Artist of the Month, Patrick Imai, Stone Carver

 By Sandra Marshall

Patrick Imai carves stone bears.

His passion for art matches his enthusiasm for travel. He served 34 years with the Canadian Armed Forces and has been to all provinces of Canada. Having visited over 48 countries on five continents, so why does he specialize in stone bear carving?

While living in Rome, Patrick was moved by its great sculptures and was captured by Bernini’s and Michelangelo’s abilities to make stone come alive.  In nearby Carrara he took a workshop in carving a new stone – marble.

Over his lifetime, he has experimented in many artistic media and all types of glasswork, but he has been hooked on carving stone bears – elegant or whimsey, depending on what the stone tells him it should become. It was in his youth that Patrick began to whittle wood as a pastime and developed his skill as a wood carver. A stampede theme of bronco riding tested his wood carving abilities while Calgary was home.  Then In Quebec City, Patrick’s interest in stone carving was piqued by delightful Inuit soapstone dancing bears. He was intrigued by their liveliness and challenged himself to learn soapstone carving. By roaming the internet, he learned these techniques and enthusiastically explored that material before working in other soft stones. Patrick carved bears at first because they had drawn him to stonework. He loves the soft curves that make his stone sculpture so appealing. Carving bears is a passion that focuses his attention and takes him to an inner place. After trying to carve other subjects, he found the soft stone did not hold small details and he returned to carving bears with their smooth round forms.  We often imbue animals with human characteristics.  Building on this association, Patrick evokes human emotions and movement in some of his pieces.In others, he seeks to capture the grace and majesty of the bears.  He has highlighted the tragedy of shrinking arctic ice and climate change in several works but does not see his artwork as a political statement.  Patrick loves the process and thanks those who acquire his sculptures.

More recently in a cruise port in Alaska, a small bear carved in selenite was spied.  Sunlight illuminated the little bear’s movement in the gleaming crystalline stone.  Patrick was intrigued, so after the cruise, he searched for selenite pieces large enough to carve.  Although it is a challenging stone to carve, its shimmering whiteness makes it a perfect material for carving polar bears.

Patrick’s work in many other mediums helps him to integrate them into his stone sculpture. Glass fish, Muskoka chairs and wooden kayak paddles have served as whimsical props for his humanised bears.  He is always on the lookout for other materials to integrate into his sculptures.

Patrick has plenty of stone waiting to inspire him to carve.  At times he has an idea and searches for the right stone.  When idea and stone converge, carving begins.  First, he rough cuts the stone with a hand saw or angle grinder, then hand files and rasps to shape the stone. The process requires a lot of sanding – first dry sanding, then wet sanding and polishing using different grits of abrasive. The final finish is usually a hot wax – Patrick oven heats the stone, and then applies paraffin wax to it.  After cooling, he buffs with a soft cloth to give it a satiny finish.  At any point in the process, even after waxing, if dissatisfied, Patrick may rework the carving and repeat the process. Until the work is signed, it is not finished. 

Patrick’s favorite part of the process is the wet sanding- when the stone reveals its true colours and character.  This is the point when the stone comes alive. The rough carving start is his least favorite activity.  Although he is enthused to capture his original idea, he also sees other possibilities in the stone as he works.  

Aficionados of his work may have tried their hands at these techniques during his many workshops, such as those as the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.  His carving workshop is also a popular event at the fall Sculpture Show of the National Capital Network of Sculptors at Lansdowne Park. His fans also appreciate his participation in the annual Canadian Stone Carving Festival which raises funds for the Ottawa Innercity Ministries.

His future plans include taking the challenge of tackling hard stone– jade, lapis lazuli and fluorite which involve messy wet grinding.  He also looks toward making larger outdoor pieces in harder stone.

For people who may wish to take up sculpture, Patrick recommends workshops.  He suggests trying different mediums to find a connection with your personal affinities.  Workshops are a way to experience different mediums without the cost or burden of the tools or special equipment.  You will also get insight and discover tricks of the trade from an experienced artist.  All in all, you will have a better experience, saving time and frustration.

Join a group, like the National Capital Network of Sculptors, where there is a range of artists working in different mediums, using different techniques and are at different points in their artistic endeavours from hobby to professional.

