Final week to catch this show!
Ryan Monahan explores colour in the work he is showing at the WAG this month, but he also wears his artistic creations on his body, albeit in monotone. I spoke to him while he was hanging his acrylic paintings on Friday, and discovered that the tattoos are a reflection of his earliest interest in drawing. As a LaSalle high school student, Ryan liked to make patterns and geometric shapes. He created his first tattoo at the age of 18 and, after five sessions in a tattoo parlour, now wears his own designs on his arms: a series of thin, irregular and wavy lines encircling his upper arm and shoulder; a geometric Möbius strip-like shape; an Escher-like configuration that he calls Impossible Triangles; and an intricate circular pattern reminiscent of an old-fashioned doily. His most recent tattoo--a smaller and simpler creation comprised of parallel gently curving lines that bring to mind a shell or a fountain—is perhaps a more accurate indication of his current interests in abstraction.
For Ryan, who is employed at Sodexo (Queen’s hospitality services), painting is a hobby. It began after high school when he used watercolour to make landscapes and flowers. He moved into abstraction when he became interested in using a tablet to create digital paintings. One-and-a-half years ago he switched to acrylics and now, at age 22, his abstract expressionist canvasses cover a range of sizes, the largest, Cerulean, dominating the walls of the WAG.
With only 12 works on view, the paintings have room to breathe. And breathe they do, as each of them conveys a kinetic energy. Chroma, a blooming of reds into browns and golds, demonstrates deftly animated brushstrokes, as do all of Ryan’s paintings, in this case short, curved irregular marks. Radiant, on the other hand, uses longer, textured, sinuous strokes that evoke fire.
“How do you know when a painting is finished?” I ask the inevitable question that addresses one of an artist’s conundrums. “I just have a sense. I do a painting all in one day. I’ll take a break and then determine if it needs more work.” Torrent was the most difficult to finish, Ryan recalls. In contrast to the works in which paint has been added in thick, opaque layers, or work with overall colour, this painting is composed of bold, wide, red, black and beige brushstrokes on a white canvas. The starkness is alleviated by transparent drips, created when Ryan added water. Imagine the artist with paintbrush in one hand and squeeze bottle in the other. Torrent was his first attempt at this method and he says it was hard to know when to stop.
The paint/drip process is one Ryan has continued to use and then further exploited by hanging his paintings with drips appearing sideways or upside-down. Incandescent, as a result, feels more horizontally striated, while the upward-flowing drips in Cerulean conjure stalagmites in a cave-like setting that draws the eye to a central opening of textured blue light.
COLOUR THEORY continues at the Window Art Gallery until June 23, 2018.
There is a new brewery in town, Spearhead Brewery! They have set up brewing on Development Drive beside Raxx. When you walk in, you enter their little Spearhead shop. It is full of Spearhead swag, including t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and a huge wall-sized fridge filled with their tall cans of freshly brewed beer. Their staff are friendly and are able to help with any inquiries. In the next room, the lighting is dimmed with a bar in the middle, an amazing life-sized mural to the left, and the back wall covered with ceiling to floor windows where patrons can look into the brewery itself. The space is industrial, warm, inviting, and the new venue for KSOA associated artists to hang their art work.
Tap Room and Retail Manager Steph reached out the KSOA in hopes of finding interested local Kingston artists to cover the walls of the brewery. I was lucky enough to have answered her call and to quickly find artists that would jump on the Spearhead wagon! Spearhead Brewery had a private opening late in March so time was of the essence to find one or two people who would be ready to hang. The first round of artists was Margaret Brackley and myself. We both were able to put up at least a handful of artworks including alcohol inks, paintings, and wall weavings. We were extremely lucky in hanging as the walls were grated and all we had to use were “s” hooks. Easy peezy.
With a two-month rotation, there is now a new pair of artists with work up in the Brewery for May and June. They are Tina Barnes and Gaylan Fitsell. Both of these ladies brought a wonderful variety to the space. This includes fibre art with steel and wire, painting on barn wood, and little moody landscapes.
