Free-Spirited Art Works of Jan Jenkins

Free-Spirited Art Works of Jan Jenkins

Zendoodle titled Unity in Diversity

When Gary and I first contemplated interviewing artists all across Canada in 2011, we had decided one thing for sure, our travel home was not going to be a tent. Was it to be a truck and trailer, a truck and camper or some kind of van? Marli, our cat, made the decision in the end. A van was the best choice for her needs and really ours as well. But we decided it couldn’t be just any old van. It needed to be unique and attention grabbing. So it came to pass that we all agreed on Arty, our VW Westfalia Vanagon.

A couple of great businesses got their start in a Vanagon; Mountain Equipment Co-op and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Perhaps ArtsQuest will join them one day. In the mean time owning Arty is like having a membership to an exclusive club with benefits, including offers of places to stay by a couple of the artists we intended on interviewing. One of those artists is Jan Jenkins of Dauphin, Manitoba.

Jan Jenkins at the Dauphin Art Group

Jan Jenkins at the Dauphin Art Group

Now, a Westfalia is not the only thing Jan and her husband Brian Erickson and Gary and I have in common. In fact we have a very similar later-in-life story as well. It turns out that Jan and Brian also used to live in Calgary up until eight years ago when suddenly they found themselves buying a house in Dauphin and taking early retirement there. As serendipity would have it, on a visit to see Brian’s family one year, Brian decided he wanted to show Jan the house he grew up in and as they drove past they saw that it was for sale.

Although they were seriously contemplating a move and change of lifestyle, Jan wanted to be sure there was a thriving art community so that she could resume her life long passion of creativity on a full time basis. It turns out Dauphin has the Watson Art Centre which is housed in a beautiful building that was once the old town hall built in 1905. Now it is bursting with artistic life in the visual, literary and performing arts. Dauphin is a town of approximately 8500 people and the Centre is supported and appreciated by the community and visitors alike. Inside the building are restored remnants of the town hall itself; the council chamber’s long wood table and the gorgeous wood banisters and fixtures. There is a stage with heavy, red velvet drapes and a spiral staircase leading to a balcony, and even an old jail cell in the basement (currently being used only for storage). Also in the basement is a large space which is home to the Dauphin Art Group and was the other factor that clinched the decision for Jan and Brian to move. Jan has a home studio but she also loves spending time in her space at the Dauphin Art Group. She gets to be with other artists to share ideas and have that creative connection.

Sgraffito titled Windfall

Sgraffito titled Windfall


Click to enlarge thumbnails.

Upon arriving at the little home on River Avenue West we were welcomed by Jan and her pooch Tramp and his pal from next door, Barley. Tramp and Barley, however, were in a dog run which Jan refers to as Guantrampamo. This segregation was a temporary measure just in case the four legged greeters were a little too happy to see us. Brian was away in Brandon for the day so the three of us had decided we would do Jan’s interview first and then later the four of us could relax and socialize.

Zendoodle titled Sea Urchin

Zendoodle titled Sea Urchin


Lino Cut Print titled Gardener of the Forest

Lino Cut Print titled Gardener of the Forest



As I asked Jan my questions I discovered that she and I had a couple of similar character traits. Jan considers herself a jack-of-all-trades and has many interests (so do I). Focusing on specializing on just one doesn’t seem to be Jan’s thing (me too). This could be one of the reasons why Jan likes to work in several different media. She works with pen and ink to create intricate and fascinating patterns in the Zendoodle style. And often she will incorporate poetry within her pieces or a story to accompany a particular piece which adds a thoughtful dimension to them. She also enjoys print making and working in oil pastels with a technique known as Sgraffito in Italy. Sgraffito is such an interesting art form. In its simplest explanation, Jan pencils out her drawing on paper, fills in the colours she wants for her subjects with stiff pastels and then eventually covers the whole piece in a buttery black pastel. Upon doing that she takes tracing paper with her original image on it, lays it over top and then traces over it with a pencil which then lifts just enough of the black off the paper so she can see where her drawing is located underneath. At this point she starts scraping away with a tool at the black pastel to reveal the colour and her original drawing. Some of Jan’s other creative activities include making jewellery, rock painting, tie dying, writing poetry and volunteering several hours a month at the Watson Art Centre. Whew! And if that’s not enough she made a fabulous beef stew for dinner for some weary travelers.

