Ideas for under the Christmas Tree!
Showing Glenn Payan
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Born near Vancouver in 1962 Glenn still resides in the lower Mainland with his wife and four children. He has been a teacher in the Coquitlam district since 1985. Glenn acknowledges the early artistic guidance of his father, a career draughtsman and immigrated Provencal artist in his own right, and more recently he also studied under Polish master Agata Teodorowicz (M.A. U. of Prague) for 2 years.
Glenn was an avid mountaineer and rock climber for many years; scaling a plethora of technical peaks and cliffs throughout BC, Alberta and the USA. Completely unaware that his future would be in the art world, Glenn would often sketch many of the mountain summits, glaciers, rock walls, forests and ridges he had visited, sometimes drawing his entire route up the peaks utilizing the landscape and many of the natural features of his ascent. Over the years, various factors encouraged him, as a family man, to throw his exuberant energy into developing his talents as an artist. He has maintained this deep-rooted love for the mountains though as evident in much of his artwork.
The subjects of many of Glenn’s paintings are colourful and, sometimes moody, whimsical landscapes: west coast and mountain villages, local Vancouver scenes and perched roadways winding along coastal waterways and between majestic mountains. His obsession with the Sea to Sky corridor, between Vancouver and Whistler has produced many stunning pieces
It is the joy and mystery I find in life that I love communicating through art. I tend not to refer to reality too much when developing a piece but rather draw on my own memories and recollections when choosing my subject matter and composing a painting. This way I tend to eliminate the superfluous and the trite, focusing more on those elements that made the memory such a fond one in the first place. While emotion and whim play a large role in creating a piece; lighting, perspective and colour are part of an extensive preplanning stage all of which assist in communicating that sense of joy or mystery to the viewer.
Interview with Dominique Carrier, Rocky Mountain Outlook, March 2008
RMO: In your biography, you mention your father's artistic talent. How has he influenced your work?
GP: My father has a much more traditional painting style than I do - more realistic. His influence on me was not so much with style but rather with technique, colour use and composition. He is a retired draughtsman and therefore brought many of the technical aspects of form and structure to his art. He passed a lot of this on to me. I’m very grateful to him.
RMO: When did your passion for the outdoors become less about physical activity and more about art?
GP: I’ve been passionate about the outdoors since I was a kid. I remember wanting to be a forester in high school. That desire seemed to translate into a lot of hiking during my late teens and early twenties, then on to mountaineering and rock climbing.
Without realizing the path I was heading down, in my 30’s, my artistic side took over: I got the “bug” for creating new rock climbs and producing what’s known among rock climbers as a “first ascent” (the first person to climb a particular route up a cliff). (*most of these routes can be found in the climbing guidebooks to the Squamish area*). Completely unaware of my future as an artist I would often sketch the peaks I had climbed or the views I had seen. Often, on paper, I would also trace the route up a cliff I had just climbed, sketching many of the natural features of the rock (basically, the actual rock “holds” I had used to make my way up the cliff).
On the art side of things, I’ve always had a natural inclination towards art as well. I have enjoyed drawing ever since I can remember. As a career schoolteacher, I always gravitated towards having a lot of art in my teaching workload. I most enjoyed teaching painting/pastels, perspective, shading and abstraction to the students. Then, I think it was 2001, when on a family vacation, I picked up a canvas and a brush and began to paint for my own enjoyment for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised at the result. I guess all those years teaching art rubbed off on me. It definitely was a defining moment when, with those first few strokes of that first painting, I had this overwhelming sense that art was going to become a very important part of who I would become. From then on, I was voracious in my desire to create art while my desire to climb diminished.
RMO: What experiences do you have in the Rocky Mountains? Have you spent a lot of time in the Banff area?
GP: My first experience in the Rockies was on my honeymoon in April of ’85. We stayed at the Banff Springs. Interestingly enough I remember coming into Canada House Gallery on my honeymoon and wandering about the gallery looking at the art. It’s cool that I’ve come full circle and since 2006, I have been represented by Canada House Gallery. They have absolutely the most wonderful staff and they have such a great reputation for integrity. I love being a part of something so successful.
I returned several times to the Rockies for hiking and climbing between ‘86 and ‘91. I recall on the way down from a climb on Mt. Athabasca, a mountain sheep blocked the trail. My wife, Sara, and I tried to go around but the sheep would move in that same direction and it kept staring us down. Eventually it got bored of us and moved on.
I've spent more time in Banff recently because of my association with Canada House Gallery.
RMO: What appeals to you most about nature?