Patrick Imai’s work can be seen on his website www.patrickimai.ca,

His Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/patrick.imai.1

The National Capital Network of Sculptors https://www.facebook.com/SculptureOttawa/

The Gordon Harrison Gallery http://gordonharrisongallery.com/artist/patrick-imai/#btn_readmore

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Artist of the Month – Maria Saracino, Polymer Clay Artist

by Sandra Marshall

Maria Saracino is a bold and energetic artist. She is community-minded and generous, brimming with project ideas. Her artistic accomplishments are many and inspiring. She is also a calm but energizing teacher of her craft. Her abilities as a character sculptor are admired everywhere that it is on display and her work is in high demand.

Maria was born in Ottawa of an Italian immigrant family, one of the first to reside in The Glebe. In 1962 she started kindergarten although she did not yet speak English. She was shy and introverted- even self-conscious of her dark hair among so many blondes and redheads. But Grade One was a blossoming for her, when her teacher became enthralled by Maria’s drawing of a family picnic- astounded by the fact that Maria’s people were drawn in perspective with the children growing progressively smaller the further away they were in the scene.  This was a life-changing moment for Maria as her teacher admired her work and invited others to acknowledge it. She was no longer invisible and became known as the class artist, the go-to person for classroom art projects, an identity that followed her into high school.

She dreamed of becoming an artist, but her parents saw little value there for her. For her immigrant parents, life was about survival and an artist’s life didn’t make sense to them. As a result, she went to Carleton University with a major in Political Science, which was not a good fit for her. The only course that she truly enjoyed was Art History. One other bright spot was that Maria met her husband Leo there and because of him, she found herself working as an artist. In marketing and sales, he found her a few jobs designing and creating illustrations for restaurant menus, then ads for the travel and bridal market. Although she had no formal training, she had the gift of visualisation.  Maria took classes and workshops whenever she could and began to work closely with the graphics department of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. She learned typesetting with a darkroom wet processor and was hand-drawing the graphics before technology changed the industry.

After 18 years in the advertising business, both Maria and Leo were burned out. Technology had exploded and they had to decide whether to invest in new equipment and training or move on to a second career. Leo made a lateral move in sales but encouraged Maria to follow her dream of becoming a full-time artist. This was about the time that she first discovered polymer clay. In 1995 polymer clay was relatively new as an art medium. Over the years, Maria had taken painting and drawing courses, print making and even dabbled in some pottery, but discovering polymer was an ah-ha moment for her. The 3-dimensional aspect of creating figures enthralled her and allowed her to incorporate some of her other passions such as sewing fabrics. Another plus was that her techniques did not require any expensive equipment.

Weihnactsmann

Some of Maria’s first pieces seem somewhat primitive to her, but soon her work improved to the point that people started to notice it. Her first big breakthrough was a special piece for the cover of Lee Valley Tools. That piece also won an American competition One of a Kind Classic. Maria was creating Doll Art at that time and subsequently won a DOTY, Doll Of The Year award which was like the Oscars of the Doll world. This award changed her career direction and led to the creation of limited editions for the seasonal Christmas market. This 10-year period was lucrative but also very stressful and required lots of travel, competitiveness and the legal battles of copyright theft. After 10 years, the fun had disappeared and once again Maria found herself burned out. At this point she took a few years off to regroup and rethink what she wanted to do.

What she recognized was that she feels best when creating – it gives her pleasure, satisfaction and sense of purpose. At that point she pivoted from doll artist to figurative artist. She wanted acceptance as a fine artist in the medium of polymer clay that was traditionally seen as a craft rather than an art form.

Figureworks 2013, The Bath 1st place

Maria has worked in watercolours, acrylics, portraiture, pen and ink -almost everything! But probably if she was not doing what she is now, her other passion is fashion design and sewing. She creates her own patterns and sews all the clothes and bodies of her character sculptures.

The Figureworks art show in 2013 was a pivotal moment for her. Winning 1st place in this competition opened the doors to representation by the Orange Art Gallery as well as other galleries over the years.  “For me, this was the moment I stepped out of the craft and doll world into the fine art world.”

