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!

Life is Art for James Kirby

Life is Art for James Kirby

Family

In our search for artists to interview we have used various means to track them down ranging from emailing art organizations asking for assistance, emailing the artists directly, and even just riding into town and asking at the library, town office or people on the street who they might know. It gets a little tricky though when an artist is more reclusive; not usually engaging or paying attention to the ongoing banter of the various media sources. It was with a bit of luck then that Whitehorse artist James Carman Kirby of Wulvzwerx Arts decided, for whatever reason, to open one of those emails and answer our call to artists.

James at work

James at work

Driving up to James’ home and studio, the exterior looked like any other framed structure except that once inside the building the uniqueness of his abode reflected that of the man himself. Originally staying in a small, vintage travel trailer and having his workshop and studio beside it, he decided to join the two; building and framing the house around the trailer and encasing it as part of the interior decor. The effect is both quaint and symbolic; the travel trailer serving not only as both functionally decorative and as a conversation piece, but also retains memories of a time and place in his journey through life. Therein lies the first clue, revealing a man who is not one to adopt mainstream thinking and who walks to the beat of his own drum.

TshTsh Pectoral

TshTsh Pectoral

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James believes that everything about life is art; that the many facets of life such as raising children, building a home, the means by which we sustain ourselves, and how we engage humans and other life forms is all part of our creative being. He notes that if we treat life as art then it will become that much more satisfying and we will eventually create something very special. James’ art is a reflection of his life’s journeys, and as his life evolved into different stages for various reasons, so did the artwork that manifested from his hands. James chooses to live his life through individualism rather than conformity, and realizes the power of free thinking as his creative path.

Fire Ant Ring

Fire Ant Ring

As varied as his life has been, James’ art has taken him from painting, to stained glass, to now sculpture and jewellery. He also moved back to the Yukon from Vancouver Island to open a book store, and spent eight years as the largest bookseller of esoteric cult books in Canada. This last venture was at a time when James wanted to create a new culture for Whitehorse and shake things up a bit. He wanted to give people a chance to step out of their comfort zone and learn about other cultural, spiritual and philosophical teachings.

Feral Anima

Feral Anima

Although he is open to all ideas and is just starting to work on his own designs, his jewellery and sculpture creations primarily follow a particular niche. His jewellery focuses on talismans and amulets but his knowledge of western esoteric cultures and world religions goes into all of his artwork. James’ inner creation cannot help but extend to his artwork, where his curiosity for the foundations of his work impels him to research, source and manufacture his own materials as well as wanting to know what the process is; how things were made, why they were made and what sorts of materials were used. Whether quarrying the stone he is about to carve or learning the history of stained glass and how it was made, James’ foray into any creative endeavour always means being involved in all aspects of it. This can be no more true than in his jewellery making, where he ethically sources his own gemstones, does all his own castings, makes his own metal sheet and cuts his own wire. James notes that it is very much alchemy for him, having to know the process and then being able to apply it with skill.

Check out our interview with James below and feel free to share on social media and leave a comment:

Arlene Ness Explores Art Through Culture

Arlene Ness Explores Art Through Culture

Our destination for today was the Gitanmaax Reserve in Hazelton, B.C. where we were meeting with Gitxsan First Nations multi-medium artist Arlene Ness. Driving into this scenic area we were struck by the imposing mountains and lush forests with their breathtaking, resplendent autumn colours! It was easy to avert my eyes occasionally to glance up at them, if only for a second. Suddenly, flashing lights in our rear view mirror suggested we were now getting a police escort by the friendly RCMP of this quaint village; we didn’t even know they were aware of our arrival! As I snapped out of it I realized that I had missed a school sign during one of those brief sight-seeing moments, and the police officer’s intention was not one of fanfare. Luckily he gave me a warning and sent us on our way. Without further delay, but well within the posted speed limit, we were once again on our way to Arlene’s place to get to know this diversified and prolific fine artist.

