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!

Textile Artist Terry Phillips Breaks Bread with ArtsQuest

Textile Artist Terry Phillips Breaks Bread with ArtsQuest

Hopespring Hearty Bread

Just over a year ago Gary and I were traveling on the ferry toward Quadra Island, B.C. on our way to interview Terry Phillips at her studio. Terry is a textile artist who incorporates mixed media in her work to bring out the colours and texture of a diverse group of subjects. Her other interests include gardening and baking. She took us on a tour of her vegetable and fruit garden which was enough to make me drift off dreaming of the garden I will tend to one day. When the garden tour and the interview were done Terry invited us to stay for some lunch. She had prepared a homemade split pea soup with fresh out of the oven homemade bread. I have been waiting all my life to find a bread recipe like Terry’s as I have tried many but have never been completely satisfied with the results. Needless to say I requested the recipe and asked if I could feature it in a Culinary ArtsQuest blog. Luckily for me and you the answer was yes!

Terry Phillips

Terry Phillips

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If you haven’t had the opportunity to see our interview with Terry Phillips you can find it by clicking here.

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Hopespring Hearty Bread

Use organic ingredients when possible.

6 Cups of cold water
3 tsp of salt
4 tsp of yeast
1/4 cup of ‘Fancy” molasses (the others have sulphites in them)
1 cup of uncooked 7 grain cereal (adds seeds and bits)
1 cup of fine ground oats (grind in food processor as it adds a nice moist and chewy texture)
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of flax seeds
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
1 cup of olive oil (don’t skimp here or use some other type of oil)
4 eggs (adds lecithin which aids in texture and shelf life)
Optional: juice of one lemon or 2 Tbsp of cider vinegar (these have enzymes which aid in destroying the phytic acid in the wheat)

Stir the above ingredients with a hand mixer and then add 10 – 12 cups of organic whole wheat flour, mixing after every cup. I never count the cups of flour going in. When it starts getting too thick for the mixer, then I stop adding whole wheat flour. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 20 – 40 minutes. This is called the sponge stage and is to help soak the wheat bran which helps destroy the phytic acid. Phytic acid causes discomfort in some people when they eat whole wheat bread.

After 20 – 40 minutes remove from the fridge and stir in 4 cups of unbleached flour. You will likely need to turn the dough onto a heavily floured surface and incorporate the rest of the unbleached flour by hand. The dough is still quite sticky at this point. A common mistake is to add too much flour; wetter dough means a moister loaf. Forget the heavy kneading. When the flour is incorporated you are done. Put some olive oil into your bowl and turn the dough into it and then turn it over once. Cover with a clean towel and put in the fridge for several hours, all day, or overnight. If you are in a rush you can use warm water and leave it in a warm spot until doubled (about 1 hour). However the best, most digestible bread comes from a cold, slow rise. If doing a cold rise I will turn the dough over half way through to keep the top from drying out and the dough from invading the rest of the fridge.

Take the dough out of the fridge to warm up. You can cut it into 4 pieces to help this. Usually after an hour it’s warm enough to proceed. Sprinkle some unbleached flour on your surface and knead each piece to shape into your loaf. Place into a greased loaf pan and cover for 35 – 60 minutes depending how warm or cool your kitchen is. When risen turn your oven to 375 F. Paint some beaten egg whites over the top of the loaves. Make a cut in the top of each loaf and sprinkle some unhulled seasame seeds on top.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 F. Rotate the pans in the oven and drop the temperature to 325 F for another 20 minutes.

This recipes makes 4 large loaves or 8 large pizza doughs, cinnamon buns or cheese sticks.

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Painter Michelle Pickering’s Peacock Panacea

Painter Michelle Pickering’s Peacock Panacea

Sheds

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

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

Peacock

Peacock

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

Destiny

Destiny

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

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

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

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.

