Inspired by the magic of a moment, Paul Chester explores the emotions and sensory power of a scene in time through his landscape works. Like a song, he takes viewers through an emotional journey, sharing a moving story, which is told through the rhythms and beats of his brush. His work exudes the boldness and passion of Van Gogh, and the poetic dream-like artistry of Monet.
These French influences are born from his Parisian training. He attended the Academy St. Roch in Paris, France, studying there for eight months. Here, he gained inspiration from the many public art museums and began learning French. After his training in France, Paul returned to Toronto, his home-city, to expand his artistic studies and further develop his craft. He enrolled in the school, “Art’s Sake” and flourished through various art courses. By 1983, Paul started exhibiting professionally and several years later, was accepted with advance standing to attend OCA, now OCADU, where he received his art degree in the Sculpture Installation Program.
Paul’s training was not exclusively formal; in his early years, his creative gene was unleashed by his parents who were also artists. They both painted and his mother also sculpted, inspiring Paul to take up painting when he was nineteen with his father’s old paint set. Although he mostly paints, he also enjoys sculpting whimsical figures.
Over the years, Paul developed a masterful collection of landscape paintings, intertwining both his formal training and personal explorations. He also established a style that fuses his two aesthetic interests: the serenity of impressionism and the expression of color and line. The hints of expressionist sentiments in his work are an instinctive reflection of his memory. His landscapes represent his memory of places, providing an interpretation of them through his dreamy recollection of their feel and experience. Each landscape painting is merely a suggestion of a scene that captures its movement and texture, turning the space into a visual song. Throughout most of his landscape paintings, Paul integrates the motif of the horizon. This mysterious sense of abyss becomes the centre of his ethereal atmospheres.
Although each of Paul’s works appear seamlessly unified in color and composition, he never pre-plans his landscapes before executing them. Rather, Paul perceives his craft as a discovery process, where he may playfully navigate through his senses, reacting to his impulses to develop the scene. This approach creates a meditative correspondence between himself and the painting, between artist and canvas.
I paint contemporary impressionist landscapes with mostly oil, building up the surfaces of canvas or wood panels with layers of paint and glazes using a combination of brush and painting knifes to achieve an overall luminosity.
My subject matters are found in the natural world that I see from a walk or simply driving by: peaceful places and retreats – country fields, flowers, rolling hills, forests, horizons, cloud formations, and waterscapes.
My paintings are an emotional response to what I see in the natural landscape in the area that surrounds my home and studio. Somewhat ethereal in nature, images of landscapes and water are painted from memory and the experience of that moment. I enjoy using oil paint because it lends itself to being scraped and scratched, cutting into the paint to reveal the colours beneath.
Painting for me is a poetic expression…a state of mind, rather than a photographic copy of nature. They are my visual diaries celebrating the beauty and peace found in nature.