Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Art and Nature: The perfect combination!

True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” I smiled when I read Albert Einstein’s wise words in the advertisement for the 2011 Canadian Museum of Nature Exhibition: “Nature into Sculpture” on display till February 13th at the Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St. in Ottawa. I have this saying written down in my book of famous quotes. The advertisement also tells us: “The natural world has always been a primary source of inspiration for sculptors.” And it is true with most art forms: drawing, painting, photography, weaving… Nature’s masterpieces have always been a source of inspiration and have provided the raw materials: wood, clay, stone, fiber or metal that sculptors in turn “cut, chisel, bend, shape or mould” into works of art. 

I was happy to visit the Nature into Sculpture Show last Sunday because my friend, Yohanna Loonen had three pieces on display and the artists were present. I hadn’t visited the museum since its reopening after extensive renovations so this show provided the perfect opportunity to do both the show and museum visit. 

The sculptures were quite varied and well displayed. Yohanna greeted us warmly and showed us her artwork. She joked about her two ceramic trees and said they looked like they belong in “Dante’s Inferno”. Her third one of a man sitting and holding what looked like a snake was superb. There was something for everyone! I think my favourite was a huge and colourful Raku piece.  

Yohanna is a multi-talented artist who paints, sculpts, draws and writes. She includes gardening and cooking as art forms and I agree. To her, art is the perfect medium in which one can express feelings of joy, fear, anticipation, happiness, disillusionment… Born in Holland, Yohanna has had the privilege of admiring works from masters such as Rembrant and Vincent Van Gogh in famous art museums. Art transcends everyday life and offers a glimpse into the artist’s soul by exposing the genius behind the ordinary human being. This art, in turn, inspires us. Van Gogh, according to Yohanna, is the Master of all times in that department and I tend to agree with her. The proof is in the pudding: Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $82 million U.S. but Vincent only sold one of his paintings during his lifetime. This is the sad irony: others benefit from the talents of a genius. Most artists live in poverty and only gain recognition after their passing. 

For Yohanna, being able to express her feelings through art is a joy and a unique therapy. She particularly enjoys the autumn splendour of this area. Every autumn, she heads outdoors with her easel and pastels and reproduces the kaleidoscopic colours that made her fall in love with Canada: the crystal blue of lakes and rivers, the earthy tones of our vast lands, the towering evergreens, the reds, bright orange, rust and gold of our deciduous trees. She says she never saw anything comparable in Europe. “My heart fills with joy at seeing these colours and I must PAINT them!” Yohanna draws inspiration from her favourite Impressionists such as Paul Cézanne. 

Sadly enough, Yohanna’s mother considered her daughter’s writing and drawings as a waste of time and urged her to learn sewing instead. (To this day, she hates sewing!) I can empathize with Yohanna. I had to hide in order to read and write and I had to buy a sketching pad myself with the proceeds from empty bottles collected in the ditches along Old Highway 17 during my youth. My parents never thought to buy me art supplies and the books I owned, including Anne Frank’s diary, came from a collection of books I had won at the famous “Concours de français” held in Grade 8.  

There comes a time in life, when you have fulfilled all the practical requirements society or family required of you: a career with a reasonable salary, marriage and a family, a certain social status and now you want to indulge and go back to your early passions whether they be photography, painting, writing, sculpting, woodwork, ceramic, needlepoint or whatever… This, in turn, will become your special legacy! This will be the true expression of your soul!  

Don’t miss out on it! I won’t! 

Blessings to all! 

P.S. If you want more info on Nature into Sculpture go to or click the image below to visit the Canadian Museum of Nature's website.