Canada Legacy SeriesA Beautiful World Abstract Collection by Kiernan Antares
In the Abstract
Exploring Diversity Across Canada
Weaving together painterly stories of our past, present and potential across territories and provinces to celebrate a full expression of the truth and beauty of Canada.
There are so many things that I love about Canada, one of them being that it suits my nature so beautifully. We are, generally speaking, a peace loving people. We are kind, compassionate and accepting of diversity. That’s not to say that we don’t have our wrong-doings, but I like to think we are doing our best to be a light in the world.
Canada Legacy Series
My plan with the Canada’s Beautiful World project was to take nine months exploring each of the Territories and Provinces; it’s history, culture, peoples, arts, and stories, and connect with the land and spirit to create paintings dedicated to expressing a voice, values and lessons each of us brings in creating a new frontier.
The Arts and Culture play a critical role in the life of a country. They tell us who we are (or who we are supposed to be) and can help us articulate what we want to become. How can Art and Culture support our collective journey to a more inclusive Canada? How can we make the Art and Culture more inclusive and more reflective of the stories that we are?”- Jeff Melanson
I had traveled in seven of the ten provinces and looked forward to reconnecting with them and virtually exploring the rest of Canada, as I began though, I quickly discovered that the scope of the project was much bigger and more time consuming than I anticipated.
It turned out to be a year in the making, longer by several months than I had planned, and I had many moments of wondering whether I had anything creative left in me to finish this big project.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce that the Canada Legacy Series of paintings is complete!
Each piece is painted with acrylic paint on a 24 x 30in gallery wood panel. Some pieces are embellished with various media textures. In order to set this series apart from my other artwork, I taped off an inch border all around and painted it black so that it looks as if they are framed.
SPELL OF THE YUKON Yukon Territory
JEWELS OF THE NORTHWEST Northwest Territories
NUNAVUT SANNGINIVUT Nunavut
SECRETS OF THE GREAT BEAR SEA British Columbia
HEART OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES Alberta
SUNKISSED WHEATLANDS OF THE PRAIRIES Saskatchewan
WHERE POLAR BEARS REIGN Manitoba
IN THE LAND OF LAKES Ontario
RENDEZ-VOUS ROMANTIQUE Québec
OVER THE CAUSEWAY Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
BRUNSWICK BY THE SEA New Brunswick
THE PRINCELY ISLE Prince Edward Island
THE ROCK STANDS OUT Newfoundland and Labrador
Artwork Series Statement
This project began with an intention to contribute good will into the world, but as I move more and more into it, I am reminded that one of the things that was a part of me from when I was a little girl, was to go into the stillness, the silence and to sense, listen and feel the presence of God in all things.
The sun, the moon, the stars, the land; the rivers and creeks I walked and listened to, the lakes and oceans I would swim in or watch the ripples and tides, the trees and leaves that whisper in their steadfast presence… everything would connect and fill me somehow.
And, even though I am connecting virtually across Canada’s nation, I can still listen, feel, and sense the spirit of the place… then paint and write the impressions that come. So, now it seems to me that it is not I contributing to the energy, but simply being an interpreter… bringing forth the beauty, power, wisdom, love and grace of our Creator and the LAND-SEA-SKY.
The first several pieces I dove into a great amount of research and then had to find a way to distill what I learned into my impression of each of the territories and provinces. As time went on I realized that to continue with the amount of research I was doing it would take me more like two years to finish painting these thirteen pieces.
The history was fascinating, the diversity so much more diverse than I could have imagined from the indigenous peoples to those who immigrated from other places far and wide. The landscapes, scenery, arts and culture so abundantly rich and beautiful, sometimes utterly breathtakingly stunning.
Of course, there are the harsh sides, those that pull on the heart and made me want to wail in pleas and protests, which included environmental issues and global warming challenges that are greatly impacting the way of life in many places, though in the urban areas we are so largely unaware.
The making of ‘The Secrets of the Great Bear Sea’ for British Columbia, for example, was dedicated to bringing attention to the threats of the proposed oil pipelines through these waters, and the impact it poses to the whales, birds, seals, fish and ecology along the coastline and beyond.
In the territories, I was moved to overwhelming concern about the effects of global warming, as the indigenous peoples are speaking out about, though who is listening. Their winters growing warmer, the ice disappearing, the winds over the past couple of decades have actually changed direction. The winds have changed direction! It might not mean a whole lot to the rest of us, but to them this is a huge concern for survival. They can no longer make accurate predictions in weather patterns or changing seasons, and it affects their tracking and hunting so vital for their livelihood.
