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Newest Leighton Art Centre exhibit celebrates the uncertainty of plein air painting

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The Leighton Art Centre’s newest exhibit, Come Paint Alberta, showcases an unexpected collaboration of both seasoned painters and the wider community to produce an unpredictable art form.

The exhibit explores the practice of plein air painting, which is French for “outdoors,” a method made popular by 1800 French Impressionists hoping to capture the landscape as authentically as possible by painting outside.

A Canmore collaborative piece “The Sky Is Crying” by Theresa Williams, Laurie Aldridge and Louise Lacey-Rokosh is situated in the centre of the exhibit room at Leighton Art Centre. PHOTO: KELSEA ARNETT  

This art medium presents a number of challenges to those who undertake it, such as dealing with changing light conditions, harsh weather, dust and insects.

But for the artists behind the project, Theresa Williams, Laurie Aldridge and Louise Lacey-Rokosh, this is exactly what makes plein air painting so appealing.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

“I find for me, it’s almost like a sport. It’s very, very challenging. I don’t know on any given day what’s going to happen,” Williams, who has painted plein air since 2018, said.

Aldridge, who is new to this medium and focuses more on oil painting and portraits, echoes this sentiment, adding that it serves as a way to refine one’s abilities.

“Plein air painting,” Aldridge said, “is the ultimate challenge. And for me, that’s why it appeals so much. I like to challenge myself.”

“So it’s, I think, the best way to hone your skills and to really be accurate with your colours and be quick, because you have to be.”

Speed sets plein air apart from still life painting – artists must capture their scene before it shifts too much.

Williams emphasizes the rarity of being able to return to a scene to complete a piece. Oftentimes the area no longer looks the same, or the artist is no longer in the same frame of mind.

“Where you are on any given moment, you’re painting from what’s happening in your life at that moment. So yes, you’re painting life, but you’re painting life from life,” Williams said.

The “Cattle Call” Bar U Ranch collaborative piece by Theresa Williams, Laurie Aldridge and Louise Lacey-Rokosh alongside other Bar U Ranch pieces is located at the Leighton Art Centre. PHOTO: KELSEA ARNETT

Project Origins

Fellow organizer Lacey-Rokosh imagined the project as a way to promote the Leighton Art Centre, which is located 45 minutes southwest of downtown Calgary, near Millarville.

Williams, Aldridge and Lacey-Rokosh met through the development of the project, and neither of them really knew what to expect at first.

“Group projects and collaborations are always interesting. You can’t predict anything. You don’t know which way the project is going to go. You don’t know which way you’re going to respond,” Williams said. “The unknown tends to bring you places. It’s like travelling – it’s like going and exploring it.”

As the project evolved, however, it became clear that hosting two-day paint-outs in locations such as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat as originally planned would not be feasible. So the artists shifted their focus to local areas instead, eventually hosting paint-outs in five locations – Canmore, Fort Macleod, Nanton, Bar U Ranch and Orkney viewpoint near Drumheller.

“One of the things that we really hoped as we put this together is that we would attract people that were seasoned plein air painters, but also those who had never painted outside before,”  Aldridge said.

The “Glory Days” Nanton collaborative piece by Theresa Williams, Laurie Aldridge and Louise Lacey-Rokosh is surrounded by other pieces from the Nanton paint-out at the Leighton Art Centre. PHOTO: KELSEA ARNETT

The first day of each paint-out at the five locations offered an opportunity for people to work with the artists and practice their skills. On the second day, Williams, Aldridge and Lacey-Rokosh collaborated on a unique piece, “deconstructing” the area they were in.

“We wanted places that had iconic views because we were talking about … taking these iconic views and doing something completely different to them,” Aldridge said.

Differences are a common theme throughout the pieces, as artists Williams and Aldridge emphasize that no two pieces are the same.

“We literally could have stood side by side with our easels touching, looking at exactly the same scene and ended up with something so different from each of our paintings,” Williams said.

“Everyone has their own style and that’s one of the things I love about painting in a group, is that you could all be painting the exact same thing, but it will look so different,” Aldridge adds.

Continuing a legacy

Barbara Leighton opened the Leighton Art Centre in 1974 as a way to bring art into the community while showcasing the landscape artwork of her late husband A.C. Leighton.

Amanda MacKay, director of communications and marketing at Leighton, says the artists created a project which holds true to Barbara’s original vision.

“I think that is just so in keeping with what Barbara meant Leighton Art Centre to be all about,” MacKay said. “I do think that their interest in bringing other people into the art world in any way, any level, is really admirable and very in keeping with our mission and our mandate at Leighton Art Centre.”

For many, art can be intimidating, but Williams, Aldridge and Lacey-Rokosh hope to show people that anyone can take part in whatever way suits them – a perspective which mirrors how Barbara approached art.

