Canadian puts places from his childhood as well as life in Malaysia into his artworks

JAMES Henry Stewart is a self-taught artist from Canada who loves nature.

Stewart, 82, was born in Richmond Hill, a small town in Ontario where he lived on the family farm all his childhood and actively helped with the farm chores.

“I always felt fortunate to grow up on a 40ha farm where we had a lot of trees. I loved the natural surroundings.

“Growing up in Richmond Hill, I would roam the woods and fields bordering the farm. I just loved the smell of the outdoors,” he said.

Capturing this on canvas lends a sense of contentment and is a way for him to express his love for nature.

“All the paintings have a connection – it is either from childhood places or a view from the window where I live.

“I just love the gorgeous landscapes in Malaysia. While in Kenny Hills, Kuala Lumpur, I enjoyed looking at the trees and colourful birds that flew around.

“Now, in Mont Kiara, the lovely hills and trees are magnificent,” he said.

Stewart believes his love for nature and trees comes from the fond memories of his grandfather.

“I think the interest for nature was nurtured with the stories grandfather told me and so, when I paint, the beautiful memories of him and that time of my life return.

“All emotions control the strokes,” he said.

Steward began drawing in school but later abandoned the art to pursue a career as an IT marketing executive.

However, when Stewart moved to KL in 1989, he was inspired to start painting again, citing Malaysia’s various shades of green as the perfect stimulation for his artistic mind.

Stewart is holding his first solo art exhibition called East to West, at Ken Gallery, Menara Ken in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

The exhibition showcases Stewart’s depictions of his favourite places and things, whether in the tropics or in snow-covered mountains.

Stewart also sees the beauty in old abandoned farm buildings.

He sees a story in every site, which for him, is a stimulus to paint and a way to create historical records.

“Old farms are a thing of the past. As technology obsoletes them, there lies a story to tell depicting a different age and time,” says Stewart.

Stewart’s work can be found in private collections in New York, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, Calgary and Phuket.

The East to West exhibition is ongoing until Oct 13 from noon to 8pm daily.