself, Cornell’s landscapes have a sense of familiarity to them. He challenges the way in which these settings are portrayed by playing with different styles within each piece.

Notable within several of Cornell’s pieces is his layering technique using acrylic paint. In Bend in the Road, he uses this technique to enhance the work’s realism.

While the land and trees are given texture with varied levels of paint, the sky has a suitably smoother finish. Layering helps convey tangible feelings within the landscape — the painting comes to life with this 3D effect.

Cornell also uses this technique to achieve a less realistic effect. In Summer Wind, he layers acrylic to create outlines and impression lines of the landscape in black paint. These harsh black lines flatten the image, giving the effect of a stained glass window.

Other paintings found within the exhibit are the works of fellow Canadian artists Lisa Free and Stewart Jones.

Free’s abstracted visions of Canada’s landscape demand the viewer’s individual thought in order to make sense of them. Her paintings have a quality of softness — colours blend into one another, making it difficult to distinguish objects.

However, it is Jones’ scenes of urban Montreal that provide the most drastic contrast to the rustic focus of the exhibit. His work depicts a slanted view of the city’s alleyways, emphasizing the sharp angles of the architecture and conveying a sense of uneasiness among the artificiality of the busy streets.

Complementing these paintings are the works of woodwork artist Gary Matthews and glass artist Mariel Waddell.

Their pieces maintain an interesting paradox of rough and smooth, which define the exhibit.

The appeal of Matthews’ rustic wooden bowls is the result of the natural imperfections of the trees they were crafted from. The colours are all unique. Matthews combines smooth and rough textures within his works and leaves the tree bark on the bowl’s edges as he sands them down. Waddell mostly uses aquatic colours in her glass. These colours, combined with the smooth waves that Waddell manipulates in the glass, give the vases a sense of fluidity. Although strikingly unique aesthetically, they also convey aspects of our natural world.

The inconsistency in its content what’s most about the exhibit. While at first this may seem as though the exhibit is slightly disjointed, this actually contributes to a more thorough look at Canada’s art and landscape. By exploring a familiar setting in various ways, viewers are encouraged to take a second look at their own surroundings.

Into the Woods is an exhibit in the Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery until June 16th.

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