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Marie-Danielle Leblanc

My love of place and travel are at the root of my work. My travel diary is essential to my process, and is my steady companion wherever I go. Somewhere between a sketchbook, a journal, and a memory book, it is where I draw, write my thoughts, note of the names of the places I go and the people I meet, record the weather, the light, and the time of day. I include photos, textures and images of everything that catches my eye. Whether I am driving on the highway, hiking in the mountains, walking on never-ending beaches, or climbing mammoth rocks by the sea, I gather specific details and deep-felt impressions, my touchstones for the poetic interpretations I will later create in my studio.

Home again, I immerse myself in my memories. I begin to paint the broad stokes of the spirit of each place. As I contemplate the colours, light, lines and energy of a particular location, the specifics begin to fall away until often, it is simply the horizon, the vastness of nature or a solitary tree that continues to resonate, that becomes the focal point of my experience.

I work with encaustic, a wax-based paint composed of beeswax, resin and pigment, applied onto wild cherry wood, enhancing my nature-inspired themes by my choice of medium and surface. The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in. Kept molten on a heated palette, the encaustic is applied and heated layer by layer. The fusing of each coat as it is built up from the porous wood surface can be shaped and formed, and then buffed to a high gloss. The result is a work of art that is resilient, lustrous and vibrant. Displaying a depth and physicality that invites the viewer into the image, it is also an outward expression of the profound vitality inherent in my creative process.

Celebrating the luminosity of water, the meeting point between earth and sky or field and forest, or a single tree bursting with life, the peacefulness of the horizon in a seascape, or a multitude of flowers that appear to be dancing in a meadow – each painting is a meditation on the limitless beauty of the natural world.

Beyond the factual, beyond the particular, my works grow out of my visceral response to each location I visit – compelling me to explore even further – deepening my ongoing connection to my process, the materials I use, and my relationship to the world and my place in it, as both adventurer and artist.