Sky and Water

Over the last year or so, I have been working on a body of work about being by the beach. Last summer, I went camping in Cape Breton with my family and a handbound book filled with watercolour paper. I brought a book for my daughter and she had her own set too. We were camping in Dunvegan at Macleod’s Beach and Campsite and this wonderful spot is where I had access to Dunvegan beach.

It had not been the first time taking a set of watercolour to the beach but I can say that this was a longer stretch of time where I could paint early in the day and then again in the evening if I wished. The longer stretch of time at Dunvegan made me realize how making art about nature and the beach meant something to me. Over time, I found myself collecting my own photographs, drawings and little watercolours that could source some larger works.

The idea was that I could use my drawings and watercolours as a starting point but the larger work would become its own piece as I continued to work out colour and shape in a creative way. Some of the patterning and rhythms in the sketches find themselves in the larger compositions. They are not however exact matches of the source material because that would take out some of the fun.

Peering Over the Cliff acrylic on canvas 2021
On the Edge of Lawrencetown watercolour on paper 2021

In the Fall 2020, I was approached by the curator Brandt Eisner of the Ice House Gallery in Tatamagouche http://www.gracejollymore.com/the-ice-house-gallery if I would be interested in showing my work in a group show about Sky and Water. I was very happy to have the opportunity and decided that it was a great way to share the work with the public.

I decided that the work could not be fully understood without seeing some of the watercolours I had made. So I included some matted watercolours in the show.

The “Sky and Water” group show also features the work of Eleni Manolakos, RJ Marchand, Ian McKinnon and Jennifer Marlow.
Also featured in the show is potter Iris Naessens-Patterson of Seastar Pottery and guest jewellers Chris Rogers and Lorna Winsor of Strata Art Studios. Now that some restrictions have been lifted we are thrilled to be open to the public! The opening of “Sky and Water” was June 5th between 1:00-2:30pm. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend because of personal family matters but the work of all the artists participating looks amazing!

If you live in Nova Scotia, going to Tatamagouche is a great day trip. Especially since a major lockdown ended! We often go to the beaches near Tatamagouche and I have heard soemthing about an amazing ice cream shop. You could see art and go to the beach OR you could go the beach and then see some art….and get ice cream too!

Dunvegan Watercolour Sketchbook

In July, we spent three nights at Macleod’s Camping Ground in Dunvegan during our pandemic stay-cation. It was the first time we went camping in 8 years due to a number of factors and it was such a pleasure for us. We had not been to Dunvegan in perhaps 9 or 10 years and it still takes my breath away. We were lucky to have beautiful weather while we camped and the camping site is just near Dunvegan Beach.

I now always take my watercolour set to the beach and this was no exception and this time I brought Brigid’s watercolour set too. It was her very first camping trip and I think she was pretty excited. She does get a little nervous about long car rides  because of car sickness but she did just fine.

I loved being in Cape Breton again. When we were first married, my husband and I lived in Sydney. We lived there for several years and our summers involved a little bit of camping along the Ceilidh Trail and along the Cabot Trail.  Cape Breton is a magical place and this year we brought the kids! We did a little sea kayaking, sunset watching, gallery hopping, beach going, wave swimming, brewery pub crawling (to eat), friend visiting and we stayed in a fancy “inn” too.

I was glad to see when I came home that many people took the stay-cation seriously and traveled within the province. It was clear that the Cape Breton Island needed more travelers about while we were there but according to my social media peeps, many we knew did the same vacation.

Here is my little tribute, in the form of a handmade book of a little slice of The Ceilidh Trail:

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Another Series

It is very common for creative people to get artist’s block. It happens and it is not unusual. I have had it and I am terrified of it. It usually creeps up after a show that I have worked on for months or when I am doubting my direction. I know other creative people get it and I don’t know the answer to this problem. I just think I need to put myself through it and quite possibly it might be part of the creative process.

There are times, during artist’s block, where I continue to make things out of fear of never doing it again. Maybe I make curtains for the house, perhaps I make facemasks for the family (pandemic duties), I bake yummy things (also pandemic duties…haha) and I think I continue to produce sketches and paintings in all varieties. I go through a hyper critical view of myself thinking I do not have what people call having “a style”. I have always been very creative and found it hard to commit to one way of working. In art school, my printmaking looked nothing like my painting because the processes were different. Printmaking was a place to explore and painting was a place to learn a skill for me, I guess. Over time, I think I explored more in my  painting practice. But the flip flopping led to mild criticism from one instructor suggesting it would seem like I had a mental health issue. Luckily and surprisingly, I took it lightly as I did with most “art crits”. I am not convinced that someone who is in their early twenties really knows what they want, but I digress.

I have spend the last few years in this limbo state. I did manage to get through a group show and paint quite a few series of things for practice and for fun. It wasn’t a complete dry spell but it was all over the place and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am happy to announce that I have finally started a series of work I am totally and passionately excited about. I am working on large (for me) mystical landscapes in acrylic paint that celebrate the movement, colour and pattern where I have one foot in reality and one foot in my imagination. This would not have happened if I didn’t decide one day several years ago to take my watercolour set to the beach, and paint in plein air. It would not have happened if I didn’t make my big abstract for fun in January (I am still playing on it) it will go in my house someday. I don’t think it would have happened without the pandemic which gave me time to work though all this stuff in my head. I managed to produce quite a few beach paintings when people were so lonesome for the beautiful Nova Scotia beaches so I know I love it. It might not have happened if I didn’t do The Sketchbook Project thanks to my friend Leah who gave me it to do because her son did not want to do it.

Everything you make leads you somewhere so just go with it.

The Sketchbook Project-Stuck Inside

sketchbook home

This week I bound my little book for “The Sketchbook Project”. Here are the little watercolours I made in the right order of my little handbound book. It will be sent today and will stay in “Brooklyn Art Library” in NY with many other little books to be viewed by the public. It was very fun and I am pleased that I was given this project by my really nice friend, Leah. I hope one day to go and check it out myself.

WE HEART OUR BEACHES

sketch-1589027434849

I am not originally from Nova Scotia. I made this place my home in the early nineties and then again in the early 2000s. The ocean, the wide open skies and the colourful Historic properties captured my heart and my imagination. I made this series of little paintings in response to the beaches being shut down due to Covid-19. People in Nova Scotia love their beaches and with good reason. They are clean, beautiful, uncrowded (except for the day before they shut us down, I suppose). The ocean water can be warm in the Northumberland Strait although I did on one occasion frolic in the ocean before a storm was looming at Crystal Crescent Beach.

To this day our beaches have not opened since the lockdown and we in Nova Scotia are all hoping it is the next thing to open up. In the meantime, I will happily continue painting these little beaches in my studio.