Friday, November 8, 2013

Keith Cornell - Artist

Madawaska Church
Claire Connolly, Assistant Manager Arts on King and Queen, describes Keith's work as 'Ontario, rugged landscape at it’s best'.

Keith Cornell was raised in the small town of Uxbridge, Ontario. His father died during the war when Keith was very young, leaving his mother to raise him alongside his two brothers. Growing up in this quaint little town tucked beside farmland and beautiful forests, Keith would begin his life work painting everything around him.

He recounts time and again a solid memory he has a very young boy. The Canadian artist David Milne had set up his easel to paint a scene in Keith’s neighbourhood, and the boy watched with fascination as the artist worked plein air. The affect of this experience is timeless. Keith did not pick up the brush and start painting right away, but that time was coming.

Late Afternoon Go Home Bay
During his high school years, Keith met his future wife, Karen.  For his sixteenth birthday, she gave him a lovely box set of paints. Although he remembers there was no particular rhyme or reason for this gift – one wonders if she didn’t already see the artist in Keith. Remembering fondly his memory as a young child, Keith took the paints and set up in the exact location where David Milne had painted so many years before, recreating the same scene. The journey begins.

Keith studied at the Ontario College of Art and graduated from York University’s Fine Art Department. He went on to teach art for the next 34 years including 20 years as the Head of the Art Department at Woburn Collegiate in Scarborough. Retirement led to a full time career dedicating himself to his paintings. He jokes, ‘that is when I really started to go to work’.

Keith’s work consists of all original works of art, which began on location by exploring the many different Ontario landscapes. During his travels, when he spots a place of interest that has inspired him, he stops and begins right away by sketching and then painting. His work is very in the moment and by immersing himself in the landscape around him, this artist uses the paint to communicate his feelings about the beauty of the place at that exact point in time.

His work depicts Ontario in its vast and scenic collections of farmland, forests, rivers, and lakes. His style may change as he responds to the subject before him, and still the exceptional quality is always present. His work has been described as warm, emotional and classic, yet with a modern edge. Keith recalls a large collection he painted of the Madawaska Valley that went on display at Arts on Queen in Toronto. The curator called to say that a collector was purchasing all twenty-two pieces as a surprise for his wife who was from the area. A tipping point in Keith’s career, his pieces were touching people.

Keith speaks of delivering a message to the viewer as he captures the nostalgic in the Ontario landscapes. While I look at his work, I am reminded of times as a child when my family would drive into the country to visit my grandmother. As we left the city, we noticed the wide-open spaces, the large quietness and the splendor in nature’s colours. If there is a message to be delivered it may be by way of an invitation; it may be that Ontario truly is ‘Yours to Discover’.

To discover more about Keith Cornell, see his website at

and more about The Link magazine here

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jordan Hicks - The Aesthetic Beauty of the Natural World

The local art scene is all abuzz about Jordan Hicks with works that celebrate the aesthetic beauty of the natural world. His paintings are vibrant, extraordinary and energetic. His florals can be described as nothing less then a detailed explosion of organized chaos – making sense out of the chaos is what distinguishes the painting as great.
Jordan is a self-taught artist who found his passion early in life and has been dedicated to it ever since. He draws his inspiration from a true love of nature and the outdoors, which comes from many years of camping, exploring hiking trails and trips to the cottage. Growing up, he was surrounded by artists in the family. His father is a carver, his mother paints and his uncle, Don Wise, is a well-established artist himself. The family inspired and supported Jordan through his process of becoming the artist he is today. Indeed, the first piece Jordan sold went to his Uncle Don, someone who would later influence Jordan to pursue art as a full time career.
Jordan explains the ingredients of a successful artist, which he says includes being productive, consistent, and, of course, passionate about the work. 

He is so passionate about his work, it transfers honestly and quite naturally to the canvas. Jordan is diverse in his artistic mediums; with early works including portraits, Group of Seven inspired landscapes, abstracts and sketches. He is a generous, devoted and energetic artist who shares his love of nature through the scenes on the canvas. 

