After years of moving between various mountain towns to pursue her love of skiing and applying her visual skills and creativity as a marketing pro, Jennifer Woodburn
decided to combine her two passions by taking up painting.
That was over a decade ago, and since then she has developed her own distinctive style and preferred subject matter: the very mountains, forests, and farms that surrounded her, places she knew intimately from hiking and exploring.
Now hundreds of Jennifer’s paintings are displayed in local galleries and are beautifying well-known Collingwood
Jennifer is known for her distinctive, bold technique and an uplifting take on the natural beauty of Georgian Bay
and the Beaver Valley
. From her studio overlooking a serene pond and a clump of aspen, Jennifer spoke about how painting helps her connect with her beloved surroundings.
After growing up in the level farmland of Saskatchewan, Jennifer took off to British Columbia to go to college and to pursue her love of skiing and the outdoors. In her professional life in marketing, she was able to exercise her love of design and visuals as she worked with graphic designers to turn her client’s ideas into visuals on the page. She and her husband went on to live in the mountains of Colorado where she began taking painting lessons while on maternity leave.
“I’d always been interested in the creative world in general, but I was really drawn to painting – and acrylic painting specifically – because of the vibrant colours and the textural component with the flexibility and ability to layer,” Jennifer explains.
Jennifer spent several years perfecting her style until, five years ago, the family moved to Clarksburg (chosen for the nearby ski resorts) and she decided to become an artist as a full-time career. As she explored the natural areas of her new home, she knew she had found what would be the main inspiration for work.
“When we moved here I didn’t realize how much there was here so it was a pleasant surprise how many different ways there are to enjoy nature. I love this area’s perfect balance in the mix of amazing scenery in every season – there’s lots of snow in the winter and in the summer the gorgeous lake, rolling vistas of fields and barns, and forest canopies,” she says.
“Going out into nature is where I get my energy and where my passion for landscape painting comes from.”
Her process starts by painting the canvas with black gesso to create a “black board” to sketch on her design with drawing pastel. As she adds layers of paint, she uses a damp rag to wipe off the pastel so the black shows through. This technique results a very strong, graphic composition, the black lines breaking up the bold colours to create a stained-glass effect.
Jennifer’s subject matter comes from her day-to-day experiences in Beaver Valley. She never goes out without her camera, particularly on two of her favourite hiking trails: Old Baldy Loop on the Bruce Trail, which has a spectacular view over Beaver Valley and fields of trillium in the spring, and Metcalfe’s Rock Trail with lots of escarpment rock and a cavern to explore. She uses the photos from her walks to help her create pieces during the winter. In the summer, she often does plein air paintings – sometimes going on group outings with other painters who are part of the active artist community in the Blue Mountain area.
Clarksburg itself is one of Ontario’s premier art villages, with five excellent galleries in a row on the main street. Jennifer’s work is displayed at Clarksburg’s Loft Gallery
, the Moyaboya Gallery in the nearby village of Creemore, and at Scandinave Spa
in Collingwood. With a steady stream of tourists to these locations, taking home a piece of Jennifer’s work is a favourite way for visitors (and locals) to remember the beauty and lively outdoor spirit of the area.
She says, “I paint areas that uplift me and create joy, and I hope that’s what draws people to my work.”