Her process in developing her expressive Norman Rockwell-esque characters starts with sculpting the head and face. From that Maria scales the character’s body proportions. The body is constructed of wood, wire and fabric. A two way stretch fabric is the final skin which she can augment and contour for the final shape. Next, she creates the costumes and hair. Finally, the hands and feet are sculpted and set in the appropriate position. During the body construction, if any props or a setting needs to be created, she starts this process as well and uses it to position the figure.

Her favourite part of the process is sculpting the head and face. “I try to capture an emotion or a sense of the moment in time. “ Sometimes it’s the tilt of the head or the position of the eyes. Subtle little details can make such a difference in the final work and the reaction by the audience. Her least favorite part is sculpting feet and shoes, for no reason other than it is tedious work and by that point she is anxious to see the piece finished.

Maria has always loved the work of American illustrator, Norman Rockwell and Quebec painter, John Der. They capture moments in time, like snapshots in your mind. Serious moments, humorous moments, everyday moments that evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. “I hope to capture in sculpture what they did through their illustrations and paintings.”

Maria often works in series with a topic that appeals or interests her. Fathers and their children, Moments in Time, Seniors, Hockey, Circus Pieces, Drag Queens are just a few that she has explored. She enjoys portraiture and continues to take commissions for that work. It’s a little more stressful to her, but very satisfying especially when she receives an emotional response from the client.

Maria has other interests too. She teaches sculpting in polymer clay both at the Orange Art School, in-studio and online. But now with Covid19 she has more involved in creating online workshops. She is also teaching two new workshops in an international online conference called Art Connection Summit. You can learn more about it at www.artconnection.gallery or on her blog www.mariasaracino.com

As she has done, Maria believes you should follow your passion. Take as many classes or workshops as you can. Learn what other artists have to offer and from that, develop your own style. Never stop learning and developing. Put the hours and the work in and just keep creating art. Don’t get attached to your work, your new favorite piece will be the next thing you work on. Also, don’t wait for someone to notice you – develop a thick skin and keep putting your work out there, there’s room for everyone.

And last but not least, Maria Saracino is president of the National Capital Network of       Sculptors and is helping to guide this diverse group of sculptors through the year of         COVID19! You can see more of Maria’s work at

www.saracinocollection.com

www.mariasaracino.com

www.facebook.com/saracinocollection.com

or check out the National Capital Network of Sculptors Online Gallery at https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, clay artists, clay sculpture, Exhibition Opportunities, learn how to sculpt, Online Art Gallery, polymer clay, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artist of the Month – Bastien Martel

by Sandra Marshall

Bastien Martel atelierIt was a steel wire sculpture made by eight-year old Bastien Martel that set his future direction in art. A camp project of twisting wire into a three dimensional figure was a revelation that he could not forget. His journey in education and art subsequently took many twists and turns – business school, wood working, furniture design and production, painting, drawing and sculpture all had important lessons for him as they lead him from Montreal to Victoriaville, Toronto and then to Honolulu.

2003 was a turning point in his life, when Bastien left his day job to attend the Saidye Bronfman School of Fine Arts in Montreal where he connected with two mentors who encouraged him to continue his passion in the arts and sculpture: Bastien was selected as sculpture studio assistant under France Andrée Sevillano. Eventually, he was invited to work for Jean-Louis Emond in his Montreal studio. 2003 was the start of his professional sculpture practice.

Photos T.K 073Bastien considered welding classes and programmes but they all seemed too long and involved at the time. It is when he joined Jean-Louis in his studio in Montreal that he had the opportunity to discover metal cutting and welding. It was the perfect opportunity to learn sculptural skills. It also led to discussions: What is art? What makes someone an artist? What does being an artist entail? Bastien was exposed to the many facets of the art world. New techniques were tried –

J-L Émond had been using clay to work with steel for a long time. It is this technique that Bastien adopted to create the desired 3D shapes, in both small and large format. As experience accrued, his rough sculptures became more polished and detailed.

20200204_130321-COLLAGE(1)Martel has worked with wood and stone but found both unforgiving materials.  Steel allows him to rapidly create an image and it easily accepts additions or reductions. Steel has the strength to tolerate the abuse of the journey. Bastien’s experience in furniture production and design taught him design concepts, preparation work, planning, measurements and inventory. But mostly it confirmed his love of steel and metals.

