The pandemic prompted a Red Deer artist to paint the landscapes of Alberta and many of those images are now on display until June 30 at the Mountain View Museum in Olds
OLD — Ever since she was a little girl, Red Deer artist Eelkje VanderMeulen-Smart has felt a strong desire to share the beauty of the world with others.
For years this meant making representations of people and things in the style of Gustav Klimpt, whose paintings tended to show stylistic, swirling depictions of people and objects such as trees.
But when the pandemic hit in 2020, VanderMeulen-Smart felt a strong urge to paint Alberta’s landscapes – its trees, lakes and mountains.
Many of these landscapes are on display until June 30 at the Mountain View Museum in Olds in a show called My Journey.
VanderMeulen-Smart was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Her family immigrated to Alberta when she was just a child, eventually settling in Red Deer.
“When I was five, I had in my mind that one day I would be creative, because I loved everything and wanted to share it with everyone,” she wrote.
“From a young age, I gave free rein to my creativity and imagination and became a painter of people, places and things.”
She enrolled at Red Deer College and then at the University of Alberta, where she majored in art and art history.
She has been painting now for over 40 years.
“As a painter, I make visual images in search of physical and spiritual forces. The challenging and attractive images are like a thread that weaves and connects the work. My paintings reflect my love of nature, strong emotions and life itself.
Over the years, VanderMeulen-Smart has done many things, including teaching art, working in a medical clinic, and working in home care.
Now retired, she devotes herself full time to her art.
The urge to depict landscapes hit in the spring of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and it hasn’t stopped yet.
“It has been my obsession. I do not know. I can’t really explain it to you. I don’t think people understand unless it crosses your mind.
“It’s not always that I even want to do it. It’s like I feel like sometimes I have to. To date, I have painted over 50 paintings of Alberta landscapes in an impressionist style, using heavy oil paint with layered brushstrokes to create texture and depth.
“My strength comes from contemplating the beauty of the earth. Painting mountains, lakes and meadows has become my universe. As my father often said, “my church is the church of the great sky, of the river valleys and of the mountains.”
VanderMeulen-Smart is also an author.
Written on Stone: A Novel of Empowermentwas released in 2015.
The book “explores the psyche and spirit of a people who are forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future,” according to Amazon.ca.