Artist of the Week – Stephanie Rayner

June 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

Watercolour Print Artist, Stephanie Rayner

Dan Brown has it. Nelson Mandela has it. And this week’s Artist of the Week, Stephanie Rayner, has it.

“It” is the ability to inspire people to question their beliefs. Perhaps not change anyone’s mind, but to start an internal dialogue. To encourage someone to realize that the status quo can evolve, that the necessary evolution of ideas will lead to a greater depth of understanding. Rayner engages the viewer not by forcing them to question whether what she creates is art, but instead, whether or not they are ready to ascend to a new level of perception.

She blends religion, mythology, science, art, music, media, and ideas into thought-provoking works. Every piece is not just beautiful, but opens the doors to new dimensions waiting to be discovered. Her print works are layers upon layers of watercolour and subtleties of colour and texture; her gallery creations are typically large, often installation-style pieces blending research, innuendo, metaphor, and allegory.

Although her epic creations take hundreds of hours to create and years of planning and research, her beginnings were humble enough. In this day and age, many children and youth are raised to be empowered – they believe they can do anything, be anything. Despite coming from a long line of artists, Rayner’s father discouraged her, claiming that “There’s no place for women in art”, nor would there be.

Stephanie took the advice to heart. Rather than pursuing her lifelong dream, she decided that if she couldn’t be an artist she would choose a field so closely related to it that it would amount to almost the same thing: interior design. But, either through a cruel twist of fate or part of a larger, grander design, Rayner soon realized that while her part-time jobs could collectively pay for tuition, her pockets weren’t deep enough to pay for the supplies and materials required. (Sadly, her “burlap and found-object chairs” simply didn’t impress the instructors – after all, there are only so many things you can make out of burlap before it loses its novelty…) She abandoned her studies to see the world…

In this day and age, it is hard to find places as yet undiscovered, or at the very least, off the “beaten-track”. But fortunately for Stephanie (who’d always wanted a TIME MACHINE!), there were still places in the 70s that just hadn’t quite made it into the 20th century. And the call to adventure began… Afghanistan, Iran, Central & South America, Hindu Kush…

In Africa, she lived in a tree house à la Swiss Family Robinson, during one of her trips to North Africa she was caught by slave-traders. In Central America, she rode out a hurricane with her partner in a tiny mail boat out of Belize, only to be marooned afterwards by the sailors when provisions ran low. As though torn from the pages of R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island itself, they met their own Ben Gunn: a man stuck on the island who’d built a raft. With three people to man it, they landed on the shores of Guatemala at 2am. At gun-point.

They were stood against a wall, a firing squad in front of them.

Rayner recollects that she walked right towards the man in charge, his machine gun raised and trained on her, fearlessly whistling. It wasn’t until she had to sleep in a cabin with thousands of rats that her mettle deserted her. “They were like maggots, if you’ve ever seen a lot of them: they were sliding back and forth over each other, and wriggling and writhing. I didn’t scream when I thought I was going to be shot. I screamed when I saw the rats.”

Detail of “Spirit”

These experiences perhaps ingrained what Stephanie now understands to be a universal truth : “[The human] ability to deal with the world has always involved art and expression, it is a window for the soul,” she explains, “From the beginning, cavemen used art to deal with things beyond their understanding.” That might begin to explain why she whistled a tune in the face of almost certain death…

Nor was the episode in Guatemala the last of her adventures. In 1999, Rayner was asked to speak in Malta at joint INSAPP II, a Vatican Symposium on religion and science. Then, Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Learning hosted her in 2002, to lecture a group of international scholars on “Art and the Evolution of Human Consciousness” in Palo Alto, California. A couple years later, the Zygon Centre in Chicago invited her to speak at their “Epic of Creation Lecture Series”. While the next few years calmed down ever-so-slightly, the momentum picked up once more when she was invited to China in 2009 to teach her own unique printing process at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, in Shen Yang, and to lecture on her art at various other universities and institutes throughout China.

She spoke of meaning and soulfulness in art; and how, possessed of the best technique in the world, an artist (or a work of art) can still lack soul and vitality. It was, for her, an incredible experience. Teaching energizes her; she sees the potential in each and every student and she loves to see the students blossom in their creativity.

