Saturday, September 21, 2019

EXPLORING ART and ARTIST: Fiona O'downey

Fiona O'downey
This month at OOAK Artisan Showcase, we present the artwork of Utica artist, Fiona O'downey. Her exhibit is titled "Force of Memory", acrylic works painted in the Precisionism style of the 1920's.Her artwork will be on display through October 6, 2019. 
Learn more about the artist by reading the latest edition of Exploring Art and Artist, written by Ellen Schimmel Pearson –

It has been my pleasure to discover this intricate artist on behalf of OOAK Artisan Website,  I am happy to share this lovely journey in getting to know this artist.  

Fiona, you mentioned on your facebook page that you grew up near a corner of South and Genesee St in Utica, NY, and carry many great memories of those younger years.  Did you have experiences in your younger years that inspired you to begin creating artwork? 

I began to create art when I was about 5 years old.  I always felt that art was inside of me, plus my mother was an inspiration as an artist herself, and there were always art supplies around.  When I look at my 8 yr old grandson and the skill with which he draws (“born with a pencil in his hand!”), I believe our talent also came from our genealogy. 

Were there influences that helped to shape your style of art along the way? 

It was mostly the circumstances of my younger years.  In high school, which for the time (1960’s) we had a very large graduating class, we were introduced to the concept of “starving artists”.  We were told we could never earn a living with art.  We were sent to home economics classes, taught how to keep a good home, and pushed into service jobs.  I became a social worker in long term care.  From then on I spent the next twenty five years putting my art second, just finding time here and there to develop my creativity.  A broken marriage catapulted me to quit my job as a social worker and finally pursue what I loved.  I went to art school!  From then on, I did work part time jobs to support me, but art was my first pursuit. 

Momento Mori: Fay Street Warehouse
The painting you had displayed on that corner in Utica is typical of your style of art, which you describe as “Precisionist Art”.  I looked up this style of art and it is defined as a “cool art” form; one that keeps the viewer at a distance, and can have an attitude of artist detachment, and is many times void of human influence.  In the artwork of this building displayed on South and Genesee St,  I definitely see that you put the viewer at a distance, like it is a snapshot in time, with many aspects of the building celebrated….outbuildings, neighboring structures, smoke stacks in the background, ladders, flagpole, shadows falling on the windows and street, literally everything that falls in front of, behind, beside, and covering the central building, without taking away from it.  By keeping the viewer at a distance, you guide the viewer to broaden their perspective as they gaze.  Which would almost seem to be opposite of the term “precision”.  Or maybe it is intended to make the viewer look with more precision to see all that is in the painting!  How do you hope to guide the viewer in this style of painting? 

I would say, BOTH of the above.  I hope that the viewer has a broader perspective when looking at my painting, but also I hope that he or she examines it with more precision.  And then, I would say NEITHER.  I say that because it is not what I want them to see; only they can figure that out for themselves. The reason my artwork is devoid of human emotion or attributes, and blocks the viewer from psychologically and visually “entering” the building, is that it makes you, the viewer, think about the building.  What was it used for in its beginnings?  How has it changed over the years and what could it be used for now?  What might have it looked like on the inside and what people may have inhabited it? I never put my emotions into the painting, because each viewer will put their own emotions into it and have a unique experience.  Precisionist art makes the viewer conceptualize these emotions without it being fed to them from the artist’s point of view.  
Room by the Air Shaft

The definition of precisionist art mentions that it can be devoid of human interaction.  In your artist statement from 63rd Artists of CNY Exhibition, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, you describe your inspirations as coming from: “the movement of the sun across the sky, in shadows, in the silvery light cast through and from old windows, in the buildings and forms I see everyday as I pass through the city”.  This would be in line with the precisionist form of art.  Everything mentioned here is non-human.  And yet, when you describe your own interaction with the painting,  “While I work on the painting the painting becomes an eye, watching me watch it and this eye speaks to me, in a language both familiar and foreign”, it is as if the subject itself takes on human qualities.  Do you find that your painting fills your soul as much as a human could?

