Rugged Splendour 

Cover Artist Feature, words by Cara Williams

Born in the Netherlands, Margarethe Vanderpas emigrated to Canada at the age of six. Inspired as a child by the works of such masters as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Margarethe was awed by the dramatic landscape of her new Canadian home. “About 20 years ago I ventured to the Bruce Peninsula to do some hiking and kayaking and fell in love with the area,” says Margarethe. “I was awestruck by the beautiful clear waters of Georgian Bay and the rugged coastline of the Peninsula. Both its waters and the coastline have become the subject of many of my paintings.”

Margarethe’s artwork is a passionate rendering of the raw natural beauty of Ontario’s landscapes, pristine waters, beautiful forests, limestone cliffs and waterscapes. “These are all things I love about the Peninsula. My work is inspired by the beauty I discover every time I get in my kayak or go for a hike. These experiences feed the soul and magically get translated to canvas.”

Professionally trained through her studies in Fine Art, Art History and Mathematics at Western University and Queen’s University, Margarethe obtained a Bachelor of Arts, Honours degree in Art History, and subsequently a Bachelor of Education degree. She taught Fine Art and Mathematics for several years before transitioning careers. She now lives in Lion’s Head, Ontario and divides her time between Lion’s Head and Stratford.

Margarethe habitually explores Ontario by land and water, aiming to capture the unique worn, weathered rock formations of the Canadian Shield. Since moving to Lion’s Head, she has spent more time discovering and painting the Bruce Peninsula, in particular its unspoiled waters and rugged coastline. “Often when I am out kayaking or hiking I bring my camera with me and take a lot of photos,” explains Margarethe. “In my studio, I review the photos on my computer screen where I can see more detail and select an image that I find interesting. I will often crop the image to achieve a more pleasing composition for the painting. Sometimes I do a small oil sketch of a piece in advance of doing a larger painting in order to work out my colour scheme. On occasion I do take a sketchbook with me on a hike to capture immediate impressions of a particular place.”

Margarethe practices a traditional oil painting technique by sketching the subject onto the canvas with thinned paint first. Once the thinned layer of paint is dry a thicker layer of paint is added using Rembrandt oil paints, known for their high- quality pigments and rich jewel like quality. The oil paint is mixed with artist grade solvents to make the paint thinner for a faster drying time during the first stage of the painting. When applying the thick layers of paint Margarethe uses a medium with her oils to enhance drying time so the paintings dry within a couple of weeks after completion.

“My process involves painting the sky last as its colour and texture must match the light and elements in the rest of the piece,” notes Margarethe. “The final step involves painting the edges of the canvas so as to continue the image. Given that the edges are painted the pieces do not require a frame.”

Throughout the summer months Margarethe will be hosting “Art In The Garden” events on all long weekends (weather permitting) at her Lions Head studio. “I have an outdoor artist tent where I will display work for sale and intend on limiting the number of people in the tent at any one time,” explains Margarethe.

Margarethe has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibits and her work can be found in private and corporate collections throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. “There are many artists whose work I admire and who have influenced my work for different reasons. Mark Rothko for his moving juxtaposition of colour, Claude Monet for his ability to capture transient light, Vincent Van Gogh for his bold use of colour and vigorous brushwork that are so emotionally honest, and finally Tom Thomson for his inspiring, unique interpretation of the Canadian landscape.” 

Margarethe is a Signature Member of the Artists For Conservation (a non-profit invitational group of nature artists from around the world) as of 2013 and her work was featured in the 2019 AFC Calendar as well as the 2019 Exhibition Catalogue. In addition to Art In The Garden, Margarethe’s studio will be open by appointment throughout the summer months. Margarethe’s work is displayed at Eclipse Gallery in Hunstville, Circle Arts Gallery in Tobermory, Gordon Harrison Gallery in Ottawa, Killarney Mountain Lodge in Killarney, The Westland Gallery in London, and Gallery Double T in Waterloo.

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