artworld

Emerging Painter Margaret Kitchen Joins The Show!

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About: Margaret Kitchen, new to Vancouver and the art scene, creates beautiful paintings of landscapes and other scenes. She works in a school teaching special needs children, and practices as an artist in her spare time.

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This is your first time at the Art World Expo. Is there anything particular you’re looking forward to?

I’m very nervous and excited just to experience it and be there to see other artists.

How were you introduced to art?

Growing up, my Mom was always creative. Not in painting, but in things like beautiful knitting and needlepoint. We would come home from dances and she would have entire outfits she’d made ready for us! Also, about 5 years ago I was looking at paintings a lot and thinking, “I want to do that.” I wanted to explore something different. Reading Drawing from the Right Side of Your Brain explained that everybody can draw and not to be afraid to make mistakes and to fail. It just sort of said, “Where are the rules? Anyone can do it.” Art is an outlet. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

How were you influenced as an artist by your heritage or home town?

Okanagan landscape is so inspiring. You go hiking or to lakes and just think, “I wish I could paint this.” It’s just so beautiful. There were great local artists and galleries, so it was really just a part of the community.

Who was your main inspiration growing up and how has it changed from then?

My Mother, because it was always important for her to be creative with her hands and to completely immerse herself.

How would you describe your style?

I love using oil paint. I love art to look like art. I really like artists like Robert Bateman. Lots of paint, thick, color, so I guess I would call my style impressionistic.

What do you consider your “big break”?

I am really glad that I met Monika. I started her art class and she and I really hit it off. Pretty much, she said “who cares! Do it and have fun,” and here I am.

How have you developed as an artist, both professionally and personally?

Personally, it’s opened up a whole new world of creativity to me. The whole journey of it has been fantastic; meeting all of these great people and producing artwork that I like. I love that now I can paint a picture and give it to someone.

What was an artwork that had a lasting effect on you? How so?

I’m so amazed all the time at the level of creativity and artistry just here in North Vancouver, just the local art that I see around. I also went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw Metis which blew my mind, and last winter I saw some Emily Carr which I love.

What is your favorite art gallery or event in Vancouver?

I love the art crawls. They have one in North Vancouver and one in East Vancouver.

What type of environment do you prefer to work in (i.e.: a studio, home, etc.)?

I like to be by myself sometimes but I also like to be in a studio where there are people I can bounce things off of and ask, “What do you think? What do you see?” I like to get advice, too.

Where do you get inspiration for your art?

My daughter, the landscape, other art.

What was the first piece of art you sold?

Well, I don’t sell my art! My mother in-law asked me to paint a picture of the Capilano River. It was the first painting that I thought “I like this,” and I kept it, but painted her a couple more and gave them to her. I think that if I didn’t get so attached to my paintings, I could sell them. They’re like my babies!

Is there a main theme or message to your art? If so, what is it?

It is more of pure expressionism for me.

What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing is that it’s a way of being creative and expressing yourself – that feeling of the great escape. It’s like meditation. I haven’t found anything negative about it yet!

Did you always want to be an artist? If not, what did you want to be and  when/why did you change your mind?

I never saw myself as an artist. I wish that I had tapped into this side of myself when I was younger would have loved to be a dancer, but during the time that I was growing up, it was never something I could imagine doing. Over the last 25 or 30 years I’d squelched that side of myself. Before my work as a Teacher, I was a Dental Assistant and would wear a different sweater every day. I’ve always liked to be creative and express myself but never thought it was something I could do. I think that if I had grown up in a different time or family I would have explored it a lot earlier.

Do you currently have a favorite artist?

Yes! He has a studio in West Vancouver. Yates. He does all sorts of West Coast landscapes with nice palette and color.

Describe the Vancouver art scene in three words

I don’t really know it that well, but I would say there are a lot of different kinds of art so versatile, exciting, and welcoming. All of the people that I’ve met have been very positive.

Carve or Starve!-An Interview with Jesse Toso

About: Jesse Toso, born and raised here in British Columbia, is a talented woodcarver whose tool of choice is equally impressive: a chainsaw! To see some of Jesse’s extraordinary work, go to: 

http://www.stumpartist.com

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The first time you carved was at a competition in 2005, at which you took first prize in the Amateur category! What motivated you to take part in the competition, and did you have a feeling that you would be a natural?

I grew up in Campbell River where the Transformations on the Shore Chainsaw Carving Competition has been taking place since 1997 and I remember looking at the amazing carvings produced at the event each year and I thought to myself: “I could do that”.  So,  I borrowed a chainsaw and hacked away at this giant piece of Douglas fir and by the end of the week, I had shaped out a Phoenix. After taking home the $1000 prize, I decided to do it every year after. This year will be my tenth!

 

Why do you prefer to work with a chainsaw, rather than other tools? 

Chainsaws are fast.  

In your opinion, how does the type of wood influence the final carving? 

The type of wood I use influences the final carving immensely.  The colour, the size/shape, the grain are all contributing factors.  Sometimes I look at a piece of wood and determine what to carve based on it’s shape and type, and other times I will want to carve something and look for a piece of wood that will work, but ultimately it is the wood’s inherent qualities and characteristics which influences the final carving.

What did you do for a living before wood carving entered your life? Do you think you will continue to wood carve for the rest of your career? 

I am a carpenter by trade as is my dad so working with wood comes to me naturally.  I will continue to keep carving wood, but I am also interested in exploring the artistic relationship(s) between other building materials, namely: glass, metal and concrete.  And I’ve always wanted to try carving ice.

What is the best part of working in wood carving?

Wood is a beautiful, natural, and quite versatile.  And it’s sustainable.

How have you improved over the years? 

I improve every time I carve. Going to annual carving events such as the competition in Campbell River and Carva-Palooza (an annual chainsaw carver’s convention in Ontario) has also been a huge boost.  I hope to continue improving with every carve.

What do you consider your most difficult piece? How about your favorite one? 

I would say the 16-foot spider hanging on the side of a building in downtown Campbell River was my most challenging and my favourite, too.  It involved creative engineering, 3D visualization, chainsaw joinery, and it was done in five days (as a part of the carving competition).  Also, it caused a bit of controversy.  People wrote into the local newspaper asking it be taken down as they have arachnophobia and could no longer go to the theatre because of the giant wood spider overhead!  Other people then responded in defence of the spider, and it so had people talking in Campbell River.  Which is what art should do, right? I have since carved several spiders and I will be bringing a “smaller” 8-foot version to Art World Expo.

You’ve worked on a variety of different sculptures, mainly focusing on animals. Do you prefer to use nature for your inspiration and how come? 

I am drawn to curvy, smooth, rounded, flowing shapes such as octopus legs, dragons, or the neck of a heron, and so find myself carving such shapes.  It happens that most things with these characteristics are from nature.

How has working first-hand with nature changed your relationship with it? 

Trees are precious. I am honored and humbled when I carve into wood that had once been a tree that had been standing for hundreds of years. I feel I need to use every bit of the wood I am carving.  Many of my carvings are from off-cuts from other carvings. 

Do you think that wood carving differs from other forms of art? How so? 

All art is expression. Carving wood with chainsaws is just another way for me to say: “Look what I can do!”

Do you have any advice for beginners in the field? 

Carve or starve! 

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Have you ever done a collaborative piece? If not, would you like to? 

I have done several collaborative pieces.  As a part of Carva-Palooza, one of the several carvings we do is made with a partner. Actually, this year I will be leading a group project (at Carva-Palooza) where eight of us will carve a complete chess set out of logs. I am really excited to see how this turns out.