Night Watch 1
Copyright © Fiona O’downey
Well, yes, when I work with a painting, and any artist would agree, over time it begins to take on a life of its own, and you reach a point where the picture almost guides you in the direction it needs to go.  Much like some people are guided by humans in their lives.  And yes, although there are some voids that only my family or friends can fill, much of my soul is filled with my experience of painting.  One of my favorite paintings is that of the Oneita Knitting Mill on Broad Street in Utica, NY.  This is a tribute to my dad, who was a night watchman there.  The yellow window represents the eternal presence of my dad in my life.  You can never see him in human form, but he is always there, watching.  It represents my spiritual belief that even though my loved ones have passed beyond this world, their soul is still here, keeping watch over me. 

I think what makes an artist unique is that he/she acknowledges that there are many means to filling their soul, whereas some people depend on other humans to do so.   Aside from the inspiration of your artist’s palette, how else do you fill your soul?

I have many means with which I fill my soul.  I love historical writing, mid century modern furniture decorating, I love cooking, I enjoy my family, including my daughter and three grandchildren, many friends.  I recently met relatives in New Jersey after 70 years that I met on!

It sounds like many of those items listed are art forms in themselves.

Yes, I believe they are!

Where do you find the subjects of your paintings?  Do you paint from a picture or do you create these images from your imagination?

Providence No. 2
Copyright © Fiona O’downey

I find my subjects everywhere! Mostly when I travel.  I have had some unique experiences, just looking for the right building to photograph.  From the Pittsfield, MA Amtrack Station to rat infested city tracks, I consider every place I go a potential for inspiration.  I always take a photo of the buildings and then go home and paint where I can control the light and shading.  I never change the actual building, but sometimes I will make a collage of several buildings and put them together. 

I love your painting of the cats, which I am assuming are Siamese as they have that feel to them.  The whole picture makes me feel like I am in France!  The colors, the furniture, the lines of the picture…I am thinking this must have been fun for you to paint, because it had a little whimsical (and yet sophisticated) feel to it and it immediately made me smile!  Do you like to include animals in your artwork?  What inspired you to play with the French influence? 

It actually was just a whim, a fun encounter.  I wanted to decorate my home and I didn’t want to buy artwork, so I painted some!  I did have a show in my home, but normally they are fun paintings that I do not show.  I don’t paint animals generally but did do a few for this project.

Louise Brooks – an American actress known as a flapper icon in the 20’s and 30’s.  Did you create this painting of her?  You have sported a similar hairstyle and look – how has this woman inspired you in your personal life as well as in your artwork?
No, I did not paint this but I am inspired by this 1920’s actress.   loved the era of the 1920’s.  The economic boom, the hope for the future, the bright colors, the hairstyles, the clothing.  Louise Brooks was the essence of this time period.  She is my “muse”, my source of inspiration.  I would go back and live in that time if I could!
The Love Letters      Copyright © Fiona O’downey
You do have some interesting abstract pieces in your artwork.  What does your abstract art say to the viewer?  Is it a window to your feelings as you create it?  Or do you start out with a theme from the beginning?  Just like your building paintings, there is so much going on that it commands the viewer to, again, look with more precision to see all that is in the painting!  So, what I call abstract art, still contains a  thread of precisionist art in there.  Do you intentionally blend these two styles of art?  
Actually, I started doing abstract art while in art school, and it is one of the areas I studied.  I really haven’t done many pieces in recent years as I have concentrated my interests toward precisionist art pieces.  I guess I had some precisionist art influence in the abstract art but I didn’t really plan it that way.  Maybe precisionist art was always in me back then waiting to come out!

What pieces are you planning to put in the upcoming OOAK Artisan Show?  What would you like the readers to know about what they will experience when they view your works? 
I am planning to put more of my Precisionist artwork in the show, but some newer work, including Urban Buildings.  I hope the viewer uses these images to create their own version of what each represents, and can infuse a part of themselves into the paintings.  I hope it makes them inquisitive and wondering about the role these old buildings have played in our history, and maybe it transports them to a different time and place. 

August 8th  No.2        Copyright © Fiona O’downey
What are your hopes and dreams??    

I have one hope and dream:  to live another ten years and still be doing what I love at the age of 80!

Is there a message you would like to leave with the readers and upcoming artists?

