Rita St. Amant’s Art Is To Dye For

Rita St. Amant’s Art Is To Dye For

"Sunflower" - hand dyed, applique, free motion thread painting

As we journeyed across Canada in search of artists to interview we passed through many larger urban centres, but mostly we came across the smaller towns as we traversed the roads less traveled. Willow Bunch in south central Saskatchewan was one such destination; a small town steeped in history, from its celebrated native son, giant and strongman Édouard Beaupré, to its connections to Jean-Louis Légaré and the famous Sioux leader Sitting Bull. It was here, in this pretty little town nestled within a small valley that we met up with fibre and mixed media artist Rita St. Amant.

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With a little trepidation we left Assiniboia and headed for Willow Bunch; Rita warning us of crater-sized potholes in the road that could swallow up our beloved 25 year old van Arty, or at the very least deliver a concussive blow. Also, Rita thought that her interview was for the day before our planned arrival. As it turned out our faithful chariot made it there in one piece and Rita was also still there, waiting for us with some carrot and zucchini cake, to be chased down with coffee and tea. So far so good.

"Big Muddy Valley" - needle felting

“Big Muddy Valley” – needle felting

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Descending to Rita’s basement studio and gallery one might think of a dark workplace devoid of natural light, but the multitudes of brightly coloured fabrics in every corner and space defy any gloom, and instead greeted our eyes with gusto. Some fabrics rest in their completed forms as quilted art pieces, silks or scarves, while others are waiting to be transformed into her next idea. Rita hand dyes most of her own fabrics with very little usage of commercial product, and will employ different techniques to do so. She uses an ancient Japanese fabric dyeing technique called shibori; a method which can involve folding the fabric in certain configurations or also wrapping it around a foam noodle before dyeing to create stunning patterns. She will also bind stones of differing sizes in the fabric with elastics to create other engaging designs. Varying effects are also created with the use of stenciling, a potato masher, and even used dryer sheets. Rita’s imagination reveals that there are endless possibilities for textile art and the mixed media that one can employ.

"Saskatchewan Tiger Lily" - hand painted on silk

“Saskatchewan Tiger Lily” – hand painted on silk

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Rita related to us that she has always wanted to be an artist, loving to draw as a little girl and then also moving into painting. She was influenced by her parents, with her father enjoying drawing and her mother being very artistic and involved with various crafts. Her first interest into the world of fibre arts came when she was at an art exhibit and was fascinated by the textile arts of Martha Cole, who proved to be a huge influence for Rita. That sparked her initial foray into fibre art and she hasn’t looked back, with over ten years now of creating her own works of art. She notes that the feel of the cloth and the many varied forms of art one can do with it explains why she has taken to the textile arts, but also that the mixed media challenges her to grow and think outside the box. Though a self-taught artist, Rita enjoys the camaraderie that going to art retreats brings; sharing ideas and techniques with other artists.

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Rita and her husband love to travel in their motor-home, and it is on these excursions that they both indulge in their pastimes and passions. He scours the landscape with his metal detector searching for buried treasure in the form of coins, while Rita takes her fabric dyeing process on the road with her. Depending on the area that they find themselves in, Rita will also include what she finds in these natural surroundings to incorporate into her fabric patterns, such as using varieties of leaves and plants. So whether at home or on the road, Rita’s love for her natural surroundings and the colours and textures that it brings is always a source of awe and inspiration for her next project.

Learn more about Rita and her art work in our interview with her shown below. Feel free to share on social media and leave a comment below if you like.

Kristin MacPherson: Through the Eyes of the Artist

Kristin MacPherson: Through the Eyes of the Artist

Most of us are familiar with the saying the eyes are the windows to the soul, but did you know that this isn’t just a metaphor? There is scientific evidence that indicates a person’s eyes really are a window; to their feelings or intentions. Facial expressions can be forced, such as with a smile, but our eyes reveal all so our natural tendency is to avoid excessive eye contact because, for the most part, it makes us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. The eyes also affirm beauty, peace, happiness, contentment and so many other things that make us want to get to know someone. When we sat down with Kristin MacPherson she revealed to us, not through her eyes, but through her art that it is this physical feature that ignites her curiosity and compels her to want to make people’s faces the subject of many of her paintings and photographs.

