Artist of the Month

In celebrating 40 years, and wanting to bring awareness to, and support of the phenomenal artists of Wallaceburg and the surrounding area, this page will be dedicated to highlighting one special artist (and possibly one student artist) each month, beginning August of 2020!


September 2020 Artist of the Month

REBECCA HUNTER

Artist, Writer, Illustrator

Art Brought Me Back

            I was born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada and moved to Wallaceburg, very early in my life. My family had a poultry farm and my grandfather raised Belgian Draft horses just outside of town. I lived across the road and therefore grew up like a regular farm girl. I loved all living things from the tall to the teeny tiny small. My childhood was full of dirt and I loved it! I was always creative even from the time I was very young. Give me art supplies and books and I was happy. I loved being surrounded by any and all types of art materials. I may not have known exactly how to express myself and so there was always barely used or just tried mediums lying around.

            I had a pretty normal childhood but it was obvious in many ways that I was creative from a very young age. When I was little my dad would have garden tours in our yard and I would take people around to all the flowers and tell them stories about them and give them all different names. I always dressed in my own style and my best friend and I used to spend hours making homemade videos based on my stories. It wasn’t until about grade 6 that things started to shift for me. I, like most youth went through that time in your life where things are a little dark and you aren’t really sure how to express your awkwardness with confidence. The world makes you believe you need to fit in and so you try and you suppress and bit by bit your creativity gets put on the back burner.

            At the age of 11, I started to seem a little more spacey than normal. My parents would catch me drifting off and I would have no recollection of what we had been talking about. It was a scary time for me and after some tests I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. At such a young age and not quite being able to grasp what this diagnosis really was I became ashamed and self-conscious. With all these new emotions I searched for an outlet to express myself and fell into poetry. I wrote poems in class when I shouldn’t and I curled up at home with a pen and a notebook. There was comfort in putting my emotions onto pages. I had the opportunity to go to Europe with my family when I was 12 and we visited many Art Galleries and Museums in Antwerp, Belgium; London, England and Paris, France. I was captivated by the art world. I carried my little notebooks with me and wrote poetry on the steps of the Musee Rodin. I have a picture from that day that hangs on my inspiration board in my studio.  My young love for art was just growing a mile a minute.

            The following year there was a big change in my health as I had my first Grand-mal seizure. Before this all my seizures had been little staring spells and now this was something completely new. I was lost in a sea of confusion, confusion after seizures, confusion about seizures and confusion about my future and who I was. High school was not an easy time for me. I suffered anxiety and depression, partially due to my new situation and partially to medication. The only times that I really felt like me were in English and Art classes. I had only one friend that I truly trusted and confided in and he is now my husband today.

            As high school came to a close I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and like most creative types. I was made to believe that there is no way to make a living doing art and writing. “It is just is not realistic” people said. So I took the opportunity to spend an afternoon with the Graphic Artist that my mom used through work. It was fun. I got to play on her lovely apple computer and it was something new and different that intrigued me. I had hope now that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to take what I loved and make a career out of it. I went to St. Clair College in Windsor and Graduated with a Diploma in Graphic Design. I started out freelancing and worked in the field for a few years until I moved back to Sarnia and entered a whole new creative endeavour, Theatre. I started out as the Box Office Coordinator at the Imperial Theatre and slowly drifted into working with costumes and make up on performances. Ultimately I ended up stage managing. I joined the Art Walk committee and became involved in all the downtown arts. I taught little art lessons for children at the local art gallery and I worked on my own exhibit called Hearts and Hands. Then my Theatre group decided to move to Petrolia and well, with no license I could not follow. It just so happened that I had recently reconnected with my childhood sweetheart and in no time we were engaged and married and it was not long before we moved back to Wallaceburg and ended up back on my family farm. It was like I was returning to the beginning. I was a farm girl again and at the end of a long day filled with horses, goats, sheep and pheasants, I was once again covered in dirt and loving it!

