Education, Life in the Studio, and Interests
My academics, and how I got into art.
I have always wanted to be an artist, but at school was marked out for academics and I went to university for Geography followed by teaching qualifications and a professional Certificate in Ecology and Conservation. My art became subsumed into my teaching- worksheets, blackboard drawing, field sketching, map-making, and always incorporated something vaguely left-brain- descriptions, data, graphs, equations and physics, and chemistry and biology where required. Whilst at Uni I took extra-curricular courses and classes where I could. Silversmithing at Sir John Cass School of Art, and pottery at night school, and in weaving too with my teacher training. I also made costumes for local drama productions and re-enactors, clothes for myself and my family, jewellery for friends and myself. I also collaged, painted household items, and generally exercised my art muscles as best I could.
I married into the Canadian military which meant that my academic qualifications were not so well understood, and the constant moving from one location to another meant that I basically took whatever teaching job was available. Since I had a track record of working well with students with learning differences, that is what brought in the money. In 2009, we moved to Louisiana and I decided then and there to start painting again seriously. I joined an art group, painted, exhibited and taught oil. I haven’t looked back from that point- still taking classes where I can, teaching what I know about art from time to time, and gradually building up a body of work that I am proud of.
My studio and my home.
My studio is part of my home. We bought our home- a pretty but not particularly noteworthy bungalow -on 12 acres of mixed, well-developed forest bordered on one end by the Tay River and the other on a gravel road. We have the requisite daily visits from deer, and lots of birds and all the usual pretty things: also the occasional coyote, bear, fox, fisher and mink, raptors and herons. It’s a wildlife corridor, and we are keeping it for the planet! It gives my husband-a wounded warrior with PTSD – the peace and space he needs and me the same, plus a forest to watch, catalogue, and learn from. It doesn’t make it into my art an awful lot, but I am working on that. Five years on, neither of us has had a moment of regret about the move here.
What Arty things do I do now?
I am a member of the Rideau Lakes Artists and Manotick Art Associations, and participate in their shows, volunteer in various capacities, etc.
I always enjoy learning more- currently improving my drawing skills with Richard Hutton and colour theory/batik with Jenn Raby.
I have reached “master” in Batik classes, and assist in teaching the same once or twice a year.
I am a founder member of Art Works! Perth and enjoy working with other artists.
With Jenn Raby I have started Perth Visual Voice Development, which , with some support of the Town of Perth, aims to make art-making more accessible to local people, and whose main achievements so far have been to find and subsidize space for lessons and paint-ins.
I have exhibited in Streve Design on Gore St. in Perth, in local restaurants with the RLAA.
My favourite things
My three favourite Facebook pages are :
“Geomorphology Rules” – an academic (university-level) page,
“Female Artists in History”- again, fairly academic, but full of wonderful deceased artists, and
I like cooking, especially with local and seasonal produce. I have been known to knit and sew clothing , too.
It's important to me to "live lightly" on this planet; we are reducing our environmental footprint more and more as time goes on.
What do I believe about my art?
For my landscape oil painting, which is my principle medium and subject, I believe that I am expressing the unique aspects of that particular, real place and everything that goes into making that place. I am conscious of time -- time of day, weather, season, history, prehistory, and geological processes. I am conscious of place -- immediate location, water pattern, vegetation, human usage and reputation, animal usage, region, continent, latitude, longitude, altitude and gravity. I try and express these in my painting. In a way, my paintings are illustrations, teaching tools maybe. I hope they help people appreciate not only the “beauty” they find around them, but also the workings of Nature and Humankind that have gone into the making of that view.
Example: “Equinox (at Menec) ” was prompted by some photos I took years go of a prehistoric site in France, and includes my feelings, my subsequent research on the place, and the serendipitous shaft of sunlight that pierced through the damp mist one day that suggested to me that the whole place is, in fact a prehistoric calendar of some kind.
I use other media for different reasons: often if I have strong emotion to deal with, I will resort to acrylic for its speed and ease of completion.
Examples: I have a little series of “cave paintings” based upon prehistoric sites in France that are small, used-quick-drying moulding compound for cave surfaces, and were fun! Again, I believe that the originals were a teaching tool, and have incorporated that into the art. “Feng Shui” was my way of dealing with the overflowing of grief in me during the Hong Kong Riots of 2019. Every stroke, shape and colour is symbolic in that one.
Batik is an utterly different medium, a very demanding communal activity, and I use it mainly to further my artistic understanding and play around with colour, shape and composition. And sometimes I really like the result!
Example: “Fashionistas” combines a study of cow anatomy and my love of fabrics and clothing!
How do I make my art?
I usually start with photographs (mine or somebody else's) that evoke a memory, a poem or song, or connect with something going on in my life. I often will do a little alla prima (rarely a detailed drawing) first, and then scale it up. But I keep the real place, the real people, in the picture. I do not invent landscapes.