Written by Pamela Chang from The Art Files.
Image: Amy Shackleton, Building Skyward (Boston + Alberta + Florida), 2010, Acrylic and enamel on canvas, 45 x 60 in.
In the midst of the cold, gray January days, the bright, vibrant, dynamic paintings of Amy Shackleton invigorate gallery goers to the Queen West area. Her solo exhibition at Elaine Fleck Gallery presents idealized scenes of urban and landscape elements which co-exist in harmony. Within two years of becoming a professional artist, Amy Shackleton has already had a tremendous amount of success. Graduating from York University in 2008 with a degree in Fine Arts, Shackleton has participated in over twenty exhibitions since 2007 and in 2010 was nominated for awards in London and Germany. Her imagery captivates audiences in Canada and abroad by creating a single cohesive image of elements not normally seen together.
The process starts in the medium of photography where Shackleton captures her travels to places such as Croatia, London and across Canada. Then, using photo manipulation, Shackleton layers the photos, using at least one city scene and one nature image, to develop the initial layout of the painting. Colours are amplified, buildings cropped and the landscapes blended until the real world fades and Shackleton’s “healthy, sustainable visions of the future” emerge. With the study in hand, Shackleton then begins applying paint to canvas using watered down acrylic paints and eventually switching to enamel paint which gives that hard glossy feel that characterizes her work. While some may think the process ends here, this is only the beginning. To achieve a more organic look, Shackleton abandons the paintbrush in favour of using the paint directly from the tube. Without the use of brushes, the paint still needs to be controlled in some manner and this is done through moving the canvas itself. Once the paint is set, the canvas is stretched and final details added. The result is a luscious environment, a utopia of sorts, created from the beauty of the cityscape and the serene elements of nature. Though the works are a long way from the initial photographs which began the process, there are traces of familiar places in the paintings – the street cars evoke Toronto, the tall trees conjure up thoughts of the west coast of Canada.
With her current solo show on at Elaine Fleck Gallery until January 31st and an upcoming show in March at Gerry Thomas Gallery in Calgary, this young artist has only begun to make her mark.
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