preface: I know this week’s blog was supposed to be about the seed tables and the planting in our basement. Richard has the tables ready to go, but due to the massive cold snap (minus 20 all this week again!) we haven’t been able to get the earth out of some of the bigger planters that we were planning to mix in with the potting soil downstairs, and also the seeds haven’t arrived yet. So- hopefully next week? Besides, I haven’t done an Artist in the Attic feature in a long while!
The farmhouse at Blue Belldon Farm is full of artwork because we all love it. My collection of pottery, Mom’s and her aunt’s weavings, and mostly, paintings, etchings and sketches with deep sentimental meaning to at least one of us. Richard himself was immersed in art in his younger years, and so quite a bit of his own early work graces our walls (as well of that of his fathers’).
Richard’s sketch of his German grandfather hangs in a montage on our bedroom wall, and two oil paintings he did of his time in rural Saskatchewan hang downstairs in his office:
His artistic talents were passed on to his youngest son, Nigel, who has honed them into a lucrative profession as a rather well-known tattoo and portrait artist in Toronto. Richard is proud to announce that Nigel is booked a year in advance, and has even had commissions from folk as far away as England and Japan. I especially love the romance (not often evoked by Nigel, believe me!) of the first one, and the amazing reality of the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton one.
Artistic talent may be often inherited or at least somewhat naturally instinctive, but art APPRECIATION should be cultivated by those who truly adore it. My love of art really began with my Grade 5 art teacher, who was then Miss McBeath. She was a neat ‘hippi’ type of self-confident young woman with long hair to her waist and wearing long peasant skirts (which I still prefer wearing myself to this day) with a slightly sarcastic and quick wit (which I’d seemed to have been born with but which was, shall we say, NOT encouraged around my house!) and with a talent for passing on her passion of all things artistic, creative, and most important to me – INDIVIDUAL. It didn’t matter HOW good you were, she said, as long as you tried and you loved what you were trying… I also found out about her that she, like me, had been a tomboy who struggled with her weight, and we also bonded over the fact that I did NOT find it amusing that my class had to give up art to go and take a semester of Home Ec., as it was then called. (Ironic, then that so much of this blog is dedicated to recipes and kitchen how-tos!)
The following year Jane married my Grade 6 social studies teacher, Peter Wright, and we found more in common – they drove the exact same V.W. van as my parents, Peter and my Dad were obsessive tennis players/followers, and both Wrights accepted me as a strong-willed tomboy with a sarcastic sense of humour and respectfully called me by my requested nick-name, “Chip” (which few others were wont to do). Our families have since been life-long friends.
Originally, Jane was more a textile artist and found joy in the creation of pottery, batik, knitting, quilting, rug hooking and woodworking. She definitely was one of the last, true “hippis”, in my opinion, and could very well have settled into a live of self-sufficiency as we are trying to do here, with her many talents. In fact, she and Peter DID take their 3 children and live in the French mountains for a year of self-exploration!
However, this amazing woman has, in recent years, found her medium/niche in watercolour, and, as former president of the bi-lingual “Artistes Hudson Artists”, a group of more than 80 talented artists in the artist colony of Hudson, Quebec, she has also publicly defended, in various media, ART and the right to individualism. From one of her articles:
“Why should you buy original art? A good question, when you can buy pleasing, inexpensive, mass-produced things for your walls. The answer is that all art is a form of self-expression and communicates the artist’s message. How you interpret that message is intensely personal and therefore unique. If a piece of art “speaks to you” in some way, it will give you a jolt of delight every time you look at it or touch it. Original art should always start a conversation whether it is with yourself or someone else; conversations teach you things and enrich your life. Artists are compelled to produce art; buying original art produced in your community supports local artists and by extension the local economy.”
We have several favourites of Jane’s at Blue Belldon Farm, all originals, because that’s all Jane does – including even her beautiful cards!
I LOVE the way the sun streams through the trees in that first one, which is framed on our living room bookshelves (you may have to click on each to blow them up to see all detail). And the last one looks very much like our huge vegetable garden, with its mix of flowers in it to attract pollen-spreaders!
But the one which I think looks the most like a scene from Blue Belldon Farm (which is on Jane’s website: http://www.janewright.ca/ ) is this one:
I can just imagine standing at the side of the barn looking out to the back fields. Love it!
