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.

arts-quest-meghan-hildebrand-portrait

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

Click thumbnails to view a larger image.

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

Click the thunbnail to see the larger image.

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.

Fine Artist Cindy Revell – From Imagination to Creation

Fine Artist Cindy Revell – From Imagination to Creation

Art For All Seasons

It is safe to assume that a young person stating their intention of one day becoming an artist could trigger the stereotypical response from concerned parents about their child not getting a “real job” and of becoming a “starving artist.” While the fears inherent in these cliches could be true for just about any career, it was fine artist and illustrator Cindy Revell’s parents that knew her life would encompass the arts in some way and encouraged her to pursue it. As a young girl she was always doing art, and although detoured after high school Cindy’s innate creativity led her back to her first love. It was while attending Grant MacEwan Community College (now MacEwan University) to take graphic design that she knew she had found her life’s passion.

Cindy Revell with Spike

Cindy Revell with Spike

As children we are constantly looking at the world around us with wonderment and no limits to what our imaginations can conjure up, unconsciously disregarding any physical or societal restrictions. As we grow we learn to curb our free-flowing thoughts for protection (or more accurately for others’ perception), but we can also lose the childlike qualities that give way to unfettered creativity. Our time spent with Cindy revealed an artist who has never lost that curiosity and enthusiasm; always thinking of the possibilities, the what-ifs and the ideas that expand her creativity as a result. It was this imagination that lent itself well to the whimsical style that Cindy has become renowned for within her successful commercial illustration career over the last seventeen years. This includes the numerous children’s books she collaborated on and furniture pieces adorned with her captivating subjects.

Governor General award nomination for children's book literature

Governor General award nomination for children’s book literature

Click on images to enlarge: (An assortment of book covers, furniture commissions, commercial illustrations)

Cindy’s fearless pursuit of new challenges and stimulation has given her the gift of versatility. Having illustrated for so long using acrylic paints, in 2002 she decided to try her hand at oil painting which also reignited the passion she felt for the old masters. Up until then she had been illustrating for magazines, children’s books, different publishers and products always using acrylics and adhering to the clients’ wishes. Cindy shares with us that one of the best things she’s ever done for herself was to become a freelance illustrator and full time fine artist working from home. She loves working away in solitude, free to let her imagination and mood guide her through her day. She introduced her new oil medium to her whimsical style, and although reminiscent of her illustrations she finds her work more unrestrained, loose and full of vigour. Contrasting her lively whimsical studies, Cindy’s still-life paintings impart the special connection she feels to the simple beauty of inanimate objects, their symbolic place in the natural world and the Zen-like calm felt from the peacefulness of the piece and the light bringing its warmth and depth to it.

Autumn Lingers

Autumn Lingers

Click on images to enlarge:

The principal character in a lot of her whimsical paintings is Wild Cat, the poster cat for all things possible in a cat’s world as imagined through Cindy’s mind. Cindy loves cats, and having grown up with these feline friends her entire life she admires their sleekness, wildness and independent being. They are unpredictable and one never knows what is going on in their minds; they don’t give a lot away. Cindy brings those what-ifs to Wild Cat’s personality such as imagining an amicable “conversation” between archenemies cat and bird, or some hidden communication that only they can interpret. Paralleling these ruminations; what if humans thought differently towards other species or towards each other, breaking social constructs? Cindy’s imagination is working on it.

Sojourn in the Garden

Sojourn in the Garden

Click on images to enlarge:

Portraiture was never a direction that Cindy had envisioned her art heading towards, but when she became involved with Project Heroes she not only found it to be a new and worthwhile challenge, but also one that she has learned so much from; about herself and others. The project was created to honour the character of the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan war and to relate to us who they were as every day people outside of the military and within it. The stories and photographs compiled from family are not meant to serve as a political statement in favour of or opposition to the war, but rather as an educational display to show the heart and human aspect of these soldiers. The project also encompasses the big picture of war; the serving soldiers and their families, the physically and mentally wounded and their families, the veterans and serving soldiers, and the men and women who lost their lives to suicide. More information about Project Heroes can be found at this link: click here.

Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall

Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall

Click on images to enlarge: (Shown are only a few soldiers from Project Heroes)

Join us with Cindy Revell and her eclectic styles of fine art. Please feel free to leave a comment below, share on social media and email.

Ranch Life is in the Heart of Painter Pat Gauthier

Ranch Life is in the Heart of Painter Pat Gauthier

Dawson Creek Stallion – done in pastel

Ever wonder how many out of the way, off the beaten path places there are in Canada? I can tell you, from the tiny experience we have had so far, there are plenty. The birth of ArtsQuest has been perfect for me as I have always been a lover of going places that aren’t the “destination” place. I find real people with real lives in such places as is evident with all the amazing artists and non-artists we have met so far. Fort St. James, B.C. is one such place I had never been and if it were not for painter Pat Gauthier answering our call to artists, I might never have had the pleasure of visiting there.

Canada National Historic Site, Fort St. James, B.C.

Canada National Historic Site, Fort St. James, B.C.

Stuart Lake, Fort St. James, B.C.

Stuart Lake, Fort St. James, B.C.

When Pat contacted Gary and I she indicated that we really should take the time to stop in and check out another of Canada’s National Historic Sites, the fort of Fort St. James. She went on to say that Fort St. James has had the longest consecutive settlement of people in British Columbia; 207 years. The fort and the town sit adjacent to the formidable presence of Stuart Lake. Before we even met Pat we could tell she has a passion for her community and sharing with others her appreciation of what a special place it is. The fort was closed when we arrived but a friendly caretaker gentleman said we were welcome to wander around and take some pictures. It was such a perfect day!

Pat in her studio and gallery

Pat in her studio and gallery

Please click on the thumbnail images below to enjoy a larger view.

Pat and her husband Louis live just to the south of Fort St. James on a large working ranch where they invited us to park our van for the night before we were to interview Pat the next day. When we arrived Pat was just heading out to an art council meeting so Louis kindly shared some of his time filling us in about life on the ranch.

Shuswap Lake - done in oil

Shuswap Lake – done in oil



Mount Ida - done in watercolour

Mount Ida – done in watercolour

Pat is originally from the Shuswap area of B.C. but made her way up to Fort St. James when she was just 20. Someone had mentioned to her that they hired females in the sawmills, so she packed up her car and away she went. The area has been her home ever since. Although many of Pat’s hours in the day are dedicated to working on the ranch she often feels it contributes to her passion for art. Being outside in the vast, open expanse of land with their horses, cattle and the wildlife is strongly interconnected with her desire to be creative. Often in the fall, when there is a break with the ranching duties, she and Louis pack up their horses with gear along with Pat’s painting paraphernalia and head for the hills. Climbing to vistas not seen by many people is not an easy task but the inspiration is bountiful.

Crossing Our Borders - mixed media

Crossing Our Borders – mixed media

The subjects and the mediums for Pat’s work are quite diverse but one of the pieces that caught my eye was her work titled Crossing Our Borders. Many of us who live in urban areas don’t really understand or perhaps just don’t think about what kind of impact companies like Enbridge can have on our fellow citizens. The government spends millions of dollars for television ads singing the praises for pipelines and fracking. As we drove north it became more and more evident that people like Pat and Louis have something different to say, unfortunately most of us don’t get to hear the other side of the story. Pat painted her personal protest against Enbridge because the company wants to cross much of the area’s waterways and part of their land with the pipelines, leaving the landowners with all of the environmental risk and devaluation of their land. She is not the only one. According to Pat, there is an entire art show dedicated to this particular subject. Who knows how this story will end? In the mean time Pat continues to paint whether for protest or for pleasure which gives all of us a glimpse into this part of Canada. To see more of Pat’s work please visit her website by clicking here.

