The 12 artists of Christmas

Joan Sullivan
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A diverse group of artists gather for the Leyton Gallery’s annual show

Bonnie Leyton’s “Reclining Woman,” — Submitted photo

A dozen artists are featured in Leyton Gallery Christmas show, which just makes it a match for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Also, Anthony Barton has a concurrent guest exhibition in the small gallery. A note on that later; first a look at the main show.

Robert Sinclair has eight watercolour paintings, all landscapes. This artist is based in Saskatchewan, a province which is not short of land as a subject, but these seem largely inspired by Newfoundland vistas, especially of the west coast.

Sinclair’s palette is of warm, natural hues in brown, green and blue. His media, that most finicky and unforgiving of paints, watercolour, brings light and air and breath. His views in these pieces — a quartet are fairly small, the rest medium-sized — are configured with hill, sea, horizon and sky. It is tempting to describe them as “simple,” but that it not the right word. They are more fundamental. Despite the buoyancy of their swift lines and fresh colours, they seem anchored. There is a sense that we are looking at the very tops of things; like icebergs, with 90 per cent of their form lying unseen beneath the surface.

They also have a physicality, as the hills and mountains seem to hunker, or breach, as if this was a spine and that a fin, and this a brow, just emerging.

He presents a lot of ground, a big view, with minimal marking and texture. There are sometimes details of a few trees, or a defining line of perspective. The paint has been used to get the most effect from the least manipulation, as it flows, puckers and wafts, forming a lemon-washed sky in “Lasting Memories,” near-lilac clouds in “Tableland Glimpses,” a figurative clutch of trees in “Clear Glimpses.”

Among the other artists in the show are Jennifer Barrett with her punchy contour paintings, Carolyne Honey Harrison’s dynamic abstracts, Jillian Waite’s torte-rich encaustics, Margaret Ryall’s deftly layered organic lifes, Louise Sutton’s obliging exteriors, and works from James Rosen, Rhonda Pelley and Sue Miller.

Bonnie Leyton has some small watercolour and graphite pieces, such as “Reclining Man,” “Reclining Woman,” and “Reclining Couple.” These are elegant and playful, with their classic-yet-askew posture, well executed crosses of a kind of formal sketching eye and a quick, sure framing hand.

Among Toby Rabinowitz’s three acrylic paintings is “Secret Duck Pond.” This is a big painting for her, and she’s working with slightly different colours, too. Rabinowitz likes lots of blues and pinks and creams, which here are introduced to lots of lights browns and greens and whites.

The painting shows a shoreline, then water, then land and trees, and then sky, and it is populated by the artist’s signature patterns and figures, flowers and birds, trees and more birds, with lots of shapes outlined, and many forms linked together. Nothing is static and there’s lots of gentle motion through the work, it is energetic but not over-busy, inhabited but not crowded.

Another engaging piece is from Philippa Jones in pen and ink and watercolour. Jones is entirely original in her compositions, and yet there is something about her pieces that often suggests they might have been apt illustrations for an H. G. Wells’ novel. They are both scientific and impossible, full of attention and imagination. Jones often works in black and white but here adds colour; among them a rich blue that feathers and circles and flocks across the paper. Lines evoke or construct jellyfish, orbs and pyramids. And yet it has an axis of fantastic balance, white space to drenched hues, web of lines to unstructured areas. She is something unique.

The Leyton Gallery Christmas show continues until Christmas Eve. At the same time Anthony Barton, who writes and designs children’s books, will show his original illustrations from his publications.

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Duck Pond

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