The Artists' Workshop is a group of visual artists juried for membership to ensure the group's artistic quality as well as diversity of style and media. Group members focus on painting and drawing with forays into collage, paper sculpture and mixed media.
Growing up, music was the art form in our house. My Dad had a musical background and a wide ranging taste in music. The only art was a book on Van Gogh that I remember on the shelves. For myself, I learned piano, drew and coloured like most kids, and read endlessly.
The first inkling I had about ‘art’ was when I was in my early teens and my aunt married a man who was an artist. I was fascinated by his little studio whenever we visited. My uncle would talk about his work, about colour and light and other artists. This was a totally different world to what I’d ever encountered. In Junior High School we had our first real art class and teacher, so I began tentatively to learn then. At university, the sciences drew me to study. I took art appreciation as an elective and being in a big city, I began to visit galleries.
It wasn’t until many years later that I finally decided to take some art classes. My visits and talks with my uncle continued all that time and he encouraged me, telling me that doing it for the pure enjoyment it gave me was all I needed to do. So I continued, learned, explored, found wonderful teachers, and then was invited to join art groups, which expanded my knowledge and experience to a new level through the learning and sharing we do.
A very meandering stream brought me to where I now paint for the love of it and for what it brings into my life. So I encourage you to dip your toe into that stream too. You never know where it will take you.
“How long does it take you to do one like this?” The technical answer varies. Some works flow and others challenge you to spend more time. People are genuinely curious, and their inquiry sincere, so I hesitate to answer “all my life” for fear of it sounding like a canned, flippant answer. But there is authenticity in the “all my life” response. Making art, trying various media and methods, has always been in my life.
After years of painting with colour I’ve started to make art with graphite. On a cradled panel, the drawings have a rustic modern feel, my favourite style of decor. I’m visually drawn to contrasty black and white images. And inside all of that, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m intrigued by the concepts of paradox and conundrum, polarity and choice. Is it possible that these contrasty thoughts running in the background influence what goes onto the panels?
I’ve always been drawn to color and design; and my artistic expression took many forms over the years. As a child I hammered together wooden fruit crates and painted ‘furniture’ for my room. Later I began sewing clothing for my self and others. That interest in textiles led me to spinning and dying yarn, and to weaving on looms of all types. As our family put down roots, I landscaped colorful gardens around our home. And eventually, I found my way to watercolor painting.
Whether it’s bolts of fabric, skeins of yarn, acres of tulips, or a palette of paints, brilliant colors are a magnet to my eye. Bright light and lyrical lines lift my spirits and make me smile. Where color and light are absent, I’ll throw some in as an expression of what could be.
Splash and squiggle is how I work. Ink and watercolor is where I live. My best work appears when I’m able to hold a lighthearted, playful spirit.
I aim to be an Appreciative Adventurer – finding joy and beauty everywhere I am and everywhere I go. In art, as in life, I am drawn to express the up side, the sunny side – the inspiring message that life is good. I hope people feel uplifted and heartened in the presence of my work.
Taking your paints and brushes to the street is a sure fire way to bridge your art with the community. I’m an enthusiastic plein air painter and urban sketcher. My paints, pens and sketchbooks travel with me everywhere I go. When I set up on the street, there’s always a connection with someone – a waiter, a tourist, a property owner, the neighborhood kids.
People are curious. They want to see what you’re doing and how you’re going about it. “Why is your door a different color? Why did you move that tree? Where’s the sign? Why are you painting their bistro, not ours? They want to share what they see with others. “Heh, Jimmy, come and look at this! I’m taking your photo to send to my art school daughter to encourage her to get herself out there! Can I take a photo of your sketch
to share with the owner?”
They give you glimpses into the place of art in their lives. “My mom or my uncle or my cousin paints. I used to do a little drawing myself, but I’m not very good. Have you ever heard of Van Gogh?” While sketching on the street, I’ve shared my supplies with an onlooker who I knew was seriously itching to paint with me. I’ve practiced speaking French with a group of children who gathered round while I sketched at Pont de Gard in the south of France. I’ve sold sketches to fellow travellers who were intrigued that I had captured our shared experience in paint on paper. You never know what’s going to happen next!
More often than not, people are in awe to see that you have artistic talent and are brave enough to exercise it in public! I like to think my courage helps them find theirs!
Bridges are for exploring, crossing, burning and describe beauty, relationships, struggles.They can represent choices and directions both wise and unwise and necessary.I have experiencedbridges, both physical and contemplative in my art practice.
Over the years, I have selected bridges as a painting image and have sold paintings of the bridges that provide access to our beautiful Saskatchewan valleys, both in Saskatoon and elsewhere in the province.Bridges also provide viewing places for looking into water which has been another of my long term muses.In the Artists’ Workshop April 2019 show I will include a painting that originated on a lovely day last fall when I walked the trails at Wanuskewin Park, stood by a bridge at Opimihaw Creek, took photos for painting reference and reflected on the cultural significance of that particular bridge.
A big bridge in my career as an artist presented itself following a dramatic vision change several years ago.It was suddenly necessary for me to find new creative and physical bridges between the paint and the canvas.This uprooting resulted in a lot of experimentation in my application of paint and has remained a focus in my work.
When Artists’ Workshop selected Bridging as a theme for our annual spring show, I had been working on a series of pathways that started in the forest at my cabin last summer and finished in my studio over the winter.As a friend recently said, “A bridge is a path”.
We will look forward to seeing folks at our show April 12, 13.14 at Grace Westminster Church Hall. Enjoy the art and chat with the artists about the interesting paths they follow and the bridges they cross in the search for creative expression and beauty.
Time and Place – Recently I have been focussed on a series of work called Prairie Perspectives that bridges time and place. Across the Saskatchewan landscape homesteads are deserted, granaries sit empty and elevators are rapidly disappearing. This exhibition explores what we see today and invites us to be curious about the many perspectives surrounding the history of this prairie architecture.
Memories – As I talk to people who come to view my exhibitions I hear stories such as “I taught the grandchildren of the people who built that house” or “my Dad was a station master so that brings back a lot of memories”. Those conversations bridge my making of the art with the viewers’ response to it.
Learning – Discover Watercolour Batik is an online class I created to help bridge the learning of other artists who want to learn about my process and how to work with wax and watercolour on Ginwahsi paper. (learn.paigemortensen.ca)
Actual Bridges – And finally, bridges frequently appear in my work. Many bridges, especially the older ones are fascinating architectural structures.