Most familiar are his wildflowers, which Jordan reflects began when he purchased an old farmhouse. Through the living and renovations, he would watch the landscape in the fields and described it as an ‘explosion of flowers’. From this inspiration, he got out the acrylics. 
In his studio, he has more than one painting on the go at all times, working intensely on whichever painting he feels most passionate about in that moment. He begins by flooding the canvas with colour and working off of that. The base may create an idea, he may work off of a photograph he took on a recent hike, and the rest comes from his mind. He finds this process exciting and challenging. He has created a style that is quite three-dimensional where the paint itself casts shadows on the canvas. 

He surrounds himself with a vast collection art pieces by his father, his uncle, Don Wise, the works of Don Fraser and many other local artists. He speaks of the inspiration and motivation he gets from the works of the Canadian artist David Lidbetter. 

Jordan’s paintings come from his own personal memories and experiences, and are all original pieces of art with his signature touch. He feels a connection to each piece produced. This combined with the vivid colours, the energy and the details that are so full of life, make Jordan’s work stand apart. He is gaining recognition locally with galleries across the areas between Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa, and is receiving offers from galleries in Western Canada. He is also featured in galleries in Virginia Beach, VA and in California.
To learn more about this artist, see his website at Jordan Hicks

Profile can be viewed on the website for The Link magazine.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Fine Art of Photography

Everyone needs a creative outlet, and for artist Mary Talbot, that outlet is photography. ‘I started with a wonderful point and shoot camera given to me by my mother.’ In her words, she started exploring her passion for photography rather latent in life, a passion that was bursting to come out. She now reflects;  ‘photography has given me serenity’.
Born and raised in Bermuda, Mary acquired an early appreciation of the arts, as her mother was a painter. Her great-grandfather too was a painter, and to this day, Mary feels a connection with him through his paintings of nature and landscapes.

With family ties to the East Coast, she decided to study at a small University in New Brunswick. During her time there, she came to appreciate life in Canada, which included a change in seasons, big trees and wide-open spaces. After graduating with a BA studying Psychology and French, she returned to Bermuda where she worked and saved money for her permanent move back to Canada. She was ready for different experiences; she was ready to widen her horizons.

Starting in Toronto in 1967, she then moved north of Port Hope, a place where the famous author Farley Mowat now calls home. She settled down and raised her family there and eventually she wrote to the well-known author for a job. By the mid 1980’s, Farley Mowat was looking for an editor and Mary was hired. She remains his editor to this day.

It was in the mid 90’s when Mary acquired her next camera. She remembers being inspired by frost on the windows, and did everything she could to get up close and capture the images on film. Disappointed, she just couldn’t get the picture that she wanted with her point and shoot. Farley, noticing her frustration, left, and a little while later came back with a Pentax Spotmatic, which he suggested she try. With manual adjustments Mary found the control she needed to capture the image she wished to share.

It is when this artist gets close up that she finds the abstract in her subject, everyday objects are transformed ‘beyond their familiar documentary appearance’. Her true passion is exploring the world around her through her lens where she finds the unexpected, and Mary responds to the subject best in this way. Looking at her subjects up close, Mary becomes truly absorbed as she discovers the details, the patterns, the textures and how colour plays with everything. The Macro lens allows Mary to choose what to focus on. In her artist statement she reveals ‘we all interpret things individually but, as we reflect on art of any kind, it is perhaps not as important to understand what a subject is as it is to simply feel its essence’.

Mary studied with the distinguished Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson, who remains an inspiration for her to this day. She also pursued workshops with Andre Gallant, Richard Martin and New Zealand’s Sally Mason where she has explored techniques with panning, montages, and multiple exposures. She has travelled with her photography and notes that subjects are ‘wherever you are’. This time of year, when the sun from the south is still low, one of her most favourite places to work is in her own kitchen as the lay of the light coming through the glass reflects the colours. Freeman Patterson wrote in his book Odysseys that light is ‘the most creative physical force in the universe‘.
Speaking of the cover photo, Mary says ‘Combining two images into a montage can produce intriguing photographs. This is the technique used for “Memories of Spring” and produced the desired watercolour painting effect.

To learn more about Mary Talbot, please visit her website at

Also see the Spring edition of The Link magazine now available for pick up near you!