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Look, observe and understand

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Janna Wilton, watercolour artist. Photo: Submitted

Janna Wilton, watercolour artist. Photo: Submitted

Whimsical watercolours reflect P.E.I. and Nova Scotia architecture

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Janna Wilton needed an outlet to destress from the everyday world, including her career as a registered nurse. Born on P.E.I., the long-time Nova Scotia resident found her passion in painting.

When she began working with watercolours, she felt a connection: a way of understanding things that were more than meets the eye.

“It became a way I could process my data and interpret the beauty I see around me,” says Wilton. “When I paint, I have to look, observe and understand. It’s important in the world right now to see what things are like through other people’s eyes; the beauty people see and how they interpret things.”

Wilton’s watercolour and ink paintings reflect unique, but popular, architectural structures in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — places like the Anne of Green Gables House and Public Gardens in Halifax, as well as a number of popular bars, restaurants and landmarks. Her artwork has small details and brings out her whimsical, creative side.

“I’m kind of logical, and something about well-defined lines and borders is comforting to me,” she says. “That’s something I gravitate towards. I love local architecture and have always been interested in our buildings and the history of the buildings, including the different textures and angles that you see around the city. I like bright colours and using my whole palette.”

She finds watercolours unpredictable.

“I love that it almost has a life of its own,” she says. “You never quite know what’s going to happen when you’re painting with watercolour because it’s based on how the water moves and the paint in your painting. I like that it challenges me. I’m anxious by nature, and I like someone to have control in my life. When I started watercolour, it felt as if it was teaching me lessons … Things aren’t always going to be as you predicted and there’s beauty in letting things flow.”

When it comes to creating her art, Wilton’s process includes visiting architectural structures for an up-close and personal look. She usually finds more intricate details, such as the right colour and saturation hues. 

Wilton creates sketches and collages on her phone to get the different angles of a structure she is working on and chooses colour palettes. Then, she draws with a fountain ink pen.

“I love it because it’s wobbly,” she says. “It’s not perfect; so, when I draw with it, I, by nature, can’t get clean lines all the time. After I sketch with ink, I then watercolour right over the ink. It’s the best of both worlds. I get nice lines and then free-flowing watercolour over it.”

Ultimately, Wilton hopes her creations bring a sense of light and brightness to people’s lives.

“I hope people are inspired to create whatever is within them and feel like the world is a bit more beautiful than they thought.” 

East Coast Living