Mixed Media Artist Lori Fell Follows Her Painted Path

Mixed Media Artist Lori Fell Follows Her Painted Path

As we drove away from the Yukon, in Arty’s wake we left behind a piece of our heart, some new friends and some pretty spectacular scenery. Heading down the road back into British Columbia we carried with us a library full of memories from roads once traveled, the gifts of that day; the majestic Rocky Mountains and several burly bison, as well as the anticipation of future encounters and things left to be discovered. On our way to Fort Nelson, B.C. we had one day before our next interview so we planned to stop at Liard River hot springs. Have you ever heard of that list of a thousand things you should do before you die? Well, going to Liard was on our list. It was all that I imagined (hot) and more (super hot) but it was a soothing ending to the completion of twenty-three interviews in twenty-one days. The next day we were back in Arty’s saddle again and off to Fort Nelson to find out all about mixed media artist Lori Fell.

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Lori grew up in northern B.C. where the deer and the bison roam and the majestic mountains linger all day. She is grateful to have lived and played among the trees; to this day a connection which she cherishes deeply. Lori’s painted path began several years ago. She is a self professed lover of all things art and has always been creative, but it wasn’t until a tragedy struck her family and she needed a means to heal that she found painting. Nature as a subject matter was an obvious choice for Lori and so began her painted path (see her website) and process for which to heal.

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One of the challenges facing artists in more remote communities is the absence of varied face-to-face art learning opportunities. Lori is primarily self-taught but she did say that she has spent a great deal of time on the internet, specifically YouTube, where she has gleaned ideas and learned many new things that have helped develop her into the artist she is today. When I first laid eyes on Lori’s paintings it was the colour that grabbed me. I think vibrancy can be so irresitible, and it definitely has its time and place in Lori’s work. It wasn’t just the colour that caught my eye, as I looked closer I could see the intricate swirls and shapes within the landscape, trees and even the animals. Lori uses special pens to create this effect and she does it with such precision. Human vision is adept at catching things that are uneven and when I look at her work nothing pokes me in the eye.

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When we look with our eyes we see only the outer embodiment of the tree, flower or animal and when we look with our heart we see its spirit. I think Lori has seen the spirit of nature all her life and she shares it with us by illustrating not the bark of the tree or the fur of the animal but the essence of its spirit. We get to see that essence in her paintings. I identify with this connection because it is not what we see but what we feel that makes art really special.

Please join us as Lori Fell shares her journey down her painted path. We value your comments and appreciate it if you would help us spread the word about Lori by sharing on social media and through email.

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!

Lawrie Crawford Awakens the Abstract Within Her

Lawrie Crawford Awakens the Abstract Within Her

Titled – On Tlingit Ground

As I get older I find myself fascinated by many things; I love it! Everyday I ask questions and wonder about all there is to know. Perhaps this is one characteristic that allows me to be a good listener. I enjoy finding out about people; how they live, their interests, what they like and what’s important to them. Our journey into the art world has really opened my eyes to many new aspects of life in forms such as a painting, a sculpture or a carving. I have grown a wider appreciation for the parts I never really paid attention to like the abstract. I really admire people who can think abstractly. The curious side of me was eager to find out more about this topic and when we rolled across the 60th parallel into the Yukon I expected I would. For our next interview Arty took us to the front door of a smiling Lawrie Crawford and her two perky poodles.

Lawrie’s home sits on the edge of Crag Lake just outside a small town called Carcross. It certainly is beautiful and definitely not heavily populated; with the likes of humans anyway. Lawrie is an interdisciplinary artist and has spent much of her art career writing plays and non-fiction. It has only been in the last 2 years that she has plunged into the pool of abstract painting. I’m no expert, but to me Lawrie’s knowledge and work would indicate otherwise.

