Home Magazine The Interplay of Nature and Human Experience as Seen on Sharon Quirke’s Canvas

Sharon Quirke is a Canadian artist who has dedicated her artworks to the natural and cultural heritage of her country. She has a passionate commitment to reflecting the beauty of the land with particular attention to its relation to its inhabitants. Her works are characterized by warm colors and bold brushstrokes that aim to capture movement.

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Quirke was born in Vancouver in 1954 and has lived in Prince Rupert, London, Ontario, and New York City since then. After completing a BA at UBC and a Teacher’s Certificate at SFU, she taught in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, then studied in Montreal at Concordia University with artists Irene Whittome, Guido Molinari, and Charles Gagnon. After moving to the Lower Mainland in the early 80’s she began her painting career. Currently, she lives in West Vancouver where her husband and three sons are and she paints, teaches, and continues to be involved in local and national community art projects.
Quirke's art is heavily influenced by her love of nature and her interest in the interplay between fluidity and beauty, as well as the “now” and collective memory. Her compositions often feature stylized depictions of landscapes, cityscapes, or a moment she feels she’s surrounded by captivating beauty. She also draws inspiration from Canada’s history and the gifts and needs of the people of Canada, and her work frequently incorporates signs and reminders from these traditions.

Sharon Quirke, Lakeview Road View Reproduction, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

One of Quirke's signature techniques is her use of layering and texture. She often builds up multiple layers of paint and other materials to create a rich, complex surface that invites the viewer to explore the piece in greater detail. Her use of vibrant colors and bold, graphic shapes creates a sense of movement and dynamism that adds to the overall impact of her work.
Sharon Quirke's Aurora 2020 series is a stunning collection of paintings that explore the beauty and mystery of the natural world. The series features a range of vibrant colors and bold, graphic shapes that create a sense of movement and energy.
Quirke’s brilliant use of layering and texture can be perfectly observed in this series. The artist employs a range of techniques to create a rich, complex surface that invites the viewer to explore the piece in greater detail. She uses big gestures to create a sense of fluidity.

Sharon Quirke, Aurora 1, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Another notable aspect of the Aurora series is its use of color. Quirke's palette is bold and vibrant, featuring a range of bright, saturated hues that evoke the intense colors of a sunset or a vivid natural phenomenon like the Northern Lights. The colors often blend and bleed into one another, creating a sense of movement.

Sharon Quirke, Tulip Fields #3, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Another series of hers is the Four Seasons 2022, of which Tulip Fields #3 is a part. The series is made up of views of the same landscape throughout the year, floral paintings, and abstract representations of tulip fields. The main attribute they have in common is Quirke’s use of vibrant colors and her brilliance in visualizing movement.
As the artist said, “The rush of electric beauty that infused each captured moment sustains, directs, and heals us”. With every artwork Quirke creates she proves once again the truth at the core of this statement. Tulip Fields #3 is another proof that art is a visual language that can capture a moment and put the viewer in the now, and the beauty of the now.
Repetition, movement, contrast, and balance are all brought together on Quirke’s canvas through the effects of big, bold brushstrokes on the canvas. The red infused with the hues of green, and yellow, and the colors filling the skyline, tell the viewers the story of a tulip field without even representing the singular tulips. 
Sharon Quirke has exhibited her art in galleries and museums across Canada and the United States, and her work has been featured in numerous publications. She is highly regarded for her unique style and her ability to combine traditional and contemporary elements in her art. Her pieces are both visually stunning and intellectually engaging, inviting the viewer to contemplate the relationships between the natural world and the human experience.

Cover image: Sharon Quirke, Tulip Fields #1, Courtesy of Art Works Gallery

Written by Naz Akgun

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