Kristin MacPherson: Through the Eyes of the Artist

Kristin MacPherson: Through the Eyes of the Artist

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

Kristin and Lenore

Kristin and Lenore

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

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

Equality

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

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

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

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

“Renaissance Man” Artist Jeff Morris

“Renaissance Man” Artist Jeff Morris

"Kayak"

You know the type, a guy that seems to be able to do it all; fix anything, create anything, with the only limitations being that of his own imagination. Meet artist Jeff Morris of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, a man with a vast imagination and seemingly no limitations to his creativity. When we arrived at his studio and gallery a few miles north of town we thought we were interviewing Jeff Morris the artist, but what we found in addition to that was also an inventor and explorer; a Renaissance man of sorts.

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Jeff Morris has always liked to create things, starting off as a youngster with the basics of a hammer, some wood and some ideas. It seemed like a logical choice then that he go into carpentry after high school, giving him the satisfaction of building functional wood structures and earning a living. And although he enjoyed it, he wasn’t able to unleash the creativity that was brewing inside of him, so he decided to transfer his wood construction skills into his artistic side and put the fun back into functional. The result has been not only beautiful and innovative wood pieces, but also Jeff’s expansion of creativity into other mediums.

"Lava Table" - wood construction

“Lava Table” – wood construction

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When we spoke with Jeff about what drives his art he kept coming back to his thirst for learning and discovery. Always experimenting with different techniques and having no shortage of new ideas, his curiosity is endless and is reflected in the variety of media he has his hands in such as concrete, wood, photography, painting and pottery. While he was giving us a tour of his spacious studio and workshop he also pointed out other inventive projects, such as the drum set he made from used propane cylinders; see video HERE, as well as the new musical instrument he made from the inner workings of a piano. If whiskey and slide guitar are more your style then check out the whiskey tumbler and glass slide that Jeff made from a whiskey bottle; see video HERE.

"Raver" - Assiniboine clay

“Raver” – Assiniboine clay

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Jeff admits that his projects are not based on the path of least resistance principle, and he likes it that way. Rather his methods are based more on his quest to satisfy his curiosity and the inherent challenges that come with it. For instance, buying clay for pottery is not too costly, but his discovery of a clay source along the Assiniboine River while he was out kayaking led him to hand dig and haul out a lifetime supply of clay; an enormous physical task. After testing out the initial few hundred pounds of clay with a couple of local potters and then researching the correct combination of additives to make successful pots, he now uses only the Assiniboine clay for all of his pieces.

Collaboration piece with Fred Acoby

Collaboration piece with Fred Acoby

One of the great messages that we took away from our visit with Jeff was that creating art, or any other project, does not have to involve expensive supplies that can stop you before you begin. If a person has a creative urge just waiting to burst from within them, just a little extra work using re-purposed or scrap items or even paints from a building supply store (Jeff’s not-so-secret supply), can get anyone started. In many cases Jeff’s creativity and innovation has lent itself to just providing the materials themselves for the project before the work on the artistic piece has even begun. Although the proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” may apply to finding a solution through lack of financial means, for Jeff it means a necessity for trying new, unconventional, or historical methods that stoke his curiosity and that gives him a satisfaction of having taken the road less traveled to discovery. When asked if there were other mediums that he would to like to explore Jeff mentioned glass blowing but that it is quite a pricey endeavour. We don’t doubt that one day, somehow, Jeff will find a way.

Enjoy our interview with Jeff and this glimpse into his artistic life. Feel free to share his story on social media and email, with nice comments submitted below always welcome.

Art Photographer Judy Wood: From Reality To Reimagining

Art Photographer Judy Wood: From Reality To Reimagining

I love looking at clouds in the sky. The prairie skyline is ideal as a giant blue canvas for displaying big ones, white ones, fluffy ones, dark ones and menacing ones. When I had the chance I would look up and gaze at them for a few minutes to give my eyes a rest from the blue canvas of the computer screen as Gary piloted Arty down the highway toward Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Cloud formations have always fascinated me and without fail my imagination always found a dog, a flower or a face floating effortlessly in the sky until they either melted away into thin air or transformed into something else for my eyes to see. This interaction between me and the clouds is an intimate one; other people may see something completely different or nothing at all. I see some forms of art in this way too.

