Janet Read - Painter, Markham, Ontario

-A poet of painting

Her website while very accessible is yet full of surprising richness and layers like her works displayed. …I am delighted to know that she is always somewhere on this planet finding numinosity and recording it…
Visiting her website I am aware that others have written of her work in well-deserved words of praise I cannot hope to emulate or exceed. All I can do here is describe my own experience of her stuff and hope to inspire some others to see it for themselves.

Exploring her website I am slowly aware of becoming filled with awe walking into a space of numinous colours my words made wordless everyday objects sights sounds feelings I may come upon will forever be tinged with a new depth of richness as a result of even this virtual digital experience I am having. How wonderful to discover her work. I will certainly strive to converse with it in reality the first chance I get. For me, she is one of a small number of superb artist people who define a greatly enhanced space in which I do delight to live. I know that from now on even picking up a small rock on a beach somewhere will bring my pleasure in her creations to mind.

Recordings of my conversation with Janet Read:

Janet Read: painter

How Started

Media and themes

How Evolving


Why the Red and the Blue

Visit Her Website: a gallery of fine pictures and fine words:


What some others have said of her work:

Read is a painter with an unusual mastery of colour relationships whose non-figurative canvases express a profound, complex, and yet natural connection between the sensible world and the world only invented through contemplative exercise. Her work is also informed by a mature philosophical understanding and an acute social conscience, but not in any overt polemical way; she prefers the meaning of her experience and thought to rise naturally from an intuitive base in colour and form rather than from explicit image or symbol.

Janet Read’s painting is a voyage without territorial illusions into a huge world enclosing a vast solitude. Her journey is active with invention, motivated by metaphor, impelled by imagination, and centred in meditation. To borrow a phrase, she is “contemplativa in actione,”a paradoxical consequence of the sort of painting she practices. In her work, she navigates the world, but is not held to it.

As Wallace Stevens would say, “The real is only the base. But it is the base…Reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor. It is only au pays de la metaphore qu’on est poete.” Thus the ocean is, quite naturally, a vessel, a vessel for the sky. The realization of such an image, and its truth, is an outcome of Read’s meditative excursions. But the expression of such a reality takes place in the world, on a flat canvas, with paint and colour and line and shape, giving voice to that which tends to elude and wants to vanish.

Making such discoveries concrete, as she has both in paintings and poetry, is to travel without a passport, with no guarantee of satisfying return to home. But Read has accomplished the trip many times and knows the habits of travel well, even though the accumulated experience cannot tell her where the next voyage out will go or what will come of it. And its solitariness is necessary, although we may join the voyage through our engagement with the paintings in re-creative action, another paradox of this artist’s particular enterprise.

David Aurandt
Curator and Executive Director
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa

Earth and Air

Markham, Ontario artist Janet Read’s work…critically demarcates parts of our sublunary realm. In a series of small, mixed media Icons, products of an artist residency she did two years previously in Newfoundland, Read cleaves closely toward the representational end of the spectrum.

On square wooden panels, some with small stones embedded or attached with string, images of codfish teem over top of old maps and charts that show the Grand Banks fishing area that originally brought Europeans here several hundred years ago, or images of fishing boats from the day of sail and old photographs of everyday life out here at the edge of the continent.Individually and/or collectively, these are portraits (icons), remembrances of what once was (but is no longer courtesy of the depletion of the cod stocks) in a remarkable place where the earth meets the water meets the air. And in her sequence of paintings collectively entitled Ocean as Vessel (2007), Read addresses the power of abstraction and the aesthetic primacy of colour in large and intensely atmospheric works where dazzlingly primary regions of reds and blues predominate.

Fire and water.

Here, in the art of Janet Read, is the elemental stuff of the world holding sway still.

Gil McElroy
Whitby Station Gallery

At a Peterborough Gallery

Still glowing from Peterborough Pathway of Fame honours this year, Peer and Lori Christensen continue their influential and consistent contributions to the local arts community. One of the many ways in which they do so is by bringing wonderful artists and art to be seen here in Peterborough.

Showing this month from October 4th to 24th, Janet Read’s paintings (www.janet-read.com) bring a vivid experience of exploring the edges and boundaries where land and water, the real and imaginary, meet. Since her upbringing near Lake Simcoe, she has sought those littoral edges in Newfoundland, Vancouver, Alaska, Ireland, and Scotland — where the sea and land meet and life flourishes.

To meet Janet and see her bright oceanic eyes, it seems that she was destined to have this kind of vision. Her background in philosophy and a poetic soul are evident in the sustained inquiry and investigation she puts into each piece.

The pieces themselves are abstract imaginary landscapes fueled by real experiences of westward skies at sunset, light playing upon the water, the ever-changing forms of clouds, and the endless rhythm of day and night. The contrast of bright vivid colours, shadow, and light have a cumulative effect of experience that invite the viewer into imaginal worlds of their own.

filed under Artist Bios - Canvassing the Artists, Featured.