Originally from the Kingston region, Susan Oomen now lives and works in the aptly named hamlet of Utopia, Ontario. An avid paddler, as well a masterful oil painter, Oomen creates iconic works which capture the Canadian spirit of being out on the water in summer or looking out windows onto snow covered landscapes in winter. Her canvases immortalize the play of light on water and the serene tranquility of a winter’s day, creating the perfect escape from the everyday.
Oomen earned her Bachelor of Art Education at Queen’s University in 1976 and her Bachelor of Education from York University in 2000.
Describing perfect ‘moments’ on water continues to be the theme in my recent paintings, but they also continue to be explorations of technique, colour and unique light situations. Sometimes I highlight one particular colour, its intensities, and its shades, in a sense renewing my own appreciation for a colour, and hopefully drawing in the viewer, to see a colour in a new and refreshing way.
I have presented a new perspective in some of these recent pieces. The canoe bow appears at the bottom of the painting and invites the viewer to become part of the scene. It becomes a visual journey, as your eye travels upwards, taking in water, then shoreline, horizon and sky. Perhaps for a few moments thru this journey we have imagined ourselves there.
When we go out on the water we allow our senses to absorb what is offered, a sudden flight of birds, a gust creating ripples, a cloud passing over the sun, it can all change in a moment. Boathouses appear on water’s edge, canoeists paddle in sometimes misty, sometimes sunlit sparkling water. Reflections depict calm waters, sunlit roofs and trees backlit with afternoon light, or a sunrise overwhelms your vision with a colour display of mist and blinding new daylight.
My winter landscapes are juxtaposed with boxes of colour and light. They may contain a still life or flowers from summer gardens. These boxes recall intimate or familiar spaces that may be somewhere within the landscape, or just within the viewer’s memory or imagination. The unique quality of winter light and the creation of atmosphere through the dissolving of detail and colour, with mist and snow, conveys a sense of aloneness and disconnection. I wanted to focus on creating a still and silent space, away from a sometimes busy and chaotic world.
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