I've always relied on the ocean to be one constant I could depend on, ever-changing yet always the same. And yet the evidence is building that the ocean is in trouble.
Several years ago I read the book entitled Sea Sick by Canadian author Alanna Mitchell. I was shaken by her overview of scientific findings from around the world. Many of these ideas and concerns have been echoed by others even more recently as well. Certainly great damage has been done to fish populations, corel reefs and the very chemistry of the ocean waters. What the future holds remains to be seen, but mercifully there are those fighting to help where and when it is possible.
One such group is Project Seahorse, a marine conservation organization based in Vancouver, B.C. and London, U.K. And so I was very pleased when AyrSpace Gallery, who carry my artwork, announced their own Project Seahorse in support of this conservation work. Working with glass artist Jessie Tesolin of Montreal, AyrSpace Gallerist Jill Yuzwa has launched a fund-raising campaign offering one-of-a-kind glass seahorse pendants. Just in time for Christmas, each pendant is uniquely hand-crafted, in one of three colour patterns. A portion of all sales will go directly to Project Seahorse.
Our awareness matters. Every effort matters. Wherever the coastline, the ocean's waters are in motion touching us all.
My first job was in an office, typing and filing and answering phones. I think I did a reasonably good job, however the boss did ask me to stop doodling on the file covers. Seems I had covered a fair percentage with sketches in my "spare" time. (To be fair I only drew on the inside of the files, but still he had a point I guess.)
A little later, I worked in the travel and hospitality industry which offered great travel perks. I took advantage of these opportunities to visit every gallery and museum wherever I found myself from across Canada to the countries of Europe. In my spare time, I was also taking art courses and studying with various art groups wherever I lived.
By the time I had worked my way up the career ladder to the position of director of marketing and sales, my favourite projects were designing advertising and planning creative social events. Eventually I began free-lancing as a marketing consultant and graphic artist, designing promotional materials and logos for a wide variety of businesses. I was still working in business, but art was slowly taking over my time.
It seems there's no denying where my heart lies. Being a full-time artist now feels good and right and long-overdue. Not everyone gets to do what they love. I am eternally grateful that I finally can. I don't know that I would change the past as I gained invaluable experience over the years. Each job taught me something that made me the artist I am today - doodled file covers and all.
Has your career path led you where you want to go?
Nocturne! For anyone who hasn't yet experienced Halifax's annual night of art, this weekend is your chance to discover magic.
As detailed on the official website, Nocturne is "a fall festival that brings art and energy to the streets of Halifax between 6pm to midnight. The 2012 event will take place Saturday October 13th. The completely free, fifth annual event showcases and celebrates the visual arts scene in Halifax."
This year for the first time, I'm very excited to be participating in a group exhibit entitled "Happiness" created especially for Nocturne. I join three other very fine artists, Sarah Jane Conklin, Andrea Pottyondy, and Monika Wright, to present a wonderful show of paintings in a variety of styles. See our special "happiness" board as well where you can leave a personal tribute to what brings you happiness. As you travel along Spring Garden Road, just step around the corner on Birmingham Street and watch for our sign (see above).
Also at this location will be two other smaller exhibits, "Faces" and "Visions of Iceland" as well as live music with Katherine Fitch Loza - more reasons to stop in.
Nocturne is designed and planned by volunteers who deserve major credit for creating a truly special event. From live street performances and special one-time installations to music and open galleries, (not to mention dedicated buses and ferry service), the downtown comes alive with people discovering and experiencing visual art in a very lively, festival atmosphere. This is an event all ages can enjoy. Join the party! You'll be glad you did.
A sample of my earlier, more realistic painting style.
A viewer said she doesn't understand abstract art. She said it just isn't her cup of tea. Fair enough. Appreciating art is a personal experience. What catches one person's eye or stirs an emotion may leave another shaking their head. Variety is one of the true blessings of life.
Different artists present different styles. And, over time, the work of any given artist can naturally evolve with their changing experience and skill. This development has often led to various art movements over the years. Following these changes can be fascinating and telling of a time and place.
On a more personal level, change is generally a sign of growth. Artists respond to all aspects of life and life changes. Part of the growth process is also setting goals and challenging the intent or purpose of their art. Most artists are their own strongest critic, constantly pushing themselves to reach for an ideal they envision for their work. Growth may come with a change in medium, or style, or subject matter.
Although I am not entirely comfortable with labels, my early painting style ranged from realism to a looser impressionism. However from the very beginning, I felt a strong desire to paint not what I saw, but what I felt. Finally there came a point when I was ready to turn inward and do just that. In what was a very challenging process, my painting became abstract and finally non-representational, losing any reference to the visual world. There were those who were scratching their head in puzzlement, but still others who welcomed my new approach. The switch in style has been my biggest and most satisfying challenge in my career.
That brings me back to appreciating art as a personal experience. She said she preferred realism. I appreciated her honesty. So I shared several photos of my earlier work to show I understood. It was also a great look back to remember where my work began and where it is now. Here's hoping I never stop growing and my artwork never stops evolving.
How has your appreciation of art changed over time?
Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art