An artist from Collingwood, Ont. is looking for Canadians’ photos of national landscapes to paint for an upcoming project that will donate a large part of its proceeds to the conservation organization Nature Canada.
Sarah Merry started painting landscapes a few years ago, when she produced a small body of work that she sold.
Throughout her career, the Ontario artist has been a non-objective abstract painter, but with her sister’s encouragement, she continued to paint landscapes to sell at a certain time of year for a few years in a row.
“I thought, ‘Hang on here, people are really loving these,'” Merry told Global News.
“How can I connect people with their love of Canadian landscape and somehow actually try to be a philanthropist?”
That was when Merry had her “eureka” moment.
“I thought, what if I reached out to all Canadians? And I said, ‘Hey, let’s do this together,'” she said.
“Tell me what it is that you love about Canada, her landscape, her skyscape, her waterscape. Send me your favourite photos from your favourite trips.”
Merry would then paint the photos, have an exhibition at which she’d sell all the work and create prints of each of the paintings to sell, with a part of the proceeds to be donated to Nature Canada.
“It all came together, and it was really quite thrilling to feel that sense of alignment,” Merry said.
Once she had her idea, the Ontario artist called Graham Saul, Nature Canada’s executive director, to pitch him on the initiative.
“Sarah approached us and told us she wanted to combine her love and skills in painting with her commitment to nature,” Saul said.
“Sarah’s initiative proves that anyone can make a difference, that someone can take the natural talents that they have or the work that they’re doing and ask themselves how they can become a leader to protect nature in Canada.”
Currently, the federal government is in the process of launching “what is probably the most important nature protection initiative in Canadian history,” Saul said.
“They made a commitment to expand protected areas to 25 per cent of Canada’s land and oceans by 2025 and 30 per cent by the 2030,” he added.
“We’re using all kinds of opportunities to profile and highlight the beauty of Canada’s national landscapes and the importance of preserving them. This will provide us with another opportunity to highlight this critical nature protection initiative that the government of Canada is currently running.”
Merry said she’s received a number of photos so far, but noted there are a lot of duplicates and that she’s looking for images that translate well into paintings.
Her goal, she says, is to select 200 photos to paint to eventually feature and sell at a Toronto exhibition.
“There are some photos that translate really well to paintings, and those are the ones that I’m looking for to select to paint,” Merry said.
“As we are mostly populated in the southern parts of almost all the provinces, it’s the lands further north in almost all of them that I’m looking to better represent and fill out.”
The Ontario artist is looking for photos of Canada’s land, water and skies from people’s adventures around the country.
“I’m looking for photos that do not include buildings, machines, cars or people, but the exceptions are things like country barns or huts…structures that are much more associated with caring for the land and water,” she said.
“I’m also asking for a little mini story, background on where they took it and what was happening because I would include that in the exhibition.”
All the paintings will be eight by 10 inches, oil on board, with a limited edition of archival giclee prints.
“If your photo is selected, you actually get a first print in the edition as a gift of thanks…for participating and being a part of the project,” Merry said.
The Ontario artist is aiming to culminate the project by the coming spring.
Those who wish to send Merry their photos of Canadian landscapes can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.