We invite you to watch and listen to Jan’s interview with us and we thank you in advance for helping to spread the word about Jan and her art on social media and email. And we love comments so please feel free to leave one below. Thanks.

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!

Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s Palette

Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s  Palette

Abandoned - watercolour

It was happenstance that watercolour painter and photographer Frank Townsley spotted our van Arty’s bold ArtsQuest advertising decals, and decided to email us. Though living in Coquitlam, he was using space at a retirement centre in North Vancouver just across the street from us as one of the locales to teach one of his many workshops. And so it was there, after one of his teaching sessions that we sat down to get to know Frank and learn more about what makes his paintbrush flick and his camera click.

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In addition to his painting and photography Frank is also an avid traveler and naturalist, which are both an integral part of his life and art work. A look through Frank’s images on his website will bring you to locations from across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America. I found that the scenes he had photographed or painted were sometimes awe-inspiring and at other times evoked curiosity, giving me the urge to travel and to visit these spectacular places. As a naturalist Frank’s interests lie not just in capturing photographic images of nature’s wonders and putting some to canvas, but also in learning about the characteristics and history of the flora and fauna that he discovers.

Alpine Tapestry - watercolour

Alpine Tapestry – watercolour

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Having explored and photographed much of his home province of B.C., and having documented interesting facts along the way, Frank decided that putting together an educational coffee table book of B.C. would be a worthwhile endeavour and a wonderful way to capture the essence of this beautiful province. The title of his book is going to be British Columbia – Graced By Nature’s Palette, and he is planning to publish it this fall. Prefacing each chapter will be one of his B.C. inspired watercolour paintings representative of the region. Below you will see the photographic image that will adorn the front cover of his book.

Caught In The Light - Book Cover Photograph

Caught In The Light – Book Cover Photograph

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Teaching workshops on watercolour painting and photography has come a long way for Frank from the days when he was first giving tips on the finer points of photography to his family and friends. He is now busier than ever, and notes that if he is not teaching his workshops around the Vancouver area then he may be off leading a group on an Alaskan cruise painting excursion (his 36th trip is coming up!). Although into his retirement years, Frank loves to teach, and notes how gratifying it is to see his students learn, progress and gain confidence in their abilities. They leave his course with a sense of pride and accomplishment but also with a set of “tools” to further their creativity. Some of these tools may be techniques such as scratching, splattering or using salt (see video interview for Frank’s explanation), as well as learning the skills needed to fix mistakes on paintings once previously thought doomed and having to start over. To the benefit of those that can’t get to Frank’s workshops he has two instructional DVD’s that can be acquired by contacting him through his websites.

Below you will find an example of splattering (to create grains of sand or even stars or snowflakes), scratching (leaving white such as the trees shown here or the spray of a wave), and using salt (to create a softer, blended look with more water or finer detail with less):

To see more of Frank’s work check out his websites by clicking (here) and (here).

Coming up next is our interview with Frank Townsley! We welcome comments and sharing on social media and email.

Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

What do you want to be when you grow up? For some of us this question has been easier to answer than for others. I am sure I changed my mind time and time again, and as I grew older it became more and more of a power struggle between what I really wanted to do and what I thought I should be doing. One thing I have learned is that the things that matter the most are matters of the heart, not of the head. In general, I think artists are one group of people that understand this very well. Gary and I had the chance to chat with Alison Wandzura who is a professional film and tv actor in Vancouver, B.C. Like many of us, when it came to choosing a career her heart was telling her to be an actor, but her head told her to go get a business degree. Eventually Alison quashed the naysayer within her, let the passion in her heart take over, and now she does what she loves.

Comedy theatre production

Comedy theatre production

When Alison was growing up her and her two brothers spent many of their days acting in homegrown productions and dreaming of the day when their staged funny-naked-bathroom-scene video would be chosen for America’s Funniest Home Videos. And although that was “kid stuff”, Alison always loved dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else. She still does. One of the reasons she pursued an acting career is because she could never decide what she wanted to be. She notes that if you act you get to pretend to be someone other than yourself on any given day.