The polar bears are forced inland, as I discovered in not only the territories, but also in Manitoba, ‘Where the Polar Bears Reign.’ In Churchill, Manitoba – the thoroughfare to the seas for the bears, there are great numbers of them having to scavenge in the urban areas, in the dumps, anywhere they can search for food that is no longer available to them because of the receding islands of ice where they would normally live and swim and hunt.
Now, in this place people live with the real danger everyday of being attacked by a bear, so they are forced to change the way they live, having to travel in groups, staying indoors to stay alive. Children can no longer feel free to go outside and play, in fact, for Halloween their trick or treating door-to-door is restricted to a night in at the community centre. Table-to-table instead.
There is so much that is extraordinarily beautiful to behold, but I was also becoming weighted down with angst and depression at times, and with the amount of research going into each piece to prepare me for making the painting, I made the decision to alter my approach.
My research scaled back and instead I kept my ears, eyes and heart opened for what beauty, story or culture would draw me in with a desire to experience it somehow, and then give it voice through brush and paint to abstract representations on wooden panels.
Acrylic paint. Oil sticks. Gold mica flakes. Glitter. Pastel sticks. Pencils. These were the mediums I used.
Brushes. Palette knives. Chop sticks. My fingers. These were the tools I used.
West to East, first from the North through the territories and Nunavut, then through the provinces from British Columbia easterly across the nation wrapping up in Newfoundland and Labrador.
What a journey it has been. New discoveries to memories revisited.
In the making of ‘The Princely Isle,’ (Prince Edward Island PEI) a long-forgotten memory came bidding up unexpectantly when coming across a photo of the typewriter Lucy Maud Montgomery used to write her Anne of Green Gables series of books. I remembered, in a hazy recollection, seeing this very typewriter when I was nine years old, just shy of 50 years ago, and suddenly realizing that there were people who wrote the books I loved reading, loving the slinking away and slipping into other worlds. It might have been in that moment of realization that the yen, the yearning, the calling to write was born. The calling that would seek me and find me time and again, until I could no longer live or breathe without it.
To finish up the series in Newfoundland and Labrador was pure delight. ‘The Rock Stands Out,’ from ancient metamorphic rocks and glacial fjords to the quirky, slightly off-kilter and many dialects of English, where storytelling is their way, I fell in love and put this place I’ve yet to visit on my bucket list. I swooned in the echoes of their own way of living and the stories being told, so their forgetting never happens.
Spell of the Yukon
Spell of the Yukon—is an abstract representation of what was impressed upon me after spending days researching the history, wildlife, folklore, arts, and culture of one of the last great wildernesses left in the world. The breath taking beauty of this arctic territory seems to capture the hearts of those who cross its often rugged path. Residents would not dream of leaving and tourists long to return.
A land where once the whooly mammoth, mastadon’s, camel’s, scimitar cats, roamed the plains with bears, Yukon horses and other animals. A land where the first people migrated from Asia near the end of the ice age, some 15,000 years ago, by crossing the Bering Land Bridge, a mass of land that connected the continents and later submerged in water.
Spell of the Yukon—with passages of time abutting the forces of nature there is a bridge; a place where the stillness offers moments of reflection. Where have you been… Where are you now… Who are you now… What have you learned… What flecks of gold are offered to you now…What passion remains undiscovered, untapped…
Jewels of the Northwest
Jewels of the Northwest—an abstract representation of the crown jewels of the Canadian arctic—the kingdom of the mountains, the Northern Lights, the Land of the Midnight Sun, and the ancient teachings of the One Drum. Canada’s wilderness, so majestic, powerful, and untameable, that it commands its own authority.
The Northwest Territories, where Canada’s largest river, Deh Cho (Mackenzie), weaves through an empire of peaks, I came to think of as giants sheltering the ancient ways with their broad shoulders. A land where the Aurora Borealis can be seen 250 days out of the year and herds of caribou darken the horizon. Where lakes are ocean-sized, polar bears roar and great whales spout. A land where people walk paths that connect them to the beat of the one heart, richer than the modern world can know.
Jewels of the Northwest—on a good clear night when the moon is right, you’ll see that light shining up the frozen crystals dancing on the rocks—in this place of the arctic tundra, I imagine, on a mountain peak there exists an ice castle hidden from the rest of the world where one can glean the riches of the ancients. Can you imagine it too?
