It’s a landscape in monochrome colours, a mysterious detail of a natural scene, an abandoned truck in the middle of the winter or the behaviour of animals in the Northern wildlife.
This is how Mary Dolman depicts the Yukon: a territory of inspiration for her.
But Dolman is also an abstract painter and a drawer, catching the eyes of the audience by the flashy colours she uses and the precision of the details.
If we can say that there are a lot of very talented painters up here, we can also say that Dolman, as an acrylic painter, is one of a kind.
What makes the difference in her work is the light. Dolman knows how to speak to the viewer by directing the light on some unexpected detail of a scene.
What is impressive is the variety of the subjects she uses: exotic animals, southern seas, abstract games of colours.
Some pieces of her abstract art have the feeling of organic puzzles for the mind: she calls it humanistic abstract of expressionism.
She is also inspired by her travels in Europe and South America.
Le Centre de la francophonie of Dawson was featuring the work of a few Yukon francophone artists and included Dolman’s work during the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival.
“I was born in Toronto, but my mother’s side from British Colombia speaks originally a French from Saskatchewan,” she says. It’s why it is interesting for her to be involved in francophone artistic events. Her family heritage is also various French, Cree, Ojibway, Cornish and Swiss Italian.
Dolman has lived in the Yukon for 10 years and she has been around Dawson pretty much the whole time.
“I’ve always wanted to be an artist,” says Dolman. “When I was two years old, I was drawing all the time.”
She was working as a research assistant and graphic designer in her 20s before she decided to move on and become more involved in an artistic career.
A few years later, as an experienced artist, she exhibited her work in many places and art festivals in the Yukon, British Colombia, Alaska, Northwest Territories and Europe.
Throughout time and artistic experiences, the subjects of Dolman’s paintings changed: if she was mostly a naturalistic painter depicting semi-abstract, almost expressive style of landscapes at the beginning, she gradually included more and more human elements in the scenes.
For many of her paintings, she represents the way human existence interacts with elements of nature: “Painting is a very intuitive process for me; my process is almost journalistic,” she says.
Dolman uses original perspectives in the composition of her paintings and we can feel how she treats her subjects. She is keeping the mystery of the scene by just giving us a short idea of what is happening.
As a naturalistic painter in the Yukon, she is unique in the kind of angles she uses to represent the action: the images are like deep memories or a short part of a story from the past. Her paintings are picturing “life extract”.
Dolman has a solo exhibition planned for Arts Underground from Sept. 17 to Oct. 14.
Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.