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Titled - Eat Chocolate

Titled – Eat Chocolate

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Lawrie as she really got me interested in learning more about abstract paintings. She became fascinated with shapes and colours when she was a child. I suppose we all do to some degree but Lawrie had the influence of an art teacher who was a friend of her mom’s. He used to sit and do art with Lawrie and open her mind to the shapes of shadows on the wall. Later in life she met a friend who was married to an abstract painter. Lawrie was immediately drawn to the grand abstract paintings hanging all over their house. She knew she couldn’t afford one so she did what any creative person would do, she became a painter and created her own.

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Lawrie calls herself a process painter and part of that process is knowing when to rest the painting. Several of her pieces do hang unfinished at any given time. She patiently waits and then the day comes when she knows what to do. Lawrie doesn’t use brushes but rather what she refers to as spatula like tools used to push the paint around on the canvas. It is a method for creating layers of paint by putting it on and taking it off until she gets the desired look. Admittedly the art emerges from the painting as a result of the process and she modestly says her hand lends nothing more than the process itself.

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Titled – Integrate

In Lawrie’s abstract painting world there are no rules except to have fun. Her unseen partner in all this is her playlist. The Supremes, Lady Gaga and even Bob Dylan give her another tool in preparation for painting; dancing. The movement of the dance is interconnected to the movement of the paint; what fun! I love Lawrie’s attitude toward her art. She explains that her paintings are a metaphor for the things that happen in her life and she doesn’t necessarily try to make it about anything else. She wants people to enjoy her art for what it is. She tells me that it doesn’t have to be a deep and meaningful experience and no one should place expectations on themselves to try to find something familiar about abstract art. After all, it is what it is, something for us to enjoy. See more of Lawrie’s work on her website by clicking here.

We invite you to meet Lawrie as she shares with us her world of the abstract. Comments are awesome! Also, please share and help spread the word about Lawrie on social media. Thank-you!

Art and Soul with Franziska Cody

Art and Soul with Franziska Cody

It has always appealed to me to be surrounded by things that are handmade and created from someone’s imagination and desire. Gary and I don’t own a lot of fine art and craft but what we do have is very special to us. My brother is a woodworker and for our wedding gift he made us a gorgeous cherry and black walnut two person table and chair set. It is so wonderful to sit and share a home cooked meal and talk about our day at this table. It is one of the highlights of our time together. Simple yet so rich! Art is so much more than something pretty to look at. It is a connection to other people; to their dreams, their passions and it is a connection to life. There is energy in handmade art and craft that we will never experience from an object manufactured by a machine. This partly explains why we are not committed to those things. They fill a space on the wall or a place setting at the table but lack the connection to the human spirit that we can only get from something handmade.

Franziska Cody, potter and owner of Art and Soul Pottery

Franziska Cody, potter and owner of Art and Soul Pottery

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Gary and I bought our first two pieces of pottery on our interview tour up through Northen British Columbia. Telkwa artist Franziska Cody is a potter and the owner of a charming working studio and gallery called Art and Soul Pottery. We arrived to find Franziska quite literally up to her elbows in clay, working her wheel and turning out an order of mugs. There was wonderful soothing music playing, the kind you would expect to find in a spa, and the space felt comfortable to walk around in as we glanced through the gallery.

Bird Feeder

Bird Feeder

Franziska has been a full time artist and business owner since 2009. It all began when she decided to immigrate to Canada after meeting the man who is now her husband. Because of the immigration process she was unable to work so she dedicated her time to doing what she loves; art. This was when she discovered clay and found that she had an affinity for it. One thing lead to another and soon she was in business full time. It hasn’t always been as easy as all that but her and her husband live a simple lifestyle which affords them the freedom to do the things they love.

