Painter Geoff Phillips and His Rural Reflections

arts-quest-geoff-phillips-whispering-pinesNot our last interview but our last stop in Saskatchewan took us to painter Geoff Phillips’ house in Maple Creek. We had been through Maple Creek once before but this time it was with fresh eyes. It’s a cute little town in southern Saskatchewan nestled within the prairie landscape and close to the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. It was here that Geoff and Connie decided to move their family from Calgary, with both sets of grandparents following in hot pursuit soon after.

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It would appear that the Phillips family lives an idyllic life in Maple Creek. Geoff’s steady income comes from their next door neighbour, the local Co-op food store where he works in the meat department. Besides not having to drive to work, living right next door has other benefits too. When he is not helping customers with their meat requirements sometimes they come in and ask to see his artwork. He asks his boss if he can pop home to show it to them, bloody apron and all, and off he goes. Only in a small town.

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For the past 6 years Geoff has had the good fortune of being the artist in residence at the Cypress Hills Inter-provincial Park for one month in the summer. But it is no coincidence that Geoff has had this opportunity for 6 years running. His unique style gives park visitors not only an appreciation for Geoff’s art but also for the surroundings that comprise the park itself. What started out as a pilot project has turned into a marvelous draw to the park, with subsequent years also being funded to carry on the successful project. With his family’s encouragement and the well wishes of his employer he stays at the park to paint and run workshops for visitors. His paintings are based around the flora and fauna of the park and are meant to bring awareness to those who make the journey there. Geoff’s art is colourful and certainly very eye-pleasing so his pieces attract people like honey attracts bees. Every year Geoff packs up his canvasses, paints, brushes and a theme that he will incorporate into his work while he is there. This past August he worked on 12 very large canvasses and painted micro sections of the park depicting the landscape and the common plant species which are found there.

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I have found over the last 6 years of doing interviews that each artist’s process is just as unique as the art they create. During his stay in Cypress Hills Park, Geoff will go out and wander the woods until he finds an intriguing spot he wants to bring to life on canvass. I would have thought a few pictures and maybe a sketch book would be what he would use to gather material for his piece. Instead he pulls out his really large canvass and spreads it out over the ground and then proceeds to stomp on it with his shoes to try to get it to lay as flat as possible, but of course there are always lumps and bumps creating hills and valleys. No matter, Geoff pulls out a can of brownish acrylic paint and proceeds to map out his future painting. He paints in oils but acrylic dries quicker for this part of the process. He then packs up and heads back to the art cabin where he adds a layer of primer and then proceeds with the oils. There are a few reference pictures taken as well. As Geoff puts it, it is very crude but he likes doing it this way because he can really get a feel for the spot he wants to paint and this helps to ignite the passion that goes into his work.

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When Gary and I stopped in on Geoff to do his interview we also got to see the new workshop and painting studio that he and Connie recently added to their home. Both Geoff and Connie, who is also an artist, have collaborated to bring all kinds of art programs through The Art House to the town of Maple Creek. They offer their artistic expertise to help guide children and adults through their own artistic expression, whether it be at a Splatter Party where one gets to pretend they are Jackson Pollock, or something a little more structured like learning the basics of drawing. It is obvious that both the Phillips family and the town of Maple Creek have benefited from their arrival. Geoff and Connie are bringing art to their community by teaching others how to express their creativity. They also enjoy the exposure of their art lining the walls of the local pub and restaurant and in the form of Geoff’s huge mural that was commissioned by the town of Maple Creek for the Heritage District revitalization program.

So if you ever find yourself in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan stop in to the Co-op, ask for Geoff at the meat counter and ask to see his art. He’ll be glad to oblige.

Be sure to check out our interview with Geoff. Also, help us spread the word about Geoff through social media by sharing this blog post. Clickable buttons are provided below for your convenience. And we love comments so please feel free to leave a nice one about Geoff and his work below. 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.

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.

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

Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.

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.

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.

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!

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:

John Boivin Gives Significance to the Unremarkable

John Boivin Gives Significance to the Unremarkable

Traveling to the northern part of Canada confirmed what I knew to be true all along; the north flows through my veins. I really felt at home there. Many people think of the south when travel whispers in their ear, but for me I think of the breathtaking north. It is a place that in large part is untouched by humans and therefore makes it undeniably special. It’s mystique has an allure all it’s own. The land is large and sweeping, free from man-made scarring for as far as the eye can see. By today’s standards it is not heavily populated with the two-legged species but is home to a significant number of caribou, moose, and large predators such as black bear, grizzly and wolves. Of the 37,000 people who call the Yukon their home roughly 28,000 live in the Territory’s capital city of Whitehorse. This is where we met up with John Boivin; our first of seven interviews in the Yukon’s capital.