Kristin and Lenore

Kristin and Lenore

As with many artists, Kristin grew up in a family of creative people, (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) each accompanied with tons of encouragement for Kristin to express herself creatively. When it was time to choose an education the likely candidate was a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree but the perceived reality was to find something that would land her a job. It turns out that photography was the path she would take, and although she didn’t realize it at the time it has played an important role helping her become the artist she is today.

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When we arrived at Kristin’s home where she lives with her husband, three daughters, two dachshunds and her ’53 Buick named Lenore it was easy to see we were entering the home of an artist. There are often signs An Artist Lives Here by the paintings on the wall, or the sculptures on the mantel, but more often than not the art studio is tucked away in a spare room, garage or basement area where the artist has the option of “To be tidy or not to be tidy? That is the question”. In Kristin’s case, the front room is her art studio, up front and center for all who enter the house to see. It was pretty tidy too! An advantage? A disadvantage? Perhaps. Or maybe to Kristin it doesn’t much matter either way. Paraphrasing, she looked at us and said, “it’s the room in the house we don’t use so it just made sense”.

Equality

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Although Kristin took applied photography in school, and it is in itself a form of art, her first love is painting. When I first looked at Kristin’s work I thought she was a watercolour painter but she actually uses acrylics. Her palette usually consists of only five colours and Kristin likes to keep it as simple as that. When she paints, her focus is on the eyes. That is not to say that the rest of the piece is not important but the eyes need to reveal themselves to her before she is satisfied that it is complete. It really excites her when the unexpected happens; the loose brush strokes and the paint gain a mind of their own, overlapping in shapes and patterns and flaunting randomness in such a way it gives the piece a free-spirited look.

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During our interview Kristin proclaimed that she has never taken a painting class and is solely self taught. She did say that it was photography that played a large role in making her a better painter. She spends a lot of time as a professional getting in other peoples faces so to speak. Those close-up shots have given her the opportunity to study the features of the face in great detail and with willing participants. I think the camera provides a barrier between photographer and subject which gives them each a safe place to look into each others eyes. Kristin gets to have a glimpse of the real person behind those eyes and her subject feels relaxed while this takes place. Photography has also enabled Kristin to see the element of light as she paints. Being able to see light and how it wraps itself around objects helps to bring her subjects to life on the canvas.

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Kristin’s fascination with what makes a person tick gives her the exuberance that is needed to go beyond just taking a picture or painting a piece. She works to bring that person out from behind those eyes, to tell their story, to show what really makes them who they are and not what their exterior projects them to be.

We invite you to watch and listen to Kristin as she shares more with us. We encourage you to help us spread the word about Kristin and her art on social media (for your convenience we have provided the buttons below). One more thing; we love comments so please feel free to leave a nice one below. With much gratitude, Corinne and Gary

Get Wildcrafting with Mixed Media Artist Don Elzer

Get Wildcrafting with Mixed Media Artist Don Elzer

"Greystokes Cottonwoods"

“Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting and using wild materials for food, medicine, construction, art and craft. Whether it’s a wild botanical like devils club, shed antlers, pine cones or mushrooms, the gathering of found materials provides wildcrafters a means to generate a living direct from nature.” ~Don Elzer~

Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest

Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest

The above quote from Don Elzer therein lies the first clue to the life he leads. It is one of stewardship to the lands he roams, loves and protects, collecting materials for his own use and commerce but like all healthy relationships his connection to the Earth is one of give and take, and then give some more. Through permaculture principles he advocates for, and engages in responsible harvesting practices of plant species; tread lightly, take only what you need, replenish and propagate, then repeat.

"The Prophecy" - full and detail

“The Prophecy” – full and detail

We met up with mixed media artist Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest Wild Tea Plantation thirty minutes east of Vernon along Highway 6 in the Monashee region of British Columbia. We had already been following Don’s initiatives on Facebook for quite awhile now, but when we sat down to chat with him we were amazed by all of the wildcrafting irons that he had in the fire.