Yes.  I have lived my own version of the struggles of artists.  When I was married, building up my art whenever I had the time, I came home one day to find that my husband at the time had destroyed every single piece of my artwork which I had spent a lifetime creating!  I felt as if my soul had been destroyed.  But I fought back.  I got divorced, and started over with my art and my life.  I went to art school and have never turned back!  I would like the readers to know that any traumatic experience can be the catalyst that can lead you on to your next and greatest inspiration!
Thank you, Fiona, for sharing with us this unique style of art, and for the inspiration of your life experience!  We hope to see your talent continue to grow over the next ten years and beyond!

Gallery 2 at OOAK Artisan Showcase
"Force of Memory", will be on display through October 6, 2019.

OOAK Artisan Showcase is located at 425 W Thomas St, Rome NY. All are welcome. Additional parking in the back of our building.

GALLERY HOURS: Thursday 10am-3pm, Friday 3-5pm, Saturday 12-3pm, Sunday 1-3pm. Check our Facebook page for changes.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

EXPLORING ART and ARTIST: Paige Carpenter

Thank you for joining us on this journey of meeting so many unique artists whom Shelley has brought to us through the OOAK Artisan Showcase Gallery and website!  This month I spent some time interviewing Paige Carpenter, a lovely artist who has broadened her art to include many artforms, including character design, costume design, illustration, fashion and graphic design, use of lights or illumination in her artwork, and a striking use of bold colors and sharp lines that really focus the viewers and draw them in to the subject.  There is a striking combination of mystical fantasy and stark reality in her artwork that is not to be missed.  I hope you enjoy this short walk through Paige’s world:

First of all, a common question to get us started, for those who do not know you at all, I can pretty much tell that art has been inside of you for a very long time because your soul is expressed in everything you make.  When did you first discover that you had this inclination toward art in your life and how was this revealed to you?

As a kid, my mom was an art teacher so we always had a ton of art stuff around the house. I was always creating stories in my head and I was fortunate enough to be able to express them as they were onto a blank canvas, so to speak, instead of trying to project them onto something already premade like… a plastic barbie doll.

I would say that I was a pretty solitary child and had a penchant for crafting the world around me, imaginary or not, absent of whatever current culture was dictating at the time. Art was just a medium to visually see what I had floating around in my head whether it was stories or imaginary friends or places and revisit them time and again.

I always like to ask an artist what early influences you had in developing your interest in art, and do they still influence you or have new inspirations evolved that have turned your direction at times?

I can’t really say for sure. We never watched a lot of TV (if at all) but I read a ton of books and my mom was always sure to have a new book in my hands every week. We also would go to a lot of museums and live theater productions so I was constantly thinking about stories. I was fascinated with storytelling as a live visual medium, something up close that you could see, sense, touch, or feel in the moment.

As expressed on your website, you have many areas where your art touches.  These include character design, costume design, Illustrator, fashion design and graphic design.  Do you have a favorite area that you feel the most creative in? 
FIDM Debut 2014 “Jazz”
Illustrations & Sewn/Built Costume: Theatrical 1920s flapper party dress
Copyright © 2014 Paige Carpenter
Model: Kalyn Hemphill (LA Models)

Probably costume design. There is SO MUCH one can say with clothing! I call it textile hieroglyphics! The balance or shape of something as simple as a sleeve or a shoe or some trims or accessories or just the textile design itself speaks volumes about what people think of themselves inside their head, every garment it a hard coded choice, even the ones people think they made without care show a decision. Why this shirt? Why blue? Why this particular blue? Why stripes? Fashion design touches on these elements yet is such a huge corporate/cultural/money controlled beast but costume design allows me to dig deep into a singular person’s psyche and really understand what clothes mean on so many levels, personal, professional, societal, spiritual, cultural, time periods… it’s amazing!

