"Horse and Rider" | Oil on Canvas | 36 x 30 inches

Ones to Watch: Painter Denise Lemaster

Oil painter Denise Lemaster breaks down the landscape into form, color and composition without losing the emotional details. Bold in her simplicity yet complex in her subtle variations, Lemaster brings focus to the foothills of the western Canadian countryside.

“I can’t imagine painting anything other than that when I live in this country,” she says. “I want people to look more carefully and appreciate the natural beauty we have here. I think the land may be easier to understand
in a simpler way, so I translate what I see into shapes and basic elements found in the landscape. I’m also putting in some figures and animals, trying to convey how they relate to the land.”

With a background in environmental design and city planning, Lemaster hopes to encourage conversations about conservationism with her work, encouraging appreciation of the landscape and promoting responsible ways to do things.

“I try to tie my art and the environment together in some fashion,” she says. “I would like people to look at my work and make a connection with the simple, lovely beauty that is there.”

By deconstructing the elements — rolling hills, fields of hay, horses grazing — she is able to look at the landscape and interpret it.

“I’m trying to understand it as an image so it takes on a whole new meaning,” she says. “It’s not a photograph.”

By deconstructing the elements — rolling hills, fields of hay, horses grazing — she is able to look at the landscape and interpret it. 

Lemaster often paints outdoors, capturing the moment when light and shadow, just for an instant, dance in perfect unison.

“Going on location is so different than the studio,” she says. “I like the limited time frame. It sets the moment. I’ve learned not to go home and try to fix them. They’re there, in the moment, and that’s it.”

“You have the atmosphere and what happens that day: An animal walks by, the light changes, the wind comes up,” she says. “It’s an encompassing experience. The shadows … you never see the reflected light or the shadows in the photographs. It’s a lifelong challenge. You have to be quick and grab it.”

This fall Lemaster will make her U.S. debut with two museum shows celebrating the agrarian life, at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, Nebraska, and the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming.

“Agrarian was the mandate for the show,” Lemaster says. “I paint the plains on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. These paintings are high plains concept: some with the interaction of people and development, and some are quite simple, elevating the beauty of the foothills. My focus is to paint the Canadian landscape as well as I can so people will appreciate the land here, and not have to go looking for exotic places.”

Her work is represented in Canada by The Artym Gallery in Invermere, British Columbia; The Stephen Lowe Gallery in Calgary, Alberta; The Avens Gallery in Canmore, Alberta; and The Leighton Art Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

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