For the month of April, the solo exhibition space at Edgewater on the Green has been adorned with Donna Andreychuk’s show “Visual Journey.” Somewhat new to Edgewater, Donna paints in both oils and acrylics. Her work is best described as landscaped based abstract impressionism. We had the opportunity to chat with Donna recently about her development as an artist and the resulting article is below. To view her work click here.
Donna Andreychuk grew up in Canada surrounded by art, thanks to her mother, who always seemed to be crafting something new. However, it wasn’t until she was a mother herself and during a quiet moment while the kids were off to school, came across a calendar of works by the Group of Seven. The images were striking, stirring, and persuading, and she thought, “I think I can do this.” Immediately she began rummaging through her kids’ toy box in search of their watercolor paints and set to work. She mimicked the deliberate brushstrokes and bright colors that had inspired her, and by the time her husband, Rick, came home from work she could not wait to share her excitement with him. Five years later, a move for Rick’s career gave her the opportunity to paint full time, and a professional artist was born.
Donna remembers the first painting she sold with both joy and regret. The very personal piece, a painting of her son sitting on a breakwater looking out over Lake Huron, sold for only $50. While the sale of the piece “was a really big deal” and brought elation and validation as an artist, she says, “Now I would give almost anything to have it back.” Years later, she still has some pieces that she reminisces about after they have found a new home, but says that in the end, it is more important to her to continue to create and the process of painting is what keeps her going, more so than holding on to her favorite works. She could some day recreate that first sold piece, or perhaps reproduce the scenes from two works that she identifies as the ones of which she is most proud, but in reality, Donna feels she paints her best when there are no pre-conceived ideas of how the painting will develop.
Painting en plein air as frequently as three times a week, Donna uses those pieces as inspiration for her larger works. However, she rarely uses more than a fragment of a plein air piece in another painting, and hardly ever sells them. Instead, those small works become inspiration for her studio sessions. They are like companions in a shared space, that speak to her, and connect her back to the rocky shorelines, gnarly pines and big skies that she is so earnestly trying to capture in her work. Each larger, more finished piece that she paints is like “an imaginary accumulation of elements from all the places I have been.”
The paintings in her upcoming exhibit, “Visual Journey,” come straight from her heart. She spent much of her youth alone, outdoors, connecting with the earth. Painting landscapes is an intuitive approach to express herself through her artwork. Whether seen from a path through the woods, the shoreline of the Thames River, or while quietly paddling a canoe along Lake Huron or Georgian Bay, Donna is trying to capture the essence of how she feels with a handful of loamy soil or while gazing at the point where the treetops meet the sky.
The title of the show symbolizes the visual and intimate trip she took the first time she brought her work from Canada to Middlebury, Vermont. She needed in her mind to connect the two places and spaces, to feel that her work would be at home in a place she had not yet been until then. On her journey across the border and into the Vermont landscape, she felt the connection developing, as if she were able to tiptoe across the treetops and land here, with her paintings, in a place that turned out to not be too different from her home.
After she left that first collection of work at Edgewater Gallery, Donna returned to her home in London, Ontario with a new landscape of inspiration. Equipped with photographs and mental imagery, she found her way into and through a new body of work that is every bit a piece of her journey, her home, and her heart.