"Tree Whisper" and "The Tone"

“Tree Whisper” and “The Tone”

Don’s art work is one extension of his wildcrafting. Found materials such as antlers, birch bark, feathers and naturally harvested clay are just a few items that lend themselves to Don’s sculptures in symbolic, spiritual and storied interpretations. His paintings may be a mix of acrylic paint, pastels and crayons which seems to create an almost 3d effect through the contrast of glossy and matte finishes. They depict memorable scenes, places once been and of stories yet to unfold.

"Monashee Moon #1"

“Monashee Moon #1”

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If wildcrafting is the hub of Don Elzer’s wheel of life, then the many spokes borne from that are not only his art work, but also initiatives such as:

-Teaching Permaculture Design and Wildcrafting Courses at his Wildcraft Forest.
-Offering wild tea blends, herbs and potions at the Wildcraft Forest Apothecaeri.
-Social enterprise through his Watershed Intelligence Network.
– The Shelter Revolution. Tiny House building, sales and workshops with off-the-grid applications.
Author and Publisher

Don may wear many hats but through all of these labours of love lies a common thread: a deep connection, appreciation and relationship to nature.

"Dreams of the New Sacred Land"

“Dreams of the New Sacred Land”

So you see, it matters not whether you are looking to appreciate nature through a sculpture, a painting, a soothing and medicinal tea, or a hands-on practical education in wildcrafting to further your stewardship on Earth, a visit to Don Elzer’s Wildcraft Forest will awaken your senses.

Enjoy our interview with Don Elzer as you peruse his art work! Comments and sharing through social media and email are encouraged and welcome!

Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

I never gave pound cake the respect it deserves until the day we met with artist Shelley Hakonson from Dawson City, Yukon. Perhaps it was the word “pound” that I had a problem with. It doesn’t really sound like something I should be eating. Of all the people, Shelley would be the one to make me see pound cake in a whole new light. Shelley is an artist who thrives on words, phrases and stories. Her visual art is created from this fascination. I am sure she could have extolled all the virtues of the word pound in the context of cake and I wouldn’t even have had to eat a piece to become a fan. Nevertheless I wasn’t about to pass up the whole tasty experience.

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Here are some of Shelley’s latest pieces.

RavenWife

RavenWife

RavenWife is based on an Irish creation myth about ancient Fomorians, a semi-divine race coming from beneath the sea to settle Ireland. One of the Chieftains, Tethra, married a Shape-changer, a raven woman. Shelley created this piece using her own face as the template for the sculpture. She says that ravens fascinate her with their intelligence and the comic relief they add to her life in Dawson City. The beak was created with paper-clay over mesh with plaster wrap, and acrylics. The face was made with paper-clay over rigid wrap, and acrylics.

Only A Bird

Only A Bird

Only A Bird is a comment on the hidden women of patriarchal misogynist religions and age-old traditions that hold women in contempt. The following six words and the corresponding points are part of the title and are Shelley’s view about the male dominated religions of the world that deny women freedoms within their cultures.

1. Modesty. A reflection of restrictions on freedom for women. No right to choose.
2. Honour. Women’s bodies are possessions and women are seen as weak, unable to reason and are morally inferior. Men make their decisions for them.
3. Chastity. Effaces personality and physical suggestion, women need to be hidden to prove their “worth”.
Depersonalized and segregated from the rest of the world.
4. Purity. Women are a source of temptation, leading to bad deeds.
5. Duty. The Qu’ran does not call for women to wear the Niqab, or remain secluded from public life, but generations of cultural tradition in some areas of the world do.
6. Faith. Patriarchal Sanctioned Authoritative Supremacy.

Only A Bird was created with fabric, paper-clay, acrylics, embroidery, and bead work.

To see more of Shelley’s work and her story please go to her full ArtsQuest interview by clicking HERE.

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Luscious Lemon Pound Cake

Cake
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
3 cups of sugar
5 eggs
3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of milk
3 tbsp lemon extract

Glaze
1 cup of icing sugar
4 tbsp of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
1. Cream the butter and sugar well, until fluffy then add eggs one by one, beating each time.
2. Combine milk and lemon extract in a separate bowl.
3. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixture to the butter mixture ending with the flour.
4. Pour into a buttered and floured 10 inch Bundt pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Let sit for 10 minutes and then remove from Bundt pan onto a rack that is sitting over a cookie sheet.
6. Combine glaze ingredients (double the recipe for a real lemony taste).
7. Pour it over the still warm cake.
8. Squeeze 1/2 lemon or more over the cake for even more tartness. Yummy!

