After spending five years living and painting in Pender Harbour, David Burns moved to downtown Vancouver in 2000. But soon after moving to the city, where he immersed himself in the urban art scene and worked in the film industry, he found he was drawn to paint seascapes based on his memories of Sunshine Coast beaches.
The result is Burns' latest exhibit entitled From Savary Island, which opens Feb. 19 at the Diane Farris Gallery, 1590 W. 7th Ave, Vancouver. The show runs until March 6.
Some of these oil paintings are very large, up to four by eight feet, reflecting the vastness of sea and sky which is Burns' subject.
"I started painting very minimal seascapes: just a strip of horizon and a big blue sky," says Burns. "I feel all those years spent up in the Harbour have had a profound influence on the way I appreciate nature. I've internalized that sense of being on the water: the lights, space and wind."
Burns never painted in this style when he was living on the Sunshine Coast. Instead, he focused on painting large-scale industrial subjects including freighters in Vancouver harbour, wind tunnels and the Construction Aggregates gravel mine in Sechelt. He says the grandeur of the coastal scenery was overwhelming while he was actually living here.
Once in Vancouver, Burns found conceptual art dominated the art scene, and his thoughts turned to the beach. For three years Burns experimented with oil painting of sea and sky, trying to capture the sense of being "one little speck on this huge globe." Extended visits to Savary Island in 2003 provided the inspiration for this series of subtle, misty seascapes. Burns used photographs at times for reference, but he finds photos lock him in and he often paints from memory, trying to capture the "sense of blue" created by gazing into the horizon.
Burns feels his work celebrates a sense of hope.
"The endless blue and sense of peace are intangible and fleeting but carry the power to suggest limitless possibilities," he says.