Nunavut Sannginivut—an abstract representation of the newest, largest and northernmost territory of Canada. This place of glaciers, arctic tundra, pristine wilderness and Inuit way of life, where sharing is their strength and most valued ethic, is the true north. Nomadic hunters, respected elders, oral traditions following the ways of the ancestors, praise their provider, the ‘Holy Breather of Life’. Beating drums, ritual chants, live another day to keep the invisible wolf at bay. Forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and home to the Inuit for more than a century, Nunavut is a sparsely populated massive territory, its villages and mountains accessible only by boat or plane.
It’s guiding principles include; respecting others, fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming and inclusive, serving and providing for family and/or community, decision making through discussion and consensus, working together for a common cause, respect and care for the land, animals and the environment.
Nunavut Sannginivut—Our Land, Our Strength—pristine places, exotic wildlife of beluga, of bowhead, of caribou, of muskox, of polar bear, seal and walrus. Whether by dog sled or snowmobile, by boat, or small aircraft, on cross-country skis or by trekking on foot, respect and care for the land, animals and the environment is the song that sings.
Secrets of the Great Bear Sea
Secrets of the Great Bear Sea—an abstract representation of the mystery and wonder that supports one of the last incredibly diverse and rich ecosystems in the world—in Canada’s wild pacific paradise. Stretching from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border, these breathtaking azure-blue/green temperate waters that provide life to bizarre and colourful invertebrates on the seafloor, fascinating forage fish, sea otters and the great whales, are all at risk from overfishing, oil spills and pressure for an oil and gas super highway. I dedicate this painting to the protection of the Great Bear Sea.
British Columbia, Canada’s most westerly and third largest province has two main regions; ‘the Coast’ and ‘the Interior’. Both so beautiful… No… stunning… No… jaw dropping gorgeous that my heart swelled and my eyes watered in sheer amazement and envy.
Secrets of the Great Bear Sea—open your heart to the wonders of the magical natural world! Carry the treasure of the warm and nurturing sunlight within, close your eyes and allow the rapture of the Earth’s radiant enchantment to fill your loving heart to inspire your own symphony of creative harmonies. Breathe wild alive back into your life.
Heart of the Canadian Rockies
Heart of the Canadian Rockies—an abstract representation of the vivid turquoise crystalline waters of Lake Louise in Alberta. Surrounding it… the Victoria Glacier and an amphitheatre of rugged peaks provide an imposing backdrop to the lake. The healing properties and breathtaking beauty of this area are said to be awe-inspiring and transformative to the body, mind and heart. Think Heaven on Earth, Angels, and Hallelujah—they became my muse.
Located in western Canada, Alberta is bordered by the Rocky Mountains (consider as the spinal column of North America) to the west, prairie and badlands to the east, Northwest Territories to the north, and Montana to the south. Known as a prairie province, but its landscapes vary from towering mountains, glacial lakes and vast boreal forests to rolling foothills, fertile prairies and desert badlands.
Heart of the Canadian Rockies—brings to you the healing crystalline light of the glorious Lake Louise. Your retreat is an investment that will pay yields of renewed energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration. Give yourself permission for quality time to let go and simply be. The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Sunkissed Wheatlands of the Prairies
Sunkissed Wheatlands of the Prairies—an abstract representation of the miles and miles of rolling and flatland fields with wheat as far as the eye can see. Sprinkled lightly with dots of sun bleached barns, this land of the living skies paints a splendour of crops and toil, plains and meadows, wakened with morning dew and sleepened with sunset’s full flow.
Grassland covers Saskatchewan’s southern plains, and to the north are the rugged rock of the Canadian Shield plateau, coniferous forests, rivers and lakes. Originally inhabited by groups of the First Nations, their influence is still very evident from the number of Aboriginal names given to places across the province. Their harvest, the rolling fields and flatlands of wheat that stretch far and wide, have been the image I’ve had living in my mind throughout my life. I imagine a hard days work with evenings to pause, rest and give thanks while gazing upon the sky that never ceases to amaze.
Sunkissed Wheatlands of the Prairies—where warm winds blow over the fields, the sun blazes down breathing life into the crops, while sweat soakens the bodies tending and bending, working and living in the quiet gentle places where small towns and little schools rule, and as the sunset colours fade… the coyotes howl.
Where Polar Bears Reign
Where Polar Bears Reign—an abstract representation of the migratory path of the ‘Lords of the Arctic’ through Churchill, Manitoba to the waters of the Hudson Bay, where their livelihood is governed by the North winds. Here, in the ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World, they rule and they roam the lands of the towns and the beaches along the shore, while they wait for the annual ice bridges to form. Inland they provoke both respect and fear in the townspeople. Out scaling the wild winter ice and sea, their world of hunting seal is isolation and deafening silence.
