Now. We're getting to the point where we can count down the days until the end of this year. A year unlike any other in recent memory. It began innocently enough. Then. Suddenly our world was swept up in a global pandemic. It's been sobering at times, but it's also brought the things that matter sharply into focus. I feel so grateful that I have had my art to focus on, something I can do in isolation and still share with others. Now. What have I learned? Change is certain. Humanity comforts itself through creativity. And art very often has a mind and purpose of its own. I simply listen and follow the inspiration.
What inspires me as an artist has changed over the years. Early in my career, I was drawn to the outdoors wherever I lived. Painting has always been a comfortable language to express my thoughts. Sketching and then painting landscapes and seascapes was my way of really looking closely, and then sharing what I saw. Now, as an abstract painter, I pull those thoughts from inside - bits of memory, perceptions, ideas, reflections on all of the information that each of us consumes daily. Allowing myself to simply respond to all those things through colour and movement and shapes has a distinct meditative quality, calming and yet contemplative. At times the work is instinctual, and at other times there is a distinct purpose that often arises in an instant of recognition. As I've said before, so often I feel that the painting leads me. That conversation fascinates me.
I have very rarely created a painting for myself, specifically to hang in my own home. Making art has always been about the connection with others, the communication of an idea or a feeling inspired by my personal experience. Not sharing the painting almost seems to silence its voice in a strange way. I more often would hang the work of other artists in my own home to enjoy their voices.
But these are no usual times. Perhaps it was the months of self-isolation, the adaptation of lifestyle, of understanding more clearly what I can do without, what is truly important. I have really enjoyed the time to myself, the long walks in nature, and the simple pleasures of home.
This painting whispered to me. "This is for you," it said, "This is a time to listen to yourself. This is a good place to be."
This is a strange time for us all. Summer has arrived and much seems the same - the heat, the mowing of lawns, the blossoming of colour everywhere, the immersion in the great outdoors. And yet this is a summer unlike any other, with the persistent undercurrent of the pandemic changing the way we interact on the street, in stores, at the park. There is an uncertainty about what lies ahead. Is the threat from the virus merely catching its breath before it overwhelms us once again? Living in the moment seems essential right now, and I am grateful for all that is good. I pause and watch and wonder how my art will be influenced by this time.
Working withing the safety restrictions that have become the new normal during the ongoing pandemic, I'd like to share a personal invitation from Cheryl Bell, Manger/Owner of 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery:
"The gallery's main room currently features a beautiful and poignant collection from Anna Horsnell and so far I'm the only person who has seen it in all it's glory. Even Anna has not seen it all hung together. And that's not cool because it is really amazing. So, I am taking social distancing next level and showing it one person at a time!
If you would like to view this collection, or the gallery in general, contact me to book a time slot. 902-830-0098 or firstname.lastname@example.org It will be just you (and your quaranteamates if they are interested) and me (sitting at my desk, fighting every urge to hug you)."
I cannot thank 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery enough for their perseverance in these very uncertain times. The new series "Earthlings" is now hanging in the gallery and is also available online through Facebook and the gallery's own website. I am overwhelmed by the positive and very touching comments and private messages I have received. To know that people are connecting with the work and understand what I was trying to say means everything. That is what every artist hopes for from their work. Anyone wishing further details or who are interested in taking an Earthling home, please contact 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery.
Expect the upexpected. The world has been shaken by the pandemic that is COVID19 and things have changed very quickly. As with so many businesses, 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery has closed for the time being and my exhibit opening has been postponed until a later, safer date can be chosen. Gallery owner extraordinaire, Cheryl Bell, none the less has immediately sprung into action, putting my new series of paintings online and is working her magic in promoting the new series. Four have just sold. I am beyond grateful, most especially under these uncertain circumstances. My heartfelt thank you to Cheryl and to the new owners.
One month and counting! I'm looking forward to seeing this new series hanging in the gallery. Once the paintings move from studio to gallery walls, they always look different to me. Cheryl at 14 Bells Fine Art does a wonderful job of knowing just where each piece should hang, and, which paintings will look best next to each other. This is when I step back and let go. The artwork must speak for itself now. Watching others make a connection with my paintings is why I make art.
Looking forward to the opening of my first solo show in three years on Saturday, March 28 at 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery located in the Hydrostone Area of Halifax. The image here is just a very small detail of a larger painting.
This new series is bold and a bit of a departure for me. The inspiration came from probably the most important issue facing our planet today. I wanted to say something and share my feelings through very simple and yet hopefully emotive paintings.
Everyone is welcome to the opening on March 28. I hope to see you there.
Over the last year, I've had the pleasure to do interviews and write articles about the visual arts for The Grapevine, a local paper dedicated to arts, culture, and community in the Annapolis Valley. Here's a link to their online publication: Grapevine.
Meeting other artists and discussing their art making process is an inspiration and sharing their stories is my way of giving back to the art community and the community at large. I am always amazed at the number of wonderful artists living and working in this area and the caliber of work they produce. And yes, I am probably prejudiced when I say this is one of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of the province in which to live. I look forward to meeting even more artists in the year ahead. Thank you all.
Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art