Arlene in front of her Grizzly stained glass

Arlene in front of her Grizzly stained glass

Arlene says that she has been creating art in various mediums ever since she was a child. From following her mother’s and sisters’ examples, to loving high school art classes, to seeking expertise and education from renowned teachers, to undeniably her own drive and initiative, Arlene has never shied away from pursuing art forms that intrigued her. Life inspires Arlene, and depending on what peaks her interest be it her mood, the seasons, her family or nature, she may indulge her creativity in carving masks, stained glass, jewellery, paintings and drawings. She has even undertaken the enormous task of carving totem poles under the tutelage of master carver Earl Muldon. How does one person manage to spread her creative energy around to all of these disciplines and excel at them, on top of raising four children and teaching First Nations fine art at the community college? From what I observed of Arlene she has this zen-like calm about her and knows how to set boundaries and balance her life so all aspects work in harmony. With her art, she doesn’t try to force her creativity in any one direction, but rather she takes guidance from her environment, embraces how she feels and lets it come to her. She is the proverbial water flowing around the rocks.

Hummingbird Dreams

Hummingbird Dreams

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The beauty of Arlene’s fine art transcends all cultural boundaries. Her style reflects the traditional Northwest Coast Native Art form lines which she maintains strict adherence to when working on art forms of the crests and symbols of other clans. When working on her own family’s crest and symbols she allows herself more freedom to include her own contemporary designs and interpretations. She is of the Giskaast clan; the traditions, stories and ancestral knowledge being very important to her, and it is her desire to pass down that knowledge to future generations. Her art work is an expression of herself, her culture and of the love she has for her natural surroundings and all its inhabitants. Seeing one of Arlene’s beautifully carved masks, for instance, invokes curiosity about the meaning behind it, and one does not have to be of Gitxsan ancestry to appreciate the story it tells or marvel at the craftsmanship. Though the oral history of each clan (adaawx) that is shared with succeeding generations is of primary cultural importance to the clan itself, the art that Arlene creates is the physical heirloom of her ancestry but is there for all of us to appreciate and enjoy.

Learn more about Arlene and her art as Corinne chats with her. Feel free to comment below and share on social media.

The story of Copperhaired Woman in "The Return" above can be found on Arlene's website

“The Return”


The story of Copperhaired Woman in “The Return” can be found on Arlene’s website

Click on images to enlarge:

Pharis and Jason Romero String Together Banjo Beatitude

Pharis and Jason Romero String Together Banjo Beatitude

When I first heard of Horsefly, B.C. several years back, I was always curious as to what a place named after a flesh eating insect would be like, who would be living there and why would they stay? From my past experience canoeing in Northern Saskatchewan, I had many unwanted encounters with the little black beasties and their big bite and so it briefly crossed my mind about Horsefly’s horsefly population. It turns out that names can be just as deceiving as appearances. Horsefly, B.C. is a beautiful little place full of serenity and mesmerizing beauty. It is the kind of place where you can take a good long breath in and become intoxicated on pure, clean air. It has a general store, a fire hall and a wooden slat vehicle bridge spanning the Horsefly River. As well, I am happy to report, at the time we visited, there were no horseflies. My guess is that some wise person wanted Horsefly to remain as we see it today and thought by naming it after those blood thirsty insects that its natural charm and all the things the residents of Horsefly love about it would remain pristine. After all, who would want to go to a place called Horsefly?

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It just so happened that the chance to satisfy my curiosity would come when we found Pharis and Jason Romero of the J. Romero Banjo Company in Horsefly, B.C. They have been successfully crafting one-of-a-kind custom banjos for people for several years now. And when they are not working in their shop you can find them on the road entertaining folks with their songs and beguiling banjo music. Their story began several years earlier. Jason was building the J. Romero Banjo Company in Northern California and playing in a band and not too far away Pharis was writing songs and entertaining people with her own band. Unbeknownst to them a respective friend would change their lives by insisting that they meet. It was love at first sound! Both Jason and Pharis discovered they had a mutual passion for old time music from the 20’s and 30’s and so the logical thing to do after three months was to get married. My first question was how do two people who are successfully crafting banjos and actively entertaining people from all around the world with their music find themselves in Horsefly, a tiny out of the way place with no through road and a population of approximately a thousand people. It turns out that Pharis is the fifth generation to grow up in Horsefly although she did leave home when she was sixteen. Jason always wanted to live in B.C. given the right circumstances and so the obvious choice became building a life together back in the small community where Pharis was born.