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Alison was born and raised in Calgary and so was her acting career. She started out as a theatre actor and then five years ago she decided to trust her heart and make a big move to Vancouver where she wanted to try her hand at film and tv acting. Since then she has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects; everything from commercials, made for tv movies and series, big screen feature films and even playing the voice of animated characters. Many of these projects have been integral in helping her career unfold and to discover what acting really means to her. It is quite different from what it once was. She says it’s not about becoming rich and famous, it’s about discovering who she really is and how she can make a difference in the world by telling stories that matter.

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

There is something so real about an actor. An actor’s job is to convince us that they are the persona they are pretending to be. It is kind of ironic really. Actors are great pretenders and yet they spend their life perfecting the art of being real from someone else’s perspective. Because of this they may have a better handle on what it means to just be themselves more than most people do. Alison is discovering this about herself. Her acting career has opened the door and let the real Alison out. She sees the world and the people in it differently now. Her senses are wide open to what goes on around her. Not only does this make her a better actor it has also given her a love for humanity that she never knew she had.

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When Alison is not auditioning or working on her acting skills she enjoys being behind the camera for a change. She loves to travel and explore areas of the world that are rich in culture unfamiliar to her. She found herself captivated by the people and discovered her passion and creativity for photography came from capturing images of men, women and children just living their lives. In her words, “there is something so engaging and beautiful about someone just being themselves”. Alison hopes to create a greater respect and understanding of what is truly beautiful about a person by honouring the essence of humanity and what it means to be real, either through the images she captures from behind the camera or through the acting she presents in front of one.

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Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.

Please join us as Alison shares with us what it takes to be an actor. We love comments and would appreciate it if you could help us spread the word about Alison through social media and email. Thanks!

Dan Richter Crafts a String of Sweet Sounds

Dan Richter Crafts a String of Sweet Sounds

The last stop for our travels along the halcyon highway of the Sunshine Coast of B.C. brought us to the small oceanfront community of Gibsons. It was almost thirteen years ago that Corinne and I first set foot in this charming town which was the launch point for our motor-home honeymoon. Made famous for the television series The Beachcombers and its landmark cafe Molly’s Reach, today this peaceful locale is not only recognized for its past fame, outdoor pursuits and quality of living, but also as a destination for its thriving arts and culture community. Our visit today brought us to the home of one such artist, luthier and musician Dan Richter of Dragonfly Guitars.

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Dan’s passion for music has permeated throughout his life. Discovering his love for playing guitar at an early age, his first riffs resonated with heavy rock and roll from a Larrivée Flying V electric guitar. He then sought out work with renowned luthier Jean Larrivée in his North Vancouver guitar manufacturing facility. There, fellow employees would bring in their hand-made guitars which were projects from a Douglas College course taught by west coast luthier Michael Dunn. It was during that time that the initial spark for making stringed instruments began. Dan took a course from notable luthier David Freeman, honed his skills on his own, and has now been hand-crafting one-of-a-kind stringed instruments for almost twenty years under the moniker of Dragonfly Guitars. Quite often the student becomes the teacher, and Dan’s affable nature lends itself well to the comprehensive six week luthier course that he teaches. Each of his students walks away with the pride and satisfaction of having hand-crafted their own stringed instrument from beginning to end.

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For those that enjoy the feel and fit of a finely tailored suit versus buying off the rack, that same appreciation will extend to a quality, hand-crafted stringed instrument that was made just for you. Dan notes that aside from adhering to the technical guidelines needed to create the primary characteristic of great sound, there are various personal touches that can be built in to enhance both the playability and aesthetics of the instrument. Innovations such as beveling sharp edges for comfort, a top sound hole for better player audio feedback, adapting scale length for smaller hands, and utilizing the Manzer wedge (narrower at top/thicker at bottom) are just some of the ergonomic modifications that will increase the comfort and enjoyment while playing one of his Dragonfly Guitars. Choice of colours from the different woods, personal inlay work and the different shapes to choose from will also set his guitars apart from the factory made counterpart.

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Whether making guitars, fixing them, teaching others to make them or playing in a band, music has always been an integral part of Dan’s life. From his early years of rock and roll to now a member of the highly acclaimed four piece string-band The Rakish Angles, Dan feels fortunate that he and his band-mates appreciate a wide variety of music. Entertaining their audiences with an eclectic array of offerings spanning newgrass, jazz, Latin, Celtic and folk music, he says that they do not limit themselves to any certain style and that this has worked well to satisfy both their freedom for creative expression and the varied tastes of their audiences.