For Bastien, all visual imagery – from nature to comic books, billboards, commercial and industrial design, architecture and artwork- influence our creative choices as we live in a visually busy world. He has had the pleasure and privilege to visit art museums in Toronto, Montréal, Honolulu, Italy, France and New York City. Seeing other artist’s works always propels his desire to create his own work. It is his continuation of the visual conversation with contemporaries and artists of the past.

05_Lassitude_2006_WeldedSteel_76 x 56 x 32cm_$3500In recent years Bastien has explored the breakthroughs of 20th centrury modernist painters using contemporary 3D welded steel. He continues the tradition of objets d’art.

His steel sculptures give him the ability to create volume, lightness and airiness. He cuts steel into various shapes and assembles them like a 3D jigsaw puzzle onto clay forms which he models. Then he welds the pieces together. With a grinder Bastien continues to dig, shape and smooth the surface. The sculpture is completed once it is polished and painted.

Beyond the actual pleasure of creating a unique object, Bastien’s attraction to his method is the hands-on experience: creating the clay shapes, shaping the metal pieces, and finally welding, grinding and shaping to realise the completer piece. The least pleasurable for him is the applying of protective coating, which demands more precision and attention.

Bastien usually starts with an image in his head that fluctuates and only seems to settle once the work starts. That is why he has no sketches, just a few guiding scribbles. The piece takes shape as the material and physical constraints slowly limit choices. Meaning usually comes after completion of the piece, but it is not always that which brings it forth. Over time pieces seem to fall into categories:  bowler hats as a symbol of anonymity and conformity; abstraction as emotional expression; homage in portraits of struggling artists. They all seem to reflect sentiments of existential struggle and the challenges of being.

The work offers many directions for Bastien to explore. He believes that artists can work till their lives end, for there is always work to be done, imagination endless. “We can imagine the smallest particles to the whole universe or even multiple universes. It is our physical state, time and materials that limit us.”

04_Battle_2020_welded steel_26 × 26 cm_$500Bastien recently completed series of figurative, portrait and surrealist sculptures, exploring themes of loneliness and isolation. His current exploration is abstraction. He was looking for a quick creative release for feelings of anxiety and confusion created by our imposed Covid confinement. He delved into these emotional states using his clay work technique with welded steel pieces, using the differently shaped metal pieces as his color palette. Between chaos and control, the variously shaped pieces were dropped or thrown onto the clay surface and welded together, in gesturally expressive abstract sculptures.

02_Tempête_2020_welded steel_41 × 53 cm_$1500For others who may wish to take up sculpture, Bastien encourages a studio-based education through college or university, including large components of business management. He recommends this to be followed by apprenticeship with an established artist. There are so many hats an artist must wear and so many skills required for success.

Bastien Martel’s work can be seen on his website at www.bastienmartel.com, as well as the National Capital Network of Sculptors Facebook page, and at  www.sculptureottawa.ca. He also exposes at the Canadian Sculpture Center in Toronto. He has many exhibitions and prizes for his art, but due the Covid pandemic, his next 2020 exhibitions have been postponed. However, sculpture lovers should keep these venues in mind: Intermède, Arts Network Exhibition Space, Ottawa; Tension, Eugene-Racette Art Gallery, Ottawa; Da Artisti Studio & Gallery, Cumberland Village.

 

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Artist of the Month

by Sandra Marshall

IMG_2599At a young age, Rocky Bivens’ interest in art was first piqued by museum shows such as a Van Gogh exhibition at the Detroit institute of Art, but he did not engage in the art world at that time. Although he has been a clay artist for over 40 years, Rocky started his adult life in mathematics and philosophy at Oakland University in Michigan. He immigrated to Canada and moved to Toronto working at a warehouse.  Then about two years later, he joined a commune in Wabaushene Ontario where he and associates designed and built a geodesic dome, one of the first privately built in Ontario.

It was there that a friend introduced Rocky to pottery. Enthused by the possibilities of three-dimensional creation, he attended art school at Cambrian College in Sudbury. In his 01_Rocky_Bivens_Emergence_Stoneware_2019_7x8.5x8.5second year, he began to teach classes at night. Once he graduated, the school asked him to teach full time. He was drawn to the sculpture-making process in a visceral way, interested in abstract work and insisting on being spontaneous in his methods.

He taught in the art department at the College and also in math and computer science. It was at Cambrian that he met his wife Liz, a fellow student. Liz is a fibre and tapestry artist and former president of the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Association. Although separate in their own creative fields, they help each other to evolve by discussing and critiquing the other’s work.  When their two adult children moved to the Ottawa area, the Bivens followed them, allowing them to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They have never lost their enthusiasm for art.

Rocky_Bivens_Selkie_Stoneware-and-Acrylic_2019_18x23x9Rocky favours three-dimensional work. Functional and decorative pottery was his initial interest, but he welcomed the challenge and possibilities of clay sculpture, as he became less enamoured in making traditional pottery. He glazed his early sculpture but found that he wanted more control of colour. Now he chooses to glaze some sculptures and for others he employs acrylic paint, playing with colour and texture. Bivens’ sculptures are primarily abstract, anthropomorphic forms. He is strongly moved by form -“from the human abstractions of Henry Moore and essential forms of Constantin Brancusi to the soft, flowing beauty of Auguste Rodin’s La Danaïde and his emotive Burghers of Calais”.

Rocky plans his work to a degree, but finds that over planning can dampen his creativity. He loves the freedom and the emotive responses that sculpture can evoke.  Spontaneity is extremely important to him – if he fully captures an idea on paper or even in his mind, he can lose interest in actually making the object. He leans toward Romantic traditions which are more aligned with emotion and feelings rather than the more intellectually based Classical traditions.

Rocky_Bivens_Matrize_2019_Stoneware_8x9x14He builds his structures using coils of clay, leaving a hollow centre, important in the drying and kiln firing technicalities. Interestingly, it takes as much time for him to finish the work by smoothing or texturing, as does the construction. Once complete and fully dry, the kiln is fired to about 1,000 degrees Celsius. If he decides to glaze it, he then re-fires the piece to around 1,250 degrees. He may decide instead to use an unfired glaze, such as acrylic paint.  Once completed, the painted work is coated with an outdoor rated varnish-like finish.

When the intended work is too large to fit in his kiln, he works in concrete. For that process he makes a small rough maquette in clay, then blocks out a piece of rigid foam to the desired size and shape. This light-weight form is then covered in wire mesh and finally a thin layer of concrete. Rocky is proud of a concrete mural he made for his daughter’s house in Ottawa.

Sculptors love problem solving – their creations need balance, strength and to be seen from any direction. Rocky challenges himself to make his forms come alive by accentuating a slight curve or sharp edge. Working instinctively and infusing the work with emotion while keeping the composition stable and poised is important to him. Rocky believes that working in an improvised way allows him to accomplish this.

Rocky encourages everyone interested in making art to visit museums and galleries, as he does. Discover what touches you. As a former teacher, he recommends an art school that will help you develop the basic skills, technique, composition and to discover your personal subject matter. However, an artist’s education does not end there, rather it is only the beginning.

You can see a variety of Rocky’s work at www.bivens.ca. As well as our online gallery at https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

 

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Artist of the Month – Hengameh Kamal-Rad

By Sandra Marshall

Inspired by the curves and flow of soft paper clay, Hengameh Kamal Rad responds as the clay guides her quest. She is a sensitive soul and responds to the touch of clay and to the human condition.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 2.04.17 PMHengameh’s interest in art began before she left her native land. Although women were not permitted to study pottery in Iran, she persisted in her desire to learn that craft at the ministry of culture in Tehran at the age of 28.  Over a period of several years and her courage and determination against denial, she learned wheel throwing and improved her skills by making many vases, opening the way for other women. But she found her life constrained by the political sentiments of the time where authorities forbade the uncovered appearance of the human body in artwork, particularly if the subject was female. People were punished for thinking or dreaming outside of their appointed cultural conditions. Today, her drive to social justice springs from the injustice that she witnessed under the dictatorship. She strives to make us aware that this cruelty will happen in every country if we close our eyes to what is really happening. Hengameh cites a Persian poem that describes her belief:

Genesis_2019_Paper clay_Oil patina_16X16X5 in_“If you have no sympathy for human pain

The name of human you cannot retain.”

Hengameh immigrated to Canada from Iran in 1999 with her husband and three children aged 9, 11 and 12. At first, finding suitable employment for the couple was a challenge.  Her first work was babysitting in the apartment where she lived. Then, following training through an Ottawa agency, she began as a personal support worker. She left that work in 2017 when she became disillusioned by the lack of support that PSWs received from her employer.

Where we are_23X17X18cmBut clay had left an indelible attraction for Hengameh, and she returned to that medium when she became familiar with the Ottawa art community. She became a member of the Ottawa Guild of Potters to connect to clay artists and began courses at Sunnyside Community Centre, where she could have her work kiln-fired and glazed. Her first Guild sponsored ceramic exhibition was in 1999 when she was accepted to the Guild’s annual pottery sale. This encouraged her to keep improving her skills.  When the Sunnyside clay studio was closed, she found the Dempsey Community Centre to continue her passion for clay – hand building rather than wheel thrown work. As Dempsey did not have a kiln, she worked with unfired paper clay, applying an oil patina to solidify the work. Her sculptures were free flowing, following the inspiration that hand-building clay gives her. She designed the pieces for wall hanging, where her delicate pieces would not be damaged. Her process begins with a clay base into which she incorporates elements for hanging her works.  Once this preparation is done, she engages with the soft clay, building confidently, moving the clay according to its bidding, moulding the curves with her deepest feelings.

02_Volcano 2_Paper clay_Oil patina_17X9X5 in_In 2011, Hengameh Kamal Rad joined the National Capital Network of Sculptors. The fact that two of her juried works of fired paper clay were part of the 2013 sculpture exhibition at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, gave her positive feedback.  Her sculptural work is energized by the outdoors – the glorious flow of water and snow. The mysteries of design in nature and space, of life and reproduction are all part of her creations.

To Hengameh, human consciousness remains an enigma. Her work is abstract with a figurative element. She also has maintained her sense of frustration over political bullying and expresses her defiance in recent works. Lately her art has taken a more figurative expression. You might see an angry Trumpian character in one of them.

Now, with her children grown, she lives with her mother and sees a granddaughter frequently, but she has more time to grow her work. Last year Hengameh had a month-long solo exhibition Glimpse into the Human Conscience at the Nepean Atrium Gallery in which she employed two-dimensional wall pieces as well as 3-D sculptural pieces on plinths. She continues to explore the theme of human consciousness with new work and is seeking more exposure of her work. A recent large piece titled Avalanche was sparked by an image from nature and formed by her hands negotiating with clay.

To see more of her work, visit her webpage at www.hengameh.ca and in Facebook at hengameh.kamalrad

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, ceramic, Ceramic Sculpture, clay artists, clay sculpture, Exhibition Opportunities, glass sculpture, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, Online Art Gallery, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, Stone Carver, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, wood sculpture, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artist of the Month – Edna Lemyre

by Sandra Marshall

Edna_studioEdna’s life had a somewhat royal beginning, as her parents were employed by Britain’s Royal Household and they lived in the Royal Mews in London, England. As a girl she had wonderful freedom to roam and explore the stables, and nearby St. James Park and Hyde Park. Her life was filled with visions of huge horses, carriages, blacksmithing, all manner of birds, fish, flowers and trees that have become inspiration for her artwork. Edna’s first art impulses were sparked by the colourful and free illustrations of impressionists Van Gogh and Gaugin in her school classrooms. After high school she turned to courses in technical illustration.  Adept at this work, she was later able to skillfully translate the plans and elevations of mechanical equipment into 3-dimensional drawings, a skill still useful in building her 3D sculptures.

x_CelestialWomanxIn 1962, newly married, she and her husband Clement moved to Quebec City where he became a professor at Université Laval. As their family grew from none to four children, Edna took evening art classes where she was introduced to new concepts each month, such as leather work and painting nature. She found it a relief to be engaged in these creative activities while adjusting to her new home and new language.

She began painting wildlife in her spare time in Quebec, but Edna found more creative space in her life when the family moved to Ottawa and she enrolled in an Honours programme of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa. She was particularly enamoured by printing – which closely resembled her black and white illustrations. She always anticipated the surprise of seeing the first print emerge. She also began making light boxes, whimsical flying people in papier mâché and fanciful painted penguins in seascapes using old fashion mannequin props.

7_DualityWith some colleagues after university, they found rental space in unused buildings where they worked on projects together and even rented advertising space in buses to show their work. It was very reassuring to Edna to be with other artists and to see their unique patterns of work.  When the studio spaces became unavailable, Edna began to work from home, but she needed, in Virginia Wolf’s words, “a room of one’s own”. Her personal studio became a creative world of her own.  This space gave Edna the freedom to develop her artistic individuality.  She says that it’s a very messy place but a personal oasis for her to expand and grow.

4-ComeFlyWithMe2Papier mâché captured her attention when she spied the work of Victor Tolgesy hanging from the ceiling of the Byward Market Building. She contacted him for information about the process and she found him very accommodating and kind.  Tolgesy’s work appealed to Edna’s sense of play and joy.  She was also influenced by René Magritte as she recognized that he changed visual reality into his own creative reality where anything was possible.

As a teenager Edna remembers having dreams of flying with birds, an amazing sense of freedom and she uses that motif in some of her work, but she does not want to be constrained in her ideas. Her designs begin xEquilibriumwith an image in her mind which is not well defined. Using papier mâché allows her to make changes and offers her hands the impetus toward her vision of the finished product. This process begins by drawing on a foam board. She then builds a skeleton using strong wire which is glued to the foam core. At this stage the framework can be twisted and bent to achieve the desired shape. Multiple layers of newspaper are applied with glue to build the shape. The glue, Natura, is allowed to dry between each additional layer. For the final layer, paper towels are applied before finishing the work with acrylic paint.

The musical “Come from Away” has a special deep meaning for Edna and is the stimulus for future creations. It was a reminder of her mother who related that, eight months pregnant with Edna, she was evacuated to Windsor with Edna’s older sister at the beginning of the war in 1939. They travelled by train with many other families. Upon arrival, all the families were lined up on the platform as strangers walked by and chose which family would live with them. Her mother and sister were the last ones to be chosen, but we lived with those strangers for the duration of the war and became good friends.

A humorous future project that Edna anticipates with relish is to compose a cartoon of a certain president trying to prevent birds from entering the United States on their southern migration.

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Artists Speak – Dealing with Isolation

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all our lives and the economy. As our city starts trying to regain some type of normalcy I hope that we make the effort to support  small independent business. I’m sure you’ve seen all the posts telling you how the big box stores and chains will survive, but it’s the small businesses that need our help. This holds true for local artists as well. Art galleries, studios, spring and summer studio tours and shows have all been cancelled. This has been a hard blow for our local artists.

Inukshuks by Uwe Foehring

Inukshuks by Uwe Foehring. Various stones and colours $15. each

Many galleries are offering online services. Even though many in the art world say an online viewing  cannot replace the firsthand experience of encountering a painting or a sculpture in person, more and more collectors are getting comfortable with the online gallery experience. When you visit an online gallery people don’t have to know you’re looking. You don’t even have to buy art to look at the Online Gallery, but if something interests you then it’s the first step in making contact with the artists and arranging a private viewing.

Birthdays, Father’s Day, weddings and anniversaries are still happening, even while we are social distancing. If you are shopping for unique gifts of art, then we encourage you to support our local artists. With the National Capital Network of Sculptors Online Gallery, you can select from over 50 original works that start as low as $15. The artists are listed in alphabetical order so it’s easy to find your favourite artist or just scroll through the photos. If there is something that you are interested in, you contact the artist directly and the work is either shipped or delivered, or you can make arrangements for a private and safe viewing. No commissions, no fees, 100% of the sale goes to the artist.

Stay safe and support our local artists

https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Ceramic Sculpture, clay artists, clay sculpture, Exhibition Opportunities, glass sculpture, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, Online Art Gallery, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, sculpture show, Stone Carver, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, wood sculpture, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artists Speak – Dealing with Isolation

Some artists are using this social distancing time to replenish their stock, catch up on commissions or simply keep working as usual. For others it’s created a disturbance in the creative process, particularly a kink in their medium of choice. These three artists have stepped away from sculpture, at least temporarily while they regroup and re-energize their creative spirits.

IMG_1710Glass Artist – Miriam Silburt

“Although uninspired to do glass these days I just finished this three foot by two foot punch needle rug for the cottage. It is a technique called punch needle Hooking which uses a ball of wool rather than small pieces of material that traditional rug hookers use.”

Clay Artist – Sandra Marshall

“I have been doing a new sketch every day in pastels – a virtual African safari, along with a daily letter to my mother who is isolated in a retirement home here in Ottawa. I have attached several examples of the sketches. (I was intending to go on a trip to South Africa before the shut down.)  I have also been visiting the Arboretum on the run and watching the seasonal changes.”

Polymer Artist – Maria Saracino

5A31B999-CBAC-4E7C-9E63-D36D6EF26568“With the galleries being closed I’m not particularly motivated to create new works. I’m trying to work on some online workshops and tutorials but needed a little boost. In my trade show days as a graphic designer, 25+ years ago, I used to do stage design and some contract work with an interior decorator. I would do colour coordinated oversized paintings for large walls –  very loose abstracts or florals. We recently moved so I decided to do a colour schemed texturized acrylic painting for my new bedroom to coordinate with my bedspread. It works . . . and the creative juices are starting to stir again.”

Don’t forget to check out our Online Gallery https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Ceramic Sculpture, clay artists, clay sculpture, Exhibition Opportunities, glass sculpture, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, Online Art Gallery, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, Stone Carver, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, wood sculpture, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artists Speak – Dealing with Isolation

01_Rocky_Bivens_Emergence_Stoneware_2019_7x8.5x8.5Rocky Bivens – Clay Artist

“I have had a difficult time since the isolation began. I share my studio with 3 other artists, so we have agreed that only one person at a time can be there. This makes for significantly less time in the studio. Of course going to the studio would be considered “non-essential” travel, but since I don’t have a studio at home, I have no choice if I want to do any sculpture. I work in clay and the pieces must be fired in a kiln. Once they have been fired, I have a choice of glazing them and firing them again or using acrylic paint. The work that I prefer to paint I bring home and complete them there. I am working on a new series of pieces that I am quite excited about. The concept is essentially that of different sized spheres erupting out of biomorphic, abstract forms. The colours I’m using with this work are warm earth tones.”

You can see more of Rocky’s work in our Online Gallery at https://sculptureottawa.ca/online-gallery-2/

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Artists Speak

James W. Cook  – Multimedia Artist

“The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the cancellation of one of my most important ice-carving gigs as well as left my upcoming summer sand-sculpting season in a state of uncertainty. Some jurisdictions plan to remain closed to outsiders through the summer and others are expecting a summer without tourists. The pandemic has also seen the closure of all the art schools and AllNaturalstudios I model for as a Life-Drawing model.

Meanwhile I have taken a break from social media during this time of “being on pause”. I have modified my own lifestyle accordingly by staying confined to my home and immediate neighbourhood, by not taking public transit, and ordering my specialty supplies online instead of physically visiting my usual suppliers.

My operations as a roaming artist have shifted more to working from my home and setting up a pop-up studio outside in the yard in fair weather conditions. Projects this year include hand-crafting fishing rods with the hopes of adding the same to my repertoire in the Visual Arts.

With the warming days of spring and the greening there has been the harvest of edible wild plants and mushrooms.”

You can see more of James’ work at  https://www.facebook.com/jameswcookbeauxarts/

You will also find James taking part in the Canadian Stone Carving Festival, July 17, 18, 19 and their virtual auction raising money for local charities.

Posted in art classes, Art Shows, Art Workshops, Artist of the Month, Canadian Stone Carving Festival, Ceramic Sculpture, clay artists, clay sculpture, Exhibition Opportunities, glass sculpture, learn how to sculpt, Member Event, Member Profiles, Metal Art, Miscellaneous, Network Show, Online Art Gallery, sculpting workshops, Sculpture Atelier, Sculpture events, sculpture show, Stone Carver, stone carving, stone sculpture, The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, The national capital network of sculptors, wood sculpture, workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment