By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
An Oshawa artist is one of 70 hopefuls for the title of Canada’s Landscape Artist of The Year.
Marissa Sweet has been selected to compete in a new series that will be featured on Makeful TV.
Makeful TV is a Canadian subscription television channel which broadcasts programming focused on DIY projects such as design, food, style and crafts in connection to maker culture.
Landscape Artist of The Year Canada is a Canadian adaptation of Sky Arts UK’s best-performing non-scripted series of all time.
It brings together 18 professional and amateur artists from around the country, along with 50 “wildcard” hopefuls, all competing for the crown.
Throughout episodes, artists will be given only four hours to create a ‘landscape masterpiece.’
The winner will not only be named Landscape Artist of The Year, but will also receive $10,000 and have their artwork on display at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Sweet told The Oshawa Express she was made aware of the show by a friend who is also an artist.
She notes the application process was quite comprehensive, and she hoped for the best.
After a few months she received word she had been shortlisted for the show. A few more interviews followed, and she was selected as one of the 18 finalists, an honour that has her “overjoyed” and “very excited.”
“I’ve been drawing and painting pretty much since I could write. It’s always been something I’ve loved to do,” she explains.
Although she dabbled in many genres, Sweet says she was particularly drawn to the medium of landscape art.
But being a professional artist wasn’t her chosen career, as she graduated from university with a degree in economics.
After being laid off from her job in 2002, she decided to use her paint brush as a full-time tool, and has been painting professionally since.
Her inspirations come locally in Oshawa and Durham Region.
Sweet said she is fond of visiting local conservation areas, such as the Harmony Creek area, and the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.
Often she travels to spots like the Kawarthas, Muskoka and Haliburton to find breathtaking scenes.
However, her favourite place to find landscapes is the sprawling Algonquin Provincial Park.
“It’s just very inspiring. Not only does it bring you back to the trip there, the entire composition of the paintings [of landscapes in Algonquin] is very unique to me,” Sweet says.
As far as the inspiration she draws from other artists, Sweet lists Claude Monet, the founder of French impressionist painting, as her number one influence.
She also notes a major appreciation for Pablo Picasso.
“Even though he was an abstract painter, I just like his work because he was fearless,” Sweet says.
The series is hosted by journalist and musician Sook-Yin Lee.
“At its heart, Landscape Artist of The Year Canada shines a light on our incredible artistic community and captures the natural beauty of our country through the eyes of these talented artists,” says Lee. “I’m happy the show has found a home on Makeful TV, it’s a creative and inspiring series that I think will motivate viewers to pick up a paintbrush and find a new appreciation for our stunning landscape.”
Each episode travels to different Canadian backdrops, from Muskoka’s Lake Rousseau to a rural country farm near Barrie, which will feature in Sweet’s episode.
With only four hours to create a piece, Sweet says the window of time is much shorter than she’s used to.
“This is my very first time… I’ve never experienced anything like this. The challenge is to create a painting in this certain amount of time,” she says.
Two winners from each location will go on to the final, but the competition also sees 50 more artists descend on each location to try and catch the attention of the judges.
According to her website biography, Sweet integrates the principles of Feng Shui, a traditional Chinese practice, into her art.
“Her practice in this ancient form of metaphysics has inspired her to create landscapes that brings awareness to our inter-connectivity to nature,” the biography reads. “The beauty of nature captivates this artist, such as; the magic of a morning mist, the quiet sunsets and gentle wind on the lake.”
She is an award-wining artist and an elected member of both the Canadian and Ontario Society of Artists.
More on Sweet and her artwork can be found at marissasweet.com
Sweet will appear in the first episode airing on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m., competing against artists from Toronto, Vancouver, Kingsville, Ont., and Elora, Ont.
Landscape Artist Of The Year Canada will also air on CBC later this year.