Enjoy!

Painter Sandy Troudt’s Colourful Classroom

Painter Sandy Troudt’s Colourful Classroom

Worth More Than Gold

Life is a journey of discovery and learning, and the mediums for personal and professional exploration are endless. For some that inquisitive fervour may take them into the natural or social sciences, for others it could be a trip to the moon and back, while still others may devote their life to training their bodies and minds in the martial arts. For artist Sandy Troudt that constant curiosity has been a life-long journey into the artistic realm of her paintings, print making and mixed media. For as long as she can remember Sandy has always wanted to paint, and it was a wonderful experience in seventh grade that affirmed her need to pursue it. As a career educator she shared that passion with her elementary students and other teachers alike through curriculum and workshops. Sandy recognizes that her own learning has evolved from mentoring by many notable artists as well as an arts community which provides another integral part to the growth experience and personal artistic journey. Unable to seriously devote her time to art while dedicating thirty-two years to teaching, it was upon retirement that Sandy now felt it was her time to pursue her passion in earnest, and that thirst for learning and her pleasure for the paint brush has never waned.

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Patchwork

Patchwork

Sandy and her husband Dennis live in the house they built in a picturesque rural area outside of Fort St. John. It is a place devoid of traffic noise and city lights, where the only onlookers might be a deer, a moose, or any one of nature’s wild inhabitants indigenous to the Peace region. It was this beauty and proximity to the wilderness that attracted them to this area, and Sandy draws endless inspiration from this natural environment. It is also an area rich in history from a pioneering way of life, and Sandy marvels at the challenges that the early settlers faced. The remnants of those bygone days still cling to the present whether as a rusting old truck, farm implement or weathered and sagging barn. They all provide engaging subject matter for Sandy’s creativity.

Diva Winter

Diva Winter

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With her appetite for discovery, Sandy has always pursued a variety of art media. She believes that the learning one gains from working with one medium can easily transfer to using another. She loves change and is always trying to find a better way of doing things. Sandy will ask herself, “What if I did this or tried that?” and admits that it is sometimes difficult to stay on track with her enquiring mind eager to get started on new ideas. With one painting finished and a lesson or two learned she is off on another adventure of problem solving and the joy of discovery begins once again.

Patty

Patty

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Sandy’s paintings will grab your attention; the bold colours and contrasts inviting you in for a closer look. The scene is appealing and recognizable yet gives in to the imagination and loses the strict boundaries of realism. The effect is eye-catching, and is meant to evoke emotion rather than just recognition. Sandy notes that colour relationships are very important Capturing the essence and liveliness of the scene that she felt when first witnessing it is her goal and what she hopes to portray to others. Sandy will paint from a photograph but the similarity ends there. She notes, “I do not want anything I paint to look just like the photograph. I want to liven things up a bit…a photo reference is only the beginning…so I go a bit crazy sometimes…I can’t help it!” Chatting with Sandy her enthusiasm is palpable, and the joie de vivre she exhibits lives on through her art work.

Olé

Olé

For Sandy the joy of being an artist is the fun of experimenting, the discovery of new techniques, colour variations that really work together, and the thrill of change. Adhering to the guidelines of colour theory, composition and balance is still important, but allowing uninhibited creative license to amuse and amaze herself is essential to following her passion. To enjoy more of Sandy’s art work (click here) to access her website.

Enjoy our interview with Sandy and we welcome you to comment below and share on social media and through email.

