Canadian Abstract Painter Janna Watson

About the artist

Abstract art is described as art that uses shapes, colours and forms  to represent a depiction of a visual truth. Where contemporary art refers to art that is created today by living artists.

The world of contemporary abstract art is where Canadian painter Janna Watson has made her mark. She has gone from growing up as a daughter of a pastor in a small rural town of around 700 residents to a full time artist. Her abstract paintings are a sensual dance between wonderful colours and artful brushstrokes to create masterpieces that are elegant yet powerful.

Her work consists of deliberate colourful strokes as well as spontaneous trickles that gives insight into her creative process and creates a dynamic balance between colour and composition. 

Graduating with an honours degree in drawing and painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design, Watson has held more than 20 solo exhibitions throughout Canada as well as internationally. In 2013 she was also commissioned by AURA, Canada’s tallest residential building, to create a spectacular 11 x 31 foot artwork for their lobby.

As an extensively exhibited artist on the international art scene, she has had her work shown in notable public collections such as the Toronto collections of TD Bank, CIBC, Nordstrom, Telus, the Ritz-Carlton, ONi ONE, Microsoft, the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, and Saks Fifth Avenue. 

Her art has also been prominent at international fairs, including the Toronto International Art Fair, CONTEXT Art Miami, LA Art Fair, and in Seattle. Artsy recently featured some of her work in its list of “10 Works to Collect at the Seattle Art Fair.” Watson’s work has been covered by publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, and House & Home.

The artist is also the owner of Studio Watson which specializes in contemporary rugs, hand-tufted and inspired by the artist’s abstract compositions. A tour of the studio where Watson creates her work can be viewed here.

Latest work currently on display

The latest offering from the renowned painter is dedicated and inspired by her 3 year old niece Joy. “Finding Joy” is about the time spent with her niece who is always living in the moment, in harmony with her creativity and still free with a wild spirit. 


The process behind this body of work comes from a short video of Joy being playful and wearing a beautiful dress gifted by her artist aunt. The block colouring technique becoming more frequent in the artists work can be seen throughout and brings a vibrant more pigmented quality to her work.

“In a time where it’s hard to know what’s right and everything is so complex, I was drawn to the simplicity around Joy,” the artist said.

“Sometimes life happens and we forget what it feels like to be free.”

The collection embraces the childlike nature of human beings and provides an escape from the stiffness and complications of adult life. It is evident that the spirit of Joy is found everywhere in this series with “Hanging on Very Tight” stemming from watching a toy rocking horse or realizing that “Everything is Spicy” after eating raw beetroot from the garden. The shapes are simple, yet sophisticated telling a story of leaving the isolation of the adult world behind. 

It’s almost as if you can see golden curls bouncing up and down or beautiful dresses flowing freely in the wind. It’s a playful collection all about living in the moment. The signature bold colours and strokes from Watson are still present in the work, but the addition of “Joy” brings an emotive quality to the work that is wonderful and tranquil. 

In an interview the artist once said: “My work is my fire and spirit and everything”. It is evident from the clear and intended move away from the imperceptible “mush” of subconscious abstract pieces in the past.

The series is currently being exhibited from 9 January – 23 January 2021 by the BAU-XI Gallery at 3045 Granville street, Vancouver with a number of paintings having already sold. BAU-Xi was established in 1965 and is the oldest established gallery in the city. The gallery represents Canadian as well as international artists and exhibits contemporary visual art, such as the collection currently displayed by Watson.

The gallery opening times are Mon – Sat 10:00am to 5:30pm and Sun 11:00am to 5:30pm.

Janna Watson currently lives and works in Toronto.