In this piece for Manitoba, the province bordered by Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west with landscapes of lakes and rivers, mountains, forests and prairies, I discovered the land of the polar bears—where beasts of might and majesty are coming more into contact with humans as a result of climate change. What does the future hold for both humans and nature, where melting sea ice is forcing these Kings to live more on dry land?
Where Polar Bears Reign—regarded as the embodiment of the spirit of the North, an animal who possess ancient wisdom and powers. Fearless and able to find their way back from the brink, these kings ring true of purity of spirit, with strength in the face of adversity, they symbolize birth, death and transformation. For eons of time the native tribes have held the polar bear dear as an ally and spirit helper.
In the Land of Lakes
In the Land of the Lakes—an abstract representation of the province of Ontario; home to the nation’s capital, glorified by over 250,000 lakes, with lakes within lakes. Forests within forests. Land, so vast and varied; from prickly pear cactus in the south to polar bears in the north. Rich in gold, copper, platinum, silver, nickel, and amethyst our provincial gemstone. Abundant in the arts, energy, people, and cultures; nine million of us living in the ‘Greater Golden Horseshoe’. Caves and gorges, islands and mines and tundra, still waters to roaring celebratory waterfalls. From the wilds and nature to city life, Ontario my home, comes alive in me and in this piece.
In the Land of the Lakes—a land of contrasts, of ruggedness and beauty, of the past and the future, simplicity and opportunity. Anywhere you set upon, hearts afire, minds alive, eyes lit up, life abounds and unfolds with the rise and fall of the sun.
Rendez-vous romantique Québec
Rendez-vous romantique Québec—an abstract representation of Canada’s largest province of Québec; three times the size of France and seven times the size of Great Britain—extraordinary. With much of the mineral rich province unexplored; sculpted by glaciers into rounded hills, rapidly flowing rivers, lakes and dense forests, I could not help but then be enchanted by the romantic and picturesque Québec City—ooh la la. It’s like stepping into an old and quaint European city.
QC—known for its history, French and British inspired architecture, the food scene—especially the infamous poutine, European-style eateries, sidewalk cafés, plenty of shops and parks to enjoy.
Rendez-vous romantique Québec—The Oldest City In North America (founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608), sits on the banks of the mightiest River, St. Lawrence, inarguably the most romantic city in Canada with feasts of inspiration for the eyes, the heart and the tummy. The light and colours on the hill overlooking this city—most assuredly inspired this artiste’s brushstrokes.
Over the Causeway
Over the Causeway (NS)—an abstract representation of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, surrounded by its rugged coastline, alive with a unique culture where ancestry is treasured along with fiddle music, both thriving deeply in communities. Canada’s 18th largest island, Cape Breton’s majestic beauty is composed of the Acadian Highlands, the famous Cabot Trail rising from the sea clinging to mountains, meandering down to peaceful fishing villages. Oh too the rocky shores, glacial valleys, farmlands, mountains, woods and lighthouses also enchant the senses and capture the heart.
Cape Breton holds a special place in my heart and though I have not been back there since I was a young teen it runs somehow in my blood. My father was born in a tiny seaside village known as West Arichat on the Isle of Madame. It sounds romantic perhaps, but life was very hard there for my dad back in the day. One of fifteen siblings, he had to quit school in grade two to work to help support the family. The life of miners, fisherman and even bootleggers should take you back to another time, of simple but hard living.
Nova Scotia, one of eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces on the Atlantic, is a peninsula with offshore islands, home to puffins and seals, and whale watching in the Bay of Fundy. Mountain ranges and fertile valleys, high tides, lobster and fish, and blueberries. Oh I do remember the blueberries!
For me, it’s always going to be Cape Breton though. Without realizing what I had painted, I could see it when I stood back, somehow I encapsulated both Cape Breton and Isle Madame. You might recognize the foundation of it, the rugged coastline, and Lake Bras D’Or or Grand Lake just off centre.
Brunswick by the Sea
Brunswick by the Sea (NB)—an abstract representation of the ‘hidden gem of the Canadian Maritimes’, with its unique culture and heart-stopping beauty of the East Coast’s province of New Brunswick. Blessed with the freshest seafood (the best lobster in the world in my humble opinion), the warmest salt water in Canada, the world’s highest tides with claims you can walk on the ocean floor, its Acadian culture, and untouched nature from land to mountain cliffs with some of the best wilderness hiking trails around.
