12th Annual Oxford Studio Tour May 4&5, 2019

The 12th Annual Oxford Studio Tour will feature 40 artists including seven newcomers in 16 locations Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Representing the group, are: (Ieft to right) Sue Goossens, Vonnie Snyder, Alex Smith, Lesley Penwill (front), Tabitha Verbuyst (rear) and Kate Innes. Information on the tour is available in glossy full-colour brochures available in area artistic and tourist sites, via the website oxfordstudiotour.ca, or by calling 519-842-6151.

A taste of the tour:

Artistically, Kate Innes is ‘bi-painter.’

She thoroughly enjoys structured floral brushwork, but also finds meaningful excitement in the passionate disorder of contemporary landscape.

“I call it commando painting,” the Woodstock-based artist and 2019 Oxford Studio Tour participant explained. “I mix up all my colours and apply them in a very distinctive way.

“Spontaneous is probably the best way of describing it, it’s a very spontaneous process and not so much painting, it’s more different applications of paint, experiencing or playing with paint.”

Innes is one of 40 Oxford-based artists sharing their passionate vision at 16 locations through the 12th annual tour Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oil, acrylic, graphite, watercolour, mixed media, photographic, digital and encaustic images will be on display along with pottery, artisanal jewelry, weaving and fibre arts, woodworking, garden metal work and gourd sculptures.

“Everything but the kitchen sink,” smiled Tillsonburg Stations Arts General Manager Deb Beard. “We have a great mix this year.”

Oxford’s ‘group of 40’ features seven newcomers says founding member Sue Goossens, an Otterville-area based watercolour professional displaying a series inspired during a recent Italian journey. From comparatively humble beginnings, the tour has become a spring fixture for the county’s artistic community, dynamically mirroring individual progression.

“It’s been an awesome growing experience.”

Oxford is geographically as well as artistically diverse, and Goossens encourages potential patrons to help plan their day or weekend by reviewing a map and descriptive list of individual artists and their locations in glossy full-colour brochures available in area galleries and tourist sites or the tour website oxfordstudiotour.ca). Interested persons can call 519-842-6151 for more information, and may also wish to consider lunch at sponsor JP’s Barbecue at Otterville’s Otter Creek Golf Club, an award-winning Gunn’s Hill Cheese selection or dining experience at Woodstock’s Six Thirty Nine or Ingersoll’s Elm Hurst Inn.

Those with time may choose to ‘do it all’ Goossens continued, encouraging others to research both route and personal preferences – still leaving time and space to explore outside their artistic comfort zone.

“Be prepared for some great discoveries.”

Innes’s own epiphany came during a course in New York with artist Robert Burridge, and has led to canvas reproductions of her work on offer with retailers in the U.S., Great Britain and Europe.

“It just exposed a whole new way of working with paint,” said Innes, who employs pallet knives, credit cards and blue shop towels as application implements. “It’s not literal, it’s more interpretive.

“For me, it’s light on the landscape.”

Although too young to recognize Eddie Rabbit’s musical musings, Tabitha Verbuyst does love investigating the darkness of rainy nights through oil, ink and water colour.

“I’m drawn to dancing of light across rainy surfaces,” said Verbuyst, whose work embraces motion, life and architecture, new looks at locations familiar to Tillsonburg and area residents. “It’s a pretty fun series.”

Beyond fun, art has been restorative for Vonnie Snyder, who will be showcasing acrylic florals and landscapes at a location shared with Linda Yeoman, Sue Simpson and Heather McIntosh. Snyder’s return to art three-and-a-half years ago has proven therapeutic response to personal loss and physical challenge, her 2018 tour debut the direct result of encouragement resulting in enjoyment and expanded learning.

“Friends kind of provided the push I needed to get things moving in my life, creatively.” A fan of nature and playing with colour, Snyder hides a heart in all of her paintings, representing emotional commitment to each piece.

Alex Smith is a newcomer to the tour, but certainly not to woodworking. A childhood affinity for working with wood and building things was sustained through a career as a professional engineer and accredited photographer. Beyond doing his own home renovations and building furniture, Smith has close to 40 years of experience on a lathe.

“Real wood has a feel and look that makes you want to touch it, rub it and hold it in your hands.”

His creations in spalted (discolouration caused by fungi) and exotic woods range from bowls and cutting boards to beer can holders and drink coasters.

“These things are just fun to make.”

Exposing tour participants to a wide variety of items in equally-diverse price ranges is certainly part of the exercise. But echoing Smith’s words, artisanal jewelry creator Lesley Penwill says it’s also about fun, for all involved.

“It really is still an exciting experience,” she said, looking forward to reconnecting with familiar faces in her sixth year. “And we get so many new people too.”

Penwill’s jewelry has evolved over those years, and she finds welcome reaffirmation of her own creative journey through personal feedback tour participants provide, illustrating artistic interpretation is not limited to artists.

“Good or bad,” Penwill smiled in conclusion. “People’s ideas are wonderful – I love their thoughts and opinions.”

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