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.

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

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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

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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.

Painter Michelle Pickering’s Peacock Panacea

Painter Michelle Pickering’s Peacock Panacea

Sheds

I have heard many people say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Luckily creativity does not come from our skeletal structure, it comes from the heart and the brain. The heart provides the inspirational emotion that drives the brain to start the process, do the problem solving and to give it some life. Creativity seems almost mystical at times because it is not something that can easily be explained through words or quantified in labratory tests as to where it comes from. But it does manifest itself in many forms, art being one of them. Creativity, and in particular expressing oneself through the embodiment of something beautiful can change a person’s life. As life is a journey to be lived each and everyday, we live through a myriad of experiences throughout this journey and these can be both deliriously pleasant and intensely unpleasant with everything in between. Michelle Pickering is an acrylic painter from Airdrie, Alberta who came face to face with a diagnosis of lupus and fibromyalgia on her life’s journey and it was art that played a significant role in helping her heal.

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Click the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

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Michelle took fine art in college and painting happened to be her weakest medium. She therefore moved on to other things and did not give it a second thought. Ironically, many years later it would be painting that changed her life. She kept asking her husband for brushes, paints and canvases for Christmas and being the supportive partner that he is he provided all that she needed. The materials sat in the basement for a long time until one day the painter within her awakened and her healing started to begin. Ever since then Michelle’s journey has had strong emphasis on healing herself and teaching others to do the same. As she explained to us healing doesn’t just refer to eliminating physical pain; it can be something emotional, it can be self discovery, it can be finding peace, it can be finding happiness and on and on. Not only has painting taught her to be the artist she is today, it has also taught her so much she didn’t know about herself including the power she has within her.

Peacock

Peacock

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I can guess that Michelle spends a lot of time with her thoughts just like I do. One night while in bed a thought came to her in the form of a peacock. She saw a tiny little bird with a mass of colourful plummage displayed behind him. This peacock became Michelle’s symbol for every single person in the world and how important each and every one of us is no matter how insignificant we may think of ourselves. The peacock’s feathers represent all the beautiful things we have inside us that needs to be displayed to the world. As it turns out this wasn’t just a fleeting thought for Michelle, the peacock needed to become real. Michelle had to share his beauty and consequently the beauty inside herself to the world. She decided to paint Peacock (as he is now referred to) on the garage door. Interestingly enough the world delivered mixed feelings toward Peacock. For most people he put a smile on their face and maybe even initiated positive change in their own lives, and for some they felt animosity towards him. For those people, it is hard to understand what could possibly drive them to hate him so much that they would go so far as to bully Michelle and her family just to have him removed. In the end Peacock stayed and the neighbours moved. Today, Peacock represents all things good and all things possible and that is how Michelle became known as the Peacock Artist.

Destiny

Destiny

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I don’t know if this was Michelle’s conscious intent but I see Peacock in most of what she creates. The colourful, intentional brush stroke patterns in her paintings remind me that Peacock is there; in the sky, in the butterflys, and in the plants. His plummage reminds us all of our importance in the grander picture of life and that we are not separate from each other or from nature, and that those connections are what make life possible in the first place.

To see more of Michelle’s work visit her website by clicking here.

Join us as Michelle shares more about her journey and how art changed her life. We appreciate your comments and please spread the word about Michelle Pickering on social media and through 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.

Corinne Cowan Paints the Gardens of Space

Corinne Cowan Paints the Gardens of Space

As a little girl it was a gift of crayons and a colouring book from her grandmother that started artist Corinne Cowan on her path to acrylic and watercolour painting. The thrill of opening that gift is still with her today, and as she pans the room with her arm showing all of her supplies she jokingly points out, “Some people like shoes; I like paint.” Corinne says that she has always connected with painting and finds it to be gratifying and therapeutic, with her two favourite subjects being flowers and outer space. Spending virtually all day in her garden during the summer, she becomes intimately acquainted with the intricacies of the flowers, be it the petal or the pistil, the stamen or the stigma. She is fascinated by the beauty and mystery of their shapes, colour and function, and aims to paint their images based on the emotion she felt and perception of how they looked to her when first glimpsed.

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Corinne’s gardens of inspiration. Click on images to enlarge:

Corinne’s introduction to painting the cosmos was ignited when she first saw an image of a nebula. It was the Rosette Nebula which looked very much like a flower, and likewise instilled in her those feelings of wonder and curiosity. She was drawn to the similar patterns between the mysteries of her garden and that of exploring images of the nebulae, galaxies, meteors and moons. That fascination of the universe and its endless wonders led Corinne to becoming one of four members from Canada belonging to the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA). It is an organization that brings together artists from twenty countries to participate, encourage and collaborate within the space art community.

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It takes no more than a walk through her nurtured garden to inspire Corinne for her next floral painting. On the other hand, accessing the final frontier to paint a birthing planet or morphing star could be a little more challenging. Corinne’s enthusiastic niece suggested that since she heard they were taking reservations for a one-way trip to Mars that her auntie should go. Smiling, Corinne opted instead for a more down-to-earth method to gather inspiration for her space paintings. Leaving it to accomplished space pioneer and astronaut Chris Hadfield to uncover and report on the space action, it was a constant attraction for Corinne and her niece to listen to and watch him on the computer. Closer to home Corinne reads extensively about space, receives guidance from the hundreds of images brought back to earth from the Hubble Telescope, and draws on her own curiosity and imagination to fuel the fire for her stellar subjects.

