Photo or painting? This artist's work makes it hard to tell
Katharine Burns says her ocean paintings aren’t 'the classic Maritime scene.'
Before Katharine Burns's brush touches the canvas, her paddle hits the salty water.
The ocean is her muse.
And much of the inspiration for her oil paintings comes from her time spent kayaking in Nova Scotia.
She snaps photos to serve as guides.
"I don't do kind of the classic Maritime scene," says Burns. "There's no boat. There's no lighthouse in it. And oftentimes ... there's very little land."
Her work is so realistic, it's hard to tell whether you're looking at a photo or a painting.
People often tell her that her work feels like an immersive experience.
"Rather than like a scene of a boat, it almost feels like you're in the boat," Burns says.
That's a place of peace for the 32-year-old.
"Personally, [the ocean] makes me feel happier and healthier and that's kind of what I'm trying to do with the paintings."
Burns grew up near the ocean in Prospect Village, N.S., and now paints from her Halifax apartment. Her paintings land in homes around the province or travel places where there's no ocean in sight.
Burns says the subject matter is both intimidating and inspiring.
"Like the sky, it's not something solid. It's fluid, it's always changing."
Burns's passion for art is inspired by someone who loved change.
Her father, Manfred Neumann, was a self-taught artist. He was a gardener by summer and painter by winter.
During those cold months, he would study different masters and try out different styles.
Neumann died when Burns was seven years old, but she still feels connected to him while creating.
"I do wish he were here so I could get some feedback from him," Burns says. "I think he would be proud."
Burns is experimenting with adding land and icebergs to some of her work, but the ocean theme remains.
"I feel like I've just barely scratched the surface of what I can do with the ocean."
With files from Natalie Dobbin