I see many themes as I look at your art.  I would like to touch on these themes and get your thoughts on where these themes developed or how you are inspired by these: 

 "Above the Sky and Below the Sea"
 Copyright © 2019 Paige Carpenter
Use of color - You are not afraid to use bold colors, and you seem to have a strong command of these colors.  Meaning, you use them with such preciseness to communicate the mood of the subject.  In your Renegade Officers and village women, you sometimes use the smallest accents of bold colors just peeking out to somewhat soften the harsh exterior of the uniform and the times they are living in, and yet sometimes you make the entire costume in a bold color which sends a surge of power and excitement.  And then other times, the absence of color makes a strong statement as well.  The village women from Cliffs of Freedom, Yia-Yia and Anna Christina have very little pop of color and yet are so distinctive in their characters.  And the costumes from 1920's showgirls from "JAZZ" are fun and popping and embody the dynamic surge of economy and culture of the roaring 20's.    Do you find that you use color, or the absence of, as a specific tool in guiding the observer to be moved in a particular direction?

It’s funny that you mention colors as I feel like this is one of my weaker points, I am constantly switching around and testing colors after the sketching portion is done. Personally, I only wear black in real life, so I tend to view my art in terms of silhouettes instead of colors, like if I have a dark or muted color in one section of the drawing, how does this silhouette a lighter or brighter color near it? How are the silhouetting each other? What shapes are the colors creating against each other?

Diversity - Not just in people, but in the subjects of your art.  I loved seeing your earlier "costume challenge" drawings, in which you drew costumes of people from different cultures.  For example, the Mughal Man from 17th-18th century Mughal/India, and the Berber people of the High Atlas Mountains near Morocco, Africa.  How do you go about researching the different cultures and influences before taking on a project such as this?   

There is a lot of misinformation out there so I try as hard as I can to be as accurate as possible with my historical artwork. Sometimes that means rejecting amazing references or images because they are juuuuuust slightly too out of range for a particular piece that I am working on. For any historical pieces, I settle on an “end date” where anything labeled after that is automatically rejected and I usually try to stay within about a general radius of a chosen site, accepting that there was regular trading before stores were a thing and someone say, in Turkey, may have a textile or piece of jewelry from Armenia or Syria or Greece (those are modern countries of course, I have to constantly check historical maps to make sure I am landing in the right countries). I make sure that any references I do get are from reputable sources like museum catalogues or historical fashion databases. Pinterest will label anything from 1100 to 1920 as Victorian and WHEW does it grind my gears!

On top of that though, there is also the understanding that these are still human people who have relationships, feelings, personalities, faith, working lives, money (or not) and understanding the human element in historical costume design really adds a lot of flavor to the research.

Also, what I call diversity in canvas - you create art on non traditional canvases, such as the corset/bustier, and Ouija boots.  What is the most interesting piece of art that you created, and is there a "canvas" that you have yet to create art on but would like to?

They are as yet unpublished, but for my job at Disney, I have created a few videos where I take my illustrations and animate them to bring them to life! Nothing TOO complicated yet but I love the surprise of a static illustration suddenly coming to life on screen.

I would really love to work together projection mapping on costuming in a live setting. Right now live projection mapping on a moving surface is in its infancy but I would love to combine illustration, animation, and costume work like that.

"Glass Bowls Aren't Home"
Copyright © 2019 Paige Carpenter 
I have been trying to think of the word(s) for this theme and I think it is to collate, or balance, two contradictory looks in one drawing.  You combine in a drawing the raw and harsh reality of a subject with this smooth finishing touch that just softens it a bit and makes it easier to gaze at.  Your edges are smooth and defined, and yet the subject may show conflict or suffering.  Besides the use of color, I see this as another way you capture the observer and invite them to look more closely at the subject.  Am I way off base here or is this something you have developed over time, and has this been intentional or has it just evolved naturally?

I think it has just evolved like that! A lot of my newer work (that will be in the show) shows very soft, fun, heartfelt subjects and I think, subconsciously, I’ve drifted towards a very messy, so called “crunchy” style where the brushes speak independently and have a ton of texture themselves to offset how cute the work is. In professional illustrator settings for film and theater, work needs to be as clear and finished as possible as the illustration itself may be used as a basis for a pattern maker to start their work!

Animal influences - Between the obvious in "The Luministic Moose", half man, half moose, and the not so obvious in the Personification of Birds collection, where the observer has to look more closely and sometimes the observer decides which manifestations of the bird they see in the picture, to the bat wings costume, you have enjoyed the influence of animals in your artwork.  What type of animal do you enjoy drawing and how did you begin bringing animals into your artwork?

