Peter Buwalda, B.F.A.
Born in Bracebridge, Ontario, in 1976, Buwalda graduated with honours from Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, in the spring of 1999. He moved to the Okanogan Valley, where he designed and painted murals and thoroughly explored B.C., before returning to Calgary to reconnect with art colleagues. In 2002 he returned to Ontario.
His biggest project from then until now has been helping raise his two amazing daughters (Stella Violet, 15 and Mildred Inez, 12) that he simultaneously teaches and learns from in all ways, every day. As a dear friend once said, “his biggest art project” has been his girls. Peter worked with their mother, Rebecca Krawczyk, helping start and nurture BarK Ecologic, a native plant nursery and natural restoration company.
Currently, Buwalda is a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer and Lead Trail Technician for the Township of Algonquin Highlands’ Trails department—helping run the Algonquin Highlands Trails system, the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails and the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails. It is here he finds a plethora of inspiration for his art and is always working on the next piece to represent the Algonquin phenomenon. He has happily found his truest inspiration through a recent cosmic reconnection with his first true love, which will surely have some positive influence on his art moving forward.
Buwalda’s practice relies heavily on his field work and research, drawing and mapping objects throughout the wilds, studying texts in studio, and tending plants in the gardens. He hopes his artwork will inspire people to step lightly in nature, and he is constantly striving to create work that describes its’ components in a new and animate fashion. Through an ever evolving blend of wet and dry mark-making techniques using chiefly acrylic ink and stretched water-colour paper, and loaded with growing theory; his work intends to stand out in both visual and subjective levels. Buwaldas’ primary focus is on the practice of creating rather than on any of his finished work, however it is the finished pieces that dictate whether he has solved a problem or adequately described the nature behind each series. Differing series of work describe many trains of thought, both formally and subjectively, and so some series speckle and span throughout years of his work.
Since returning to Muskoka, Buwalda feels that his confidence as an art maker has been bolstered through his investigations into the science behind his vast array of available subjects. These, in turn, guide him to discover more about mark-making. “The most important thing for me is to try to become as informed as I can be about the planet we share, and the state that it is currently in. Art is my way of staying positive; by focusing my attention on both microscopic and the cosmological levels, and finding beauty and awe there. It is hard not to feel amazed at the interconnectedness between all living things, how fortunate we are just to be here, and how fragile it all is. If that impression lasts with the viewer, and in turn their relationship with the earth grows even a little, then I have done my job.”
Buwalda has been asked what he wants his art to ‘do’ for the viewer. The answer lies in both subjective and formal areas. The subjective is effectively summed in the quote above. Formally, he works to create art that will stimulate the viewer in a new way, every time it is taken in. “By creating a work under many different Calvin temperatures, the work then shows well under many lighting situations and changes throughout the day for the viewer. I also try to set the line in motion. It sometimes appears to deconstruct itself, showing not only something literal, but allowing abstractness to let the viewers mind do its own reconstructing and imaginative discovery.”
Using an approach that is often automatic in nature, a blend of control and chaos is in the making of each piece of art, giving it life and flux. “This medium does not tire me. I feel I have years of exploring yet to do, both in the field and studio. I love the flexibility the inks and stretched paper give me, and after years of practice I have found a way to create quality, lasting images that also allow me the ability of working as freely as I want, and keep experimenting. Add to this the fact that there is no shortage of subject matter to keep me going!”
petebuwalda -at- gmail.com