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Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

John was waiting for us at our designated rendezvous spot; a bustling Starbucks. After our handshakes and introductions I asked John how Whitehorse got it’s name. Who does that these days? I could have googled it. Nevertheless, John was very helpful and if he was wondering about whether or not I had ever seen a computer he didn’t let on. What I learned was Whitehorse gets its name from the White Horse Rapids on the Yukon River, which were a major obstacle for prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush. The frothing rapids were said to resemble the manes of white, charging horses. But alas, the horses are no longer there. With the construction of the Whitehorse hydro-electric dam in 1958, the rapids were covered by the Schwatka Lake reservoir.

After my appetite for historical facts was satisfied we convoyed over to Yukon Artists @ Work, a local artist co-operative gallery and where John had a showing of his latest work. John is an acrylic painter with his eye on what he refers to as the “unremarkable”. I kind of chuckled to myself when he said this because to me everywhere I looked seemed remarkable. John went on to explain that he can’t help but be inspired living in the Yukon as beauty is infused within the landscape. His curiosity is piqued not necessarily by the land at large but by the two or three feet on either side of his easel when he paints en plein air. My thought was he must have incredible discipline to be surrounded by 360 degrees of beauty but to maintain a focus within the parameters he set for himself.

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While I was listening to John talk I surmised that he takes an integrative approach to his work. When the urge for a new painting starts tugging on his paint brush he hops on his bicycle and starts out for a ride. He doesn’t force his senses to be on alert but rather takes in his surroundings as it comes. When he feels the tingle on the back of his neck triggered by the sound of rushing water or a sunbeam dancing on the silk of a spider web he knows that special spot has revealed itself. It may not be the time to set up a canvas but his mind’s eye is already painting away, preparing for his return to that spot which intrigued him. If not painting en plein air, John likes to sit and imprint his memory with every little detail of his intended subject and then transfer what he remembers onto his canvas. His choice not to take a photograph is part and parcel to his technique. He feels it gives his paintings more of an authenticty because it forces him to really be present and in the moment in order to represent the scene just like he remembers it. In return, nature in conjunction with his art gives him the gift of glimpsing the tiny changes that occur after his painting has long been completed; something that, for most of us, goes unnoticed.

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It is easy to feel awestruck when we see something unusually beautiful, something peculiar or something elusive. Spend a few minutes with John as he shares with us the significance of the unremarkable. We appreciate comments and taking the time to share John’s story on social media. Thank you.

Elspeth Armstrong – Painting with Colour and Light

Elspeth Armstrong – Painting with Colour and Light

It was actually over a year ago that I first stumbled across the vivid colours of Elspeth Armstrong’s paintings! I was perusing art sites and although we weren’t planning a trip to Hornby Island at that time, Elspeth’s landscapes and seascapes were indelibly imprinted in my mind. So when we decided to tour the islands around Vancouver Island I remembered her and hoped she would agree to an interview. We emailed her and she kindly accepted!

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The magnificent sandy beaches and warm waters of Tribune Bay on Hornby Island are quite familiar to me. I was born into a “beach bum” culture, and the summers spent camping, swimming and laying around in the sun in this area seems like eons ago, yet is still fresh in my memory. Elspeth’s paintings capture the charm of this island, and like the fond memories etched into my thoughts her paintings also leave a lasting impression; a recognition of places once visited and of those now wanting to discover! Admirers of Elspeth’s art have been known to remark how they feel like they are walking into the painting and feeling a part of it.

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Click on images for larger view!

Elspeth has only been on Hornby Island for six years but has been painting and drawing for most of her life. The varied landscapes she has painted give evidence to the other locales she has called home throughout Canada; topography as gentle and flowing as a prairie grass plain, or as rugged and unrelenting as the wild west coast! Elspeth notes that it is a very humbling experience when people will part with their hard-earned money to purchase a painting, and so her greatest satisfaction in her work is when someone sees a piece that stirs them, finds a connection or emotion within it, and will mention to her that, “I look at it everyday.” It can’t get more gratifying than that!

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See our interview with Elspeth below as Corinne gets to know this prolific painter!
(Don’t forget, social media is your friend!)