SAINT ANDREWS – Sunbury Shores Art Centre is hosting a solo exhibit of Nova Scotian artist Jaye Ouellette’s work.
Ouellette attended the Sept. 2 opening, which ran from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition is on display until Sept. 24.
The exhibit has been in the works since Ouellette applied in 2018. It was set to be presented in 2019 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ouellette has had an extensive career within the arts. Her roots are in glass, but she has created mixed media sculptures and now paintings.
In May, she was invited to participate in the artist residency program at The Pouch Cove Foundation in Newfoundland.
“It was quite an honour,” she said.
During her two weeks there, she completed two paintings she had wanted to work on for some time. Ouellette creates her paintings from photographs she takes, which are often taken in her own backyard. The images that she painted from for these pieces are of the wake from a friend and fisherman’s boat, Stevie. Ouellette described her late friend as one of the nicest people she’s known, someone who would offer his help no matter what.
“It’s one thing I could do,” she said.
During her two weeks, she was brought back to her time spent in Toronto and living with other artists.
“It was a great experience because everyone was making art,” said Ouellette.
The program provides artists with their own studio where they live and work.
“It was nice not to have the distractions of other life things,” she said.
At home in Nova Scotia, she works in her studio that’s separate from her home.
“But it was nice to do that again,” she said.
She never thought she would paint the ocean, or realism, “but here I am,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”
Ouellette permanently lost vision in her right eye in 1990. Within the span of a few days, her perfect vision turned into legal blindness in one eye.
“I wouldn’t be doing anything I am now.”
It’s easy to confuse her paintings with a photograph, the depictions are so real.
“I cannot tell you how, I just do,” she said.
It took time, and support from her husband, for Ouellette to overcome her vision loss. Now, decades later, she has become an internationally recognized artist with an original perspective and incredible talent. In 2016, she was among 29 artists across the province whose work was featured in Terroir: A Nova Scotia Survey Exhibit.
“It was an enormous honour and a thrill for me,” she said.
When painting the ocean, Ouellette is most drawn to a scene where the sunset is behind the waves, giving it the red hue often visible in her work. She then names her paintings after Greek sea goddesses, matching the ethereal feeling her paintings evoke.