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Corinne’s love of art is in the mystery that keeps her curious, searching and expressing her emotions on canvas; it is witnessing the change of a flower through one season, or the change of a star forming over a twelve year period; it is the community of artists that she appreciates being a part of with the honest critique and praise that helps her grow; it is sharing this passion with an eager participant such as a weekend spent painting with her niece; it is the appreciation from people that purchase her paintings that know they have a little piece of Corinne in every one; and perhaps the most important of all for Corinne, simply stated is, “It’s an enjoyable thing to do.”

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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.

Painter Phyllis Bergeron Finds Her Colourful Calling

Painter Phyllis Bergeron Finds Her Colourful Calling

Home of the Sign Post Forest, our arrival in Watson Lake coincided with acrylic painter Phyllis Bergeron and her husband’s plans to take off in their motor-home to Saskatchewan for a wedding. Along the way they would be dropping off seven puppies in Edmonton as part of the animal rescue program. Busy with her preparations, she initially thought we were there as art dealers and buyers, and was surprised when we asked if she was ready to start the interview. Her Smart car was already stored inside her studio/gallery, filling most of the floor space and her paintings occupying the walls all around. Unfazed, and with a quick wit and sense of humour, Phyllis easily went with the flow and we carried on as if the car had always been part of the decor.

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Phyllis has been painting for the last seven of the thirty-eight years she has lived in the Yukon and has done so without any formal training. Originally picking up a paint brush while in Mexico, she initially used Mexican cement paint to get a feel for it and to see if painting was for her. With a Mexican influence, her painting style is colourful and lively, much like her own personality as you will discover watching her video interview. Phyllis quips, “I paint in acrylics mainly because since the change of life I don’t have as much patience to wait for that paint to dry.” Originally painting flowers, she has deviated from this subject matter to focus more on animals and people and the stories that they tell.

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Phyllis not only gains inspiration from her Mexican subjects but also from the denizens of her home territory in the Yukon. With an abundance of wildlife to photograph, she loves to capture the essence of them in vivid colour depicting their social behaviours or just a pose in time. With the mosquitoes and black flies most likely larger and more abundant in the Yukon than around the Saskatchewan farm where she grew up, Phyllis prefers to paint from a picture as opposed to en plein air; not wishing to share her paintings, or her flesh, with the bloodthirsty beasties. An obvious lover of animals, Phyllis brought out one of the fuzzy puppies for a quick visit and snuggle before they were tucked away in the motor-home for their trip; a fitting end to our interview.

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Please join us for Phyllis’s video interview and feel free to Comment below and Share on social media:

Painter Heather Wanamaker Celebrates Colour and Contrast

Painter Heather Wanamaker Celebrates Colour and Contrast

Haines Pass II

Traveling back to Whitehorse from Dawson City in the sinking sun we couldn’t help but be struck by the hues of light mixed with shadows as they played on the golden leaves and white trunks of the birch forest that blanketed the surrounding hills. Only here, extending as far as the eye can see, have we ever seen such an abundance of “The Watchful Tree,” so called because of the eye-like impressions on the bark. This is just one pristine moment in the endless beauty of this grand wilderness, and one example of why acrylic painter Heather Wanamaker chose to live in the Yukon, a magical place aptly dubbed “larger than life.”

Heather Wanamaker beside "Cape Clear" - acrylic on canvas

Heather Wanamaker beside Cape Clear

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Talus Lake

Talus Lake

Heather always knew that she wanted to be an artist, and so right out of high school immersed herself in a program at Langara College and later continued her studies at the University of Victoria. During her hiatus between schools she surrounded herself in the arts community by working at an arts supply and framing store. She had a thirst for creativity; taking in ideas and learning from other artists, but yet to discover her own style. That all changed when she moved to the Yukon. Experiencing the seasons and the lighting of the northern sun, she soon found a new focus and drive bolstered by the enigmatic beauty of her surroundings. Heather now finds that the excitement of the next painting is always in her mind, and her environment never leaves her wanting for inspiration.

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

I imagine as an artist, sharing one’s personal expression and putting it out there for the world to see, hopefully in a meaningful and affecting way, takes a lot of courage. Having a community of like-minded individuals who will support, encourage and inspire that artist can help to nurture that creative spirit and alleviate those fears. Heather found this to be the case when she moved to Whitehorse. Having taken a couple of years off away from the paint brushes she had some trepidation upon arriving in the Yukon. How would she be received as a newcomer trying to get her name and art work out there and noticed? Those feelings quickly lifted as she found Whitehorse to have a welcoming community of artists where she could network and participate collectively.

Stony Creek

Stony Creek

Heather breathes inspiration for her paintings from the same mountain air she indulges her passions for hiking, canoeing and winter activities. It is a synergistic relationship; the obvious rewards of an active outdoor lifestyle complementing the visual stimuli of breathtaking scenery, colours and contrasting light. The bold beauty and sweeping landscapes influence her brush strokes; the ever increasing insistence towards vivid colours, sharp lines and larger than life imagery. Heather’s painting style is crystal clear now, and it manifests from her connections to the Yukon. Heather’s greatest satisfaction as a painter is being able to express on canvas a scene, with its colours, lighting and contrasts just as she glimpsed it while on a hike or other excursion, and hoping that others will see the same. She has captured the heart of the north on canvas, and the north has captured hers.

Bullion Creek Crossing

Bullion Creek Crossing

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Enjoy our interview with Heather she tells us more about her art. Please share on social media and comments are always welcome:

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

Click thumbnail to see the larger image.

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!