Gary and Corinne's Travel Mugs

Gary and Corinne’s Travel Mugs

While we were in Telkwa we bought a couple of Franziska’s travel mugs. Besides being handmade pottery, it was the design, the earthy colours and the appropriateness with which they fit for us that made our buying decision easy. I had never seen travel mugs like this before and so I was curious about Franziska’s approach with clay. I asked her whether or not she was trying to see how many functional things she could actually replace with a clay version. She explained to me that she finds clay to be very fragile but versatile and it can be turned into something of strength once it is fired. She said the nature and characteristics of clay are not unlike the nature and characteristics of human beings and this is one of the things that appeals to her about the medium. She finds herself pushing the limits of clay. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t; for Franziska it is all about the process and the discovery of what is possible for the clay and for herself. Franziska spends most of her time creating functional pieces like pots, plates, mugs, bathroom accessories and even sinks. She hopes to one day step further into the realm of the spontaneous but for now she loves making things for people who she knows are using her pottery in their everyday life.

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We invite you to watch Franziska’s video interview as she talks more about her pottery and the life that she loves. Please leave your comments and help spread the word on social media. It is much appreciated! Thank you.

Greg Bradacs Carves Visions of Nature

Greg Bradacs Carves Visions of Nature

When antler carver Greg Bradacs had mentioned in an email that we would not be disappointed by a visit to his Bird’s Paradise property we weren’t quite sure what he meant, but as we drove down the long forested driveway and emerged into the clearing at his house we started to understand. He had transformed his quarter section of land into an interesting nature walk of wonder that accentuates the natural beauty and features of the land while also accenting it with his own creative flair in the form of a pond, trails, gazebos, wildlife viewing areas and of course…custom designed outhouses! He took us on a walk around his “living canvas” as he calls it; a rural retreat for adults and children alike while painting us a picture of the future plans he has for what is otherwise known as Visions of Nature. The heart, soul and energy that Greg has put into his property is evident everywhere we look, and it is no surprise that we see the same passion and focus that he puts into his antler carvings.

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Having been exposed to the outdoors since childhood, Greg has always been inspired by nature and found that drawing wildlife using pen and ink as a teenager was a fitting entry to his first artistic expression. He moved on to pointillism, honing his technique and deriving great satisfaction from the detailed images that would appear from the hundreds of thousands of dots that he meticulously put down on canvas. Greg’s drive and focus were a perfect fit for this art form. When Greg created the large eagle depicted below he decided to count the amount of dots he put down in a few select places. On the pupil of the eye there were 1400 dots, the nostril 300, the third large feather down on the left wing was 24,450 and on the third flight feather up on the right was 23,840 dots! The proof is in the pointillism as the detail that Greg exhibits is stunning! His pointillism also took shape as animals drawn on the skulls from which they originated. The outcome was not only Greg’s beautiful work of art but also commemorative to the animal taken.

Freedom of Flight IV

Freedom of Flight IV

Greg’s decision to carve antlers twelve years ago would bring his imagination, creativity and infinite detail to the natural “gifts” that moose and deer drop to the ground every year. He notes that many times he will get a vision in his head, a story that needs to be told and put forth to his antler medium. He then searches for the perfect “canvas” in his collection of antlers, one that speaks to him, and then gets to work! He uses a Dremel tool and dentistry tools with their fine bits to patiently carve the details of landscapes, animals, people or scenes. The result is another one-of-a-kind work of art!

One such story that Greg needed to tell was Can You Hear The Laughter, shown below. Click on the link within the name to read about how this remarkable carving came to be after 2 1/2 years in the making!

Can You Hear The Laughter?

Can You Hear The Laughter?

Click on the images below for a closer look!

Greg’s sought after antler carvings and commissioned pieces are not just the result of the skills he imparts to create them, but also unites the personalization he undertakes during the design phase. Through extensive fact finding he will get to know the recipient of one of his pieces to the point where the finished antler carving could represent a history of that person’s life. A great example of this was Greg’s piece, Memory Lane, a 50th birthday gift. By clicking on the link provided you will see that the personal life details of the birthday boy are embodied exceptionally well within the artistry.

Don't Look Back

Don’t Look Back

Rock Climber

Rock Climber

Click on the images below of Silent Minds, a remembrance to the riches-seeking miners of the past!

Enjoy getting to know Greg with us in his garden interview and please share on social media!