Mixed Media Artist Lori Fell Follows Her Painted Path

Mixed Media Artist Lori Fell Follows Her Painted Path

As we drove away from the Yukon, in Arty’s wake we left behind a piece of our heart, some new friends and some pretty spectacular scenery. Heading down the road back into British Columbia we carried with us a library full of memories from roads once traveled, the gifts of that day; the majestic Rocky Mountains and several burly bison, as well as the anticipation of future encounters and things left to be discovered. On our way to Fort Nelson, B.C. we had one day before our next interview so we planned to stop at Liard River hot springs. Have you ever heard of that list of a thousand things you should do before you die? Well, going to Liard was on our list. It was all that I imagined (hot) and more (super hot) but it was a soothing ending to the completion of twenty-three interviews in twenty-one days. The next day we were back in Arty’s saddle again and off to Fort Nelson to find out all about mixed media artist Lori Fell.

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Lori grew up in northern B.C. where the deer and the bison roam and the majestic mountains linger all day. She is grateful to have lived and played among the trees; to this day a connection which she cherishes deeply. Lori’s painted path began several years ago. She is a self professed lover of all things art and has always been creative, but it wasn’t until a tragedy struck her family and she needed a means to heal that she found painting. Nature as a subject matter was an obvious choice for Lori and so began her painted path (see her website) and process for which to heal.

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One of the challenges facing artists in more remote communities is the absence of varied face-to-face art learning opportunities. Lori is primarily self-taught but she did say that she has spent a great deal of time on the internet, specifically YouTube, where she has gleaned ideas and learned many new things that have helped develop her into the artist she is today. When I first laid eyes on Lori’s paintings it was the colour that grabbed me. I think vibrancy can be so irresitible, and it definitely has its time and place in Lori’s work. It wasn’t just the colour that caught my eye, as I looked closer I could see the intricate swirls and shapes within the landscape, trees and even the animals. Lori uses special pens to create this effect and she does it with such precision. Human vision is adept at catching things that are uneven and when I look at her work nothing pokes me in the eye.

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When we look with our eyes we see only the outer embodiment of the tree, flower or animal and when we look with our heart we see its spirit. I think Lori has seen the spirit of nature all her life and she shares it with us by illustrating not the bark of the tree or the fur of the animal but the essence of its spirit. We get to see that essence in her paintings. I identify with this connection because it is not what we see but what we feel that makes art really special.

Please join us as Lori Fell shares her journey down her painted path. We value your comments and appreciate it if you would help us spread the word about Lori by sharing on social media and through email.

Candice Ball Follows Her Dream

Candice Ball Follows Her Dream

Paisley Brooch with Amber Beads

Recently, Gary and I watched a fascinating program about art created during the Middle Ages. One group that caught my attention was the Anglo Saxons and their method of casting jewellery using cuttlefish bone. I had seen this before but not on television. Our trip to the Yukon put us on the doorstep of Whitehorse artist Candice Ball who, among other things, uses this ancient casting method in her own jewellery craft.

Candice Demonstrating Cuttlefish Casting

Candice Demonstrating Cuttlefish Casting

Cuttlefish Cast

Cuttlefish Cast

One characteristic that I appreciate in artists is that they deeply love what they do. There is something about the act of being creative that seems to give them a heightened state of bliss. Candice is a jewellery designer and metal artist with a penchant for the unusual. She is joyously unrestrained and it showed in her fervour to share with us what she does and how she does it. Candice came close to landing a career that, for her, was just meant to pay the bills, but luckily her gut was telling her not to go there and she listened. After a long talk with herself she came to the conclusion that a creative life was what she wanted. I admire her for her fortitude in taking the road less traveled.

Piéce de Résistance Ring

Piéce de Résistance Ring

Surprise Garnet Cabachon Inside Piéce de Résistance

Surprise Garnet Cabachon Inside Piéce de Résistance

Candice loves working with all kinds of different metals as well as complimentary, or perhaps uncomplimentary materials. She says she is not afraid to try anything and confidently works toward being the trend setter, not the trend follower. Her intuition is her guide which she shows unfettered devotion towards. The ideas show up anytime and anywhere like an unexpected visit from a best friend. She says she doesn’t know how it happens, it just does. My guess is that Candice is completely tuned in to her surroundings which abundantly supply her with all she needs to feed her creative process.

