Vanessa McKernan

Storyteller , oil and graphite on mylar, 24 x 34 in. (61 x 86.4 cm)

Storyteller, oil and graphite on mylar, 24 x 34 in. (61 x 86.4 cm)

Vanessa McKernan received her Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University in 2006. In the year of her graduation she was also awarded the Cecil Buller – John J.A. Murphy Scholarship for Drawing. McKernan has exhibited within Canada, the United States and Central America. She lives in Toronto and works out of a studio located in the city’s Historic Distillery District.


As a figurative painter focusing on the art of storytelling, I like to thread narratives together from a variety of sources, compile them into a composition and see what happens. Painting becomes a space for the push and pull of my own personal stories and those that I observe in the external world. 

I like to work intuitively with gesture and line and playfully with colour and decorative patterning. Re-working “finished” paintings over the course of a couple months is an essential part of my practice. There might be two or three compositions underneath the work that ends up on the gallery wall. Ultimately, I believe each piece has something to reveal and it takes the cycle of destruction (death) and re-building (birth) to get there.

Sisters, women in procession and the observers (my judgmental Greek chorus) are some of the themes I have been working with for the last ten years. Though the execution of these themes in my work has changed quite a bit, I find it interesting that these figures or archetypes have remained for so long. Like evolution itself I supposed that change and growth are slow. And so, we plod along day by day and bear witness to today and the next ten years of process. 

Visit Vanessa’s website here