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Elizabeth Lennie


Elizabeth Lennie lives in mid-town Toronto Canada. Her paintings are collected internationally and are included in the collections of the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital.

Water has been the backdrop to the significant events in my life. The reconstruction of radiant moments that exist in memory determines the images I choose to paint, of swimming in the liquid landscapes of northern Ontario and the aqua waters of the Caribbean. I work with oil paint on canvas, layering thin washes with thicker impasto, occasionally working on wood panel and incorporating cold wax and graphite. The images are often figurative and explore the memory myth of summer, and the dual reality of the Canadian hot and cold climate. The paintings are the map of my world, in both abstract and narrative form. I look for archetypes, in an attempt to explore notions of self and community within the resonance of shared memory. It is the past/present/future illusion that I seek to determine in my work. This drives me to explore and paint the same image repeatedly, looking for an entry point into the subconscious, occasionally scratching notes into the paint as symbols to carry the work forward. By isolating and extracting vibrant colours in a signature soft-focus style, a utopian childhood is recalled, creating the memory myth of shared experience here on earth.

“How remarkable it is that you have chosen as two of your recurring themes, swimming in summer in the Canadian Shield, and skating on those same lakes when winter descends. Remarkable because you have lived your whole life in Canada, in Ontario even, and yet you have understood what is best about the place where you live. Most people have to move far away to figure that sort of thing out. They can only understand the nature of the mountain when they have seen it from the plain. You, my dear friend, have the wisdom to see the beauty of where you are, while you are there, and that ability is as rare as...the world becoming a skating rink over which you can fly.” — Johnny Wales, Sado Island, Japan

The Summer Years

May 12 - June 1, 2022

There is a lake in Ontario that holds the poetry of my family’s beginnings. When I reflect on those Summer Years the alchemy of past and present are in continuous dialogue in my imagination. Working from source photographs and a virtual memory of a glorious August Long Weekend on Rabbit Lake, the figures in these paintings are intentionally small and in communion with the liquid landscape and bright northern skies. Conversely, in some work a lone swimmer, the observer, dominates the frame. In studio I dilute oil paint with mineral spirits and apply sparingly in reaction to the challenge of accessing paint supplies during this pandemic. Although my desire is to use the full spectrum of colour, blue has come to dominate the palette. 

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