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

Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

I never gave pound cake the respect it deserves until the day we met with artist Shelley Hakonson from Dawson City, Yukon. Perhaps it was the word “pound” that I had a problem with. It doesn’t really sound like something I should be eating. Of all the people, Shelley would be the one to make me see pound cake in a whole new light. Shelley is an artist who thrives on words, phrases and stories. Her visual art is created from this fascination. I am sure she could have extolled all the virtues of the word pound in the context of cake and I wouldn’t even have had to eat a piece to become a fan. Nevertheless I wasn’t about to pass up the whole tasty experience.

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Here are some of Shelley’s latest pieces.

RavenWife

RavenWife

RavenWife is based on an Irish creation myth about ancient Fomorians, a semi-divine race coming from beneath the sea to settle Ireland. One of the Chieftains, Tethra, married a Shape-changer, a raven woman. Shelley created this piece using her own face as the template for the sculpture. She says that ravens fascinate her with their intelligence and the comic relief they add to her life in Dawson City. The beak was created with paper-clay over mesh with plaster wrap, and acrylics. The face was made with paper-clay over rigid wrap, and acrylics.

Only A Bird

Only A Bird

Only A Bird is a comment on the hidden women of patriarchal misogynist religions and age-old traditions that hold women in contempt. The following six words and the corresponding points are part of the title and are Shelley’s view about the male dominated religions of the world that deny women freedoms within their cultures.

1. Modesty. A reflection of restrictions on freedom for women. No right to choose.
2. Honour. Women’s bodies are possessions and women are seen as weak, unable to reason and are morally inferior. Men make their decisions for them.
3. Chastity. Effaces personality and physical suggestion, women need to be hidden to prove their “worth”.
Depersonalized and segregated from the rest of the world.
4. Purity. Women are a source of temptation, leading to bad deeds.
5. Duty. The Qu’ran does not call for women to wear the Niqab, or remain secluded from public life, but generations of cultural tradition in some areas of the world do.
6. Faith. Patriarchal Sanctioned Authoritative Supremacy.

Only A Bird was created with fabric, paper-clay, acrylics, embroidery, and bead work.

To see more of Shelley’s work and her story please go to her full ArtsQuest interview by clicking HERE.

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Luscious Lemon Pound Cake

Cake
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
3 cups of sugar
5 eggs
3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of milk
3 tbsp lemon extract

Glaze
1 cup of icing sugar
4 tbsp of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
1. Cream the butter and sugar well, until fluffy then add eggs one by one, beating each time.
2. Combine milk and lemon extract in a separate bowl.
3. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixture to the butter mixture ending with the flour.
4. Pour into a buttered and floured 10 inch Bundt pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Let sit for 10 minutes and then remove from Bundt pan onto a rack that is sitting over a cookie sheet.
6. Combine glaze ingredients (double the recipe for a real lemony taste).
7. Pour it over the still warm cake.
8. Squeeze 1/2 lemon or more over the cake for even more tartness. Yummy!

Enjoy!

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.

Candice Ball Follows Her Dream

Candice Ball Follows Her Dream

Paisley Brooch with Amber Beads

Recently, Gary and I watched a fascinating program about art created during the Middle Ages. One group that caught my attention was the Anglo Saxons and their method of casting jewellery using cuttlefish bone. I had seen this before but not on television. Our trip to the Yukon put us on the doorstep of Whitehorse artist Candice Ball who, among other things, uses this ancient casting method in her own jewellery craft.

Candice Demonstrating Cuttlefish Casting

Candice Demonstrating Cuttlefish Casting

Cuttlefish Cast

Cuttlefish Cast

One characteristic that I appreciate in artists is that they deeply love what they do. There is something about the act of being creative that seems to give them a heightened state of bliss. Candice is a jewellery designer and metal artist with a penchant for the unusual. She is joyously unrestrained and it showed in her fervour to share with us what she does and how she does it. Candice came close to landing a career that, for her, was just meant to pay the bills, but luckily her gut was telling her not to go there and she listened. After a long talk with herself she came to the conclusion that a creative life was what she wanted. I admire her for her fortitude in taking the road less traveled.

Piéce de Résistance Ring

Piéce de Résistance Ring

Surprise Garnet Cabachon Inside Piéce de Résistance

Surprise Garnet Cabachon Inside Piéce de Résistance

Candice loves working with all kinds of different metals as well as complimentary, or perhaps uncomplimentary materials. She says she is not afraid to try anything and confidently works toward being the trend setter, not the trend follower. Her intuition is her guide which she shows unfettered devotion towards. The ideas show up anytime and anywhere like an unexpected visit from a best friend. She says she doesn’t know how it happens, it just does. My guess is that Candice is completely tuned in to her surroundings which abundantly supply her with all she needs to feed her creative process.