Please join us as Pat shares with us more about her life on the ranch and her passion for painting. We appreciate comments and helping us spread the word about amazing artists in Canada on social media! Thank you.

Is It Real or Is It Guy-Anne Massicotte’s Painting?

Is It Real or Is It Guy-Anne Massicotte’s Painting?

Callas and Roses in a Carnival Vase, Finalist for 2011/2012 Art Renewal Center Salon

Our visit to Quebec was one of my favorites, not only because the province is drenched in rich culture, history and beauty but also for the down to earth and wonderfully gracious people we met. Everywhere we went we came across helpful people who could see our grade twelve french was a little rusty. In my case a lot rusty. Gary was definately better at it than I was. It probably has something to do with his European heritage. Probably our most overused phrase was, “Je ne parle pas tres bien francais”. I was a bit disappointed because I couldn’t practise the whole phrase. Usually I wasn’t fast enough and the person I was addressing would know just exactly what I was trying to say and switch to english before I had a chance to finish.

Because of our inability to carry on a conversation in french, I decided our smartest move would be to utilize CouchSurfing for all our stops through Quebec. This is how we met Francesca. She was a wonderful host and we had a lot in common with her. I had asked our CouchSurfing hosts prior to our arrival if they knew of any artists that we could interview. Francesca answered our call and lead us to Guy-Anne Massicotte, a contemporary realist painter in Sherbrooke.

Guy-Anne Massicotte

We arrived a bit late to Guy-Anne’s home as we got lost but luckily we were able to muddle our way through asking and receiving directions. She invited us in and immediately insisted we stay for lunch after the interview even though she was getting ready to go on a weekend trip with her two boys. Guy-Anne has been painting for many years. At first, becoming an artist hadn’t occured to her as she was studying science in school. She ended up taking an art class and immediately knew she wasn’t going back to her other studies. At the time, she enrolled in a one year art program in Sherbrooke and was going to continue her studies at Bishop University but she didn’t want to take all the art history courses. She just wanted to paint. And paint she did! She spent 5 to 7 years doing self study; reading art magazines and books and learning the techniques of her favorite masters.

Guy-Anne has perfected the realism of still life subjects in her oil paintings. When I first looked at her lobster painting my sense was that I was looking at a photograph. However, even a photograph can not capture Guy-Anne’s ability to cause you to look twice. It is quite magical how she can take a flat surface and make you think you could reach out and pick up a rose or a vegetable from the table. Guy-Anne says the secret to taking the “ism” out of realism is in the preparation of her canvass. She uses a preparation substance called Gesso. Gesso is used to eliminate a rough surface such as that of an unprepared canvass. This gives her the ability to control the texture with the paint which gives the wonderful illusion of being three dimensional. Guy-Anne is in no hurry to complete her paintings and the 4 – 5 days of preparing the canvas; applying Gesso, waiting for it to dry and sanding in between each application sets her apart from many artists. For her, although the preparation takes time, it makes the actual painting easier to do and a lot more fun.

All of Guy-Anne’s hard work and dedication has enabled her to achieve recognition at the international level. For the 2011-2012 year she was a finalist for her painting Callas et Roses sur Vase Carnival for the Art Renewal Center Salon. This competition garners 2100 entries and the finalists represent the top 24% of all works submitted from around the world. Her work was also selected to be on the cover of the Febuary-March 2012 issue of International Artist Magazine. And most recently, she was asked to be a member of The Group of Twelve. This group is made up of some of the finest realist artists in Canada today.

Guy-Anne’s Friend’s Portrait Done in Charcoal

Although this recognition is for her still life paintings, Guy-Anne told us she is now up for another challenge. She loves the human face. Her focus these days is to capture the real emotion in a portrait of someone. After spending a bit of time with Guy-Anne, there is no doubt in my mind that she will be able to rise up to this challenge and meet what ever goal she has set for herself. She is an inspiring woman indeed!