It took me a while to see where the idea of bridging fit with my art. And then it came to me as I was working on a new painting, of a subject completely new to me. This subject presented itself to me because of new directions my life has been taking over the past year. A major life change presented an opportunity to realize something I’d often thought of, the chance to live back on the west coast. So I rented an apartment for a year to start with and have been going back and forth over the winter.
I grew up out there but have been away almost 50 years, so it has been a rediscovery of the old and the new. Seeing it from the viewpoint of art making is also new, and I have been inspired by the new/old landscape of the coast. Exploring new subjects which have caught my attention has renewed my imagination and exploration.
As part of these new changes, you will notice that I have also gone back to my original name of McGrath. So my way of seeing as a painter, a moving those visions to painting has been the bridge between my past life and the life I am now making for myself. The amazing support and love of my dear friends and family has made this transition possible and I am so grateful for them. So onward!
As a post script, the new subject I was working on is the painting here of the heron. I’ve not done any kind of animal or bird before, particularly in a landscape, and I have been quite pleased with my first attempt.
Marilyn’s work bridges the landscapes of Saskatchewan, from flowers in her back yard, to the alleyways of the city, to the boreal forest. The link between them are the reds and magentas that underpin much of Marilyn’s paintings. Marilyn sketches and takes photos to use as the foundation for her striking paintings.
My work has always centred around the natural world … art has always been an outlet to my awe of nature and the wonder of the natural living world around me. I have always sought to imbue that sense of wonderment and spirit into the scenes that evolve under my brush. To bridge if you will, the energy and cycle of life to the paper I commit my work to…
In the last while my work has been shaped by commissions; clients looking to capture the life energy and presence of their animal companions in a picture. In these works I strive to bridge that character and presence, to bring life into the forms I create. As I have been working on these, I find time slips into timeliness….minutes slip into hours….and I have become caught up in the energy of these beautiful subjects. Looking back I find that my effort has been to breathe life into my subjects, be they whimsical florals, cheeky chickadees or simply the waves of fronds of grass on the prairies. With subjects full of life, I look to bridge their energy and presence into that of the beholder. To share my sense of wonderment of all that is life….
Do you see what I see?
Bridging – Do you see what I see?
Hmmmm, probably not! I see the world in a unique Sharron way. Some see a sky that isn’t blue, and a sun that doesn’t shine as a gray and gloomy scene. I see a mauve, blue-violet and silver sky, backlit trees and buildings edged in bright highlights. Some see the shoreline as water, trees and rocks and more water, trees and rocks. I see soft, lazy ripples of water, golden backlit trees and sunbathed dappled rocks as my canoe meanders and passes by. The next dip of my oar will change the scene again into something new and unexpected.
My paintings are a reaction to what I see and feel about nature, places and people. I have a desire to connect and recreate these things through my art.
One way that I have bridged my art is by studying and using some of the work of Gustav Klimt to inform my own. I had seen some of his original work and found his use of paint and shapes to be very interesting and realized that our work had a lot in common. We both use metallics in our work and a lot of his imagery such as flowers, line and shapes were similar to ones that I was already using. I love to use colour and really enjoyed the bold, exciting colour that is often found in Klimt’s work.
Last spring I embarked on a series of paintings for a show that I was having at the University Club on the U of S Campus. I don’t usually paint large canvases and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to work big and explore this subject matter. I chose six of my favourite of Klimt’s pieces and did my interpretation of them. One way that my work differs is that Klimt did a lot of portrait work while I prefer to use other imagery to get my message across.
Several years ago I started making Artist Trading Cards in an effort to use up my stash of collage materials, and it quickly became a bit of an obsession. These are tiny artworks, the size of playing cards, traditionally traded with other artists rather than sold. Realizing that I wasn’t making much of a dent in the vast amount of found papers I’ve accumulated, I started offering workshops to share the fun I’ve had with this project.
Through these workshops, I have discovered that offering opportunities for other people to explore and express their innate creativity brings me as much joy as making art myself. It’s very satisfying to feel the hum of creative energy in the room as people sift through the array of papers I’ve brought, pick out the ones that appeal to them, and then experience the delight of combining bits and pieces into something completely new. I love seeing how each person brings their own unique style to this process, and especially, to witness the deep pleasure that comes from reawakening creative abilities that may have lain dormant for many years.
Wall of art cards
One way I bridge my art with the community is by offering to be ‘Guest Artist’ in school classrooms. There, I introduce the notion of stitch as an art form, and fabric as a medium. I bridge longstanding craft skills with contemporary fine art. The joy and wonder that comes out when children create with such an unconventional and tactile medium is absolutely a delight for me to witness.
I begin by showing photographs of prairie landscapes that are near and dear to my heart. I have the children recall and contemplate their own experiences of travel and road trips. I have them tell me all the colours they have ever seen on the land, in the sky, and of the water. I remind them about how those colours change with day and night, and throughout the seasons. Suddenly everyone seems to have a story to tell and the room is buzzing with energy.
That’s when I bring out my ‘art supplies: piles of fabrics and yarn. Children of all ages and abilities dive in and deeply enjoy the act of visual story telling with vibrant colours, patterns and textures. Because it’s an unexpected medium, there is no preconceived notion of right or wrong, good or bad, success or failure. It’s incredibly fulfilling to witness the sense of accomplishment and pride in the students as they create and then tell me the stories behind their pieces. I feel honoured to introduce young people to my world of textile art. Who knows where it will lead?
In February, I will be one of several local artists running a workshop for the Children’s Discovery Museum on the Saskatchewan. To learn more about this ‘Storyscapes’ series, head to the CDM website. http://www.museumforkids.sk.ca/whats-happening/