Over the course of this lazy summer I have been preparing for my new series, which will be featured in an exhibition next May. The purpose of these sketch certainly isn't for accuracy, but rather a chance for me to think about colours and composition. For me, the new series I'm planning is about acknowledging and celebrating my family's heritage. Losing the older generation is a great loss to me, as it seems to be one less 'tie' I have to my history - a rich history that I value. I see that in some ways, the expression of my Mennonite roots are fading with each new generation. I realize this is to be expected, yet I'm still saddened by it. I'm thankful for the sacrifices my ancestors made. I'm thankful for the faith and values they upheld. I'm thankful for the way they valued family and social get-togethers and the importance of a wonderful home cooked meal!
After a tough week/weekend, it was good to get in some studio time. I was thinking today about how it use to be a fun 'debate' in my Klassen family about who our family's propensity for the arts came from - Grandma or Grandpa. I see clearly now that it came from both. My Grandma was so creative in the kitchen, the gardens, at the sewing machine, and with us grandkids at the table making numerous crafts. I find it tough having lost both of my Klassen Grandparents now, but after the funeral service for my Grams yesterday, I see how their legacy is being passed on in my Aunts and Uncles, my cousins, my brother, and my parents -- a legacy of faith and love, a passion for good food and humour, and the enjoyment and practice of so many different art forms
Last week I spent four days up North at Camp Crossroads, which is just north of Gravenhurst. As a youth leader for my Church Youth Group, I get to spend this week each year up North as a part of our annual Youth Retreat. It was a great time of R&R. The week was filled with laughter, eating, and many late nights sitting around the fire with everyone. The highlight is always cross-county skiing. It was a beautiful winter wonderland this year! We had tons of snow, and most of the time the snow was falling in a picture-perfect way. Of course I found the woodland scene incredibly inspiring in different ways - namely, in an artistic way. The colours, the patterns of the trees in contrast with some of the remaining golden leaves... I felt like I was skiing through a 3-D painting. Then I thought, 'this is a real-life painting'! I love all of God's great creation. No one can create like He can!
At 'The Fields, The Woods, The Wetlands, The Town" exhibit at the Norfolk Arts Centre, I wanted to include an interactive art installation. Considering that the purpose of this art project was for the students to begin to appreciate their environment in Norfolk more, I wanted a space where guests of the exhibit could also reflect on elements of their environment in a fun artistic way. There is a large boathouse to colour, sticks to build a miniature fort, a craft area set up for children, and a large piece of paper with this question posed: "What do you love about living in Norfolk County?"
The student exhibit 'The Fields, The Woods, The Wetlands, The Town' is beyond what I have been imagining for over a year now. I'm so excited with how it turned out! I'm so thankful for Deirdre and Carrie at the Norfolk Arts Centre for their support, encouragement and advice. And I'm so thankful for the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council. Without that none of this would have happened. The exhibit is colourful, fun, honest, and cheerful. It is a beautiful representation of how our children view their direct environment of Norfolk County. The show is on until February 15th.
During the art -installation at the Norfolk Arts Centre I found myself in a sea of student self-portraits! I find children's art so charming, and I just love these sweet self-portraits! Many of them are quite humorous.
My newest little art student in my studio (age 7) recently completed this shadow box. She gave it to her family for a Christmas gift. I was so delighted with how it turned out! It accurately represents her world view I think... She's a bright girl who is so sweet and kind and cheerful. To begin with, I had this student create a paper mache model of herself. She looked at a photo that I took of her on my iPad for reference. While that dried she began working on the background with watercolour. We formed the trees and flowers separately and glued them in.
My husband kindly made this frame for my paper shadow box, "In the Corn". I entered this piece in a Members Show at the Forest City Gallery in London, Ontario, this past December.
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.