            A year or so passed and then my life was flipped upside down and spiralled out of control. At the age of 30 my husband was diagnosed with a very large “inoperable” brain tumour. We went from a young fun loving couple out on the farm to 5 days a week chemo and radiation with a prognosis that was, lets just say, not good. “I am sorry” they said “there is nothing we can do”. So life became a constant battle to exist. Little chores did not matter, just making it to tomorrow was the only important thing on our to-do list. Years went by and we withered. Life was a whole new normal and we had no light ahead to keep us going. Then as if by fate someone stepped in and shook our world. That moment when we found out there was someone who could help us after all, someone who could save him. And save us he did. Two major brain surgeries later and many trips out of province my husband was given a clean bill of health. Yes there is still doctors and check-ups and life can still overwhelm. We have our struggles but he is safe. With my Epilepsy it is important to try and keep myself well and yet I continued to struggle.

            I spent a whole extra year just existing. Sitting there hour after hour, just thinking and drinking a lot of coffee. Slowly that thinking became creating, at least in my head. It took time, a lot of time and I tried many things to get myself up and going but ultimately I just continued to exist, not live. Then one day I stumbled on this app. It sounded intriguing and since downloading something on my phone required no more commitment from me than to continue as I was I thought “Oh, why not?” It was then, that moment that I reconnected with the little girl who always knew her business was to create. It started with one drawing and a daily prompt for sketches, and then people liked them! They actually liked what I had made. So I decided a pencil and sketch book was only the beginning and before I knew it I had taken over the kitchen with paints and canvas’ and art supplies galore!

            I now have a bit of a following. I have sold many of my art pieces and sets of cards that I’ve created. I am now sitting in my studio, Little Introvert Expressions, that my loving and healthy husband built for me, partially hoping to regain some room in the kitchen I am sure. I am surrounded by my art. Pieces framed and Canvas’ hung on every open space that the walls have to spare. Shelves of art supplies, easels and my old roll top desk give the room its ambience. This is a fresh beginning. I have fought a good fight to get back here and here I am now, not just existing but truly living. In the end art brought me back.

            My inspiration comes from the weird and whimsical. Crazy colours and unruly line work play a large role in many of my creations. I have always had an active imagination. I am very drawn to the elements and come up with some of my best ideas during a thunderstorm or on a rainy and foggy day. As a bookworm I also draw inspiration from the written word. Poetry and fairy tales are always nearby. I would say a lot of my pieces are also influenced by nature itself and my own personal photography. I have always felt a connection to the little things outside that others may overlook. The insects and flowers are my friends. I collect tokens from outdoors, such as stones, feathers and acorns. They are strewn throughout my home and it is these little trinkets that I look to when I am searching for a new idea or different perspective.

            I love to work in all mediums. My art is an extension of myself so there is no limit. No one colour palette or one specific medium.

            I would describe my watercolour style as scratchy and colourful. It is my own take on line and wash. With my Epilepsy, my mind can become quite scattered. This scratchiness flows easily from my hand, it is how I feel my brain works. The pairing of the scratchy lines with the beautiful emotions and images helps to calm the harshness.

            With Acrylics there are no rules. I try to take my mood of the moment and bring it to life on the canvas. Sometimes this comes out as Happy Jungle Giraffes and others it can be anything from a reading lady, to a girl with her head in a fish bowl.

            Oils are mostly used in my own impressionistic style on landscapes. Painting these landscapes has now become a sort of meditation for me. Letting loose on canvas.

            I am currently beginning a watercolour sketch series called Itty Bitty Hugs for Itty Bitty Bugs. It is inspired by of one of my previous watercolour sketches called Wasp Bee Mine, bought by a very good friend of mine. Also, I am working on a series called Beautifully Abandoned, painted on canvas (both acrylics and oils) inspired by the Guyitt House. Last but definitely not least, I have just started illustrations for my very own children’s book.

            I would greatly appreciate it if you have a little time to take a trip over to my website and browse my portfolio and art pieces at

http://littleintrovertexpressions.art

            Also, please feel free to send me a quick email with any feedback or questions you may have. I am available for commissioned works as well.

Email: little_introvert_expressions@yahoo.com


August 2020 Artist of the Month

JOCYLIN CROSS

I was born and raised on Manitoulin Island where I worked on my family’s saw mill. I lived three miles back in the bush in a little village called Silverwater. I was always a nature girl, almost a wild child if you will. Although I didn’t run with the wolves, I would spend hours walking in the woods, learning the names of flora and fauna, pressing flowers and cataloguing their healing properties which also turned me into an artist that loved to capture on paper, everything I encountered. I loved going by myself to the shores of Lake Huron and spending the day there listening to the waves crash.  I would grind up slate and make my own pigments from crushed flowers. Sometimes I would draw on birch bark. We didn’t have a lot of money so I used whatever was naturally available. I was happy as long as I could create and express myself. In school I was bullied, and a loner. The only place I felt truly accepted and safe was the art room. The kids there would get me to help them draw the things they were struggling with. My mother from a young age was always very loving and encouraged my creative side. We would often draw and paint together. My favourite creature to draw was horses. That still resides in me today. I feel a real emotional connection when I’m around them.  When I turned 13 my dad got hurt at the saw mill and sent me down to live at Snyeview Orchards With family I didn’t even know existed. I was immediately taken in at eleven o’ clock at night by my 80 year old kindly faced great aunt Dorothy. We bonded almost instantly. From there I went to WDSS, met Mr. Babbitt, learned how to play trumpet, and alas my soul was awakened with a school that supported my creativity and had really kind understanding teachers. It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I really started to get into painting full time. I went to school for graphic design, but still wasn’t sure which direction as an artist I should take. I always had a hard time connecting with myself and completing what I started. Once I started creating without worry of criticism my world opened up. Today I paint in oils and acrylics mostly. I enjoy sketching all preliminary work in chalk pastel, or willow bark charcoal. It has that primitive feel, that allows me to rework things until they feel right. Then I turn to paint to capture light and shadow, then finally colour my favourite part, bringing the life and essence into my work. I’ve been working toward the goal of having my own studio here in Wallaceburg called “Sunlight n Shadows“  or else “2️ ♥Arts Studio“ I have been focusing primarily on painting the waterways around our beautiful town that I have the privilege of kayaking. I’m really drawn to them, preserving the wetlands and nature that resides there is also an interest of mine. I’m hoping in the near future to create a personal mural for our town, which contains indigenous species, flora and fauna found here, and the very large tree in sycamore woods as the focal. I think it would be beautiful.

I was asked by the Wallaceburg Museum to help restore this with my husband Lance Cross. Panel by panel we restored it. It took approximately three weeks. It’s hanging on the wall down James Street and is in great need of restoring or repainting again, but funds are not available. The substrate behind is rotting and would need replacing, if our community is going to keep its mural. Just an idea I would like to raise funds for – and also be involved once again in the restoration process.

Water colour (Common Terns and Sunset)
Oil on canvas – a work in progress called (Before the Storm) hoping to capture the magnificent, pressing weight and vivid tones 😉
Acrylic on canvas (sleeping Dragon on the Lake) a Manitoulin memory- the view from the Indian Point bridge I would cross on the school bus every day as a child) I used to think it was a real sleeping dragon. 🤓
Oil on canvas (Great Egret n Sunset) painted at Mitchel’s Bay – a beautiful place to go for inspiration
Oil on canvas (Pinery Beach Splendor)
Oil on canvas (Otter Creek) Study of painting reflections
Oil on canvas (Waves n Breezes) an autumn beach

If you are an artist in the area, and would like to be featured on our “Artist of the Month” page, or would like to nominate a local artist, please feel free to contact us through our form below.