The KSOA is extremely honored and excited to be working with Spearhead to provide local artists with the opportunity to showcase their work in such a unique location. So, if you are looking for a new local hangout, a tour and tastings, and possibly thinking of adding some amazing artwork to your place, visit Spearhead Brewery at 675 Development Drive, Kingston, ON.
Carolina Rojas "The Isabel Bader"
Janis Grant "November Evening at Lemoine Point"
Irene Marie Dorey "The Tradition Continues"
The walls are never bare for long at the WAG. Once one exhibition comes down, only a day or two go by before the next show goes up. The gallery truly serves the community well.
On Tuesday Carolyn Huff-Winters and Peggy Lum-Brouillard were hard at it. Armed with ladder, hammer, nails and hooks, as well as a keen eye, they were searching for aesthetic flow. By day’s end the two artists-cum-gallery technicians had found places on the walls and on plinths for 58 pieces by the Bath Artisans.
Currently at 41 members, the Artisans are comprised of an eclectic group that produces jewellery, paintings, woodcarvings and fused glass. Not all have contributed to this show, but pieces by the artist members are also on display at St. John’s Hall in Bath, which is a permanent venue for their work and serves as a monthly meeting place from September to June.
Carolyn Huff-Winters wears many hats in the group. A painter of abstracts and figurative works, she is also VP and Education Co-ordinator. In the latter role she organizes workshops as well as 15- to 30-minute presentations by members, who are encouraged to talk about their artistic process as well as their sources of inspiration.
The variety of subject matter in myriad media now on view at the WAG is impressive: from pendants made of sea glass and shells, through landscapes, portraits and still lifes, to intensely coloured abstractions, large and small.
The Bath Artisans exhibition continues until Sunday, May 27, with a reception on Saturday, May 5, from 2 to 4pm.
Marta Scythes tells little stories, makes fun of herself, and has no qualms about saying “Cool!” when one of her demos looks pretty great. She’s been teaching pen and ink techniques for years, and last Sunday marked her 20th using her engaging teaching style in aid of the KSOA. Marta’s workshop paid tribute to Helen Stannard, who was a founding member of the art school and a studio member in Marta’s printmaking class at St. Lawrence College before the visual arts program there was cancelled.
I, along with eight other men and women, had signed up. Spending a day drawing with pen and ink was a good way to support the school, I thought, and to rekindle an interest in a medium I had used early in my career as a graphic artist. Back in the 80s my first professional income came from doing editorial cartoons and illustrations for small magazines and newspapers. So, out came my 30-year-old bottles of India ink (with caps that needed a good soaking to loosen), pen nibs, nib holders, pencils (4H to 6B), soft-brush pen, hard-nibbed pens (0.3 and 0.5), sketchbook and paper.
Okay, so some of these items were more recent acquisitions, and some I didn’t even use during the workshop. Too busy. Marta introduced us to 10 pen and ink textures; she had us making small tonal studies using whichever texture we fancied, and then we created a complementary decorative border; she had us drawing with sticks (see the accompanying sketch); we laid down ink like watercolour; she had us spraying our paper with water before and after drawing to create sometimes moody, sometimes unpredictable, and sometimes uncannily realistic trees, creatures and faces.
“Open workshop for the next half hour,” Marta would call out as we went back to our spots after a demo. Some of us had brought photos to use as reference material. I spent some time creating spontaneous images that allowed me to stand and move—my preferred method of making marks on paper. But then I buckled down and found a corkscrew to draw. It provided a suitable challenge and prompted me to use a tool I hadn’t really mastered—a soft-brush pen.
By 4pm each of us had a small portfolio of pen and ink drawings using various techniques, all different according to our own styles and interests. Thank you, Marta, for your initiative, generosity and enthusiasm.
Walking into the WAG this morning I’m not sure whether I’m in an art gallery or on a construction site. A table is covered with tools and there are bits of green painter’s masking tape stuck on one wall, where a plumb bob hangs from a piece of cardboard. Clive Elson has his measuring tape out, while Tanya Elson takes down numbers and makes calculations. Meanwhile, Bruce Millen is overseeing, wearing a leather tool belt. It’s all in preparation for hanging the 27 photos—some black and white, some colour—that make up the annual juried exhibition of the Kingston Photographic Club.
