On a visit to Iceland last December, Robert Canaga was inspired to create a series of waterfall paintings. “The moment I saw the landscape, with its cold, clean air and the wafting steam rising from the land, I was ready to paint,” he says. “As we traveled around the country I was taken by the power and grace of all the falls and beauty of the layers of lava and snow. The melting ice from the glaciers cascading down the black basalt inspired me.”
Canaga has always been interested in translating the feeling of place instead of creating a copy of nature. “There is a certain feeling of uplifted spirit and joy felt when standing in the presence of water falling and breathing in the mist that I try to create without being photographic,” he says.
As a printmaker, Canaga learned to use contrast and simplified marks to translate what he is thinking or feeling. He tries to implement those lessons in his paintings. In 1994, he began mixing oils with cold wax as a hardening agent, which has allowed him to add thick and thin layers of color as needed for textural effects. He also lets his use of color and understanding of optical illusion create depth and atmosphere.
“I paint in the studio and seldom take my paints with me [on location], preferring to make small sketches and notes to remind me what to paint. I would rather see what I paint than paint what I see.”
His work will be on view in Eugene, Oregon at Oregon Wine LAB and in May and June, and at Vistra Framing and Gallery in July and August.
Iceland Falls #3, oil, 20 x 12"
Iceland Falls #5, oil, 60 x 60"
Triple Falls, oil, 24 x 18"