Whet your appetite with the tune ‘Swingin’ the World by the Tail’ from The Rakish Angles and their Cottonwood Moon CD:

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Learn more about Dan Richter and his world of lutherie and music in our interview with him below. Please feel free to leave a comment and share on your social media and email. Thank you!

Meghan Hildebrand’s Passions from Painting to Punk

Meghan Hildebrand’s Passions from Painting to Punk

You Are Left Alone

We were first introduced to Meghan Hildebrand’s work through the social media network. I spotted a painting of her’s someone else had shared and I was intrigued right from the start. It was a painting from her series Rivers and Logs that twigged my curiosity. Meghan lives along the Sunshine Coast of B.C. in Powell River which is historically known for its pulp and paper mill. In its prime this mill was once the largest in the world. The mill still exists but it is a shadow of its former self and now it shares the economy with tourism which stems from experiencing the arts, culture and nature in the area.

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Tinkernackle

Tinkernackle

We arranged to meet Meghan at the Dancing Tree Gallery where she displays some of her work. Meghan’s mother, who was an artist herself, always encouraged Meghan’s interest in art, and so being an artist was always part of her lifelong plan. Meghan is an artistic cartographer of sorts. She creates a series of paintings which she says are best described as story maps. Her paintings are primarily of landscapes depicting an actual place, or they may be more metaphorical depicting an idea of a subject that she wants to explore. Meghan fills her paintings with as many symbols and characters as she can. In many ways her work reminds me of a stylized kind of folk art within the realm of fine art. There are things going on all over the painting and they may be connected to one another, or not. Meghan leaves that for her audience to decide.

Boom Bay

Boom Bay

Click thumbnails to view a larger image.

Humans are an innately curious species. When our senses are stimulated with something unfamiliar it sparks that sense of wonder. If you look closely at one of Meghan’s paintings you will find yourself becoming lost within it. It draws you in as you follow a twisty road through what may be a cityscape, or you find yourself in the middle of a landscape that reminds you of somewhere you have been or want to go. There are some places that look so fanatastical you wonder what Meghan must have been thinking, so you look to the title for a clue but she gives nothing away there either. She expressed to us that she loves it when someone is left to their own devices to navigate through one of her paintings. That is what a story map does. It gives each person the opportunity to find their own path and discover their own way to the things they want to see within her painting. I think Meghan does an amazing job of this.

Winds and Hazard

Winds and Hazard

Click the thunbnail to see the larger image.

O'Sullivan's Rolling Darkroom

O’Sullivan’s Rolling Darkroom

To see more of Meghan’s work check out her website by clicking here.

Meghan’s other artistic foray started about three years ago when she was invited to try out for an all ladies punk rock band called The Abbie Hoffman Society. She had never performed with a band, but she found herself taking on one of the roles of the five member band and they have been going strong ever since. Meghan says that she surprised herself as to how much she loves performing in front of an audience, especially since it is such a contrast to the singular activity of painting. Her paintings do reveal a free-thinking, non-conventional artist who walks to the beat of her own drum, so to me Meghan seems like an ideal candidate for The Abbie Hoffman Society. To date they have performed in their home town of Powell River, toured parts of British Columbia and released their first CD in 2013.

Have a listen to a track from The Abbie Hoffman Society’s first CD titled Do They Ever.

The Abbie Hoffman Society

The Abbie Hoffman Society

Click on track 1 below to hear Beaver Fever.

To learn more about The Abbie Hoffman Society click here.

Check out Meghan Hildebrand’s interview. We appreciate comments and thank you for helping to spread the word about Meghan through social media and email.

Fine Artist Cindy Revell – From Imagination to Creation

Fine Artist Cindy Revell – From Imagination to Creation

Art For All Seasons

It is safe to assume that a young person stating their intention of one day becoming an artist could trigger the stereotypical response from concerned parents about their child not getting a “real job” and of becoming a “starving artist.” While the fears inherent in these cliches could be true for just about any career, it was fine artist and illustrator Cindy Revell’s parents that knew her life would encompass the arts in some way and encouraged her to pursue it. As a young girl she was always doing art, and although detoured after high school Cindy’s innate creativity led her back to her first love. It was while attending Grant MacEwan Community College (now MacEwan University) to take graphic design that she knew she had found her life’s passion.