This year’s theme is “Kingston in Focus”, so, naturally, visitors will see iconic shots of the city, albeit through lenses that look for uniqueness, as well as shots of lesser known but equally compelling views: on the waterfront, in the street, inside or outside buildings, sometimes peopled, more often not. Most of the photographs have standard mounts, but there are also a couple of canvas wraps and an acrylic mount, which traps light in the top Plexiglass layer to enhance the image. One photograph is printed on aluminum, which radiates light through the image from behind.
The Kingston Photographic Club has been around for 50 years. This year, it has about 85 adult members of all ages, but mostly “a lotta grey”, says Bruce Millen, who is in charge of the annual exhibition. The club meets twice a month from September to May, hosts 12 speakers, organizes outings, and launches three competitions a year. Like most other members, Bruce enjoys the interaction and feedback that the club provides. Visitors to this juried exhibition will be encouraged to vote for their favourite photo, and awards for the top three will be given out at a club meeting after the show. Winners will be announced in this blog.
As I’m leaving the gallery, a cadre of mostly masculine members of the club arrives to help out, while Clive’s meticulous preparations continue. “I’m a scientist,” he explains. Precision matters, and hanging will go that much more smoothly. The exhibition continues until April 28, with a reception on Sunday, April 8, from 1 to 4pm.
The Kingston Photo Club's annual exhibition is now up! This year the theme is "Kingston in Focus", and the photos present beautiful and in some cases unusual depictions of our home city.
The show is on until April 29, with a reception on April 8 from 1 - 4 p.m.
On Saturday, March 10, the Thousand Islands Fine Art Association launched its exhibition and sale with an opening reception at the WAG. On hand were many of the artists whose work was on display. I spoke with several of them about the pieces they had chosen and their creative process.
Layne Larsen, a former pilot and engineer, has been painting since the age of 10. Like another wildlife painter, John James Audubon, he creates detailed watercolour vignettes of birds. Layne paints in two-hour spurts. His vignettes each require two sessions; however, for the painting entitled Drying the Feathers, he needed 12 to 15 hours to render the intricate black and white pattern created by the loon’s outspread wings. Layne’s subjects are not limited to wildlife. He tackles people, animals, landscapes, in a word, “everything.” At the moment he is working on large paintings in acrylic of historic planes for the aviation museum on the Borden military base north of Toronto.
Margaret Ebdon is a newcomer to artistic expression, which she describes in this way: “You see something in a particular way and you just have to put it on paper.” She is interested in exploring different subjects. Among her contributions is a tight, realistic still life of two cups of Tim Hortons coffee on two colourful napkins, symmetrically placed and backed by a box of Timbits. On the wall opposite we see a looser portrait of a seagull perched on driftwood. While Time for Timbits was based on an arrangement Margaret set up at home, Solitude required a bit of trial and error before the artist settled on an imaginary seascape as the setting for her gull, which was based on a photograph.
A former fibre artist, Catharina Breedyk Law switched to painting three years ago when she discovered she had an allergy to … fibres! Today she creates colourful works on paper that are “accessible, not too expensive, and uplifting.” Fantasy Bouquet began as shapes of liquid watercolour that became fanciful flowers when defined by coloured inks. More shapes and washes became textured vase and table. The background was then overpainted with a thin layer of white gouache. To further enhance the bouquet, decorative elements and rhythmic strands of leaves were added. The result: a free-flowing mixed media tapestry with vestiges of Catharina’s former medium in the French knots she attached to the central disks of some of the flowers and the individual strands of fibre that in some places act as petals. “Flowers,” says Catharina, “represent grace and joy.”
Along the River, an acrylic by Beth Bailey, was painted by adding swathes of blues and turquoise in layers punctuated by gold and red to create a lustrous, hazy landscape. Beth achieves the same effect in the subtly textured pink and greens of Tulips, in which the flowers flank a golden yellow background to form a luminous V-shaped negative space.