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When we arrived at art photographer Judy Wood’s house we were invited in to a home where art is created but also where it lives. Her house is filled with pieces that she has collected from many of her peers. It was lovely to look at the variety hanging on the walls and displayed around her living room; all different shapes, sizes, subject matters and media to be enjoyed not only by Judy herself, but also by fleeting visitors like us. She quipped that the walls were shrinking and space for hanging art was now at a premium. It always feels so good standing in a room filled with creativity.

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Judy and her husband had an extra floor added to their house several years ago complete with lots of big windows, sky lights and plenty of floor space. This is Judy’s creative sanctuary and she uses every square inch of it. She has a few different stations set up for mixed media work, her art photography and encaustic pieces she works on when winter sets in. And, it was obvious by all the finished art pieces hanging on display that Judy makes good use of her studio.

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After graduating with a fine arts degree it was stained glass that captured her attention at the time. Today, exploring the world through the lens of a camera and then telling a different story with the help of technology is what she loves to do now. At the time, trying something new was both exciting and challenging. Judy was always interested in photography but hadn’t really pursued it until her husband bought her a digital SLR camera. Her new creative passion came with a steep learning curve, including teaching herself how to operate her camera and finding her way around Photoshop.

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Judy’s photography doesn’t really look like a photo once she is finished with it. She is always excited to spend time in nature taking pictures of things like ravens and crows, horses, trees and iconic prairie buildings like grain elevators and tired, old farm structures. As a potter would refer to clay or a painter to paint, these images are the raw materials for the art that will emerge later. At the end of it all it is really difficult to discern what part is the actual photograph. Like the clouds in the sky, Judy’s artwork allows the viewer to have a one-on-one personal experience with it. We all get to see and feel something different about her pieces. They are interesting to look at and they give my imagination the opportunity to do just that, imagine whatever I want.

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Judy lives and creates in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She shares her life with her husband and their rescued Boxer Rony. Be sure to watch her interview with us and help us spread the word about Judy and her artwork through social media and email. Also, we love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment for Judy as well. Thank you.

Photographer Onno Kok’s Creative Imagery

Photographer Onno Kok’s Creative Imagery

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

Have you ever stood before a mountain at twilight, gazed at the stars on a clear and dark night or perhaps caught a glimpse of a peculiar little insect sunning itself on a leaf? What about trying to describe that gift of wonderment, when you experience these things, to someone else? It is impossible to recreate this feeling, bottle it and pass it on to another person. As with many people, I like to have a camera along just in case an opportunity of this kind presents itself. However, even with that I cannot recreate the actual experience. But if you are Onno Kok, you may come close.

Photographer Onno Kok

Photographer Onno Kok

Onno has had an interest in photography pretty much all his life but it wasn’t until 2014 when he became more serious about it. Due to an unfortunate injury, followed by back surgery which left him unable to work for 6 months, a door was opened to the luxury of time allowing him to explore his creativity and passion for photography. Onno lives in the Okanagan of British Columbia and, as with many places in Canada, the landscape can be magical at any given time. For Onno, sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time but often it is also research and strategic planning that allows him to capture and create the shot he is looking for. He keeps an eye on weather reports and clear sky charts which are useful tools if you are interested in catching an image of the Andromeda Galaxy or Orion Nebula for instance.

Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula

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Skillful art in any form is born from an idea, which then requires some level of investigation and is superseded by problem solving and execution. Onno loves to challenge himself for fun but also to push his technical and creative skills. At the beginning of 2015 he was presented with an opportunity to do just that. He joined a 52 week photography challenge whereby each week he is given a word, a theme, an idea or even just a letter and then uses that as the basis to create an image that is representative. For example, in one of the weeks the letter Z was the subject and so Onno decided to turn himself into the character Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy . After about fifty different shots the final image was created using only two or three and the end result is a seamless image. If you ever met a sci-fi character with the initials ZB face to face and took a picture of him this is likely what you would end up with.

