Wildlife paintings gain drama with new technique

Amy Keller-Rempp discovered there’s more than one way to paint wildlife.

Amy Keller-Rempp finishes a landscape of wolves on a set of moose antlers near other pieces she has created in her home studio near Sylvan Lake.

Amy Keller-Rempp discovered there’s more than one way to paint wildlife.

The Red Deer area artist started out with the hyper-realistic, paint-every-hair style that won her praise as a teenager from famed wildlife artist Robert Bateman, but these days elicits yawns from many gallery owners.

Keller-Rempp heard too many artists are doing wildlife realism and the style has largely been devalued by mass-market prints.

So what’s a wildlife artist to do? Keller-Rempp tried her hand at a looser style of painting in which she attempts to capture the characteristics of the animals — the strength and energy of running horses, the stealth and mystery of wolves — and suddenly, people are becoming interested in her work.

The 27-year-old said she’s had canvases accepted in the Calgary Stampede art gallery, as well as Edmonton’s Klondike Days. An aboriginal gallery in Edmonton is also interested in carrying her paintings.

“I let myself free with big brush strokes. People are responding better and I love it,” said Keller-Rempp, who believes her larger, looser paintings contain more movement, vitality and “drama” than her formerly painstakingly detailed ones.

They take less time to complete and therefore command more affordable prices — less than $1,000 for a large canvas, compared with the more than $2,000 she was charging for realistic paintings that each took a month or more to finish.

It’s just the latest evolution of an artistic career that for Keller-Rempp started on her family’s large and remote acreage northwest of Ottawa, near Bon Echo Provincial Park.

“I grew up hunting and fishing and just appreciating nature and wildlife,” she recalled. It was the mystery and “spirit” of bears, deer, wolves and owls that made them fascinating subject matter for her paintings.

Keller-Rempp’s mother, who was half Mohawk, was a school secretary. Her father, Dale, was a pipeline worker who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when his daughter was only seven.

As a result, Keller-Rempp’s childhood and adolescence was a tough time for the family, financially and emotionally. She and her two sisters found it hard watching their strong, independent father gradually lose his abilities, and Keller-Rempp turned to art as escapism from the stress and sadness.

She completed many commissioned animal paintings as well as murals at her school and on the walls of area businesses. She painted animal scenes on long saw blades, and on antlers and pelts.

Once, when Robert Bateman was making a public appearance at the nearby provincial park, Keller-Rempp’s sister seized one of her paintings and pushed her way through the crowd to ask the artist’s opinion on it.

Keller-Rempp was thrilled when Bateman responded that he never would have thought the painting had been done by a 16-year-old. He confirmed that she should follow an artistic career path.

Keller-Rempp later took an “intense” year-long visual art course at Sir Stanford Fleming College in Haliburton, Ont., to expand her painting techniques.

But when her debilitated father committed suicide in 2004, she sank into a deep depression.

“I was always praying and believing every day that eventually he would walk and get better, and have a normal and happy life.”

Again it was her art and the support of family friends that helped her to heal. Keller-Rempp also credits her French-born husband, Antoine Rempp, for helping reignite her artistic interest.

She now believes she has a God-given talent that she’s supposed to share with others.

The artist, who moved to Red Deer last fall, has donated dozens of paintings to good causes, including multiple sclerosis and animal preservation charities.

She’s also expanding her interest in animals into other areas, including airbrushed pet portraits. These can be incredibly life-like without requiring the near-pointalistic technique of animal realism, said Keller-Rempp, who feels things are lining up in her favour.

For example, her husband told her about the Calgary Stampede’s early January art submission deadline just before Christmas — and just before her in-laws were due to visit from France. “I thought there’s no way I can get any paintings done on time,” she recalled.

But her husband and his parents cooked, cleaned and took over care of their animals to allow her four days of uninterrupted painting time. When the Stampede officials called to say they were accepting her work, Keller-Rempp recalled thinking, “Oh, my God, it’s a miracle!”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Maskwacis RCMP seeking suspect in fatal hit and run

A Maskwacis man was fatally injured after being hit early Saturday morning on Hwy 611

Red Deer to get new a plan to end homelessness as the problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

Many Red Deer-area farmers deal with a disastrous year

Dought in the spring, snow at harvest creates bad yields, sends hay prices soaring

Photos: Part of downtown Red Deer covered in trash over the weekend

Downtown businesses deal with trash, needle debris, graffiti

Delburne man’s reckless driving led to fatal crash: Crown prosecutor

Jury began deliberating in manslaughter trial on Monday afternoon

Speaker at rally says Alberta oil ‘puts tofu on the table in Toronto!’

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — A rally in support of Alberta’s oil industry… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Jeff Bridges to receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at Globes

LOS ANGELES — Jeff Bridges may have once been considered as one… Continue reading

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

NEW YORK — Racial justice. Obstruction of justice. Social justice. The Justice… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Most Read