By Jerelyn Craden
Unique, stand-out landscape artist, Alex Jack is back at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery (AJG) with a solo exhibit that runs from February 1 to April 2. With over 40 pieces, ranging in size from three by five inches to 10 feet long, his show, Drawing in Landscape, takes centre stage after Jack’s work was seen in several AJG group exhibits over the last decade.
“I became interested in art in my late teens,” Jack said. “More representational art. I drew people mostly.”
As for his earliest influences, “One of my aunts was an artist, and one of my grandmothers, her mother. There’s a certain amount of ability scattered throughout the family tree.”
Jack treasures his grandmother’s art exercise book that she used in Grade 7, “back in 1895,” he said. “Quite remarkable, the level of facility she had at that age. That’s how they taught art then. The workbook had pre-printed images, like a pot of flowers, and you would draw it as close as you could. In those days they were training people for doing advertising in Eaton’s catalogues, and such.”
Jack’s strong connection to nature drew him to doing landscape art.
“My very earliest pieces in the show are from Labrador, where I lived for a while in the mid-’70s,” he said. “Everything else is from Ontario. I was travelling up to north eastern Ontario, (approximately one hour north of North Bay), but more recently, I do most of my work here in eastern Ontario. A lot of it in Frontenac Park.”
Jack defines the alphabet of the visual arts as, “contrast, dark and light. The way something is placed on the page, how much space is around it, how much colour contrast there is between, say, red and green. All of these things are going to create space and that’s mainly what you’re doing with the language.”
In the early ‘70s, when Jack was in his mid-twenties, he studied at The Three Schools of Art in Toronto. Then, in 1976, he began studying full-time there and at Central Tech.
In 1990, Jack and his partner of 35 years, Julie Withrow, (also a landscape artist), moved from Toronto to Centreville, outside of Kingston, which afforded them more space for their art, and more money for art supplies.
“You’re always aware of the cost of art supplies,” Jack said. “Sometimes we had to give some things up in order to buy them. Even successful artists have great costs for producing more and bigger pieces. I don’t think that ever goes away.”
Jack’s favourite time of year to paint/draw outside is early March through late April. “It’s when snow is melting and the ice, in particular, goes through all of these colour changes and the slow transition, to me, is very attractive. I also like the fall, late September to November,” he said.
“I don’t go outside and do a quick sketch and then come back to the studio to do it better. I’m very much committed to trying to get a really good image while I’m out there.” All of Jack’s work in Drawing in Landscape are drawings using pencil, pastels and charcoal.
When asked who his favourite artists are, without hesitation, Jack said, “Rembrandt.” Followed by Canadian landscape artists, Tom Thomson, David Milne, and Emily Carr.
For those interested in trying their hand at art, Jack said, “Just start with a pad of paper and a pencil. Decide what it is about the landscape that you like the most that you want to convey. Is it the details in things? Is it the distance that impresses? Is it a certain time of year that you like more? Find something to focus on and then get started and just expand it.”
For more information regarding the artwork of Alex Jack or to contact him, please send a query to: email@example.com