All too often, artwork is treated as an afterthought, chosen because it fits the available wall space or blends with the existing decor in a room. Here, we turn that idea on its head, choosing works of art that we dream of having on our walls — five pieces by five remarkable local artists. Let the wall art be the focal point, its mood and meaning guiding an array of furniture and decor that complement the stars of the room.
1. Tim desClouds: Dark themes and a red couch
2. Michael Harrington: Intense men and stormy ceramics
3. Whitney Lewis-Smith: Nature reflected in lamp, table and chair
Since childhood, David Lidbetter wanted to be an artist. “I can remember being 12 or 13 and sitting in my guidance counsellor’s office in Grade 7 or 8,” says the Ottawa landscape painter. “I was adamant. I wanted to be an artist.”
He spent a few decades retailing artists’ supplies and then, about five years ago, became a full-time artist, focusing on landscapes the Group of Seven might have conceived but painted very differently. Now one of the region’s finest landscape artists, Lidbetter produces work far edgier than that of the more sentimental group. His scenes are drenched in melancholy. Some even seem threatening. “I try to have a unique voice. I love experimenting and trying new things all the time. I try to simplify the landscape as much as I can. There’s often an abstract underlying tone.”
His Ottawa dealer, Wall Space gallery associate Erin Crowell, sees those abstract techniques as one of Lidbetter’s strengths, helping him create “timeless landscapes which allow the viewer to take pause in the emotive qualities of central Canada scenes.”
Favourite colour: Lidbetter confesses to a “fetish” for blue paint. Whatever city he visits, he checks out art stores for “weird” shades of blue. A particular favourite is blue ochre for depicting a steel-blue dark sky on the horizon.
Dream setting for his art: A firehall, that being an appropriate place for his Burnt Land series of paintings, including this one pictured, depicting the brush fire in 2012 near the Lime Kiln Trail south of Ottawa that took firefighters days to extinguish.
Find his work: Wall Space Gallery, 358 Richmond Rd.
Mini spalted maple bowls by local woodworker Jordan Bails showcase the beauty of wood attacked by fungus. $30. Available online at bails-studio.com
Digitally etched metal sheets are formed into the Etch pendant, whose shadows mirror the mood of this Lidbetter landscape. $1,890. The Modern Shop, 541 Sussex Dr.
Made in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Artisan, this Soft Shelf Bookcase emphasizes the strength and resiliency of natural wood gathered from renewable sources. From $6,292. Alteriors, 1158 Bank St.