Strong seasonal winds that frequently blow through southern Alberta aren’t easy to portray on canvas, yet one Okotoks painter has set out to capture them.
Artist Janifer Calvez is giving art lovers a feel for the frequent breezes that roll over the Rockies in her exhibit, Earth, Wind and Sky, which will feature 16 large paintings in the Okotoks Art Gallery’s small gallery April 8 to June 3.
“I’m originally from Pincher Creek so I grew up in wind,” she said. “I’ve always been figuring out how to paint the wind and trying to get a feel for it.”
Set beyond landscapes of colourful prairie grasses, rolling hills and stark mountains, Calvez paints swirling lines in bright primary hues that represent winds from gentle breezes to gusting gales.
“Rather than just taking a photograph, I try to capture all the colours that are there and the movement to evoke a feeling of what that would feel like if the wind was swirling around us,” she said. “It’s just the creative expression of how I feel it and how I see it. They are constantly in my head, whether I’m physically working on them or not.”
Calvez dreamed of taking art class in high school, but was unable to because they conflicted with the science courses she was taking.
She began dabbling in watercolour and acrylic paints in the 1990s, taking various courses and workshops and spending her spare time surrounded by paints and canvas.
“As soon as I had the day job I started exploring pottery and painting and watercolour,” she said. “It was watercolour that I fell in love with and continued to explore painting.”
Putting a brush to canvas offers a balance for Calvez, who is a medical laboratory technician and instructor at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s lab program.
“You don’t have to do just science or just art, whereas a lot of people think that,” she said. “I feel like you can have a balance. Being a lab technician, everything has to be perfect… whereas with painting you can break the rules and be more creative.”
Calvez finds herself most inspired by nature in southern Alberta.
“We are all so busy and we don’t realize all of the amazing things around us,” she said. “You might think that is a pretty view but can you feel it? What does it mean to you? It’s about appreciating the little things. I’m always like, ‘Do you see the purples and do you see the blues?’ to my husband.”
Calvez has returned to a painting style she used when she first began tackling the arts to portray both the scenery and the feelings it brings her.
“In the past year I started going back to my swirly skies, which is what I did when I started painting 20 years ago,” she said. “For some reason this swirly movement with the skies, people are really attracted to. I’ve had a ton of commissions since I’ve been doing it. I don’t know why the colour or the movement speaks to people.”
The swirling skies give the creative craft a more precise aspect, said Calvez.
“I do find this particular system of work is a lot more lab techy because it takes forever,” she said. “The lines are so linear it has to be perfect. This is very exact.”
Calvez has had her creations in shows across southern Alberta in conjunction with other artists. What’s different this time is Earth, Wind and Sky is Calvez’s first solo show.
“It’s a milestone for me to have a solo show,” she said. “Even if it’s in a small gallery it still holds a lot of pieces. I’ve been displaying in group shows for so long I thought it would be the same as that, but now that I get closer to it it’s like now it’s just me.”
The Okotoks Art Gallery is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Viewers can meet Calvez at an artist reception April 8 at 1 p.m.