Out of Woodwork Bracelet

Out of Woodwork Bracelet

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Candice is constantly researching techniques and materials to bring a uniqueness to her work that stands above the crowd. Lately she has been investigating ancient casting techniques using cuttlefish (see demo video below) as well as more modern methods known as Delft casting which uses sand to create the mold. She also explores the use of metals such as titanium in her work. Candice definitely has a hunger for knowledge and putting what she learns into practice, and because of this her work is quite varied. After we left Candice we went to Arts Underground Gallery to collect some footage of her art that was being shown there. We talked all about Candice’s jewellery but had no idea she also does mixed media wall pieces until we arrived at the gallery; each one having a personality all its own.

MIxed Media Wall Hanging

MIxed Media Wall Hanging

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As crazy as you may or may not think this sounds, I believe that art handmade by people like Candice holds within it a certain kind of raw spiritual energy that comes from the earth and the person who made it. When we buy art, in this case wearable art, we get to coalesce with a part of that energy. It gives us strength and a connection that you will never get from something manufactured by a machine. Just talking to Candice strengthened my resolve on this point. To see more of Candice’s work please go to her website at Dilcet Designs.

Please join us as Candice shares more about her passion for art and then watch the ancient technique of cuttlefish casting in the demo below. We love comments and ask that you share this post on social media and spread the word about Candice. Thank you!

Zwany Mauritz Connects Through Creativity

Zwany Mauritz Connects Through Creativity

Our second interview of our 2013 tour was with Zwany Mauritz from Chilliwack, B.C. Zwany is a fine artist as well as a fashion and purse designer. Her and her family immigrated to Canada from Holland 10 years ago. She comes from a family of twelve children and most of them are creative in one form or another. Her mother was an artist specializing in portraits and her father was a musical artist. Zwany shared with us that her childhood was rich in the arts and so creativity was always instinctive for her. She grew up walking in her mother’s footsteps so it was fitting that she went to art school and painting portraits became her passion.

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Nowadays she is an eclectic acrylic painter and does abstracts to landscapes and everything in between. But her favourite subject is still people. She loves to make a connection and so what better way to get to know someone than to paint them. People sometimes request a portrait of themselves or of a loved one and provide Zwany with a photograph, but she admits that it is much more fun when she can have the person sitting in front of her. Also, as she explained, it is easier to paint the person’s personality into the painting because they can chat which gives her a chance to get to know them while she works away. She finds her live portraiture paintings to have more spontaneity and it forces her to work fast and be concise.

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Zwany is an expressive and deep thinking painter. There are times when her paintings have a certain personal connotation for her and she finds herself using paint to lay down her emotions. In many cases she uses the swan in those paintings. It represents her as her name, Zwany, means swan in Dutch. This gorgeous bird becomes Zwany in the painting and with it she has created a diorama of the important emotional moments in her life. She has painted about love, family, anger and the dark and light side of herself.

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When Zwany is not painting, you can find her designing, redesigning and repurposing clothing, fabric, buttons, bobbles, shells and anything else that no longer seems to have a purpose. She custom makes designer fashions, typically for special occasions, for women with unique figures. One of her greatest satisfactions is to make something beautiful in order to make someone happy. Zwany also loves to design purses either from scratch or she will give an old outdated purse, as she says, “a new coat.” She never runs out of ideas or material to work with. She is either shopping at the local thrift store, being on the receiving end of outdated articles of clothing or hunting through her own closet to find something to completely change or just give it a new look. It gives her great pleasure to repurpose a neglected blouse or a lonely tie that may have otherwise ended up in the landfill. If she is dismantling an old dress perhaps she will use the shoulder straps for the straps of a new purse or turn a set of 1980’s style curtains into a funky hand bag.

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For Zwany it is not about the end result. It is about the creative journey she takes every time she picks up her brushes or sits down at her sewing machine. For her, creativity is a joyous and fulfilling place to be.

Please join us as Zwany talks more about her love of painting and designing. We always appreciate comments and spreading the word on social media. Thanks!

Mixed Media Artist Evelyn M

Mixed Media Artist Evelyn M

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grumpy Goat Gallery – Art and Antics

The Grumpy Goat Gallery – Art and Antics

“…then wind your way along a cliff-side road that drops precipitously down to the Atlantic Ocean, take a few more hair pin turns, and then just as you are about to go flying off into oblivion turn left at the yellow vehicle into the driveway of the lime green house and park in front of the yellow piano!” Huh? Yesiree, I definitely embellished the directions from that email, but that (more or less) was one of our first introductions to Cara and Pam and a glimpse into their world of colour and whimsy. Truth be told, it is a scenic route to The Grumpy Goat Gallery that overlooks the vast Atlantic Ocean with breathtaking views that have caught not only whales and porpoises cruising by but also ice bergs at one time or another, all to be seen from their panoramic porch.