Zaphod Beeblebrox aka Onno Kok

Zaphod Beeblebrox aka Onno Kok

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I have heard it said by more than one person that using computer programs to enhance or alter a photo image is not being true to traditional photography. This is certainly one way of looking at it depending on what you are trying to accomplish. However, what if our cameras are unable to capture the true colour of what our eyes actually see? What if everything about the composition of a scene is the most breathtaking thing you have ever witnessed but there happens to be some man-made power lines polluting the potential image? Onno eloquently puts it this way; “I want my viewers to see it the way I would want it to be”. And so, with some computer tools and skills he makes his images slightly polished but not so much so that they become unbelievable. My guess is when we look at Onno’s photography of the night sky or a flower, stream or lake we can grab a bit of that feeling as if we were standing right there and witnessing it with our own eyes.

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

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Please join us a Onno Kok shares with us his passion for photography and the subjects that drive that passion. We appreciate your comments and please help us spread the word about Onno and his work through social media and email. Thank-you!

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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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!

Jonathan Havelock Finds Life in Photography

Jonathan Havelock Finds Life in Photography

Joy

I came across Jonathan Havelock and his art through Facebook. The post was one of those paid-for ads that went streaming by when I just happened to be looking. His photography caught my eye because it was unnaturally colourful which left me intrigued. I contacted him and the next thing I knew we were arranging an interview for the next time we were in Edmonton. We met Jon at the RR Gallery on the corner of 106th street and 102nd avenue where he was showing his new Secret Garden series (For new gallery info click HERE). The standard etiquette when encountering a person for the first time is to shake their hand. Unbeknownst to us Jon Havelock was about to deflect the handshake and go straight for the hug; with permission of course, after all we are Canadians. We have hugged many artists over the course of three years but it has always been after the interview when we were about to leave. So the pre-get-to-know-you hug was a first. I mention this because we already knew prior to our interview with Jon that he was once a cabinet minister for the Alberta provincial government so I amused myself by thinking this could be a reflexive behaviour from his past political days. All kidding aside, Jon’s hug was sincere and genuine and I didn’t feel he was trying to sway public opinion (or at least our opinion) about him and his art. He’s simply a nice guy.

Jonathan Havelock at the RR Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta

Jonathan Havelock at the RR Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta

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Radiance

Radiance

Although Jon is lighthearted with a good sense of humour, he is a serious fine art photographer. He is passionate about his subjects and sharing them with an audience of appreciators. As with many people, Jon’s creative path began at a young age and then stalled when living began to settle in. He said it wasn’t until six or seven years ago that his wife reintroduced him to his first love (photography that is) and he now breathes life into it as it breathes life into him. Photography has been so much more than art for Jon. He and his wife often spend their days and their journeys exploring and opening their eyes and minds to the neverending wonders of our world. His hope is that through his images he can help people take notice of their natural surroundings and by doing so bring awareness and an appreciation for something so precious and fragile.

Angelrays

Angelrays

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Bling

Bling

Not unlike a painter doing a preliminary sketch prior to the paint touching the canvas, snapping a shot with his camera is only the starting point. The original image is often the skeleton of the finished piece. After hundreds, and more often than not thousands of shots taken, the creative process has just begun. Jon spends hours pouring over his collection of pictures and out of that he may find a dozen or so that will be slated for the next step, digital enhancement. The idea of digital enhancement used to bother me because I thought of it as a way to cover up the photographer’s mistakes or making it look better than it actually is; kind of like cosmetic surgery for pictures. Maybe there are people who do that but in Jon’s case I see a real artist at work. He doesn’t use enhancement to improve his ability as a photographer, but rather to add or remove layers of colour, light and depth. The skeleton becomes somewhat abstract but still recognizable. He forces us to take notice. Out of the corner of our eye we recognize a leaf but there is something different about it that grabs us and we are compelled to look. Jon’s work has the capacity to create a state change in potential viewers by knocking us out of the daily micro focus we find ourselves in. The images are usually big and bold and command us to pay attention whether we meant to or not.

Peacock - Secret Garden Series

Peacock – Secret Garden Series

Click the thumbnails below to see a larger view of the Secret Garden series.

At the end of a long but enjoyable day at his computer, Jon and his wife meet for a glass of wine and together put on their creative thinking caps. It is time to name the newest members of their family. When Jon was describing this to me all I could think about was this happy couple with a metaphorical baby name book in front of them carefully choosing the perfect name for their new born picture. After all, this creation is a culmination of the time Jon and his wife spend together having fun, searching out that next image and all the memories that came along with those experiences. What a wonderful way to be together and be with nature!