One of my favourite quotes from Jane reminds me very much of this farm, too:
“The use of colour and texture to express my awe and wonder at the beauty around me fills me with great joy. Spending time on the shores of Lake Huron and following my grandfather around as a child as he cared lovingly for his animals, orchard and gardens instilled in me a profound respect for the order, beauty, cruelty and power of the natural world and those that inhabit it. “
Here are some more of Jane’s landscapes that illustrate the above:
Jane even painted an original coaster for each person who attended their eldest son’s (my god-son) wedding a few years ago. Although I couldn’t make the wedding in Hawaii, Jane was good enough to give me this souvenir, which also sits on our bookshelves. A really original idea, if any of you have some artistic talent and a family wedding coming up~!
I find it amusing that the ‘yellow room’, upstairs in Mom’s suite, (where we think poor Ida had all 5 of her children who were the first ones born here) holds one of my worst-ever paintings (circa Grade 9, playing abstract with acrylics) on the wall, but right across from it is a gorgeous watercolour still life of Jane’s!
The Wrights helped us very much all three years of the running the Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile, not just because they are supportive of friends, but because they both love to promote the local arts as much as possible. Here’s a candid shot I love by Yvonne Parsons Photography (Artist in the Attic #1) of Mom, in pioneer costume courtesy of Joan Eagle, and Jane wearing one of Mom’s woven shawls:
As an extension of Jane’s connection with the CCC&OMM show, I also asked her to offer her cards in our Rural Creators’ Collective shop in Carlisle. Here are a few of the displays I made with these ALL ECO-FRIENDLY, RURAL-CELEBRATORY artisans.
Jane’s card is directly above in the bottom left, with other cards by photographer Yvonne Parsons, and lino-cut artist L’immaginaria’ Lisa Martini-Dunk as well as native works by Roni Walker of Metis Caravan, a rag plate mat by Ragged Revivals, an artisan original doll by Teena Mucicko Surma’s The Fanciful Doll and a few of my own, Rustic Revivals’ pieces as well.
Here is a close-up of a different display I loved in the shop:
In the above, Jane’s stunning sunset card is in the crate, and is surrounded by a quilt and business-card holders by Miriam Bauman’s MiniMade, intaglio and lino-cut prints by the above-named L’immaginaria, a framed crocheted doilie by Roni Walker’s Rumpel’s Wheel, a chickadee watercolour by Marla, a recycled map by Dillies Dahlias, and a few items in the forefront, as well as a rag doll on top of the crate by my own Rustic Revivals. I loved having Jane’s cards in our shop, and they are unique as, as I mentioned previously, each one is a unique original. You can still purchase one of Jane’s originals by contacting her through her website: http://www.janewright.ca/contact.html
In the same yellow room in Mom’s upstairs suite is also a small framed card by another watercolour artist and friend of the family, Marg Patterson, from Tillsonburg, whom I’ll be featuring in another Artist in the Attic posting down the road. She also does LOVELY work, and donates her proceeds to the Alzheimers Society! Mom has this one normally on the window ledge in that room, actually facing out to our own Birch Grove.
And thus you have it – the Blue Belldon crowd LOVE their art-work. Other than these artists we consider family, our walls our also ‘littered’ with art-work from our travels around the world, with representations of some of the places we’ve loved best. Mom has carvings from Africa and Slovenia, I have paintings of my log cabin and stone cottage from Montana and Scotland, there are many water colours of the Bronte’s West Yorkshire, where Richard and I both have many happy memories, and I have several antique ‘horse’ prints as well as two large ones of James Lumbers’- one from his ghostly series, “City Limits” (a rural piece with the skyscrapers, so sadly but truly, invading in the far distance)
and another of his – a native girl studying from a text book, which will always remind me of my time teaching on the rez. He’s a Canadian, as is of course the nature-realist Robert Bateman, with whom my grandmother taught for a time in Burlington, Ontario. We have a few of his smaller prints on the wall downstairs, and Mom has a large one of his kingfisher (bought for Grandma, originally) above her couch upstairs.
As well as the above kingfisher of Bateman’s, Mom has quite a few of her own mother’s china-painting hanging on her walls. Grandma was another family artist that had great talent in all subject matter, but especially enjoyed doing florals. One of my favourites, however, is the platter, hanging above Mom’s ‘stove’, that depicts the Hawkins family farm, where her mother went as a young bride.
Yup, we ruralites sure appreciate our artists, and the memories their works evoke in us! I hope you have the same throughout your own home, and that you’re not, as Jane suggests above, buying ‘pleasing, inexpensive, mass-produced’ Ikea or Wal-mart ka-ka (you’ll note Jane’s quote stopped before this last bit).
If you fill your home with art that ‘speaks to you’, it will, as Jane says:
give you a jolt of delight every time you look at it or touch it
And Amen to THAT!