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They bought a beautiful parcel of land with the Horsefly River ambling throughout the property and it is just a stone’s throw away from their house. Before we got started with the interview, Pharis kindly took us for a short walkabout. It is easy to imagine what it must be like waking up every morning in a place such as this; stepping out into the fresh morning air and having Mother Nature greet you in all her splendour. Each day finds Pharis and Jason in their wood shop working side by side. Jason artistically handcrafts each and every banjo and Pharis does the inlay work which adds a personal touch and contributes to the banjos lustrous beauty. Jason spends much of his day in the shop and when there is no inlay work to be done, Pharis is taking care of orders, updating their website and working on new songs for their performances together. Often they will be listening to music on the radio while they work, always ready to grab a banjo or guitar when they hear an unfamiliar song that piques their curiosity. As Jason says with a big smile, “It’s part of the job.”

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Jason and Pharis’s work is exquisite and I guess that would explain the 3 year waiting list they currently have. They have created a niche by crafting the entire banjo family from Ukuleles to Cellos and even Gourd banjos. Jason designs his hardware out of carved pieces of wood which are cast into a mold and then a local metal smith makes them out of brass. Pharis designs and carves the inlay material for the banjo. It is so well done that you would think it was originally part of the raw piece of wood. Everything on their banjos is handmade with the exception of the tuners. Over the years one of Jason’s more sought after skills is his ability to listen and hear what a customer wants even though they may be thousands of miles away. He gives them the style and, more importantly, the sound they are looking for.

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Jason and Pharis discovered shortly after they met that they were also a fit to perform together. They keep it as a true duo only accompanied by the instruments that they’ve made. They have produced two CDs and received recognition for their efforts with a couple of Canadian music awards. Their sound is a tribute to the old time music that they love with their own uniqueness blended in. When they are not traveling or working in their shop they have a local country band which includes Pharis’s sister and a friend. They play for the community; Pharis noting that she loves getting the local families out for some dancing and some fun.

Here’s a chance to listen to one of their songs from their album Long Gone Out West Blues, track number 7, Come On Home. Written by Pharis Romero and performed by Pharis and Jason Romero. Click on the left side of the player below to hear the song.

We could feel how grateful both Jason and Pharis are for the life that they have created together and soon will be sharing with their first child. Jason says that when he shuffles off his mortal bliss he hopes it will be over his work bench or digging potatoes in their garden.

Please join us for our interview with this inspiring couple! PS: We love comments and appreciate if you share on social media!

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.

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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

Norma Jackson Lives a Creative Life

Norma Jackson Lives a Creative Life

When we planned a trip to Vancouver Island in April our intention was to meet with some of the artists we didn’t catch up with the first time around. One of those artists was Norma Jackson. Norma lives in Duncan, B.C. with her husband Rodney and their cute little pooch. She is an award winning, eclectic, acrylic painter who often incorporates sculpture into her pieces. When she is not working on her own projects she spends time sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to discover their creative potential in various workshops she holds in her studio or takes on the road.

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It was wonderful talking with Norma as she reminded me that when you have an intention for your life you must pursue it no matter how scary it may seem at first. Norma started out like many of us, myself included, speeding down the life long job highway only to discover; “this is not for me!” Not to say that a job doesn’t serve a financial purpose and is even sometimes fulfilling, but this route, from beginning to end, doesn’t suit everyone. I can’t say exactly how Norma came to this crossroads in her life, but perhaps it happened because she was open to the possibilities of what might, and did, cross her path. One day she found herself playing the role of a business executive with little opportunity for creative potential, and the next she was living a creative life painting and sculpting for a marionette company. With the help of a wonderful lady who became her mentor, Norma discovered many things that lay dormant within her and so put herself through many firsts such as painting, sculpting, set design, public speaking, puppeteering, writing, directing and performing to name just a few.

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Eventually Norma found herself in the field of healing, and she discovered the healing properties of creativity, whether from creating for oneself or sharing one’s creativity with others. Norma discovered that it doesn’t matter if we are at the beginning of our life or coming to its end, the power of creativity can heal the smallest or biggest wounds. Her experience and her desire to help others led her and her band of marionette’s to visit people in hospice care, and later she developed a highly effective marionette program for youth contemplating suicide. In her video interview Norma shared with us some heart wrenching stories that left a lump in my throat.