 "A Gift, an Offering"
 Copyright © 2019 Paige Carpenter

Oooh owls are definitely my favorite. Big birds with big weird eyes, who couldn’t love that! And with all sorts of different ones and a ton of mythology spanning thousands of years. I love bringing the symbolism of animals into an already symbolic illustration especially since historically, animals were used heavily as symbols for viewers who could not read or write and I am fascinated with that.

I love your use of mystic art into your drawings.  I see this influence in many of your projects, and I can tell that you have a soulful connection with these works of art.  I hope Shelley includes your facebook cover photo.  There are so many things to look for in this picture!  And I had to look closely.  What I thought was a potion bottle on her head, as I looked closer, saw that this is actually a skull with antlers!  then as I look more, I love the apothecary bottles with, again, that very subtle pop of color, and the crystal eyes are mesmerizing which captures the mysterious effect of the mystic world.  You have other works along this theme, including the ouiji boots and the Moon Phase robe, and I see the mystical theme in every animal artwork you do.  Has this always been an influence for you and if so, how does this influence guide you in your life and in your artwork?  

It goes along with what I believe in, I am a practicing witch and at times, I use my art to discover pathways and connect with my spiritual side. It probably sounds silly but those ouija boots (before I wore them into the ground and they got destroyed on the streets of LA whoops) and the moon phase robe are objects that I wear/wore as part of my craft. I was also never really shamed for my interest in, let’s call it, alternative spirituality or alternative fashion so there was never a need to be rebellious and angry, just curious which allowed for both my spirituality, art, and fashion to grow organically without labels and for them to intertwine into each other. 

"But She's Magic"
 Copyright © 2019 Paige Carpenter

In illustrations, it can add another layer of symbolism that the viewer can understand. I think a lot about renaissance portraiture that can be ever so subtle that the meaning has been lost in time or so iconic that its timeless.

Along these lines, sometimes when I look at an artist's work, I see a life that has evolved and changed over time and their artwork reflects those changes/struggles/ discoveries in who they are.  When I look at your artwork, I see something different.  Although we are always discovering ourselves to some extent, I see a woman who has known who she is from deep within and the evolving for you is not so much you trying to find yourself but rather the new ways you have found to express who you are.  How has your vision of who you are, and/ or how you express that, evolved? 

I think about this a lot! I am grateful and privileged that I had a supportive mom that I never had to heal from, and I always feel that instead of changing and evolving, I am simply on a road of discovery, finding bits and pieces of a larger whole that somehow, I always knew what it was and what I needed to find.

So, I end lastly on the first thing that appears on your website.  These works of light art.  I am assuming many of these have been used in the Parade of Lights in Disneyland. I remember attending a parade of lights at Disneyworld and marveling at what a beautiful artform can be created with lights!  Some of it was very obvious and some did require some imagination.  I loved your pictures of the light creations you have designed, and I also love the use of light in your costumes, especially the light up flower hair clips, which have such a softness to them; you almost don't even know you are looking at something with lights!  Did the use of lights develop through a request for this type of art or have you always used light as an adjunct or form of art? 

"A Winter Vision"
Copyright © 2019 Paige Carpenter
I worked on the Paint the Night Parade as an Entertainment Costuming Dresser when I first started working at Disney and it is DEEPLY amazing the way lighting elements fuse directly with textiles, song, and choreography, and using the darkness of night itself to really tell an instant story, since the parade can rush by you in a matter of 20 minutes from start to finish. They are so bold (and also incredibly complicated MY GOD) and ever since I worked on the parade, I’ve been in love with the idea of glowing costumes and adding that layer of magic to something already awesome. Lighting, along with sound and articulation are on the cutting edge of costume design and I am so grateful to work with and be inspired by the art all around me everyday at my job.

Tell the OOAK Artisan viewers about the show in August.  What style of your art are you planning to show and what do you hope to inspire in  the observers as they come to view your collection?  (I am sure Shelley will end with the details of when and where they can come to see your collection.  I wish I could be there!!  I live and work in Holland, MI so I don't get out to NY often.) 