The two courses she’s offering this summer in watercolour printmaking will no doubt be fantastic; the first, Watercolour Monotypes, will be running from July 30th – Aug 3rd and encourages students to loosen up in their creative process, while still achieving outstanding and breathtaking results; the second, Impasto Waterbase Printmaking, will be running the following week from Aug 6th – 10th and teaches the intense layering of pigmentation that reveals itself as the prints are pulled. Students have virtually filled the halls with drying prints – all exceptionally beautiful and totally unique to the artists.

“The medium is forgiving, it’s experimental but you can have control, too,” she says about her watercolour printmaking techniques. “If you dance with it, it dances back. And there has to be teamwork in the process as well: students assist each other at the press and everyone is excited when a new print is pulled. You can hear us cheering in the halls!”

Her current work in progress will be the culmination of many years of work and research: a twenty-nine foot boat titled Eternal Return, it reveals the shared mythology of the many cultures that make use of a boat to journey to the Otherworld. It is an epic mixed-media work involving moose ribs, wood, glass, DNA-sequencing, Mozart’s Requiem, dice, and countless hours of research and construction. We can’t wait to see it!

To register for either of Stephanie’s workshops, or for more information, please call 1-866-353-6464 x3 or visit us online at www.hsta.ca

To get in touch with Stephanie, please visit her website at www.stephanierayner.com

Art Tips and Tricks for your next art project – JerrysArtarama.com

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Art Tips and Tricks for your next art project – JerrysArtarama.com.

Looking for great tips and tricks for your art projects? Look no further!

This image borrowed from http://www.suzyssitcom.com, another great place for tips, tricks, and project ideas!

Here are tried and true ways of making the most of what you’ve got as well as improving old techniques! Great for drawing and painting artists, but don’t be discouraged if you work in a different medium… There’s loads of cool stuff in this article! Click the link at the top of the page…

Artist of the Week – Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

May 17, 2012 § 11 Comments

Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman

“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” Desmond Tutu, on ubuntu

Her eyes, even in the most dim conditions, seem to sparkle with an inner light. They dance, they laugh, they sing. She possesses one of those rare and pure gazes that has the ability of seeing right into a person. It is not invasive or unwelcome; you simply get the feeling that she wants to connect, to share stories and emotions, to bridge that part of all of us that keeps us apart: space.

The many years that Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman has spent in selfless service, being involved in missions from an early age in Asia and Europe, becoming an elementary teacher and  a professor, then using those skills as the president of a Christian humanitarian organization working in parts of Africa and the Caribbean to improve education for children, have served to shape both her and her outlook on life.

Some might argue that pulling away from those efforts, giving it all up to create art, well, it might seem a hair… selfish. Until, upon seeing her creations, you realize that she is undoubtedly doing the world a greater service by becoming an artist.

“My aim is to evoke universal emotions in the viewer that will encourage him or her to tap into the spirit of “Ubuntu”:  what it means to be truly human – “to be wrapped up in the bundle of life”,” she writes.  “I have become profoundly aware of how interconnected we are – with each other and with nature. Art is a vehicle through which I can explore and honour that.”

There is unquestionably in all of her artwork a touch of the whimsical, a hint of fancy. But when you actually look at her work, you will find countless other attributes that are nuanced and revealed with such subtlety and nobility, that you will wonder why it has taken Jennifer so long to share her inner-artist with us.

Her mixed-media pieces are liable to be made of nearly anything from metal and wood to glass and eggshells. The juxtaposition of these materials is equally as stunning as the work themselves: on the one hand there is a feeling of permanence, a sense of longevity and durability; yet, the organic materials incorporated flawlessly into the work reveal a fragility and offer the distinct impression that the function of everything on earth is ephemeral, merely awaiting its next stage where it will be re-purposed and given a new task.

Of all of her pieces, each one unique with no duplications, perhaps one of the most striking and powerful is that titled Offering. Made of river stones, burlap, concrete, branches, and metal it depicts a woman kneeling with her arms raised, hands in a gesture of giving, and face tilted toward the heavens. When looking at it, you’re struck by an overwhelming sense of power; there is no surrender in her offer, no weakness. The woman is offering herself, as she is – heart, body, mind, and soul – to a greater power, and in this way shows her vulnerability as well. There is no weakness, true, but in offering everything she has to give, there is without question a sense of vulnerability: what if her offering is refused?

       

Jennifer cast various pieces of herself for the project: hands, feet, face, torso, buttocks. And, while it was a very emotional piece to create due to its symbolic connections with the artist’s own beliefs, the sculpture itself maps out beautifully what it means to truly be a woman: strength and sacrifice.

And, what it takes to be human: courage and hope.

We can’t wait to see what Jennifer creates next. She has been recognized by the college not only for her exceptional work but also her consistently positive outlook on life, and will be the valedictorian for this year’s graduating class. Jennifer was also recently nominated for the BMO Student Art Competition and our fingers are crossed for her!

For more information about Jennifer Wilson-Bridgman, please contact her by email at jwilsonbridgman@sympatico.ca or by phone at 905-730-8839 . Her website will be coming soon!

picture of jennifer wilson-bridgman

Jen, doing teacher development training in Kenya, makes friends with a couple of “orphelines”…

Artist of the Week – Matthew Mancini

May 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Matthew Mancini

 

 

Growing up, art has always been an integral part of Matthew’s life – that and dreams of one day playing professional baseball. During his early teens Matthew spent his summers on house league and competitive teams, but as it started to get more serious, the fun seemed to slip away. The fun from drawing all his favorite comic book characters, however, never did. Although making millions of dollars batting a ball around was attractive, playing with pencils and paints seemed to take precedence.

Was it the right choice? Probably.

After attending an arts high school Matthew Mancini went on to study in the fine arts program at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. However, after his first trip to Italy, it became clear that traditional figurative and landscape work was something he wanted to explore. OCAD leaned more towards the conceptual and abstract aspect of art which did not appeal to him.

Upon his return, he left OCAD after completing two years to pursue a more classical realist approach that led him on a six-year study at a private atelier in Toronto of the techniques used in the 19th Century ateliers of Paris, France; those of which are based on trade secrets handed down since the Renaissance. Much of his work seeks to return to the archival craftsmanship of the old masters, as well as the humanist principles found throughout past movements of art. Most influential to his work are the paintings of John Singer Sargent, Joachim Sorolla, Zorn, Ilya Repin, Kramskoi, Rembrandt, Monet, and Annigoni to name a few, where the techniques of each combine to find their way into his own paintings.

Having a foremost interest in portraiture, landscape painting has become increasingly of interest. With Matthew’s spouse getting work in Minden, Ontario, in 2011, the move has given him ample opportunity and inspiration that Toronto can’t offer in the same way. The Canadian landscape is some of the best in the world and with formal portrait paintings taking anywhere from 1 to 3 months, the immediacy of landscape painting is quite satisfying. Becoming part of the Fleming College community in the fall of 2011 has been a great experience for Mancini as well, teaching workshop courses, and soon to be joining the talented roster of the Visual Arts Fundamentals: Drawing and Painting instructors.

This summer he will be attending ‘Art in Action’ in London, England: an annual event in which artists set up their studio and work while onlookers interact with them. Artists travel from across the UK and, in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, from commonwealth countries, as well. This event attracts more than 25,000 visitors over four days, and Matthew will have the honor of representing Canada.

Matthew’s days are spent learning, painting and teaching, as well as preparing works for upcoming events.

He can be reached via his website at http://www.matthewmanciniart.com/

Matt will be teaching summer art courses at HSTA, as well as courses at the Peterborough campus in the fall:

Painting – Design & Composition, July 9-13

Figure in the Landscape, Aug 13-17

Portraiture Workshop, Oct 27th, 9am – 5pm, Peterborough Campus

For more information on the courses including course descriptions, please go to http://flemingcollege.ca/school/haliburton-school-of-the-arts#course-calendar

Van Gogh Letters

April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Van Gogh Letters

For unique insight into the life of one of history’s most influential artists, take a glance through the personal letters he wrote. His correspondence is intriguing and certainly some the influences of his personal life on his art are abundantly clear.

Enjoy!

PROCESS 29 – Pictures of the Main Event

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here are the pictures you’ve all been waiting for.

Browse around and enjoy!

If you haven’t been to see the show for yourself yet, make sure you go soon! It wraps on March 31st!

Check it out for yourself at the Rail’s End Gallery, in Haliburton, ON.

Artist of the Week – Mary Kroetsch

March 5, 2012 § 2 Comments

Mary Kroetsch

She’s an artist, a student, an entrepreneur, and exceptionally talented. Not only has Mary Kroetsch graduated from the Fibre Arts program at HSTA in 2004, but she has also expanded her horizons with courses from George Brown, the New Brunswick Arts & Crafts College, and the Stratford Festival of the Arts. Her work is displayed internationally.

This week, we were lucky to catch up with her as she was preparing for the Big Art Book Digital Anthology Launch Party on March 1st

Better than anyone, Mary can tell you how important story-telling is to her; it inspires her, it shapes her artwork, it pulls people closer together and weaves a grand tapestry of nostalgia. 

And so her story begins, not with “once-upon-a-time” as so many stories do, but with a sewing class. Yes, that’s right, a sewing class. At the tender age of ten years-old, Kroetsch’s mother enrolled her in a sewing class, never dreaming that it would become a life-long passion for her daughter. Her father, an amateur photographer, has also greatly influenced Mary’s work. “It is the 100 plus years of forgotten family life in the albums and shoe boxes I have in my possession, that spurs me on to reclaim forgotten memories,” Kroetsch shares. “By bringing memories out of the box and incorporating them into a contemporary art piece, I give the viewer permission to reach out and touch.”

And Please touch! No white gloves required! could be her war cry… She explains that textile art is often seen as fragile and precious; viewers are afraid to interact with the pieces. She urges viewers, however, to interact with her work. She carefully pulls us once more to the shoebox of inspiration: “Our memories are fragile and precious, too. If we don’t constantly, and lovingly, fondle memories, they soon become forgotten in an old shoebox.” She wants viewers to know that art is both friendly and accessible; it can result in an amazing experience for all involved, from artist to gallery-goer.

Over the past few years, Kroetsch has had the privilege of installing some exceptional and interactive pieces. One of them, The Fractoral Heart project, allowed people to spend time walking the emotional labyrinth she created – contemplating and remembering the emotions that made them smile and hurt. Another, titled the Take a Memory – Leave a Memory project, required that visitors be gifted with a photographic memory in exchange for a letter sharing a personal remembrance, inspired by the photograph.

She reveals that her glorious plan to “make it big” in the Art World within five years of graduating at the college, didn’t quite work out. Priorities have changed, experimental directions were taken and now she quite simply says, “I make art – full stop. I [don’t] want my work to be categorized as Fine Craft or Textile Art.” And in such a competitive industry, labels are a dime a dozen.

Her parting thoughts to us are, in fact, advice for any art student: aspiring, current, or graduated:

“Don’t waste the education you are getting with HSTA.  It is easy to be disillusioned by a teacher you don’t care for or even distracted by a topic you feel has no value to your art form.  Everything that is being shared with you has value – if not now – then later. And ask questions.  Your teachers are working Artists.  Try and coax their secrets for their success out of them.  It might save you some time if you are looking to make art your life.”

 

ImageTo see more about the Big Art Book, go to http://scarborougharts.com/2012/03/big-art-book/

For more information about the artist, please visit Mary’s website at www.textile_mixedmedia_artist.cachelan.com/

She can also be reached via phone at 519-265-0666, as well as by email at talisman-fibre-arts@live.ca

Teaser – Artist of the Week

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week’s Artist of the Week will be Fibre Artist Mary Kroetsch. Stay tuned for her article at the end of the week!

Don’t miss her at the Big Art Book Digital Anthology Launch Party:

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 from 7pm -9pm

Doris McCarthy Gallery

1265 Military Trail, Toronto

Artist of the Week – Ashley Kirby

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ashley Kirby

Her jewellery journey began in 6th grade when she purchased a Fimo bead and hemp bracelet how-to book. By tenth grade, she was already selling her jewellery at a flea market just outside of Parry Sound. Before the end of high school, she’d “tried it all” – as much as any eighteen year-old can delve into… Hemp, gimp, beading, weaving… She even took a drawing and painting class here and there.