Out of Woodwork Bracelet

Out of Woodwork Bracelet

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Candice is constantly researching techniques and materials to bring a uniqueness to her work that stands above the crowd. Lately she has been investigating ancient casting techniques using cuttlefish (see demo video below) as well as more modern methods known as Delft casting which uses sand to create the mold. She also explores the use of metals such as titanium in her work. Candice definitely has a hunger for knowledge and putting what she learns into practice, and because of this her work is quite varied. After we left Candice we went to Arts Underground Gallery to collect some footage of her art that was being shown there. We talked all about Candice’s jewellery but had no idea she also does mixed media wall pieces until we arrived at the gallery; each one having a personality all its own.

MIxed Media Wall Hanging

MIxed Media Wall Hanging

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As crazy as you may or may not think this sounds, I believe that art handmade by people like Candice holds within it a certain kind of raw spiritual energy that comes from the earth and the person who made it. When we buy art, in this case wearable art, we get to coalesce with a part of that energy. It gives us strength and a connection that you will never get from something manufactured by a machine. Just talking to Candice strengthened my resolve on this point. To see more of Candice’s work please go to her website at Dilcet Designs.

Please join us as Candice shares more about her passion for art and then watch the ancient technique of cuttlefish casting in the demo below. We love comments and ask that you share this post on social media and spread the word about Candice. Thank you!

Shelley Hakonson Turns Art On Its Ear

Shelley Hakonson Turns Art On Its Ear

“Lucille's chameleon-like behaviour mystified her friends, she was never the same way twice.”

When we first arrived in Dawson City, Yukon on September 19 it was cold and snowing. Unfortunately we had just fried our electric heater the night before and had no choice but to find a store to purchase a new one. I was expecting to have to rob the nearest bank in order to pay for it but surprisingly the price was reasonable. We settled in for a cozy evening in Arty with anticipation of meeting visual mixed media artist Shelley Hakonson the next day. As I prefer to do with all the artists we interview, I went looking for some information about Shelley so I could come up with my own unique never-been-asked-before questions. I perused through her website, www.shelleyhakonson.com and found it to be most intriguing. Interestingly enough, after looking at Shelley’s work and reading about her, I thought I was headed into a deep philosophical journey and pictured myself way over my head in Shelley’s art arena. As I would come to find out my assumptions were unfounded.

Shelley in front of one of her hand-stitched pieces

Shelley in front of one of her hand-stitched pieces

Part of the Heart Series - "The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts....``

Part of the Heart Series – “The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts….“

More from the Heart Series. Click the thumbnail for a larger image and caption.

Dawson City is saturated with the past; clay roads, wooden board walks, surrounding gold mines and signs of the once bustling gold rush town lingering all around. It is basically open in the summer and closed in the winter. The mines shut down, tourists have retreated home, most merchants close up and the locals gather at Bombay Peggy’s (a former brothel) for one last pint or two before the great migration, usually to some place warm. Shelley and her husband Greg participate in this exodus every year, traveling to places such as Russia and Italy. She packs along a sketchpad and notebook and as they travel gathers her inspiration for the following year’s upcoming pieces.

Part of the Zoomorphic Series - “Since Chuck got the big promotion, he's been the Cock of the Walk", said Bob enviously... "but just wait until he finds out about that wife of his...”

Part of the Zoomorphic Series – “Since Chuck got the big promotion, he’s been the Cock of the Walk”, said Bob enviously… “but just wait until he finds out about that wife of his…”

From the Zoomorphic Series. Click the thumbnail for a larger image and caption.

What do Gary Larson of The Far Side fame and Indiana Jones have in common? Shelley Hakonson, of course! Shelley’s interests are far reaching and a bit on the far side one might say. She is an avid reader and many of her ideas come from the English language. Her love of words, phrases and idioms are the subject of most of her work. For example, phrases become images and images become her art. In her Zoomorphics series she has taken a phrase like “fish out of water” and painted the body of a human with the head of the animal in reference. In this case her waggish imagination conjured up a woman’s body with a fish head posing awkwardly in her dress and high heels. Although the painting might leave you scratching your head, Shelley provides us with a little more insight into where this oddity might have come from by giving us clues with an accompanying one liner caption. The rest of the story, she says, is for us to figure out however we like. It is her hope that the viewer will have fun and share in some of her lightheartedness.

