The Art of Wanda Koop

2011 HDCam 47 mins
Photo & Video Gallery

Painter Wanda Koop shows us what we missed the first time, what remains hidden, and makes us question how and what we see. “I paint it and then I see it.”

The visionary Canadian artist Wanda Koop is preparing massive new paintings of archetypal cities and familiar yet disquieting landscapes. Named by Time Magazine as one of Canada’s best artists, recipient of the Order of Canada, honorary doctorates and prizes, Koop’s creative life is hectic. Taking a break from studio demands, she embarks on a journey by freighter boat. Sketches, photographs and moments of observation soon lead to a new group of astonishing paintings.

The film explores the science of vision, colour, perception and creative thinking. This is an experience-based film that explores the importance of the artist’s studio, as a factory of the imagination.

A sketching trip by freighter boat, paintings, colour and vision experiments accompanied by interviews and an evocative music score reveal her creative process from the real to the imagined. We enter Koop’s world. We start to find our way when we relate Koop’s strange yet familiar images to our own frames of reference.

“I cannot have any distraction whatsoever… It’s like being a tight ropewalker. If I get one distraction I will fall off… I have to trust all of that. if I stop trusting the process then I would stop making art. “

Directors Statement

I wanted to make a film about how Wanda Koop translates the three-dimensional world of observed phenomenon into a thin, yet colour saturated layer of paint on a two dimensional canvas. I am fan of her work. I see a direct correlation between her observations, note taking process and final works. Wanda agreed to a film about her work but she would not allow me to film her in the act of painting. This dilema encouraged me to look for a shared experience as a metaphor for creative process. In this film, the artist, cinematographer and director embark on a collaborative journey by freighter boat on the Saint Lawrence River. Throughout we felt we were actually living Koop’s paintings of industrial sites, harbours, vistas and the pure colour of sky and water in all light conditions. We were exhilarated, exhausted and saturated with the experience of looking, seeing and thinking creatively about the world around us. In the end Koop made hundreds of sketches and as she says in the film, “this journey will influence my work for years to come.”

Selected Screenings

  • Reel Artist Film Festival, Toronto, ON, 2011
  • Reel Artist Film Festival, Calgary, AB, 2011
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2011
  • DOXA, Vancouver, 2011


This is the second portrait of the creative process for director Katherine Knight whose first film “Pretend Not To See Me” was awarded Special Mention at the Ecofilm Festival in Rhodos, Greece in June 2010. Knight is again working with her creative partner, cinematographer Marcia Connolly, who brings a distinctive visual energy to the project. The project is edited by Jared Raab. The film score is by Montreal based composer Sam Shalabi whose work is also heard on Knight’s ‘Pretend Not To See Me’. The project is produced by Katherine Knight and David Craig.

Direction: Katherine Knight

Cinematography: Marcia Connolly

Editor: Jared Raab

Music: Sam Shalabi

Sound: Alan Geldart

Producers: David Craig, Katherine Knight, Site Media Inc.

Funding: The Canada Council for the Arts

copyright 2011 Site Media Inc.