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.