How people inhabit their space and how society transforms place, our planet Earth, interests me. Painting in the 21st century, at a time when technology, our culture and our physical world are changing at rapid speed, I explore the bond between people and the powerful elements of the world: the oceans, ecosystems, life forms and the space that connects them. My paintings illuminate the cyclical nature of our existence. Reconciling my own emotional instincts, I find possibility.
Molded by the word, the process of painting is significant to my work. Each painting begins with a title and the poetic quality guides how I respond. I compose using a cyclical process which parallels those found in living ecosystems. By adding and subtracting, the surface is disturbed and restored several times before completion. I assemble out of materials from nature, as I think of my landscapes more as 'ecoscapes'. Using traditional techniques, I use oils to reveal atmospheric depth and emotion, in a place of mystery and intense power. Always sensing the paint's innate qualities, with its rhythms and flow, I listen very carefully to the paints colour. I am fascinated by how the European Romanticists were able to capture atmosphere and light with colour, sometimes even by just using slight tonal shifts, and I recreate these ideals in new and unexpected ways.
Nancyanne Cowell is an inspirational artist of our time. Her stunning and sensuously vibrant ‘ecoscapes’ profoundly capture the cyclical nature of our existence. When handled with such virtuosity, Cowell’s subjects — love, life and death — compellingly speak to the fragility of the world, as we know it. Beginning with the word, she creates entirely from the title of the painting. Cowell’s powerful, yet tenderly painted abstracts show evidence of making, unmaking and remaking, conjuring spectres of the inexorable passage of time. Yes, time is fleeting but, here, it is marked and recorded by the tempo of the brush … the whisper of a wing, a suggestion of a wave, an edge, flashes of flesh, drops of pooling blood, hints of blue and pink: Am I beside a perilous precipice, at the edge of the world, witnessing a birth — the first breath — or caught in time, gazing deeply into the jeweled tones of a dragonfly’s eye? Bringing forth deep emotions, we are given space to integrate our own stories and experiences into these large-format ‘ecoscapes’, for they are mysterious and as multivalent as they are layered.
Born in Ottawa, Cowell’s early years were spent painting and examining the diversity of her surroundings, and it was here — growing up in the greenbelt of southern Ontario — that she became aware of the tenuous interconnections within ecosystems. Later, following her heart, Cowell relocated to the west coast to undertake a BFA in painting, (with Honours and Distinction), whilst concurrently studying Environmental Philosophy. Shortly thereafter, she earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, which deepened her understanding of society and, more importantly, continues to inform her art making. This combination of fine art, ecology and business studies proved potent. Driven to inspire positive change, Cowell taught sustainability marketing at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Although this experience was wonderfully rewarding for her, when the ‘roar of unstoppable paint’ could be denied no longer, Cowell became a full-time artist. Now, she inspires by different means. Painting on canvas, Cowell creates life-affirming, atmospheric 'ecoscapes' that are never mournful but always filled with vitality — that we can, and will, bring ourselves back from the brink…
Stephanie Webb, BA, BFA (Hon), MA
Contemporary Art Critic, Artist, Writer
Education and Professional Development
Awarded Masters of Business Administration, University of Victoria, with studies in environmental philosophy.
Awarded Distinction, Fine Arts Honours Program, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria.
Awarded First-Class Honours, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, with studies in environmental philosophy.
Elected member of the Federation of Canadian Artists.
Selected visual artist to illuminate the Edging Forward book, based on a 12-year research program, by author Dr. Ann Dale, Canada's foremost expert in sustainable community development.
Invited to permanently exhibit with Canada Research Connections, Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, dedicated to the sustainability of Canadian communities, exploring how to reconcile ecological, social, and economic imperatives through integration of our culture and arts.
Nominated and finalist for the 3M Fellowship Award for demonstrating leadership in the development of environmentally-sustainable teaching and learning, The Society for Learning In Higher Education, Canada.
Nominated and finalist for the Distinguished Academics Award for demonstrating leadership in the development of teaching excellence, Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia.
Chin Yuen Art, Article, "Women Hold Up Half The Sky", Featured Speaker, March 2016
Art Avenue Magazine, News Vignette, Federation of Canadian Artists, Mar/Apr 2014
SEASIDE Magazine, Article, "Time Suspended: Dust Motes, Dragonflies and Dandelion Clocks", Stephanie Webb, Jan 2014
Art Avenue Magazine, News Vignette, Federation of Canadian Artists, Jan/Feb 2014
CRC Research, Sustainable Community Development, News Blog, "integration, interconnection, inspiration", Dr. Ann Dale, Nov 2013
The Cordovan, News Vignette, "...fast on the rise", Issue 10, Winter 2013
Art Avenue Magazine, News Vignette, Federation of Canadian Artists, Sept/Oct 2013
CACGV Newsletter, News Vignette, July 2013
ISLAND Gals Magazine, Peer-Recommended Artist for Inspiration and Motivation, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Feature Article, Front Cover: Nancyanne Cowell, "moments", Volume 3, Issue 2, June 2013
SEASIDE Magazine, News Vignette, Seaside Arts Scene, Gillian Crowley, June 2013
Art Avenue Magazine, News Vignette, Federation of Canadian Artists, May/June 2013
CACGV Newsletter, News Vignette, May 2013
SEASIDE Magazine, Feature Contributor, Feature Article, Front Cover: 2013 Women to WATCH, "ReCycling Painting Series", Mar 2013
Exhibit-V, Art Connections, Ezine Article, ["...you can almost taste her paintings"], Stephanie Webb, Mar 2013
The Cordovan, Article, "You Can Almost Taste Her Paintings", Stephanie Webb, Spring 2013
CACGV Newsletter, News Vignette, Apr 2013
Art Avenue Magazine, News Vignette, Federation of Canadian Artists, Mar/Apr 2013
YAM Magazine, Painting in Featured Home, Home and Garden, July/Aug 2011
Where Magazine, Canada's Travel Planner, Vignette, "Featured Artist", The Gallery-at Matticks, July 2010
Saanich Newspaper, Article, "Painter Nancyanne Cowell", Island Life Style, June 2009
Preview, Art Gallery Guide, Vignette, "Featured Artist", The Gallery-at Matticks, 2009
Permanent representation is established with the following galleries and venues:
Sooke Harbour House Art Gallery, Sooke, www.sookeharbourhouse.com
Exhibits original fine art by professional artists representing the Vancouver Island region and is awarded one of Canada's top 20 resorts. A Featured Artist, Nancyanne permanently exhibits throughout the year in the upper level gallery.
The Gallery-at Mattick's, Victoria, www.thegalleryatmatticksfarm.com
Exhibits original contemporary fine art by Canadian and international artists.
Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery, Vancouver, www.artists.ca
Exhibits original fine art by adjudicated Canadian artists representing the Federation of Canadian Artists membership.
Edward Jones Investment, Cordova Bay, Saanich, www.edwardjones.com
A Featured Artist, Nancyanne permanently exhibits throughout the year in the front lobby display.