After our loud Arty Farty van pulled up in front of the yellow piano, we got out and strode up their front porch expecting to see them. They were nowhere to be seen. Hmmm, what’s this sign? “Hi! Please Honk the Horn For the Studio” So we did. Honk! Honk! And then like magic, there they appeared! I can’t help but feel that we were the lab rats of the day, observing us to see if we would go back to our vehicle to honk Arty’s horn. Preposterous you say? It is a fate befallen by more than one unsuspecting gallery visitor as you will read in Cara’s blog (play dark and scary music).

I will let you in on a little secret! Maybe this shouldn’t get out! Am I jeopardizing their business? Well, here it goes anyway! We found absolutely NO grumpiness at The Grumpy Goat Gallery in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador! Gasp! There, I said it! On the contrary, although we did meet their pygmy goats Rose and Sophia (and they aren’t grumpy either!), our meeting with affable artists Cara and Pam was filled with laughs, puns and hilarious stories of the lovely people that they encounter coming through the doors of their gallery. As a matter of fact, most of the gallery visitors are incited to smile, chuckle, or outright laugh as they notice the colourful and creative creations with often comical connotations displayed on the walls, floors, tables, or hanging from the ceiling. You don’t have to take my word for it though. Peruse the blog stories for The Grumpy Goat Gallery and you will see not only their wonderful mixed media creations, but also the creative comedic writing that is another forte complimenting the award winning mixed media work of Cara and Pam.

Cara is the self-taught artist that walks hand-in-hand with the child within her, looking at life with the curiousity, wonder and humour of a little girl and expressing it in her paintings. This gives her the gift of uninhibited expression. Pam is the self-taught carver and woodworker extraordinaire. We were stunned to learn that not only was she an incredible carver, but also built the woodworking shop, painting studio, goat barn and the house extension for the gallery all without a stick of training. The colourful fusion of the union between Cara’s historical and whimsical look at Newfoundland’s people, places and events and the three dimensional effect of Pam’s woodworking is nothing less than magical.

Click on the images below for a full view:

Join us with the voices of Cara and Pam as they tell us their story. Don’t be shy to leave a comment!

Jamie-Lee Cormier – Painting in Her Corner of the World

Jamie-Lee Cormier – Painting in Her Corner of the World

Corner Brook, Newfoundland is located on the west side of the island and is the first larger center we came upon after embarking off the ferry in Port Aux Basques. It is nestled among a rocky landscape right at the edge of the water. It has a breathtaking view, an extremely helpful tourist information center, all the amenities a person would need and a young painter by the name of Jamie-Lee Cormier.

Jamie-Lee in her gallery in downtown Corner Brook.

Jamie-Lee graduated with a degree in fine arts from Memorial University in Corner Brook in 2007. I remember when I was younger and fresh out of school my imagination about the future seemed boundless and fruitful and this was the impression I got upon meeting Jamie-Lee. She has a youthful exuberance that so many of us lose or ignore because we think it isn’t “appropriate” as we get older. It is refreshing to meet people like her.

Mixed Media Composition

After graduating from school there wasn’t a place for Jamie-Lee to show her work. The art school turned out an artist but left no place for her to go. She didn’t let that stop her. She went into business for herself, opened her own gallery in the downtown corridor by the name of JL Gallery, and invited other local artists as well. Jamie-Lee has always wanted to be an artist since she was a child and she has held a steadfast commitment to it ever since. Consequently, with a supportive family and lots of encouragement, she has worked hard and it has paid off. Her gallery has been contributing to Corner Brook’s economy for almost 5 years.

Jamie-Lee works primarily in mixed media but lately has been stretching her wings and working more on realistic paintings with oils. Although her art career is just getting started she has had commissions and requests from the people in her community for her mixed media art as well as her oil paintings. Most of her work incorporates some aspect of nature taking on a more abstract interpretation of it or sometimes a realistic impression.

Iceberg in St. Anthony, NL

Gary and I have interviewed many veteran artists and some emerging as well and found with life experience there is usually an evolution, and sometimes the art becomes a message or a story for a personal philosophy. After talking to Jamie-Lee, I didn’t get the impression that there is some kind of deeper meaning when she paints; she just loves to do it and that is all there needs to be. Her work is alive and full of energy, just like her, and as time goes by, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Jamie-Lee Cormier and her art.

Please join us with Jamie-Lee as she talks about her passion. Comments are always appreciated. Thanks.