Illuminating the everyday

After graduating from Queens University Jane Everett has carved a niche for herself on the Canadian art scene.

Jane Everett takes a short break from painting mice to the Port Mann Bridge in her home studio.

Jane Everett knows how to bridge gaps.

After graduating from Queens University in fine arts she’s carved a niche for herself on the Canadian art scene, building from one project to the next, one idea to another with an eye for seeing the extraordinary in the everyday.

From race horses to mice, little birds to human figures, Everett never seems to run out of ideas, taking inspiration from the Italian canals to seeing interest in the Bennett Bridge reflection and the Port Mann cranes.

Tucked away in her Lower Mission home, a tour of this career hanging on the walls and stacked along the sides of her studio, as she reconstructs the Port Mann Bridge construction in mediums far removed from the cold edge of marinas and industry and steel scaffolding.

Today’s paper of choice is vellum, the same translucent sheath that adds import to wedding invitations and intrigue to photo albums, upon which she’s carefully layering colours to create a delicate sky.

“What I like is to have a bit of colour underneath them. If I put them on white, you don’t quite get the whites jumping like you do on a darker background,” she says as she picks the drawing up and posts it against a white wall.

Working in the mid-tones is a bit of a tradition in Everett’s world. She did the Bennett Bridge on a raw linen—beige—layering on charcoal and a Gesso fixative that picks up the dark dust and runs along down the surface dribbling into the lake reflections below. Lining the studio walls, there’s an interesting series of mice on linen with corresponding Fimo figurines that she has yet to show.

“I just think the colour is so dishy,” she explains. “You can add lights and darks and you start with that. The linen is this warm thing where it can be the mouse’s fur; it can be the concrete on the bridge; it can be the horse’s flesh.”

What it can’t be is the inspiration.

Everett says she spends around a year on each muse, stopping when she realizes she’s working from rote and starting on the next thing to catch her eye.

“I think for most artists what’s on the easel is what’s most interesting to them at that moment,” she says as she looks at a crane she’s carving out with charcoal and lead.

While she doesn’t have a venue yet, she can picture how the Port Mann show will come together, likely with several linen panels hung slightly off kilter down the middle of the room as though one’s walking across the bridge, surrounded by the translucent vellum images.

Granville Fine Art, in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, will do a show in April with several paintings of what’s to come, though Everett says she’s committed to keeping the linen and vellum body of work together for a show.

And she’s had that lightbulb moment on the next project.

One of the more catchy vellum bridge-scapes features a lamp post that seems to jump out of the stack of steel girders and cold waterways with the intensity only an object one has become fixated on deserves.

“I’m thinking about doing something with lamp posts and hanging lights next,” she admits, noting she could branch into spotlights and decorative boardwalk overhangs.

Everett’s husband teaches American politics at UBCO and her children both work in creative fields—her daughter as a journalist, her son as a screenwriter—so there’s plenty of fodder for inspiration at home, work and abroad.

Just where this Kelowna artist will take us next isn’t set in stone, but through all that opaque vellum there’s a grey area of ideas one can only imagine will be illuminating.

Her show at the Granville Fine Art starts begins in April.

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