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Often we think of art and creativity in such a limited way; something to be admired or something that only people with excess disposable income can enjoy, either to pay for art school, lessons or just to purchase someone’s creative accomplishments. Norma is one artist, of many I’m sure, who have taken the merits of art to another dimension in society and as Norma says, “art is the life’s blood of our society.” Although her hospice work and the youth suicide program have been dismantled because of government funding cuts, her creative endeavours have changed the path of those who were dying by giving them comfort and peace, and to those who wanted to die by giving them a reason to live.

Today, Norma works on her own art and with great insight and a deep connection to her surroundings wherever she finds herself and with whomever she meets. She is interested in people, rituals, nature, abstract and just about anything that her open mind welcomes in. I was fascinated to hear her story and what led her to where she is today. These are the stories that keep me going in my life when the demon of doubt sometimes shows up unexpectedly. Perhaps they may do the same for you.

Please join us as Norma shares her journey by way of living a creative life. We love to hear from you so please leave a comment and share on social media. Thanks.

Paul Grignon’s Dedication to Painting and Our Planet

Paul Grignon’s Dedication to Painting and Our Planet

I have always had an appreciation for the oceans of the world but never a fascination with them. I considered an ocean to be a vast watery desert and I couldn’t understand the intimate connection that some people seem to have with it; that all changed when I stepped into Paul Grignon’s gallery and Moonfire Studio.

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Paul and his wife Tsiporah have lived on Gabriola Island, off of the coast of British Columbia, since 1973. Their yearning for a different way of life led them there. Paul built the house they still live in, which grew as their family of four children grew. Every year they continue to learn how to grow food more effectively in their garden. Paul painted to support the family, and he also took any commercial art job that came his way. Despite the difficulty of providing for a family of six from sales of art, Paul admits that being an artist was just something that he could not stop doing. Even though he tried different vocations along the way, he always found himself back at his easel with the paint brush in hand.

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There is so much noise pollution in our world today; it is overwhelming sometimes. Nature has a way of filling our ears with sounds that can release tension and take away anxieties. The perpetual motion of the ocean rocking back and forth as the tide comes in and out is one such sound. Paul’s seascape paintings are so real to me that when I looked at them I could hear the sound of the ocean and the sea birds as if I was staring out an open window at the view. I realize that Paul has been painting his subject a long time now and has gotten to know it intimately, and his dedication is reflected in his work, but I wonder if he may in fact be an extension of the ocean in human form! He paints like he and the ocean are one and the same.

Moon Rock Beach - Painting

Moon Rock Beach – Painting

Moon Rock Beach - Photograph

Moon Rock Beach – Photograph

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Paul and Tsiporah have been an indelible part of Gabriola Island’s community for a long time. They have been actively participating in shaping the island’s way of life as it is today. They are also strong advocates, activists and stewards of our environment; something they are both deeply passionate about. As a result, Paul created a 47 minute movie titled Money as Debt. It is a historical and present day account of what money is, where it comes from, and how it functions under our current economic system. This is not drab, boring stuff! Paul uses simple animated characters that add a humourous look to his serious message. As Paul points out, our economic system flies in the face of natural systems. We have accepted our current economic system as if there were no other choice and yet ironically it will destroy our life support system which in turn will destroy us. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Since 2006 when the original movie was released, Paul created Part 2 and Part 3 of Money as Debt. He is determined to develop a new economic system; one that will complement nature so all life can prosper, not just those who are riddled with greed. The Money as Debt Trilogy can be purchased at the Money as Debt website. Everyone needs to see this!

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Join us with Paul as he talks more about his art and Money as Debt. Please don’t forget to leave a comment and share on social media. Thanks!

Mixed Media Artist Evelyn M

Mixed Media Artist Evelyn M

Our first impression of mixed media artist Evelyn M happened two weeks before we had even met her! We had sent out a call to artists for interviews to the Campbell River Arts Council; they had put it in their newsletter and Evelyn had responded to us on April 8th. On April 9th she had posted a very thoughtful and detailed account of our journey and her upcoming interview with us in her Local Home Spot.com Blog. We were quite impressed by her take-charge attitude and could see that she is a proactive contributor in the art world and likes to make things happen. It is no wonder then that in addition to her fine art endeavours Evelyn also contributes to multiple blogs as well as working with her husband Bruce in their interior design and renovation business, Design House.

