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Artist Interview Series: Michael Foers

Michael Foers’s life is strongly associated with the outdoors. It has been his home, his place of work and his source of inspiration.

His paintings have been called abstract impressionism for his use of vibrant colours and his interpretation of the natural landscape.

“I was really influenced by the Group of Seven and by the Impressionist artists in the French Impressionist mainly,” Foers says. “So, I would study their paintings and then you try to figure out how they painted them, and then just keep painting and painting.”

This studying of the Impressionists was also his education. He is self-taught, coming from the school of learning by doing.

“I took some [art] lessons with some local artists in the ‘80s. But I was already in galleries when I did it. I just thought I’d get in touch with more artists and see what other people were doing.”

As for why Foers’s paints, he is not sure. He says that sometimes, he feels as though he just needs to get out of the way of where the painting is headed.

“Sometimes, paintings just start to happen,” he says. “Sometimes, you start an underpainting or you paint some colours, you paint some forms, and you start to see something in it. And you develop something from what you just accidentally put on the canvas too. It’s a creation thing. And sometimes it’s, ‘Ok, where is this going to lead me? Where’s it going to go?’ And so, sometimes, the painting takes a life of its own, and I try to accommodate what is happening in the painting versus trying to make it what I think it should be.”

The association with the outdoors for Foers did not begin with art. He has had many jobs over the years, most of which have taken him to remote areas.

“I spent most of my life making my living from the woods. I’ve been a hunter, a trapper. I started painting in the late ‘70s when I was a lumberjack in northern Ontario, cutting hardwood.”

Now living on Vancouver Island for the past year, he is firmly set on his art. He says the natural beauty of his new home has acted as a source of creativity, allowing him to use his unique take on Impressionism and colour.

“Impressionism,” Foers says. “It’s really hard to say where the name came from. Basically, you’re painting your impression of a landscape rather than exactly what the landscape looks like.”

By Nathan Durec


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