Brent Clowater’s watercolour landscapes weave fragments of his artistic story through every aspect of his pieces—or what he likes to call his “expressive little snapshots”.
He often finds himself searching for stories that reveal the interconnections between people—later to go back and communicate their narratives on canvas. “I find it important to leave yourself open when you’re travelling—a lot of the time you’ll find something along the journey, but you have to intentionally stop to explore it.”
Clowater recently held a solo show called Wander Away at Positive Negative Gallery that captivated his latest travels around British Columbia. His vibrant new series of 25 watercolour paintings detailed B.C.’s natural wonders and cosmopolitan cities with an impressionistic approach.
His work is the ultimate mix between imagination and practicality. Clowater found the subject for “Soleil Au Nuit” when he was walking along the Seawall while Cirque du Soleil was in town. After studying the ridges of the tents, he found himself back in his studio drawing the setting from his last memory. “Cityscapes are a lot easier to capture—you have more of an opportunity to play around. A lot of the time, I will draw from memory and then visualize the other half.”
When Clowater isn’t wandering, he’ll turn to his large collection of National Geographic print cutouts for fresh ideas to work with. “I like to make a point of drawing every day—I’ll start with simple line work, which will translate into a painting. Sometimes I’ll use the cutouts as references, but primarily my work is based on reflections from my own life.”
“I am the strongest with colour. A lot of the time, I can drop a colour anywhere and it will work—it comes very natural to me. If I’m looking to add light in a painting, I’ll look at how the light reflects and how the shadows are cast in a backdrop. If you go out looking just after the sunrise, you’ll find shadows in their most dramatic states.”
He’ll also find colours, themes, and interconnections in the most remote spaces of B.C. “Once I was driving up near Pemberton, I met a First Nations man. I ended up travelling back to his community’s Reserve, which was about 100 kilometres deep into the forest with about 30 other residents. He showed me a Catholic cathedral that must have been about 100 years old, from back when the Catholic missionaries arrived. It was about 500 feet tall with large Spanish stained glass windows. It was dilapidated, but the community still used it. I knew I had to paint it.”
Remarkably, sometime later when Clowater was exhibiting the painting, a man from Australia saw it and shared his story of how he too had visited the cathedral deep in the woods. The man ended up buying the painting and taking it all the way back to Australia with him.
When he’s not holding solo exhibitions, Clowater participates in Snag’s weekly live painting event or in discussions with his independent community of contemporary artists. The independent artisan group cross promotes one another, often inviting personal buyers to one another’s events—“it’s all about being an open community, it’s not at all reservist.”
Clowater’s next exhibition will be presented at the DON’T LOOK booth at Make It Art and Craft Show at the Pacific National Exhibition Forum from December 4 to 7.
“I believe it comes down to people supporting one another. It’s about keeping close connections with the people who are interested in your work and who have a sense of sincerity for the art world. Supporting everyone’s success generates positivity—that in turn, supports the community.”