GP: Nature is so beautiful – whether a misty forest or dramatic light across a mountain range. I enjoy it all and it all inspires me. I am particularly aware of the effects of weather and light on the mountains and hills. The “magic hours” of morning and evening and their dramatic lighting effects on the environment have always captured my imagination, both in my own art and in viewing the art of others.
The Rockies I find very intriguing. There is so much more rock here than on the west coast where I live. And the air is clearer too, the sky a deeper blue; it’s just gorgeous in Banff.
RMO: What types of emotions do you try to convey through your pieces?
GP: Generally it’s joy that I’m trying to express through my art. Often I paint actual memories, using reference material to make sure the viewer can identify the area as well. Using my memory allows me to reduce the amount of “noise” and superfluous detail in the piece and get down to the main image(s) that made the memory such a fond one in the first place.
If one were to recall a “good memory”, often times that memory will be linked to an event surrounded by a few main elements (an object, a scene, a couple of emotions) present at that time. Usually we don’t recall a whole bunch of minor details. I try to capture those main elements in my paintings.
For example, coming around that last bend before Banff (from Calgary) and Mt Louis and Fifi suddenly poke up like sentinels on the skyline. I recall the main highlights of that moment: the peaks, the light, the twist in the road, and the sense that I was almost in Banff. These made the memory for me. While the bird in the woods or the way a branch draped over a nearby stream were important and beautiful in their own way, these were not involved in this particular memory and it's kept out of the painting.
Sometimes too, it’s the emotions of fear and trepidation that I wish to express. Many of my darker pieces are based on that sense of nervousness and angst that comes with various aspects of being human. Some of my darker Rockies paintings are born out memories of the times I was away from home and family, in the mountains, participating in that inherent danger that comes with climbing.
I put a lot of emotion into my artwork too. I have found over the years that the way I work best is to create one piece of art at a time, a process which is different from many artists who work on several pieces at once. I’m simply not in that “space” where I can contribute to several paintings at once and still “feel” what I need to feel in order to be true to my art.
For me, mostly painting with my heart, my imagination and memory, I throw all of me into one painting at a time. Each piece is a very committing affair. I work on it for long hours at a time, putting all my emotions, my strength, ability and love into that one piece. It’s a painful process to watch at times, as my wife will attest, and it’s not uncommon that I’m left exhausted afterwards.
RMO: What is your favourite place to paint?
GP: If by “place”, you mean the “location where I paint”, my studio at home is where I feel most comfortable.
If by “place” you mean “subject” then Howe Sound on the west coast is a favorite right now. I spent a lot of my childhood around the area and then drove the Sea to Sky highway many, many times during my climbing days. I have so many memories dating back to when my parents drove us up there as kids. The highway was a narrow thing back then and I remember hoping my dad wouldn’t miss the next bend in the road and send us plummeting into the ocean. In most of my Howe Sound paintings the roadway is perched on the edge of the precipice and curving dramatically, just waiting for the viewer’s car to lose control. This is a good example of what I mean when I say I draw a lot on memory.
Recently though, having spent more time in Banff I’m finding the Rockies are making my head swirl with ideas and inspiration. I love it there.
RMO: What do you notice most about your surroundings? (lighting, mountains, trees, weather).
GP: The more I paint the more I notice the effects of lighting on the hills and mountains in my day-to-day living. It’s made me become a bit of a weather and sky/cloud watcher. I’ve always been inspired by mountains and I’ve always had great appreciation of our forests…so much so that it feels like I want to paint every single tree! Seems like I do sometimes too.
RMO: What famous artists would you cite as influences?
GP: There are artists who have influenced my technique and others who have influenced my passion for art.
For technique, aside from my dad, some of the Group of Seven - Lawren Harris and A.J. Casson more than the others. Emily Carr, for sure and Americans Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton.
Without a doubt Vincent van Gogh is the major influence in my passion for art. He lived his art. He breathed it and died for it. To me, his commitment to his artwork and being true to himself gets at the heart of where I want to be as an artist. Van Gogh’s work often leaves me in tears. Picasso, as well, lived for his art. I find him emotionally inspiring as well.
RMO: How long have you been painting?
GP: I’ve been painting since I was a child – first using those round, hard, water colour disks in the metal tray that we all had as kids; then, of course, as an teacher specializing in art, and now, since 2001, for the purpose of developing my own vision.
Gemmell Collection: San Francisco CA, Seattle WA
Finch Collection: Houston Texas
Topper Collection: Sydney Australia
Starr Collection: Wellington New Zealand
Bally Collection: Connecticut USA
Sinclair Collection: Toronto ON
Christensen Collection: Tacoma WA
Mehr Collection Calgary AB
Mar 2008 Rocky Mountain Outlook
2011 Granville Island street banners
2010 Banff Avenue street banners