Celebrating Canada’s 150th – Framed by History


Impromptu Concert, 16″x20″, Oil on canvas in local Confederation-era frame

Welcome to 2017 and Canada’s 150th!

Last year, France and I made a proposal for an exhibition at one of the municipal art galleries in 2017. Our premise, “Framed by History”, comprised contemporary paintings mounted in original Confederation-era frames. By juxtaposing the new with the old, we thought to draw a connection between local history and contemporary nature in our region. Artistically and as a contribution to celebrating Canada’s150th, we thought we might have a better than even chance! Alas, this time we were not selected. Nevertheless, we’d like to share a visual celebration of our collective 150 years, exploring the arresting relationship between art, history and framing.

France particularly has a longstanding interest in antique picture frames, their renovation and conservation. “Period frames, by virtue of their nostalgia and tangibility, anchor our collective memories and knowledge of times past” says France, “These special windows provide a unique scope through which we may visually review our modern heritage.”

We’re both surprised by the way in which anachronistic images and eras look so right when placed together, the stunning effect of two sometimes strikingly disparate manifestations of time, both contemporary and classic. These works seem to reach out to each other with the frame space becoming an integral part of the art. In a good painting there is balance, discord, or tension: a particular energy making it sing. This also extends to wider spaces and hanging paintings in frames that “work” together.

Our on-line exhibition, “Framed by History” brings together a selection of my paintings matched with antique frames, many from the time of Confederation – all sourced, selected and renovated by France. By juxtaposing the old with the new, an enduring connection is drawn between our shared history and the contemporary artworks.…the present, borne by the past!

We hope you enjoy our gallery.

David and France



Join us at the vernissage!

Join us at the vernissage!

Up to now, my approach to selling my art has been pretty low key: mainly commission-based and occasionally through joint shows – I’ve not steered clear of commercial galleries, but neither have I really courted them.

That’s changed and I’m now very pleased to be represented by the Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte.  I’ve known Sanjeev Sivarulrasa for a few years now…since he attended a few of our Break-a-Brush! Workshops. A wonderful photographic artist and self-published author, I’ve watched Sanjeev move into the complicated art market to start up his gallery business, then succeed and expand.

The Sivarulrasa Gallery has just recently moved to larger premises at 34 Mill Street. Please join me at the opening of the 2nd Anniversary Show, 26 November, 3 to 6 pm. Come browse the beautiful new gallery, meet Sanjeev and the Sivarulrasa family of artists and celebrate. We’d love to see you!

Acrylic on paper

"Beach Refrain", acrylic over watercolour

“Summer Refrain”, acrylic over watercolour, 22″ x 15″

For quick studies, I invariably enjoy using acrylic on paper. Watercolour-like washes, cemented into opaque passages and the potential for some impasto. It offers the freedom to explore fluid effects, continuing into the realm of more painterly approaches – perhaps integrating watercolour and dry media along the way.

I often use watercolour paper, but any stiff paper or card will work. That said, watercolour paper is designed to control wet effects and washes which can be moved around in much the same way as any other water media. In contrast to canvas – or any other impervious surface – paper welcomes the paint, and it’s texture becomes part of the work.

I start with a loose approach, sometimes as for a watercolour or perhaps just ladling on a base of opaque paint. I’m already having fun – here are a few examples!

Check out the gallery on: http://www.davidkearn.com/blog/


Sketching Ann…

Ann sketching on the Rockcliffe Parkway

Ann sketching by the Ottawa River

One of the nicest comments I’ve had in a long time came this summer, when I was showing a little watercolour sketch featuring of one of our workshop participants. “Now I’ve been drawn by two artists” quipped Ann – “David Kearn and Arthur Lismer”!

I was, of course much honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as a stalwart of the Group of Seven, so I inquired: As a child, Ann was playing at the beach when her parents noticed someone doing a quick sketch of her. Introducing himself as Arthur Lismer, he handed them the resulting unsigned study – featuring a young Ann with an outsized piece of kelp!

“Ann plus kelp - July 1963” by Arthur Lismer

“Ann plus kelp – July 1963” by Arthur Lismer

Lismer was a keen observer of life and people, an accomplished draftsman with a keen sense of humor and humanity – you always feel his work is in the moment. He probably captured more of the informal moments than all the other members of the Group of Seven. Arthur Lismer had a lifelong passion for the arts and teaching. How many other unknown sketches like this must there be out there?

Thank you Ann!

Arthur Lismer

Arthur Lismer

Kicking-off Fall Art Programs!

join me this Saturday for Painting Demonstrations and Open House at the Ottawa School of Art.

Join me this Saturday for Painting Demonstrations at the Ottawa School of Art.

The Ottawa School of Art (35 George St.) will be opening its doors to the public on September 10th from 12pm to 4pm for an Open House! There will be information, live demos and workshops in a variety of artistic fields, showcasing what you could expect from classes at the OSA.

I’ll be demonstrating paint techniques, answering questions and I’ll be sure to bring along some examples of my recent art projects too. I’ll be doing three demonstrations:

12:30 –  Portrait painting with watercolour

01:30 –  Landscape painting with acrylics

03:00 –  Still life painting with oils

In addition to teaching at the OSA, this fall France and I are running six Saturday “Break-a-Brush” painting workshops in the central-east end. Should you be considering some art endeavours, check out the full range of sessions available on my website.

I’m always keen to hear about you and your art interests as well as discussing the wide variety of courses and workshops on offer throughout the region. Whether or not you’re considering an art course or workshop, I’d love to see you on Saturday.

Drop by and Break-a-Brush!

Photo courtesy Greg Abraszko

Photo courtesy Greg Abraszko