“She really believed that art didn’t need to be intimidating and that everybody was born creative and it was just a matter of finding out what you really enjoyed in the creative areas,” MacKay said.

By showcasing professionals’ work alongside beginners’, the exhibit exemplifies the value of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and attempting the unknown.

“Sometimes I think you can do your best work when you’re not comfortable,” Williams said.

“I would just say, go for it,” Aldridge said. “If you have any desire, go for it, because it’s something that you can improve on if you work at it.”

Come Paint Alberta closes on Oct. 23.

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Hands-on art installation takes shape at college campus

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Artist Jill Price is showcasing some of her new art, called UN/making the Frame, at The Campus Gallery at Georgian College in Barrie.

Visitors will find in the printed handout that they are invited to “put on a suit, smell, water, zest, taste, move, touch, and rearrange elements in the space,” which helps illustrate “everyday performances that help to visualize how still-life paintings are neither two-dimensional nor still, and that the actions of humans matter.”

Price, a past instructor in Georgian College’s fundamental art and fine art programs, is an interdisciplinary artist and the recipient of several Queen’s University awards.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Her artwork has been shown may times overs the years going back to 2000 — in solo shows, as well as juried, group and invitational exhibitions across Ontario.

This particular exhibit “presents multiple assemblages that point to how a plastic garbage can or a ‘mere bowl of fruit’ whether painted or in the flesh, are all part of our animate and interconnected ecologies.”

“Embracing the ready-made for its potential to delineate space as well as bring attention to the accumulation and ‘liveliness’ of everyday objects.”

The arranging, placement and use of the objects is solely up to the viewer as they walk through the gallery.

There is also a stop-motion video screen that draws the visitor in to witness Price as she plays out the process of creating the pieces and documents the time, labour and the materials that were used in the artworks.

This whimsical and hands-on experience can be viewed at The Campus Gallery until Dec. 4.

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Art

Hands-on art installation takes shape at college campus

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 on

Artist Jill Price is showcasing some of her new art, called UN/making the Frame, at The Campus Gallery at Georgian College in Barrie.

Visitors will find in the printed handout that they are invited to “put on a suit, smell, water, zest, taste, move, touch, and rearrange elements in the space,” which helps illustrate “everyday performances that help to visualize how still-life paintings are neither two-dimensional nor still, and that the actions of humans matter.”

Price, a past instructor in Georgian College’s fundamental art and fine art programs, is an interdisciplinary artist and the recipient of several Queen’s University awards.

Her artwork has been shown may times overs the years going back to 2000 — in solo shows, as well as juried, group and invitational exhibitions across Ontario.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

This particular exhibit “presents multiple assemblages that point to how a plastic garbage can or a ‘mere bowl of fruit’ whether painted or in the flesh, are all part of our animate and interconnected ecologies.”

“Embracing the ready-made for its potential to delineate space as well as bring attention to the accumulation and ‘liveliness’ of everyday objects.”

The arranging, placement and use of the objects is solely up to the viewer as they walk through the gallery.

There is also a stop-motion video screen that draws the visitor in to witness Price as she plays out the process of creating the pieces and documents the time, labour and the materials that were used in the artworks.

This whimsical and hands-on experience can be viewed at The Campus Gallery until Dec. 4.

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Ukrainian avant-garde art finds refuge from war in Madrid – Reuters

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MADRID, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Ukrainian art has found a refuge in Madrid where a retrospective on the country’s avant-garde in the early 20th century is showing works little known to the general public while offering them a safe haven away from the bombs.

On Tuesday, the Spanish capital’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum inaugurated the exhibit “In the Eye of the Storm. Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s”. It showcases a collection of about 70 artworks in various formats representing different trends, from figurative art to futurism and constructivism.

Aside from paying tribute to a little-known period in the history of Ukrainian art, the exhibition takes on particular relevance amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.

“We wanted to do something in terms of showing Ukrainian art, but also taking Ukrainian art out of Ukraine and bringing it to Europe and to safety,” Katia Denysova, one of the exhibit’s three curators, told Reuters.

Denysova, who described her journey out of Ukraine as a “rollercoaster”, said that transporting the works through a country at war into the European Union ran into numerous challenges.

They included the temporary closure of borders in response to the impact of a stray missile on neighbouring Polish soil, which sparked fears of an escalation two weeks ago.

When the curators saw the works had made it to Spain safe and sound, they were “beyond delighted”, Denysova added.

She now hopes that Ukrainian avant-garde art will tell the public a story of creation and resistance.

“This is an integral part of our heritage, of our culture in Ukraine. This is what Ukrainians are fighting for right now.”

Reporting by Darío Fernández, Silvio Castellanos and Michael Gore; Editing by David Latona and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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