May 15, 2008

Calgary Herald

The Calgary Herald printed a lovely article discussing Expressive Portraits and other events from the past year.

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Luminous Artist pushes the medium
Jean Pederson's 'watercolours are incredible'
Claire Young, Neighbours
Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jean Pederson's watercolours stand out -- rich, deep colour with luminous highlights characterize her portraits, landscapes and still lifes.

As she was perfecting her craft -- teaching art at Calgary public schools and painting, then moving exclusively to painting 12 years ago -- she found she was taken with the purity of watercolour.

"I gave myself the challenge to push the medium as much as I could, to try to get some rich, dark in the watercolour so that it had a little more substance to it," Pederson said during a recent interview at her Collingwood home in the city's northwest where she paints in a bright, airy loft.

Jean Pederson is a Calgary artist whose work has received international recognition.

Pederson's work is appealing because it crosses many boundaries subject- and style-wise, says James Gibson of Alicat Gallery in Bragg Creek, 30 minutes west of Calgary. Pederson is the featured artist at the gallery's new show that opens May 23 and runs until June 1.

"It's that strong diversity that allows her to appeal to many people," Gibson says. "She layers a lot and spends a lot of time glazing, so there's a luminescence to her work. Her watercolours are incredible."

Also at the show are works by painters Phil Buytendorp, Marilyn Lambert-Gerwing, David Langevin and Michael O'Toole. About 15 of Pederson's paintings will be for sale, ranging in price from $850 to $7,800.
Gibson thought it was time to have Pederson headline a show again, as her production was picking up after a lull while she wrote her book, Expressive Portraits: Creative Methods for Painting People, which came out late last year.

It is a gorgeous book, filled with beautiful examples to illustrate her various points. She draws on her background as a teacher -- she teaches at Alberta College of Art and Design and Red Deer College -- to clearly explain watercolour technique. (Pederson signs her book at Indigo Books, 5570 Signal Hill Ctr. S.W., on June 21, from noon to 4 p.m.)

This is a year where many different sources have taken notice of Pederson's talents. She recently returned from New York where she received the Mario Cooper and Dale Meyers Medal from the American Watercolor Society for a painting titled Silk Wrapped. It was displayed at the Salmagundi Club in New York, a famous centre for arts, and she also won the Jarvis Award at the 82nd Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour Open Water Exhibition in February.

The painting is of a black woman looking out a(n implied) window, her hair swathed in silk. Susan, a model Pederson has worked with many times over the years, and her family are from Uganda.

"I'm always looking for different ways of approaching a subject if I've painted them many times. We went over to Fabricland and this silk was on sale. We bought all these beautiful colours and came home and had fun playing with wrapping her with the silk. That's where the title came from -- Silk Wrapped," she says.

Pederson's ability to capture feeling in her portraits means that people want to hang them on their walls even though they don't know the individual, says Gibson.

"Her portraiture captures the essence of the person," he says. "You feel like you're looking at a sense of being at the time.

Pederson's website,, was featured in the March issue of Artist's Magazine. The article prompted a reader to write this comment: "The photo of your work on the lead page piqued my interest. I initially thought the watercolour Silk Wrapped was a beautiful photograph! I was stunned to realize that is is a watercolour. Absolutely beautiful! As an observer it makes me wonder who the woman is and why she has wears that expression."


  1. Painting Trips
    the unforgettable Num-ti-jah Lodge -- How much fun was that?!

    And there are some gorgeous paintings coming from that trip. (Even a couple of goodies from my beginner's easel.)

    Plein air painting is great fun, and sometimes tricky in bear country. Bells on our wrists, bells on our boots.

    What an amazing part of the planet we live in.

    Thank you.

  2. Hi Jean! What a great article about you. I'm so glad to hear so much recognition of your amazing work and your compassion to share your knowledge with others. You've helped so much with watercolor through your books and answered emails. You're the best! Your fan from California, Gina