Titled - Raven Wife

Titled – Raven Wife

From the Artefact Series. Click thumbnail for a larger image.

Shelley is also an ardent lover of different cultures and the mystery and intrigue that surrounds them. Before she became an acrylic painter much of what she did was mixed media textile art. When you walk into her home there are remnants of these pieces all around such as the Mongol Shaman Bag and the alien spacesuit pulled from a burning rubbish bin near Roswell and they all have a story associated with them. What is incredible is that her work is all hand stitched and is so intricate and detailed that some of the Artefacts, as she calls them, have fooled people into thinking that she and Greg had engaged in some archaeological discovery during their travels and brought back real artifacts. Remarkably, it is all Shelley; she finds something that interests her, does some research on the subject and then sets out to create her interpretation of it. Although based on facts, Shelley says she allows herself a liberal amount of creative freedom.

Titled - Drowning

Titled – Drowning

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Demeter from the Sacred and Profane Series

Demeter from the Sacred and Profane Series

The imagination and creativity of Shelley’s work is endless. On the one hand she enjoys making people smile and laugh at her witty high jinks with preposterous portraits of common phrases and idioms we can all relate to, and on the other hand some of her work is passionately serious. There are many things in life that need to be brought to our attention and make us think. We are all inquisitive by nature and I believe Shelley really knows how to access that curiosity. She certainly did that for me.

Be sure to get to know Shelley as she shares with us her fun loving spirit expressed through her art. We love comments and please help us spread the word about Shelley by sharing/liking on social media. Thank you!

Ranch Life is in the Heart of Painter Pat Gauthier

Ranch Life is in the Heart of Painter Pat Gauthier

Dawson Creek Stallion – done in pastel

Ever wonder how many out of the way, off the beaten path places there are in Canada? I can tell you, from the tiny experience we have had so far, there are plenty. The birth of ArtsQuest has been perfect for me as I have always been a lover of going places that aren’t the “destination” place. I find real people with real lives in such places as is evident with all the amazing artists and non-artists we have met so far. Fort St. James, B.C. is one such place I had never been and if it were not for painter Pat Gauthier answering our call to artists, I might never have had the pleasure of visiting there.

Canada National Historic Site, Fort St. James, B.C.

Canada National Historic Site, Fort St. James, B.C.

Stuart Lake, Fort St. James, B.C.

Stuart Lake, Fort St. James, B.C.

When Pat contacted Gary and I she indicated that we really should take the time to stop in and check out another of Canada’s National Historic Sites, the fort of Fort St. James. She went on to say that Fort St. James has had the longest consecutive settlement of people in British Columbia; 207 years. The fort and the town sit adjacent to the formidable presence of Stuart Lake. Before we even met Pat we could tell she has a passion for her community and sharing with others her appreciation of what a special place it is. The fort was closed when we arrived but a friendly caretaker gentleman said we were welcome to wander around and take some pictures. It was such a perfect day!

Pat in her studio and gallery

Pat in her studio and gallery

Please click on the thumbnail images below to enjoy a larger view.

Pat and her husband Louis live just to the south of Fort St. James on a large working ranch where they invited us to park our van for the night before we were to interview Pat the next day. When we arrived Pat was just heading out to an art council meeting so Louis kindly shared some of his time filling us in about life on the ranch.

Shuswap Lake - done in oil

Shuswap Lake – done in oil



Mount Ida - done in watercolour

Mount Ida – done in watercolour

Pat is originally from the Shuswap area of B.C. but made her way up to Fort St. James when she was just 20. Someone had mentioned to her that they hired females in the sawmills, so she packed up her car and away she went. The area has been her home ever since. Although many of Pat’s hours in the day are dedicated to working on the ranch she often feels it contributes to her passion for art. Being outside in the vast, open expanse of land with their horses, cattle and the wildlife is strongly interconnected with her desire to be creative. Often in the fall, when there is a break with the ranching duties, she and Louis pack up their horses with gear along with Pat’s painting paraphernalia and head for the hills. Climbing to vistas not seen by many people is not an easy task but the inspiration is bountiful.

