Interview With Award-Winning Ontario Artist: Creator of Stunning Paintings!
Meet Bert Liverance!
This is Bert in his studio creating one of his beautiful paintings. (He lives in our neighbourhood - Martin and I have been fortunate to visit him and view his magnificent artwork. And Bert is a regular participant in the Uxbridge Studio Tour).
Bert has received numerous awards and his work has been featured in publications, galleries, and juried exhibitions throughout North America. His paintings are in public and private collections around the world.
His numerous achievements include the design of floral coins for the Royal Canadian Mint.
Bert invites you to follow his progress on Instagram: http://instagram.com/bert_liverance.
Before I share the interview with you, I'll show you one of Bert's spectacular paintings and you'll see why I'm so excited about this post!
Of course, it's size here does not do it justice, but you can still see that it's breathtakingly beautiful!
This is the Nevisian Ladies Orchid which Bert saw at the beautiful Golden Rock property in Nevis.
It is a recent oil on canvas.
1. Please tell us something about your background.
I was born in United States and grew up living in several different states including Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. After graduating university from Virginia Military Institute in Virginia, I served active duty in the United States Air Force as an officer, retiring as a Major. As a lifelong cottager in Georgian Bay Ontario my wife Sarah and I emigrated Canada in the early 90s because it felt like home. We have been in Goodwood Ontario for over a decade now and love the beautiful landscape and community here.
2. Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I could hold a crayon in my hand, I've been creating things. My parents always ensured that I had paper handy. Early in my life I worked a lot with oil-based clay - modeling it into different shapes and forms. Most of my school projects growing up were supported by a variety of art objects from a globe theater to a Trojan Horse.
3. Tell us about your transition from sculptor to painter.
When I attended Virginia Military Institute, I took an art history course along with a lab. In the lab we tried several different mediums: acrylic, tempera, oil and more. I was captivated by the color and sense of depth that oil paints offered. That is when I transitioned from 3D art to 2D art. However, I still endeavor to make my paintings feel three dimensional with light, shadow, shape and form.
4. Who are your biggest artistic influences?
The top of the list of influences on my art would of course be the Group of Seven, the French Impressionists and the Dutch Masters who painted flowers. I would also include John Audubon and his amazing collection of bird paintings.
5. What’s your favourite artwork?
It takes me months to finish a painting. Each painting has to speak to me. I am a confessed color junkie so surprisingly two of my favourite paintings are Calla Choir and Hula Girls which are both white flowers. But when you look closely, you can see that the white flowers aren’t just white. The subtle shades of blue, purple, yellow are also present.
6. What inspired you to become involved in art?
Since I have been creating things since I was a child it would be soul crushing if I could not create art today. I have images in my mind that I compose along with things that I see. Often, I will see a flower and say to myself, I have to paint that. Creating art is like breathing for me I must create art to live.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t judge your own artwork, let you spirit be free. And it is true. I have found that when I start to judge my own artwork or try and compare what I do to others it stifles my own creativity. This piece of advice gives me the freedom to paint what speaks to my soul.
8. You participated in a program offered by Edinburgh University. How did this benefit your art?
I have been painting in oils for several decades now and was deathly afraid of watercolor as a medium. When I attempted watercolor painting in the past I ended up with a muddy mess. A friend from the Botanical Artists of Canada mentioned a diploma program through the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh that focused on botanical illustration using watercolor as the medium. It was a three-year distance learning program where I spent a week a year in Edinburgh and then submitted my lessons online. We worked in a variety of mediums including pencil, colored pencil, pen and ink, and of course watercolor. In addition to conquering my fear of watercolor painting, the program armed me with a discipline around painting that I had not really had as a primarily self-taught artist.
(This depicts a recent watercolour painting of pickerelweed).
9. How has your art changed over time?
It has been an evolution over time from three-dimensional art to two-dimensional painting. In addition, exposure to different mediums and their properties has broadened my horizons. Lessons I have learned from different mediums I apply to others. When I painted in oils in the past, I typically created the painting with one layer of pigment. When I learned to paint in watercolor, I learned that it is a series of layers of pigment. I am applying this same method to my oil paintings now carefully using transparent pigments along with an oil medium.
10. Tell us about your favorite medium.
I’m not sure I can say any more. I would have said oils in the past but now I enjoy both oil, watercolor and colored pencil. The oils are so rich and creamy and blend together easily, it’s like painting with yogurt and the colors are so vibrant. But I have learned that when you put enough layers of watercolor pigment on paper that they can be just as vibrant. And surprisingly when you paint watercolor on hot press paper you have incredible control that enables you to have very precise botanical paintings. An added benefit to watercolor paints is they travel nicely since they are not flammable.
Don't forget to follow Bert on Instagram and, if you would like to find out more about Bert, check out his website: www.bertliverance.com
Thank you, Bert!