A Canadian Portrait Master

Arthur Shilling, Self Portrait, oil on canvas, 40x30" (image courtesy Varasmas)

Arthur Shilling, Self Portrait, oil on canvas, 40×30″ (image, courtesy of Varasmus)

Tucked away in the high-tech manufacturing plant of Varasmus corporation lurks a collection of First Nations artist Arthur Shilling. Armed with a newspaper clipping advertising an exhibition of his work, we headed out to find Varasmus in the south of Ottawa.

Those who have taken a portrait course with me will recognize his 1985 self-portrait, his last. I use it as an example of expression and vibrancy, with a darker edginess. You can see how he painted it too – a brown and black under-painting lurks beneath. I am an advocate of under-painting or at least a rough value layout and Shilling’s self portrait is a fine example of this too – it’s more measured than it looks.

Of the 13 Shillings on display, 12 are portraits. Shilling was unusual as an aboriginal artist in pursuing the portrait as a means of expression over more traditional narratives. Although I am not an expert on his work, the exhibition shows him to be a master at capturing something of the personality of those around him.

You can check out the exhibition on-line

The exhibition runs until the end of the month, by appointment 613 247 9373 or mark@varasmus.com.

Announcing the Fall Break-a-Brush! Workshop Program

DSC00573Hot off the press!… we’ve just finalized our Fall Saturday Workshop Program. Starting on 20 September, we are looking forward to presenting two series of Saturday painting workshops:

The “Paint with Confidence!” Series:
In this series of 4 workshops, we cover some key painting methods in creativity-oriented workshop environments. With each theme,  I’ll demonstrate key techniques. Individual coaching will be provided and group feedback encouraged. Oil, Acrylic and Watercolour painters are all welcome. These workshops will appeal to a wide range of skill levels: relative beginners as well as practiced artists wanting to pursue a new style. Together we will dispel myths and develop sound practices, creativity and expression.

“They Painted Before Their Time” Series:
Join us for a series of painting workshops themed on some incredible painters that worked “before their time”. Many artists become famous later in life or after their time. History constantly re-assesses legacy. It is true that occasionally a master both creates the wave and rides it (Picasso, Warhol come to mind) but many who now affect our lives were long gone before their true impact was realized. These masters left something they could never have known.

All the dates and details are on the courses page of my website.

It is human nature to reach out, to ask questions and to want to explore. An equally important part of us wants to have fun, share and laugh with others. We know of very few catalysts that capture imagination more than art does. It continues to be a perfect medium to bring people together, to communicate and to create in more than just artistic ways.

Join us for a memorable 2014 Fall program!