Crossing Our Borders - mixed media

Crossing Our Borders – mixed media

The subjects and the mediums for Pat’s work are quite diverse but one of the pieces that caught my eye was her work titled Crossing Our Borders. Many of us who live in urban areas don’t really understand or perhaps just don’t think about what kind of impact companies like Enbridge can have on our fellow citizens. The government spends millions of dollars for television ads singing the praises for pipelines and fracking. As we drove north it became more and more evident that people like Pat and Louis have something different to say, unfortunately most of us don’t get to hear the other side of the story. Pat painted her personal protest against Enbridge because the company wants to cross much of the area’s waterways and part of their land with the pipelines, leaving the landowners with all of the environmental risk and devaluation of their land. She is not the only one. According to Pat, there is an entire art show dedicated to this particular subject. Who knows how this story will end? In the mean time Pat continues to paint whether for protest or for pleasure which gives all of us a glimpse into this part of Canada. To see more of Pat’s work please visit her website by clicking here.

Please join us as Pat shares with us more about her life on the ranch and her passion for painting. We appreciate comments and helping us spread the word about amazing artists in Canada on social media! Thank you.

Debra Blades Mixes Fine Art With Fine Music

Debra Blades Mixes Fine Art With Fine Music

Arty took us to Abbotsford, B.C. this time on an arts quest to meet with Debra Blades. Debra calls herself a mixed media collage painter with a splash of inventiveness. She has a passion for texture, colour and twisty things. She incorporates gold, silver and copper leaf as well as different papers and textural components within her paintings. When we showed up on Debra’s door step she opened the door with such fervor that I had a feeling we were in for something good.

arts-quest-debra-blades-portrait

Photo Credit to Kristie Blades

Bio-Luminescence

Bio-Luminescence

Art has been in Debra’s life in one form or another for a long time. She spent 21 years hand-making Victorian lampshades and in that time created and sold over 1000. But with trends coming and going, in this case going, she recognized it was time for a creative change, and that is when she began exploring the world of abstract art. I was surprised to hear that she has only been working at it for 6 years. Her work seems so much more mature than that like it has been a part of her for a long time, walking hand in hand with her spirit.

Yesterday

Yesterday

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Debra admits that creativity can have its calamities at times but it’s nothing that an enthusiastic and gracious attitude mixed with a little Beatles music can’t cure. When she first contemplated giving titles to her paintings she was stuck and wondered, “How do you name something abstract?” At the time she was working on a piece that was colourful and attention grabbing and contained twisty pieces of paper. The Beatles’ Twist and Shout just happened to be filling her ears at that moment and delivered to her the title of her new painting. One thing lead to another and since then she has created a series of paintings inspired and titled from The Beatles’ songs. According to Wikipedia there are 304 songs that have been recorded by The Beatles so Debra’s series could turn into a long and loving commitment. I have a feeling this won’t be a challenge for her!

Train Case

Train Case

Versatility and adaptability are two words that I would use to describe Debra. She faces challenges and obstacles head on and, along with a positive attitude, looks for a solution. Her abstract painted train cases are an example of this. At one time she found herself lacking in canvases to paint, had some left over train cases from her Victorian era days, and so decided that they would make an excellent three dimensional canvas. She calls them functional art and each one comes with its own title. As well, not in the too far distant past Debra stopped going to art shows and fairs because she dreaded the fuss and muss of packing her work in sheets, bubble wrap and packing tape. In her mind not only was this a time consuming and unpleasant process it was also no way to treat a piece of fine art nor did it present well to the fine art appreciators looking on when she arrived at the show. Her solution was an ingenious invention aptly named Masterpiece To Go Portfolios. I am not one to pitch products but I find this to be a slick and useful piece of equipment that every painter will want to have. It looks professional and your art work can be packed up and ready to go in under 3 minutes. Be sure to watch the demo video below where Debra shows us how it works, and check out her Masterpiece To Go Portfolios website for more information on how to order your own.

Zentangle art titled A Silent Call

Zentangle art titled A Silent Call

Please join us as Debra talks more about her life as an artist in her interview below. We love comments and by all means share and like with social media!

Masterpiece To Go Demo Video