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As we arrived at Evelyn`s home we were greeted outside by Evelyn and Bruce and the exuberant canine greeters Xena and Dax, their Golden Retrievers. Entering the house we were also greeted by the mouth-watering smells of fresh homemade cinnamon buns. Yummm! Evelyn said that when we had mentioned on Facebook the wonderful homemade bread and muffins we received from Terry Phillips, she thought that to keep in the spirit of things some of Bruce`s to-die-for cinnamon buns were in order. Corinne and I emphatically agreed! Could this be a pattern? We’re thinking that we could be on to yet another perk to the myriad of benefits we have realized in this joyous adventure; and grateful for every one of them!

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Evelyn started off as an artist painting in watercolour and acrylic but in time yearned for another level of creativity and individuality within her art. From a trip to Mexico in the mid ’80s she was inspired to create a unique, raised sketch technique that she uses in her paintings and it has literally given her art-work another dimension. (Watch her video interview to better glimpse this distinct perspective)

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Unlike some artists, Evelyn’s artistic process is a solitary one; preferring to be alone within her creative moments. She also uses whichever venue around her house that will deliver her artistic needs; be it using the dining room table for her sketches, seeking artistic direction within her “muse” room with all her stuff, or finishing her painting from behind a locked door in the bathroom with the right counter height, lighting and sink close at hand.

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Evelyn notes that there is a collaboration of ideas and inspirations between her art-work and her home interior design business; sometimes the new home project with it’s colours and layout inspires her art, and other times it’s her art that inspires a new feature in the home. Evelyn says, “I consider interior design a three dimensional installation of art; the room is just a large art piece that we live inside.” So from her earliest years drawing as a young girl, to her adult (and still young) years creating dream homes for other people, Evelyn’s lifelong passion for creativity has created the perfect marriage between her essential need for personal expression and a business that can reap success from that.

Welcome to Evelyn M’s interview! Please feel free to comment below and share with social media!

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

I can’t paint every younger person with the same brush (although I would like to) but it gives me great comfort in knowing the future is in the hands of some of the younger people Gary and I have met along our journey. When we were in Newfoundland and Labrador it was recommended by two people that we go drop in on Jennifer Galliott. Jennifer is a tapestry artist, and she is also a potter and painter and gallery owner. She lives in Woody Point, right in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. At one time her grandfather owned a boat store for his fishing equipment which sat across the street from the water. Due to an unfortunate fire incident the boat stores across from his burnt to the ground. Eventually Jennifer’s grandfather was able to move his store across the street and it has sat on the waterfront ever since. This was significant not only for the convenience of accessing his boat and fishing equipment but also because nowadays it is the home of Galliott Studios and it’s quaint little cafe. Jennifer renovated the building that I imagine once smelled of ocean life, and turned it into a place where local art is on display for sale, including her own. It is also a place to meet, hang out and enjoy the breathtaking view from the deck that sits right on the water.

Inside Galliott Studios

Oceanside Deck

Jennifer struck me as a determined and ambitious young entrepreneurial artist. She graduated from art school in 2008 and she could have chose to go anywhere in the world to eke out a living for herself but she chose to come back to the small village of Woody Point, Newfoundland. Since then she has established a name for herself in the community and her studio and cafe has a reputation as the place to go and connect and seek out wonderful local art. She regularly brings in local Newfoundland and Labrador musicians for Sunday evening get togethers and has invited author readings in conjunction with the writers festival that comes to town once a year at the end of August.

We had a chance to spend some time with Jennifer and get to know her a bit. We all mutually agreed an interview was a great idea for the next day. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it happen but Jennifer agreed to an e-mail interview along with some pictures of her work. Check out what she has to say about herself and her art.

AQ: How long have you been creating your tapestry? Jennifer: I’ve been weaving tapestries for 5 years now AQ: painting? Jennifer: on and off for years AQ: pottery? Jennifer: two years

AQ: Why did you choose these three mediums? Jennifer: I stumbled onto pottery when I found a kiln for sale for cheap online. After that my aunt gave me her kick wheel, and it kind of grew from there.

