The Alberta Legislative Assembly Office operates a beautiful retail store called Alberta Branded. Each year they have a juried showcase around a specific theme and I have the honour of being one of ten Albertan artists who will create new works for this year's exhibition. The theme is Façonner, which means to shape, fashion or mould. New works will be created all year long and I'm eager to continue to explore the theme, allowing it to unfold and adapt over these next months. I'm also quite intrigued to see the works of the other artists and how they have approached the theme from their own medium and point of view!
Façonner: We shape to adapt a form, thereby directing a course. We fashion to reflect personal style and the current nature of the world. We mould to influence, creating a matrix. - Alberta Branded
The artwork I have created (and will continue to create this year) for Façonner is rooted in natural elements. Each piece is formed in response to the unfolding story I see revealed to us through Creation. Extracting basic lines and shapes from the intricate natural world, I explore an elemental approach to my experiences. Observing light, colours, shapes and lines, the subjects are deconstructed then fashioned into layered mixed media artworks. Natural materials (like birch bark and wildflowers collected to dye fabric and paper) are incorporated into each piece along with conventional materials (like acrylic, watercolour, paper and clay). The process of gathering and preparing materials allows me to infuse more of what I encounter into each work.
My story reflects the observations and reflections within the beauty of the Province of Alberta, including our five National Parks and my home in the Northern boreal forest. As I continue to witness the unfolding story around me, I am left with a peaceful clarity that has shaped my life. Reflecting these experiences and this clarity are integral parts of these works.
Back in May I became enamoured with this photo that popped up in my twitter feed, created by Paul Zizka. (View the full image here!) The colours, the lines, the composition... they spoke to me in a special way. I see a lot of amazing photographs in my social media feeds but they don't often stop me in my tracks like this one did. And what made it extra special is that I immediately saw this image in other visual expressions. My brain automatically transferred the photographic image into acrylic paint and watercolour and paper versions. I contacted Paul to inquire if he licenses his photographs to artists for reference usage and I was in luck - he does just that. So, you can imagine how excited I was that he was willing to license his image to me to explore in different mediums! (Thanks, Paul!) I decided to give myself a goal of 5 pieces for this image study. The first step was a digital drawing, extracting the lines and forms that I felt were necessary to tell the story of this image. I worked and reworked it to find a balance between detail and minimalism - and I chose to keep the image as a square, since that is how I first viewed it.
The next step was to explore these same lines and shapes using acrylic on wood panel. After producing such clean and crisp lines in the digital painting, the acrylic version felt much looser, the texture of brush strokes creating a different feel for this second piece.
The third piece required a loom and yarn. I discovered that weaving is extremely addicting - I ended up binging in two sessions and 14 hours later the weaving was complete! In this version I chose to make the iceberg larger so it wouldn't get lost in the other yarn textures, as well as eliminating some sections to give the weaving more lines that extended from edge to edge.
Then I got lost in a sea of paper, using layers that were painted with watercolour techniques and cutting others from solid cardstock. Each piece was cut and placed in various heights, venturing away from the simplified design I started with and adding more lines and colours for increased movement.
And the fifth study was a return to the original lines, with the iceberg enlarged and sculpted out of clay. The mountains were also sculpted with the remaining sections left two-dimensional. This series proved to be a wonderful study that, as an unexpected side bonus, gave me increased clarity on a number of elements within my art practice. No matter the medium there's always a need to let go, trust the process and get to work!
Beyond these shores
Into the darkness
Beyond these shores
This boat may sail
And if this is the way
Then there will be
A path across this sea
And if I sail beyond
The farthest ocean
Or lose myself in depths below
Wherever I may go
Your love surrounds me
For you have been before
Beyond these shores