Cindy Revell with Spike

Cindy Revell with Spike

As children we are constantly looking at the world around us with wonderment and no limits to what our imaginations can conjure up, unconsciously disregarding any physical or societal restrictions. As we grow we learn to curb our free-flowing thoughts for protection (or more accurately for others’ perception), but we can also lose the childlike qualities that give way to unfettered creativity. Our time spent with Cindy revealed an artist who has never lost that curiosity and enthusiasm; always thinking of the possibilities, the what-ifs and the ideas that expand her creativity as a result. It was this imagination that lent itself well to the whimsical style that Cindy has become renowned for within her successful commercial illustration career over the last seventeen years. This includes the numerous children’s books she collaborated on and furniture pieces adorned with her captivating subjects.

Governor General award nomination for children's book literature

Governor General award nomination for children’s book literature

Click on images to enlarge: (An assortment of book covers, furniture commissions, commercial illustrations)

Cindy’s fearless pursuit of new challenges and stimulation has given her the gift of versatility. Having illustrated for so long using acrylic paints, in 2002 she decided to try her hand at oil painting which also reignited the passion she felt for the old masters. Up until then she had been illustrating for magazines, children’s books, different publishers and products always using acrylics and adhering to the clients’ wishes. Cindy shares with us that one of the best things she’s ever done for herself was to become a freelance illustrator and full time fine artist working from home. She loves working away in solitude, free to let her imagination and mood guide her through her day. She introduced her new oil medium to her whimsical style, and although reminiscent of her illustrations she finds her work more unrestrained, loose and full of vigour. Contrasting her lively whimsical studies, Cindy’s still-life paintings impart the special connection she feels to the simple beauty of inanimate objects, their symbolic place in the natural world and the Zen-like calm felt from the peacefulness of the piece and the light bringing its warmth and depth to it.

Autumn Lingers

Autumn Lingers

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The principal character in a lot of her whimsical paintings is Wild Cat, the poster cat for all things possible in a cat’s world as imagined through Cindy’s mind. Cindy loves cats, and having grown up with these feline friends her entire life she admires their sleekness, wildness and independent being. They are unpredictable and one never knows what is going on in their minds; they don’t give a lot away. Cindy brings those what-ifs to Wild Cat’s personality such as imagining an amicable “conversation” between archenemies cat and bird, or some hidden communication that only they can interpret. Paralleling these ruminations; what if humans thought differently towards other species or towards each other, breaking social constructs? Cindy’s imagination is working on it.

Sojourn in the Garden

Sojourn in the Garden

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Portraiture was never a direction that Cindy had envisioned her art heading towards, but when she became involved with Project Heroes she not only found it to be a new and worthwhile challenge, but also one that she has learned so much from; about herself and others. The project was created to honour the character of the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan war and to relate to us who they were as every day people outside of the military and within it. The stories and photographs compiled from family are not meant to serve as a political statement in favour of or opposition to the war, but rather as an educational display to show the heart and human aspect of these soldiers. The project also encompasses the big picture of war; the serving soldiers and their families, the physically and mentally wounded and their families, the veterans and serving soldiers, and the men and women who lost their lives to suicide. More information about Project Heroes can be found at this link: click here.

Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall

Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall

Click on images to enlarge: (Shown are only a few soldiers from Project Heroes)

Join us with Cindy Revell and her eclectic styles of fine art. Please feel free to leave a comment below, share on social media and email.

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.

Donald Watt Creates Frozen and Fired Sculptures

Donald Watt Creates Frozen and Fired Sculptures

Team Yukon Canada wins first place at the International Carnaval de Quebec 2014 including Public Choice and Volunteer Choice Awards

What does it mean to follow your dreams? For Whitehorse, Yukon snow carver and sculptor Donald Watt it started at age ten, wishing someday to carve snow at the famous Quebec Winter Carnival. He recalls as a young boy watching the promo film for the Carnival on television with his father and proclaiming his aspirations. His father’s reply was that he was capable of doing anything he wanted. That stuck with him, and when Quebec invited Yukon to form a team for its national sculpture competition, he jumped at the chance. Donald not only lived his dream of carving in Quebec but has also seen victory as captain of Team Yukon, winning numerous times at the National and International Championships. Sadly, his father never got to see him carve in Quebec but Donald always pays homage to him by building an inukshuk from the initial chunks of snow removed as the carving begins to take shape. His father’s presence is now with him at every event watching him carve. Now, with over 30 years of carving, numerous awards from around the world and doing 6-8 carvings per year, that adds up to a lot of carvings, a lot of experience, and a testament to the power of his passion.

