Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire

The Fragility and Tenacity of Lines

Written by Susan Thompson
Photography by Sean Trostem

Winning cover artist Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire has always been driven to explore new techniques and methods, ever since she began taking drawing lessons as a child.


Winning cover artist Lynn LeCorre-Dallaire

“I think sometimes you have to go way off in left field in order to find a new direction,” LeCorre-Dallaire says.

The artist has been painting landscapes in acrylic “en plein air” for over a decade, and has exhibited these works several times over the years. For example, 18 of her landscapes were on display at the QEII Hospital in Grande Prairie in her “Seeking Colour” solo exhibition from November of last year to January of 2013.

In fact, LeCorre-Dallaire is a well-known fixture in the Peace region’s art community as both a painter and an art educator, as well as through her work at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie and the Beaverlodge Cultural Centre. She is also no stranger to Art of the Peace, having had her work featured in the 2012 to 2013 Art of the Peace Travelling Show and numerous other exhibitions over the years.

Although she has lived in St. Albert, High Level, and Jasper, the artist now considers Grande Prairie her true home and finds herself inspired both by the supportive arts community and the landscapes of the Peace.

LeCorre-Dallaire says there is nothing like painting a landscape while being in the midst of one. In a sense, the world is the painter’s studio.

“I prefer to be in nature because I am in the elements and then you’re in the proper lighting,” she explains. “You know when you’re driving and you see a scene, like the way the light is sitting on the land at that time of day with the long shadows? It’s just very inspiring to me and I want to capture that.”

This immediacy is both a blessing and a curse for the artist, because she must work very quickly to capture the always-fleeting light and colours she is drawn to in the first place.


Portrait of a Dying Tree

“Even the sky, how it’s constantly changing—it’s a huge challenge to try and capture that because sometimes you’re trying to paint the sky and it will change ten times while you’re trying to paint it,” she says.

However, never one to limit herself, LeCorre-Dallaire she also works with a variety of other methods and materials.

“It’s the one thing that I’ve done consistently and I still enjoy painting the landscapes, but sometimes it’s nice to look for a new challenge,” she explains. “Sometimes I do sketches outside, sometimes I will work from photographs, sometimes I am looking at reference books, and sometimes I tear up old artwork and prints too. I work with a variety of media. I don’t necessarily have one way of working. It’s whatever will work for that piece.”

Recently, LeCorre-Dallaire’s work began to take an interesting turn when she found herself trying to capture the beauty of trees.

“The more I’ve been looking at trees and studying trees, the more fascinating they become. You start to see all the unique differences and sometimes I start to see ideas of personification in some ways,” she says.

For example, she found the inspiration for a new piece while she was cross-country skiing one day.

“I came across this tree and it looked like it was hit by lightning or something, so it had clearly cracked, but instead of falling to the ground it fell right in between the branches of another tree. It’s almost like the other tree caught it. It stayed like this a long time, so it’s sitting at an exact 90 degree angle, leaning in between this other tree.”

This seeming cooperation between trees has become a metaphor of connection for the artist.

“A lone tree is fragile because it can break in the wind or a storm, but a group of trees, a forest, has strength,” she says.


New Growth

LeCorre-Dallaire’s recent drawings and paintings have explored this idea, some of them showing lone trees and others showing how trees can “work together.” She has been working for about a year and a half on a show for the Centre of the Creative arts with this theme in mind, and her work was also featured in The Forest Show, a travelling exhibit by the Alberta Society of Artists.

Trying to express this idea of isolation versus connection through trees, the artist found herself experimenting with a new technique. She began running her drawings under her sewing machine, stitching lines instead of making them with a pencil or brush.

“I used to sew a little bit and then I completely got out of it because I wasn’t interested in sewing things; but to sew drawings is something completely different. It’s fun. It’s really like drawing with a sewing machine. It’s just a different tool.”

LeCorre-Dallaire completed a minor in clothing and textiles as part of her Bachelor of Education degree majoring in art from the University of Alberta, and has always been drawn to the tactile quality of textiles, but her new fascination with the lines of trees allowed her to explore those qualities in relation to paper.

“I started to make the connection that working with thread and sewing, thread is line, and when you’re stitching, there is this concept of the fragility and tenacity of line and thread, and the fragility and tenacity of trees. That’s my connection,” she says.

“Thread on its own is very weak; it’s easily broken. But when you start stitching lines, it’s very strong. Depending on the type of paper that I work on, of course sometimes the stitch line will rip the paper and make it fragile, and sometimes it will make it strong, so I’ve been really exploring the materials.”


TOP Felted Nest
Bird Nest I, Empty Nest, Bird Nest II

The artist has found that rag paper works best for sewing lines because it is fibrous, allowing it to glide easily through the sewing machine, while velum paper has also proved strong enough for the machine but creates ghost-like contoured forms. Even when the paper she uses does tear, LeCorre-Dallaire can incorporate these tears into her collages, choosing which pieces to add to the work and which to leave out.

“It started out I was just working with little pieces of water coloured paper, and then doing drawings of trees, and running it through the sewing machine, and then adding watercolour or some other mixed media like pastels or something to it. But I realized I could only work small under a sewing machine, and I wanted to get bigger with my artwork, so the only way I could do it was if I could start collaging small parts of stitched work into a large drawing. That’s why it’s become very mixed media,” she explains.

Her larger works have also become more abstract as she plays with the duality of scale, mixing the details of trees and nature within the larger collaged composition.

It was these layers of materials and meaning that attracted the jury of the Art of the Peace’s tenth anniversary cover competition to LeCorre-Dallaire’s work. While normally the Art of the Peace editorial committee chooses the artist for the cover of the next magazine, for our celebratory 10th Anniversary issue we asked a judges’ panel of three former cover artists, Carrie Klukas, Ken Housego, and Carmen Haaksatd to jury a cover competition. In the end, they chose LeCorre-Dallaire. LeCorre-Dallaire’s winning artwork is also featured at the Art of the Peace Tenth Anniversary Exhibition opening on April 11th at the Kin Gallery in Centre 2000.

“What I liked about her work was the originality, and the cohesiveness of the trio [she submitted],” explained judge Carrie Klukas. “She has multiple layers going on as well as mediums. I love that I can view this work on a few levels. It’s not a quick read.”


LEFT Moonlit Tree      CENTRE Field with Aspen      RIGHT Sunset Over the Forest

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