I grew up artistically at Kenderdine Campus and still miss it. I’ve been trying to find ways, forcing myself actually, to paint indoors during the winter but to no avail. Relief printing may satisfy that need to create in the studio during the cold season. I’m only really happy when I paint outside. Painting involves so much more than just looking at the scene and reproducing it. There is the emotional reaction to the scene. Then, there is the wind on your skin, the sun on your face, the smells around you and the sounds of nature interrupting your thoughts. It involves all your senses and creates an experience like no other. I continue to teach which I enjoy immensely. Being able to be part of the process of others’ finding joy in creating is an energy producing experience. It enriches all our lives.
I do not restrict myself to any one subject, colour palette or painting technique. Abstract, realist, mixed media, urban settings, northern lake scenery, prairie grasslands and still life all interest me. I like to switch back and forth as inspiration comes. When I see a subject that inspires me like the quietness of landscapes or the charm of character homes, I want to paint them and recreate the colour, space and light that I see.
The manner in which I perceive the world around me has developed through the various stages of my life. Endless hours spent playing in the small wooded areas near my childhood home, summers spent on a farm, and presently exploring the lakes and boreal forest in northern Saskatchewan have all impacted how I see the world today and in turn how I approach my art. I am convinced that everything I see, even the everyday ordinary things, can be transformed with paint to be extra ordinary.
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?
Opening today at the QEII Art Gallery at Government House, Regina is the show ‘Bridging’, featuring many of the members of Artists’ Workshop. We envisioned this theme as follows:
Bridging is a way to diminish our differences and maximize our connections. Sharing art from the heart helps span life’s gaps – in time, space and understanding. As we build bridges, we shift perspectives, strengthen relationships, and shape community.
In this collection of paintings created by members of Saskatoon’s Artists’ Workshop, the bridging theme is interpreted in a myriad of ways. Each piece is accompanied by a description sharing how the artists connect the works to the concept of bridging.
The show is inspired by a wide range of subjects: from streetscapes to natural landscapes, city and country life, flora and fauna, the change of seasons, the passage of time, and of course bridges in their many forms and settings.
You’ll find works created in a wide range of media including: oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels, graphite, ink, collage, and fibre. This diversity in form of expression is one of the hallmarks of the Artists’ Workshop which is celebrating its 30th anniversary year in 2019-20.
Members of the group are selected through a juried process that requires a high level of skill, a track record of success, and a strong commitment to collegiality in the practice of art.
The gallery, at 4607 Dewdney Ave, Regina, is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 4 PM.
If you are in the Regina area, please come and meet the artists at the reception, Saturday Oct. 26th, from 1:30 to 3:30. The show runs until January 12, 2020.
In addition, we wish to inform you that Artists’ Workshop Saskatoon will not be having a November show and sale this year. Instead we will be focussing our creative growth and development over the winter months. We look forward to bringing you our best at the Annual Spring Show and Sale. Mark your calendars now for May 1, 2 and 3, 2020!
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.
What I listen to while I work is as important as any of my painting tools; it sets the tone for the work at hand. I remember how easily a set of landscape paintings came together while listening to Ian Tyson songs about the northern plains. Hearing author Stephen Jenkinson’s musings on heritage makes me think about a scene I’m painting and what it might have looked like generations ago. Creating art alongside an audiobook or podcast, learning while painting, killing two birds with one stone as they say, makes for productive days.