Being a maritime province, I naturally assumed that I would be using lots of blue in the painting. I had variations of blue paint lined up, but when it came time to paint, I couldn’t seem to make it happen. I tried numerous times. It just wasn’t working.
You might wonder about so much red and green, maybe a lighthouse, maybe the Roosevelt house, maybe I had lobsters and greenery from the scenic drive on my brain, but there you have it…
Prince Edward Island
The Princely Isle
The Princely Isle (PEI)—an abstract representation of the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island, known for its pastoral landscape with rolling hills, farmland, red sand beaches, ocean coves, lighthouses, lobsters, and mussels, and of course, home of the beloved novel of the high-spirited and unstoppable Anne of Green Gables, penned by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
PEI, described by Jacques Cartier in 1534 as “the fairest land that may possibly be seen,” was known by its earliest settlers, the Mi’kmaq as Abegweit, meaning “cradle in the waves.” This crescent shaped island is relatively new, the land having emerged when the last glaciers melted about 5,000 years ago.
It has a dreamlike quality operating in its own form of island time, and sounds like a place to live if you’re looking for a real quality of life, with living food fresh from farm to table, a relaxing pace, and an ideal place to raise a family, all throughout the island.
Rolling green hills, blossoming trees, long stretches of red-sand beaches, maybe riding horseback there splashing on the shoreline, it is these images that I held inside as I painted The Princely Isle. This is the very rare piece where I painted the very vision I imagined. Somehow, I think this island is very blessed with a kiss of perfection.
The Rock Stands Out
The Rock Stands Out (NFLD)—an abstract representation of the land on the edge of North America, where a blend of Irish, English, French and Indigenous peoples combine to create a unique, quirky, fun-loving, and colourful, storytelling culture. Off the beaten path, Newfoundland and Labrador forge their own world in their own way… slightly off-kilter but oh so beautiful whether to the left or to the right of the rest of us.
Newfoundland, an Atlantic province I have no story to share, no personal experience of it, only my research and the knowing of a friend from there who speaks lovingly and longingly of his desire to return to The Rock. There is something so delightful to hear one tell tales of the glory of their hometown or homeland. To the regaling of their memories and what makes it so special that there is no other place that can fill that void, reserved just for their way and their walk in it, drawing them back always to the end of time.
Apparently there are more varieties of English spoken here than anywhere else in the world. It’s not just in the accents, but their dialects have developed their very own dictionary and encyclopedia. You must, if you are to blend in, know what the phrase, “Who knit ya?” means. Look it up on YouTube and get acquainted with it if you plan to visit. I’m guessing that’s just one teeny example of their quirkiness.
It tickles me pink to wind up my artwork series of Canada’s territories and provinces pieces in Newfoundland, this most colourful and off-kilter place. I’ve learned so much and had an amazing experience about this vast nation, that I’m happy to call home. From Sea-to-Sea-Sea the uniqueness and beauty is astounding.
Award Winning Artist
Each painting becomes a journey of exploration—of self, of the mysteries of love, of nature and the cosmos. I disappear into the imagination seeking what will be revealed or undone; new ways of being, releasing limiting thoughts and feelings, new ways of applying texture and colour. Playing, scraping, blending, adding, taking away. Layers, welcoming drips, accidents.
My inspiration is the ground beneath my feet, how it feels when I breathe it into my body. It is the wind and how it feels caressing everything it touches. It is the illuminating beauty of the sea, the sky, the trees, flowers, and mountains.
I see my role as an artist to enliven, inspire and illuminate during these intense times of change. My desire is for people to feel this invisible embrace of beauty in my paintings and be infused with its vibrancy and grace.
I would first like to tell you what a dynamic and talented artist you are. We are extremely impressed with your diversity and range.
Your paintings are incredible. Every single one of them!!!
Typically I like to point out a few paintings that truly stand out, but I can honestly tell you Kiernan that your entire Mystical Winter and Resurgent Spring Collections are brilliant, truly brilliant!!!William Braemer
Kiernan has the unique ability to translate emotion into art. I own four pieces of abstract collection, after initially falling in love with a piece that she made personally for me with the very vague guidance on my behalf of asking her to capture the essence of a tough period that I was going through. What resulted was a beautiful piece that resonated with me both emotionally and aesthetically. If I had it my way (and if I had a bigger apartment!), I would buy every single piece of her abstract collection. Her talent is impressive, her style unique, and her passion is unbridled. I am forever a fan!Dr. Delilah Topic, Hon Bsc, MD, FRCPC