The theme was children and while I personally do not wish to have children of my own, I want to inspire an innocence that is within us (cliche, I know). It’s a harsh, weird world out there and I remember hearing a quote that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” and I find in my art and in my life, I want to bring comfort or peace or joy to people when they look at my art. There is a lot to say in each piece but I want it to be a conversation, a dialogue where the viewer is allowed to reflect and hopefully find a deeper understanding of themselves.

Paige Carpenter

Thank you so much, Paige, for sharing a piece of your world with us!  I have an upcoming trip to Disney and will look at the parade of lights with a new vision, knowing what background and experience goes into the artist/designer!  I loved the quote because your artwork truly does have that effect.  The Renegade Officers and Village Women draw the viewer in with the use of color and clear cut edges, but there is clearly a life that the person in the picture is living that makes us stop and think of the hardship he or she is enduring, and you capture that beautifully. And in the midst of reality, you capture fantasy and innocence.  I would like to wish you the best of luck in your future as an artist and I can already see that the hopes you have as an artist will materialize for you! 

Join us here at OOAK Artisan Showcase to see Paige's work in our solo artist gallery space, through Sept 1, 2019. All pieces designed and produced by Paige Carpenter were specifically designed for this show. These pieces are archival prints, matted and framed and will not be offered in this capacity in this region in the future. 

OOAK Artisan Showcase is located at 425 W Thomas St, Rome NY. Check out our Facebook page for current hours and events. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

EXPLORING ART and ARTIST: Roberta Laliberte

Well, I am so happy to be back doing a blog spotlight on an upcoming artist who will be showing her work at the OOAK Artisan Showcase Gallery in Rome, NY! 

Roberta Laliberte is from Pine Falls, Manitoba, in Canada.  Living in this beautiful area has provided Roberta with inspiration and experiences that have influenced the development of the artwork that you will enjoy as you take a night out and enjoy her beautiful creations of art.  I had the opportunity to interview Roberta and learn about her background in art and what has inspired her, what moves her and what message her art is trying to share with us. 

You live in Canada? 

Yes, I live in Pine Falls Manitoba, a small community along the Winnipeg River, close to lake Winnipeg. 

Did you grow up there?

Yes, I left a few times for school but ended up back where I was raised.

At what age did you start taking an interest in art?

Probably birth! Seriously, for as long as I can remember I was drawing something, knitting something, building something. 

Were there any early influences that helped to shape your artistic direction?

Too many, and that's not a joke. It created a real problem for me because I became a gifted copyist. I could do anything, that was someone else's vision. I came to the realization a few years ago that I needed to pare it down and start to figure out what I wanted to say and how I was going to say it. It's still hard though, not to be overly influenced and at times; I literally close myself off to outside influence.

by Roberta Laliberte

I see a lot of what I believe is watercolor (the non-artist in me comes out!).  Was this the medium you started out using?

Well, both watercolor and acrylic really, although I never combined them. The old school ideas of pure mediums uncombined proliferated my beliefs right along side the idea that the more realistic I could make it the more talented I was. It takes a lifetime to gain the confidence to trust your gut. 

Have you ventured out to different mediums as well?

Actually, when you mentioned seeing a lot of watercolor in my work, you were actually looking at mixed media acrylics. Most of my current work is fluid acrylic on paper combined with pens, charcoal, pencil crayons, and different types of pastels, toss in some collage and then you have described my work. I only use watercolor now when I am out sketching, crawling, and creating reference material. Fooled you, didn't I?

by Roberta Laliberte

What medium (or combination of mediums) do you like the most and why?

In truth, I love combining them all, trying them all but the ones I mentioned previously are the ones you will find in every mixed media painting I create aside from collage.

by Roberta Laliberte

Looking at your artwork, I see a few themes.  A lot of nature, fields and woods and trees and water.  What does it mean for you to be in nature?  Is there a specific area that you visit to gather your inspiration?

It's funny, at one time I never would have dreamed I would consider myself a landscape artist. It's crazy but at one point I felt the need to drift from the idea that everything had to be detailed, I wanted to be loosely descriptive. Landscapes lend to that quite nicely so I guess it just sort of fell into place. It was a natural flow.

by Roberta Laliberte

What is "Art for Earth"?

