Art Gallery of Alberta

Sunsets in the Badlands with Jim Davies

Written by: Kate Knowles

This is the latest installment in a series about Art Rentals and Sales artists and their works.

Artist Jim Davies has an uncanny ability to create beautiful visual stories. Like a fine art photographer, Davies plays with light and shadow in all his paintings, creating soft, warm realms of colour and shape within his landscapes. He turns the familiar Albertan sceneries you know and love into mysterious places, where imagination and fantasy are still possible. Davies invites his viewers directly into his paintings, and says stop awhile, explore this place, and walk this path with me. This prairie landscape encamped in distant crimson and turquoise aurora and burning city twilight is more than just a landscape at sunset: instead, it is a place for stargazers, hunters, and dreamers. In his paintings of the mountains and foothills of Kananaskis and Canmore, or even in his pictures of the cragged and moonscaped Badlands around Drumheller, it’s possible the viewer can perhaps still see traces of fierce Albertosaurus who roamed there so many millennia ago. Or maybe you can see obscure paths where people once walked and left fragments of their ghosts behind.

Davies has been painting attractive, thought-provoking Alberta landscapes for over forty years. A keen hiker, he draws inspiration directly from all the varied Alberta landscapes, from the moody mountains and glacial lakes in Banff and Jasper National Parks, to the quieter grasslands and fields surrounding sleeping cities. On his many en plein air painting expeditions, which Davies undertakes year round, he quickly captures the essence of the places around him.

Working in several mediums, including chalk, ink washes, watercolour or even oils, Davies can easily catch the mercurial light that is ever present in Alberta, light that shifts across swaying prairie grasses, temperamental mountains, weathered scrub and trees, or battered hoodoos. Then, at home in his studio, Davies plays around with his sketches, combining ideas and places together to create haunting, poetic, composite landscapes, a sum of imagination, emotion and memory. The results are evocative paintings you just want to reach out and caress, or escape into, chasing a story just beyond that path wending around the hills.

For several years, Davies has taught at the Art Week in the Badlands, helping new or experienced students find or reconnect with their wild Alberta muses in the rough canyons around Drumheller. He has also been teaching painting and drawing at the University of Alberta since 1991, inspiring generations of artists to appreciate the pull of the natural world around them.

Jim Davies
Scrub Brush
Rent: $66
Buy: $2950

For more information, contact Art Rentals and Sales.