AQ: You took part of your art education in Alberta. Was it easy for you to decide to come back to Woody Point, Newfoundland and work as an artist? Jennifer: Yes. While I was away I made art largely about Newfoundland. The town of Woody Point is such a wonderful place people wise, as well as the natural beauty. Not only are both sides of my family from here, the town is also located right in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National park, I don’t think it gets much better then this.

Jennifer Galliott

AQ: What challenges have you faced as far as establishing yourself in a small community like Woody Point? Jennifer:The town is very seasonal, also there isn’t a lot of money in small towns to be spent on a lot of art.

AQ: Are there some things you find easier being an artist here than in a bigger center? Jennifer: I’m surrounded by constant inspiration.

AQ: Please explain the process you go through when designing and crafting your tapestry? Jennifer: Before I weave a tapestry I first need to draw what is known as a cartoon. A cartoon is kind of like a blue print of what I will weave. It is a picture that is true to size and sits behind my loom as a guide to what I am weaving. Once this is done and sometimes coloured in, I then have to tie vertical strings known as warps, and make sure the tension is even throughout. Then the weaving starts.

AQ: What and/or who influences your designs? Jennifer: Mainly travel, being homesick, or home.

Tapestry in Progress

AQ: What advice would you give someone either thinking about pursuing an art career or someone who is fresh out of art school? Jennifer: Don’t give up. If there’s no work you just need to make some for yourself. Also learn how to apply for things and either enter yourself into nominations, or get a friend to do it for you. Also always ask for help you never know the huge amount of talent that could be around you.

AQ: What is the most gratifying aspect of being an artist in the mediums you have chosen? Jennifer: Being able to make an idea reality. I always try to push my limits and luckly don’t see the enormity of something until I’m in the thick of it. That being said I’m also very stubborn and no matter how long it takes I manage to finish what I’ve started. There’s nothing better then being able to look at something and think wow! I made that.

Knockout Art Work by Martine Dugal

Knockout Art Work by Martine Dugal

Our first visit and stop in Quebec landed us in Vaudreuil-Dorion, where not only did Martine Dugal await us as our gracious Couchsurfing host, but she also happened to be an accomplished artist and willing participant for our blog interview.

Martine lives in a cute little apartment within the hustle and bustle of a busy street above a fancy restaurant. It seems to suit her as she is a woman always on the go between her job, art work, singing, bicycling, boxing and family get togethers. The first thing we noticed about Martine was her friendly, welcoming nature, sense of humour and easy laugh. She is one of those people that defines an effervescent personality!

After enjoying a wonderful meal and engaging conversation with Martine, she introduced us to her various artistic outlets. What we found out is that her foray into new artistic mediums has had an almost “heroic” approach to it. Mild fear mixed with a bit of trepidation that is overcome by excitement and a passion to pursue, improve and achieve in that art form, leaving fear in the dust!

Martine’s open spirit blends well with her openness to try various art mediums, whether from her own inclinations, or at the prompting of others. For instance, Martine had first started oil painting at the suggestion that each family member make a hand made Christmas gift for another member; her sister being the lucky recipient of hers. Her brother-in-law, having been just layed off from his job, proposed that he and Martine take tattoo art lessons and open up their own business. He subsequently found other work but Martine carried on with the plan of becoming a tattoo artist. Her paintings by air brushing, such as you see of Tom Waits and the eastern influenced statue figure in her video interview, was also a suggestion from someone, and as you can see Martine has taken her creative flair to this new medium quite nicely. Martine has also been singing since she was very young, but it was her appreciative listeners that encouraged her to cultivate her singing talents.

Although we did not discuss Martine’s love for singing in her interview, it would be incomplete not to give you a taste of her remarkable voice. Click on the links below to hear some samples of Martine’s awesome singing of various cover tunes on YouTube:

1. Someone Like You by Adele – cover
2. Demo sample. Singer: Martine Dugal

Enjoy some time with Martine in her video interview below and please feel free to leave a comment!

Martine Dugal from Corinne and Gary Funk on Vimeo.