Now, a two-time graduate of HSTA’s Certificate programs, she’s begun to bring it all together: years slaving away making knotted jewellery trained her for the complex wire knots and beaded masses that she calls rings. “Almost all of the rings are one single piece of wire, woven in and out with beads, pearls, and crystal. Each ring tends to take on a life of its own. I generally let the beads and the wire dictate to me how the ring will be shaped. It makes every single one unique.”

And indeed they are. From cocktail parties to everyday fun, the bright colours and one-of-a-kind construction certainly make for a great piece. “I started off with the idea of having a ‘Champagne Collection’; you know, mostly bridal and black-tie bijoux. But, I just couldn’t resist the colours… Whether I wear it with jeans or a fancy dress, just wearing one of the rings brightens my mood.” Not that her mood needs much brightening, when she attended HSTA she was always caught with a smile on her face. Best of all, this young woman is proof positive that a particular area of study, does not dictate what medium an artist works in. Her areas of study? Blacksmithing and Photo Arts…

“Well, when I took the blacksmithing program,” she explains, “mostly it was because I’ve always been drawn to history prior to about 1900. I’m the sort of person that still seals envelopes with wax when I send letters to my friends.” She sends letters? Like in the actual mail with stamps? “As for the photography… well, I’d always wanted to take photography in high school and simply never had the chance… So I came here to remedy that.”

Today, she blends (very) small-scale metalwork with various beads into delightfully colourful, fun, fresh, and elegant jewellery. And her camera is there to document it.

Ashley can create custom jewellery to match any occasion or taste, as well as size. Each piece is individually made. She can be reached at 226-929-6871 or visit her website at www.ank-designs.com where she can be reached via email.

Artist of the Week – Cassandra Hincks

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cassandra Hincks

Art: it inpsires, it thrills, it liberates, it shares, and of course, it makes us feel. Feeling does not always come when you’re an observer; occasionally, art does not move people at all. But most often, it moves people differently. Three people all looking at an apple see the apple in very different ways… But, when you’re looking at a painting of an apple, what do you feel then? The awe and wonder the artist has for such a delicious and beautiful fruit? Do you understand the loathing for a healthy snack, forced on the artist for years by health-conscious parents? Or perhaps, there is no feeling at all: a lifeless, wonderless piece of art?

This week’s Artist of the Week, Cassandra Hincks, offers to the viewer a true bevy of emotion. She evokes everything from whimsical fancy, to adventure, to the very stuff of a coulrophobe’s worst nightmares. The emotional journey this emerging artist can inspire is breathtaking… But how did she start?

Her journey began with horses, her first subjects, at a very young age. Their grace and majesty filled pages in her sketchbook as she was drawn into the world of art. “It then grew into a sort of therapy for me and helped me to forget about the world for a bit,” she explains. “It was something I could get lost in and just become completely focused on and I loved it.”

Needless to say, her focus was worth the effort, as her passion grew so, too, did her skill. She began to explore the minutist details of nature: water droplets on a leaf after a rainfall, a misty morning in the woods, the tufts of hair on a beloved cat. Her eye for detail became ever more attuned to the world around her. And what catches her eye serves as inspiration. It allows her the freedom to choose various subjects, to try new things and to explore the limits of what can be transferred to a canvas or a sheet of paper.

“My inspiration comes from many things, but mainly thoughts, experiences, and just random ideas that pop into my head. I’m pretty much just exploring everything that I can and trying to find myself as an artist as well as a person.”

No stranger to a small-town atmostphere, Hincks understood she was never meant for the “big city”. Raised in Nippissing, it was the quiet presence of nature that first drew her to the Haliburton School of the Arts: the intense dislike she feels for the fast-paced environment of city-life was not the ideal headspace for her…

While attending her program, Hincks explored the connection between fibre and painting, weaving the mediums together into intriguing compositions. “[At] school I learned so many things, it made it really hard to find a medium I absolutely love; I enjoy little things about them all so I combine them a lot  and switch back and forth. Right now, I’m exploring graphite on raw canvas and embroidery.”

And her explorations are certainly poignant: although the experience might differ for every viewer, there is no question that every viewer will certainly feel something when they experience Hinck’s works.

Cassandra can be contacted via email at cassandrahincks@hotmail.com .

To view more of her work, please go to www.cassandrahincks.weebly.com .

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