Renee de Bree, Artist


Renee de Bree was born and raised in Beachville, Ontario. She received her BA from Calvin College, Michigan. Renee moved to Vancouver Island in the 1980s, where she continued her artistic pursuits. Renee’s personal work is centered around a common medium: paper. Previous work includes 3D reliefs crafted using Renee’s top secret handmade paper recipe. Today, Renee combines Scherenschnitte (German papercutting) with digital technologies and everyday objects to create storybook-like scenes that are both traditional and modern. Renee is an avid hiker and gardener and draws inspiration from the places she visits. Renee has also set-painted and stage managed for local theatre productions. She currently lives on Vancouver Island with her husband Jan.

Artist's Statement

I find the interplay of negative and positive shapes very interesting. Colour is the next ingredient to add and is directly influenced by the mood I want to display.

Development of the negative and positive shapes
a) The interest in negative and positive spaces developed over years of making traditional paper cut-out designs for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. I now use my own (or other family member's) photographs and subsequent drawings as the basis for the cut-outs. Here I have to carefully decide what to cut and what to leave uncut in a array of intertwining negative and positive shapes. The process continues by taking the finished cut-out design, scanning it into the computer, changing it into a silhouette and applying colour digitally. Black and white negative and positive shapes have now increased in complexity with the addition of colour. b) An interest in negative and positive spaces was also fostered by composing “cast paper” works. Molds for the cast paper elements had to be crafted in “reverse” order in order to create the desired image. Thinking in positive and negative shapes became equally important to the development of the final product.

I find that colour reflects the degree of safety felt. I'm an avid hiker and backpacker and colour choice could depend for example on the degree of safety felt during a trip. If everything is going well and the landscape is alive with beauty in the flora and fauna (birds, bunnies, etc.) then my colour choice for a corresponding landscape scene would include a bright and cheery palette. However real or potential danger like a large predator approaching or the possibility of being lost would darken the colours to reflect the fear or terror of the situation. Again, the reds and oranges of a campsite fire beside a lake after a day of canoeing would again be cast in a friendly fashion. The reality of wind sweeping the fire into the surrounding forest would produce angry and ominous reds and oranges. The colour palette to reflect safety can also apply to interior spaces as well. The feeling of being safe from danger or problems would produce warmth and well being in even humble dwellings with the corresponding colour palette producing an array of happiness and contentment. Danger or overwhelming and seemingly unsolvable problems in turn would produce a vortex of gripping dread and dark anxiety with resulting dark, lustreless and cold interiors.

The summary statement
The negative and positive shapes produce the stage setting and the colour is the performance (what play is not about the safety of the characters in the plot and their relationships!) I have also worked in theatre designing and painting sets, making props and also stage managing and this has also influenced the art produced.