Monday, April 13, 2015

Barbara Whelan

"Subtleties of Spring" 24x18" oil - <a href="    Subtleties of Spring    24x18    oil">Inquire</a>
Subtleties of Spring
Barbara recalls early affirmations of her paintings, in particular, her first award. She was in grade four and studying the Norseman. During art class at school, Barbara painted a depiction of the Norseman people, a woman and man she remembers it plain as day. The judges were quick to conclude that the painting was too good for the age group, but her teacher stepped in offering an award to Barbara - a quarter. While attending BCIVS, she continued to take art classes. She recalls Miss Pallette, an excellent art teacher who would often take the class outside to paint. Barbara remembers the back entrance of the old Corby building catching her eye. She painted this historic building and the flowers that naturally sprawled across the long stone wall. This may be one of the earliest pieces in her collection where the subject matter is historic.In fact, when listening to Barbara describe her paintings, it is clear they are all historic in nature. Whether it be historic buildings, historic locations, or the models used - all of whom are family and close friends- these paintings capture a moment in history. They are simply beautiful, hold memories that are priceless and quite characteristically Canadian.

Barbara Whelan "Huts On The Ice" 12" x 36" Oil on Canvas - <a href=" Barbara Whelan    Huts On The Ice    12    x 36    Oil on Canvas">Inquire</a>
Huts on the Ice
Mainly working with oil and pastels, Barbara's paintings are easily recognizable, and her particular style lends itself nicely to the familiar scenes of Ontario. She is well known for her many winter scenes of children tobogganing, ice fishing huts scattered on the bay creating little temporary villages, skating on the harbour in Belleville, as well as the cannel in Ottawa. Her summer landscapes too capture those hot days enjoying the sun and the long beach at the Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Barbara Whelan is truly and deeply connected to her community. She is a founding member of the Belleville Art Association, the Burlington Fine Arts Association and Gallery One Twenty One. She also founded "Art on the Fence" in Ameliasburg.

Of her experience with her work, Barbara most enjoyed meeting other artists. She recalls with great admiration the time she spent with Bea Williamson, an artist and a true friend to Barbara. She studied with Paavo Ariola and credits some of her techniques to his teachings. She spent time with Don Fraser while critiquing his work, those very strong paintings. "I have never wanted to steal anything in my life - that is until I saw Don Fraser's sketch book." She cherishes these relationships and has dedicated a wall in her home to the many artists that have touched her life. This great wall includes the works of Lucy Manly, Robert Huffman, Anne Fales, Linda Barber, Peter Bates and so many more. Barbara is also grateful to the many long time and amazing relationships she has with people that have bought her paintings over the years.

Barbara has been living with the effects of Parkinson's for the past seven years, and although this has changed her daily life, she continues to paint. Reflecting on more than eight decades of work, with pieces in collections all over the world, Barbara Whelan is certainly an artist of distinction.

"Sliding" - <a href="    Sliding   ">Inquire</a>
Barbara Whelan was the feature artist on the Spring 2015 issue of The Link magazine. To see more of Barbara's paintings, you can visit Quinn's of Tweed Fine Art Gallery.

Nan Sidler - Art Filled with Awe

Cold Milk
Cold Milk
Nan Sidler remembers a ‘charmed childhood‘, as she calls it. A simpler time when she could play outside all day, “exploring local woodlands for snakes or chipmunk holes, or wading wetlands looking for frogs.“ These were the days when you were free to explore all day, as long as you were home for supper. Growing up, she has an appreciation for her time living near the beautiful water and wild spaces of Ontario, reflecting fondly on Picton and the white sandy beach at the Sandbanks and living near the Ottawa River in Pembroke. She has always used her gift in drawing and painting as a way to engage with the world around her, a gift she says she shared with her grandfather, who worked beautifully in pen and ink.

Her post secondary education took her to Peterborough where she met her husband at Trent University. They shared a love for the area with its rocks, trees and shining waters and decided to stay there to raise their two sons. The family became avid campers, hikers and canoeists, scenes that are captured in many of her paintings and sketches over the years. Her love and respect for nature is an integral part of who she is and how she approaches her art.

Over the years, she has worked with many different mediums including the heavy materials like pastels and oils, but prefers the lighter graphite and watercolour paint. She describes the versatility and portability, ideal for slipping into a backpack and heading out to work plein air. Her carefree days in childhood serve her well as an artist who enjoys working on location in some of the 'world’s most exquisite natural spaces.'

Working out of a wonderful art studio in the attic of their century home, Nan has devoted this space to her art. She describes the natural light of the three north facing windows where she sets up to paint on sunny days, and west and south facing skylights where you will find her working on those overcast ones. She has developed her skills over the years studying under local and international artists and is involved with the Kawartha Artists Gallery and Studio,' a cooperative group which gives tremendous support and resource material to Peterborough artists.

Icy Creek, Jackson Park
Icy Creek, Jackson Park
There are moments in our lives when we are truly present and experience the awe of our world. These moments come and go quickly, but the peace they bring can stay with us for a lifetime. The true beauty and gift of Nan is her ability to capture  these moments and share the emotion in that splendour with the viewer. Her dedication to her art has its rewards, the work of Nan is much celebrated, and although she describes the privilege she experiences working in this beautiful province we call home, we, too are privileged to experience the awe in her artwork.

Please visit the webpage to view more of the works by Nan Sidler. This artist was featured on the cover of The Link magazine Winter Issue 2014.

Farley Mowat Tribute

Nothing brings this country to a momentary stand still like the death of one of our very own beloved authors. In early May this year, we came to a sudden halt. The nation responded immediately – it was announced on every radio station from coast to coast, on local and national news and in every newspaper, informing us of the loss of a most impassioned writer, ardent environmentalist and a true Canadian icon for sure.
Farley Mowat dead at 92. The end of an era; a century really. And the nation mourns.
One of Canada’s best known and best loved authors; Farley Mowat is recognized as a nature lover, world traveller and champion for those without a voice. The latter includes wildlife, the First Nation peoples of the north, and of course the land. As CBC reports, the author spoke out on the radio show The Current less than a week before his death against a proposed plan to equip Canada’s National Parks with wifi, which he called “a disastrous, quite stupid, idiotic concept, and should be eliminated immediately.” There is no doubt he was passionate, outspoken and controversial.
He has been called feisty, fiery and a ferocious imp! Those who were close to him describe him as low key, approachable, and even shy. He had one persona for the media and one for home. He was known to his family and friends as good-natured, down-to-earth and just a pleasure to be around.
Mary Talbot (artist featured on the cover of The Link Spring Issue 2013) worked as Farley’s assistant for over thirty years. In a tribute to the famous author, she says “Yes, he could certainly be outrageous and contemptuous of authority, but the real man was endlessly caring, quietly generous, a compassionate friend and mentor.” She continues; A man of passion with the humour of a rascal. A man a little short of height but of enormous stature. A literary giant who lived an unpretentious life. A seeker of the truth. A man who expressed his innate creativity in an exceptional manner.
Farley’s mail brought letters from around the world telling him how his writing had changed their lives for the better. Many thousands of children wrote to him about Owls in the Family. And Farley replied, encouraging them in their reading. In earlier years, he sometimes read from his books to children of various ages at libraries and schools, and he encouraged them to read a great deal, to read widely and then to write, write, write.
Farley often said Writing was his function. He simply had to write. He was self-disciplined and organized. Writing requires this. How else could he have published 42 books, with about 550 editions and translated into 26 languages? He was completing his 43rd, his mind sharp to the end.” Of Farley’s wife, an author in her own right, Mary says, It can’t be easy for Claire to find time to complete her own books, though, as she is Farley’s biggest, most important support system.
So, this brings an era to a close. A long life, well lived by the combination of two passions: writing and nature. He leaves a legacy. He is survived by his wife Claire, sister Rosemary, brother John, sons Sandy and David, as well as three grandchildren. 
To his many dedicated fans from Canada and beyond, we are comforted by this life work as he bids us farewell – Farley was fond of saying “God bless you in your good works.”

Photos courtesy of Mary Talbot.

Jane Eccles and the Canadian Waterscape

Embrace II
Canadians have a love and connection with the lakes like no other. It isn't even necessary to put it into words – we just know. Whether we are near, on or in the water, the feeling of purification and completeness is abound.

Canadian artist and performer, Jane Eccles, truly captures Canadiana in her painting series known as ‘water’. One look at her images, and we know of childhood summers at the cottage, or that feeling when you first jumped into the lake, or the peace of sitting by the water’s edge on a hot summers day. Powerful images indeed.

As Jane recalls “My roots are around water.” Born in the Ottawa valley, she spent a great deal of her early childhood close to the Rideau water system. Her family moved to North Bay near Trout Lake when she was about ten years old, and this started her relationship with the ‘dark navy lakes’ so well associated with the northern parts of this province. She also attributes this area with the ice and snow in all of her imagery. In addition, and “key to the water paintings”, Jane frequented a cottage on Lake Kassabog and the nearby Petroglyphs Provincial Park. As Jane recalls, it was here that “something very deep rooted happened. Something primal. Soon an imagined female figure emerged that I was adding to this classic Canadian landscape – waterscape.”

The water series, fifty pieces painted in the 1990’s, coincides with a difficult time for Jane personally as key figures in her family had died. This loss brought to light her own history, as she recalls, “I became aware that I am a 7th generation Canadian – with maternal roots in Nova Scotia and paternal roots in the Ottawa Valley. I started to commit to the idea that my experience for painting is very local – very felt, very Canadian.” Of the cover image she says, “Embrace II was my way of being one with this feeling of the large concept of Canada.”

Black Pool
Jane also remarks that Canadian women writers influence her work. In the early part of the 1970’s, after completing her BA of Fine Art and English, and then her Bachelor of Education,  Jane landed a teaching position in Peterborough. Well known and critically praised Canadian writer Margaret Laurence lived nearby and was in the midst of one of the most significant book censorships of the time. The Diviners by Ms. Laurence was under attack by religious and conservative groups alike, a brilliant book that Jane says, “beautifully described the imagery that was floating around in my head.” Jane painted a portrait of Margaret Laurence which is included in a large installation called Patch Work at the University of Guelph Arts Building and the image was used on the cover of a biography for the writer by Patricia Morley called The Long Journey Home.

This influence of Canadian writers and authors is intertwined and flows into another series of paintings by Jane known as the ‘dresses’. She has painted garments of many strong Canadian women and they serve as a historiography of sorts represented through paint.

Woman at Lake
For more information about Jane Eccles, please visit her web site at or see her work on display at the Art Gallery of Northumberland from Sept 9-Oct 18, 2014. Jane Eccles was featured on the cover of The Link Magazine for the Summer issue in 2014.