There are 52 artworks on the floor of the WAG, propped up against the wall all around the room, tentatively paired with others, waiting for their ultimate spot in the exhibition. They will be moved several times—depending on their colour and size—to create a pleasing arrangement, salon style. There are still lifes, landscapes, seascapes, abstractions and a couple of portraits, in media that range from acrylic and oil to watercolour and collage. Thirteen artists have contributed work to the exhibition, and four are currently moving about, rearranging, hammering, discussing placement.
“What do you think of this?” says Ingrid Schmidt as she balances two small autumn landscapes beside a large painting in stark swatches of brown and tan and white. A resident of Gananoque, Ingrid’s contributions include a large spring scene entitled Birch Trees. Backed by a row of muted trunks, a single birch fills the foreground with vivid greens and gold. “I used the birch in my garden as reference,” she explains. Her watercolour portrait of a young man uses a more subtle technique--washes of blue, purple and gold to create an arresting image of confident youth.
Sheila Goertzen chose a historical theme for one of the paintings she contributed to this exhibition. Her detailed acrylic in tones of brown, called 1930s Train in Brockville Tunnel, is based on a sepia photograph and commemorates the opening of the tunnel as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations last year in Sheila’s home town.
Betty Matthews, from Gananoque, is working with Barb Carr to find just the right colour balance on the gallery’s south wall. Betty works in different styles, striving to achieve “something interesting”. The Jazz Trio, a bold, colourful acrylic collage, offers a sharp contrast to her watercolour entitled Foggy Sunday Morning. For this piece, Betty used Yupo paper, a plastic support that presents particular challenges for watercolour in that it has no tooth. On the plus side, because of its smoothness and non-porous nature, it can easily be washed off and revert to a blank sheet. Before it can be used, however, it must be cleaned with alcohol to remove any oil from handling, which prevents paint from adhering.
Kingston’s Barb Carr has contributed two large square collages from her series entitled Paintbox Colours. Titanium Buff is comprised of 324 small evenly spaced squares of textured buff-coloured paper, some themselves containing tiny squares in different colours arranged in different patterns: squares within squares. The overall effect is of a monotone mosaic, but a close-up inspection reveals a rich surface hiding a few random tiny images of flowers and butterflies cut from magazines, tiny strips of typed words, and coloured filaments embedded in some of the buff paper squares.
Belia Brandow, a resident of Lyn, northwest of Brockville, has dropped off several paintings in oil and acrylic. Her still lifes were set up in her studio where she has control of arrangements and lighting. Inspired by the rich colours of the Old Masters and Mary Pratt’s adept rendering of reflective material, Belia has used complementary colours to create two vibrant paintings of fruit: Pears on Foil and Turquoise and Orange Reflections, in which three oranges lie on a cobalt blue glass plate.
The Thousand Islands Fine Art Association Exhibition and Sale continues until April 1 with an opening reception on Saturday, March 10, 2-4pm.
Beyond Classrooms a Resounding Success
The WAG and KSOA moved into high gear last week as 23 Grade ¾ students from Mother Teresa Catholic School and their teacher, Andrea Fraser, spent five days with KSOA instructors and volunteers outside the classroom and in the studios and gallery. The overriding question during the week was “How do we feel when we create and view art?” Inspired by a pop-up exhibition in the WAG comprising 26 paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by ten local artists, the students daily filled sketchbooks and journals to express their burgeoning artistic talents and their personal reactions to the world of art surrounding them.
When not in the gallery, they took part in studio activities: watercolour using different techniques, monoprinting, creating prints by etching on Styrofoam, clay modelling and assemblage. An especially popular activity was working the printing press!
As the week neared its end, the young artists were back in the gallery mounting an exhibition of their work, which they entitled Beyond Limits. While parents and a Grade 5/6 class from their school attended the “opening” on Friday morning, the students acted as docents, a fitting way to use their new art vocabulary and bring their experience to a close.