Every year we have a little help from a good friend to the tour in promoting it. The article that follows is his writing, and the photo credit goes to him as well.
The balletic beauty of dance captured in crystalline pendant.
Contrasting dark and light windows into the yin and yang of an artist’s soul.
Creativity fired by imagination and a 1,650-degree oven.
And playful technique generating abstract vision from a natural scene.
The 10th Annual Oxford Studio Tour Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features 38 individual artists, including nine new exhibitors at 18 locations throughout the county. Glossy brochures available at art galleries and tourist sites both in the country and beyond, and the website http://www.oxfordstudiotour.ca contain a complete listing of artists, descriptions of their work, locations and detailed maps. Those seeking further information may call 519-842-6151.
The collective works in double digits worth of distinct media ranging through various painting styles and photography to pottery, jewellery and fibre arts, journeying disparate artistic routes along a linked quest for creative expression.
“She looks like she’s on point,” explained Judy Feskun of a rose quartz heart crystal pendant combination topped by a tourmaline (“flower in her hair”) she refers to as ‘The Ballerina.’
“I see something (in her mind) and I make it,” continued Feskun, who began creating sterling silver and copper wire and semi-precious stone jewellery 15 years ago after reading an article on wire wrapping. “All I was thinking was ballerina, because she dances on point.”
Each component is meticulously selected to fit her original vision and composed using pliers and wire-cutters, a simple, elemental process bringing Feskun close enough to her work to personify each piece, be it the ballerina, or a related compilation using doubled, darker hearts.
“I call her the belly dancer.”
‘Darker’ vision may not have been Tabitha Verbuyst’s goal. But exploration of broken, abandoned and forgotten things took her down that road in an oil painting of a derelict white house surrounded by starkly dead trees and foreboding storm clouds, ‘yin’ to a contrasting ‘yang’ featuring a bright, yellow residence set off by a field of sunflowers.
“My daughter thinks the one has ghosts in it,” Verbuyst laughed, admitting the paintings illustrate elements of her own psyche.
“I’m drawn into that,” she admitted of an approach, both subject and colour, contrasting light and dark to create dramatically-emotional work intended to help the viewer bring a restored narrative to abandoned shells.
“You kind of draw your own conclusions to them.”
Janet Whittington’s process concludes with two hours at 1,650 F. It begins with precious metal particles, a binding agent and water formed into artisanal jewellery using hand-built pottery techniques.
“I liken it to pottery in miniature,” said Whittington.
The firing process leaves hollow pure silver or other precious metal forms with individually-patterned exteriors.
“I love all the textures I can create,” said Whittington, whose recent work is informed by a South-East Asian journey. This summer, Africa is on the horizon, physical experience she anticipates will translate into tangible results.
“It will be interesting to see what comes of that.”
It is interesting to see what has come of Gary Payne’s 30-year exploration of thinking and creating outside of the artistic box. A 1982 painting of a windmill reproduced in detail from a postcard contrasts sharply with a more recent ‘playful, colourful, non-objective’ view of the same. Placed side by side, the inspirational elements are clearly visible in an interpretation accomplished through contemporary techniques including a paintbrush with the bristles removed and stub honed via a pencil sharpener, knife blade, sponge, or a random piece of paper retrieved from the floor.
“This is the same thing,” smiled Payne, indicating the distantly-related pieces. “I love to play, I love to play.”
Those are but four of the creative visions on display throughout the two-day tour. Participants range from enthusiastic amateurs to seasoned 30-year professionals like Ontario Society of Artists member Cathy Groulx, whose work is featured in Ontario government collections. Regardless of experience level, or whether artists approach their work as livelihood or part-time outlet, there is a shared passion for the creative process.
“It’s a part of me that I can’t turn off,” said Groulx. “Every painting is a new challenge I look forward to.”
Every tour is a challenge looked forward to by organizers including Sue Goossens, a distinctive and well-known Otterville-area watercolour artist. The tour truly does offer something for everyone, says Goossens, a cliché, but accurate nonetheless.
The collected works represent a broad body of work both creatively and geographically that Goossens says is beyond the scope of two days. Rather than making the tour a race, she suggests previewing the brochure or website, narrowing down some preferences, including a new medium or two for variety, and spending some time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the art.
“Talk to the artists,” she concluded. “Spend some time.”