Kim Stewart

Canadian Métis Artist

teaching

Traveling to Van in a van...

my opinions, workKim StewartComment

Yes, it is true. Tomorrow the CNC Fine Art's class of 2011 and three faculty will be boarding a 15 passenger van headed for Vancouver on our annual field trip. We usually fly, but this year a fellow faculty member offered to drive us. Immediate benefits come to mind when I think of 'shopping'. We usually walk everywhere we go and shopping is limited to a couple of art books, basically whatever you can carry for hours on end. I was thrilled when I opened my email yesterday and saw that Opus Framing is having their garage sale this weekend, and, hey... we will have a van in Van! I could actually buy some frames and store them in the van. I am also thrilled that we can visit the Museum of Anthropology. I remember going there as an art student to sketch. Their collection includes over 36,000 ethnographic objects and 500,000+ archeological objects including full-sized west coast feast bowls and totem poles. The entire place is an aesthetic feast for the eyes! All I have to do is survive the trip down. Back to the van; I am hoping that 13 happy people traveling in a small space will not create an 8 hour din and just in case I am bringing a set of ear plugs. Now, before you decide that I am a party-pooper I should tell you that I have 'very' sensitive hearing. Those earplugs could mean the difference between a happy field-tripper and one with a migraine. Maybe I should bring my travel pillow and an eyeshade incase I really want to pass out. Just poke me when we get there!

Finding Foundation

Artists, artists worth noting, my opinionsKim StewartComment

We are listening as artist Toni Onley sweeps his arm along the horizon. "Now this is worth painting!" he declares. My eyes follow his arm out past his fingertips and I fight back a feeling of vertigo as I see the land below. An afternoon wind has begun to blow up the side of the cliff towards us. It combines with the heat from the sun making the space between me and the land below almost tangible. If I had wings, I could spread them at this moment and I would be airborne.  The mountains continue back as far as I can see, each range becoming a faint version of the one before it. The view is so large that it overwhelms me. Toni has plunked himself down in the grass. He's unrolling his brushes and talking to all the grey heads, "I hate teaching these community workshops, but it is the only way they would let me have this Yukon residency. Your landscape is amazing...Who paints regularly with watercolors?" My hand goes up, but mine is the only one. It would seem that I am the only one aware of who Toni is. His eyes quickly dismiss me as he replies, "Well okay then, let's just have fun. Paint what you see."

I look back at the landscape but it is too magnanimous for me. I don't even know where to start. I look over at Toni; he is talking about boats and the coast as he wets his page. Pale greens and grays swirl around his brush effortlessly. He has captured the summer haze from forest fires and the space inside the valley.

Space? How can anyone paint space?

Toni's view of the mountains

It is not what he has said with his brush that stands out, it is what he didn't say. The same restraint shown in his painting technique shows up in his teaching.  He sets his work down and says, "Now it's your turn", expertly steering the conversation to unrelated matters. Unable to to duplicate what I just saw, I looked towards the ground. There are some pine cones and needles in front of me so I focus there. Others are happily painting caricatured trees in dark green blotches, their little branches pointing upwards. Toni doesn't seem to mind. He keeps on chatting and moves over to see what I am doing. As his shadow falls on my work and his sentence trails off, I feel myself begin to sweat.

What will he say? Does he object to me painting the miniscule instead of the magnanimous?

Pine cone on the ground

I hold my breath and wait for his wisdom but he merely grunts and returns to his chatter. For a moment I feel as insignificant as the ground cover I am painting.  I can hear him continuing his chit-chat with the others. I feel disappointed.

Looking back on this experience I see it what I missed so long ago...Toni painted the isolation, the love of a moment share between a man and nature. He painted his relationship to the things that brought beauty and meaning into his life. He spoke with his brush and I must do the same.

you know you need a break when...

my opinions, workKim Stewart3 Comments

My eyes are burning and my brain feels like a fog has settled over it. I have been staring at my bulletin board, admiring the squares in the background, then back to my monitor, it seems so bright! I'm trying to type with my eyes closed. Not bad, but I cannot keep it up forever. I need to stop for a while, take a break and everything will seem brand new when I return.