How I Approach Painting

by Virginia Boulay


Virginia Boulay painting ©

Landscape painting for me, is a direct connection to my inner feelings and desires for peace and solitude . . . something I only experience when I am in nature. I am moved by the seasons, the creatures, the steadfastness of our earth, the many gifts it offers and am humbled by its mystery. I like to think of it in that way. Not as a commodity to be conquered or exploited — but to learn from and to respect.

Whether it is a painting or a photograph, I believe, the heart is in search of that connection that something other. Something other than our small lives, which today are consumed with frantic concerns about money, progress and the accumulation of things.

I stay away from photographs as much as possible. I may take some of the area I am interested in, only as a prod to my memory, (if I feel I may have missed “something”). Relying on photographs can rob my creative process. For me it is that initial “sensation” that caught my eye that I am trying to convey in my work. It comes from an inner connection . . . it has resonated somewhere deep within me and is what I want to say in my work. When I am “in-the-field” I develop graphite sketches. These help me to eliminate any distractions and keep true to my initial response.

Of course working in the background is the technical “know how” of value, color and shape relationships, rhythm and composition. From a technical perspective, it is about the image having good “bones” . . . structure — all elements must work well together before even considering color, light, etc. What makes a piece of art a “work of art” is the imbuing of human feeling and response . . . that intangible human urge to express — whether it is a painting or a photograph.

Virginia Boulay painting ©

Virginia’s passion for nature was inspired by her early west cost beginnings, and nurtured through many years of hiking Alberta’s prairies, foothills and Rocky Mountains.

The start of every painting finds Boulay deeply engaged with the natural world, developing detailed graphite drawings with accompanying watercolor sketches and notes that evolve into finished works primarily acrylic on canvas.

Drawn by the writings of American historian and novelist, Wallace Stegner and Canadian novelist Sharon Butala, in 2004 Virginia spent five weeks as Artist In Residence at the Wallace Stegner House in Eastend, Saskatchewan. This period of solitude made possible the creation of a body of work that was the turning point in her painting career.

Virginia Boulay painting ©

Eastend continues to draw her back and in the winter of 2009 Virginia will be Artist In Residence once again, at the Wallace Stegner House for a period of two months. The paintings from this retreat will be combined  with her initial works from 2004 and reproduced in a book due for release in 2010.

Virginia Boulay painting ©


Virginia Boulay portrait



Virginia Boulay For more than 25 years, I've expressed my passion for the natural world through my fine art, and my love of design and colour through my work as a graphic designer and illustrator.

phone: (403) 242-4628
fax:      (403) 242-4620
Located  in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Web site: