The first week of September always seems to me more like a year end and a new year than Dec. 31. Everything starts to happen again. Mothers send their children off to school, others wave goodbye to their visitors and now social groups start up again. You can almost hear a sigh of relief go through the district. Back to normal. It compensates for the fact that fall is soon here and we don’t even want to think about winter to follow. Everything starts up slowly at first, but by mid-September everyone is in the groove again.
The same thing with the arts community. Most groups at the Red Barn Arts Centre stayed active during the summer months albeit at a lower attendance rate. Now all groups are pushing the restart button and it is full steam ahead. So be active and join the many groups, Mondays is ukulele, Tuesday the drama club, Wednesday art for everyone and photography and Friday is brush and palette. What more could one be looking for in our neck of the woods? It’s all here.
This month for artist of the month I talked to Gail Martens, a painter. One of many in our area. Why Gail? Well for one thing she is self-taught and quite often that is under-appreciated (I know from experience). Sometimes others in the art world frown on it but it takes a special person that wants to take on an art discipline and then find a way to do it, observe, investigate and experiment.
Gail was last year’s recipient of the Eagle Valley Arts Council Best Painting Award.
Carla: Did you always draw as a kid?
Gail: I always loved drawing. I grew up in Prince Rupert and I would daydream and stare out of the window at the trees, the birds and the ocean, even in school.
Carla: How did you learn to paint?
Gail: Trial and error. I would have a vision in my mind of what I wanted to do and I would just keep working at it until I got it right. My first love is to work with oil paint because it is so forgiving, you can wipe it off and cover it up and play with it.
Carla: Where do you get your inspiration?
Gail: I like taking pictures of what catches my eye and inspires me and work from those pictures. Then I can truly represent what I saw. I love painting landscapes, seascapes, nature. Seascapes are my favorite because I love the ocean and paintings can show the power of the ocean, movement of the water. And to look at them is very relaxing.
Carla: Do you ever do “life” paintings, like sitting by the lake etc.?
Gail: I did try painting on location one time but I had a couple of mishaps. I was stung by a wasp and a little whirlwind came up and knocked my easel over. So I’d rather do it at home.
Carla: This question is from an obvious non-visual artist. When do you know that a picture is done and then stop painting? I would find it hard to leave things alone.
Gail: That is one of the hardest things. There comes a point when you have to say “OK that’s it!” but once I sign my name on the picture even when I see something wrong with it, I don’t touch it. It is a self-imposed rule.
Carla: I understand you had a special assignment when you lived in Ottawa.
Gail: Yes, I was asked by the Canadian Navy to paint a picture of a new frigate before it was built (Gail’s husband Rick worked on the frigate program). They wanted to raffle it off as a fundraiser for the chiefs and PO’s lounge. I worked on it for a year after work and I knew that the people who designed the ship would see the painting.
Carla: How did you know what the new frigate would look like?
Gail: I had very rough blueprints and I had to buy books with navy vessels of the world, and I would take this piece of equipment from one ship and that piece from another ship and put it in the right place. It hung in the admiral’s office for a while and then they decided that they were not going to raffle it off, because they did not want it to hang in someone’s basement. (Obviously it was too good for that – Carla) So it is now hanging on board of the HMS Frigate Halifax and was given a stock number which means it is now part of the ship. I then had prints made.
Carla: Did you sell any of your prints?
Gail: I sure did. There are prints hanging in Canberra, The British Aerospace Agency in Melbourne, Australia and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and many other places.
It was a pleasure talking to Gail and we can look forward to some paintings of fabulous sunsets she witnessed just recently on a three month cruise going around the tip of South America. You can join Gail for Wednesday Art For Everyone at the Red Barn Arts Centre from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. with whatever art you want to do.
If you need any information about any art group please contact Carla Krens at email@example.com or 250-836-4705.