Donald Watt

Donald Watt

Team Yukon Canadian Championship Sculpture - Quebec 2013

Team Yukon Canadian Championship Sculpture – Quebec 2013

Snow carving is unlike any other art form; its closest relatives being ice and sand carving. It is a medium that requires a great deal of planning because it is not only dependent upon ones carving skills, but the carver must adhere to the laws of physics and nature. With a starting block of snow typically weighing 20-40 tons, it is not uncommon for a suspended portion of snow to weigh a ton or more. So if the structural design pushes load-bearing limits, combined with challenging weather conditions such as rain, the sculpture could collapse and end up in a pile before it is even judged. Other considerations are working against the clock as well as observing the criteria that the judges are looking for. These include creativity and artistic merit, technical difficulties as well as adherence to the original design. The appreciation and awe of a completed snow sculpture is fleeting; a live in the moment type of art work that not long after leaves its legacy in the photographs, memories and a marred footprint of where it once stood.

1st Place - San Vigilio, Italy 2013

1st Place – San Vigilio, Italy 2013

2nd Place - San Candido, Italy 2013

2nd Place – San Candido, Italy 2013

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The process for completing a sculpture is always a team effort, and each team mate will lend their strengths to complement the whole. The 2014 World Tour team for Yukon is comprised of Donald, Michael Lane and Ken Anderson. Donald is the three dimensional specialist and will guide the team in the initial stages to taking away the major chunks and getting the sculpture to an impressionistic stage. Michael is the idea guy and detailed carver who will advise on the fine particulars, and Ken is a skilled first nations carver that will also lend the knowledge and detail required for the traditional northern and west coast first nations themes.

Breckenridge, USA 2013

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When he isn’t carving snow Donald is still active in the arts. Formally trained in sculpture and printmaking, he enjoys helping out with three dimensional design; building and designing sets for the local theater groups as well as hiring himself out to the art department to design sets for movies that are filmed in the area. He also creates clay sculptures that he refers to as “fairies with attitude.” These aren’t your cutesy, pixie-like Tinkerbell fairies mind you; these have a personality all their own. Donald says that the idea for these fairies came from his Irish grandmother. She would always say, “Donald, you don’t go in the back of the garden because that’s where the fairies live, and they’re not always nice!” So he decided to create these not-so-friendly looking fairies and give them some chutzpah. Why do people connect with Donald’s fairies? Maybe they represent nonconformity; a rebellious free-spirit that doesn’t care what people think of them or how they look. Maybe they depict the balance between the dark and the light; good and bad. Or, maybe they’re just a whole lot of fun!

The Lady's Not For Sale

The Lady’s Not For Sale

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For many artists there is the piéce de résistance that lingers in the back of their mind; the ultimate work or challenge that pushes them to their outer limit. Having traveled the world carving snow sculptures Donald’s ultimate vision now is to go to Antarctica to carve the Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen expeditions. He wants to do a carving at Scott’s Antarctica landing spot, showing him leaving for the South Pole heavily laden with all of his supplies. Then he will fly to the South Pole and do another carving showing Amundsen’s arrival there with his sled dogs and planting the Norwegian flag, the first expedition to do so and beating Scott by thirty-four days. It is an enormous undertaking; requiring a lot of planning, permissions, safety logistics and funding, but having seen the journey and accomplishments of a wide-eyed young boy to where he is today, we don’t doubt that Donald Watt can make it happen. Keep following the magnificent snow sculptures of Donald and his Team Yukon through his linked website Snowcarver.ca… and maybe leave a little room on your nightstand for a fairy to watch over you.

Learn more about the art and science of snow sculpture during our interview with Donald Watt, and we always welcome Comments and Sharing on social media: