I recently had the privilege of participating in a art course involving a new medium, encaustic wax. The class was about creating a memoir where you create a collage including some of your memory photos and used different textures of paper, objects, and mark making to intuitively create art. I was amazed at how well everyone’s art piece turned out! Thank you to Donna Hanson, encaustic artist extraordinaire, for the generous sharing of her knowledge and expertise as well as the crazy amount of materials and ideas she has that enable our creativity to soar!
I also want to thank the City of Camrose for supporting the arts with it’s beautiful Chuck MacLean Art Centre! It’s a place where people can meet to create, share time and knowledge. Art brings people together, but it needs a home, and I’m glad the City of Camrose recognizes that.
There was a moment in my painting journey, where I really began researching Canadian art, and in particular, acrylic artists that loved to use colour in beautiful ways beyond realism. I found this Master artist – Mike Svob that really inspired me to keep moving in the direction I knew I loved – painting “abstractified” landscapes – that were still recognizable as Canadian landscapes. Mike paints with bold unexpected colours, and leaves interesting paint strokes throughout his paintings, so you are continuously exploring the painting and making the connection to the area, as you are viewing these interesting details. I have admired his work for several years now, and while I participated in an online painting challenge he created, I hadn’t had the opportunity to ever meet or take a workshop from him.
That changed this month, when I found out he was doing a 3 day workshop in Sherwood Park! I was so excited to be able to participate and learn from this master artist, one of my all time favourites! With pandemic cautions in place, twenty or so artists, all masked up and hauled their painting gear into the art building – Ottewell Centre. The three days there, I listened intently to the well lived stories of my favourite artist, trying to absorb all the life lessons he’d learnt during his journey. But ultimately, it was the quiet moments where he was focused on painting, and we were all focused on watching and learning, that I gained the most knowledge. He painted each of his paintings in a few hours, fully reflecting the years of practice, knowledge, and skill that he acquired from many years of a regularly painting. He told the story of how people sometimes ask him how long it took to paint that painting, and how usually it’s the paintings that come together easily without struggle to adapt and fix, that are the best! I have known this to be true as well.
We watched and then went back to sketch out our plans on thumbnails and paint our own paintings using either our own reference photos or one from the pile a hundreds of photos he brought along for the class. He strolled by the tables offering tips and advice along the way as we were working through the steps of painting our scenes. There were some fantastic artists in the room and sometimes it can feel a little intimidating when your painting is still working through it’s early stages and you’re not sure it’s going to get to the place you want it to get to. But remembering that you are trying new things and it’s an “exercise” helps you keep moving in a new direction instead of reverting to your old habits and helps keep those worries at bay. There is no point in taking a class if you aren’t willing to risk trying something new and possibly failing.
Ultimately, the day ended with several pieces of art being displayed around the tables and I was in awe of the beautiful art we all had created around us.
So what is it like to meet your favourite artist? I would say it was awesome to observe this master painter and learn some techniques/knowledge that I hope to incorporate into my own work and life. It was great to be out with other artists and focused on only art. But ultimately I learnt that even master artists have struggles and are human, and their stories are reflective of their hard work to endure the uneasy struggles of living a dream.