Meg Leslie is a multidisciplinary artist working in several mediums, her main mantra - 'creativity'. Meg and I grew up together on the same street in Orillia, we played 'Kick the Can', fed feral stray cats and I was inspired by Meg's creative spirit even back then (she gifted me a handmade stuffed animal for a Birthday!).
Whatever creative endeavour she embraces, from offering Workshops (in mosaics and ceramics), creating daily drawings, to working on community projects like the Awesome Wall in Kitchener, Ontario where she currently lives, Meg brings immense talent, determination and creative magic!
Read on to discover more:
You have worked in several different art forms, how has that journey evolved and what creative medium are you currently focusing on?
I am currently focused on creativity in general. Yeah, whatever moves me creatively, that’s what I do.
I have this daily practice of sketching with my left hand. It’s just practice and for fun, but I’m starting to think that Leftie needs a show sometime soon in a gallery. I’m also preparing ceramics for an art walk on November 10th in a sweet old neighbourhood in downtown Kitchener. I’m taking over the living room and there are 2 other incredible creatives with me, and the tour itself is one of the best....you can really walk it - the Frederick Art Walk!
You have an on-going ‘leftie selfie’ series, describe the process and the ‘why’ …
Leftie ... well, it started from a tweet that I read in 2014 that just said, “Try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. That’s all I’m saying, just try it” ... so I did. Then I started washing my hair in the morning with my left hand, then I started drawing with my left hand. It was such fun that I committed to doing it every day. I have fallen off the wagon a few times in the last 4 years, but every time I come back Leftie evolves. She has a body and often words now. I love her! : )
As a community minded artist, are you currently involved in any projects? What have you worked on in the past?
Ah Patti, there’s a lot of large scale mosaics that I have done in the past like that huge letter C for Streets Alive in Orillia, the aWEsoME wall (71’ mosaic wall with the help of 300+ people at the men’s shelter downtown Kitchener) and one of my favourites was the Homewood Green Art Wall for the City of Kitchener.
Lately ... nothing like that on the go, but I’m busy with my personal practice and I’m teaching ceramics regularly at Homer Watson House and Gallery, and then there’s my day job.
Oh something I’m excited about is a presentation I’m doing about community art as part of an event in Waterloo called Amplify Culture Summit on October 24th.
For fun, I've been taking weekly pottery lessons from an incredible potter in Waterloo.
I love that/always learning and growing.
Where may people find your work or connect with you about workshops and commissions?
Well, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. My Facebook page for creative ideas and inspiration is called Earth Sky Sandwich. My website meglesliecreative.ca has lots of lovely photos of my work, or follow Leftie’s journey on instagram as meglesliecreative #leftieselfie
Also, find Meg's work (porcelain jewelry) at the Orillia Museum of Art & History in downtown Orillia's Arts District!
Bio: Meg Leslie is a multidisciplinary artist originally from Orillia, currently living in downtown Kitchener. She has been nominated Waterloo Regional Artist of the year in 2013 and 2014 for her community art projects, and nominated Oktoberfest Woman of the year for Arts and Culture in 2017. She won 2nd prize in 2013 for her mosaic letter C in Orillia’s Streets Alive.
Meet Robyn Rennie! Robyn creates intoxicating abstract paintings that vibrate with a radiant energy - each one a visual treat that engages the senses. Using various media to create texture and colour, her recent abstract body of work evokes a strong and beautiful experience for the viewer.
Read on to learn more about Robyn and her work!
Your art practice altered/evolved as a result of health issues – how has that impacted your creative process and subject matter? Describe your work and creative process?
I suffered a life-changing vision loss in 2005 which has changed how I experience the world. But while I continue to choose my subject matter from the natural world, visual impairment has freed me from my former style of highly-detailed expression. While I use the same medium and grounds, I now employ them to subvert popular assumptions about sight. One common stereotype about vision loss is that it results in more acute hearing, but in reality sight merely allows the brain to filter background noise so that we can attend to something specific. My abstract works challenge what we see by evoking other senses: For example, I want the viewer to be able to visually experience what we rationally know about colours by thinking about how they might taste, smell, sound, or, feel. I hope to impart that seeing beyond vision can open the door to understanding that so much of what we assume to be true is open to interpretation. I demonstrate this concept further by using iridescent and interference paints; even a slight shift in point of view changes the changes the viewer’s experience. Any form of new information can change a person’s perspective – visually and emotionally.
What are you currently working on and any upcoming events or exhibitions?
I just finished my design for the upcoming “Somniatis III”. I’m am currently working on my design for next year’s Streets Alive installation. as well as new work for the next “Feministo” show (Feministo is a group of female contemporary abstract artists that includes Patti Agapi, Catherine Cadieux, Stephanie Stanton, and myself).
As an Orillia Artist, what are your hopes for the continued growth and vitality of the Orillia Art Community?
Orillia is a dynamic arts community, and I am so honoured to be a part of the creative pulse of the city! I love that the City understands and supports the value that art has to our collective sense of self and community, as well as tourism. I could say that I hope there will be continued opportunities for public art installations and growth for the artists of Orillia, but I know that will happen. It is already happening!
I met Murray Van Halem several years ago when we were both members of Zephyr Art Gallery. I have always been impressed with Murray's confident painting style and his consistent enthusiasm as an artist. He is a prolific creator and varied in his painting subjects but always produces strong and fresh work. His intense use of colour is mesmerizing!
MEET Murray! Read on to discover more about him and his painting practice.
How long have you been painting and how did your journey as an oil painter begin?
I've always been interested in art, since my childhood. I started my working life as a photographer, but really all I ever wanted to do was paint. I dabbled a bit in watercolours earlier on but not enough to develop my artwork to any degree. I retired from a long career in real estate and started painting seriously. My first time using a paint brush with oil was at Haliburton School of the Arts in a workshop with John Anderson, and I haven't looked back. That was in 2011.
Your work varies greatly in subject matter from landscapes to portraits to city scenes – where do you get your inspiration and reference from when painting?
Painting different subjects is a great way to develop painting skills. That is why I do so many different things. Portraits are the most demanding and also the most rewarding. If you can paint a portrait well, you can paint anything.
I spend time in Toronto regularly and find lots of inspiration, and I photograph things that I might want to paint. My 20 year career as a photographer serves me well as a painter.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or events? Where can we find your work?
I will be at the annual Images Studio Tour during the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, and exhibiting at the Leacock National Historic Site in Orillia. Also, I have paintings on display at Twig Creative on 6 Peter Street and at Manticore Books in downtown Orillia. I am participating in Midland's Quest Art School and Gallery "Art at Home" fundraising art-loan program, and their Art Slam speed painting event on September 21st.
Artist Bio: Murray Van Halem is a Canadian artist and educator who lives in Victoria Harbour, Ontario. A graduate of Montreal’s School of Modern Photography, he began his career as a large-format commercial photographer and worked as a photojournalist, portrait photographer, magazine editor and writer. Murray now explores light, form and space through paint.
Visit Murray's website and connect on facebook and instagram to discover more of his work!
From my 'People of the Arts District' series for the Orillia Arts District facebook page!
Meet Brian Tosh, Orillia Artist and owner/operator of Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio in downtown Orillia. Peter Street Fine Arts recently celebrated TEN years as an Art business in downtown Orillia and is solidly one of the anchors of the Orillia (Peter Street) Arts District. Brian opened Peter Street Fine Arts Studio & Gallery in July of 2008, along with local artist Liz Schamehorn. Over the years, the gallery has evolved into a thriving artist collective showcasing work by local artists and monthly guest artists. At the gallery, find oil paintings in a variety of subject matter, fine art photography, metal art, functional art, fibre art and more.
Peter Street Fine Arts is located at 23 Peter St. S. in @DowntownOrillia (across the street form the Orillia Museum of Art & History). Follow the facebook page for events and exhibitions: @peterstreetfinearts.
READ on to discover MORE about Brian and Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio.
You just celebrated the 10 Year Anniversary of Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio. It’s an amazing milestone! What are some of the highlights of the past ten years?
There are so many different highlights. I would say the one that means the most to me is being a part of something with such talented artists both past and present. Also meeting people when they come to the gallery for guest artist opening receptions, sidewalk sales, Starry Night or just to browse. One that stands out for me was when a two Snowbird Pilots came to the gallery recently to see a model I had carved.
Describe your art journey? What brought you to oil painting?
For me when I wanted to try painting I happened to start with oils. I have tried most mediums but I love oil painting. It is the one that gives me the most pleasure
You are often recognized for your ‘streetscapes’ and Orillia scenes, but what are your favourite subjects to paint?
Over time I have become known for painting streetscapes and landmarks but I also enjoy painting many other things like cars, pets, cottages, hockey scenes, maple syrup scenes and much more.
Where can people find your art?
My work can be found at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery as well as Mariposa Market Cafe.
Contact Brian via e-mail or call 705-321-1403. He is available for commissions and has a great selection of Orillia scenes, hockey themed paintings, landscapes and more at his studio at Peter Street Fine Arts.
MEET Heather Price-Jones, emerging Orillia Artist who has embraced the ART of collage. I was immediately drawn to Heather's whimsical yet slightly dark work, loving the contrast. And, it was awesome to discover another collage artist in Orillia!
Please read on to discover MORE about Heather and her ART ....
Collage Art! What attracted you to work with paper and the art of ‘cut & paste’? What other forms of art do you create?
I had already been collecting old magazines when I first noticed artists making collages with vintage themes online. I was inspired by artists like Beth Hoeckel and Thomas Easton. I'm am a perfectionist to a fault, so I really liked the fact that things could be arranged and rearranged until I was happy with the final product. I have dabbled in pretty much every form of art before collage work, a bit of a "master of none". I really love collage work and I've currently gotten into doing weaving and creating boho wall hangings as well.
How would you describe your work, its meaning?
My work is a mixture of vintage imagery with modern themes. I'm so interested by the idea of femininity, what it means to be a woman in current day society, and how it can mean so many different things to different people depending on their personal experience and journey. As a young person, I am fascinated by the idea of social media and how we present ourselves to others. We create this curated image of ourselves but we keep everything under surface level hidden. I am inspired by nature, as well as Memento Mori, a latin phrase meaning "remember that you have to die". I like mixing the themes of death with something so alive, like flowers and butterflies. I like exploring these very real themes with a surreal edge.
Tell me a bit about your art journey so far. What are your creative goals for the future?
I still feel like a baby in the art scene. I have been practicing collage art for a few years now, but have really only gotten involved in the art scene for just over a year now. I have been fortunate to create professional relationships and worked to create opportunities for myself. My goals are to expand my personal brand to more locations in Orillia and to show my art in locations outside of town as well. I want to always be challenging myself creatively while ensuring that I am always enjoying everything I am creating.
You are currently part of a group exhibition at the Orillia Museum of Art & History ‘ROOTS’ but where else can people find your work, in person and online?
Yes, ROOTS will be open until September 23rd, 2018. I have some art available for viewing at Hibernation Arts in the arts district of Orillia. I have recently launched a website with an online portfolio, online store and a tab to update where my art can be seen www.artbyfloralandfauna.com. I also sell prints online through Society 6 . You can contact me through my facebook page Floral & Fauna and can see a behind the scenes into my life on Instagram: @itsheatherpj.
Artist Bio: Heather Price-Jones (Floral & Fauna) is a mixed media and collage artist born and raised in Orillia, Ontario. Heather has participated in all things creative from a young age, eventually discovering other collage artists on social media. In 2015, she began creating collage work using vintage magazines she started collecting during her time in Journalism. She is inspired by the concept of femininity and woman’s empowerment. Her work focuses on the reimagining of vintage images with modern themes. A self-proclaimed flower child, Heather enjoys combining nature into her work in non-traditional ways. Fascinated with the positives and perils of the 1960’s and 1970’s, her art focuses on female resiliency and the beauty of change.
Much of your photography work and paintings resonate in a similar way - there is a microcosmic view there - are you drawn to abstraction and wee details? What inspires you?
My father taught me to appreciate details in nature, a Kildeer bird's nest on the ground, how the pattern of the eggs mimicked the earth and stones they lay on or the beautiful jewel of a Monarch butterfly chrysalis and watching it's transformation into a wondrous butterfly, or being awakened in the middle of the night when my father arrived home from work to take me outside to see the Aurora Borealis moving in the sky looking like ethereal curtains swaying to their own universal music. I guess you could say my brain was wired as a young child to appreciate the nuances of pattern and light. Of course photography is all about the light, but that's what intrigues me the most, every single day of our lives the light is never the same. Playing with that light, sometimes distorting it, smoothing it out, seeing the shapes it creates excites my brain, gives me those feel good endorphins and people do feel a response to the abstractions. I love when people tell me that they are much more aware of their surroundings because of my photos. I decided to try another artistic medium a couple of years ago so I've tried different forms of painting. Acrylic pour is just what it sounds like, the only control you have of the paint are the colours you use, the amount of paint and manipulation of the canvas to move the paint around. It was very freeing, not knowing how the abstract painting would look until it was dry.
When did you begin your photography journey?
My earliest memory of taking photographs was on a school trip at the age of nine, using an old box camera. Photography started to become a passion when I started working at a local photography studio in 1983 as front counter staff. I was taught picture framing as well as darkroom tasks, making black and white prints from photographic film. I bought my first SLR film camera at that time and from then on a camera was always within reach.
Where can we find your work?
I am currently a member of Tango Artspace at 5 Peter St. S. in the Orillia Arts District.. You can also see my work on Facebook or Instagram as Linda Plourde Creative.
What are you currently creating? What's on your studio table?
Well, my studio is my kitchen table where I'm now playing with resin, using it in painting and making jewellery as well as various objects and my drying/assembly studio is a table in the livingroom! I don't mind that my house has been taken over by art but I am starting to run out of room!
FIND Linda and her creative pursuits online here:
ALL artwork photos by Linda Plourde
Inspiring ARTists & ART!
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Murray Van Halem