An Alberta HUB-sponsored artist-in-residence program over the past two weeks gave two local artists the chance to work at Café Impromptu, a group of women to hone their skills at a workshop, and even this reporter to get her hands dirty and paint.
Rose-Marie Cameron capped off a week of painting at the café by hosting a workshop Nov. 26 that allowed 10 women to explore their abstract side and express it on canvas. Before the paint was even opened, Cameron led a warm-up exercise where she said actions for students to act out with their hands in the air such as: spiral, radiating outward, sharp edges and cluster together in parts.
With the instruction to “loosen up and just go do it,” the next task was to think of an action word or movement and express it with paint on the canvas. She said sometimes it is better not to have a pre-conceived idea of what you are going to create.
After Cameron demonstrated with the word ‘growing,' students got straight to work creating their own abstract impressions of various action words.
Somehow I found myself in front of a canvas and over-thinking the whole process instead of being spontaneous and just going with it like everyone else seemed to be. I chose the word ‘bursting' and smeared my paint-covered palm across the canvas. From there I blended in yellow and red patches, created orange and made some black wisps. Eventually I stopped thinking and planning and went with the flow to end up with my first abstract creation.
Later on, students created other paintings based on the theme of ‘a glimpse,' creating texture, and finally a landscape. With various levels of experience, everyone's pieces were unique and beautiful in their own way in the end, even if they were inspired by similar things.
Although her workshop was cancelled, Terri Stelfox worked as the artist-in-residence at the café the week of Nov. 15.
She painted a poppy while discussing her work and her passion for pastels. She mentioned how she likes colour and the bright poppy rich with orange and red she worked on seems to express this as well.
Stelfox described her art as “getting more realistic” while taking a slightly different look. She doesn't like to limit herself to one subject model and has painted antique hockey gear to flowers to people.
She wasn't always interested in art and started off by taking part-time art courses before receiving her fine arts diploma in 2005.
The Alberta HUB's rural metro accord tries to support and promote cultural and artistic life in the region, explained project co-ordinator Sheena Omen.
“When you're trying to attract businesses and employees and all that, you've got to show that it's a full town and has the quality of life aspects as well as the economic opportunities. So you bring in your family they'll have an opportunity to pursue their arts.”
As the first time for a project such as this in town, Omen said it has generated a good response.
“It's an artist-in-residence on a minimal budget,” she said, explaining that an artist-in-residence usually entails bringing in artists to live in a community, but that this project was to promote local artists.
As Stelfox and Cameron worked for free, the HUB only had to pay for the space and part of the workshop material costs as students covered part of the fees.
Omen said she was “really happy with it,” and whether a similar program is held again depends on funding.
But she said the HUB will continue to do similar cultural and artistic initiatives.