Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Artists' Challenge 2012

Barb Tobiska, Kathy Berls, Barb Benik, Ann Quinn, Gail Firmin
The latest exhibit hanging in the LAC Members’ Gallery is a combined effort from five artists titled “The Artists’ Challenge”. The five artists represented are Barb Benik, Kathy Berls, Gail Firmin, Ann Quinn and Barb Tobiska.  The challenge in question was for each artist to come up with two or three themes, and paintings for each of the combined total of these twelve exhibit themes.  By the deadline, I was searching for a few of my already existing pieces to satisfy these topics, but greatly enjoyed brain-storming ideas for new pieces and creating them.  Each artist was free to use their own interpretations of the themes which makes the show quite interesting to view. “For each topic, I tried to find the twist in the word, to create something unexpected and to keep myself thinking”, Ann Quinn explains.
Topics chosen ranged from a specific item such as Barb Benik’s choice of “eggs”, to more abstract ideas such as “patterns”, one of Ann’s themes.  I offered “cows” and “shoreline”, mainly because I already had a photo in mind from a recent trip to Nova Scotia that I wanted to tackle.  Other topics included “ribbons”, offered by Kathy Berls, and “figure”, suggested by Barb Tobiska.  Barb enjoyed painting “eggs” because she used her two granddaughters as models with their Easter Eggs.  “Fish” and “shoreline” brought back good memories from her travels.  With Kathy’s love of the ocean, she also enjoyed the “shoreline” theme, but found painting a portrait of her little niece Madeleine for “figure” a bit scary, not sure if she could capture her likeness.  Barb Benik’s most enjoyable piece was her “leaves” painting, which she says is really a floral and a subject matter she favors.
Being presented with these themes and a deadline offered the artists the path to discovery of new ideas and techniques, and with a deadline, Ann finds the anxiety gives her an edge.  Kathy gets bored with a piece if she spends too much time on it, so having a deadline keeps the painting fresh and interesting.  For Barb Benik, “Having the themes was interesting and began a new thought process for me,” she says.  “It isn’t always the subject matter that excites me; I’m challenged by shapes, colors, patterns, design and that is how I approach any subject.”   In my case, I found I was able to prioritize my painting time, knowing I wanted to complete these.  Sometimes it’s too easy to sacrifice creative time to get those nagging chores done!
All  five artists have agreed that they would enjoy this type of challenge again.  As Barb Tobiska maintains, "This type of exhibit is always relevant to the educational progress for artists and viewers alike”.   Ann agrees, stating, “I’d like to paint more outside of my comfort zone…with a deadline.”  I’ve already decided on new themes for the next Artists’ Challenge.  Now, how to convince my husband we need to do some travelling to gather resource material?  That’s a challenge!
     And below are photos of the reception Sunday, June 10.  Thanks for the photos Ann Quinn!

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