It was an online multi artist workshop package offered as a fundraiser for Tree Sisters, an organization committed to reforestation put on by Tammara Laporte from Willowing. I was happy to contribute. 

I love your flowers, especially the poppy fields.  Do these flowers have a special meaning for you?

I just love them, all flowers really. 

by Roberta Laliberte

by Roberta Laliberte

Much of your art is realistic with a little twist of whimsical.  Is this a reflection of your life in any way?

I would say it is more of a reflection of my belief system. No matter how real life gets you have to find the whimsy and wonder in every day or you will grow bitter and bored with life. I want to be a kid at heart till the day I die and kids live with wonder. 

by Roberta Laliberte
CHECK out the video of the creation of this work!  The Rose Queen VIDEO

How has your artwork helped you develop as a human being and a woman?

I think it makes me happy. When you are happy, you are a better person, for everyone around you. So many people don't find their happy place and it makes me sad.

by Roberta Laliberte

Do you have another career other than art?  How have you been able to mesh these two together?

I have a hair salon in my home. It's a pretty natural combination in my opinion. It's like I am creating art on people and all the principals of color mixing works for me in both. I also teach in the school system doing integrated arts programming. 

You have begun to teach others to create art.  What inspires you, drives you as a teacher of art?

I have been holding some workshops.  Most of my workshops are mixed media acrylic. I do belong to a sketchcrawl group which is of course mainly sketching and watercolor. I do 'teach' attendees when they saunter by while I am working, but it's not formal. If someone wants to learn I am always happy to share.

If you could leave one lesson with your students about art, what would it be?

Trust your gut. Stop questioning what you 'think' it should look like or how it should turn out and just go with it. Know that it doesn't matter what the critics think (yourself included). Yes, we are critical of our own work but it's only because we have preconceived ideas about what others who 'know more than us' think it should look like. Just do stuff and try stuff till you like what you see. Also, 20 pieces of crap doesn't mean you are a terrible artist. It means you are innovative and you are finding your way. 

by Roberta Laliberte
NOTE the size! She has a whole series posted on her Instagram feed

Tell us about your show in July at OOAK Artisan Gallery.  What medium will you be showing?  Do you have a theme?  As the public gazes upon your work, what do you want your artwork to tell them?

“North of 49” is a collection of landscapes that share my wanderings through the beautiful forests and rivers of the Canadian Shield. I will be showing a collection of mixed media works as well as some of my watercolor sketches. I want viewers to feel the absolute awe of what I feel when I am standing in the beautiful woodlands, lakes and rivers I am privileged to call my home. I walk out my door and I am a 5-minute walk from rivers and forests.

Where do you go from here?  Do you have unreached aspirations?

I would love to travel and teach. I would also like to start working bigger. The largest pieces I have done are 30" by 48". I want go huge! It will be a challenge because I have become accustomed to the tools I use to create my signature touches. Those tools will need to increase in size to create the same marks. I don't know how I will do that with pencil crayons but that is what innovation is, figuring it out, I'm ready.

Thanks Roberta for sharing insight into your world of creation and art!  Roberta is much like all of us.  She finds inspiration in the natural world around her, and tries to “sketch” a piece of that wonder and inspiration to share with others.   We gather our own sketches, in our minds, in our writing, in our acts of kindness toward one another,  in preparing an amazing meal, in teaching our children, in developing our talents that we have been given.   We all search for that inspiration.  Roberta has beautiful artwork that may inspire you and give you a reminder of what you dream of, yearn for, aspire to.  Come and take that walk toward seeing the bigger picture that we sometimes lose sight of, of finding that whimsy and wonder in your day, and be inspired! 

 Roberta Laliberte’s artwork will be on display July 13 through August 4, 2019, at OOAK Artisan Showcase Gallery in Rome, NY.   We hope to see you there! For more information visit us on our website >>  CLICK HERE

From Shelley: My favorite video of Roberta's is PEARS. The way she created this piece is like magic. She literally threw watery paint on the substrate and went from there! WOW. Check it out by CLICKING HERE.

ALSO, if you want to read other posts here, about Roberta, use the search bar (located on the sidebar).