To see more of Jon’s work please check out his website; Jonathan Havelock Fine Art Photography or you can visit him at his new gallery at Suite 155, 10403 122 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5N 4C1 (On 121 Street across from the old Molson Brewery in Glenora Gates).

Please join us as Jonathan shares with us his passion for photography. We love comments and appreciate if you could spread the word about Jonathan Havelock on social media and through e-mail. Thanks.

Brian Boyle Shows Us Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

Brian Boyle Shows Us Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

When I was twelve years old my dad used to show me how to develop black and white photographs in our home darkroom. I was always fascinated by the magic of the image appearing before my eyes and to this day I am still in awe of the whole idea of photography and how it all works. The age of twelve was a long time ago and many things have changed since then, especially in the world of photography. I grew up using trays and chemicals in the dark, watching with excitement as my picture materialized, to working in the family photolab where the process became more automated and machines slowly started to take over. Today there are only remnants of the those magical days. Purists (as they like to be called) who still use film cameras and maybe even developer, stopper and fixer trays in their home darkrooms are themselves remnants.

Brian Boyle

Brian Boyle

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Although technology has changed how we get the physical image there is one thing that remains the same; the art form still requires the artist. This interview is all about Brian Boyle from Whitehorse, Yukon. Like me, Brian was introduced to photography at a young age but unlike me he has made it his life long passion and has been expressing this form of creativity since he was sixteen. I feel that Brian had a serendipidous moment back then. He was in Banff, Alberta and someone offered to sell him their camera. You almost can’t ask for a better place to have one fall in your lap. And so it began…the young man, the camera and nature.

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No matter where you see Brian today he always has his camera along. Some people say a dog is man’s best friend but Brian might say, that for him, it is his camera. We met Brian along the riverfront in downtown Whitehorse for his interview and sure enough his trusty sidekick was along with him. He shared with us an old saying that reminds him to have it by his side; “What is the best camera? The very best camera is the one you have with you.” I certainly can attest to that as regret has followed me around on a few occasions. Because Brian doesn’t often break his adopted rule, nature rewards him with so many wonderful treasures. The Yukon is this photographer’s playground. During the summer months the light presents itself in so many different ways; dancing and playing in the trees or shimmering like a billion sequins floating on the water. The summer light is long and keeps Brian busy and although there are more winter months in the north and it can be cold and dark, the snow is pristine and what light there is gives ample opportunity for that special shot.

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Brian’s photography is as varied and vast as the Yukon landscape. He enjoys wandering about in nature but also derives great pleasure in searching through an empty parking lot and exploring the angles, textures and how the available light can create an intimacy with the most mundane and often unnoticed thing. He creates art with his eyes. The physical world and Brian are partners, sharing a moment in time never to be seen again by anyone; the only evidence that it existed comes from Brian’s collection of memories and photographs.

If you would like to see more of Brian’s work please click here, click here and click here.

Please join us as Brian shares with us his love for photography in the Yukon. We enjoy receiving comments and would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word about Brian Boyle on social media. Thanks!

Eyes Wide Open with Photographer Nicholas Halpin

Eyes Wide Open with Photographer Nicholas Halpin

Some people may never get the opportunity to breathe in the lofty mountain air of the Himalaya…or even set foot on the sandstone beaches lined with Arbutus trees on beautiful Gabriola Island, B.C., but the photographs of Nicholas Halpin of Eyes Wide Open Photography will make you feel like you are there! Though a resident of Gabriola Island, Nick admits that since first visiting the Himalaya in 1986, and with eleven subsequent trips, the traditional culture and people of those mystical Tibetan mountains are not only his favourite subject matter to photograph, but also considers it his spiritual home. Through the vivid depictions of the people, places, architecture and cultural traditions, Nick’s photographs bring us insight and an understanding into the lives and culture of these devoted people.

Ladakhi Shaman

Ladakhi Shaman

Prior to his trips to the Himalaya Nick’s photographs were mostly nature inspired; his passion for capturing his environment on film continuing on since he was twelve years old. It was during his first trip to Tibet that he saw humanity in a different, yet innately familiar light. These people with their harsh and difficult way of life must rely on simple means to subsist; depending on a cooperative family and community that is willing to work together for survival. Nick feels that we can all relate to these basic instincts in some elemental way, and with this way of life still going on today he is both fascinated and compelled to express the essence of the people, their integrity and way of life through his photographs.

