Anima McKertcher

The Dreaming Garden


Ghanaian born Canadian artist Anima McKertcher creates hyper-romantic oil pastel paintings of beautiful women. Subtly sensual yet serene, her images represent a visual exploration of poetry, emotion and femininity. She plays with hair textures and skin colours painting complexions ranging from the darkest black onyx to the palest alabaster. Utilizing delicate layers of flowers and other romantic symbols, her pieces are carefully composed to evoke contrasting feelings of intimacy and mystery.

McKertcher works out of her home studio in Edmonton, Alberta where she lives with her husband and two children.

Artist's Statement

Georgia O'Keeffe felt that "there was something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore." Though I love painting people in general, I especially love painting women. I try to capture the soft glow of light from her skin and the way fabric flows around the lines and curves of her body. Like a beautiful flower, the female face and form naturally draws the human eye. My goal is to use this truth to speak to the viewer about something else, something universal but difficult to articulate, namely emotions. And specifically my personal emotions which I find I sometimes have no words to describe.

The theme of human diversity runs through my artwork. I enjoy painting the same model with different skin tones, hair and eye coloring. I am fascinated by how the same facial features appear when depicted with different coloring. This raises questions about race and ethnic heritage which may not be readily answerable - perhaps hi-lighting that as people we are more similar than different, and our diverse coloring is key to the beauty of the human race as a whole.

Artistic Process

Inspiration for my art comes from many different sources - what I hear, what I see, what I touch. Colors, fashion photography, music and poetry often trigger images in my mind that I'm eventually compelled to paint. By far, though, I'm inspired most by flowers and other beautiful creations on the earth and in the sky.

In my imagination, I layer various elements into scenes that are romantic and serene. At any given moment I have a dozen or more of these scenes in my mind. I may write down a little about the image or make a brief sketch so I don't forget before I'm ready to paint.

Oil pastels are my favorite medium because they are creamy, tactile and sensual. Some people have likened using oil pastels to painting with lipstick. Oil pastels have vivid, intense colors and the immediacy they provide is especially satisfying to me.

Most of my paintings are done on canvas. I begin sketching the subject using a warm grey oil pastel. Then I apply many layers of oil pastel with light pressure until the painting surface is thoroughly covered. My favorite blending tools are my fingers and color shapers. I work on the painting in sections, usually starting with the face of the woman. Once a section is near completion I move onto another section. After a section has hardened for a day or two I add more details. I continue like this until the painting is complete.

Selected Exhibitions

2015    Women Portraying Women, VASA, St. Albert, AB
2012    Spaces, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
2009    Whyte Avenue Art Walk, Edmonton, AB
2008    Whyte Avenue Art Walk, Edmonton, AB
2008    Transitions, Oil Pastel Society
2007    Free For All, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
2007    Diversity, VAAA Gallery, Edmonton, AB
2007    Solo Exhibition, Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB
2007    The Women’s Show, Edmonton, AB
2007    Emerging, Oil Pastel Society
2007    Whyte Avenue Art Walk, Edmonton, AB
2007    Group Show, Naess Gallery, Edmonton, AB
2006    Group Show, Panorama, BC


“Creating Spaces for Engineering Art” by Scott Rollans, U of A Engineer Magazine