Raymond Quenneville Painter

Since 1992, you have narrowed your work to landscape.  Can you explain how this came to be?

I started painting landscape in oil long time ago when I was just fourteen. I have been doing it for many years until I completed my scholarship as a wildlife technician. Then I moved to wildlife painting and tried many mediums with a preference for watercolour. I have been painting birds with watercolour for about 10 years. After a while I decided to come back to my old passion; oil painting. Starting in 1992, I devoted myself entirely to painting landscapes in oil, through which I try to render a certain serenity and balance. To me, it is the best fit I could find to express my interior feelings. Over the years, I developed a distinguished style that is now recognised by art lovers and collectors.

You comment, ‘I try to highlight the fine consistency of the air, giving a sense of depth that the eye cannot dispute’, discuss using one of two paintings.

Retour à la maison 18 x 36  inches, Oil on Canvas

In each of my painting I try to maximize the impression of depth by creating a soft haze appearing as we move to the background. I use the value system to accentuate the aerial perspective. The strong contrasts of the foreground get diluted as we move toward the horizon. Similarly, most of the warm and brilliant colors and shapes of the foreground become cooler and vague along the way. This is how, in nature, our eye is decoding the presence of a haze. In French we would say that it is a “trompe l’oeil”.

Entre les îles, 24 x 30 inches, Oil on Canvas 

Discuss shapes in your paintings.

Through time, I removed unnecessary items from my composition. I kept essentially what is giving a direction to the eye and make the observer traveling into the landscape. Shapes of the trees, angles of the houses and churches, shadows, trail paths, all those elements are guiding the eye through the landscape with, at the end of the trip, essentially nothing, just a calm and hazy oasis of peace.

Tout ce temps, 24 x 30 inches, Oil on Canvas 

While on shape you use many dimensions in our work.  6 x 36” 36 x 12” and 16 x 20” discuss the use of three different works represented in these three formats and why you have chosen these sizes.

L’autre saison, 16 x 20 inches, Oil on Canvas

One of the challenges in painting landscape is to fit what is in front of us into a frame. To get it into a 16 x 20 inches box is not always easy. Some scenes required more air than other and deserve to be painted in the appropriate format. I used different canvas dimensions according to the subject I want to paint. Right from the sketch book, in the field, I decide which format will be the best for the situation. I will use a long 6 x 36 inches canvas for a farmland environment with many houses and barns.

Choses tranquilles, 6 x 36 inches, Oil on Canvas

It provides me so much freedom when time comes to spread all the elements on the sheet. In other circumstances, I will use a 36 x 12 inches format to represent a scene where the bird’s eye view is the essential of what I want to express.

Rêver de partir, 36 x 12 inches, Oil on Canvas

For those particular formats, I intentionally cheat the perspective in order to make it easier for the observer to believe it. Nothing must interfere with his journey into the painting. 

In your landscapes you add humanity by building – discuss.

Most of the time, there is buildings in my landscapes. They are there for many reasons. First they add colours and white patches into the mix and allow me to end up with an balanced chromatic complex. Second, buildings’ angles point into a direction that help guiding the eyes. They also bring some humanity to the landscape without being too distractive. I pay attention to details that will leave the observer alone in the painting… no animal, no car, nobody else than the one who gets into the landscape.

Dans le Soleil,  30 x 24 inches, Oil on Canvas

If you pay attention, you will see that there is no doors to most of the houses. No chance for the visitor to be disturbed by someone popping up. This notion of peacefulness in my artwork is important to me.

Are your landscapes local?

Most of my landscape are inspired by real location. My favourite areas are located on both side of the St-Lawrence River in Quebec (Canada), in Charlevoix, Côte-de-Beaupré, Bas-St-Laurent and Gaspésie regions. I also use sketches collected in other countries, from places I visited: Switzerland, Spain, France, USA, Portugal, Italy, etc. I keep from those places the very essential of the composition without paying attention to the architectural details. At the end, we don’t really know where we are. Houses are from  Gaspé, red earth of the pathways is from Magdeleine Islands, mountains are from all over the world and skies are universal and free.

Can we see the seasons in your work? 

There are different seasons in my artwork but they are not necessarily the one we are used to know.

Plein d’espoir, 36 x 30 inches, Oil on Canvas

I would say that there is a warm season, where the predominant colours is a greenish yellow with some warm burned oranges, and a cold season where violet and beige are the main components.


Both are representing a moment of the day where the sun is low and the shadows are narrow and long. Up to you to decide if it is just after sunrise or just before sunset.

Expand on your involvement with Canada’s National Parks and how this collaboration has developed in your work.

I have been working with Parks Canada for many years while pursuing my artistic career. As a fire behaviour specialist I have been asked to participate in major firefighting operations all across Canada. I visited most of Canada’s national parks and had a chance to see incredible landscape both from the ground and from a helicopter point of view. Many of my painting are still inspired by the sky amber colour I have seen while working on the great fires.

Art with a difference – tell us about the Helmet of Dominique Maltais.  How this commission came about?

It is a simple story. In 2011, I went to Petite-Rivière-St-François to paint the village and its environment. I posted the painting on my Website as I often do with my work. A few years later, Dominique Maltais who was attending the Winter Olympic Games in Sotchi was searching on the Web for an image of her village to put on her helmet. By typing Petite-Rivière St-François on the Web, she found the images of my painting and made it reproduced on her helmet. She finally won a silver medal and my painting was seen all over the world.  Isn’t it funny!

Within your landscapes you also add maritime features discuss.

I like to paint quiet marine environment. Once in a while I add a ship or a row boat to the composition.

Moment Magique, 18 x 36 inches, Oil on Canvas

The intention being once again to get the attention to the focal point rather than adding a disturbing element to the scene. A few year ago, I moved to Champlain, a small municipality along the St-Lawrence River where I have now my studio. Huge commercial ships are navigating on the St-Lawrence and can be seen from the house. They are now part of my day to day environment and by the way have an influence on my artwork.

Pêche au bout du quai, 15 x 30 inches, Oil on Canvas

Can you discuss La Collection Hommage au Saint Laurent using both your photograph and painting?

Since 2016, I am working with four other Quebec artists (Yvon St-Aubin, Yvon Lemieux, Gérard Boulanger and Robert Roy) on a five-year project to paint the most picturesque regions of the St. Lawrence River (Canada). The group was established with a goal of creating 100 paintings, from the Thousand Islands to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is the first such venture in Quebec’s art history. In October, 2017, the artists were introduced as guests of honour at the Quebec National Assembly. The collection “Hommage au Saint-Laurent” will be completed in 2020 and will be first shown at the general public starting in 2021 at the Pierre-Boucher Museum in Trois-Rivières, Québec.

Lac St-Pierre, St-Lawrence River, Spring 2018

From left to right : Gérard Boulanger, Yvon St-Aubin, Robert Roy, Yvon Lemieux, Raymond Quenneville.  Photo Éric Guénard,

Can you comment on the importance of meeting, sharing and discussing art with fellow artists? 

Working along with other artists on a long period of time is to me the best way to progress, to refine your art and to reach higher levels. The project “Hommage au Saint-Laurent” has been quite stimulating up to now for the five of us. It forced us to put ourselves in “danger “, to go beyond our comfort zone. Other than that, each member of the group has between 30 to 50 years of experience as a professional artist. Easy to understand that sharing this experience is beneficial for everyone. I would say that these five years shared with my partners and friends have had a significant impact on my artistic approach and professional career.


Raymond Quenneville


Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, September 2019