Photographer Nicholas Halpin

Photographer Nicholas Halpin

Dreamland ...and more offerings from Gabriola Island below. Click to enlarge.

Dreamland
…and more offerings from Gabriola Island below. Click to enlarge.


The photo below of Mountain Chorten is an example of one of those “gifts” that happenstance can bring. [A chorten is a Tibetan spiritual structure typically containing Buddhist monk ashes, relics and offerings]. Nick says that he was hiking back down from the Everest Base Camp on a miserably dreary day when he stopped for a spot of tea. While sitting there the clouds opened up revealing the blue sky and offering up this wonderful shot with the snow covered mountains in the background and the chorten below.

Mountain Chorten

Mountain Chorten

The organic manner in which this photo opportunity came to Nick is analogous to how he “pursues” his subject matter; in essence not pursuing them at all! He prefers to travel with camera on hand more as an accessory and not the focal point of his journey. Through his wanderings to places and interactions with people he takes a genuine interest in them, and soon forms a connection. If the right light, composition or subject matter presents itself he may then ask to take some photos. Nick sees his role as a facilitator; to bridge the story, the essence, or expression of the moment to those that wish to experience it through his photography. He relates that he doesn’t really know what it is he is searching for at any given moment and does not hunt down a photo shoot; it is more about a feeling or sensory excitement, and chooses to live in the moment and revel in the surprises that come his way; as Nick acknowledges, “it is a gift.”

Boudhanath

Boudhanath

Click on the images below to enlarge:

Enjoy our interview with Nicholas Halpin and please feel free to leave a comment and share with social media!

Paul Bailey – Photography with a Twist

Paul Bailey – Photography with a Twist

Life is full of surprises! For instance, meeting up with my sixth grade elementary school teacher Paul Bailey after 37 years had to be one of them! We both had changed a bit from those days, when we had shoulder length hair, wore ’70’s era clothing, Paul with a moustache and me just dreaming of one! We met up with Paul at his home on Denman Island, a tranquil location just a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island. It is a destination that can prompt one to say, I could live here!, and certainly the 1000 plus residents that do live here might have said the same thing upon their first arrival….and stayed! Our visit here brought back fond memories from my childhood when we explored Denman, Hornby and Tree Islands; camping with my friend or cycling across the islands during a weekend school camp-out.

From the "Abstracts" series (above and below)

From the “Abstracts” series


Paul spent 4 1/2 years at my old school and then ventured out into the world of photo journalism over the next twenty years. From there he went back to teaching; designing, establishing and then heading the career program in professional photography at North Island College, as well as teaching photography in the college’s Fine Arts Department; positions that he still holds today. Paul notes that he thoroughly enjoyed his two decades working for the magazines and book publishers, but says when it comes to creating your own agenda, both from a time and creativity perspective, he is now free to follow his own path of photographic expression.

From the "Venice" series

From the “Venice” series


Paul’s thirty plus years in photography has taken him from the days of film cameras to the present day of digital media. Paul admits that when digital photography first came out he was intimidated by it, but eventually he embraced it and now incorporates both the traditional film experience and the digital realm within his personal projects and his teachings at North Island College. Paul has traveled down various avenues of creativity within his medium and points out that he is quite excited about the world of abstractionism. He enjoys the feeling of freedom from not being bound by representational expectations; every viewer is an equal participant and afforded their own interpretation of what they are looking at.

From the "Shapeshifting" series

From the “Shapeshifting” series


A look through Paul’s website at Paul Bailey Photography will take you on a journey through cultural, historical and political imagery, abstract macrophotography, life and scenes abroad, as well as expression of cultural dances through his Shapeshifting series. My first glimpse at one of Paul’s Shapeshifting subjects in his studio gave me pause; my mind eventually sifting through the twirling and swirling motion to discern what it was, or rather who it was, that I was looking at. One of those moments of intrigue…then AHA!

Enjoy our interview below with Paul Bailey and please feel free to leave a comment! (And don’t forget the social media buttons!)

From the "Cuba" series

From the “Cuba” series


From the "Corfu" series

From the “Corfu” series